Had I But Known

“I didn’t realize she was going to tell me something so personal,” Jaime said.

The waitress set a brimming tray of fresh tortillas, salsa, guacamole, and gobs of melted cheese. Penny cheered their appetizer and did a chair tango.

“I mean she’s nice, really nice, but I don’t know. Maybe I’m making too much of it but I never met anyone who tells you their whole life story but not their insta handle,” Jaime said into her salt rimmed glass.

Mid tortilla, Penny stopped. “What, go back and explain it to me everything like I was five.”

Jaime rolled her eyes but spilled the tea over her new found friend. They had met at Jaime’s new job at the bookstore.

“Nicky and I met in the Emily Dickinson section. She was looking for Patricia Wentworth and we sparked over Allingham, Fey, Charlotte Armstrong, you know,” Jaime explained picking off the nachos’ jalapeños.

Penny dropped a handful of the rejected peppers into her mouth. “You know I don’t know. I haven’t read a book since the Babysitter’s Club. Get to the weird personal shit, sis.”

“That’s what I mean. It is so hard to make new friends as an adult. Everyone has a group. Nicky’s an elementary school teacher. How bad can she be? Nicky and I talked locked rooms and had I but known scenarios. Nicky was so easy to talk to. She invited me for coffee and scones. You know I love a good lemon curd,” Jaime said.

“Focus, buttercup.” Jaime snapped her fingers.

“At the coffeehouse we had a great time but she was pressuring me to come back to her and her boyfriend’s apartment but nothing crazy. She’s a writer, historic erotic romances. I wanted to check out her blog and stuff but she said I wouldn’t like her if I read them and I should just come back to their place. I got a weird vibe, you know.” Jaime’s voice sounded small.

“So how did you feel after you read her stuff?” Penny asked.

“Oh I didn’t look. I didn’t think I should she asked me not to I mean she said not to so—“

“Pashaw Pollyanna let me work my magic.”

With her left hand Penny shovelled cheesy chips in her face while searching for Nicky on one of her barely legal search sites with her right. Jaime drained her margarita. Within minutes Penny had an hit. Penny clicked, scrolled, and gasped. Jaime leaned over her little sister’s shoulders. Purple prose page after page filled Penny’s slender screen. Jaime was written in as the star, the love interest, the fated mate of her newfound friend. Their mouths fell open.

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