JoAnn wasn't wrong. Oh, she was not wrong. At all.
Danielle was. This wasn't heaven.
This was hell.
Danielle was seated between Criss and his brother, JD. The fact that JoAnn sat next to Criss made her uneasy, besides the fact that the woman didn't stop smiling at her. It wasn't in a wierdo sort of way, just very friendly.
Danielle wasn't in the mood to make friends.
The waitress came over and started taking drink orders.
Danielle was straight-edge. She'd been that way ever since Derek's dad - who was like a father to her - had died from alcohol poisoning. She'd tried to talk Derek into doing the same thing she was going to do, but he wouldn't listen. He got through his father's death by drinking.
Being straight-edge meant that she would not drink, smoke, or have sex - at least until marriage.
But right now, Danielle needed a stiff drink.
Even so, she was almost thirty. She made that vow when she was fifteen. Twelve years, she thought, was good enough.
Besides - how would Criss react if she told the waitress she would just like water, due to the fact that she was straight-edge?
"What would you like, hon?" The waitress had to be two years older than Dani, yet, she talked to her as if she were a teen-ager.
"We're getting a bottle of red wine," Criss said, causing the waitress to grin at him.
"I'll just have some of that then," Danielle said.
The waitress smiled. "Okay, all I need to see is your license now."
Danielle stiffened. She looked up at the waitress. "Are you serious?" she sneered.
The waitress only nodded.
As JD snorted to himself, Danielle pulled out her wallet and searched for her license.
She couldn't find it.
"Damn it," she muttered. She sighed, exasperately. "I can't find it."
"Sorry, hon, can't give you the wine then."
"I'm twenty-seven years old!"
"Your saying you are is not a legal way of handling this. I'm sorry, sweetie."
JD grinned. "You wanna milkshake to go with that barbie doll, sweets?"
Danielle reared her fist back, but Criss caught it. "JD, knock it off," he barked. He let go of her hand and when she looked in her palm, her license was in it.
"Why did you have this?" she asked, wheeling around in her seat.
"I noticed you dropped it on your way to the table. I was going to do a magic trick with it, but I didn't think you'd really need it. So, I'm sorry I didn't return it sooner."
Danielle smiled softly. "It's okay." She didn't even look at the waitress; just lifted her arm back and held out the license.
"All I need, hon!" she said, patting her hand. "And you, mister," she said, wagging a finger at JD flirtatiously, "better apologize to her."
He grinned at her. "I will, don't worry."
The waitress smiled at him, before heading off to retrieve the wine.
"So, Danielle .. how exactly did you meet my Christopher?" Mrs. Sarantakos asked, folding her hands around her empty wine glass. She smiled warmly.
"Oh, well .. um, I had taken my friend - my friend's name is Derek - anyways .. I had taken Derek to see an old buddy of his who was staying at the Aladdin. And, um .. let's just say that the guy wasn't too nice to him. You see, Derek has this really .. really obnoxious cry. Like .. loud, short, quick sobs; to the point - you know he's crying. So anyway, when Criss came over to show us a magic trick, I thought his purpose was to make fun of Derek's crying."
"Which I never did, by the way," Criss put in, making his family laugh. He smiled at Danielle. "Sorry I interrupted. Please, continue."
"I was basically done," Dani said, smiling back. JoAnn noticed her smiling and showed her teeth, as well.
She was really friendly, but .. come on. Who's that friendly to a girl that just showed up in her "guy's" life, and was already invited to a family dinner?
Danielle would be suspicious, if she were JoAnn.
"So, Criss tells me you own a bike shop?" JoAnn asked.
Yeah, Danielle thought, like she knew anything about bike shops.
Danielle plastered a fake smile. "Yeah, it's about" - Danielle calculated the distance in her head - "two .. ? Yeah, about two miles from here."
JoAnn nodded and smiled again. Did she ever stop smiling?
The waitress came over and held up their wine; Criss tasted it. Then, after Criss's approval, it was generously served amongst the group.
After orders were taken - since nothing was vegetarian on the menu, Danielle had to order sauteed vegetables, mashed potatoes and a side salad - useless chatter arose. Danielle pounded her first glass of wine, and helped herself to another.
The awkward conversations between herself and Criss's family drove her to finishing off the second one.
When the lights began to dim - only to Danielle - she knew she would soon be drunk as shit.