The meal was good, I have to admit. I ended up joining the Regals while they dined because we were just that freaking slow. Time was slugging by like cement down a hill on a freezing cold day. So I grabbed a salad and some coffee, which ended up being a strange combination, and ate with them. We laughed and laughed and laughed. From goofy faces to stories being shared about this and that, it seemed like the family could really unwind. Eventually Ashton and Noel joined us and it became a little pow-wow of our own.
That’s when time started to fly by. An hour past and the kids began falling asleep. So they opened their wallets to try and pay something and I ushered them away saying that it was indeed on the house. As the Regals thanked me over and over, Noel led them to the door as Andy Jr. and Casey slept peacefully in their father’s arms.
And I waved softly as they exited. Happy with myself I sighed and swirled my finger in my coffee. Ashton looked at me and shook his head. I ignored him this time and continued swirling. I had done a good thing. I had done a happy deed. And I didn’t regret it at all. I didn’t even regret it as I pulled out my own wallet and started sifting through my twenties.
Ash moaned, “Jaime… you didn’t.”
I took out two twenties and flopped them onto the table. “Oh but I did.” I said half-smiling. The pride still rang clear, just a little muffled by the sting of my own money problems getting worse. No gas for me tonight.
Ashton shook his head, “Don’t tell me this is going to become a regular habit for you.” He replied.
“Me? Pssh. Naw. The Scarlett Fairy paid for it.”
“Shan is going to get busted-”
I rolled my eyes, “The higher ups just care that the money is there.” I said blankly which unfortunately was true , “Shan won’t get in trouble because they don’t care where it comes from or who cashed in. They just want their dues.”
“This isn’t helping you.” Ashton said.
“This is helping me.” I said right back, “Helping other people helps me.”
Ashton put a hand through his hair, “Jaime listen. I know you’re really nice and you feel for these people…”
I raised my hand, “No” I shook my head, “Ashton don’t you dare tell me I should lone wolf it.”
“I’m not saying that.” Ash said, “Just be mindful that you need to think about yourself as well.”
I shrugged as my gaze fell to the three fries left over on one of the plates, “What is there to think about?”
“More than you know.” He replied.
I looked at him and he looked back. Then I smiled at him and he smiled back. He really did know how to pour it on sometimes. Okay maybe it wasn’t the wisest idea to pay for a forty dollar meal. But it meant something to me. It reminded me at this day and age that part of humanity was still about giving back more than what you get. So I just continued to smile and leaned against Ashton a bit, who kept me up… like he always does.
“Oh.” I reached into my wallet as Ashton eyed what I was doing. I pulled out three ones and held them in between my fingers.
“Forgot the tip.”
I grinned and Ashton laughed to himself. A lot.