That night, I helped Velma in the mansion or castle’s huge kitchen. The biggest I’d seen so far. She had a lot to cook by herself. But now I was there to assist her.
“How do you cook all these meals by yourself?” I asked, chopping onions.
“Oh, I just do and then I store them in the freezer. But today I’m cooking for two. For Anthonio, and for you.”
“And I’m gonna help you.”
Velma stopped and turned to me.
“You wanna hear a secret?”
“Of course.” I turned to her, excitedly.
“They all appreciate good food. I hope you know how to cook well. It’ll gain you some favor from the members.”
“Oh, now that’s great news. I know a lot of little recipes.”
“Wonderful. Do you want to get Anthonio’s favor too?”
I looked at her and she had that knowing smile on. I laughed a little.
‘Why is she asking that?’
“Lately, I’ve noticed the looks you give him. Maybe you do them unknowingly. But I still noticed” she smiled.
If I could blush.
“Uh– you think? What looks? I don’t know what you’re talking about.” I laughed, nervously.
“Mmhmm. Yeah right. I’m still gonna give you a tip.”
“His favorite dish is Foccacia di recco.”
“Focca what?” I asked and she laughed. “What’s that?”
“One of the most popular Italian dishes. It looks like a cheese pie at times and the steps in cooking it are quiet similar to that of a pizza. Heard of it?”
“Uh, nope. Will you teach me?”
“Of course I will. Let’s get the ingredients.”
Velma and I were getting quite close. She was some sort of motherly figure around there and I was happy I had someone to talk to.
“How bout you write the steps down and I try to cook all by myself?” I proposed.
“Hmmm. Good idea. Lemme get the ingredients.”
She brought the ingredients and gave me the steps. I was gonna cook it for the first time and without any help.
“If you need anything, call me dear.” Velma said.
I was left alone. Carefully, I began to follow up every step on the list. I hoped to succeed and I hoped he would appreciate it.
At 9:00pm, I set the table. I put two plates on opposite sides of the long table so we could face each other. Wow. So hard to believe I was actually trying to impress a mad guy.
I put the focaccia on the table and sliced it into four halves.
Then I covered the plate, sat and waited patiently. Velma passed by.
“I told him dinner’s ready. He’ll be down soon. It looks delicious honey. Good luck.” she winked at me and went away.
My heartbeat increased when he appeared at the entrance of the dining room. I stood up.
“G– good evening Anthonio.”
He simply nodded and came over to sit.
“What did Velma cook?”
“Uh, well, I did the cooking.”
He raised a brow at me.
“Um, yeah. I cook. I made focaccia di recco. Velma made for me a list of steps to follow. So actually, I did it on my own.” I finished with a little smile. He stared at me.
“I eat only what Velma cooks.”
“I know. But you’re gonna be eating my meals often because I’m to assist her now. Or you can still chose to starve. So you better change your mind real quick boy.” It slipped out of my mouth. Had I just called Anthonio ‘boy’ ?
He looked at me impassively.
“Oh C’mon, Anthonio. Taste it first.” I begged. He stared at me and then sighed.
He uncovered the plate. I served him then myself. He picked up his fork and was about to eat.
“Wait. Let’s pray.” I cut in. Anthonio stared at me like I was the crazy one.
“L– let’s pray.”
“I don’t pray.”
“Well as long as you’ll be eating my food, you’ll be praying.”
Anthonio’s eyes narrowed and he picked his table knife.
‘I should shut the hell up at times. What is wrong with me?’
“Who are you to decide? If you dare impose your conditions, I’ll be glad to cut your tongue off. You talk too much. Be careful.” he warned. I stared back at him with confidence.
“Go ahead,” I provoked, “Let’s see how your boss reacts after you cut his girlfriend’s tongue.”
His eyes widened a little. He’d forgotten I was untouchable now.
He didn’t speak and just picked his fork and started to eat. I rolled my eyes and made a short prayer before eating too.
I watched him chew on the little piece he’d put in his mouth.
“So?” I asked.
He looked up at me with an expression less serious than the one he usually had on.
“I must admit, it’s delicious.”
A smile spread across my face. A compliment from Anthonio Caruso only happened in rare cases.
“I guess there’s at least one thing that you’re good at and that I can try and appreciate.” he added and continued to eat.
That made me quite proud of myself.
“I said I could try and appreciate. Don’t be all hype.”
“I don’t care. As long as you like it, I’m good.” I teased and he looked up at me. My little smile immediately faded.
But then I saw something like amusement lingering in his eyes.
Maybe I’d gained just one bit of his favor.