The Friend Zone - Abby Jimenez Page 0,1

because the view wasn’t anything to complain about. “Everything okay?” I tried to peer past her into the front seat, but she blocked my line of sight.

A small, light brown dog with a white chin growled at me from the window of the back seat. One of those little purse dogs. I scoffed. It wore actual clothing.

“I spilled coffee in my friend’s new truck,” she said from inside. She lost her other flip-flop to the sweltering parking lot and was now barefoot, her red-painted toes on the running board. “It’s everywhere. So no, it’s not okay.”

“Is your friend a dick or something? It was an accident.”

She pivoted to glare at me like I kicked her dog. “No, he’s not a dick. You’re the dick. You were probably texting.”

She was feisty. A little too cute to scare me though. I had to work hard to keep my lips from turning up at the corners. I cleared my throat. “I wasn’t texting. And in all fairness, you did slam on the brakes for no reason.”

“The reason was I needed to stop.” She turned back to the mess.

I suspected the reason was she spilled coffee on herself and hit the brakes reflexively. But I wasn’t going to poke the bear. Well trained.

I slipped my hands into my pockets and rocked back on my heels, squinting up at the Vons sign in the parking lot to my left. “Okay. Well, good chatting with you. Leave my shirt on the windshield when you’re done.”

She climbed into the passenger side of the truck and slammed the door shut.

I shook my head and chuckled all the way into the store.

When I came back out, she was gone and my shirt was nowhere to be seen.



Shawn planted a chair smack in the middle of the fire station living room and straddled it backward, facing me. He did this so he could harass me as close as humanly possible.

I sat in one of the six brown leather recliners parked in front of the TV. My Yorkie, Stuntman Mike, stood in my lap, growling.

Shawn bounced his eyebrows at me under his stupid pompadour hair. “’Sup, girl. You think about what I said?” He grinned.

“No, Shawn, I don’t have any Mexican in me, and no, I don’t want any.”

The fire station captain, Javier, came down the hallway into the kitchen as I leaned forward with a hand on my dog’s head. “Shawn, I want you to know that if I needed mouth to mouth, and you were the last paramedic on Earth, I prefer donations made to the ASPCA in lieu of flowers at my funeral.”

Javier laughed as he poured himself a coffee, and Brandon chuckled over his book from the recliner next to me. “Shawn, get lost.”

Shawn got up and grabbed his chair, mumbling as he dragged it back to the table.

Sloan breezed back in from the bathroom. She had on that white linen skirt she got when we were in Mexico last summer and sandals that laced up her calf. She looked like Helen of Troy.

My best friend was gorgeous. Blond, waist-length hair, colorful tattoos down her left arm, a glistening rock on her ring finger. Brandon was her firefighter and equally hot fiancé.

It was Sunday. Family day at the station when the four guys on shift got to bring their friends and family to have breakfast with them if they wanted to. Sloan and I were the only takers this morning. Javier’s wife was at church with his daughters, and Shawn didn’t have a girlfriend.

Imagine that.

Technically I was here for Josh, the fourth member of the crew, though I’d never met him before.

Brandon’s best friend, Josh, just transferred from South Dakota to be the station’s new engineer. He was Brandon’s best man, and I was Sloan’s maid of honor for their April 16th wedding in two months. Josh had missed the engagement party, so it was some all-important thing that we meet each other immediately.

I checked my phone for the time. I was starving and getting irritable. Breakfast was on Josh today. He hadn’t shown up yet though, so nobody was actually making anything and all I’d had was coffee.

He was already pissing me off, and I hadn’t even met him yet.

“So,” Sloan said, sitting in the recliner next to Brandon. “Are you going to tell me where you got the shirt?”

I looked down at the black, men’s Wooden Legs Brewing Company T-shirt I’d knotted at the waist. “Nope.”

She eyed me. “You left for tampons, and you came