~ 6:45 ~
“Mo, could you help him?”
“What?” she asked, snapping out of her memories.
“The gentleman with the flowers,” Trey answered as he assisted his customer at the cash register.
Still a bit dazed, she looked at the man who held a bouquet of red roses in his hands. “How can I help you?”
“Is there anyone here by the name of Ava Howe?”
“The woman in the corner on the green couch.”
The man looked over his shoulder and then back at Mo. “Thank you.”
“Who got flowers?”
“Didn’t ask. It’s none of my business.”
“Don’t you think it’s weird that someone sent flowers here?”
“Of course it’s weird. She’s a customer getting flowers in a coffeehouse.”
Looking up, the four friends just stared at the man holding roses.
“These are for you ma’am.”
Blushing, Ava stood and took the flowers from him. “Thank you. Do I need to sign anything?”
“No ma’am. Have a good night.”
Watching the stranger leave, Ava lifted the flowers to her nose and inhaled. The smell reminded her of the summers she spent on her grandfather’s farm, spending the afternoon pruning and watering the rose bushes with him.
“Who’s sending you flowers?” Porn asked as he stood. Digging through the roses, he searched for the card.
“Nosey.” Pulling the flowers away from him, she sat down in the chair and opened the card with a smile.
“What’s it say?” Walsh asked.
“Nothing.” Slipping the note in the back pocket of her jeans, she stood again. “I’m going to get some water for these. Do you guys need anything?”
The three men said nothing.
With the roses in tow, Ava walked away.
“What the hell was that?” Walsh asked.
“Who sent flowers to her here?”
Looking at Garrett, the two hoped for answers to their questions.
“Did you send them?”
“Why would I send her flowers here? Don’t you think I’d just bring them to her?”
“Who did then?”
“I don’t know Porn. Obviously, someone likes Ava or just wanted to send her flowers.”
“But who? She hasn’t talked about anyone. She hasn’t mentioned any dates. In fact, she has a pretty dull life.”
“She might not tell us everything.”
“Whatever. We are her best friends. We share everything.”
“Are you sure about that?” Garrett asked.
“What do you mean by that?”
“You know exactly what I mean by that. Every move we make isn’t broadcast live over airwaves. We don’t talk about every person we talk to or everything we did. Yes, we know everything but we really don’t.”
Porn was hurt. The four left no secrets behind. They shared every intimate and shameful moment with each other. The only thing they didn’t share was what happened in bed because that was sacred for everyone, maybe with the exception of Walsh.
“I said you suck.”
“That’s the best you could come up with?”
“It’s all I have to say to you. Don’t go around and put negative thoughts in everyone’s head.”
Garrett stood. He was tired of this conversation already.
“Where are you going?” Walsh asked.
“To the bathroom. You guys are insane if you think I am going to sit here and let my comment or your thoughts start a stupid riff among us tonight. Just let it go. Let her be happy someone sent her flowers. It’s just a sign that someone cares or likes her.”
“Red roses mean I love you, not I fucking care,” Porn replied under his breath as Garrett walked away.
“Porn, it could be nothing. You know Garrett’s right too.”
Sighing, he sank deeper into the couch. “I think I am more jealous than upset.”
Moving to sit next to him, Walsh put his arm around his friend. “One day, you’ll receive flowers too.”
Porn put his arm around Walsh and hugged him. “I know. I’ve just hit my lonely period and it sucks.”
Keeping his arm around him, Walsh ruffled his hair. “We’ve all been there and we all know how you feel.” Even though he wasn’t gay, he didn’t mind Porn’s attention. He was comfortable enough around him to hold him in his arms when he needed a hug and he didn’t care about the looks of strangers when Porn hung on him. He sometimes enjoyed the attention more from him than he did of the women he dated. A small part of him questioned if he could date Porn and though he realized that emotionally he did love him, he just didn’t love him physically.
Pacing outside the unisex bathroom, Ava reread the card that was with the flowers. There were only nine words on it. Thank you for letting me be there for you was all that was written on the card. Those words meant more to her than anything. Hearing the water run on the other side of the door, she put the card back in her pocket.
Garrett stepped out of the bathroom, saw Ava, and smiled.
“You’re welcome,” he said and hugged her. “They were suppose to be here before we got here.”
“Are they freaking about?”
“Yeah,” he answered, still holding onto her. “You should tell them.”
Pulling away, Ava looked at him. “You promised me that you wouldn’t say anything.”
“And I’m not, but…”
“No buts. I just couldn’t face going alone and now I know there’s nothing wrong and you know there’s nothing wrong. There’s no need to freak Walsh and Porn out for no reason.”
Smiling, Ava kissed his cheek. “Thank you again.”
“You’re welcome. Hurry back before they continue to freak.” Watching her disappear into the bathroom, Garrett let out a slow sigh. He hated hiding things from the other two, but he had a promise to keep for Ava. He remembered her frantic phone call like it was yesterday. It was a call he never wanted to receive again. He was out of town when he received her voicemail and he could barely understand her words. All he could feel was a sinking feeling in his stomach that something was horribly wrong. When he finally reached Ava, she sounded even more distraught than before. Once he had calmed her down, she told him the doctor had found a lump in her breast. Jumping to conclusions, she had nailed her own coffin shut before the results had come back. Garrett flew home and to her side and spent the next two days in doctor’s offices with her. It was the closest the two had ever been in their five years. He had learned every aspect of Ava’s life that he could possibly have learned. It was as if nothing was hidden. Except that neither Walsh nor Porn knew what she was going through. By the luck of whoever was upstairs, Ava had called him earlier in the day to share that she was in tiptop shape and the lump the doctor had found was benign. Garrett had even cried when he found out. The day had been a wonderful day and was fully confirmed when he saw Ava sitting on the couch with her nose in a book as usual.
“So are you going to tell us who sent the flowers?” Walsh asked as Ava returned to the group.
“A dear friend,” she answered as she sat on the couch next to Garrett.
“For what?” Porn asked, still hanging onto Walsh.
“A thank you.”
The three friends glanced at each other and accepted the words as truth.
“Have you guys been to that new sushi restaurant on Twenty Fourth?” Walsh asked as Mo arrived to their area.
“Walsh, you need to find you a woman like Porn,” she said as she collected their empty cups.
“But I have him,” he smiled.
Sitting up, Porn elbowed him in the ribs. “I’m going to sit with Ava and Garrett.”
“And you wonder why you can’t keep a woman,” Ava said as Porn collapsed next to her.
“The happy family,” Walsh replied, stretching out on the loveseat. “It’s picture perfect really.”
“You’re just jealous,” Porn pouted.
“I could easily just join you guys.”
Sighing, Mo had seen enough. “Another round for the family?”
“Can I get tea instead?” Ava asked. “Chamomile please.”
“Tea would be great,” Garrett answered.
“My usual,” Porn chimed in.
“Same for me.”
“Is she seeing anyone?” Porn asked. “I know this guy who seems perfect for her.”
“She’s not seeing anyone,” Ava answered. “She has told me she has sworn off men for a while.”
Ava shrugged her shoulders. “Don’t know specifics. Just passing along the words I heard from her mouth.”
“So has anyone tried that new sushi joint yet?” Walsh asked again, hoping that Porn wouldn’t pry into the private life of Mo.
“I have,” Ava answered. “They have an amazing roll list.”
“When did you go?”
The three men eyed each other. They knew Ava was lying. The only place she went by herself was to the coffeehouse they were all currently sitting in.
“Do you guys want to play Trivia Pursuit?” Porn asked before they could jump to conclusions on Ava.
“I got Ava,” Walsh answered.
“Losers buy the next round,” Porn replied.
“You better be up on your entertainment trivia.” Garrett truly hated the game and so did Walsh but they found joy of pitting Ava and Porn against each other. They were the two entertainment gurus.
“Can’t we play spades instead?” Ava asked. “Trivia Pursuit brings out the worst in everyone.”
“Spades it is,” Porn said. “Will you get the cards?”
“Sure.” Ava stood, stretched, and went to the far corner of the coffeehouse.
“Where are her flowers?” Garrett asked.
“Mo’s keeping them in water in the back for her,” Walsh answered. “There was also no way she went to the new sushi place by herself.”
“Right,” Porn agreed.
Walsh gave him a fist bump. “Losing team buys?”
“Let’s just play and not worry about whether she went to a sushi restaurant alone or not,” Garrett sighed. “And losing team buys works for me. I’m on Ava’s team.”
“That’s cool. Porn’s got an extra sixty in his pocket anyway.”
The three of them moved around the coffee table between them with Garrett and Ava on the couches and Walsh and Porn on the two chairs. The game of spades at least remained friendly even though Ava was the most skilled. They didn’t know where she had learned to play but she usually shocked them all by her skills.
“The deck is missing a two of diamonds,” she said, collapsing on the empty couch. “We’ll have to use the jokers.”
“Blinds and double blinds?” Garrett asked.
“Deal,” she replied and placed the cards in front of Walsh.
“If you had to pick a celebrity that favored you who would it be?” Porn asked as he settled into the chair.
“What?” Walsh asked he dealt.
“Which celebrity do you think favors you?”
No one answered and continued to watch Walsh deal.
“I think Richard Roxburgh or Sean Pertwee favor Garrett. More Richard than Sean.”
The three men looked at Ava. “Who?” they asked in unison.
“Richard Roxburgh or Sean Pertwee.”
“Who the hell are they?” Walsh asked.
“You seriously don’t know who Richard Roxburgh is?” she asked Garrett.
“Why am I expected to know?”
Rolling his eyes, he sorted his cards. “That’s like telling you that you should know every American actor.”
“Lowest card out,” Ava said. “Richard Roxburgh was the Duke in Moulin Rouge. Dracula in Van Helsing. Mission Impossible 2. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I could go on.”
The three friends just stared at her.
“And this Sean actor?” Porn asked.
“Ava, no one knows these actors,” Walsh said as he held up three fingers for Porn, indicating he could win three hands.
“I can Kevin Bacon them.”
“That I do know,” Garrett answered, “The Kevin Bacon game is six degrees of separation. Everyone is connected to someone by six people.”
“So you’re saying you can connect those two actors to Kevin Bacon by six other actors people?”
“Well, I can do Richard Roxburgh in two and Sean Pertwee in three.”
Walsh looked her. “Is this what you do at work when you’re bored?”
“Richard was in Moulin Rouge with Nicole Kidman who was in Practical Magic with Rachel Evan Woods who was in a movie with Kevin called Digging to China.”
“Richard, Nicole, Rachel, Kevin,” Porn repeated. “Two peeps.”
“And this Sean Pertwee.”
“Sean was in a movie called Blue Juice with Ewan McGregor who was in Moulin Rogue with Nicole who was in Practical Magic.”
“Take Moulin Rouge, Nicole, and Ewan out,” Garrett interrupted. “They’re too easy. Go a different route.”
Ava took a deep breath. “Fine.” Running a hand through her hair she thought of her options.
“Next round says you can’t do it,” Walsh added.
“And if I do?”
“Everything’s on me tonight.”
“You got a bet ye of little faith.”
“I think your tab is going to be huge tonight,” Porn said.
“So who’s first?”
“Sean was in Blue Juice with Catherine Zeta Jones who was in The Terminal with Stanley Tucci who was in Montana with Kyra Sedgwick who is Kevin’s wife and was in Cavedweller with him.”
“Catherine, Stanley, Kyra,” Porn recounted. “Now Richard.”
“Was in Van Helsing with Hugh Jackman who was in Someone Like You with Ashley Judd who was in Heat with Robert DeNiro who was in Sleepers with Kevin Bacon.”
The three applauded Ava. They didn’t know how she retained the useless information in her brain but they were glad that she did. She never seemed to surprise them with the knowledge that she held.
“Night’s on me,” Walsh sighed.
“I saw Van Helsing with you, but who did he play in Mission Impossible.”
“Villain’s right hand man. Hugh.”
“Who got his finger nicked?”
Ava nodded. “He’s hot. I’ve always thought of you when I have seen him in anything.”
Garrett smiled. “I’ll take you thinking of me whenever you watch a movie with him or Sean in it.”
“Before you guys starts having sex on this table, can we get this card game rolling?” Walsh asked knowing that if he left the conversation continue between them that it would turn out sexual and then somewhat awkward.
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