After sitting for another ten or fifteen minutes just brooding over the conversation with my brother, I went inside to order something to eat. I hadn’t shifted in a while, but that didn’t mean my metabolism was less a furnace than it usually was, and I needed fuel. Of course, I’d lost my appetite by then, but I still ordered a mocha frappé and a cinnamon pretzel with cream cheese in the middle. I then returned to my table outside, where I mostly picked at the pretzel and barely sipped the frozen coffee. A moment later, Karen—the assistant manager who had come in shortly after I was hired and was close to becoming a friend—came and sat in the chair to my left. She said nothing at first, but I could feel her eyes on me, assessing me.
“Is everything alright, Juliette?” she asked finally.
I shrugged, trying to re-form the wall of indifference around my heart, which after talking to Mark had begun to crumble. “I’m fine,” I replied. “Why do you ask?”
“Well, far be it for me to pry into someone’s personal life, hon, especially someone I don’t know all that well, but ever since you got that call from the English fella this morning—”
“He’s Irish,” I corrected her automatically.
Her lips twitched. “Okay, the Irish guy. Ever since he called you’ve been a bit…twitchy. And just now I observed you on a phone call that made you cry.”
I stiffened and looked away from her, now even more angry at myself for having allowed my moment of weakness to be observed. Karen sighed, then said, “Look, I know it ain’t none of my business. I’m sorry I asked. But I kinda thought we were becoming friends, so… I just want you to know that if and when you are ready to talk about whatever’s going on, I’ll listen. And I won’t judge you.”