Day 5—Hanging Out With the Friends
Nikolas ran into Leonard after school the next day when he was with his friends and Leonard with his. They waved and Leonard walked over, friends in tow.
“Where are you going?” he asked.
“Wyndow,” Rachael told him.
“Window? Like the clear things in the walls that you look through?”
“No,” said Sadie. “Wyndow. W-y-n-d-o-w.”
“Yeah, it’s a little coffee shop with the best Green Tea Lattes,” Rachel gushed.
“Okay, where is it?”
“Come with us, then,” Rachel demanded, tugging on his jacket sleeve. “You have to try it.” Leonard looked over at the rest of his friends. The girl in the bohemian skirt looked demurely back at him. The Hispanic girl shrugged. Only the boy commented, “I’m hungry.”
“Then we’re coming with you,” he decided.
“Yes! Let’s go!” Rachel grabbed Leonard’s wrist and began pulling him in the direction of the coffee shop. The rest of the people followed, chattering casually as they walked.
“I’m sorry, I never caught your names,” Garrick said, blinking perplexedly through his glasses. “I’m Garrick, by the way.”
“I’m Henna,” the girl with the skirt answered politely. “I’m a Virgo, what are you?”
“I don’t believe in astrology, actually.”
“Oh. Well, actually, astrology is very interesting by itself as an amusement. Aristotle once said, ‘It is the mark of the educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.’ The other two are Sara and Theo. Theo’s name is actually longer than just Theo, but it’s too complicated. There’s another guy to our little group, Burnett, and he’s my step-brother.”
Garrick blinked again. “Uh, okay. Well, the short one is Rachel, and there’s Sadie, too, the one with the brown hair. Then there’s Monty, whose real name is Monteith, but he’d kill you if you called him that.”
Henna appraised Monty calmly. He was a stocky blonde, with a strong jaw and large biceps. “I’ll keep that in mind.”
When they reached Wyndow, the group stopped and loitered outside. Sara cooed at the quaint shop front with large windows that let the light stream in. Wyndow was sandwiched in between two taller buildings, and would have been missed but for the painted wooden sign that announced its name proudly and a chalkboard that contained the day’s special.
“It’s so adorable!” she squealed.
“And the owner is totally hot, too,” Sadie said dreamily.
“And completely off-limits,” Nikolas reminded her sternly. “And I doubt he’s interested in seventeen-year-old girls.”
“Hey! I’ll be eighteen in a month!”
“Whatever,” Theo interrupted. “Can we go inside? I want to get something to eat.”
“Then go,” Nikolas retorted without venom. Theo shrugged and walked in, Sara following after. Rachel and Sadie went in as well, while Garrick and Henna sat down at an outdoor table, deeply engrossed in a conversation about the merits of astrology.
“Are you getting something to eat?” Monty asked. “I think Sadie’s harassing the owner again, and I want to be there when she gets escorted out by angry cops.”
“Go, then,” Nikolas said, smiling wryly at his comment. “And get me an almond milk tea? I’ll pay you back.” Monty nodded and left. “Thank you!”
“So, what’s so great about this place?” Leonard asked. “Other than the latte.”
Nikolas shrugged. “It’s a nice place to hang out. It’s really warm in the winter, and the owner likes kids.”—“That’s not creepy at all,” Leonard interrupted sarcastically.—“He sells secondhand books, too, and there’s free wi-fi.” He pushed the door open and walked in, Leonard following him. “The chairs are really nice, too.”
“Ah. So it’s like an indie paradise, then?”
“More like an academic student’s paradise. This place is chock-full of kids who do NaNoWriMo.”
“I see. What’s NaNoWriMo?”
“National Novel Writing Month. It starts in November.”
A few couples littered the place, snuggling against each other in the plush armchairs that dotted the room. There were several students from their school, as well, and more than a few people had laptops, books and papers out. The lighting was nice and rosy, aided by the sunlight streaming through the large front windows. Nikolas led the way to where his friends had claimed a table. Monty arrived after them, carrying a drink in each hand.
“This one is yours,” he said, giving Nikolas the drink in his left. “Now cough up.”
“Okay, okay.” Nikolas flipped open his messenger bag and rooted around for his wallet. “Oops. Wrong pocket,” he muttered, zipping closed the pocket he had opened at opening another one. “How much do I owe you?”
Nikolas counted the bills and coins and gave them to Monty. Then he put the wallet in a different pocket and zipped both shut. “’Cause I’m paranoid about pickpockets,” he explained, mostly for Lenny’s benefit.
Leonard learned Nikki’s first quirk that day.