Amy didn't know what to do.
"I think I'm in-like," she whispered over the plastic lid of her paper-cup espresso. "At first I thought it was just lust, then I thought it might be that I wanted to prove something to myself, but now I think I really like him."
"OK, don't panic," said U. "Stay calm." She stood up and started walking back and forth in the kitchen, holding her coffee in two hands in front of her like a ceremonial urn. Her hair was in pig-tails. She wore her "Why me?" t-shirt.
"You're pacing," said Amy.
U stopped and looked hard at Amy. "I'm the one who has to handle all the stress of keeping you relaxed." U finally swung into a chair - first spinning it so it was back to front, like cowboys used to do in the movies.
Ferguson noticed this and was impressed. He tried to copy it with his kid-size plastic chair. Carmen sat across from him at their kid-size table devouring Nutella on Wheat Thins and on slices of apple.
Bartlette emitted a low-level but steady whine from her mother's arms. She had sprouted a tooth, and along with it a temperature and a rash on her bottom.
U took hold of Amy's hand. Amy noticed her friend's hands were shaking.
"How many lattes today, U?"
"Seven," she smiled and drank deeply from her cup. "But every other one I order half-strength."
"I think County Hospital runs an exchange program. If you turn in your coffee beans, they give you decaf in a clean cup."
"You're changing the subject."
"Avoidance behavior is the only way I can calm down enough to face the problems of my life," said Amy.
"You're just scared. Admit it."
"What are you scared of Mommy?" asked Carmen.
"Nothing, dear. I'm fearless."
"What's fearless?" said Ferguson.
"It's where you pretend not to be scared," said U.
"I can do that," said Carmen.
Everyone laughed. Then U leaned over and whispered to Amy: "OK, here's the litmus test for being in-like. Ready? Close your eyes and imagine your favorite hunk - Brad Pitt, Cary Grant, whoever."
"Who is it?"
"I'm not telling."
"You are so boring sometimes."
"Anyway. Now imagine you have call waiting."
"Can I have really fast Internet, too?"
"Stop fooling around. OK, you've got Brad or Cary on the line and the guy is hot for you, whispering how he's completely infatuated and asking you out to some fantastic place to eat -- and you get a call from Charlie. Do you tell Brad to wait, and take Charlie's call? What do you do?"
"You're weird," whispered Amy.
"This is important," said U.
"What's important?" said Carmen, who's hearing had improved markedly now that she wasn't chomping on Wheat Thins.
"Nothing," said U.
"Everything," said Amy.
Carmen shook her head. "Why are you whispering?"
"To save our voices," said U.
"So we can talk longer," said Amy. "Friends do that sometimes."
Bartlette let out a howl. Amy stood up to give her a few soothing knee bends.
"Don't try to escape this," said U. "Close your eyes again. Can you imagine it?"
"Yeah, OK," said Amy, shutting her eyes and smiling. But the smile vanished as the seconds ticked by. Frown lines appeared on her face.
"OK, fine," whispered U in her ear. "Now you ask yourself the question. With that complete situation surrounding you - experiencing what you feel there - go ahead and ask yourself the question."
There was a pause. Amy stopped doing her knee bends. She peeked out at U. "What's the question again?"
"Who do you put on hold? Jesus, Amy, this is your life we're talking about."
Suddenly, there was a big bang and Ferguson, who had been working on the cowboy backwards-chair-sit-down method, went down on his elbow. It smarted. Tears appeared in his eyes, but he jumped up. He grabbed his chair and shook it in anger. Then he stated to try the move again, but stopped. He took a breath and closed his eyes. He stood still there for quite a long time.
At last Amy asked, "Fergie, honey. What are you doing?"
He opened one eye. "I'm doing 'fearless.' You know, pretending. But it takes a long time because my elbow hurts."
Amy bent over and kissed him on his head. "I know, honey. You take your time."
When she straightened, U confronted her. "Well?" she whispered. "Did you take his call?"
Carmen drew close, sensing that important information was about to be shared.
Amy just smiled and nodded. It was a huge grin of a smile, too. But U knew there was more to it than that. "Why were you frowning before?"
"Denzel said he'd wait for me forever if he had to. He wanted me that much. It made it a tough decision."
U sighed long and deep and then left to get more coffee.
Amy caught her at the front door. For the first time that afternoon, Amy looked worried. "What do I do now?"
It was U's turn to smile. "Order pizza," she said.
(more to come)
For those who are new here, A is for Amy & Adonis is a serial internet novella which tells the story of the romantic redemption of Amy Franklin. The aim is to provide a fun and fast read with characters you can connect to emotionally. And, as you probably noticed, it's all free.
The chapters are short. So it's easy to catch up.
READ EARLIER POSTS (just click on the one you want)--
Nota Bene -- All the chapters will be archived on Huffpost so people will be able to catch up with the story no matter how late they come to the novella.
I have decided to post two chapters a week. So, if you like what you read here, stay tuned with Huffpost email alerts or follow me on Twitter. --Steven
Follow Steven Crandell on Twitter: www.twitter.com/stevencrandell