Love across the Balearic

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Chapter 3

"Oi, I need more oregano over here! And where the hell are the tomatoes?" Amelia called over her shoulder, attempting to catch the attention of the few men who worked under her or if she were honest under her grandfather. “Eliseo, have you finished that spaghetti yet?" She asked, rather impatiently.

"Eh? Just a few more minutes, sorella!” Eliseo, who was busy stirring the boiling pot of noodles on the other side of the kitchen, called over his shoulder.

Meanwhile, her fellow employees were busy gathering the fresh oregano and tomatoes, knowing that when Amelia demanded something, they would do best not to keep her waiting for too long. In the kitchen, the Italian felt like she was actually in control, like she could focus on the one task at hand and get it done. On a less busy day, she might feel a little more at peace and perhaps she'd like to take a little more time on her cooking but she wasn't one to fuckin' complain if business was good. After all, it meant more money going into her and her brother's pay checks or what little her miser bastard of grandfather would give.

Now, Amelia didn't like much of anything at all, or at least that was what everyone tended to think, but cooking was something she'd had a passion for ever since she was a child. She supposed that it was an art -yes, an art- that she'd been subjected to ever since she could remember. When her mother was still alive she'd cart her around the kitchen, Amelia held tight and secure in one arm while her mother stirred various sauces, kneaded dough one-handed, and even cut up vegetables. As Amelia grew old enough that she could trust Amelia wouldn't fall off of the counters she'd sit her there and talk through everything that she was doing. Of course Amelia didn't understand at first, but as the years went by she was able to get a grasp on the basics; even to this day, she remembered some of her mother’s recipes.

Of course, when her parents passed she was left with those memories, and they were ones that she held dear and near. So it was nice when she found out that their grandfather, who was kind enough to take them in, also had an affinity for cooking. While he never liked Amelia as much as he liked Eliseo, there were times when it was just the two of them, and his irate granddaughter would calm down and they'd cook. When they finished in the kitchen, Amelia felt utterly proud of herself. For once she was good at something, and it wasn't often that she found something that she was confident in. In the kitchen, Amelia worked magic; it was as simple as that.

The lunch rush was pretty bad today, and the most popular dish happened to be Amelia’s specialty: spaghetti with tomato sauce. She'd probably used more tomatoes that day than she'd used any other day that month. Of course, at first it was a little too salty, so she added in more tomatoes, and then she needed more oregano and she had to set one of her workers to make the meatballs, and as it turned out, Amelia wasn't happy with the way he was putting them together so she had to go out of her way to finish up the job. Even more frustrating, they didn't have enough waiters that day, so she was going in between her tomato sauce, cooking meat balls, and waiting on customers. The latter happened to be her least favourite job.

"Hola señorita! It's nice to see you out of the kitchen for once! You're not going to start biting off heads, are you?" Joel joked, which earned him a glare. The horrid attempt at spanish was made even worse considering Amelia didn’t speak the language and very clearly neither did Joel. Anyone who frequented the restaurant knew that Amelia while a sight to see was not exactly the most pleasant of girls, which influenced why she liked to stay in the kitchen.

"Shut up, Joel. What the hell do you want?" She huffed, not bothering to pull out any kind of note pad; she could remember the orders well enough.

"That's not very good customer service, Amelia.” Joel tsked teasingly before looking over the menu once more, "Relax, you know you love me...Arancini sounds good. Oh! And some of those fortune cookies!” He decided with a determined nod.

"Okay, I'll -" But she was interrupted by a softer, but slightly irritated voice.

"I'll have some arancini , too." Casey, Joel’s younger brother and one of the few people who Amelia could call a friend, finally spoke up.

Naturally, Amelia felt a little embarrassed that she'd missed the other, her cheeks flushed a bit as she gave Casey a nod. It really wasn't uncommon for this to happen, as Joel had such an overwhelming presence that the softer of the brothers was often looked over because of his quiet and meek nature. Joel was loud and annoying, at least in Amelia’s opinion. She did feel bad for it, because Amelia also understood being overlooking in favour of her brother, and this was something that they could both bond over and on many a drunken nights, they had. Since it would be hypocritical otherwise, she tried to make an effort to always notice Casey, but sometimes even she forgot.

"Erm, sorry Case.” She let out an embarrassed laugh, "I'll get that for you." And with one last nod to the brothers, she shuffled back to the kitchen and called the order off to her other workers as she got together a pan of bread crumbs. Luckily, arancini was one of the easier dishes to make, and so she was simply able to quickly chop up some spinach to be added into a soon to be made rice ball. It wasn't until she brought Joel and Casey, whom she didn't forget this time their food that she noticed her younger brother talking to a certain arrogant bastard.

Not even listening to their words of thanks or Joel’s cries to get more fortune cookies, Amelia marched straight over to the table where the pair sat, in spite of the fact that it wasn't even in her section. The elder Italian couldn't understand, for the life of her, how or why her brother had grown attactched to the German bastard when Eliseo had been so utterly terrified of the intimidating man at first. When it came to Aayden Stöcker, Amelia would like nothing more than to kick him out of the restaurant and then work on fixing her brother's brain-washed head. Ever since her little brother had started to actually speak to the bastard, he was all that Eli would ever talk about. 'Aayden is so nice!' and 'Today me and Aayden... blahblahblah!' It was annoying as hell! Not to mention the fact that the potato-head bastard was ten years Eliseo’s senior. Damn it, Amelia hated him with every fiber of her being! At least, that was how people interpreted her anger.

Yes, Amelia hated the fact that Eliseo suddenly loved wurst and all of that disgusting german food but more than anything she was terrified. Terrified because if Aayden with his stupid black hair and arms plastered with tattoos was able to take Eliseo away from Amelia completely, then she'd feel entirely alone. Oh sure, she had people like Casey and even Michalis, but compared to her brother, she couldn't care less for, well, anyone. Just because she had that disgustingly irrational inferiority complex that was geared towards her brother didn't mean that she didn't care. She was raised to believe that family was the single most important thing, that she was supposed to protect and watch over her younger brother because, as the eldest, that was simply her job. It's why she brought Eli to America, where they were promised a better life with their grandfather.

"Hey, bastard!" Amelia hissed, coming up behind the suddenly tense German. It was obvious that Aayden still wasn't used to the elder Italian's overly harsh treatment much to her delight.

"Hallo, Amelia. How are you today?" He asked, voice slightly wary.

"Stop fucking distracting my fratellino! He's supposed to be working. Do you want him to end up on the streets because of you, or something?" She growled, crossing her arms over her chest, completely ignoring the other's question.

Before Aayden could respond, Eliseo stepped in, as per usual. "Amelia, stop being so mean!" He whined, lips trembling a bit as he began to pout. "I was just talking to Aayden for a minute, I wasn't going to get distracted, I promise." He said truthfully.

"Tch, as if! If I hadn't come by, you would have left me in the kitchen to do all of the work! Now come on!" Rolling her eyes and grabbing her brother's arm, dragging him away from Aayden, who let out a relieved sigh and returned Eliseo’s frantic waves of goodbye with a slightly stiff one of his own. Moments like these were half the reason why people believed that Amelia was just an irate, overly protective sister with a few other rude comments following. Her cursing certainly drove away quite a few customers at times, which was never a good thing for business. To their luck, most of the people who were in the restaurant today were used to her spitfire and livid nature.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Surprisingly enough, dinnertime come that night wasn't nearly as busy as lunchtime had been. In fact, they were able to close up a few hours earlier than usual much to the dismay of their grandfather.

"You won't have to walk home in the dark!" Eliseo said happily. He always got worried when Amelia had to walk home at night, and so Amelia almost always had to give him a call right when she got home.

"Yeah, I guess so..." She muttered grumpily from the front of the restaurant, where one of the workers were busy putting chairs atop the tables while he swept up the floors.

"You'll still call me, right? Because I still get worried! And even if it's not night time, bad things can always happen, right? At least that's what you tell me, and I think it's mostly true. Plus, you live so far away, and I wish you had moved in closer to us.” Eliseo kept on rambling, but his voice was like white noise to Amelia. New York was extremely cosmopolitan. There were people from every country and ethnic group, either as residents or tourists. People in New York did not usually stare at someone merely because they look different. Something exceptional was required something like the sight of a very familiar scarf. A very familiar scarf fluttering behind a very familiar man.

In mere seconds, Amelia ran to the back and grabbed her coat. "I have to go to the Turk’s to restock on the fortune cookies! You guys will have to finish up cleaning by yourselves!" She said in a rushed fashion as she near sprinted out the front door. She wasn't sure exactly what was driving her to follow the man, but she knew that she wanted to see him again. Since he was rather tall, Amelia could see him through the crowd, walking along with a definite bounce in his step as the Italian shoved her way through the crowd, desperately trying to get to him. This is stupid! She told herself, growling with frustration as she found that, suddenly, the crowd just wouldn't budge for her and the man whom retrieved her scarf was swept up into the masses.

"Fuck!" She yelled out angrily, still following the straight forward path because she might just catch the man once again.

However, after about fifteen minutes of aimlessly walking down the sidewalk, Amelia soon realised that she wasn't going to find the man again, and so she let out a huff. The Italian puffed out her cheeks as she went to lean against the nearest building wall, against it she began to rub her hands together. Maybe if she had her fucking gloves she wouldn't be so cold. “Fortune cookies at an Italian restaurant has to be the stupidest thing ever.” She muttered quietly, cursing her grandfather, the old, smelly, senile bastard.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

As it turned out, following the man took Amelia in the complete opposite direction of her apartment, and so it took twice as long to get back home, and because it was winter it was quite dark. Once she got home and finally put a call through to Eliseo her younger brother was so frantic that she could barely understand him. It took about half an hour to assure the idiot that she was alright before Amelia could hang up with a heavy sigh following.

Why had she felt so fucking compelled to follow that man? He was nothing more than a bum, and yet ever since that very first day, about a week ago, when Amelia saw him with her scarf on, she couldn't stop thinking about him. She wasn't sure why that sight had pulled at her heartstrings so much because Amelia wasn't usually a sympathetic kind of person, and yet every time she thought back to the man, sleeping on that bench with a frigid scarf wrapped around his neck that was surely not giving off any warmth. She frowned, shaking herself back to reality.

Even as she laid in bed that night, she wasn't able to stop tossing and turning. She'd almost caught the man, but even so, what was it she planned on doing if she had? It was unlikely that someone like Amelia could ever actually work up the courage to speak to a complete stranger. What was likely was Amelia getting terribly flustered at the last minute before breaking out in a string of yelled-out curses, demanding her gloves and scarf back before stomping off. In the end, she'd feel like a complete bitch, she'd have made a fool of herself, and any passerby would think if they hadn’t already badly of her because she was yelling at some poor man.

There were plenty of homeless people in this city, she'd see them all the time, and she had absolutely no problem passing them by without a second thought. But this man. Maybe the only thing that made him different was the fact that he was wearing her scarf? Maybe it was the fact that he was so much younger than the other homeless out there?

"Like I fucking care!" Amelia yelled out, glaring at her wall as she turned over. This seriously wasn't something she was about to lose sleep over, was it?

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