Holland carried her coffee to the table Amanda and Emma sat at, searching the Grill for Victoria in the hope that maybe she hadn't died on her date. She'd said she wouldn't care, but, really, without her speed, the girls lacked one very important talent. And there she was, making her way from the entrance door to the girls' table. She wore a mustard yellow top that puffed out at her waist, decorated with tiny black deer. Her jeans hugged her skinny legs and her yellow stilettos silenced the Grill as she strutted her way towards the girls.
Holland slid onto the bench, kneeing Amanda as she did. The two girls exchanged questioning looks before welcoming Victoria to sit down.
'Hello, people I would prefer to drop of the face of the earth than confront in a public space,' she said in monotone, bracing her hands on the table and letting her hair fall forward.
'Thank you for your kind words of greeting,' Holland said sarcastically. 'Are you going to sit down and confront the situation at hand with us or just stand there with your but shoved in the back of that guy's head.'
Victoria looked catlike when she smiled - her eyes were all squinty, her eyelashes layered so thick with sparkly mascara, and her lips pursed. 'I'm sure he doesn't mind.'
'What would you like to say, Vicky?' Amanda asked, flicking pieces of lettuce and tomato around her plate with a fork.
'You're going to eat that?' Victoria exclaimed. 'That stuff is smothered in oil, you know that, right? Oops, my bad. It's not you we need to worry about, is it . . . Emma?'
Holland jumped up, leaning over Amanda to get in Victoria's evil, smiling face. 'What do you want, because if you're just here to bully us, we would rather you go back to where you came from.'
'Really?' she said. 'I was having a good time. Mind you,' Victoria said, clicking her tongue and pointing her finger at her in thought. 'It was a bit dirty. I would have liked him to pick a more romantic spot than the cleaning cupboard, but when a girl has to, I'm fairly certain anywhere would do - '
'Shut up!' Holland screamed.
'That's disgusting,' Emma murmured, pushing her quiche away from her.
Victoria smiled. 'Oh, I'm sorry, Emma? I was too busy choking back vomit at the fat, lumpy sight of you - '
'Is there a problem here?' a male voice intersected. Holland felt his breath on her neck, his hand on her flexed arm. Matt had come from nowhere, suddenly with his hard body pressed up against her back. She shivered, shocked by the pleasant feeling of his hard grip on her arm.
Victoria's face sweetened. 'Matt, how nice of you to join the party. Tell me, what do you think is a better way to lose weight quickly? Vomiting up everything you eat, or . . . not eating at all?'
'Neither, they're both unhealthy options.'
Holland sunk back down into her seat, shrugging Matt off her. She didn't want to look at him, she didn't want to need his help. She just wanted him to go away. She'd lost her temper with Victoria again - that much was inevitable - but she didn't need him to think he could be her hero and then she'd suddenly appreciate his flirting.
'Well, you see, Emma over here has a bit of an eating issue.' Victoria pulled an odd face. 'We can't get any fruit into her, it's just chips and lollies and chocolate biscuits. I'm really very concerned for her.'
'Victoria,' Amanda said through gritted teeth.
'Oh, sorry! We are really concerned for her. I'd like to make a suggestion to your manager. You can take the message can't you?'
'I think you need to leave,' Matt said, purposefully pushing his thigh into Holland's back. She wanted to slap him away, only that he was pushing so hard she couldn't move. Was he seriously coming onto her in a moment like that? What kind of sick sexual stuff was he into?
'I am seriously worried for my friend, Matthew. And your food does not help - there's too much oil, too much salt . . .' She waved off each one of her complaints in a droning tone.
'Victoria,' Matt said, 'I'm asking you to leave now. If you wish to return in a less disturbing manner, I'd be happy to pass on your revised, less targetting message to my manager.'
'How dare you - '
All three girls watched her pause, Holland finding it particularly difficult to move her head up far enough to watch her storm out of the Grill. Her chest was pressed so hard against the bench she knew she'd wake up with bruises the following morning against her ribs and on her back. She wanted to breathe hard and heavily to release her anger, but her lungs were struggling hard enough to breathe normally. Her sweaty hands grasped the bench beside her bottom.
Amanda looked worriedly to Holland. 'Should I go after her? I can try and get her to read the test paper again.'
Holland gulped, trying but failing to look up at Matt to glare at him. 'No,' she grunted, clearing her throat. 'Let her cool off.' She put her hands on the table. 'You guys can go. I don't want to continue this meeting. Amanda, I'll meet you back at the house. Order a pizza if you want.'
'Three cheeses or hawaiian.'
'Both. I need something to make me happy.'
Emma followed Amanda out of the Grill, her head down and her hands on her stomach.
Holland was silent for what felt like a few minutes before Matt finally got off her. She coughed and shot out of her seat, turning around to punch him, but he was already sitting down in the seat across from her. He had one leg on either side of the bench, his hands in front of him and the usual tea towel swung over his shoulder.
Holland reached out to slap him. 'What the hell were you thinking?!'
Matt caught her hand beside his face and pulled her into a sitting position, holding her hand in her lap against her struggling.
'I was keeping you from starting a fight. You don't know what you looked like. I honestly thought you might kill her.'
Holland snatched her bag and took a hair-tie. 'I was perfectly under control. I didn't need you to press your body up against me.'
Matt shook his head. 'I wasn't being sexual, if that's what you thought.' He sighed. 'Look, I work here, Holland. It's my job to keep it a safe area.'
She scoffed and shoved away from him. 'You clean tables. I think being a bouncer is a little past your capabilities.'
'Holland, I didn't mean - ' Matt grabbed her wrist, trying to stop her from leaving.
'You don't know the first thing about me, Matt. Interrupt me and my friends again and I'll be the one talking to your manager, asking for him to remove you from his working staff!'
She whipped her hand away and hurried out of the Grill, wondering how on earth she was going to get Victoria to cooperate.