“Jo-sweaters at 3 o’clock, Jack-moderately cute guy totally checking you out at the stroke of midnight, Pacey-Starbucks at 9 o’clock.” The three of them look at me blankly. Oh, come on. I hold up my watch and deliberately point at the hours and their corresponding directions. Pacey holds up his wrist, displaying a digital watch with a smirk. Sighing, I send Joey right, into American Eagle, Jack straight ahead with a firm push, and give Pacey a glare and a nod towards Starbucks. He just stands there. Finally the smirk fades and is replaced with a perplexed gaze. “What Pacey?”
“Why am I going to Starbucks?”
“To get me coffee. Mocha something with foam. Duh.” I giggle as Pacey raises an eyebrow, chuckles good naturedly, and heads off to get my coffee. I follow after Jack to see how he’s doing.
Jack is conversing with the guy I pointed him towards. Actually, that’s not true. Jack is watching the guy with a bemused and slightly awe struck expression on his face as said guy talks animatedly. This guy’s Mickey Mouse animated. Hands gesturing widely, eyes alight with good humor. Total opposite to Jack’s tortured soul routine. Moving a little closer I check the guy out a little more. Jack’s my best friend, I want to make sure this guy’s good enough. The guy is a little more than moderately cute upon closer inspection. He’s as tall as Jack and in decent shape. He has strawberry blonde hair and brilliant green eyes with gold flecks in them. He’s confidant and intelligent. You can just tell, even from a few feet away. And more importantly, Jack can tell. Jack is entranced by this guy, to the point that when I step behind my friend and brush his arm with mine he doesn’t even notice me. Until the guy acknowledges me with a welcoming smile.
“Hey, George O’Keefe. Nice to meet you,” he says holding out his hand and giving mine a firm shake.
“Jen Lindley. Jack’s friend.” I glance up at Jack, who is still staring at George. “Parents big fans of desert paintings?”
“No, why do you ask?” George dead pans, “Actually, they never made the connection when they named me. They offered to let me change it, they thought I could just use my middle name as a last name instead.” He smiles mischievously, casting a quick glance at Jack.
I look at Jack, who is biting his lip to keep from laughing. He’s heard this story, I see. “So...”
“So, my middle name is Michael,” George explains matter of factly.
“Your parents thought ‘George Michael’ would be better,” I spit out, choking from laughter. Jack and George start laughing too and we’re all gasping for breath, holding our sides by the time Pacey comes up with my coffee.
“What’s so funny?” Pacey asks glancing curiously at us. “Jackers?” Pacey is silent for a minute, eying us suspiciously. He seems to think we’re laughing at him for some reason. I forget how insecure Pacey can be. It’s hard to believe someone so wonderful could have so little self esteem. He’s starting to look a little annoyed and embarrassed. I take pity on him and his puppy dog eyes immediately.
Sobering slightly I explain. “Pacey, meet George O’Keefe.” George gives a little wave and Jack bobs his head and releases another sharp burst of laughter.
“Pacey Picasso, nice to meet you, “ Pacey quips, smirking.
“It gets better,” Jack promises. Taking a deep calming breath he continues, “George’s parents said he could shorten his name. Use his middle name as a last name instead.” Jack can hardly contain his laughing, starting deep in his chest, rumbling. George releases a gale of laughter soon after him.
“And his middle name is what?” Pacey cracks. “Seurat?”
I’m surprised and I instantly think Joey’s love of art must have resurfaced with a vengeance. Stifling a retort about Pacey’s newfound love of art, I finish for Jack. “No, his middle name is Michael.” Pacey looks at the three of us and begins to laugh. He holds out his hand to shake George’s.
“Nice to meet ya, George Michael O’Keefe. Why didn’t you just get rid of the first name, by the by?”
All three of us stop laughing. George looks up at Pacey, his mouth agape and a befuddled expression painting his face. “I never thought about it. I could’ve been Mike O’Keefe all this time,” he says, shaking his head and chortling lightly. “I guess like parents, like son.” He glances at his watch and frowns a little. “Jack, I’ve got to go. I’ve got brunch with Mom across town in ten minutes. I’ll have to tell her this story. Here’s my number. Call me okay?” He hands a hastily jotted slip of paper over to Jack, his hand lingering in Jack’s for a minute.
“Will do,” Jack says softly, staring at the hand in his. “See you later.” George smiles and raises his hand in farewell to the rest of us. We all watch as George strides towards the mall exit. I look at Jack out of the corner of my eye and I’m pretty sure he was checking out George’s ass...ets. Jack sighs happily and does a quick little jig on the balls of his feet. Pacey observes Jack, smiles a little, and then smiles warmly at me, handing over my coffee.
“Thanks Pacey.” I inhale the mocha coffee smell gratefully. Taking a sip I glance at Pacey, “None for you?”
“Nah, they won’t let me take that into the stores.”
“I wasn’t aware you’re such a hard core shopper, “ I say while licking a little foam of my lips.
“I’m not,” he admits slowly, “but Joey’s in the stores so....”
“Pacey plays lap dog,” I finish jokingly.
“Hey, he resembles that remark!” Jack quips, making a show of rising to Pacey’s defense.
“Ha, ha, ha, significant other-less.” Pacey throws back, running his fingers through his hair. He pats a few stray hairs back down, mock glaring at us both. Then he softens and his blue eyes begin to shine. “I just like being where she is, okay.” He smiles a little and stares at his feet.
“Okay Pace,” I say smiling. He’s head over heels. Jack looks at me with a smile, then turns to Pacey with admiration. We both feel it. I’m so happy Joey has Pacey. And vice versa. Then Jack gives me another glance, a pointed one, eyes narrowed and his head nodding imperceptibly towards the store I sent Joey into earlier. “I’m gonna go see if Jo’s found any season appropriate clothing yet, hold my coffee Pacey.” I hand it to him before he can object. Jack’s smile widens and as I leave I watch him clap a clearly annoyed, impatient, and bewildered Pacey on the shoulder. Heh. Operation:Befriend Pacey has begun.
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