Too Tasty

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In the History of Calm Down's

---Gala Night: Karina’s POV---

“Sit still Teela,” Maven snapped at Teela. Teela kept wiggling around in her chair as Maven tried to do a waterfall hairstyle for the gala.

“So uptight all the time, Maven. Live a little. Get a tinder account and talk to a hot guy,” she said with a smirk as she texted her friend.

“You do all the living for me. I nearly die every time you open your mouth in public,” Maven retorts with an eye roll.

I snigger as I run a comb through my black hair. Maven offered to do my hair but I prefer simple hairstyles. I made two mini side braids and pinned them to the back of my head. I left the rest of my hair down as I ran the curling iron through my straight hair.

Elegant.

That’s what comes to mind when I look in the mirror.

I was nervous about my scars but I should definitely live a little. My mom would want me to. She’d want me to be happy if she was here with me. I swallowed a lump and pasted a smile on my face as I looked at my sisters who were bickering about the legality of marijuana.

I couldn’t wait to see Mario and Knox again. Hell, even my boss Quinton. I missed being surrounded by friends and family.

My time of isolation was coming to an end.

---

“And now, please welcome, Mario Harrison and Karina Trest to the stage,” Quinton said. His voice boomed across the room and I glanced around the room. Lincoln, Siobhan, and Trini grinned at me as they waved me up to the stage while Tyler gave me thumbs up and Knox smiled at me. Maven and Teela were taking photos of me.

I had no doubt that Teela was probably streaming a live video on her Instagram. Typical Teela.

Quinton handed the microphone to me and I swallowed a nervous breath. “It’s been a pleasure to work at Too Tasty. I’ve met so many wonderful people and worked with some of the most amazing people ever. Thank you to Mario who taught me how to cook Italian cuisine and to Quinton who gave me a chance to pursue my dream of becoming a professional baker. Even though the fire was a setback for the diner, everything happens for a reason. We’ll come back even stronger and the new, refined diner will feel even more like home,” I said.

The photographer’s snapped my photo with Quinton and Mario as the crowd of people applauded. I smiled as I saw all of my friends cheering at my success. I was happy to be here.

I walked down from the stage and strutted over to my friends.

“I want to be just like you when I grow up,” Trini said. She looked adorable in her bubble gum pink dress.

I bent down as much as I could in my dress and said to her, “No Trini, you’ll be much stronger.”

“But does that mean I’ll have several boyfriends like you do?” Trini asked. I saw a sparkle in her eye and knew she was baiting me. Smart cookie.

I choked on my flute of champagne and said, “Uhh, I think that’s a question for your mom.”

Siobhan cackled at my discomfort and Lincoln just shook his head at Trini’s antics.

Knox pulled me onto the dance floor and twirled me around as we danced to a classic jazz song.

“I haven’t seen you in so long,” I said to Knox as I rested my head on his shoulder.

“I’ve been busy with work. But I’m here now. I heard Tyler took you shopping,” he said and his blue eyes shone under the chandelier’s light.

“Oh he did. Why didn’t you tell me he was your brother?” I said. I pouted just to make him feel guilty.

“Nope, don’t give me that look. You never asked but Maven did,” Knox said with a grin.

“Uh what?” I sputtered. I hadn’t seen the guys prior to the last few days but Maven had? She’s been holding back.

“Oh yeah, Lincoln stopped by with Trini to get her a dress from the boutique. And I was around town so I checked on them to make sure you all were okay,” he said.

I nodded and said, “Listen, about my panic attack, it was just---.”

“Don’t worry about it. We all have our demons. You can tell me when you’re ready. Until then, enjoy the party,” Knox said. I met his bright blue eyes which were in contrast to Tyler’s. Knox was the pretty boy while Tyler was the brainy brother. Both of them were smart for sure, but they were polar opposites. Knox was a party boy while Tyler preferred quieter settings. Either way, I was lucky to know them.

“Want a drink?” Knox asked as the song ended.

I nodded and we walked over to the bar together. Maven and Teela were mingling with some strangers while Tyler danced with Siobhan and Quinton danced with Trini. Lincoln was nowhere to be seen. It seemed like my new friends were already mingling with each other. I smiled in their direction.

“Sis, I missed you so much,” I heard someone say from behind me.

It couldn’t be?

“Max?! What are you doing here?” I asked in utter shock. Knox wasn’t paying attention to us yet because he was still getting our drinks. I saw Lincoln walk towards us with a serious look and I got nervous.

“I was invited to it by Quinton. Jeez, I thought that you’d be happy to see me,” Max said with a frown. As usual, his attire was completely colorful and eccentric. His suit was an electric blue with black velvet on the sleeves and collar. He paired his outfit with a gold chain that matched his yellowish-green eyes.

Lincoln’s face morphed into a grin and he said, “He’s not guilty Karina.”

My heart soared and I used my fingers to push back my tears. I couldn’t ruin my makeup here. Not in front of this many people.

I tugged at Knox’s hand and he turned to look at me. His eyes widened in anger as he recognized Max. “YOU!” he growled in a deep voice.

“Come with us,” I said as I led him towards the back entrance of the gala. Quinton noticed my happy grin and gave me a salute after shooting me a text. My phone pinged and I started typing as we walked away from the party.

Boss Man aka Quinton: You were right.

Me: Thank you Quinton. It means a lot to me to know that you took me seriously about Max.

Boss Man aka Quinton: I hope you liked the contact name.

Me: Lol, let me guess. It was Lincoln.

Boss Man aka Quinton: Bingo. We need to talk soon.

Me: Is it serious?

Boss Man aka Quinton: Yes but don’t worry about it now. We can do a group meeting tomorrow or on Sunday.

Me: Okay, see you later. Congrats on the diner!

Boss Man aka Quinton: Thanks, Karina.

I looked up and saw that Knox was getting impatient. He ran his hands through his brown hair and glared at Max. "Isn't he the guy that almost killed you?" Knox cracked his knuckles and Max clutched my waist like it was his goddamn lifeline.

"Okay, everybody needs to CALM down," I said. I couldn't help but keep smiling and Lincoln gave me a knowing look. He knew that Max was important to me.

"In the history of 'calm down's,' has anybody ever calmed down?" Knox gritted out and Lincoln smirked.

"Well, I wasn't alive since the beginning of history so I don't fucking know. As I was saying, calm down and listen. Max is innocent and he didn't cause the fire apparently. That's all I know but Quinton wants to meet up tomorrow to discuss something. Not sure what but he said it's important. Try not to kill each other," I said as I looked between Max and Knox who seemed like they were about to brawl.

I linked my arm's through Max's and Knox's arms as I walked them towards the dance floor. I let go of them as they started dancing with other women and beelined straight to Lincoln.

"It's my turn now," I said with a smile and we slow danced.

"Is it now?" Lincoln asked. He looked handsome in his grey suit and a black button-down shirt. Immaculate was one word to describe his attire.

"You can't get rid of me that easily," I added playfully.

Lincoln just smirked at me and whispered, "Looks like you're here to stay."

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