Original Work: You'll Always Find Your Way Back Home, Chapter 9, Part 4
Chapter 9, Part 4
If the little stumble in her step had anything to do with the restaurant’s lax policy on the drinking age and not with the huge heels she was wearing then I was sure that this encounter was only going to end in tears for someone. Probably me.
Joshua tensed slightly when Michaela teetered over to our table, putting her hands on the edge to keep her balance. Her date was someone I thought I recognized from an underwear ad and he seemed to be wisely keeping his distance from the situation. I glanced over at Joshua, not entirely sure how I was supposed to react but he was looking at Michaela with the same guarded and cautious expression that Roger the waiter had used with me.
When Michaela leaned closer, I could definitely tell that she had taken advantage of the restaurant’s turn the other cheek policy. “It’s so good to see you here, Emilia.” She grinned like a snake and I could hear the poison in her kindness and could practically feel her anticipation at this little meeting.
I smiled at her uncertainly, wishing that she would just get her snarky comment out of the way so she could leave and Joshua and I could go back to our hesitant but progressing in the right direction conversation. “Hi, Michaela, it’s good to see you too.” I was sure that it was obvious that both of our sentiments were far from genuine. “I hope that you’re having a good night.”
Michaela’s smile tightened so that it looked more snide than before, her sharp features making her look predatory, her eyes sharp. I was suddenly very aware that several diners at the surrounding tables had stopped their meals and conversations to watch whatever little exchange Michaela was interested in having. Even Roger and several other servers were watching, neglecting their tables in the interest of getting a good show.
“I’m surprised they accepted your reservation, Emilia.” Michaela continued. “After what happened with that poor waiter at Madeline’s I’m surprised that you’re still allowed in any restaurant.” She arched an eyebrow and I made a mental note to pump my sister for that story. Before I could reply Michaela’s attention shifted toward Joshua. “But I guess a saint can get you in anywhere, right Joshua?” Though her words were meant to be an insult, the way that she was looking at Joshua suggested that she was attempting to be flirtatious.
Pursing my lips into a frown I questioned, as courteously as I possibly could, “What do you want, Michaela?” Maybe if we cut to the chase, things would be less painful.
Michaela’s attention returned to me. “I just wanted to say hello to my fellow entertainers.” She replied, her tone still carrying that false friendliness. “And I wanted to ask Joshua when he decided to start slumming.” Her red lips pulled back into a mirthless smile and she tried to watch the two of us at once. “I never would have expected Joshua Beckett, the paradigm of virtue, to go out with such trash. What would all those adoring teenage girls think?”
I bristled at Michaela’s words, feeling my heart start pounding in my chest and my hands tighten around the napkin in my lap. No wonder Emilia couldn’t seem to keep from fighting with Michaela, she was asking for it. As much as I wanted to smack her right in the face and ask her if she thought that calling me (or my sister) trash was a little like the pot calling the kettle black, I forced myself to remain rigid in my seat, squaring my jaw and dropping my gaze to the table cloth.
“Michaela, enough.” Joshua snapped and I thought he sounded angry and offended enough for the both of us. “What is your problem?” He was glaring at her like he was thinking about slapping that smirk off her face himself. “You can’t be happy unless you’re stirring up trouble, can you?”
“Where do I sign up for the Joshua Beckett Atonement Program?” Michaela questioned, giving me all her attention once more. “Do you think I could get in now or do I have to start slandering your family members before I can get accepted?” This time Joshua was the one who looked away, frowning. “I could tell them quite a dozy about us I’m sure Joshua. Maybe a little tell-all about Stephen’s favorite positions in-”
“Michaela, can’t you just shut up?” I snapped so abruptly that I think both of us were a little surprised. Or we might have been surprised by the way that I got to my feet when I spoke, somehow managing to slide out of the booth and stand up in one smooth motion so that Michaela and I were standing almost nose to nose. Almost being the key word, because I didn’t really realize how much of an added height advantage heels had over strappy sandals. But I could tell that Michaela hadn’t been expecting me to get in her face, even if I was feeling very non-threatening at the moment and her words fell short. I could tell that Joshua wasn’t taking her comments very well, that the history he and his brother had in regards to Emilia and the press wasn’t a history that he was very interested in reliving. He had changed completely from the open and smiling guy that I’d been sitting with only minutes before, his eyes faraway and his face closed off. Thanks a lot Michaela for ruining what was supposed to be the best night of my entire life. I wasn’t going to get another chance to go out with a celebrity in Independence now was I?
“Why did you come over here? Just to make us miserable?” I questioned, figuring that if Michaela had taken a break in her insults I was going to make the most of her silence, not that I was exactly a wordsmith when it came to shutting other people down and making them want to slink off in the other direction. “I’m sorry that your own date was so pathetic and boring that you had to come over here and interrupt ours. I’m sure there is an atonement program out there for people like you and I’m sure you’ve all ready committed the necessary amount of sins to get accepted. Though you might want to make sure they accept bitches before you get your hopes up, the other applicants might not want to degrade themselves.”
I wasn’t entirely sure where that tirade had come from and I also wasn’t sure how I had managed to keep such a level voice throughout the whole thing when being in this situation made me want to hide under the table and not come out again until Michaela had left the building. But whatever spirit had possessed me seemed to have done a relatively good job in taking control of my body because there was a silence that followed my words, like no one, especially Michaela, was sure what to do or say next, though I was pretty sure that I saw a smile beginning to creep across Joshua’s face.
In an attempt to make light of the situation, the waiters began moving around the dining room again, carrying trays and slinking over to their tables to check on their guests. Now that it didn’t look like we were going to start slapping and pulling hair, it seemed as though the servers had been instructed to get back to business as usual and I was sure I could feel a little bit of disappointment fill the air. Though I did see the man I assumed was the manager heading over in our direction, no doubt hoping to defuse the situation.
Well, as far as I was concerned, I didn’t have anything else to say to Michaela and if her stony silence was any indicator she didn’t have anything left to say to me either. Sure it might be a little awkward for a minute but hopefully Joshua and I could go back to our date/business meeting and act like none of this had ever happened. I started to lower myself back into the booth, suddenly feeling self-conscious and on display.
What happened after that happened so quickly that I couldn’t really react and wasn’t even really sure what had happened until I was dealing with the consequences. In an attempt to make everything return to normal, a waiter was passing behind Michaela carrying a tray of soup and salad bowls to his table, trying to avoid rubber-necking at our table as he passed by. Michaela grabbed the tray from him and flipped in into my lap before I could realize what she was doing, that self-satisfied smirk returning to her face. I’m sure that her intentions were just to cover me with food but she got the added bonus of dumping steaming soup into my lap and the dress I was wearing didn’t exactly offer me much protection.
I cried out when the soup hit the skin of my legs, instinctively jumping to my feet, though my motions were nowhere near as smooth as they had been a minute ago and I hit the underside of the table, knocking over the water glasses. Thankfully (or maybe unfortunately) one of the glasses tipped into my lap, the water and ice doing a little to soothe the burning that the soup was still causes. Unfortunately, my new dress was now covered in salad, dressing, soup and water.
Joshua also jumped to his feet, coming over to my side of the booth with a napkin in his hand. He shoved Michaela aside and I didn’t miss the pleased smirk on her face as she turned to go. Joshua tried to wipe the soup off my legs but my skin was all ready red and tender from the hot liquid and I felt tears well in my eyes from the pain of the burn. When I thought about the sight I must be right now to Joshua and everyone in the restaurant, covered in food, with Joshua trying to clean me off with his napkin and me waving my hands at my legs in attempt to cool them off (it wasn’t really helping), the tears became even stronger, blurring my vision and adding to the embarrassment, which only added to my tears.
Thankfully the manager had reached our table and was all ready taking off his tailored black jacket and putting it around my shoulders. “I’m so sorry Miss Thompson.” He was saying into my ear as he pulled the jacket around my shoulders. The fabric of the jacket brushed against my legs, which only got the aching and burning starting all over again. I probably had third degree burns or something and I wanted the skin graft to come from Michaela’s stupid, ugly face. “Please come with me, we’ll get this all sorted out and get you taken care of.” Like this was just a normal restaurant emergency, like he dealt with this sort of thing all the time. Maybe he did, it was Hollywood.