So instead of working on a calculus project and a lit paper or eating dinner, I decided to finish this chapter. I'd like to think it was worth it. This chapter is on the longer side. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I do not own What Makes You Beautiful, One Direction, John Krasinski, or Woodfield Mall.
I woke up to the chorus of What Makes You Beautiful blaring in my ear.
"What the hell?!" I exclaimed, suddenly bolting upright on my bed. My head shot from side to side, bewilderedly looking around. I zeroed in on my phone, which was playing the obnoxious tune and, lo and behold, my sister's photo and name displayed on the screen.
Of course. Who else would wake me up at 4:30 in the morning besides my lovely, I-don't-know-the-time-zone-differences-and-don't-really-care sister?
I groaned in exasperation before grudgingly taking the call.
"Caitlin, I fucking hate you. And remind me to change your ringtone; I'd rather not be jolted awake by One Direction."
"What?" Caitlin asked confusedly. There was a short pause and I rolled my eyes, knowing her head was probably cocked to the side as she took in what I said. "Oh, shit. Sorry, El. What time is it there?"
"4:30 in the morning," I mumbled, rubbing the sleep out of my eyes.
"Oh, god. And what song was my ringtone?"
"My favorite song in the entire world, of course," I said drily.
Of course, that was a complete lie. Caitlin knew the song irritated me to no end. She must have put the song as my ringtone before she left for Europe. And I, very obviously, did not know until now. Two hours before I actually needed to get up wasn't the best time to have found out either.
"… Shit," Caitlin cursed again. "I thought it'd be funny to put that as my ringtone... I get why you hate me now."
I grunted in response. "Well, I guess I should be glad you're actually calling me. What's up?" I lied back on my bed, grabbing the remote on my bedside table and turning the TV on. I knew that I wouldn't be able to go back to sleep after Caitlin and I hung up.
"I just wanted to tell you that I'm coming home! I bought my plane ticket just now," Caitlin chirped.
I sat up, surprised. "Are you serious? That's great!"
"Isn't it? I finally get to see you guys again!"
I grinned, excited at the prospect of finally being with my sister again. But my eyebrows suddenly furrowed as I thought of something. "Wait, why are you leaving so suddenly though? Did something happen?"
"Sudden?" Caitlin echoed my confused tone. "Elvina, Thanksgiving is next week," she said slowly.
My eyes widened and my eyebrows shot up. "What? No, it's not."
"Yes, it is. Today's the 12th. Thanksgiving's next Thursday," she replied as I glanced at the calendar hanging on the wall opposite my bed. Well, I'll be damned.
"Wow, I completely forgot."
"That's not like you, El. You always look forward to the holidays."
"Yeah, I guess I've been preoccupied lately. Blame it on the city," I joked.
Caitlin laughed. "Well, don't forget to come home, or else I'll fly straight to Chicago and drag you back with me. Er, we'll fly there, I should say," she amended.
"We? Who's part of this 'we'?" I asked, and then gasped. "Do you mean Lucien? He's coming with you?"
"Yes, he is," I could just hear the smile in Caitlin's voice as she spoke.
I couldn't hold back my squeal. "Oh my god, I can't wait to meet him. He seems like he's pretty serious about you, Cait."
"I know, it's kinda crazy, right? Lucien said he hates the idea of being separated from me for a long time, so he got himself a ticket too."
I smiled. "Aw, he sounds amazing, Cait."
"He really is, El." Caitlin chuckled. "Mom and Dad are in for a surprise."
"That they are," I agreed, giggling along with her.
"So are you going to be bringing anybody home?" Caitlin asked mischieviously, abruptly changing the subject.
That caught me off guard. "What? Er, no?"
"Oh, boo. You and that guy— what was his name again? Gabriel?" I hummed assent. "You and Gabriel didn't hit it off?"
"Cait, there's nothing to hit off. I'm about to say something completely cliché, but we're just friends."
"That's what they all say, El. I thought you were hanging out with him every day? And you've told him some personal stuff, right?"
"Well, yeah but—"
"But nothing, El. I know you. You don't just go around telling people your secrets."
I rolled my eyes. "They weren't secrets, Caitlin." I paused. "Well, the one about what kind of drunk I am was, but that's beside the point."
Caitlin burst into laughter on the other end. "No way! You told him that? You get so embarrassed by it!"
"I know, I know! But Gabe practically forced me to tell him. I was powerless to resist."
"Forced you, huh?" she asked cheekily.
"… Shut up. Don't make it sound dirty," I said, feeling a blush coming on. Damn it, why did I pick up the phone again?
Caitlin went on. "And you were 'powerless to resist'? Is it because of his irresistible charm? Good looks? A butt that rivals John Krasinski's?" she teased.
"No, no, and no. Just forget I said those two sentences," I said, embarrassedly fiddling with my comforter tag.
"But El, there's gotta be something about Gabe that made you tell him!" she replied earnestly.
"I don't know, maybe because he's nice? And Gabe's pretty open with me too. Oh, and he can bother me to no end so that I just give up and tell him what he wants to know."
"That sounds like a cute relationship," Caitlin mused.
"How is that a 'cute' friendship?" I corrected her.
"It's a cute relationship because you guys seem so comfortable around each other already. He can be both serious and silly with you."
I decided not to argue with it. "Whatever you say, Dr. Love. I'm gonna go make breakfast."
"Okay El, but when you two start dating, I so called it," she sang.
"Oh my god. Bye, Caitlin," I hung up the phone abruptly, feeling drained and exasperated. Caitlin would do this, jumping to completely far-fetched conclusions. It was the romantic in her, I suppose.
But still, I pondered what she had said as I got up and began getting ready for work.
A bell tinkled lightly as I pushed open the doors of Toscana, attracting the attention of the hostess at the podium. "Good afternoon. Just you eating today?" she asked politely.
I smiled and nodded before hesitantly asking her a question. "Um, just wondering, is Gabe working today?"
"Gabe? Yes, he is. Would you like to be seated in his section?"
"Sure, if it's not much trouble," I shrugged.
"It's no problem at all," the hostess said warmly as she led me past tables and booths to one near the corner. I sat down in the chair, glancing at the wall where a nice painting of Venice hung. "What would you like to drink?"
"Can I get a cappuccino please?" My morning cups of coffee had worn off, and I needed another burst of caffeine to get through the rest of my day at work.
The hostess nodded. "Of course. I'll go back and get Gabe. Knowing him, he's in the kitchen fooling around." I chuckled at this, thinking that this was probably true. "He'll bring your cappuccino and take your order soon."
We exchanged smiles before she walked back to her podium.
Bored, I pulled out my phone and idly scrolled through the news. Apparently there was going to be a huge Black Friday sale at the nearby Woodfield Mall. Not that it mattered, seeing as I was going to be at home that weekend… which I should probably ask to get off when I come back from my lunch break.
"Hey Elvina, I didn't expect to see you here," Gabe said as he walked over, a pleasant smile on his face. "Here's your cappuccino, by the way." He set down the wide-brimmed cup in front of me.
"Thanks. And I was missing the foccacia, so I thought why not come here today?" I replied, grabbing my cappuccino and taking a sip. I inwardly sighed in relief as the strong taste reached my tongue, awakening my senses.
He grinned. "I knew you'd come back for that. You know, I finally got around to trying it yesterday. It's amazing."
"Right? Your chef must be really good, making all these good dishes."
"Anthony? Oh yeah, he's the best. 100% Italian, born and raised in Florence. He probably knew how to boil pasta before he could walk," Gabe joked.
I giggled. "Well, send my compliments to Anthony. He's doing a great job."
"Will do. So what did you want to eat?" He asked expectantly, pulling out his writing pad.
I scanned the menu. "Hmm, can I get the tomato and herb focaccia, and the lunch serving of the five-cheese ziti?"
"No problem," he replied, snapping the black notepad closed. "I'll be right back."
He sauntered off to the kitchen, and I leaned back in my chair and observed the painting once again. It portrayed Venice perfectly. The last beams from the setting sun shone down on the Po River and the lone gondola, solely occupied by its rower. The buildings flanking the river were of slightly faded bright colors, and an ivory-colored bridge connected the two sides.
Maybe I should come along with Cait to Europe and just spend all my time in Italy, I dreamily mused.
Surprised, my eyes snapped to Gabe, who had come back and was pulling the chair across from me back. He slipped into it, earning a raised eyebrow from me.
"Slow hour," he drawled, simply smiling at me.
I playfully rolled my eyes in response. "It's a wonder you haven't been fired."
"Nah, they love me too much. And besides, I never actually sit down and talk to customers like this," he replied easily.
I shrugged. "Fair point."
"So, who's Cait and why are you going to Italy?"
"Caitlin's my sister. She's been traveling around Europe for a while now. And I'm not going to Italy, although that painting is making me want to really badly," I nodded at the wall.
Gabe glanced at the artwork and gave a knowing nod. "Yeah, people always say that. In fact, one of our regulars ended up going with his wife."
"I'm jealous," I sighed wistfully.
"Hey, maybe you should go with your sister. Think of all the focaccia you could eat," Gabe said teasingly.
"It's tempting, believe me."
"Don't worry Elvina, you'll go there someday," he replied.
"Hopefully." I picked up my cappuccino again and took a long sip, draining almost half of its warm contents. I set down the cup back on its saucer and met Gabe's eyes again.
His face was neutral at first, but it quickly changed as his eyes focused on a lower point of my face. I looked at him confusedly. Was he looking at my lips?
Gabe's eyes flickered back up to me, full of amusement. Silently and with a subtle smile, he shook his head and began unraveling my napkin roll. He set down the utensils on the table and picked up the napkin. I watched him warily as he leaned forward, bringing up his napkin-clad hand up to my face. Then, Gabe carefully ran the napkin above my lip. My eyes widened slightly and I focused on him as he did this, which was seemingly locked in concentration.
Looking at him, I suddenly remembered my conversation with Caitlin earlier. Good looks? Yes, Gabe had them. His eyes were a blend of gray and blue, and his hair was always partially mussed look, even now as it was more neatly kempt for work. His smile was always so genuine that it surprised me almost every time I saw it. Now, he didn't have the high cheekbones of a French male model, but his face was pleasant and held just the smallest bit of boyish charm in it. Not to mention he was tall and lean, which I really liked in a guy.
"There," Gabe said proudly, setting down the napkin and waking me out of my trance. I flushed slightly, but dismissed it by nonchalantly raising an eyebrow.
"You had a foam milk mustache," he said with a grin.
"Oh. Damn cappuccino," I cursed lightly.
"Gabe! Where the heck have you been?" A loud voice startled us both, and we looked up to see a tall and stocky man carrying a tray of what was probably my food, and he looked mildly annoyed. I glanced at Gabe, who had a sheepish expression on his face.
"Oh, shoot. Sorry, Marco," he said, jumping up from his seat and taking the tray from Marco. He set down the plates on the table.
Marco crossed his arms. "What are you doing, Gabe?"
"I've been talking to Elvina," he nodded to me. "Marco, this is Elvina. Elvina, this is Marco, my manager… who hopefully isn't too mad at me," Gabe grinned at Marco.
"Well, it's not like it's busy anyway. Don't do it again Thomas," he mock-threatened. Then he turned to me and smiled. "It's nice to meet you. Enjoy your meal. Hopefully it's not too cold from Gabe slacking over here," he jerked his thumb at the tall boy.
"Hey, at least I was always here if she needed anything. If that's not good restaurant service, then I don't know what is," Gabe said in mock defense.
"That's true. He's been very attentive," I went along with it, nodding seriously at Marco.
There as a beat of silence before Marco sighed resignedly. "You are something, Gabe. Now come on and help us out in the kitchen."
Gabe nodded, but before he began following his manager, he turned to face me. "Hey, thanks for backing me up," he said with a wink. I cracked a smile.
So maybe Gabe was a little bit charming. After all, it wasn't every day that someone can placate their boss that looked like he belonged in an Italian mafia.
I watched his retreating back, and my eyes drifted lower on their own accord.
Well. That was a butt that rivals John Krasinski's.
… Damn you, Caitlin.
Oooooooh. ;) This is a bit of a development, huh? And yes, John Krasinski has a great butt.
I'd like to set a little review goal here. It makes me sad to see the amount of views I get, yet so few reviews! Your kind words really mean a lot to me, and I completely welcome constructive criticism. So, help me reach a goal of 6-7 reviews for this chapter?
I'd also like to thank my regular reviewers, Carmel March, thepurplecheeta, and Luv4robpattz. I also hope this is sufficient Gabe/Elvina action for you, thepurplecheeta! ;)