He returned her grin, having heard the stories of her first attempt at working in her own cafe, which had started with Maya’s father showing up, and ended with Katy dumping his drink over his head and shoving a cake in his face.
“Like mother, like daughter,” he muttered, feeling a bit of kindred empathy towards the hapless man. On his only date with Maya, if he could even call it that, it had also ended with her dumping her smoothie and his smoothie over his head.
Topanga raised her brows, but pretended to have not heard, instead returning to his earlier question. “Mr. Feeny was Cory’s neighbor, and also our teacher from elementary, all the way up through high school and through college.” She cocked her head. “He was also our high school principal, and ended up marrying the dean of our college.”
Lucas nearly choked on his drink.
“Relax.” She laughed. “Cory is only qualified and certified for K-12. He’d have to go back and do more studying and take more exams to even begin to be considered for college level teaching. Not even the superintendent of schools can make that happen.”
He nodded, but remained quiet, determined to follow her lead, since she was the one who had sought him out. She smirked, recognizing the ploy.
“You know, I’m good at what I do for a reason. We can sit here staring at each other and going around in circles, or we can actually talk.” She said bluntly.
He widened his eyes, all innocence. “My mama taught me to always let ladies go first.”
She chuckled. “That’s not all she taught you. Amelia Friar is a sharp lady. I’m glad she’s a co-worker and not an opponent.” He smiled proudly, but still remained quiet. She rolled her eyes, still amused and liking him more and more. “If you just sit here, you’re really just going to make yourself dizzy trying to understand her logic. It’s a Matthews thing.”
“Cory and Riley have two of the biggest hearts in the world, and that means they often lead with them instead of their heads.” She offered a commiserating smile. “That means that the things that you or I may take affront to don’t even register with them, but when it comes to matters of the heart, they take things very personal.”
“I just don’t get it!” He burst out. “How does she go from saying she likes me, to wanting some kind of platonic–whatever–relationship, to Maya liking me, to now both of them do, but they won’t choose! And I hate it, because they’re both my friends and I don’t want anyone to get hurt and why are girls so freaking complicated?!?”
Topanga sat and listened sympathetically until he ran out of words and slumped, exhausted.
“Not really.” He grumbled.
“Well buckle up, buttercup, because this is where I go full blown mom-mode and offer some friendly, if blunt advice. You ready?”
He sighed. “This is gonna be like one of Mr. Matthews’ teaching moments, isn’t it?”
Topanga impulsively reached out and brushed a lock of hair out of his eyes, before lightly tapping her fingers under his chin to get him to raise his head to look at her. “Yes, but there’s no conflict between mom and teacher here. They’re one and the same. I’m speaking as Riley’s mother, but also as someone who has been in your situation.”