Perfect Illusion

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Chapter 58: Fall Head Over Heels For You

The minute I appear with the last of my luggage, I see Cara sprint towards me. She jumps on me and wraps her arms over my shoulder. “YOU STUPID BITCH. I HATE YOU FOR LEAVING ME BUT I’M SO FUCKING GLAD THAT YOU’RE BACK.”

I pat on her shoulder and laugh. “Miss you too, Cara.”

She releases her hold on me and glares at me. Poking her index finger on my chest, she says through gritted teeth, “Never. Do. That. Again.”

“I won’t. I promise.” I hold up my pinkie finger. “I’ll even pinkie swear on it.” She finally gives in and linked our fingers together.

I hear Simon clear his throat from behind me and I whirl around to greet him. “Hey.” I nod.

He smiles. “Glad to have you back, Alex.”

“Nice to see you too, Simon. I hope you’re taking good care of my best friend.”

“He sure is.” Cara snakes an arm over her boyfriend and presses a kiss on his cheek that makes him blush so bad.

He reluctantly pulls away from Cara and says, “I’ll help you with your luggage.” “Thanks.” I say.

The second we’re in Cara’s car, Simon steps on the gas and we’re off. Cara sits behind with me and starts to tell me what I have missed throughout the entire three weeks I was gone.

Apparently, I have missed so many classes so she has made it a habit to help me get all my assignments from my lecturers. I have less than a week to do all of them, so I guess I probably won’t be leaving the apartment anytime soon.

Speaking of where I’m going to live, Cara has graciously allowed me to let me stay at my old room in the apartment. At first I wasn’t so comfortable with the arrangement, knowing that Simon will be lingering around the apartment twentyfour-seven but it’s not like I have the luxury to complain.

I have little to no money and I need to get a job if I wish to find a better place that does not involve me watching my best friend and her boyfriend making out every second of the day.

After finishing unpacking, I place my hand on my hips and blow out a breath. “Well. Needless to say, I’m never moving anywhere ever again.”

The rest of my boxes will be shipped back over from California so I’ll be receiving all my books in two weeks’ time.

Cara laughs. “Within the past five months, you have moved three times.”

“I know. It’s exhausting.” I fall unto the bed and a heartbeat later, Cara joins me.

She turns her head and her eyes meet mine. “So... what are you going to do now?”

“Maybe unpack a little more. Or take a nice long bath-”

“No. I mean what are you going to do now?” She asks with more emphasis. “What are you going to do now that everything has changed?”

I gulp. I did not expect that to come out of Cara’s mouth.

“I don’t know...” I say quietly. “I guess I would have to get a job now. Maybe somewhere near campus or something.” Cara grins, like she knows something I do not.

“What?” I prod.

“Well... I know a place that’s hiring.” She waits for me to respond. “I think they might be a little hesitant to have you back but... I already called and they said they’d

give you another chance if you manage to prove yourself.”

My mouth gapes open.

"No.” I say. “You did not.”

“Oh yeah.” She nods firmly. “You’re going to be waiting tables at Basil Kitchen. Again. ”

I don’t know why I agreed to this.

I don’t know why I’m here.

And I don’t know how I even got the job.

My old manager (the one that fired me in the first place) was the one to interview me. Again. He was so determined to put off everything that I say but in the end, after consulting with a few of the other staff -some of which I had been acquainted with last summer- convinced him to give me another chance. After all, everyone knows it. I had been damn good at my job and I was not here to prove otherwise.

“Fine. You got the job.” My manager says flatly. “But don’t you dare disappoint me again.”

“I will be on my best behaviour.”

“Yeah yeah.” He waves me off. “You start tomorrow.” And then he disappears from sight.

I let out a breath I had been holding and slump against the chair. Taking my bag, I exit through the kitchen. I can’t wait to tell Cara about this. She’d be so happy to hear that I had taken the job at Basil Kitchen- “Well. If it isn’t Alex Woods.” A familiar voice says.

I look back and when my eyes connect with hers, I throw back a laugh. “Oh my god. Marianne.”

She smiles, her warm brown eyes shining under the fluorescent lights of the kitchen. “So I heard you’re going to be working here again.”

“Yeppers peppers.” I nod. “I can’t believe you’re still here.”

She shrugs. “I got bills to pay, hon. And I’m guessing now you do too.”

I tilt my head. “You saw the show.”

“Of course I saw it. It’s what everyone’s been talking about the whole week.” She rolls her eyes as if it’s so obvious. “You and I got a lot of catching up to do. I want to know details. All of them. I want to know how the hell did you get the infamous Daniel Kerrington to fall head over heels for you.”

I chuckle. “Where do I even begin?”

I start to fall into a usual routine now. Cara wakes me up in the morning and she carpools me to campus (I had to sell off my car to pay off my rent). After I’m done with my classes, I sometimes have lunch with her. Occasionally, I hang out with Nate for a quick chat. Nate and I aren’t exactly that close anymore -with him having a girlfriend and everything- but when we’re together, we always have a good time. He’d help me edit my story and give me pointers on how to improve on it.

But usually when neither Cara and Nate are not around, I’m usually alone.

I don’t exactly mind. I like being alone. Because it makes me think. A lot. When I’m not doing my work, writing or reading, I’m let my thoughts wander. Sometimes I think about my dad and what would he think of me, that I’m back here in Boston, living my life without my mom. Other times I think about Daniel, and what he’s doing, who he’s seeing, and if he ever thinks of me.

He hasn’t tried to approach me ever since I touched down in Boston, and I’m not counting on it either. My guess is that he realized what he said on the Charlize Matson show was stupid and that he’s not in love with me after all and that he moved on. A part of me feels sad that it might be true, but I guess I have to let him go.

It sucks. But I have no other choice.

After more classes, Cara drops me off at Basil Kitchen for my night shift. I’m usually exhausted by then, but I can’t do anything about it. Money’s tight right now and I need every single cent if I want to be able to survive on my own without Cara’s help. Because one day, she might not be there for me.

Today is a Friday night, and the restaurant is packed. I grab my apron and wrap it around my waist then proceed to the kitchen. Marianne is there placing the dishes on her tray when she spots me. She smiles. “Hey.” She says.

Marianne and I have gotten closer throughout these two weeks and I’m glad I have someone whom I’m fond of at work. Most of the time we barely talk because the restaurant is so busy.

“Sup.” I say. “I take my usual corner?”

“Damn right you will.” She snorts and then she’s off.

For the next hour, I take down people’s orders and serve them their meals. One of the perks of waitressing in a high-class restaurant is that they tip generously. So I plaster on a huge smile and greet the customers warmly so they’d give me a very nice tip at the end of their dinner.

Marianne stops short in front of me and tap on my shoulder.

“Yeah?” I ask.

“I need you to err... cover my booth for a while.” She says, and I think she’s hiding something.

I arch my eyebrows. “Okayy. You need like a smoke break or something?” “You read my mind.” She smirks. “Oh. And table 15 needs a champagne refill.”

And then she’s off.

Sighing, I wipe my hands on my apron and head out of the kitchen doors. A few strands of my hair have fallen over my eyes and I brush them aside and tug it behind my ear.

I head over to table 15 and take the bottle of champagne from the ice bucket. Without tearing my eyes off the champagne bottle, I ask. “Would you like more champagne?”

“Yes, please. But this time, just try not to pour it over my head again.” My breath falters as I lift my gaze to meet a pair of blue eyes.

Jesus fucking Christ.

Mouth gaping open, I drop the champagne bottle to the ground, shattering it to a million pieces.

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