I was stumped.
“November 16th - Phase 1 of Project P & P.” I typed swiftly onto my calendar. “That’s the day we’re to meet in his house,” I sighed, moistening my lips with my tongue.
“I wonder if mom would allow that - just this once?” I mused as my teeth unconsciously started to bite my fingernails. “What if I get lucky and she has something to do that day, or what if I just tell her the truth. No, that would lead to a total disaster!” I groaned audibly.
All these thoughts clustered around like a tornado that it was draining and the familiar lethargicness seeped in. “What if I just fail and die!” I wailed and banged my head against the flat surface of my desk.
“Fuck!” I yelped and rubbed my head vigorously with blasphemies. But then another sensation washed over me.
The feeling that’s invading is something...borborygmus.
And at the thought of that word - my stomach gnarred furiously. “An hour more to go, tummy,” I squeaked and clutched it.
I had fasted for the past week to get my eating fever-under control-before my period started. I was grateful when Saturday turned up.
And today was the day!
My hands scoured across my desk as I searched through piles of papers and books until I found it under a pile of heavy folders. “Now, I have to start planning because I have no idea what he’s like and what to expect. This is for the measurement - in case he’s similar to every other guy I got paired with.” I thought as I opened my Literature textbook and planted my hand to start writing.
I hadn’t any expectations that he was any different from other high school boys. They were irrevocable and meager in the skull to expect the ladies to always have the answers and finished project.
But not this woman. Do they still think so primitively?
This is why I take them as lazy and relatively orthodox beings. When it’s something they hate - they just don’t do it.
“Jeez,” I thought, my eyes rolled too far into my head that I could see the mass darkness. My fingers focused on looping a piece of paper into a round band as I thought of some activities to help us brainstorm; the idea was to record tasks on these paper bands I’m making, whenever or if we haven’t decided who’d take charge of a task. We could throw it onto a plastic pole or something straight that stands - maybe even a bottle.
“Thus, why I’m making it extra large,” I examined out loud as I measured the 7th piece I made that afternoon. I estimated another paper around my wrist and soon created a clone.
It’s pretty much like ring toss in a carnival.
** 30 Minutes later **
I was in the middle of arranging papers when I glanced at the time.
“Gosh, it’s nearly time for me to break my fast, I better get my meal ready.”
I quickly finished up and cleared my table, dashing around my room for the next few minutes; fixing up, shuffling, and cleaning before rushing down the stairs.
“Hola, amigos! What’s for dinner?” I greeted our kitchen cooks, who were already busy stirring fried rice and some savory treats. “Mm-mm. BB, this looks delicious! What else is there?”
“Fried chicken. Just the way you like it, Miss!” Colby, our head chef spoke above the raging fire.
I squealed happily at the thought of dinner. I was ravenous!
“Ah! And is there gravy, perhaps, even coleslaw?” I asked, peering behind Colby’s shoulder. He chuckled when he noticed me beside him. We had an odd friendship that amuses people.
“Perhaps,” he stated, his hands snatched a ladle like a mantis shrimp, which was a few feet away, and he did it within an arm’s length!
“Is that a yes or no?” I pouted, but he barely glanced at me.
He too was one of our older staff members. He’s been around since I could remember and soon became head after serving for a few years.
Colby Álvarez nearly got married, now that I thought of it. But, a misfit occurred. I still didn’t know what it was to this day because no one, other than Dad, knew. Not even Mom had a clue!
He was like an Uncle to me than merely any staff. He’s only 35-years-old, but his physique stayed. No wonder I see random wantons outside our property, stalking him like he was meat; willing to devour him whole.
Alright, they were utterly disturbing thoughts.
Consequently, now, he was single, but a well achieved culinary chef.
I remembered messing around the kitchen with the staff and a particularly hilarious memory resurfaced. It was about the time when I tried to use my so-called “Karate” skills on Uncle Jackson when he offered to help in the kitchen.
“Well?” I added with enlarged eyes.
“Yes, Ella, we do,” he laughed in surrender and I poked him in glee. “Why don’t you head to the living room whilst we prepare everything. I overheard you were fasting, so I devised a little surprise.”
He and I shared a knowing grin as I clicked my tongue.
“Cookies n cream pudding!” we both cheered and shared a laugh.
“I know you well, kid. There’s nothing I don’t,” he grinned as he shuffled my hair messily. “And this pudding is the perfect way to start your feast. Always have sugary food first before anything else. If only we had dates...that would be perfect,” he grumbled, closing the lid of a pot.
“Hey! You’re messing up my hair, dude,” I grumbled and twisted myself out of his grip. “It’s fine, we’ll buy dates next time. I’ll be in the living room then. Thanks, BB!”
Rushing out of the kitchen, I was filled with the urge to quickly find my water bottle and pack it with ice when I almost bumped into Vicente.
“Mr. Vicente, what’s gotten you in a rush?” My eyes were wide in surprise. He was usually a calm man and I’ve always seen him walk around slower than normal. I wondered if there was something wrong with him because he could drive the speed contrast of him walking.
The reason was rather comical when I learned it from Javier, who said it to be quite a habit Vicente couldn’t get rid of.
“I’m sorry, young Mistress,” he puffed like he had been...jogging? That’s the last thing my brain cells could penetrate through my empty brain - let alone stomach. “But, has Ivan been home lately?”
“Ivan? What about him?” I asked in confusion. “You know he always hangs out in the Castillo Mansion during weekends. I don’t see how this got you upset, Mr. Vicente.”
“Yes, I’m aware of that, Ella,” he retorted informally. “I’m the one who drives him there.”
I raised an eyebrow. “Then is there something you’re not telling me?”
“He would usually inform if he already has a ride or relay a message to me. I got rather worried because he hadn’t told me today. You know I’m supposed to be his chauffeur wherever. He hadn’t missed a day without telling me,” he stated, looking rather tense.
That’s not like Ivan.
He almost got kidnapped once when he was 7, thus why he had a personal driver. Our parents would go berserk if an occurring scenario would happen.
“I’m sure he must’ve forgotten. Come to think of it, I haven’t talked to or seen him recently. You think perhaps he’s busy with school and stuff?” I suggested.
“Maybe, and I’m probably overreacting, but I guess I just grew fond of that boy.”
“Is that why you always agree to drive him to God knows where you guys go to, even in the worst weather?” I scoffed, crossing my arms.
“What can I say,” he shrugged cheekily, causing me to laugh. “It’s fused to my system.”
“You’re sense of humor were always weird, Vic.” This made him smile.
“Oh, it’s almost time for me to break my fast. I’m going to be alone tonight since Ivan isn’t here and everyone else is having late-night shifts. Would you like to join me, Mr. Vicente?”
“No thank you, Ella. It’s nice of you to invite me, but I have somewhere be. Maybe next time,” he promised, his old brown twinkly eyes constantly reminded me of my late Grandpa Sylvester. They used to be pals back in the days. I used to refer to him as Grandpa’s sidekick before acknowledging how ridiculous it sounded. Mr. Vicente was 57 presently and was 15 years younger than him.
“Don’t worry about him too much. I bet you’ll see him within a few hours and there you can attack him for how he betrayed you,” I jested. But I got the opposite reply. Instead, he frowned even deeper, his thick eyebrows furrowed.
“My instincts are telling me to head out and search, it’s so strong that I can almost smell it,” he suddenly announced. I tilted my head to give him a weird glance. Must be his age. “I think you ought to call him just in case.”
My lips turned into a thin line but nodded. “Stress isn’t good for you—remember? I still haven’t a clue as to why you haven’t retired yet and live peacefully near that lake somewhere in the Alaskan woods that you’ve always talked about. Well, have a good night then Vic. I’ll see you around.” I tried to cheer him up as he sighed with a light smile. I patted his back before making my way upstairs to grab my bottle. “He’ll be back, I don’t know what’s gotten into that poor man. Did my brother have him under some spell?” I chuckled.
However, I couldn’t forget the words he spoke moments back.
“My gut tells me...it’s so strong that I can almost smell it.”
“Well, mine tells me that he’s just a dumb kid who’s a comprehensive tube light. And right now, the only thing I have to worry about is how to get dinner together before I collapse onto my warm bed.” I scowled as my stomach rumbled again.
But I can’t shrug the reality that I wasn’t believing my fallacious conclusions.
As I searched around for my water bottle, my hands trembled. I was suddenly inside my head and pondered deeply about the situation that I nearly didn’t hear an incoming call.
“Who is this?” I asked slowly, staring at an unknown number. My phone had suddenly vibrated a while back in my pocket. Thinking it was my brother, I immediately answered it, only to be greeted by what seemed like static silence. I looked at the caller only to see it to be from a stranger.
My spine splashed ice through me.
“H-hey? Is this Gawan - Gab? I mean Gabriella Gawan!” a frantic voice stuttered on the other line.
“Yes, who am I speaking with?”
“It’s me!” the voice returned, his background sounded like gushes of wind surrounded him. No wonder I hadn’t heard him earlier. “Hello? Can you hear me? I think I heard you saying you’re Gabriella.”
“Who are you?” I asked stupidly. I shouldn’t be talking to people I don’t know and was about to click end call when he spoke again. The wind kept suspending his words.
“Troy...Espenzo and—I need your help!”
*Note: Saturday in this story is the Western Sunday.