I looked up from my phone and stared at the man in question, who looked as though he’d just discovered a large centipede crawling up his leg. Alarmed and thoroughly confused, I turned to Cait, who had also looked up from her phone. For a group of supposed work friends, we had all been basically ignoring each other while we ate lunch, until the shrill whine of Dakota’s name had interrupted us.
“I didn’t know they let kids in here,” I muttered. Cait snorted, but Dakota didn’t seem to hear me. His face had gone decidedly blank, a little stony. He turned to the girl sitting next to him, a tech he was apparently good friends with whose name I didn’t know, and started chatting her up.
It was– was it a child? A teen? I wasn’t sure, but the girl who ran up to our table in the back room of EJ’s was shorter than me, her hair wildly curly, her face pointed and pixieish. She had on jean shorts so short they bordered indecent and a tight fitting tee shirt. I pegged her at about thirteen or fourteen, until she dropped down in the chair behind Dakota and wrapped her arms around his neck. “Hi!”
I stuck my nose back in my phone, starting a new text conversation to Cait.
I think that’s his gf.
Cait coughed awkwardly and sipped on her bottle of Vitamin Water. Glancing over I could see her struggling to hide a smile.
Please tell me you’re kidding.
“Look, I have friends,” Dakota said, gesturing to us. Cait and I both pulled a smile and wave. “This is Alexis.”
I valiantly didn’t snort, or double over laughing. I stuck the straw of my Dr Pepper in my mouth and went back to my phone after nodding to Alexis.
Oh my god.
Cait’s text is what made me snort, turning to her to try and keep attention off of me by tilting my phone to her. “This is the quality content I want on my tumblr at all times.”
Cait took the hint and chuckled, so I went back to lean on the wall beside my seat to respond to her text.
The fuck she looks like a child.
I know. Maybe this is why he flirts with everyone with legs.
Among other things.
That was probably too much info, I realized belatedly, but Cait didn’t seem to notice. Alexis was distracted by Dakota’s tech friend, apparently playing catch up, so I took to observing her. She spoke like about adult topics, gesturing with her hands as she talked about another job she apparently had and about picking up a swing role for the day due to someone’s absence. She had a way of talking about both jobs as though she didn’t like either, yet still felt personally offended that she never had hours at either. I frowned, my eyes flicking to Dakota, who had gone back to his phone.
As he did every day regardless of where we had lunch, Dakota stood up to leave at his usual time. “I’m headed to warm ups. Bye.” With that, he strolled out of the room to head back into the theater.
Nearly two full minutes later, Alexis turned her head to say something to him, and finally realized he was gone. The look of straight up insult on her face was comical.
Cait looked up at her exclamation and frowned. “Yeah, he said he was leaving.”
“He leaves at the same time every day,” I added. “It’s part of his routine.”
“He left,” Alexis said again, ignoring us to turn to the tech instead. “He just left. What the hell?”
“Children shouldn’t swear,” I breathed so that only Cait could hear me. Cait grabbed her Vitamin Water again and took a rather large swig of it, as though she wished it were something a little stronger. Like straight vodka. I could relate.
Huffing, Alexis got up and launched herself toward the door, dragging the tech girl along with her and muttering about Dakota’s abandonment. The moment she was out of earshot, I looked at Cait, both of our expressions clearly saying yikes. We both burst out laughing.
“What the fuck,” Cait said, getting up and moving into Dakota’s now empty seat to face me while we talked. “She’s like ten. Why is he dating a ten year old.”
I face planted onto the table, sucking in air as hard as I could. This probably wasn’t nearly as funny as Cait and I found it, but I couldn’t for the life of me quell the laughter. “She seems like a fucking delight,” I managed, sarcasm twisting the last word. “How does he stand her?” I looked up at Cait hopelessly, still trying to quiet my giggles. “I only listened to her for what, five minutes?” At Cait’s nod, I continued, “I think all she did was whine.”
“She’s so… clingy.”
“Thank god, I thought it was just me.”
“No, she’s definitely clingy,” Cait repeated. “He said he was leaving, he wasn’t even subtle about it, she just didn’t bother paying attention and then got pissy because he didn’t explicitly get her attention and make a show of saying goodbye.”
“They’re literally going to see each other in show,” I added. “I don’t get it. She needs to chill.”
“I can definitely see why he’d be wandering,” Cait said. “I don’t like her at all. You’d be the better choice.”
“Amen to that,” I muttered, before I realized what she said. “Wait. What?”
Cait smirked. “He watches you during show whenever you’re both backstage. If you hadn’t noticed, he likes you. And I know you return the crush because you do the exact same thing when you think he’s not looking.”
Well. Not exactly busted, but I could work with it. “Well, he’s taken– apparently– so no matter how much staring is going on, no dice.”
“Boo,” Cait said, and went back to her phone. I raised my Dr Pepper to her in a toast and drank to it.