My stomach growled at me as I walked away. The food inside of Fiore smelled good, I was starving. I debated with the idea of stopping for food, but every time I went to go I got derailed, my anger raging once again. I don’t know how far I walked in a huff before I stopped and leaned against a wall and took a deep breath.
My heart was pounding, my palms were sweaty and I felt like I was being followed. I looked around but I saw nothing really of important. Shadows always seemed to shift around me and things I saw. Nothing caught my eye as different.
But I had been wrong. I leaned against the wall and closed my eyes trying to let the anger wash away from me. There was this presence next to me. I opened my eyes and there was nothing, but I still felt like there was someone there, standing next to me.
I took a few more deep breathes and when I opened my eyes there was tall dark and handsome. Dark eyes, his complexion spoke Mediterranean. He smiled at me and I could have sworn I saw the sharp points of fangs in place of his canine teeth. He winked at me, “Alex wants me to take you home.”
He didn’t give me an option as he took my elbow and dragged me down the alley way into deeper shadows. I struggled the whole way, twisting and turning and wrenching my arm this way and that but he never gave even an inch. I was about to yell when we stepped into a shadow and then the next I was vomiting in the shadows of my bathroom. The clean white tile was now covered in vomit. “What the fuck!” I managed to get out before the contents of the coffee and water I’d drank hurled all over my floor.
“Sorry about that.” He said. “I should have warned you first.”
“How the fuck did I get here?” I shouted the best I could while hunched over making sure I was done sicking up.
“He shadow walked you here.” The familiar voice made me stand up and glare at him. “Why don’t you brush your teeth, I took the liberty of moving your toothbrush down stairs with a bowl of water and a fresh cup of water so you didn’t have to stay in here. You can change if you want to. I know I can’t stand to be in the same clothes I lost my lunch over.”
He only said that last part so he didn’t sound like he was ordering me around. I stepped around the pile of puke and frowned looking back at it. “I’ll get this cleaned up and I’ll explain over dinner.”
I wanted to say I wasn’t hungry but he already knew better so I just went down stairs to brush my teeth and change clothes. It felt like something I’d done a lot. My brain was in a fog. It hurt more so than usual. Almost like I had fallen again and smacked my head, except it was worse this time.
I brushed my teeth and dumped the bowl of water and cup outside on the stoop. No point in risking the slosh as I carried it up stairs when the drain was right there to be used anyway.
I changed into a pair of cargo shorts and one of the t-shirts that Alex had given me. It said, “It’s all fun and games until someone loses a weiner.” It had stick men roasting hot dogs over an open fire and one of them lost theirs to the flames. It was childish and I that was how I felt. I grabbed a zip up hoodie and pulled it over my arms and headed upstairs.
The food smelled good as I took each step, despite losing what I had eaten I was still hungry. Alex was in my kitchen area dishing out styrofoam boxes to plates and pouring glasses of wine. I grabbed a beer out of my fridge and sat down at the table. I’d let him wait on me since he was rudely in my apartment without permission. “How did you get in?”
He laughed, “You have to ask after how you got in?”
“So those crates were delivered the same way?”
Alex nodded. I sipped at the bottle of beer and he frowned softly, “The wine will go better with the food.”
“I don’t want wine.” I said grumpily.
Alex sighed with a slight nod and downed the already poured glass of wine before he carried two plates and his own glass to the table. Silverware had already been set.
The dishes were not identical as I expected them to be. Alex had a large plate of lasagna covered in more red sauce and cheese with a dainty side of spicy arugula and grape tomatoes probably drenched in a house Italian sauce that would make everything blend perfectly.
I had a deconstructed Caprese salad on top of a golden brown chicken breast sauted in lemon and garlic sauce and my mouth watered at just the thought of it. All of it talked with a balsamic reduction. “This isn’t even on the menu.” I said.
Alex smiled happily, “Do you like it?”
“It smells divine.”
“Chef Marco thought you would like it. He said, and I quote, ‘heja looksa likea heja likesa to eat smarta.’” He was pinching his fingers together in his most Italian way and I couldn’t help but smile at his humor.
“Does he know you mock him like that?”
“Probably. He’s a good friend of the family and he tolerates me most of the time.”
“I can’t imagine why anyone would need to tolerate you.” Though I was angry at him I said it with a smile.
Alex grinned thankfully, “I am an ass. I will admit it. Look, we are not telling you things to keep you safe. Abby, Will, me, it’s only so you don’t get dragged into the drama of our lives.”
“I don’t like liars.” I said.
“Abby said as much. Said that the more we got to know you the more you’d figure out, and the more it was going to hurt when you found out.”
“She wasn’t wrong.”
Alex nodded, “I know. But I still feel strongly about keeping you out of it. I’ve tried so fucking hard to make sure I didn’t bring you into this life.”
“And what’s so wrong with your life?”
Alex just stared at me. Until my stomach growled again. He frowned, “Eat, and then we’ll talk.”
I didn’t need to be told twice – I ate in silence.