“She is asleep? I can always make her something later. Il gatto like the fish or the chicken, no?” asked Marco after maneuvering two serving carts laden with food into the room.
My little fairy friend flew over to inspect everything.
“I am certain she would be more than happy to eat either, but we really should convince her to eat with us as you’ve already made such a splendid meal.” stated Alma.
“But look at her… She’s so sleepy.” argued Emma.
“Her eyes opened before Marco even entered the room. She’s just being stubborn.” claimed Alma.
I wasn’t exceptionally experienced with cats, having never had one of my own, but Raine did appear to tense up as Alma spoke. I asked Emma “Would you mind taking her somewhere to get changed? I’d hate for her to miss this.”
“Sure thing, man-slave!” exclaimed Emma as she gently lifted Raine up before grabbing her clothes.
“There are more chairs in here?” asked Marco.
He rarely dined with us, but perhaps he was lonely without Mila. “Here, I’ll get you one.” I told him, creating a spell to open one of the large mirrors, another to fetch a chair from behind it, and then a third to shut the mirror again.
“Such magic is helpful. Had I talent, I might not have learned cooking.” claimed Marco.
“Then the world would have been losing the magic of your meals, so I am quite pleased you do not.” admitted Alma as she served herself some food using numerous spells.
“Are you trying to make us cry?” asked Mai, as she approached one of the carts.
“The thought of you not cooking is depressing.” insisted Ai, piling ravioli onto her plate.
Brandon, Brenna, and Jarod weren’t inclined to wait to dish up some food either. Portentia sat back and watched everyone, trying to follow the conversation with Cosette’s help.
“Do you not like being a chef?” I asked.
“I love what I do, especially here. No worries.” replied Marco, brushing off what I said. “I am descended from the… er… Slayers. Had my family not lost the magic, life would be very different is all.”
“Oh. Wow. I imagine it would be.” I agreed.
“No doubt. How long since your line served the family?” inquired Alma.
“Several generations now. We lost favor due to one’s folly and quickly had nothing, or so nonna said.” he explained.
“I don’t feel as bad for not keeping up with you in the kitchen.” teased Ai.
Smiling impishly, Mai said, “Oh sister, you’d have to catch up to me before you could even approach him.”
Marco laughed and told them “Girls, you both cook a well. By my age, you be eccellente!”
“I wonder if my father might have known your grandparents.” pondered Cosette.
“I doubt. They a weren’t that importante.” replied Marco.
“Still, I’d never have guessed. You don’t have that air about you like you’re going to destroy all before you.” claimed Jarod with a grin.
Alma raised an eyebrow as she looked at him inquisitively, and the twins looked annoyed.
I quickly said, “You obviously haven’t watched what Marco does when he wields a knife. Many meats, vegetables, et cetera all get diced with such swiftness and efficiency that he obviously has quite the practiced hand.”
“Come here, you adorable creature.” commanded Emma from the door as she pulled Raine into the room.
Raine practically hid behind Emma as she was pulled along.
“This is first. I meet you twice now and still have no idea what you look like. Come, food will grow cold.” stated Marco.
Emma dished herself some food without a moment’s hesitation, but Raine seemed to be looking for the best place to hide, staring at the floor after a few seconds.
“You no like a raviloli?” asked Marco, sounding concerned.
“I-I… do. St-steak… and… p-potatoes too.” replied Raine, stepping closer to the cart.
“You should have seen her perk up as we approached the kitchen. I swear she basked in the aromas.” I assured Marco.
“When just guys, you should ask me more about French girl I met in Prague. Great story.” he replied.
“You know I will.” stated Brandon with a big smile.
With how Ai and Mai were watching Jarod, I wasn’t even sure his smile at Brandon’s reply was safe. Even were I inclined to hear more of Marco’s romantic life, I would never have risked saying as much in front of Alma. I needed to figure out a way to tell her that I didn’t really go on a date with Raine. Poor Raine was blushing clear down to her neck.
“Hey, Raine. Watch this!” exclaimed Emma, picking part of her potato up.
The small piece became a whole potato again in under a second, and a plant quickly grew out from it. Before long, there was a chair made from plant matter, which Emma positioned by the chair she had been using for gaming.
Maro smiled and stared, saying, “That is…”
“Showing off.” stated the twins in unison.
“I’d argue that it’s the coolest way to play with your food.” suggested Jarod.
Raine had edged closer to the cart of food as Emma distracted everyone, but I couldn’t really tell where she was looking with her eyes hidden under her hood, possibly at the tiny fairy flying around her. I was tempted to serve her myself, but she really did need to work on getting over her shyness if she was going to act as a Best Friend in my company.
“One should not generally play with one’s food, but Emma did need a place to sit if she’s giving Raine her chair.” muttered Alma as she turned her chair to resume playing Ancient Tribes of Earth.
I still found her level of control to be impressive regarding her magic. Her hands were relaxed on the armrests as her plates floated around her, pieces of food breaking off periodically to fly into her mouth. She controlled her character with more spells while holding her phone and texting with more still. I didn’t believe I would ever be on that level of multitasking.
Turning toward Jarod, I said, “Oh. I forgot to ask. What movie did you see?”
“Ah. Skyfall. Despite the lead actor, it’s still a Bond movie, and I thought it was cool that they brought back the DB5.” replied Jarod, frowning as he mentioned the car.
“Worth seeing?” I asked.
Jarod shrugged and said, “Eh.”
“Really? I thought it was pretty cool. Tons of action scenes.” stated Brandon.
“There were some good parts, but there were also a number of things I really didn’t enjoy. Like why were they trying to tell Bond that he’s washed up?” asked Jarod.
“Spoilers!” exclaimed Emma, nearly causing Raine to spill her food as she jumped back in surprise.
Raine had finally managed to get a plate loaded and was about to sit where Emma motioned. The excessive timidity was almost painful to watch, but I also felt like giving her a hug and telling her she was okay.
“Fine-fine. I’d say watch it, but don’t get your hopes too high.” asserted Jarod.
“Yeah. I won’t argue.” agreed Brandon. “What do you think about James Bond, Alma?”
“The workings of MI6 are classified, and you don’t have clearance for my full review. Besides, I prefer my James.” she replied, not even turning from her game.
“Whoa.” mouthed Brandon. Then he whispered to Jarod “She serious?”
Jarod shrugged, but I bet he believed her. Thanks to my gift, I felt Alma had been mostly serious. Reading her was difficult at times, since she liked to mix fact in with her jokes.
Marco asked “Jarod, would you mind a showing me how to run the theater? I went there other day and couldn’t watch. Mila always handled it.”
“Oh. Sure thing. Want to head there after we eat.” he replied.
All of us were weighed down by the loss of Mila. She was irreplaceable.