Original Work: You'll Always Find Your Way Back Home, Chapter 9, Part 5
Chapter 9, Part 5
I didn’t look at him as I nodded, keeping my eyes on the ground so that no one would see the fact that I was trying very hard not to start crying. The manager gestured for us to follow him and I could hear the other diners whispering to each other and trying to make it look like they weren’t staring at Joshua and I as we passed, which was even more of a reason for me to avoid looking at anyone because I knew that they were staring and what they were thinking.
Joshua put a hand on the small of my back and I felt my heart skip in my chest. It was good to know that even though my thighs were burning and aching with every step the teenage girl in me wasn’t affected whatsoever by the physical pain that I was in. “It’s going to be okay.” He whispered so that only I could hear him and my body decided to betray me by letting a few tears fall onto my cheeks. Which was something that didn’t escape Joshua’s attention. “Shh, it’s okay.” He tried to wipe the tears away as surreptitiously as possible to avoid giving the diners anything else to talk about. This, of course, only made me cry even more and by this point I wasn’t sure if I was crying from the pain or the embarrassment or both. “Hey, it’s going to be all right, I promise, we’ll make it better.” Joshua said. By this time we’d left the actual restaurant and were in the back hallway reserved only for the staff, so Joshua turned me to face him so that he could better wipe the tears from my cheeks with his thumb. In a different situation, I was sure that I would have been very excited about the contact but I was so embarrassed by the fact that I was crying in front of Joshua Beckett that I couldn’t even look him in the eye. “Hey, you gotta stop crying, you’re breaking my heart.” He gave me a crooked smile that all those magazine pictures didn’t do justice and I felt my heart jump around in my chest all over again. But at least I didn’t cry.
The manager opened the door to his office and gestured for me to take a seat, moving around the shelves looking for towels or something that seemed useful, talking about how he couldn’t believe the behavior of some of his guests and he was horrified that my dining experience had been so awful. I wanted to assure him my ‘dining experience’ had technically never happened, because the closest we’d come to food was picking salad off my dress, but somehow it didn’t seem important.
The next several minutes passed in a haze, my attention focused more on the continuing pain in my legs that the damp napkins weren’t doing much to help, as opposed to on what the manager was saying, though I had the feeling that Joshua and I were getting free meals and the VIP treatment from Antonio’s for the rest of our lives. Joshua was doing most of the talking and I heard Michaela’s name mentioned several times but I also got the feeling that there wasn’t much that could be done about Michaela’s actions unless I decided to get the police involved, which I could tell the manager was trying to dissuade me against doing. What good would it do anyway? The whole thing would just get completely out of hand and then Linda and Schapelle would have another situation to run damage control on and this time they would have two Emilias to deal with. All I wanted was to pop a couple of aspirin and climb into my own bed and sleep, though my bed happened to be several thousand miles away.
When it seemed like there wasn’t much he could do, the manager left the office, promising to call our drivers and bring the cars to the back of the restaurant so we could leave in peace. Though I was sure that Michaela was all ready causing a scene out front. When the manager had left, Joshua perched on the edge of his desk so that we were face to face again, though I wasn’t sure what to say to him or where to start. He seemed uncertain of what to say too because there was a beat where we both said nothing.
Simultaneously, we both blurted, “I’m sorry,” which caused us both to smile, though Joshua quickly asked, “What are you sorry for?”
“Everything. That whole thing with Michaela. If,” my sister wasn’t such a psycho she never would have started anything with Michaela in the first place and I wouldn’t have ended up with food in my lap and in need of possible medical treatment, “we didn’t have such a history she never would have come over and said those things about your brother and this night just didn’t turn out anything like I was hoping and I’m sorry that you had to get involved with all of this and,” I realized that I was rambling and all this was coming out in one breath and I paused, inhaling, “and I’m just sorry.”
Joshua leaned forward and took my hand, giving it a friendly and reassuring squeeze. “You don’t have anything to be sorry about.” He assured me and I could see the sincerity in his eyes and hear it in his words. “And it wasn’t so bad…” I gave him a look that suggested I had no idea how the hell he could say that and he quickly cleared his throat. “Okay, so it was pretty bad but…not all of it was bad.”
Did I understand him correctly? Was he trying to tell me that there had been some parts of the evening that he’d enjoyed? Parts where he’d enjoyed being with me? When I thought back, we really hadn’t had much time together before Michaela had decided to interrupt, we hadn’t really had much time to talk and start to get to know each other. But maybe the time we had spent together hadn’t been completely awful for him. I know that it hadn’t been for me.
I smiled at him. “Yeah, it wasn’t all bad.” I realized then that he was still holding my hand and I sincerely hoped that he would never let go.
Unfortunately right at that moment the manager of Antonio’s bustled back into his office. Joshua sat up and hopped off the edge of his desk and my hand dropped back into my lap. Where it hit my leg and started the stinging all over again.