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140. Food and a Show!

“The Stitz Inn?” Lauren raised an eyebrow.

They headed back to the center of the park for some lunch. Out of ideas on what to eat, she let Colin pick out the place. He didn’t take long to decide. His feet immediately took them to the largest food place. It occupied the longest stall with chairs and tables in front of it.

A service counter with tall stools made up its main display. People already occupied most of the available spots. Colin led Lauren to the counter. Two stools had recently been vacant. Luckily, they were able to sit beside each other.

While waiting for someone to attend to them, Colin showed the laminated menu glued to the counter. He pointed to the logo on top, “This is actually a diner in town. You should check it out when you have the time. It has the best burgers and a 50s feel to it. They designed this branch for a more medieval vibe.”

Lauren read out the items of the menu. Unlike a diner, it had fewer to offer. The pizza immediately caught her attention—easy to eat plus satisfies hunger. Her finger stroked downwards, “Flavored cokes? No Pepsi?”

“They do,” Colin replied. He showed her the bottom, “It’s in a can though. It’s in small letters since the flavored cokes are from a soda fountain. They expire faster.”

“Ah.”

“You like Pepsi?”

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“In the mood for it” Lauren shrugged, “Pizza and Pepsi. Since they start with the same letter, I figured they’d be a good combination.”

Colin chucked at her logic.

Soon, a waitress came up to them.

Behind the counter, a long podium had been set up. As the waitress stepped on it, her height rose. The top of the counter used to be on her chest level. The podium lowered it to about her waist. This way she could attend to customers easily and place the food without problems.

Her cobalt blue eyes landed on the pair. She tucked a loose hair strand behind her ear, leaving a small black braid to frame one side of her face. Lifting a pad and pen, she greeted them.

“Hello! Welcome to Stitz Inn! I’m Hana. How can I serve you today?”

“Hi, Hana” Lauren smiled, resting her arms on the counter, “Can we have a large sausage pizza with bell peppers and onion?”

“You most certainly can!” Hana tittered, “Sister Aina makes the mozzarella cheese herself. It’s creamy and bubbly. You’ll love it.”

“Great! I’m sold!” Lauren grinned, “I’ll have a Pepsi with it.”

The waitress wrote the order on her pad. Then, she turned to Colin, “Any more to add?”

“I’ll have a vanilla coke. Also, can we get one ultimate double decker burger? We’ll split it.”

“One large sausage pizza with bell peppers and onion, one ultimate double decker burger, one can of Pepsi and one glass of vanilla coke coming right up!” Hana said in one breath. She turned away from the couple and ripped the paper from the pad. She pinned it on a window to the kitchen.

Then, she walked over to the west side where a table with a griddle was set up and turned it on.

Lauren and Colin watched her put on a plastic glove. She opened a container and scooped out a handful of meat with her gloved hand. She placed it on top of a scale, checking the standard weight. Once satisfied, she shaped it to a saucer and laid it down on the griddle. She did the same thing for the second patty.

Hana walked to a small fridge and took out a bowl of bacon. She added some to the griddle. Lastly, she cracked open an egg. Sprinkling a pinch of salt, she took a spatula and flipped the patties. The surface had caramelized into a brown color.

The oil from the meat spilled out onto the griddle. Hana used the spatula to pout it over the egg, making it bubble. She moved the bacon to make sure it didn’t burn. She grabbed burger buns and toasted it on the griddle. She put the bread on a plate after a few seconds.

She added a layer of lettuce.Grabbing the condiment bottles, she squeezed the appropriate amounts of ketchup, mayo and secret sauce. Then, she assembled the burger.

Bun, lettuce, sauce, patty, sauce, bacon, bun, egg, sauce, patty, sauce, bacon and bun.

She cut the ultimate double decker burger in half and took off her glove.

Hana approached the couple with her proud work on a tray. She also handed them their drinks. Hugging the now empty tray on her chest, she bowed, “Hope you enjoy! I’ll serve your pizza in a few minutes.”

“That looks so satisfying to watch” Lauren breathed out. She leaned down and eyed the burger from the side. She could see small bubbles still sizzling on the patty, “Who would have thought such a small frame had this level of skill?”

“She must have worked hard” Colin remarked, “Come on, eat it while it’s fresh.”

Halfway done with the burger, the pizza arrived. The mozzarella flowed over the edges, the sausages looked juicy and the veggies softened enough to still have a bite to them.

Lauren put her half of the burger down to take a slice. A pleased sound rumbled in her throat, “If the food in all our dates is going to be this delicious, I’ll gain so much weight.”

“Does that mean you agree to more dates?”

The cheerleader choked. Colin instantly patted her back and gave her the can of Pepsi. Lauren gulped it down happily. She heaved a bit and thumped on her chest with a fist. The pain in her throat faded away.

She shifted her head towards Colin. He raised his eyebrows at the sudden attention. Lauren stayed quiet for a moment. She pressed her lips together, thinking. When she spoke, it came out barely audible.

“I do,” she nodded, “I agree to more dates.”

Colin couldn’t describe the world of emotions that shot out of his chest. He feared he’d lose his heart and stop moving. The sensation flowed to every cell in his body. Even then, it felt like he didn’t have enough space for it.

On the outside, he smiled warmly at the girl in front of him and hoped his eyes could relay the way she made him feel right now.

Lauren giggled, her lips curving up. A flash of color appeared from the corner of her eye. She turned her towards her right.

A large white unicorn strolled around the park. It had a golden horn plus warm-colored mane and tail. In its hand were strings of balloons. Anytime a child looked at it, the unicorn would hand over a balloon. The child would squeal in delight and attract others, surrounding the unicorn.

Colin followed her line of sight. He chuckled with his mouth closed, “That reminds me of something.”

“What is it?” Lauren asked, shifting her attention towards him.

Colin’s gaze stayed on the unicorn and said, “A mascot onced injured itself when a kid suddenly came running out of nowhere. The costume is bulky so even though the fall wasn’t much, the costume made it so. Max immediately called for help but no one could replace the worker.”

“Let me guess” Lauren cut in, “He took over the job.”

“Until they could find someone else, yeah, he did.”

Lauren folded her arms on the counter and bit her bottom lip, “You talk about him a lot.”

Colin scrunched his eyebrows at her, “What do you mean? I only mentioned him twice today.”

“Well, there was that time at school too.”

The memory replayed in Colin’s mind. He knew exactly which one she meant.

“I don’t need to tell you that he’s a good guy for you to know that.”

“Yeah, I know” Lauren sighed, slumping over the counter, “It’s just… Why does he have to be so flirty? Should I start setting him up on dates and hope he commits to one girl?”

“You think that would change him for the better?” Colin brushed the bangs that blocked his view of her face, “Max will have his own time.”

“You’re right.”

Colin sipped from his glass of vanilla coke. Then, ate a slice of pizza, “Want to check out the shows after this? There’s synchronized swimming today.”

Lauren stared up at the sky, clicking her tongue, “Are there any games?”

“Yeah, we can check them out after the show.”

===

Nearer to shore, an indoor event and arcade center had been set up. It was a white building . It had a dome roof and a square shape. After the automatic doors, the same narrow paths with card detectors covered the floor. Various wide doorways led to different parts of the building, separated by category.

Lauren found herself in an arena with a large round swimming pool in the middle instead of a court. The ushers led her and Colin to the VIP area. It seemed like they were the only ones to occupy it today. She checked her watch. Only 5 minutes remained before the start of the show.

Yet, nothing seems to be happening by the pool. It stayed empty, crystal blue waters gleaming.

“Do the swimmers have another entrance?” Lauren asked, her eyes stayed on the center of the arena. She had her hands on her lap.

Colin sat with his arms folded over his chest. Upon hearing her question, his lip twitch, “They do. They’ll come out from the sides of the pool while underwater. It’s a spectacular show.”

“Can they hold their breath for that long?”

“I’d like to believe so” Colin chuckled, “Wouldn’t want a professional swimmer drowning.”

Lauren pouted and lightly punched his arm, “Now, you’re just making me sounds stupid for asking.”

Colin laughed. Then, he rubbed off the crease in her brows with his finger, “I beg to differ. I think I just made you sound adorable.”

Lauren tilted her head to the side, still facing him. She had an innocent expression on her face. She gazed at him as if curious about something, “You mean like how adorable you were for pooping your pants?”

Sharp pain suddenly pinched her cheeks. Lauren squealed. Before she could lift her hands and try to pry Colin’s off, he already released her, “Yes, you look adorable saying it that it’s unfair.”

Lauren stuck her tongue out. Then, she covered her cheeks. She realized she might need to shield them every time she’d bring that up. The knowledge just sounded too cute for her not to tease him about it. If he didn’t really want to be teased, he shouldn’t have pooped his pants!

An alarm bell echoed in the arena. The pair quickly shifted their attention to the pool. Everyone sat with anticipation. Music began to float out of the speakers. The rest became quiet.

Soon, the swimmers came out just like how Colin mentioned they would.

Lauren gasped.

Various colors popped out from the sides of the pool. They flapped their tails, glistening despite the lack of sunlight. Their hair flowed with the water, rising and falling like waves. Their arms gracefully pushed them towards the center, giving an illusion of wings. When they gathered together, all of them backflipped.

Their tails surfaced over the water.

“Mermaids” Lauren breathed out, “I’m actually watching mermaids put up a show!”

“I told you that you’d like it” Colin chuckled, wrapping an arm around her shoulders.

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