When closing time finally came I raced out of that cramped shop with my haul of blasphemous books to Joshua's parent's restaurant. I was famished and I pitied the poor soul who would dare come between me and my crab Rangoon's. The restaurant wasn't too far from the bookstore and was always busy even in the winter months, but I never had to wait for a table. Having awesome friends had it's perks.
As I rounded the corner I was hit by the beauty of the restaurant. No matter how many times I saw it my breath would still fade away. It was built in the traditional style. Red and green roof with the red exterior and so many hand crafted lanterns. It was surrounded by a stone wall that had intricate statues and designs that seemed almost magical. Even the entrance gave a pause of wonderment. A simple bridge over a yin-yang koi pond to the elegantly crafted double wooden doors. I could stare at the building all day and never be board.
I politely shuffled past the waiting crowd towards the check in counter. I got a good number of eye rolls since this wasn't my first time using my "family" perks. The hostess smiled instantly recognizing me.
"Hey, Angel Face. You here to eat with Josh and Kris?"
"You guessed it. By the way, did you ever find out about the promotion?" I eagerly asked. She smiled even wider and pulled forward the part of her shirt with the name tag. It said Holly Guthrow Lead Hostess. I squealed in delight.
"I'm so happy for you! You always work so hard." I gushed making Holly blush with happiness.
"Thanks, your mock interviews really helped out. Anyways, Kris and Josh are in the back private booth areas per usual. Hurry and get some food. You probably forgot to eat again today."
"Hey, I actually did better than normal. I got a soup at Kris' Comfort Café this afternoon." I laughed as I walked towards the back. The delightful aromas and gentle hum of conversations filled the air as I danced around the tables in the softly lit restaurant. The closer to the back I got the more spaced out the tables became slowly giving way to private booths with closable curtains. I passed a few closed sections with muted angry words and a few with happy chatter. The thick fabric offered quite a bit of privacy if I couldn't make out the words while walking by. I eventually ended up at the farthest booth who's curtains weren't quite closed and offered a pleasant view of Kris and Josh laughing.
"Hey, guys I hope I didn't make you wait too long with the locking up of the bookstore." I greeted as I slipped into the booth closing the curtains behind me.
"Not at all, we took a bit longer than usual as well. I had to finish training a new night cook." Josh smiled as I put down my bag and sat down. "We did manage to order already. I hope you don't mind I chose for you."
"Not at all. I loved your soup. I'm sure I'll love whatever you ordered from your family for me." I shook my head smiling.
"Oh, yes. Kris was telling me you ordered my new soup. Do you think it needs anything or is it a good addition to the menu?" Josh eagerly inquired.
"It's perfect. Don't second guess yourself. You're a great cook just like your mom-"
"Is someone chatting about me?" A little old woman bellowed as she entered the booth; her hands carrying a tray of tea.
"I was saying your son is a wonderful cook like his mom and should stop second guessing himself." I smiled as Josh's mother handed out tea cups.
"You should listen to your friend, Joshua. Also, I found some lovely groomsmen magazines-"
"Mǔqīn!" Joshua exclaimed badly blushing.
"What? Kris is nice man. Good for my son. Settle down and adopt some grandbabies for me or have your friend Angel be surrogate. I'm not getting any younger. Your siblings already have children." Josh's mother scolded while pouring all of us tea. The three of us were all beat red and didn't know how to react to josh's mother.
"Food will be ready soon. Enjoy the tea." Josh's mother stated leaving us to our thoughts.
"Angel, Kris, I'm sorry about my mom-"
"It's fine, babe. I'm glad your mother approves of us. We have it a lot better than most same sex couples." Kris smiled kissing Josh's cheek.
"It's actually kinda funny she'd want me to be y'all's surrogate. I thought for sure she'd try to find you guys a nice asian lady for her grandbabies." I joked sipping my tea.
"How about we just get off this topic...anything new happen at your work, Angel?" Josh asked trying to ignore everything that just happened. I sipped my tea thinking. Should I tell them about the books? It really wasn't theft...was it?
"Well, we did get a new shipment of books in-" I started, but was cut off by Kris.
"We don't need to know every time that old bat buys a bible."
"It wasn't just bibles-" I tried to explain.
"Oh, yeah fiction to make ends meet." Kris rolled his eyes.
"Kris, let Angel talk." Josh scolded. Kris sighed and focused on his tea allowing me the time to talk.
"As I was saying, Mrs. Hartford ordered a new batch of books, but it wasn't from her usual sellers. It was from a liquidation warehouse and they ended up giving us two books that weren't on the shipment list." I begin explaining.
"The old bat makes a big profit from liquidation product and even bigger with two accidental additions. Is she not going to pay for them or something?" Kris questioned confused.
"I haven't told her about the two books because I'm sure they would send her to the grave and I need my job. Plus, I took them as reimbursement for shorting over half of my check." I explained grabbing my bag.
"Angel, do you realize the trouble you could get in? That's still theft if she claims it." Kris coughed choking on his tea.
"There's no cameras and she would never admit they were hers." I shook my head as I opened my bag.
"Why not? They're not smut are they?" Josh inquired trying to peer into my bag.
"No, even better." I smirked pulling out the books. "They're about witchcraft and paganism." I set the books down in front of the stunned faces of Josh and Kris. Kris unconsciously reached for his odd hammer necklace as Josh reached for a tattoo I could never fully see. All I could make out was the top of a symbol on the back of his neck under his long back hair.
"Angel, I think it would be best you put those up. We all live in a small town. People like to talk and it took years and a few LGBT conventions renting out the beach before the town stopped talking bad about Kris and I." Josh recommended as he worriedly pushed my books back towards my bag.
"It's not a big deal. I mistook them for Christian books when I first saw them-" I smiled confused at their reactions.
"Angel, please. You don't know what you're messing with." Kris begged cutting me off. I grabbed the books and stuffed them back in my bag a bit off put. Kris and Josh were always the type to go against the grain. Why did this worry them and why did they reach for a tattoo and a necklace when I showed them? I was about to question them when the food came to us carried by Josh's pregnant sister. I held my tongue. I knew how quickly a pregnant woman's moods could change with the wrong subject or word. There would be time to talk over the weekend. Kris, Josh, and I were next door neighbors.
The rest of the night was filled with food. From egg roll and crab Rangoon appetizers, to saucy noodle filled entrees, to green tea deserts, and after dinner oolong. We stayed even after the restaurant closed to help with the clean up and went home to sleep off the feast.