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with the holidays finally being over, manny was grateful to be able to go back to having a somewhat normal schedule. he was just back to his regular schedule of working like crazy, and it showed. it didn't take long for his mom and brother to call him out on it; pretty much everyone had been encouraging him to take some time off. he was finally listening, and decided to go grab some pizza. he was sitting at a table for one when he noticed dottie from a distance, sitting in a booth of her own. he hadn't seen her in such a long time, and what were the odds? he slid his phone in his pocket and went over to her booth, sliding into the seat across from her. "what's up, stranger? long time no see," he said with a grin, realizing why he'd caught her off guard when he saw her eyes. " you look fried as hell," manny said with a laugh.
"huh?" when she mistook him for somebody else, manny was confused at first. but he soon understood, and chuckled a little bit. the guy she was with clearly understood what was going on here. he just shrugged his shoulders, tough luck for this guy. he didn't mean to intercept, but it was what it was. "well damn," he remarked, his eyes going back over to dottie with a smile. he shook his head at her. "i've been great, i really can't complain." he said honestly. manny wasn't the type to take advantage of how lucky he was in the least. "what you been up to? other than breaking ole boy over theres' heart?" he asked, nodding over towards her date.
manny chuckled a little when she called him a stranger. it was true, it had been a long time; way too long. he was almost still a little shocked they were sitting in front of each other. he listened when she talked about what she'd been up to, genuinely interested in how she'd been spending her time. "that's good though, school can be a good thing for sure. what are you majoring in?" since he'd graduated almost a year ago, he could look back at school with a pretty good perspective. "i'll come if i get some more free pizza, yes," manny said, laughing as he went to pull a slice of pizza for herself. "is it really that bad? i know niggas are something else but you can't be struggling this hard."
manny wasn't surprised that she was still dragging this out. dottie had always been a tad bit dramatic, she reminded him of tristyn in that way. but still, that didn't stop him from throwing his two cents in where it fit. "you got one more time to try to throw me under the bus. the phone goes both ways, goofy." he said with a chuckle, reaching for a napkin to wipe the grease around his mouth. "that's really good, are you at harding? their business program is really good. tough, but i was grateful when i finished it." granted, he had double majored so his workload was a bit excessive. "i can't be there for support when i know it's a lie," he teased back. "but pizza? pizza will get me to go just about anywhere for a certain amount of time."
manny noticed how quickly her vibe changed, and he was surprised she didn't say anything about it. her response was so short and to the point, something told him that wasn't necessarily the end of how she felt about it. "why the long face? i wasn't tryna make you feel bad." he offered, although he wouldn't push any further if she didn't want him to. he nodded at her congratulations, although he wouldn't spend much time dwelling on his own accomplishments. "thanks.. you liking it so far, though?" he was hoping she could see the same success that he did in his time there. "oh, you do?" he was skeptical, but he was going to attempt to let her have this moment for as long as he could. "who? describe em, i wanna know about your lil girlfriends." he said with a smirk. manny chuckled when she said he wouldn't be getting any pizza. "who's gonna stop me? the pizza police?"
he listened to what she said and by the undertones in her voice, manny could tell she was being genuine. it was something about the way she said it that let him know he could relate, and even more so when she apologized for being all up in her head. he shook his head, letting her know it was nothing to be sorry about. "nah, it's okay, i understand what you mean. but just know you're never a pest to me, you haven't done anything to bother me too bad." he said, adding a smile onto that last part so that she knew he was only joking. "you'll get used to it eventually. it can be tough, but once you get i the hang of it, it'll be a breeze." manny had faith in dottie's time at harding as a business student. "well excuse the hell out of me, ma'am," manny waved off her hand while snickering himself at her antics. "first of all, you can't be the pizza police while trying to cruise tinder for your next wife. that's a conflict of interest, you can't focus on both full time." he teased her. "so i hate to break it to you, but your cop cover is blown. unless you plan on showing me a badge, some ID or something, this pizza is going in my mouth."
manny was glad that when it came to their friendship, they were on the same page now. he didn't want any misunderstood or harsh feelings between them. "maaan, listen.." manny said with a chuckle as he picked up a napkin to wipe the pizza grease from his mouth. "i'm not delusional, i know school isn't for everybody." being naturally gifted when it came to school didn't make him ignorant to the capabilities of others. "but what i do know is that you're smart enough to get your degree, finesse the system and end up with some good money out of it. no need to drop out and hustle when you got it in you to finish." he told her. manny could speak form experience, he knew that the pressures of school were overwhelming. but he saw such good things in dottie's future, he wasn't even going to joke about her dropping out. "you know what..." he said with a laugh, relaxing back in his seat since he'd regrettably ate his pizza way too fast. "you know what the hell i meant. and even if you don't, you just proved my point. you can't do both cause you doing too much, can't multi-task to save your life, miss pizza police officer."
with how she was changing the subject, manny was finding it hard not to laugh. dottie was so damn goofy and she almost always had something to say that made him chuckle, even if she wasn't trying to be funny. "you know what.." he said with a shake of his head as he tossed the napkin down. he decided not to fight her any longer on the subject; he'd said enough. besides, she was going in for no good reason. "you taking multi-tasking to new heights today, huh? roasting and you got about 5 jobs apparently now." he said, laughing. "you the one that invited me over here to eat up this pizza. i was just trying to do what was asked of me."