Giovanni De Rege

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Chapter 17

Isabella’s eyes fluttered open as the low sun filtered through the curtain. She sat up in her bed and rubbed her eyes. To shake off the groggy feeling clinging to her, she took a cold shower and freshened herself up.

The telephone was going off and

When the telephone was going off, she made a quick sprint to answer it in time.

‘’Pronto. Chi parla,’’ Isabella said.

(Ready. Who’s speaking?)

‘’Cioa, Isabella, sono Luciana. I haven’t seen you in so long! How are you doing?’’

(Hello, Isabella, it’s Luciana.)

‘’Now that you called, much better.’’ Isabella laughed. ‘’What are you up to?’’

‘’See, that’s what I’m calling you for. We are a few hands short at the restaurant so I was thinking that maybe you could come? It will be fun, I promise!’’

‘’Why not? I’ll come.’’

‘’Great! Do you know where it is?’’

‘’Sì, I’ll be there as fast as I can. Ciao!’’

She knew exactly where the De Rege restaurant was. Whenever Isabella and her parents walked past it, her mother would always point it out as the place where her father took her out for dinner on their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary.

Isabella changed into an outfit that was more appropriate than the clothes she wore at home. Before leaving the house, she brought an umbrella with her as the skies were a dark-grey.

Better safe than sorry.

On her way to Luciana, the hairs on her arms stood on end. For the second time, it felt as if someone was watching her every move from afar.

You’re just being crazy and paranoid. That’s what you get for staying up later than you should.

To Isabella’s relief, her destination came into view. Hanging plants were used to decorate the exterior, the vivid colours lifting her spirits up. Her gaze fell on the sign above the entrance. Giovanni’s family name was written in a beautiful cursive manner.

She looked inside, through the wide window and caught Luciana waiting tables. A small smile crept on her face seeing her friend. Isabella entered and got approached by Giovanni’s mother.

‘’Carissima! Luciana told me you were coming,’’ Celia said and embraced Isabella before leading her to the back of the restaurant. ‘’Thank you for coming.’’

(Dear)

‘’I’m happy to help.’’ She smiled.

Celia pinched her cheek. ‘’You’re such a sweetheart.’’

Isabella let out a modest laugh. ’’I’ll be sure to tell Mamma did a good job in raising me.’’

‘’That would certainly boost her ego, wouldn’t it.’’ Celia laughed alongside her. ‘’These will be your working clothes.’’ She handed a white dress shirt and a dark-red tie over to Isabella.

‘’And pants?’’

‘’Those are just fine.’’

Isabella was left alone to change in the staff room. She tucked the shirt in her jeans and got to working the tie but struggled with it. Tying a tie on others hadn’t been a problem in the past but doing it on herself did seem to pose as one.

The sound of someone barging in the room got Isabella to lift her head. Not getting the chance to process what was happening, she found herself in a crushing hug by Luciana.

‘’Bella! I missed you!’’

‘’I can’t breathe.’’ She tapped Luciana on her back causing her to release her. ‘’We can catch up later. Didn’t you say you were short on staff?’’ Isabella winked.

‘’I know and I’m already tired.’’ Luciana sighed and raised a brow when she noticed the loose tie on her friend. ‘’What is that supposed to be?’’

Isabella looked away in shame. ‘’I don’t want to talk about it. I tried! Really, I did!’’

‘’I’ll fix it with my magic hands.’’ Luciana laughed and helped her with the red tie.

Once Luciana showed her the ropes on being a waitress, Isabella began working. She expected it to be easy but it was proven she was gravely mistaken. Nevertheless, she was determined not to throw in the towel. Last thing Isabella wanted was getting orders mixed up.

As she walked to the next table, her pace slowed down. The person in front of her required her to force a smile. Theo was the last person she expected to see here.

‘’Good evening! Can I take your order?’’

‘’Of course you can, Isabella.’’ Theo smirked and read his order off the menu.

He handed her the menu and winked. The act made Isabella’s skin crawl. She found it off-putting. Once Isabella had given the order to the chef, she continued serving other tables.

With Theo around, she had become very much aware of her surroundings. Every so often she would look his way – checking if Theo’s eyes were still glued on her. His head was unnervingly motionless as his dark eyes followed everything.

‘’Who is that? He keeps looking at you?’’ Luciana whispered.

‘’Theo. My brother used to work with him at the auto repair shop. I’d rather just ignore him.’’

‘’Oh, look! He’s leaving.’’

Isabella’s shoulders sagged. ‘’At last.’’

‘’You can go to the back. Take a break if you want.’’

‘’I think I will.’’

Isabella returned to the back and saw Celia speaking to man with brown hair. The same man who she had exchanged glances with at the wedding.

As if sensing her gaze on him, Leone turned his head to face her. He offered Isabella a small smile before disappearing through the back door of the restaurant.

‘’I’ll be in here for a second,’’ Isabella said to Celia and pointed at the staff room.

‘’Oh, you’ve done enough! Let me go and get you something to eat. Take a rest, Isabella. I couldn’t possibly ask more of you than you’ve already done.’’

Isabella went to the staff room and sat down on a folding chair but only to promptly stand up again. A gasp leaving her when she noticed the framed pictures on the wall. The picture on the left had a sepia wash over it while the other was in colour.

She inspected them closer up, a radiant smile breaking out when she saw a young Giovanni on it. Isabella guessed he was about her age in the photo.

Same serious face but a different hairstyle.

Not letting this chance pass by, Isabella grabbed her cell phone. Quietly laughing to herself as she snapped the picture.

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