Angela was going to pay for this.
"Bella! Get over here!"
"The check please!"
"Where's my coffee?!"
Why, oh why, had I promised to help? This was beyond lending a hand to a friend. This was walking through hell for them.
I was knocked down as Angela passed me, carrying two empty plates of food in one hand and a Soda in the other. She stopped to pull me up.
"Thanks for doing this! I don't know how I'd survive tonight without you."
Yesterday, I would have said she was exaggerating. Now, I knew she meant every word of it. Almost literally.
The middle-aged man sitting on the nearby table was fuming. I realized I must have forgotten to bring him the drink he'd ordered half an hour ago.
After listening to his complaints for a couple of minutes, I excused myself and rushed to the kitchen to get the Coke. But on my way back, my feet tripped over a handbag lying on the floor and I landed face-down on the hard, wooden space between two chairs. The coke in my hand flew a couple of meters and landed directly on an elderly woman's lap.
I cursed under my breath.
I quickly scrambled to my feet and fetched a napkin from a close-by counter.
"I'm… I'm so sorry! Here, let me get that for you…"
I handed the napkin to the lady and started picking up the pieces of shattered glass. Thankfully, nobody had cut themselves on them. Except me.
I had clutched the glass too tightly, causing one of the pieces to cut through the skin of my palm. The first drops of blood were already visible. Luckily, the thick cigarette smoke that was in the air covered the smell that would otherwise have made me queasy.
Picking up the remainders of the broken glass, I hurried to the kitchen to get myself a plaster.
Rebecca, Angela's four-years-older cousin, was tapping some orders into the computer standing next to the doorway. She was a skinny, dark-haired girl whose personality didn't resemble that of Angela's the tiniest bit. Instead of being shy, cautious and observant, Rebecca was out-going, straightforward and sometimes a little immature. I didn't like her much, but tonight, she was on my side.
She smiled when she saw me enter the busy kitchen.
"Horrible, isn't it? I've never seen the restaurant this full before."
"Very horrible." I agreed. I hadn't had time to breathe all evening.
"What happened to your hand? You're bleeding?"
I blushed. Rebecca was going to like this. I told her about the impatient man and what had happened to his Coke.
Rebecca burst into a laugh.
"Bella, that was the what, third time this evening? You must be the biggest klutz in the history of the world!"
I blushed even deeper. It was true- this hadn't been the first time I had fallen over. I had already ruined a young girl's jeans with a portion of spaghetti, and Mr. Hent was definitely never going to wear the shirt I had spilled wine on again.
"Bella, Bella… you should be bringing the stuff to the guests, you know. The floor doesn't have to eat."
"I think so, too." Rebecca giggled. "Maybe you should finally bring that poor guy his Coke before he explodes."
I imagined the by now surely furious man waiting another thirty minutes for his drink. Not a pleasant sight. Did I really have to go back?
"So… how are we going to make Angela pay?"
Revenge on Angela sounded like a tempting idea to me. After all, it was her fault I was running around dangerously fast carrying extremely breakable plates.
Three days ago, Angela had appeared on my doorstep to beg for my help. Apparently, her parents had promised to keep her uncle's restaurant in Forks running for the weekend while he and his family were on a short vacation, but all Angela's siblings had ended up in bed with a serious case of the stomach flu. They were short of man-power, and I was their only hope. And so I had agreed to serve at the restaurant the upcoming Saturday.
Angela had also convinced her nearby living cousins, Rebecca and Nick, to help her out. So, including Angela's mom, there was the five of us and about 35 tables worth of hungry, impatient guests.
"Sweet revenge… we'll have to think of something good."
"Um, Bella… I think a man from one of your tables is leaving…"
Through the open kitchen door, I saw the previously annoyed, now enraged man stand up and take his leave.
"That's ok. He didn't get anything he ordered anyway, so there's no use to ask for pay. Or tips."
"TABLE 29 IS READY!!"
The obnoxious kitchen chef was too much in a hurry to even look up when he screamed. I sighed. The tables twenty-eight to thirty-five and been appointed to me.
Unfortunately, they were positioned on the completely opposite side of the room, and the way there was full of death-traps.
Hastily, I picked up the two plates of lasagna from the counter and started making my way over as carefully as I could.
Amazingly, I managed to deliver the food to the right table without too much tripping, but I didn't have any time to feel the relief as I was shouted at from all directions.
"Waitress!! I'd like to order now."
"Excuse me? I'd like to…"
A groan escaped my lips. I wished I could take my dishtowel from my waist and fling it at my customers. I was already flying, or rather stumbling, all around the place; they didn't need to scream at me while I was at it.
Reluctantly I moved to the nearest table to take in the order.
After finally satisfying my customers by taking in all their orders and letting them pay in advance, I slipped back into the equally chaotic kitchen. I immediately regretted that decision.
Nick was mopping the floor in front of the door clean from the sticky shoeprints I had probably left there after my Coke-incident. He stood up fast when he noticed me.
"Hello, Bella. Is this your mess?" he asked with an obvious smirk in his voice.
"Would you like to mop it up then?"
"No. I'm busy."
I tried to step around him into the kitchen, but before I could get passed, Nick was holding both my wrists firmly in his large hands.
"Why in such a hurry, sugar? Don't you like my company?"
Ugh. I hated when he called me 'sugar'. It reminded me of that afternoon in Port Angeles, when I was nearly attacked by a group of men. Nick was no where near that dangerous or menacing, of course, but he disgusted me all the same.
Nick was a macho- in every sense of the word. He had been trying to get my phone number all evening, and simply didn't want to believe that I wasn't interested.
His eyes wandered up and down my body, but he never seemed to look at me right in the eyes. He obviously thought of himself as some indestructible god.
Unfortunately for him, I already knew an indestructable god.
"Nick, let go. Now."
Snickering, Nick let go of his hold on my wrists, but didn't move out of my way.
"Come on, Bella. I know you like me. One date is all I ask of you!"
"How many times do I have to reject until you finally grasp it? I am not interested. Even if I was single, which I'm not. I'm getting married, remember?"
I held my ring up for proof. Nick stared at it loathingly.
"I bet you're just making up the whole marriage story. You could have gotten that ring from every Wal-Mart."
"Does this look like something you could get at the supermarket?!"
The antique ring on my finger was clearly more precious than that. And it was old. Only a jerk like Nick couldn't see that.
I pushed my way through him and entered the kitchen. Not wanting to risk going back outside and bumping into Nick again, I lingered there, watching the cooks run from one kettle to the next. Their evening didn't look any more peaceful than mine.
Suddenly Angela stuck her head through the door.
"You've got new guests on one of your tables. Better serve them now so they have time to eat."
It was well over nine o'clock, and usually people stopped coming in by eight-thirty.
"Just go and see. I think you might like these guests."
And sure enough, the sight of these particular customers made my heart leap with joy.
The whole Cullen family was there, sitting at the largest table at the very back of the restaurant. At my table!
I rushed over to them, almost falling down twice on the way.
"Edward! Alice! Jasper! Esme! Carlisle! Emmett! Rosalie!"
I could feel the eyes of my other customers glaring holes in my back. Normally, the guests had to wait at least fifteen minutes for me to arrive.
Edward stood up when I got there, and gave me a light kiss on the lips, making me forget the mayhem around us. Suddenly, I wasn't in that hot, smoke-filled room anymore, but in heaven. I breathed in his sweet scent, forgetting the job I had to do, forgetting my name.
"Good evening, love. How are things going?"
Ah. With the sound of his voice, heaven couldn't be any more complete.
"Fine, I guess… a little stressful, maybe…"
Edward smiled at my lightheadedness and sat back down, pulling me on his lap.
"But what are you doing here? Surely, you don't want to eat…"
The Cullens all laughed, sounding like a choir of angels while they were at it. Emmett's laugh was the loudest.
"You think we'd want to miss seeing you throw foods on other people's laps? This is going to be first-class entertainment!"
I frowned. Of course Alice had seen my constant tripping and told the rest of her family about it.
Reluctant to leave Edward, I stood up again and went to the neighboring table, giving Edward an apologetic smile.
The evening passed quite nicely after their arrival. I still fell over a lot, but this time Edward was there to catch me and the foods before I hit the ground. And though I was bright red from blushing because of Emmett's wild roars of laughter every time I stumbled over my own legs, I was grateful to have them there.
I tried to get over to their table as often as I could. This was difficult, as I still had other customers at other tables, and the Cullens never ordered anything. They just sat there, murmuring to each other.
Edward kept his eyes on me all this time, making sure I didn't break my neck.
When there were only a few customers left, I went to the front of the restaurant to help Angela clean up a puddle of milk a toddler had left behind. As I was standing up, I suddenly felt a pair of arms wrap around me. I knew exactly whose arms they were.
"NICK! Let go of me this instant!"
I struggled to free myself from his grip, and succeeded to an extent. Nick let go of me for a second, but took my hand before I could run off.
"You're cute, Bella. You know that? Can I have your number?"
"Ugh! No! Now leave me alone!"
"Not until I have your number."
"Is there a problem?"
All of a sudden, Edward was standing in front of me, shoving Nick back. Though I could see how hard he was trying to be gentle about it, Nick landed a couple of meters away and thumped hard on the floor.
"Hey! What's your problem???"
"My problem is that you're harassing my fiancée."
I put my hand on Edward's shoulder, trying my best to calm him down.
Then I felt a wave of peace wash through me, and I knew that Jasper was controlling the situation with his special ability. Good thing, too- Edward and Nick both looked very aggressive at the moment.
But instead of looking deadly like Edward, Nick just looked like a little school boy about to throw a fit.
"Nick, meet my fiancé Edward."
Edward put his arm around my waist, probably to emphasize the word 'my'.
"He… he… he is your fiancé?"
I smiled and gave Edward a peck on the cheek. This was one of those moments when I was glad Edward could intimidate people so easily. That he looked like a vampire.
"Yes. And I would rather you'd leave her alone. Touch her again, and I'll rip your arm off."
Something about the way he said it made the threat sound like he really meant it. But then again, he probably did, too.
Nick's expression was priceless. He could only manage some inaudible stammers before finally giving up and closing his mouth. So much for the 'tough kid'.
"Angela? All my customers have gone, and I've cleaned up after them. Am I free to go?"
Angela had watched the situation worriedly from a safe distance. Now that I had spoken to her, she walked back to us, though I could see she was still shrinking back from Edward's lethal aura.
"Y-yes, I suppose. My parents and I can finish off from here."
"Great. I'll return this… uh, elegant outfit to you tomorrow, ok?"
"Sure. And thank you for the millionth time for your help! We'd have been lost without you."
I would have said 'no problem', but that sounded like a too big lie. Then I thought about 'don't worry about it', but that would have been a lie, too.
So I settled with the truth.
"I know. But don't ever ask me for another favor, ok?"