This job was everything I thought it would be. Darren wasn’t kidding about needing me to dive right in. I thought I would simply assist with the meals but he actually allowed me to make some of them on my own. He was a great teacher who trusted my instincts when it came to how much seasoning or spices to use.
The kitchen was so clean and so well organised that it was nothing like that mess I had to deal with at my old job with Gary. There’s just something about being in a kitchen where I could spend the whole day cooking. I just love the smell of freshly chopped basil and as weird as it sounds I love the smell of fresh fish. I know, I know, what kind of weirdo loves fresh fish? Most people think it’s the most disgusting smell in the world but I quite enjoy it because I know the fresher the fish the better it will taste when seasoned and cooked.
I’m so at home here. For the first time in my life, I feel like I’m somewhere I belong.
Michael often comes to the kitchen to bother me. It’s kinda cute I guess but I don’t want him to get me into trouble with Darren. So far he seems to have good timing where he manages to come in whenever Darren is on his break.
I think I’m in the kitchen by myself and then all of a sudden he sneaks up on me.
“Look, you need to stop that! Don’t forget I work with knives.”
“Sorry, but you should know it’s me by now.”
“Because who else will come to bother you when Darren’s not around?”
Just then I got a text message on my phone and when I checked I realised it was from Lyra. She was messaging to tell me she was coming home for a visit and was already on the plane. This was really unexpected and for some reason I had a nagging feeling that her surprise visit was more than just that.
“Ah, don’t tell me that’s some other gentleman caller trying to take your attention away from me. Whoever he is, tell him to wait his turn.”
I laughed. “I don’t have gentleman callers and if I did what makes you think you’re one of them? That term implies that I willingly allow you to come here which I don’t.”
“But you don’t stop me from coming either.” He smirked. “I think I’m growing on you.”
“Ha! More like annoying me while I’m trying to work.”
“Hey, I wouldn’t have to if you would just agree to go out with me already.”
“So your plan is to wear me down by pestering me until I agree to go out with you?”
“More like I’m hoping to charm my way into swaying your mind, is it working even a little?”
It was but I wasn’t going to tell him that. “Nope. Now if you don’t mind, I have a lot of orders and they’re piling up and your break is probably over by now.”
“Hm. You know, the hard to get thing is a real turn on.” He winked. Little did he know how much of a turn on he was for me as a whole.
“Just shut up and get back to your bar mister.”
“Fine. See you later, Maia.”
Darren returned within a minute after Michael left. I wonder if he just has perfect timing or if he makes the effort to monitor Darren’s breaks to know exactly when he will be back in the kitchen. I had a smile on my face for at least an hour after he left. Darren even noticed and asked what the joke was about. I told him nothing. There was no joke, just butterflies in my stomach doing a happy dance.
I don’t know how this guy managed to do it but he succeeded in getting his charm to wear me down. If he asked me out again, I think I might actually say yes.
My shift ended within a couple of hours so I headed home and waited for Lyra. Just as I clocked out from work she messaged me to say that her plane landed so I expected her home any minute.
I decided to clean up a little in the meantime because I knew that once she arrived she would start messing up the place like she usually does. I don’t think my sister has ever washed a dish in her life and probably doesn’t even know how to use the dishwasher because she always leaves her dirty plates on the counter. When I stayed with her that time I noticed she barely had any dishes or cutlery in her apartment but she had plenty of boxes and containers with leftover takeout in her fridge.
I heard the front door open and shut. I knew it was her but I expected her to bounce into the room announcing her arrival the way she usually does instead of quietly walking into the kitchen.
“Hey, what’s with the pout? Jet lag?” But then I saw her face and knew it was no jetlag. “What’s wrong? Are you okay?”
“Spit it out, Lyra. What’s going on?” I felt like I was about to have a panic attack. I had never seen her look so depressed.
“I got evicted.”
“Oh.” I sighed in relief since that was the least worrisome of all the possibilities that ran through my head. “Um, well how? You should have more than enough money left in your trust fund to…”
“It’s gone. All of it. I owe my landlord three months’ rent and my electricity got cut…”
“Don’t tell me you spent all of your money already! Lyra we’re talking 30 grand! And you just blew it…on what? Parties and clothes?” Then I remembered how tricked out her apartment looked when I went to visit. I had a feeling she was living above her means but I didn’t think it would get this bad.
“I know I screwed up okay! But you don’t have to yell at me, Kaleb did plenty of that already. It wasn’t all on parties and clothes just so you know. Akira asked for a couple of loans when we were still together and he never paid me back and…”
“Wait, you guys broke up?”
“Yeah, a while now and since I gave him cash and there’s no record that it was a loan he’s refusing to give me back my money. I guess when the well dried up he decided to bail. I was so stupid! I thought he loved me but he was just using me for rent money while he was screwing his roommate, Miko, the entire time!”
I felt a little bad for her because I knew she loved him. It sucked that he just used her like that. Now I know why I never liked the guy even though I didn’t have a chance to get to know him. “So why did you come home? Why not stay with Kaleb and Penny until you get back on your feet?”
“Kaleb and Penny’s place is too small and I don’t want to inconvenience them like that…or get another lecture from him. I swear he yells at me every day for being so irresponsible.”
“Can you really blame him?”
“I know, I know. It’s just that…I’ve been trying to get a 9 to 5 job but the job market in San Myshuno is really tough and my singing career isn’t taking off the way I thought it would. I haven’t had a paying gig in months. I’m basically surviving off of tips I get from performing on street corners and it’s not enough to cover my debts and…I simply can’t afford to live there without some help…”
I knew exactly where she was headed with this.
“I was hoping you wouldn’t mind helping out your favourite sister? At least until I start getting some steady gigs and then I’ll pay you back.”
“I’m not gonna support you Lyra.” I said firmly.
“Please Maia…if I don’t give my landlord some money for the rent then he’s gonna take me to court and sue me. I don’t have any money to pay him off far less for a lawyer.”
“Then get a job!”
“Didn’t you hear what I said? I’ve tried but no one is hiring someone with my skills. Please Maia, I’m begging you to help me out. I promise I’ll pay you back. And it’s not like I’ll be putting you out. The legacy fund has more than enough. Please Mai, just this once.”
I sighed. I didn’t want to bail her out because I felt like she needed to learn a lesson from this. Lyra has always taken things for granted and I knew her excessive spending habits would get her into trouble someday. “Fine. I will pay off your debts and you don’t have to pay me back.”
“Really? Thank you Mai…”
“But I have terms. You’re gonna have to move back home and get a job. Once you’ve saved enough money to move back to San Myshuno and live on your own then you can.”
“Move back home?”
“Yes. You said so yourself that you’re not getting any gigs and it’s hard to get a job there. You need to learn responsibility. I’m only helping you because I don’t want you to suffer and having bad credit can follow you for life but I’m not going to continuously give you money that you’ll end up squandering because you’ll have no appreciation for where it came from. If you earn money for yourself then maybe you can change your spending habits, learn to manage your money and hopefully, learn to stop giving loans to deadbeat loser boyfriends.”
She looked like she was processing everything. I could tell from her reaction to certain things I said that she didn’t like my criticism but after a few seconds of silence she said, “Okay. I’ll move back home and get a job.”
Against my better judgment, I agreed to pay off her debt and I was sure to get a phone call from Kaleb in the morning about how I’m an enabler. It won’t be the first time he got on my case about bailing out Lyra but how can I just sit back and allow my sister to drown when I had the means to rescue her?
A part of me selfishly wanted her back just so we could hang out like the old days but a bigger part of me also wanted my big sister to finally grow up and be responsible for her actions. I knew all she needed was a clean slate in order to prove herself.
Hopefully, I won’t end up regretting this.