A couple of steamy/suggestive screenshots ahead —————————————– I almost don’t even know where to start with this one. Last night… Well, it kinda changed everything. In more ways than one. … Continue reading 5.64: Choose
Sometimes I really hate this.
It feels like as soon as something great happens to me, something else gets all fucked up to balance it out. It’s like the universe doesn’t want anything to be easy for me, I guess.
Anyway, the good news is that everything’s still going great at the restaurant. Better than great, actually. The past couple weeks have probably been some of the busiest of my entire life, but some of the best too. I’ve been putting in way more than forty hours every week so far… And I’ve seriously been loving every minute of it.
I was so terrified that first day, but Victoria’s really been helping me through it. Dom too. Last night after closing time, we all sat down to go over the numbers, and they’re really good. Better than any of us were expecting. I’m hoping we can keep this momentum going once some of the novelty of being a new restaurant wears off.
I know there’s always a huge risk with that, but I’m not too worried, to be honest. With Victoria helping in the kitchen and Dom helping me keep all our finances straight, I feel like this is really gonna work out for all of us. I knew picking them as my investors was a good idea. I trust them completely. And it’s a really great feeling to be able to say that.
I’ll admit there are still days where it almost feels too good to be true. (Jesus, talk about a lame cliche!). But seriously, it’s like I’m living in a freaking dream or something. One I never wanna wake up from.
So I guess it’s the not-so-amazing stuff that reminds me this isn’t a dream after all.
It’s not even anything major, I guess. But it’s enough that it’s really starting to get to me.
It’s Abigail… And Hope too.
It started back on our opening day. I was way too excited talking about all the good stuff that happened that I never really got around to writing about what happened with the two of them. They both showed up for lunch that day, and they ended up finally meeting each other for the first time.
And it was… weird.
I tried talking to Abigail about it first… And I guess I can kinda see where she’s coming from. She said it was “really weird” meeting my “gorgeous model ex-girlfriend”. I think she was kinda trying to lighten the mood by putting it that way… But maybe it wasn’t much of a joke after all.
It kinda got me thinking about how I felt when Hope was dating those model guys back in San Myshuno. Or how I’d feel if Abigail had some hot ex who suddenly showed up out of the blue.
And the answer is, it would suck, and I’d be jealous as hell. So I guess she is too.
But I tried to make her understand. What Hope and I had… It was great (okay, better than great… but I didn’t tell her that), but it’s over now. We’ve both moved on. And I really feel like what me and Abigail have could turn into something just as good someday. She’s beautiful and smart and funny… I still get butterflies when I see her smile. She’s a really amazing girl, and Hope being back in Windenburg doesn’t mean anything’s gonna change between us now.
I guess Abigail seemed a little skeptical at first… But I know she trusts me. I’m with her now. Not Hope. And she gets that.
There are just moments when I still catch her getting kinda weird about things.
Like if we run into Hope while we’re out together, or she sees me texting her, or I tell her I’m going to hang out with her. She keeps telling me it’s fine and she doesn’t mind… But I can tell by the way she looks at me that it’s bugging her. And I just wish she’d stop being so nervous about it.
And I wish Hope would stop too.
I keep trying to ask her about how she acted when she met Abigail, and the best I can get out of her is that she was “just surprised”, because I hadn’t mentioned I was dating anybody.
But I really had a hard time buying it. I mean, first off, why should I have to tell her what I’m doing or who I’m seeing? She’s not my Mutter or anything.
And I know it goes way deeper than just being ‘surprised’. She gets really weird too. Any time I mention Abigail or when she sees the two of us together… She gets all stiff and gives us these looks.
I really couldn’t understand what the hell her problem was, until today.
Charlie brought Dahlia over to the apartment for a visit, and we ended up talking about it. Ben’s away on a business trip in Frankfurt for a few days, so she decided to bring the munchkin to come see everybody… Well, everybody who’s still here in Windenburg these days. Which isn’t many of us anymore, to be honest.
The Rosebrooks are still here, at least. Opa, Oma, Tante Joce, Onkel Auggy, me… Even Onkel Stefan ended up back in Windenburg eventually. Opa always says his grandpa Alex is to blame for that. Ever since I was a little kid, he’s been making the same speech again and again. “Grandpa always said he came here to build a legacy, and we’re it. There’s no Windenburg without the Rosebrooks anymore.”
But sometimes I wonder whether it’s the other way around.
Anyway, the point is, enough of us are sticking around that Charlie still likes to come back and visit when she can. Like this afternoon.
She’d spent the morning catching up with Tante Joce, then she came over here for some lunch. And while Dahlia was playing with some of my old action figures, I tried talking to Charlie about this thing with Hope.
And she laughed at me. She actually laughed!
And, okay, yeah, I can kinda see why she made fun of me. I know it should have been obvious. It’s the only thing that makes sense, right? But I guess I didn’t really think it was possible.
Could Hope seriously be jealous? Of Abigail?
She didn’t seem to have any problem when she was dating that dickhead David. Or that loser Sean she told me about. So she’s allowed to move on and I’m not?
I know, I know. I shouldn’t be mad at her. She can’t help how she feels. But… God, this just makes everything so much more complicated! It’s bad enough with Abigail being jealous. But now Hope too?
Ugh. See what I mean?
Nothing’s ever easy.
Zayne closed his eyes.
For a moment, all the sounds around him seemed to fade away. The crackling of the stoves’ flames, the clanging of pots and pans, the chatter among the kitchen workers… All of it was gone. He took a slow, deep breath and willed the frantic pounding in his heart to subside.
But it didn’t.
“Earth to Zayne…” Victoria’s familiar voice broke through the silence, calling Zayne abruptly back from his moment of near-peace. “Dude, are you okay?”
“Y-yeah.” He stammered nervously, opening his eyes. Victoria stood at the stove beside him, stirring a pot of noodles. “Sorry. I’m just… Having a moment.” He admitted with a small laugh.
Zayne had foolishly assumed that opening day would be a piece of cake. After all, he’d done this all before, hadn’t he? But last time was so different. He didn’t own 80% of the business that time. He wasn’t the sole person in charge of the entire restaurant. The entire fate of the business wasn’t resting on his shoulders.
It was like he’d been pedaling down the street with a set of training wheels last time. It was fun and exciting, but safe.
Today, the training wheels were off and he was coasting downhill. At top speed. Without a helmet.
He swallowed nervously. Christ, calm down! You can do this.
“Relax.” Victoria seemed to echo his thoughts. “You’ve got this. We’ve been doing great so far, haven’t we?” She reached over as she spoke, adjusting the heat on one of the burners.
Zayne nodded. She was right. They had been doing great… For the two hours they’d been open. They wouldn’t close until 10 that night. Eight more hours. Zayne tried his best not to think of all the things that could go wrong between now and then, but it was hard not to. This was his baby. His dream. And he couldn’t mess it up.
“Look, why don’t you let me take the reigns in here for a while?” Victoria continued. “And you can go check on the dining room and patio until you’re done with your ‘moment’.” She suggested kindly. “The customers would probably like to meet the owner anyway. Good for business, right?”
“Yeah… If you don’t mind, sure.” He replied, grateful. “Thanks, Victoria. I just need a breather, I guess.” Zayne had been going nearly non-stop since very early that morning, getting everything ready for their grand opening. He hadn’t sat down or even left the kitchen in hours.
“No worries, I get it.” She smiled at him. “Aw, shit…” Her attention quickly turned back to the pot she’d been stirring, which now appeared to be boiling a bit too aggressively.
Zayne quickly slipped away, eager to go see how his customers were doing.
“Welcome to LuzLicht.” He smiled warmly at an older couple he found seated on the patio. “I’m the owner, Zayne Rosebrook. Are you enjoying your meals this afternoon?”
“Oh, most definitely!” The woman beamed as she spoke. “This is delicious.”
The man, whom Zayne assumed was her husband, nodded in agreement. His mouth appeared to be too full of food to form a proper reply.
Zayne gave the man a kind nod of acknowledgement. “I’m so glad. If you need anything, please let one of our servers know. Enjoy the rest of your afternoon.”
“Excuse me.” A familiar voice called from over his shoulder. “Did you say you’re the owner? I’d like to file a complaint, please.”
His lips curled into a smile as he turned around. “Of course, miss.” Zayne’s voice was teasing. “What seems to be the problem?”
“This food is much too delicious. I can’t stop eating it.” She seemed to be struggling to keep a straight face. “I can’t afford to get fat in my line of work, you know.”
“My apologies. In that case, I suggest trying out the Corner Kitchen. I hear it’s run by some asshole named Greg who doesn’t know shit about decent food.”
Hope burst into hysterics, finally dropping the act. Zayne smiled as he took a seat across from her.
“I’m glad you could make it.” He said seriously.
“Of course! You think I’d miss your opening day?” She smiled. “The only reason I couldn’t be there last time was that big shoot for Elle in Champs Les Sims.”
Zayne shrugged. “Wouldn’t have been worth it anyway…”
“True.” Hope paused to take another bite from her plate. “This place is so much better… And I’m not just saying that.” Her tone was suddenly serious. “This is the type of place you always talked about. This is your dream. I’m so happy for you!”
“Thanks! I really feel good about this. It really feels like it’s mine this time, y’know?”
Hope nodded. “I do. And I seriously love everything about this place. It’s just what you always wanted. Modern mixed with traditional, right?”
He nodded. “Exactly.”
“It’s so perfect. Especially the name… It’s for your parents, isn’t it?”
“Yeah… I went with the whole ‘light’ thing.” He explained. “And ‘Luz’ kinda sounds like their names too… It all worked out really well.”
“I love it! I think they would too.” She replied seriously. “And I saw your aunt and grandfather leaving while I was walking in. They didn’t notice me, and I kinda overheard them talking about you.” Hope smiled. “They’re so proud of you, Zayne. It was really sweet.”
He felt a sudden warmth in his cheeks, but not an entirely unpleasant one. He opened his mouth to speak once more, but before he could reply, he heard musical voice calling out to him.
“There he is, the man himself!”
Zayne smiled as he rose to his feet and turned to face her. “Hey, stranger. I didn’t think you were gonna make it.” He leaned down to give Abigail a soft kiss on her cheek, drawing a soft giggle from her lips.
“My boss is still being a jerk about time off.” She confessed. “But I’m on my lunch break, so… What better place to grab a bite to eat?”
“Are you gonna have enough time?” He asked.
“Um… I will if the owner can pull a few strings for me?” Abigail teased. The way she smiled sent a flurry of butterflies through Zayne’s stomach.
“For you? Of course.” He gave her a little wink.
Out of the corner of his eye, he could have sworn he caught a glimpse of Hope rolling her eyes. Zayne glanced down at her. The smile had completely vanished from her face. What the hell? He did his best to hide his confusion.
“Oh, um… I should probably introduce you guys, huh?” Zayne continued, suddenly nervous. “Abigail, this is Hope. Hope, Abigail.”
He noticed Abigail’s smile flicker for just a moment. “Nice to meet you.” Zayne did not miss the slight discomfort in her voice.
“Yeah. You too.” Hope’s smile seemed so forced.
Abigail’s, though hesitant, at least felt somewhat genuine. “I’ve heard a lot about you.”
“Oh, really?” The other woman replied stiffly. Her eyes flicked toward Zayne for a moment. “I wish I could say the same.”
What is her problem?! “So… Wanna find a seat, Abigail? And I’ll go whip something up for you?” He suggested. “What would you like?”
“Hm… You can surprise me.” She smiled sweetly at him as she spoke.
Zayne watched as she headed back downstairs to find a table.
He turned back toward Hope as soon as Abigail was out of earshot. “Are you okay?” He asked, half concerned, half annoyed. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing. I’m fine.” She shrugged, taking another bite of her food. For some reason, Hope seemed unable to meet his gaze. “It was great to see you, Zayne.” The cheerfulness in her voice did not seem to match her expression. “But I should let you get back to work.”
“Uh, okay.” He replied helplessly. “See you later, I guess.”
Yesterday was Tante Joce’s birthday… And Papa’s too.
Every year, I can’t help but feel really bad for her. I mean, birthdays have always been pretty tough for all of us… But I don’t think anyone has it worse than my Tante. It’s been more than twenty-five years since we lost Mama and Papa… But every year, it’s the same. She’s so miserable. I mean, she tries to hide it, but you can tell how hard it is for her. And I can’t really blame her, can I?
It makes me think of the triplets. Alex and Tony are so far away now, but they’re still just as close with Charlie as ever. They’ve been best friends since the day they were born. And it makes me feel sick thinking of what it’d be like if something terrible happened to one of them. How could the others go on? How could they handle growing old without their Schwester?
Anyway, I always try my best to make sure Tante Joce has a great birthday. It’s been extra hard the past few years since Alex and Tony left… But Charlie and I do our best.
And we still do a midnight movie, just like Papa and Tante Joce used to when they were kids. Once I was old enough, Grandpa started letting me stay up to watch with them. I’ve never been big on horror movies, to be honest. Especially those old cheesy ones Tante Joce and Papa and Grandpa love so much. They’re just… so stupid.
Grandpa says Mama never really liked them either, so I guess I take after her like that. But she still used to watch them with Grandpa when she was a kid, and with Papa too. And she never complained about it. So I don’t either. And I guess I secretly kind of love doing it every year, even if the movies are total shit. Maybe that’s why Mama put up with it too… It’s kinda nice doing something special on Papa’s birthday. Especially doing it with Grandpa and Tante Joce.
Grandpa ended up sitting out this time though. He likes to joke that he’s too old for staying up late anymore. “When you’re my age, you go back to having a bedtime!” He’d been falling asleep halfway through the movie for the past couple years anyway… And I love him, but he snores like a freight train! I’m not sure how Tante Joce puts up with it.
I was a little bummed Grandpa wasn’t there, but it was actually kinda cool having it just be me and Tante Joce. We don’t really spend a lot of time together where it’s just the two of us, and she definitely took advantage of it last night. We barely even paid attention to the movie… We were too busy talking.
First we went over some of my plans for the grand opening next weekend, which was pretty fun. Tante Joce has always been one of my number one cheerleaders, I guess. She’s always been on my side, no matter what. And I really love her for that. Of course, it can still be kinda tempting to roll my eyes at her when she starts going into one of her little speeches about how proud she is… But last night, it actually felt really nice to hear.
Of course, as soon as she broke out of ‘proud parent’ mode, she immediately dived into ‘nosy parent’ mode. I guess that deserved a little bit of an eyeroll… All her grilling about Abigail was kind of annoying. But kinda sweet too, in a way. I think she can tell how well the two of us have been hitting it off.
Last night was our fifth date. I took her bowling at the new alley that opened up downtown, and we had a great time. Abigail’s a really nice girl, and so adorable too. She loves hearing me talk about my restaurant. She tells funny stories, and she’s so damn smart. It’s amazing.
I’ve been having so much fun hanging out with her, but it’s still nothing serious right now. We messed around a little after our date last night, but we still haven’t even had sex yet. And we haven’t really ‘defined’ whatever this thing is either. I feel like I’ve gotta kinda ease myself into it, y’know? Especially now that Hope’s back in town.
Yeah, Tante Joce talked about her too. And, just like she guessed, I’ll admit that it’s a little… complicated.
But I can honestly say that I’m in a way better place since last year. I’m not wallowing about it anymore. I’m not spending every meeting with Dr. Hall obsessing about her. I can go on a date with another girl without feeling like I’m ‘betraying’ her or something. And now that she’s back in town, I can spend the afternoon alone with her without us ending up in bed together.
I’ll admit it though — Having her back… It’s amazing. No matter what happened between us or how hard is to let go of those old feelings, the point is, she’s still my best friend. And now we don’t have thousands of kilometers separating us anymore.
I really don’t think her timing could have been any better. Everything really feels complete now that she’s here, y’know?
I have my family. I have my friends. I have Abigail. I have Hope.
And next week, I’ll have my restaurant too.
I totally neglected to thank ra3rei for Abigail (If you read Rae’s stories, she might make an appearance in the future… Can’t say more than that haha). So a huge shoutout to her! Also, Jes2G gets a big thanks for the lovely Victoria Pruett too! (I forget if I ever credited her! Victoria was submitted way back when for my casting call)
And while I’m in the mood for giving thanks to the creators of the three lovely ladies in Zayne’s life right now… Another enormous thanks to ThePlumbob for our beautiful Hope!
I think today’s been one of the best days I’ve had in a long time… But so damn tiring too! It’s barely dinnertime and I’m already dead-tired. But I guess if I’m gonna be exhausted, there are way worse reasons to be, huh?
It started out this morning at the restaurant. They finally finished installing all the appliances in our kitchen, and Victoria and I were like two kids in a candy store testing everything out. It was all so beautiful, at first we were both too afraid to risk dirtying anything. But once we got started trying it, we couldn’t stop!
I really went all-out with our appliances. Everything’s top of the line stuff — even better than what Greg and I stocked the old kitchen with. I’m totally dying for the chance to finally break it all in for real.
I still remember how excited I was before opening day the last time I did all this. It felt like all my hard work was finally gonna pay off… But I didn’t realize until way too late that all that work was wasted. I mean, I put so much of myself toward something that wasn’t really mine. And it sucked.
But this time, I’m doing things right. This is my vision. My DREAM. And three weeks from tomorrow, it’s finally happening.
As of today, construction’s officially finished. Plus we already have all our permits in order, all our deliveries are scheduled for the next couple months, and we start training our new staff on Monday. We’re so freaking close. It’s kinda killing me… But in the best way possible.
I guess a part of me is still scared shitless… But mostly, I just can’t wait. And days like today are when it starts hitting me that everything’s finally coming together. When I turned thirty last year, I kept telling myself this was gonna be like a new chapter in my life or something. And maybe I was right. Guess we’ll have to wait and see.
And I’m not the only one starting a new chapter either.
After Victoria and I finished up at the restaurant, I headed downtown to help Hope unpack some of her stuff — all her boxes from San Myshuno finally arrived this morning. Nothing big, just little knick-knacks and pictures and stuff like that. But she had so much of it.
We had a lot of fun though. I made us some lunch, and we spent the afternoon hanging out and laughing together while we unpacked. It was pretty awesome, actually.
I know it wasn’t easy for her to move back after all this time, but I think this is gonna be really good for her. She’d been telling me for months about the trouble she was having with finding jobs back in San Myshuno… She was having a really rough time. And part of me had almost wanted to suggest she move back here when I first heard about it, to be honest. But I didn’t want it to be weird, y’know?
I’m just happy she was able to figure it out herself. I really missed her.
Anyway, I should probably wrap this up so I can shower and get ready. I’m picking Abigail up at seven for a movie… I know I complained about how tired I am, but we had SO much fun the other night (well, you know that already from how I went on and on about it, huh?) that I decided to call her up and ask her out again tonight… Kinda last minute, I guess. But luckily she was free!
Honestly this is the first time in months that I’ve been the one to suggest a second date. And we usually don’t make it past the second or third anyway — Most of the girls I’ve been seeing are just so fake, y’know? But Abigail really seems different. She’s so sweet and funny and down-to-earth… Cute as hell too.
Obviously it’s hard to tell much after only one date, but we’ve really been having a lot of fun together, and I can’t wait to see her again.
See what I mean? Today’s seriously been the best. I guess I can’t really tell if it’s the restaurant, or Hope, or Abigail… Maybe all three? Whatever it is, it’s amazing.
And it’s made me happier than I’ve felt in a really long time.
Today is Father’s Day, but instead of making a sappy little Father’s Day card like last year, I instead thought we should all raise a glass to Zayne, for being the most sexually-responsible Rosebrook so far 😛 (Though I know some of you are growing impatient and wishing he was a little LESS responsible 😉 )
“Okay, make a wish!” Hope leaned forward, her face softly illuminated by the candles’ orange glow. She had no idea what to wish for…. Every year, she drew a blank … Continue reading Interlude: Milestone
Zayne glanced up at the clock on the wall for what felt like the hundredth time. He tried to ignore the uncomfortable sweatiness of his palms and nervous racing of … Continue reading Interlude: Right Track