PIT STOP #1
Gia pulled in front of the gas pump and parked. Resting one hand on the door lever, she turned to face her passengers.
“Okay, you guys, this is our first stop,” she said. “Am I good to open this door, or do we need to review the rules one more time before we get out?”
“Couldn’t hurt to have a refresher!” Adam said cheerfully from the back seat.
From two rows up, Whitney rolled her eyes and reached for a phone she no longer had to distract herself. When she realized she was reaching for nothing, she folded her arms and pouted.
Gia looked over the rest of the group and gave them the short version of her speech. “You have the time it takes to fill up the tank, plus five minutes, to do your browsing and make your purchase. If you’re feeling homesick and want to go home, simply walk off the gas station property and you will be immediately escorted home with no chance of returning. If you’re out, you’re out. Any questions?”
“We get it,” Bella called out like a grouch. “Can I please go buy an overpriced Pepsi now with my five whole dollars now?”
Gia opened the main door and brought up a tiny stack of fives. “Yes.”
Chad was the first to pop out of his seat and head for the door, followed by a carefully composed Whitney, and an annoyed Bella.
Adam and Kei seemed less inclined to move so Gia waved the last two bills at them.
“This is a required exit,” she said. “You must step off the vehicle, even if you just stand outside. I can’t have anyone on board without me.”
Both teens stood without a word, took a five as they passed, and started toward the store.
A few steps away from the vehicle, Gia heard Adam’s voice in her earpiece.
“I follow you on Instagram,” he was saying to Kei. “I’m a big fan. I would seriously love to chat if you are feeling up to it at some point, but obviously have no desire to bother you if you don’t want to be talked to.”
Oof, was all Gia could think as she removed the gas cap. The kid really didn't spend a lot of time with people his own age and it showed.
“Thank you. I'll let you know,” Kei’s alto voice replied and Gia was wondering where the conversation could possibly go from there when she heard Adam croon, “Oh, look! Stickers!” and start running toward the store.
Resisting the urge to facilitate in some way, Gia pulled the nozzle from the gas pump, turned her back to the store, and started filling the tank.