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Wasted Words(2)
Staci Hart

He shook his head again and tipped his beer toward me. “And thus began your crusade to make matches for everyone you meet.”

“Yes, it did. Because if I can make two people as happy as Jane and Charlie are? That’s what it’s all about.”

“But I still believe in the old fashioned idea of letting people decide who they want to date.”

“But what if they do want to date, but they just don’t know it yet?” I asked emphatically.

“It’s a sick hobby, Cam,” he joked.

“It’s so satisfying. Like peeling a sunburn.”

He made a face, but he still laughed.

“Oh, or watching power washing porn.”

“What?” His lip curled.

“You’ve never seen it?” I pulled out my phone, chuckling. “Oh, man, are you in for a treat.”

He glanced around. “Are you sure I should be looking at porn?”

I rolled my eyes and handed my phone over. “It’s not actual porn, it’s just gifs of people power washing stuff. Like before and after.”

He watched it for a second before humphing. “How about that. It is really satisfying.”

“Told you. Just like I told you that girl’s an artist.”

He didn’t look convinced.

“Betcha five bucks.”

Tyler sighed, and internally, I crowed at his defeat. “I’m probably going to regret this, but you’re on. You’re due to be wrong, any minute now.”

I laughed, turning to the two of them again, smiling even wider when I realized what they were reading. “Bet you twenty I can get them together.”

He pursed his lips, considering it. “If you can get him to ask her out right now, I’ll throw in dinner on me.”

“You can’t rush art,” I said with a wink and a smile as I headed over to The Reader to work my magic.

She looked up from her book and pushed her glasses up her nose, widening the graphite smudge.

“Doing okay over here?”

“Yes, thanks. Could I get a glass of water?”

“Sure thing.” I grabbed a glass and filled it with ice. “Whatcha reading?” I asked, already knowing the answer.

“Oh,” she said as she slipped her finger between the pages to hold her place before glancing at the cover. “Outlander.”

I nodded my approval. “A classic. Jamie Fraser is the perfect guy, am I right?”

She blushed a little and sighed, smiling softly. “This is my fourth read-through of the series. He’s just everything, you know? Soft and hard, sensitive without being weak. He’s the ultimate man.” She sighed again. “Too bad he’s not real.”

“Well, if he was, he’d only be made for one woman. At least this way, we all get to have him.”

She smiled again, her glasses slipping down just a little. “I guess that’s true.”

I set the water in front of her, and she took a sip. “So, are you an artist?”

“Yeah, how’d you know?”

“Your fingertips are smudged. In fact, you’ve got a little something right here.” I motioned to the bridge of my nose.

“Ugh,” she groaned and looked at her hands before digging through her bag for a little pack of wipes. “You’d think I’d remember to wash my hands after drawing, but I only do if I’m in the studio. Hence carrying these around like I’m traveling with a toddler. I mean, unless I’m the toddler, in which case, that makes a lot of sense.”

I laughed. “What’s your medium?”

“I love charcoal, but it’s such a mess. Clearly.” She held up her hands in display.

“That’s what I’ve heard. My boss’ boyfriend is an artist and the same thing happens to him. He painted the piece just above you.” I pointed up, and she leaned back to look.

“Oh, I love that so much, and love that it’s the first thing I see every time I walk in.”

“He’s super talented, for sure.” I leaned on the bar. “Random question, but have you ever read any comics?”

She shook her head. “Never.”

“So, there’s this Japanese comic I love — it’s called InuYasha. It’s about a girl who falls in a well and is sent back in time, into feudal Japan.”

Her smile bloomed. “Wow, just like Claire in Outlander.”

“Totally. I mean, technically it’s classified as romantic comedy, so the tone isn’t at all like Outlander, but it’s fantastic. They’re on the hunt for these jewels, and InuYasha is her protector, even though she doesn’t usually need it, being a badass herself. You should check it out. I can hook you up with a copy of the first book for fifty percent off, if you’re interested.”

“Absolutely,” she said, blushing happily. “That’s so kind of you, you don’t have to do that.”

I shrugged. “Anything to convert people to comics. I’ll have Ruby grab a copy and I’ll add it to your tab.” I pushed off the bar and smiled at her. “I’ll let you get back to your book. Just let me know if you need anything else, okay?”

“Thanks,” she said with a smile, and I felt like a boss as I made my way over to Batman. The seed had been planted, and the added bonus of convincing her to go from Outlander to manga had me giddy.

“How’s it going over here?” I asked, glad he was in front of the dish well so I could linger.

He shook his head, raking a hair through his dark hair. “Pretty good, thanks.”

I dunked my hands in the soapy water of the dish well and felt around for a dirty glass to clean. “InuYasha, huh?” I nodded to the Japanese comic in his hand, my ace in the hole.

“It’s a classic. I’ve read the series at least a half-dozen times.”

“Me too. I got them all when I studied in Tokyo for a semester.”

He looked surprised. “You can read Japanese?”

I nodded and moved the glass to the rinse well. “And speak it. Do you know what your shirt says?”

“Actually, no. Let me guess — Stupid Americans will buy anything?”

“Close. Batman & Ramen. It’s delicious. Clever.”

He looked down at it, chuckling. “I wish I’d known that all along.”

I rinsed a glass. “Do you read fiction at all?”

He shrugged. “Sometimes. Song of Ice and Fire was the last series I read. You know, Game of Thrones?”

“Yup. I read all eight thousand pages.” I smiled. Got him. “So, one of my favorite fiction series is about a woman who gets kicked into the past through a stonehenge. It’s called Outlander, have you heard of it?”

He narrowed his eyes in thought. “Yeah, there’s a TV show about it, right?”

“Yup. So much skin. And the writer of the series is actually friends with George R.R. Martin.”

He looked impressed. “I had no idea”

“Right? Claire gets sent back two hundred years, into the Jacobite Rebellion. Scottish warriors. Epic fight scenes. Epic sex scenes.” I waggled my brows.

“Do you guys carry it here?”

“If we didn’t, I would have already quit. But you should watch the show first.” I dried off my hands and leaned on the bar, just like I had with The Reader. “It’s mostly a chick fandom, but you see my roommate over there?” I nodded to Tyler.

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