All my life I struggled with my weight and my mother made sure I knew how fat I was. Yes, I’m 5′2 and fit into a size 14 pants, maybe a size 12 if I suck it in and squeeze my butt cheeks but then I look like I’m constipated.
No mom, I do not want to cut sugar or bacon out of my food list. It is a necessity for survival.
Nonetheless, in my attempt to please her I have tried all kinds of diet programs and exercises routine.
She says my ass is too big that I needed to do some squats to shape it up. Then she commented about my waistband. I had a muffin top, she said. I needed to do some crunches or run some laps.
All this and I know it sounds she doesn’t love me but she does. She just wants me to be healthier but what can I do when I love bacon and cake.
I have an older brother who is older than me by two years and nine months. His name is Brandon. He is very much like my mother—fit and smart. I, on the other hand, take after my father who likes bacon and cake.
Brandon lives on his own and owns his own bicycle shop. After he moved out and I turned eighteen, I moved out of my parent’s home. My apartment is not as extravagant as Brandon but it’s comfy and homey.
My mother doesn’t call me very often but when she does, she can talk for hours. Gossip is life, you know.
I was working as a librarian at the county library when my cell phone buzzed. My mother’s name flashed across the screen and I slipped behind into the back room to answer her call.
“Sup mom.” I answered.
“Really, Ryleigh?” I can practically see her roll her eyes. I giggled knowing full well how much it irritates her when I don’t talk properly.
“Sorry, mom.” I replied. “I’m kind of at work. Is there something you need?”
I heard her sigh and the sound of the city streets zooming by and I knew she was window shopping, “Sweetie, you really need to find a different job. I know you can do better. I mean, a librarian is just not enough.”
I rolled my eyes. She has been insisting on me asking my cousin Emery for a desk job at the agency she worked for. You see, she’s a lawyer that worked for one of the biggest law firms in southern California.
“Mom, I do not want to work with Emery. I hate wearing suits and stuff.” I mumbled, scrunching up my nose in distaste. I’ll die before squeezing into dress pants or worse a pencil skirt.
“I just don’t understand how we are mother and daughter. You are completely different form me. You must take after your father.” She said with disappointment.
And there we go. She’s disappointed in me and soon she will go off in a rant about my life and my future. How I don’t have a boyfriend because I am too fat.
“I could go on and on about what you are doing wrong with your life but that is not what I am calling for.” She interrupted. I can literally feel her excitement through the phone.
“Sweetie, pack your bags.”
“What?” My eyebrows furrowed in confusion.
“Cause we are going to Spain!” She squealed and I can imagine her skipping and hopping on her feet with joy.
“Uh...” I replied. She was excited but all I could think about was where the heck am I going to earn enough money to travel to a foreign country.
“Your cousin Emery is getting married and they are holding their wedding in Spain. They have invited us! Do you know exciting this will be? Imagine all the stores and places we can see.” She continued without missing a beat.
She talked for a few minutes about the wedding and all the plans. I zoned in and out of the conversation and mumbled an occasional ‘cool’ and ‘awesome’ so that she believe I was listening. Truth be told, I’m not going but I will let my mom spread her joy before I break the news for her.
After a few minutes my mom asked, “Are you listening to me?”
“Cool.” I answered.
“Ryleigh Helen Friedman.” My mother snapped.
“What?” She got my full attention now. Full names are no joke.
“You were not paying attention, were you?” She accused.
“Of course I was.” I lied but my mother knew me well. Heck, she gave birth to me.
“You’re going and there is no changing my mind.” She confirmed and there goes my hope down the drain. When my mother made up her mind, there was no changing it.
“Well, I don’t have the money.” I threw that excuse out.
“Your father and I have that taken care of.” She easily reflected my excuse. My life is over. My father worked for a computer software company. He was a software engineer and earned a pretty decent salary.
Those words hunted me throughout the rest of my shift at work and all the way home. I walked up the two flights of stairs to my apartment and searched for my keys in my purse. When I finally found the keys and was about to insert into the keyhole, I heard a manly voice coming up the stairs.
“Yea, I worked three stretches today. I don’t know man. I’m beat.” Axel rounded the corner. He chuckled into the phone and made a joke back at who he was talking to.
Halfway down the hallway and he notices me. Lifting his hand up into the air he waved ‘hi’. I waved back before putting my key in the keyhole.
“Hey, listen, I’ll call you back. Yeah, I mean it. I’ll call you. Don’t worry, man.” The other person must have made a comment because he laughed again. “Fuck you, Javier. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
I turned to see him hanging up his phone and walking up to me. Even when Axel showers, sometimes I can still smell the smoke. He was a fireman and usually works very long shifts.
“How’s your day, Hermosa (Beautiful)?” He asked huskily, looking me up and down before winking and leaning against my door frame with his arms crossed.
“Crappy.” I muttered before jamming my key into the keyhole finally. My mother’s words coming back to haunt me.
Axel grinned, “Then how about I make your day better? If you let me in I can make you some of my famous cinnamon churros.”
“Didn’t you say you were tired?” I questioned, hearing his conversation when he first came up the stairs.
“For you, Hermosa, I’ll even fight sleep just to make you happy.” He said smoothly.
I snickered at his stupid pickup lines. I have known Axel ever since moving into this apartment. At first, we barely see each other because of his weird hours. When we do, he always had a woman wrapped around him or moaning with pleasure from the other side of the wall. Yes, part of renting this apartment, you hear almost everything that goes on with your neighbor.
Axel and I became friends when I attempted to cook myself some food. I ended up lighting my kitchen on fire. He heard me screaming and trying to kill the fire with a towel. When he kicked my front door open, he helped me kill the fire.
He called me crazy. I was coughing like crazy and he ended up whipping my windows open to give me fresh air. After I told him what I was doing, he mumbled a few curse words under his breath before disappearing into his apartment and coming back with some food he made.
After that, he will drop off food at my place before leaving for the day. I will ask him why does he cook me food and he told me it’s not because I am special. It was just because he had leftovers and didn’t want me to burn down his apartment while he was gone.
It didn’t take long before we became best friends.
I opened my door and waved for him to enter. If he was making me food, I wasn’t going to argue with him. Food makes me happy. Food is life.
Slipping into a chair by the small dining table in the kitchen I watched him whip out my dishes and shuffle through pantries for ingredients.
“So are you going to tell me what happened?” He asked, not looking up from his work. He made quick work in whipping up the dough.
“My mom wants me to fly to Spain with them.” I muttered unhappily.
He glanced up from his work to look at me, “And?”
“It’s my cousin Emery’s wedding. I know when I arrive there it will be hell. All my life, I never heard the end of Emery and I. My mom likes to compare us. Emery is the opposite of me.” I explained.
“Why do you care what she thinks?” Axel asked, he poured some oil into a pan.
“I don’t but I don’t want to hear about it too.” I told him.
“So cousin Emery has it better, according to your mom.” Axel said and I nodded.
“She’s a lawyer with a hot ass body. She is like a freaking Barbie when I’m a fucking cabbage patch.” I made the analogy.
He laughed, his chocolate brown eyes sparkling amusingly. He started piping the dough into the oil.
“If you don’t want to go then don’t go.” He simply replied.
I scoffed, “My mother is not someone you want to deal with. I can’t say no. I have to go.”
Picking up my tong he watched the dough began to cook. His back was towards me and I watched his dirty white t-shirt stretch over his muscular back. Axel was tall and sexy. His voice also held a foreign accent every time he spoke. It was thick and deep.
“Then go but don’t give a crap what anyone thinks and if they start talking shit just hide in your room.” He said nonchalantly. He took out the churros he cooked and drain on a paper towel he had on a plate next to him.
“Yeah right. I’m supposed to be there for a whole month and not to mention my mother is probably going to hook me up with some rich friend of Emery. I can already see it. She’s going to try and sell me off like cattle.” I whined and literally sulked my way towards the churros he dusted with sugar and cinnamon. I picked one up but it got too hot. I dropped it onto the plate before hissing in pain.
“What the hell am I going to do with you, woman? Basic rules of life, don’t touch anything hot or you will burn yourself.” He enunciated the last part to me like he was speaking to an idiot.
“Shut up.” I slapped his shoulder before grabbing the yummy plate of churros and walking towards the dining table.
He followed after me and leaned against the kitchen wall with his arms crossed.
“I have an idea.” He said.
I slowly picked up a churro again and surprisingly it wasn’t too hot. Popping the warm delicate fried dessert into my mouth I munched on it while giving him a questioning look.
The corner of his lip lifted mischievously, “How about I go with you?”
I choked on the dessert for several seconds before swallowing hard and looking at him to see if he was joking or not.
“You’re joking right?” I asked after a few minutes.
He shrugged, “I always wanted to travel and work has been stressful. I could use a vacation and Spain doesn’t sound that bad. I could go with you and I could even pretend to be your boyfriend to ward off any potential candidates your mom wants to hook you up with. Plus, if people start talking shit I’ll be the buffer.”
I ate my second churro as I mulled this over. Quite honestly, this wasn’t a bad idea. Axel Rodriguez going to Spain with me. What could go wrong?