“Ugh, why do we have to do this again?”
Quinn frowned, glancing around at the other girls at the table. “It’s a bonding activity,” she said with a sigh. “And it doesn’t even include doing any magic, so I thought you would be more ok with it.”
“Oh yeah, because I just love spending time with all of you,” Gladys replied, rolling her eyes. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad for the help with Ian, but we aren’t friends or whatever.”
“But we could be friends!” Stella said. The others turned to look at her, eyebrows raised and incredulous looks on their faces, and she wilted, smile quickly fading. “Sorry,” she mumbled, a little red faced.
“Whatever,” Emma said. She flicked a crumb off the table, grimacing. “Couldn’t we have at least gone to a clean restaurant?”
“It’s as clean as any other restaurant, Emma,” Quinn said with another weary sigh. “Everybody likes chicken, right? This is the best chicken place in the city.”
“If you say so,” Nina muttered.
Conversation tapered off to replaced by an even more awkward silence. Emma continued to refuse to touch the table, arms crossed over her chest. Nina and Gladys both stared out the window, ignoring the hopeful glances Stella sent around the table every so often. Even Quinn seemed resigned to the resentful silence.
Their food arrived just in time because Nina was starting to look like she was about to try to make a run for it. They all dug in, uncomfortable silence morphing into something a little nicer as everyone concentrated on eating as much of the delicious chicken as they could.
They were all smiling, more or less happy, by the time they finished. They’d even managed a few minutes of friendly conversation that hadn’t once included their various issues with magic or each other. It was nicer than any of them could have hoped for.
“That wasn’t so bad, was it?” Quinn asked, smiling and looking around the table.
Gladys sighed, but it was obviously just for show as she seemed just as happy as the others. “I guess not.”
“So we can do it again?” Stella asked brightly. The others groaned, but Quinn nodded. “Yes! Party at my place!”