“Please, don’t,” I say under my breath.
Bash follows my eye line, spinning around to see Kaleb stalking towards us. One of his friends is right on his trail, a bright smile across his features. Bash turns back towards me, “One of your friends?”
I scoff, “Kaleb Nixon is not my friend.” I sigh and run my hand over my face. “I’m going to apologize in advance for what he says.”
Kaleb is two steps away from us now. His eyes haven’t once left mine. He stops in front of our table and finally forces his intimidating eyes away from me. He studies Bash for a moment, a scowl set deep in his face. “Hey, partner.”
“What do you want, Kaleb?” I say angrily.
“Can’t a friend just say hi to another friend?” He muses.
“I wouldn’t really call us friends,” I tell him.
“Fine, project partners.” He stares daggers into Bash, but Bash holds his ground. “Anyway, who’s this?”
“None of your business, Kaleb. Get lost.” I snap.
“That’s not very nice.”
Bash looks between Kaleb and me for a long moment, “My name’s Bash.”
Kaleb snickers and exchanges glance with his friend who stays silent behind him. “How do you know Greer, Bash?”
A blush creeps across Bash’s face. I instantly step in, “It’s none of your business, Kaleb. Get lost.”
Kaleb stares down at me in contempt. Seconds tick by where neither of us speaks. Bash sits awkwardly in his seat, his eyes staring between us two. He clears his throat to try and break through the silence.
“Well, anyway, it was nice to meet you, Bash,” Kaleb says in a frustrated voice. “See you around, partner.” He turns back to his friend and then they both disappear out the front door, the bell chiming as they go.
I let out a breath of relief as Kaleb leaves. “I’m really sorry you had to be here for that.”
Bash nods, “Did you guys date or something?”
My eyes snap to him, and a blush involuntarily works across my cheeks. “Kaleb and me? No way!”
“I just assumed because of the way he was looking at me. Usually, that’s the way an ex-boyfriend looks.” He explains.
“No! We can’t stand each other, trust me. We’re forced together on an English project and we can’t even have one civil conversation every time we’re together.” I groan.
He nods but doesn’t look convinced. “I don’t think he hates you as much as he lets on.”
“Excuse me?” I balk. “Kaleb is literally the most infuriating human being I’ve ever met! I’m pretty sure he feels the same way.”
“I’m just calling it the way I see it, Greer.” He says nervously.
“Well, you’re seeing it wrong.” I counter.
An awkward silence fills the small space around us. I fidget with the hem of my shirt. The waitress comes a moment later to set our food before us. We dig in without a word. If I haven’t said it before, I’m saying it now. I really hate Kaleb Nixon. It was like he made it his one goal to ruin my life. Every time he was around, he ruined any good thing I had.
“Listen, Greer, I’m sorry,” Bash says after our plates are cleared. My eyes snap to his. I should be the one apologizing, not him. I felt like I was always apologizing for Kaleb. “I don’t know you, or Kaleb for that matter. I have no right to just assume things.”
I sigh, “You don’t need to be sorry. I’m the one that should be sorry. Kaleb’s a touchy subject for me. Just the sound of his name gets me angry.”
“Well, then we won’t talk about him.” Bash smiles.
He looks down at the watch on his wrist and backs up at me. “Your car should be ready.”
I stand up from the booth, “Oh, awesome.”
Bash stands up next, dropping several twenties onto the table, and follows me out of the diner. We walk across the road to the body shop. Bash tells me to wait here while he disappears inside to ask about my car. It’s only a few minutes later that the garage door opens and someone backs my car out. You can’t even tell where the dent is anymore.
Bash steps out of my car and hands over my keys. He scratches the back of his neck nervously. “I think this is the only time I’ll ever say this, but I’m glad I hit your car today.”
“I had fun talking with you today, Greer. I wouldn’t mind doing it again, getting to know you better.” He says with a small smile.
I think it over for a moment, “I think I’d like that.”
“Really?” He beams.
I nod and fish around in my glove compartment for a pen and piece of paper. I scribble down my phone number and hand it to him. “Call me sometime.”
His smile deepens, “I will.”
“Thanks for fixing my car,” I tell him again.
“No problem.” He tells me.
“I’ll see you later?”
He nods and opens the driver’s door for me. I slip inside and wave goodbye as I back out of the parking lot. The smile on my face refuses to fade. Something about Bash made me happy. It was nice being around him. I was looking forward to seeing him again.
As soon as I got home, I called Adam to tell him what happened. After the initial shock of telling him I was in a car accident faded, he started grilling me about Bash. He was almost worse than Leo.
“Adam, slow down, I just met him today!” I warned.
“Did he pay for your food?” He asks I hear something rustle on his end of the phone.
“Yeah, I offered to pay, but he refused to let me,” I tell my friend.
“And he fixed your car?”
“You’ve asked me that several times already,” I say.
“I’m just surprised is all. Who is this guy?” He asks.
“I don’t know much about him. He’s older than me and from out of town. He has my number, so I’ll ask more questions when he texts me.” I tell him.
“I just don’t want you going out with a creep,” Adam tells me.
“Don’t worry, Adam. I got a good feel off of him and I’m a good judge of character.” I explain.
“Besides, I’ll drive my own car the first time we hang out so I’m not stranded alone with him.”
“That’s smart,” Adam tells me. “Do you have pepper spray?”
I laugh, “I do actually, and a taser.”
“Keep those close just in case.”
“You sound like my uncle.” I laugh.
“I’m just making sure you’re safe, it’s a scary world.” He defends.
And don’t I know it better than most.