Too Tasty

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I'm Sorry Max

Up close, Quinton Thompson looked like he stepped straight out the cover page of a magazine.

He was young, dressed in professional attire with a sharp jawline and tousled dirty blonde hair. What stood out the most was his eyes. They were the brightest shade of green, with the light reflecting off of them. A midnight shadow covered his jawline and his eyes reflected a facade of calm.

I'd be pissed if I found out my diner just caught on fire. I'm counting on Quinton to explode; just not in front of all of the flashing cameras.

I started to follow Quinton down the street and realized that Max wasn't next to me. He was too busy fooling around with the ants on the sidewalk that were conquering a piece of food.

I jogged back to Max and grabbed him by his shirt collar to drag him with me. When I looked up, I saw that Quinton was staring it me with a piercing look.

I swallowed a gulp and dragged Max behind me as I strode towards Quinton. We finally rounded the corner and Quinton scrutinized Max with a questioning look.

"Why does your face look like you got a charcoal facial?" Quinton asked me as he stared at my face.

I started laughing but felt my chest contract in pain as I started coughing.

I guess I wouldn't need to cover up my laugh with a fake cough. And I should've checked to see if those wipes cleared my face off entirely from the residual smoke.

"Erm, I was the one who put the fire out. My bad, the fires. There was another one after the oil in the fryer caught on fire," I said. I was squeezing my arm behind my back to make sure that I didn't say anything ridiculous.

"What?!" Quinton said as my words hit him.

"Yeah, there were two fires. The first one started when I began to fry the hot chicken wings. I guess they were so spicy that they caught on fire," I said.

Quinton wasn't smiling at my witty response and Max resumed paying attention to the cars going by.

"Are you telling me that the fryer just randomly caught on fire? How did the second one start if you put the first one out?" he asked me, irritation seeping through his voice.

"Jeez, I'm okay sir. Thanks for asking Mr. Thompson. I couldn't find the fire extinguisher so I ended up putting the first fire out with flour and the second one, I finally saw it through the smoke so I used the extinguisher. Obviously, I missed a small flame because the tapestry on the wall caught on fire so I put the fire out again," I responded. I was honestly annoyed that all he cared about was his diner and not his employee's wellbeing.

Talk about being conceited.

"You're right, I'm sorry. You guys should get a medical check-up just in case. I'm not worried about rebuilding the diner. I'm more concerned about how the fire started. Where was Max by the way?" Quinton asked, staring down Max who was staring at the pretty pink Tesla that drove by.

"Max was inside the kitchen where he was helping me bake but I told him to leave when I couldn't find the fire extinguisher. I needed him to get the customers out. I don't know how the fire started but I smelled something weird when I walked into the kitchen. It's odd because only Max and I were in the kitchen all day," I responded.

Quinton was listening to me but now I could tell he was suspicious of Max.

"Max, did you talk to anyone or have someone visit while Karina was manning the front of the diner?" Quinton asked in a no-nonsense tone.

A light breeze ruffled my bangs and caused me to cough again because remnants of smoke wafted into my nose again.

Ugh, I must smell list a burnt piece of toast. Yuck.

Max smiled at the lady in the Tesla who parked her car and walked towards the boutique on Burberry Mainstreet. He resumed counting cars on his fingers until I snapped my fingers in front of his face.

"Max, listen to your boss. He's asking you a question," I admonished. I sighed in relief as he finally decided to answer Quinton.

"Sorry Kari, please don't tackle me again. I was making cookies out of playdough and talking to Cookie Monster until my cousin brother called me. He's so boring and serious all of the time," Max said in a quiet voice as his chin quivered in fear of getting tackled.

Quinton raised an eyebrow at me and I knew this wouldn't be a fun conversation.

"Sorry to interrupt, but my men just found a cigarette in the fryer. It seems like it was lit recently and caused the fire because the cigarette's flame was put out in the oil," interjected a senior firefighter.

"Max, were you smoking while making cookies?" I hissed at him.

Are you kidding me? I almost died because he put out a cigarette in oil?!!!!!

"Cookie Monster wanted a candy bar and so did I. So I kept quiet when I saw the cigarette," Max responded.

"You're fired Max. Don't come back here again. I'll mail your final paycheck to you and then we're done," Quinton gritted out.

I couldn't believe that Max would do something like that. But I wouldn't put being spontaneous beyond Max considering all of the crazy interactions I've had with him. I really did see some light in Max. He was worth helping even if he was a troubled youngster.

"Sis, I thought that you'd believe me. I didn't do anything Kari. Please tell him that," Max said as he started to sob. He latched onto my waist tightly and I struggled to pull away.

I wanted to believe Max. I really did. But there weren't any other good explanations as to how the fire started.

I was out of options.

Quinton glanced at me for confirmation but saw that my resolve had hardened and that I wouldn't fall for Max's emotional argument.

"I almost died again Max. I'm sorry," I said as my own eyes teared up.

My vision blurred and I struggled to breathe fresh air. Max's grip around me was too tight. I felt Max get ripped off of my body as the firefighter caught me while I was failing to stay conscious.

In the span of a few days, I'd grown attached to Max. It felt like I had a younger brother.

If you love someone, you have to let them go.

So that's exactly what I'd do. Even though it pained me to do so.

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