Wasted Words

By: Staci Hart

“Betcha five bucks.”

Tyler sighed, and internally, I crowed at his defeat. “I’m probably going to regret this, but you’re on. You’re due to be wrong, any minute now.”

I laughed, turning to the two of them again, smiling even wider when I realized what they were reading. “Bet you twenty I can get them together.”

He pursed his lips, considering it. “If you can get him to ask her out right now, I’ll throw in dinner on me.”

“You can’t rush art,” I said with a wink and a smile as I headed over to The Reader to work my magic.

She looked up from her book and pushed her glasses up her nose, widening the graphite smudge.

“Doing okay over here?”

“Yes, thanks. Could I get a glass of water?”

“Sure thing.” I grabbed a glass and filled it with ice. “Whatcha reading?” I asked, already knowing the answer.

“Oh,” she said as she slipped her finger between the pages to hold her place before glancing at the cover. “Outlander.”

I nodded my approval. “A classic. Jamie Fraser is the perfect guy, am I right?”

She blushed a little and sighed, smiling softly. “This is my fourth read-through of the series. He’s just everything, you know? Soft and hard, sensitive without being weak. He’s the ultimate man.” She sighed again. “Too bad he’s not real.”

“Well, if he was, he’d only be made for one woman. At least this way, we all get to have him.”

She smiled again, her glasses slipping down just a little. “I guess that’s true.”

I set the water in front of her, and she took a sip. “So, are you an artist?”

“Yeah, how’d you know?”

“Your fingertips are smudged. In fact, you’ve got a little something right here.” I motioned to the bridge of my nose.

“Ugh,” she groaned and looked at her hands before digging through her bag for a little pack of wipes. “You’d think I’d remember to wash my hands after drawing, but I only do if I’m in the studio. Hence carrying these around like I’m traveling with a toddler. I mean, unless I’m the toddler, in which case, that makes a lot of sense.”

I laughed. “What’s your medium?”

“I love charcoal, but it’s such a mess. Clearly.” She held up her hands in display.

“That’s what I’ve heard. My boss’ boyfriend is an artist and the same thing happens to him. He painted the piece just above you.” I pointed up, and she leaned back to look.

“Oh, I love that so much, and love that it’s the first thing I see every time I walk in.”

“He’s super talented, for sure.” I leaned on the bar. “Random question, but have you ever read any comics?”

She shook her head. “Never.”

“So, there’s this Japanese comic I love — it’s called InuYasha. It’s about a girl who falls in a well and is sent back in time, into feudal Japan.”

Her smile bloomed. “Wow, just like Claire in Outlander.”

“Totally. I mean, technically it’s classified as romantic comedy, so the tone isn’t at all like Outlander, but it’s fantastic. They’re on the hunt for these jewels, and InuYasha is her protector, even though she doesn’t usually need it, being a badass herself. You should check it out. I can hook you up with a copy of the first book for fifty percent off, if you’re interested.”

“Absolutely,” she said, blushing happily. “That’s so kind of you, you don’t have to do that.”

I shrugged. “Anything to convert people to comics. I’ll have Ruby grab a copy and I’ll add it to your tab.” I pushed off the bar and smiled at her. “I’ll let you get back to your book. Just let me know if you need anything else, okay?”

“Thanks,” she said with a smile, and I felt like a boss as I made my way over to Batman. The seed had been planted, and the added bonus of convincing her to go from Outlander to manga had me giddy.

“How’s it going over here?” I asked, glad he was in front of the dish well so I could linger.

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