Tea Leaves and Gold Pins


Match Twelve: Oak:

Alfred looked at the address on the piece of paper in his hand. House number six in Granton.

Looks like the place, he thought. The young man walked up to the front door and rang the bell. He waited when he heard footsteps on the other side. Florence opened the door and saw Alfred trying to look inside. He snapped up straight with a goofy grin on his face. Florence blinked at him.

"Alfred?" she asked.

"Hey," he said. "I was just passing by in the neighborhood when I found your house. Can I come in?"

"Sure," she said. "I just finished making lunch, in fact." Alfred smiled up to his ears.

"Sweet!" he cheered. The man walked right into the house.

To his disappointment, Florence didn't cook any meat. An odd look came onto his face.

"What… is this?" he asked.

"Grilled tofu and veggies on skewers with sweet and sour sauce," she said. Alfred blinked many times.

"No hamburgers?" he asked.

"Oh, I'm a vegetarian," Florence replied.

"A vege-what?" the American man asked. She gave him a kind smile.

"I don't eat meat," the woman replied. Alfred felt like fainting from the shook. No meat? No hamburgers? No! That can't be!

"Is something wrong?" she asked. Alfred quickly looked up and shook his head.

"No!" he lied. "Nothing! I'd be happy to stay with you for lunch." Florence gave him a small, lost nod.

"Okay…" she mumbled. Florence and Alfred looked up when they heard the front door close from the kitchen. Lydia stood in the doorways holding bags of groceries. She blinked at them at first.

"Uh… I brought more food and sauce to grill," the girl said as she held up the bags. Florence clapped her hands together.

"Good," she said. "You're just in time. The food's ready." Lydia looked over at Alfred.

"What is he doing here?" she asked.

"Mr. Jones is joining us for lunch today," her sister said. Alfred's face drained pale.

Mr.?, he thought. Mr.? Mr.? Seriously?! Lydia only shrugged.

"Fine," she said. "Whatever." The American man gave her a puzzled look. Just like that she accepted him? No, she had to be plotting something.

The atmosphere yielded no malice so far as the trio sat down in the living room to eat. Alfred hand trembled as he held the skewer in his hand.

Come on!, he thought. It might not taste that bad. Just pretend it's a nice juicy burger! Alfred glanced at his audience. No more playing around. Just do it. He took a bite into a grilled beet on the skewer. He just sat there chewing and chewing. Florence sat there waiting with a glow in her eye.

"Well," she said. "How is it?" Alfred kept chewing as tears formed in his eyes.

"Good?" she asked. He looked over at Lydia as if to beg for help. She shrugged and smirked at him. Help me!, he thought in his misery.

Finally, the American swallowed the tangy vegetable. Florence rested her chin on her hands.

"So, how was it?" she asked. Alfred gave her a sour chuckle.

"Well… it's…" he began to lie. Both girls stared at him now. The man laughed again.

"Interesting," he said at last.

"But is it good?" Florence asked.

"Yes!" he yelped. Her eyes really twinkled.

"Really? You mean it?" she asked. Alfred blinked away tears of bitter distaste from his eyes as he nodded. Florence gave him a child-like smile.

"I'm so glad you like it!" she said. Alfred chuckled again. Please don't make me eat more of this crap!, he thought. This is just wrong! Grills are supposed to have burgers and hot dogs!

He forced himself to survive the whole lunch. Florence rose to her feet. "There is just one more treat I have for you both," she said. "I have it outside in the freezer. Hang on." She walked out the living to the back porch. Alfred kept his eyes on her shawl and hair. Maybe this part will be better that that lunch of veggies and tofu.

"I haven't forgotten about what I said to you before," a voice told him back in reality.

"Huh?" Alfred asked as he turned to see Lydia with her eyes narrowed at him. He hadn't expected her tone to do a 180 at this moment. She seemed so happy and talking at lunch a few minutes ago.

"Uh… what are you talking about, man?" he asked.

"You know what I mean," she said. "There is nothing more dangerous than anyone who does not know their own intentions. And unless you know yours, back off of her." Alfred just sat with a blank stare on his face. What was with her? He just couldn't win with the younger sister!

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