“Alright, question number 13-”
“Alice…look. It’s her.” Shane’s eyes are transfixed on the newest arrival at the Planet. Melinda looks around nervously and searches the faces of the patrons for a familiar smile. Not seeing anyone she knows, she walks up to the counter alone.
Alice looks impressed, “Very nice. She’s taller than I thought.” She takes a look at Shane, who is obviously smitten, “Oh my God. What is it about that girl? I mean, don’t get me wrong, she’s cute. But I’ve seen you with cuter.”
Shane shakes her head, barely taking her eyes off Melinda for a second, “I don’t know, Al. There’s just something about her. She’s quiet and shy and mysterious.”
“Hmm sounds like someone I know. She plays the ‘coy’ thing, does she?” Alice begins flipping through her magazine again.
Shane places her hand on Alice’s magazine, keeping her from turning the page. Her look is intense, “She doesn’t play a game, Al. She is probably one of the most real people I know. She’s honest and charming and…just…deep.” She turns her attention back to the brunette who is taking her first sip of a hot chocolate. “Watch her.”
Alice and Shane watch as Melinda takes a seat near the window. She grabs a newspaper from the abandoned table next to her and reads the front page. She takes another sip from her cup and dribbles a little on the paper. They hear her mumble a string of mild curse words and together they laugh at her. “Well, she’s cute, that’s for sure.” Alice nudges her, “Go say something to her.” Shane hesitates, “Go on.”
Shane looks unsure, “You think?”
Alice gives her a ‘come on’ look, “Are you kidding? You invited her here. She obviously came here looking for you and hoping you were here. The least you can do is go say hello and invite her over so that I can interrogate her.”
“Right,” Shane slaps her knees, “I’ll be right back. With her.”
Alice watches as Shane straightens her hair a little and slowly makes her way across the room. She shakes her head and mumbles, “Kids.”
Melinda sees the figure approaching, but pays no attention. When Shane speaks, it startles her. “Mel, hey.”
“Oh, hey Shane.” She immediately stands for some reason and looks around awkwardly.
Shane gives her a quick smile and gestures over her own shoulder, “I’m over here with my friend. We’re waiting on a few more people. Want to join us?”
Social situations involving more than one other person tend to frighten Melinda, but the look in Shane’s eyes makes her agree. “Okay, I’d like that.”
Shane nods and smiles obviously pleased. Keep cool. When they reach the lounge area, Alice sticks out her hand, not waiting on Shane’s introduction, “Hi. I’m Alice.”
Melinda takes the outstretched hand, “Melinda.”
Shane pipes up, “They call her Mel.”
Melinda takes a seat, “Actually, you’re the only person who can call me that and get away with it.”
The other women exchange a look and Alice raises her eyebrows at Shane. Shane then does something she doesn’t do often…she blushes. “So what do you do, Melinda?” Alice leans back on the couch as Shane reclaims her spot beside her and across from Mel.
“Um, I’m an assistant coach for a women’s college basketball team. I’m really into sports.”
“Hey, I bet you know our friend, Dana. She’s a pro tennis player.”
Melinda’s brain sorts through the names of the pro tennis players she knows and lands on one. “You mean Dana Fairbanks?”
Alice smiles at Shane and then back at Melinda, “Yep, that’s her!”
“Oh my God, you know Dana Fairbanks?” Melinda’s expression is one of shock and amazement.
“Who’s talking about me?”
Melinda’s face turns to embarrassment and fear when she turns around and is face-to-crotch with Dana Fairbanks. She looks up into the woman’s face and can only smile, “Me.”
“And who are you?” Dana moves to sit on the other side of Alice.
Melinda stammers, “I-I’m Melinda Wilson. I’m a client of Shane’s. It’s really an honor to meet you. Really.”
Dana blushes slightly, “Well thank you, Melinda.”
“Melinda here is the assistant coach for a women’s college basketball team.” Alice informs Dana before nudging Shane, who appears to be boring a hole through Melinda’s head with the stare she’s giving the woman.
“Oh yeah? Which team?”
Melinda nervously clears her throat, “Um, UCLA.”
Shane leans forward, aghast, “You’re kidding! Wow, that’s got to be a great job! I mean, no offense, but I thought you probably had a position at a local community college or something. But I’m impressed! You’re probably on TV all the time, huh?”
Alice laughs, “That’s our Shane. Charming as always.”
“Well, it’s not like I’m famous or anything, but yeah, our games are televised sometimes. And I have to admit that I was worried about coming in here. I wasn’t sure if someone would recognize me or not.”
Dana laughs, “Well, if you don’t tell anyone you saw me here, I won’t tell anyone I saw you.”
“Deal,” Melinda chuckles. She checks her watch and stands, “I only had a few minutes, ladies, so I better get going.”
Shane stands abruptly, “But you just got here!”
Alice picks up the magazine Shane knocked off her lap and says, “Whoa, there, Sparky.”
“I know, but I have to get to practice. They frown on the coaches missing, you know.” Melinda waves to the other women, “It was nice meeting you.”
In unison the two reply, “You too.”
“I’ll walk you out.” Shane offers. Alice tugs on Shane’s sleeve before she can get away.
Melinda turns to leave and Alice mouths, “Ask her out.”
Shane mouths back, “Okay.” She follows Melinda out the door and they stand in the sunlight.
“I’m glad I got to see you.” Melinda shuffles her feet nervously. When she looks up into Shane’s eyes, the look is intense.
Shane completely loses all composure, “Yeah, me too. I mean, I’m glad I got to see you.”
Melinda pauses a moment, as if waiting for something, “Okay. Well, thanks for inviting me.”
“Come again any time. Like I said, I’m usually here.”
Melinda nods and pauses again, “Okay. Well, bye.” She turns, almost reluctantly, and walks away.
Shane watches her walk down the street and around the corner. It’s not until she’s taking her seat inside that she hides her face in her hands and breathes again.
“Well, did you ask her out?” Alice asks, impatiently.
Shane groans and mumbles, “Almost.”