I tried to jump out of my chair, but somehow managed to trip over my own foot and barely saved myself from face planting by grabbing hold of the table in front of me. When I looked up, the woman was almost out of sight down the concourse, but I could still catch her if—
"Here's your green tea lemonade!" chirped a voice, and I turned my head to discover one of the baristas standing there with my drink in hand. She had a pleasant smile on her face, and—holy back pain, Batman, the young woman was stacked! Evidently her name was Paula, which I absolutely did not discover thanks to staring at her apron's nametag where it was prominently shoved forward by her ample chest.
"Uh, right…" I managed, and looked out the window again only to discover that I'd lost sight of the sex-bomb. Dammit! Things were not going my way today.
"So what are you up to today?" asked the oddly friendly barista as she set my drink down where I had been sitting and pulled the chair from across the table around to the side to sit immediately next to me.
I stared down at her in confusion. Why on earth was she sitting down? And why move the chair? Also, cleavage.
For lack of anything better to do, and to aid myself in avoiding staring awkwardly at…places…I sat down and picked up my "save the sexy damsel" reward. Blech, I'd forgotten to ask for it without sweetener. I swear Stirbucks gets some sort of kickback from the companies selling dialysis equipment or something.
"Well?" pressed Paula.
She was certainly persistent. "I'm doing some shopping for school."
"Oh yeah? Where are you going? You're high school age, right?"
I pointedly looked over at the counter. "Shouldn't you be working?"
"Amaya has it covered," she said airily, waving it off. "Besides it's dead in here right now anyway."
Couldn't deny that; I was one of the few people here, and the only one who looked like I'd ordered my drink less than thirty minutes ago.
"So?" she said. "What high school?"
I guess it didn't hurt to talk to her for a bit; I'd lost track of the mystery lady anyway, and didn't really want to schlep this drink around. "I'm a sophomore at Alburn High this year."
"No way, really?" she said with excitement. "I'll be a senior there! Maybe we'll see one another! I'm Paula, by the way."
"Uh, yeah," I said, unintentionally glancing down at her chest again. "I gathered."
"Oh ho?" she said, leaning in. "Is the little underclassman already crushing on his beautiful upperclassman from last year?" Then she noticed where my gaze was directed. "…or yeah, it's on my name tag. Phew, close one! I wasn't looking forward to breaking it to you that I'd never noticed you before today."
My face was burning, and I looked out at the concourse once again. What was this girl's deal? We'd never met before, and here she was teasing me for no reason.
Paula waited a beat, but when I sipped my drink without responding she scooted her chair even closer to me and leaned in. "So tell me," she said with a conspiratorial murmur. "Do you typically go around rescuing beautiful women from being hassled on your days out shopping?"
"Ugh, you saw that?" I said, leaning slightly away from her. She was way too close!
She grinned at me. Was she some sort of sadist? Because she sure seemed to be reveling in my discomfort. "Like I said, it's dead in here. Not much to do other than people watch. Now spill it. What did you say to those punks, anyway? I'm super curious here."
"No way," I said. "I need to meet up with my family, so I really should get going." I gulped down the rest of my overly-sweet lemonade and went to stand.
"Aw, come on," said Paula, placing her hand on mine. "You can spend a few minutes with me, can't you?"
I jerked away from her, almost stumbling again in my effort to stand up quicker. "No, sorry, I really have to go. Bye!"
"See you at school!" Paula called merrily after me as I booked it out of Stirbucks, which made me flinch. I decided to cut my losses and didn't look back, merely waving back over my shoulder. Nothing good was going to come of sticking around; she'd clearly just find some other way to torment me.
I strode down the concourse, barely noticing the people I was walking past. These weird coincidences absolutely had to be manga-related somehow. I had the sinking feeling that I knew what they all meant, of course, but I didn't want to admit it. I mean, encountering this many high-spec girls in such a short span of time? There was only one conclusion to draw from that—but no, I wasn't even going to think it. No way, no way, no way.
And speaking of high specs, who the hell was that Hispanic woman? I hadn't had a chance to really think it over since she ditched me in the coffee shop and Paula interfered, but she had to work at the school. There was no way she was a teenager, and I would have recognized a classmate like that on sight, no question. Plus she knew my name! Truly, that was the most disturbing thing.
I just couldn't think of any short, Hispanic adults that looked anything like her. Actually, about the only person I could think of who was roughly the right height was Ms. Cariño, the drama teacher; but even there, she was a good ten years older than this woman appeared to be, and about as far from a sex goddess as you could possibly get. Was it maybe someone in the administration; a secretary or similar? That could possibly explain her knowledge of my name.
But even so, I could swear I would have recognized someone like that! I mean, I was distracted and practically aroused just thinking back, there was no way—
Wham! I stumbled backwards a step, and the girl I'd just run into full on face-planted. Oh, lovely. The obligatory manga panty shot. Looked like my lucky color for panties was pink, and I'd just chalked myself up a second luckily lecherous moment.
"Ow!" she cried, whirling around to face me as she pushed herself to her feet. "What the hell?!"
Three things immediately stood out to me: the girl in front of me was incredibly angry, petite to the point that—had she not been white—she would have blended right into a group of Japanese school girls, and she was sporting a hairstyle that I'd thought no one outside of elementary school and manga actually wore.
Twin-tails. I'd just inadvertently ploughed down a girl with twin-tails. Probably the only person over the age of six in the entire city with this particular hairstyle, and I had to literally run into her.
I put my face in my hands. "Seriously?!" What was with today?