28 | Cold Disaster
Over the time span of the last hour, I’ve come up with three conclusions.
1st – Blaze’s mother is way too possessive over her son like people often say about Italian mothers being jealous of their son’s lover.
2nd – This Diana bitch must’ve been a gold-digger who was after Blaze’s money.
3rd – Blaze must’ve been left heavily heart-broken after Diana left him.
And trust me when I tell you, three of these conclusions sound terribly awful.
As I follow Lucia towards the indoor pool area, I regard my surroundings with awe. The place was tidily decorated with luxurious stone statues and golden-colored furniture with the dark red theme throughout the house, which only enhanced the royalty of this place. The place also had an airy feel to it with multiple balconies overlooking the vast foliage outside.
Unfortunately for me, Blaze disappeared inside the study with his father, leaving me alone with his cold mother.
“You have a beautiful home, Mrs. Hunter” I compliment genuinely and watch her simply nod in my direction to acknowledge my words.
Just a nod? What the fuck?!
I released a melancholy sigh as I follow her.
This is getting nowhere
I wish I had Ava or Alana’s social extrovert skills. I absolutely sucked at striking up conversations and this woman isn’t helping either.
Suddenly she stops and I jump away from her to avoid bumping right into her whilst trying to balance myself from the sudden halt.
“I need to go and take care of something. Make yourself comfortable” She gestures towards the chairs on the poolside where two men were already conversing among themselves and without another word, she leaves.
I want to scream behind her saying, ’How the fuck am I supposed to feel at home when you’re acting like a cold bitch?!’
But of course, I keep that to myself.
Taking a step forward inside the pool area, on closer inspection, I recognize one of the men as Ian, Blaze’s younger brother whom I’ve met inside his penthouse, and the other man looked like the absolute carbon copy of Lucia.
God forbid, he’s anything like her!
Ian is the first one to notice me when he catches my eyes and immediately rises from the poolside chair to stride in my direction.
“Hello,``` Phoebe!” He says cheerfully and envelops me in a warm brotherly hug which I return, instantaneously making me relax.
At least someone’s happy
I spot the young man over Ian’s shoulder who looks like he’s still studying in college, looking at me with a sheepish shy smile playing on his face.
Releasing Ian, I smile politely at the stranger’s direction and before I can introduce myself, Ian beats me to it.
“Phoebe, meet the youngest child of our family, Brayden. Brayden, meet Phoebe” Ian acquaints us and I give him a warm smile to which he shyly nods.
Ian leans close to my ear and whispers, “Forget him. He’s just way too shy”
Hearing this, I laugh on instinct and quickly clamp my hand over my mouth.
Shit, the kid will probably think that we’re making fun of him.
But thankfully lifting my eyes, I watch Brayden with his back facing us, sauntering to his seat near the pool.
“Join us” Ian mutters and gestures me to the other lounge area surrounded with grey and black leather couches with a round stone table in the middle, topped with various assortments of finger foods and wine bottles.
Finally, some drink!
We settle down on single-seater couches and Ian motions over Brayden to join us and turns to me, “Red or white?”
I frown at him with confusion and he points at the wine bottles.
“A glass of Franciacorta Rose if you have it, please,” I ask courteously and it is obvious from his delighted expression that he’s clearly impressed by my choice.
“Coming right up” He mockingly bows and signals one of the maids to fetch my order. Within a few minutes, the maid returns with my drink and I take the wine glass stem in my hands, taking a sip of the crisp wine.
“So, Phoebe, what do you do? Since I was kind of occupied with my life last time, I forgot to ask about you” Ian questions and I see Brayden also looking at us curiously with a tiny smile on his face.
“Oh, I’m just an interior designer” I answer humbly.
“Thank fuck for the fact that you’re not some model…” He exclaims with enthusiasm and for some reason, I feel like he’s comparing me with someone else.
“I’m sorry, what?”
“Oh, you know. Poor Blaze, his ex, Diana left him so heartbroken-” Before he can finish his words, Brayden cuts him off.
“Yo, what the fuck are you talking about?” He regards Ian with an incredulous expression whilst I stay frozen to my seat.
What on Earth? Blaze left heartbroken?!
Without thinking, I quickly down the entire wine in one go, wincing at its slight burning feel at drinking the entire thing.
“No, no, no, no, Phoebe, don’t believe this idiot. He’s messing with you. Diana didn’t leave Blaze heartbroken. It’s a long story but trust me, Blaze was more than happy to get rid of her” Brayden frantically explains in defense of his eldest brother, and from the corner of my eye, I spot Ian trying to control his laugh.
“Ian! What even?” I proclaim when waves of relief wash over me after hearing Brayden’s response.
“Sorry Bella, but the only thing to get Brayden to talk like a canary around new people is to bad mouth about Blaze. One wrong word about him and Brayden’s defending him like a lawyer”
I start laughing after hearing Ian’s childish antics to rile his brother and watch Brayden shoot him a death glare before turning to me with an embarrassing but still adorable blush on his cheeks.
“Excuse this idiota, Phoebe. He just gets out of line sometimes” Brayden rolls his eyes.
“So, Brayden…what do you do?” I make an effort to converse with Brayden since I already know about Ian.
“I’m still in college” He shrugs.
“Which major?” I ask curiously.
“Bio-chemistry” He replies shyly like it’s no big deal whereas I can bet that my eyeballs are about to pop out of my socket.
“Wait, what?! Damn, that’s really a huge thing. I wanted to study astronomy but I suck at biology so I kind of leaned away from it” I shrug the painful memories of me struggling to study biology when I was in high-school. God, I still remember my classmates laughing at me for being so weak in my class.
Before my thoughts can get transported towards the darker realm of my brain, Brayden pulls me out of my trance and says, “Really? I liked astronomy too but I don’t think my parents would’ve been that happy with me floating in space”
He chuckles in the end and I follow up with him whilst Ian watches us interact with an unreadable expression. It was something in between awe and astonishment I think.
“If that isn’t the case then what do you want to be in the future now?” I ask Brayden inquisitively.
“Well, I have two options in my head right now. It’s either being a researcher at biotech or being a professor. But I’m leaning towards being a researcher at the moment”
I smile at his response and look at him with silent adoration.
The next few minutes pass with us three conversing about various topics. Brayden has also loosened up so much that he’s now cracking jokes along with Ian.
Suddenly, I feel a pair of eyes watching us, and looking up, I see Lucia regarding us silently with a ghost of a smile playing on her lips. Almost as if she’s trying to fight back her smile that’s begging to be freed.
“It’s time for dinner everyone” All of us go silent after hearing Lucia’s short command and one by one, we all get up from the lounge seats to follow her to the dining hall like ducklings following their mother duck.
We near the long rectangular shaped table with rounded edges and ornate wood top covered with a layer of glass to keep the table’s top surface smooth.
Blaze and his father, Leo, are already seated at the table, conversing among each other like we don’t exist. Blaze is seated beside his father whose seat is at the head of the table and there’s an empty seat on Blaze’s right side, which I assume is for me.
Suddenly, I feel Ian lean toward me before whispering, “Brayden usually doesn’t interact with strangers this much. It was amazing to see how easily you pulled him out of his shell. Good job, Bella”
He winks at me and takes up a seat on the right side of the empty one.
I’m all smiles when I reach my chair, thanking Ian inwardly for supporting me. However, my mood darkens at Blaze for leaving me with his mother to fend for myself.
For fuck’s sake, I’m at your parent’s home for the first time. Give me some attention asshole!
As if reading my mind, he turns to look in my direction lazily with his chin resting on his hand as he pauses talking with his father.
“Hello, love” He smiles his cute dimpled-smile. My insides melt at this but I keep a stony face, only offering him a nod as I fix my attention on the expensive china-ware laid out in front of means if they're the most expensive thing in this world.
Seeing this, he fully turns toward me, focusing his attention in my direction and before he can open his mouth to say anything, the servers create a barrier between us as they start pouring red wine in our wine glasses.
My mouth waters when I take in the various types of mouth-watering Italian dishes laid out in front of me and almost faint when I sniff the aromatic smell of skillet chicken lasagna.
The white-uniformed maid serves me a generous portion of the delicious spicy red dish and I refrain my hands from flying to the silverware to start digging in.
“Feel free to dig in” Leo announces and soon the sound of silverware clanking against the expensive china plates fills the room.
Out of nowhere, Mrs. Hunter questions me, “What do your parents do and where do they live, Phoebe?”
Throwing a swift glance in Blaze’s direction, I see him screw his eyes shut with irritation and I answer confidently, “My dad’s a businessman and my mom’s a patisserie chef. They both reside in New York”
I see her nodding her head at my words and before she can ask anything else, Ian cuts in and says, “Won’t they be present in Noah’s parent’s Anniversary celebration?”
Instantly, Lucia looks confused hearing this and interrogates Ian, “Why would they be there?”
Hearing this, I freeze and almost feel like hitting Ian in the face.
“Mom, can you please pass me the Salad?” Blaze quickly intervenes, trying to distract his mother and for a moment he almost manages to do that before Ian speaks up again.
“Because they are friends with Zia and Zio, of course! Noah and Phoebe are friends too!” Ian exclaims and at that moment I feel like crawling under the ground.
“No, they’re not friends anymore because Noah kicked their friendship to the curb the day he said their other friend to kill herself because he's stupid” Blaze speaks in a dangerously low tone that screams fury and I think almost everyone hears it because silence follows after a series of gasps echo across the room.
God, kill me already!
I rub the temples of my head to alleviate some stress and before Lucia can say anything, Blaze shoots her a glare to shut her mouth which she thankfully does.
“Signora, dovrei servire la Linguine del Granchio?” One of the young maid squeaks and Lucia recovers her composure before answering, “Sì, Vini, mettilo lì”
Blaze on the other hand continues to slice chicken Picatta like nothing happened.
However, my attention is drawn towards the dish that’s placed in front of me and I almost turn into a statue at its sight. I'd recognize the sight of that horrendous meat anywhere.
I try my best not to grimace and squirm in my seat at the mere sight of the dish.
Oh c’mon, it might be just some ordinary pasta!
“Ah finally! Phoebe dear, you must try Lucia’s Crab Fra Diavolo, it’s one of her bests” Leo praises his wife with his eyes glowing with love which mirrors Lucia’s.
On the other hand, I’m literally freaking out.
’I loathe crab!’ I hear my subconscious screaming with terror at this.
My mind resurfaces back to the time when I visited Panama City Beach on a holiday with my parents when I was six. It was my first time trying crabs and since that time, I put down my foot after taking my first bite. Since then, I have never tasted crab. The mere smell of it churns my insides in the worst way possible.
“You’re not allergic to crabs are you?” Brayden questions and I shake my head 'no' whilst maintaining a cool smile on my face.
I know I have to eat this. Lucia already hates me and it would be completely disrespectful if I avoid eating one of her best dishes.
Oh Lord, help me! I can’t let down Blaze any further than this. Besides, it’s just…crab!
One of the maids fills my plate with the spicy red food and I resist the urge to gag at the sight of it.
Yes, yes I hate it THAT much
“Go on, try it” Ian urges whilst Blaze studies me with a frown.
Here it goes
I pick a piece of the cooked crab meat using my fork and bring it to my mouth. As soon as the meat touches the taste buds of my tongue, my body subtly jerks forward as I try to stifle my gag, which unfortunately doesn’t go unnoticed by Blaze.
“Phoebe, are you alright?” He questions with concern and I feel everyone looking at me worriedly.
I clamp my hand over my mouth to stop myself from throwing up and rise from my seat abruptly, while muttering, “I’m fine. I just need the restroo-”
Before I can finish, my back collides with the side of some metallic object, which instantly causes me to turn around quickly, causing me to knock-over the tray filled with plates of strawberry Zabaglione, sending them flying over the floor, landing with a loud crash as the glass-wares smash on the ground along with the dessert.
OH MY GOD!
The maid gasps with horror as she squats down to clean the mess and I’m left shaking.
Without another word, I dash away from the mess I created with fat tears rolling down my eyes and distinctively hear Blaze calling out my name.
I ruined everything!
A/N - I swear I feel so bad for Phoebe...
What do think about our dearest Lucia? And of course about Brayden and Ian?
Let me know your thoughts!
Also, if your enjoying the story so far, don't forget to hit the like button!