“Marionette is French and she makes them from scratch. I honestly think it’s the best thing about Giliberti House. I’ll probably gain ten pounds this summer.”
I just realize that her shirt matches mine. And she’ll gain ten pounds this summer?
“Are you working here too?” I ask. “No one mentioned this to me.”
“Yep,” she nods. “I worked for them last year. It’s the easiest job in the world and it will look good on the college applications. We’ll both be in the gift shop.”
I look at her questioningly and she explains that there are tours of the olive groves and the estate and that at the end, the tour groups are brought into the gift shop. The tourists get samples of the olives and snacks made from the olive oil.
“They sell wine in there from Miss Bitch’s family winery too,” Mia adds.
Ugh. Elena. The thought of Miss Perfect puts an immediate bad taste in my mouth.
“But it’s fun,” Mia continues. “Dante is here all summer and he’ll be in and out of the shop and there are tons of kids our age that are hired for summer help in the groves. You’ll like it. But put your shirt on. It’s time for us to go to work.”
It actually does sound like fun.
Particularly the part where Dante will be in and out of the shop.
I smile and turn to strip off my pajama shirt and as I do, I see that Dante is standing with Elena on the edge of the groves.
I freeze and my shirt falls to the floor.
I am rooted to the spot as I watch them.
Elena is close to him, way too close, and Dante is talking. Her hand is on his chest and he doesn’t push it away. After a few minutes, she leans up on her toes and kisses him on the mouth. It’s a soft kiss, not long but way too long at the same time. Because he doesn’t push her away. They talk for another brief minute and then he turns around and walks away.
Elena watches him for a second, then she turns to walk away in my direction. And as she walks, her green eyes find me, focusing in on me with laser precision and she glares with the most malice and hatred that I’ve ever seen.
“What’s wrong?” Mia asks from behind me.
She marches over and sees Elena and before I can even think, she gives Elena the bird. Elena rolls her eyes and stalks away.
“What’s she doing here?” Mia asks me.
As if I know.
“A better question is why is she kissing Dante?” I ask miserably.
“What?” Mia asks, her mouth open. “Not possible. I’ve seen him lately. He lights up like a neon sign at the mere mention of you. He’s got it seriously bad.”
I feel like a thousand rocks are sitting on my chest. Or someone kicked me in the stomach. Or someone punched me in the face. I sink onto my bed. I’m numb and I can’t think straight. I can’t think at all, actually.
“He didn’t push her away,” I practically whimper. I want to curl up into a ball, but that would be pathetic and I’m being pathetic enough. Strong girls don’t freak out about stuff like this. And I’m a strong girl. Corn-fed-meat-eating-Kansas-girl-strong.
This took me so off-guard.
My heart has apparently forgotten my supposed strength for the time being.
Mia sits next to me and is uncharacteristically sympathetic. She wraps a thin arm around my shoulders and sits silently.
“Wanna go slash her tires?” she suggests evilly. I shake my head.
“No. I want to sit here and be miserable.”
“Sorry,” she says. “You can’t. We’ve got to work.” She stoops down and picks up my shirt and hands it to me. “You can be miserable at work.”
I sigh and put my shirt on, then pull my hair into a ponytail.
“K. I’m ready.”
Mia looks at me doubtfully. “Are you? I don’t want to see you moping around in front of Dante. You’re going to totally look like you couldn’t care less. Alright?”
I return her doubtful look. “I don’t know.”
“I know,” she says firmly. “This is what you need to do. Trust me. You are strong and confident and you don’t need him. He needs to know that.”
And with that, she takes my arm and leads me out of my room and out of the house. We hop into a little golf cart and she drives us across the property to a quaint little building next to what looks like a factory. A very clean, very large factory.
“This,”Mia says as she gets out of the cart, “is the gift shop. Yes, I know that it looks like Snow White’s cottage. That,” and she points to the factory, “is where they process the olives. And that,” she points at another large building, ”Is where they make the olive oil. Any questions?”
“Not yet,” I tell her as we crunch across the gravel and she unlocks the gift shop. It’s clear that she’s done this many times before. She’s very comfortable and knows where everything is. She flips on the light switches and immediately counts the money in the cash drawer. As she does, she explains the various processes and procedures. It sounds simple enough.
The entire time, I keep one eye looking through the window, hoping to see Dante.
And then I feel pathetic.
I’ve got to remember that I’m pissed at him.
And then I feel pathetic because I still secretly hope to see him.
What is wrong with me?
“Are you listening?” Mia asks as she hands me a green apron with the Giliberti G on it. I snap back to reality.
“Yes,” I answer.
“No, you’re not,” she says, shaking her head. “In a little bit, Marionette will bring us homemade treats to give out as samples. The tourists love them. We open the door at 9:00 a.m. And you’d better perk up. I’m sure Dante will pop in here before then. Also, I just noticed that there is a case of Kontou wine by the back door. Maybe Elena was here to deliver it?”
I have a brief spark of hope and then I’m deflated.
“It doesn’t matter if that’s the case,” I say sadly. “Because she was kissing him. He didn’t have to let her.”
Mia shakes her head. She knows, I can tell, that she can’t say anything that is going to stick right now. I want to dwell on it for the time being.