The first time she sees him, he's with his friends.
Rich, loud, obnoxious friends with names like "Dick" and "Beaver." Dick and Beaver, seriously? Although there are 13 people in line behind him, he makes her wait for his order and when she asks him for the third time if he's decided, he cocks his head and tells her, "Someone's impatient. I need some time to think it over. What do you suggest?" And he proceeds to give her a smug grin, as if to convey that all the unfortunate souls behind him should bend over and kiss his ass.
The entitled, self-centeredness of it all is astounding.
If he asked them to, they probably would. He being an Echolls and all. The only reason she knows that is because her mother likes to bring home tabloids from the supermarket. Lately, the young Mr. Echolls is a staple. From who he's dating to where he's partying, he seems to be quite a topic of interest.
Just looking at him makes her want to punch him in his stupid, conceited face.
She calmly – well, as calmly as possible while reminding herself that she needs this paycheck and should not voice her internal thoughts – advocates strongly for a chocolate milkshake. No. Moosetracks on a waffle cone? No. Peach and raspberry swirl on a sugar cone? No. Hot caramel sundae? No.
Then the idea hits her: last night's leftover ice cream was moved to the store room and likely has a thick coating of freezer burn on top because the owner doesn't care enough to fix the old freezer. All of the flavors mixed together in one tub. A hard, ice-covered, stomach-churning combination of flavors.
"We do have one more thing but I'm sure you wouldn't be interested."
"Do tell," and he looks at her name tag for a long moment - or maybe he's just looking at her boobs - then back to her eyes, "Veronica."
She gives him a saccharine-sweet smile. "It's this amazing new flavor the owner's been working on. He told us not to sell it to the public yet because we don't have enough. It's called Galaxy and it's so, so good."
"Hmm. That so? Sounds perfect. I'll take a scoop in a cup."
She turns, grins to herself, and goes to the back to scoop - or rather, chip at - yesterday's remnants. With single-minded focus, she ensures the icy part is in the middle and walks back to the angry, ice cream-deprived mob.
"That'll be $7.00," she says, wiping her hands on her apron.
He pulls out his wallet and pauses. "I thought a scoop was only $3.50?"
"Yes, but with special flavors, I have to charge double."
She places the container in front of him, a kaleidoscope of colors contained therein, and he eyes it suspiciously. He hands her $7.01 and tells her to keep the change with a wink.
The second time she sees him, she's with her dog.
He's alone, walking up the beach, wet, with his surfboard tucked under his arm. He glances at her as she looks down, hoping that he won't remember her face. He takes two steps past her, stops, and does some kind of complicated-looking pivot maneuver.
"Well, if it isn't my favorite ice cream shop worker. Veronica, right?" She wonders whether she can get away with ignoring him and continuing on her way. She makes the decision to keep walking and hears him jog up to her.
"Is there something I can help you with?" She looks him up and down, tapping her foot impatiently in the sand, which doesn't communicate the intended message and only serves to get her toes extra-sandy.
"Oh, come on, now. I thought we were buddies. I mean, you did let me order the top-shelf manager's special the last time I was in. I'm guessing you save that flavor only for VIP's like me, right?"
"That's right. Only my favorite customers are allowed to order Galaxy. I'm pretty sure I'm the only one who knows about it."
He leans down to whisper in her ear. "I'll let you in on a little secret - it sucked. Big time. But I'm sure you know that, don't you?"
She gives him a wide-eyed, innocent look and says, "Sorry. Everyone else loves it." She shrugs her shoulders, tightens the leash in her grasp, and begins to walk away.
"No problem. I'll let you make it up to me by giving me my next order on the house. I'll be sure to get in your line, Veronica."
The third time she sees him, he's alone.
He shows up in the rain at five minutes till close. There hadn't been any customers for the last two hours and she'd already cleaned up and was ready to walk out the door.
She opens her tiny window with a tight smile and says, "Sorry, we're closed."
"Ah, no, you're not. It says right here that you're open until 10:00. My very fine Swiss watch tells me that it's only 9:55."
Seriously. This guy.
She looks behind her and points to the clock on the wall that all of the employees use. They have a complicit agreement that the openers move it ahead five minutes after opening and the closers push it back five minutes after closing. It gives the morning crew some extra time and the evening crew gets to close early. Win-win.
"We lowly workers use that clock, right back there. You'll have to come back another day."
He leans down, his face close to the window, so they're both eye-to-eye. "I'm very impressed with the customer service in this establishment. I can see you embody the whole 'customer is always right' mentality."
"If I had a dollar for every time I've heard that…"
"You'd have a dollar?" He smirks at her.
She bites her lip to keep from smiling.
"Fine, kick me to the curb. I'll be back. When do you work next?"
"There are other fully-qualified employees who have the ability to scoop ice cream. You can go to any one of them."
"But I'm not interested in going to them. I'm only interested in you." He taps his finger three times on the chipped, blue-painted wood shelf in front of him and starts backing away.
"See you later, Veronica."
Seriously. This guy.
The fourth time she sees him, she's expecting it.
It's been two days since her last shift. She's working alone again because it's fall and people only buy ice cream on sunny weekend days this time of year. It's fine, it gives her plenty of time to do her homework, even if it is a little mind-numbing.
He knocks on her window fifteen minutes till close so she can't turn him away again, although she'd really like to try.
She flips her physics book over and opens the window.
"You sure do love ice cream, don'tcha?"
Another self-satisfied smile. "I've been having a craving I can't get rid of."
"Great, what can I get you?"
He looks over the board containing the day's flavors.
"I notice Galaxy hasn't made the list today. That's a shame."
"That's more of a hidden menu item. I can always get you Galaxy, if that's what you're in the mood for."
"Hmm. It's not exactly what I'm in the mood for tonight. Why don't you surprise me? You seem to be good at that."
She nods and closes the window.
When she returns, she sets a large waffle bowl sundae in front of him. Pistachio ice cream swimming in marshmallow topping and a mound of gummy bears on top. Sickly sweet and truly revolting.
He looks at it, then back at her with a raised brow. "Looks… interesting, does it have a name?"
"I like to call it The Veronica Special."
"Can't wait to taste it. I'll bet it's delicious." Another smug grin and he asks what he owes.
"Nothing, this one's on the house." Enjoy, jerk.
Ten minutes later, she grabs her tip jar from the shelf and dumps it out. Another slow night; a handful of change, three $1's, and a crisp $50 bill.
She pockets it with smile.
The fifth time she sees him, leaning against a yellow beast of a car, he's staring at her.
Correction: smirking at her, obviously amused with the scene before him.
"It looks like you're in trouble there. Can I help?"
She rolls her eyes heavenward and gives him a brisk, "No, thank you." She wonders how she got elected – for the fifth week in a row - to change the sign. Actually, she knows. It's because Allison flirts with the boss and tells him she doesn't want to do it.
Of all the tasks required of employees working at Sweet Licks, changing the sign is the absolute worst. It's about thirty feet high and insanely difficult to pop the letters in and out. There's this long pole that's supposed to grab them but Veronica's never got the hang of it. It's so unwieldy that she's often just trying to keep it upright, swaying with it, praying she doesn't accidentally drop it on one of the cars.
In addition, Sweet Licks has a shortage of vowels in its letter inventory. Plenty of "U's" but only one "E" and one "A" make a terrible job even more challenging. They're also missing "X" and "P" but those are easier to work around. She's running out of ideas for slogans. This week, she's settled on:
U R GOING TO LUV OUR NEW FLAVORS
She doesn't care that there aren't any new flavors, she really just wants to get this over with. Also, if she fucks it up, maybe they won't ask her to do it again.
Logan finds her struggling with sliding the "U" into place.
"You sure about that? It seems like maybe you're a bit too - how do I put this delicately – small for this job."
"You think you can do it better? Be my guest."
He strides over to her, grabs the pole out of her hands, and slides the "U" into place with ease. She pouts. Of course, he's good at this. He's like 17 feet tall and broad-chested.
She tells him, letter by letter, what to put up and he finally reads the sign when he's finished and laughs.
"I hope you're not referring to Galaxy. I don't want to feel responsible in any way for that flavor being released to the masses."
"Nope," she says, popping the "p", "that flavor is all yours."
"See, I knew you thought I was special." His eyes are actually freaking twinkling at her.
"You have a very high opinion of yourself."
"Of course I do. Someone needs to."
She crosses her arms and squints up at him in the sun. "I'm beginning to worry about your obsession with ice cream. This is like the third time you've been here this week. You should be concerned about your excessive intake of sugar and dairy."
"What can I say? Sweet Licks really does it for me." He smiles down at her and, yeah, his flirting game is getting to her. She can feel her cheeks flush and she looks down to hide it.
She takes the pole back from him, sliding her fingers over his, and thanks him for the help.
"I'd say you owe me now, wouldn't you agree?" He's following her to the back of the store, carrying the box of letters.
"Nah, you offered. I think when you offer, there's no owe-age necessary. Plus, I gave you The Veronica Special at no charge last time so I'd say we're even."
She puts the pole back on the hooks in the store room, snatches the box of letters from him, and bends down to put in on the floor. When she's fully upright, she spins back around and he's right there. A moment of unspoken agreement pass between them and then he kisses the hell out of her. Lips and tongue sliding over hers until they're both breathless. It's the best kiss she's ever had, maybe the best kiss anyone's ever had. Like ever.
His hands are circling her waist, fingers gently caressing her lower back through her white Sweet Licks t-shirt. "Go out with me tomorrow? Please?" He's doing his grinning, twinkling-eye thing and she's toast.
"Okay," she replies, breathily, without thinking. Then she thinks about it for a minute... and the kiss... and, yeah, okay. "Wait, you've never even told me your name." Because she's not going to give him the satisfaction of thinking that she already knows.
And she can tell - he's searching her face, trying to decipher if she's telling the truth. His lips quirk up on the side and it seems like he hopes she doesn't know. Like he'd be disappointed if she did. So she tries her best to look surprised when he tells her. He kisses her hand, gets her number, and leaves. She can hear him whistling while he walks to his car.
The 178th time she sees him, her heart skips a beat.
He's standing at her door, gorgeous in jeans and leather jacket. He's holding a bag from Sweet Licks in one hand and a wrapped gift in the other.
"Happy Anniversary." He shakes the bag at her. She lets him in and he does his spinning-kiss thing with her into the kitchen.
"Oooh, what'd you bring?" Working at an ice cream shop never dampened Veronica's love of it. It just gave her easy access to her food-of-choice. She opens it to find "two Veronica Specials." She pops a gummy bear into his mouth and realizes that she's just totally, completely gone for him, grinning as she gives him a quick kiss.
She runs her hands over his shoulders. "I guess that's appropriate. You did give me two Logan Specials the other night."
He wraps his arms around her and whispers, "I think we could try for three Logan Specials tonight."
She agrees, humming into his neck, "If we do, I may be willing to discuss redefining the term Veronica Special."
He pulls her by the hand into her bedroom. "Let the brainstorming begin."