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Date:March 2nd, 2012 Time: 10:35 AM Location: Battle Creek, MI
A small sigh left the man’s mouth as he got out of the car and slammed the door behind him. He figured a good greasy breakfast and a cup of black coffee might begin to put this week in order. Walking into the diner, he stopped for a minute to not only find himself a seat, but to take in the smell. The familiarity of the diner put him at ease some as it just felt good to be home.
Spotting an open booth, Luca quickly walked over and took it. He always enjoyed window seats when dining alone and so his eyes drifted out for a moment before the waitress sashayed over. ”What can I get ya to drink?” she asked with a big grin before handing him a menu. ”Actually I’ll just have a cup of coffee, hash browns and pancakes” Luca replied as he handed her back the menu with a smile. ”Alright” she replied before taking it back and going to place the order.
That familiar sigh left Luca’s lips again as he took off his knitted cap and ran a hand through his blond locks. Placing his cellphone on the table, he looked to see if anyone had managed to call or text him without him noticing. It was at that moment that his father decided to call using the house phone, and Luca quickly sent it to voice mail. The waitress came back and gave him is cup of coffee, noticing what he did. ”Don’t want to be bothered?” she asked curiously as she stood by the table for a moment. ”Just one of those days” he replied with a hint of annoyance as he grabbed the cup of coffee and took a sip.
Setting the cup back down, he heard the bell of the door jingle as it opened, and peeked over his shoulder to see who it was before looking back at his cup of coffee. The waitress immediately took the hint and went back to doing what she was supposed to.
The morning had started out like any morning in the Braeden household. Ben was reluctant to wake up early for school, and Lisa was shouting up the stairs to come down for breakfast. Though the two had been through a lot since the accident that left Lisa in the hospital for a few days of observation, and follow up appointments with neurologists, things had begun to settle back down. Lisa had attempted to resume her social life, though Ben disagreed with the lawyer, and so Lisa ended the short relationship to focus on Ben and work.
Yes, things were back to normal again. Just Ben and Lisa against the world, or at least the clock as Lisa rushed to get Ben to school on time. One more tardy call from the principal and even mild-mannered Lisa was ready to let him have it. Raising a child alone was no easy task, and it wasn't even until after Lisa dropped Ben off at school that she realized she never ate breakfast. So concerned about Ben getting to school and then getting herself to work to open the studio, Lisa had completely forgotten.
Leaving the studio to the other instructor for the morning, Lisa walked over to the nearby diner, the bell jingling as she pushed open the door. Michigan was still chilly out, as Lisa slipped off her jacket once inside, setting it on the seat beside her as she took a place at the counter. Not yet dressed for work, Lisa had time to throw on a pair of jeans and green T-shirt before cooking for Ben. Now, Lisa sat to allow someone else to cook for her, a rare treat for the struggling single mother.
As the waitress came around with her pen and pad, Lisa grabbed a menu from the nearby stack and looked over the breakfast options. Pictures outlined the descriptions, and Lisa admittedly let her eyes make the decision for her. "I'd like the french toast and some orange juice please."
"Sure thing hun. Is Ben in school today? It's been forever since I've seen him." Like any small town, Lisa seemed to know everyone, if only from a brief encounter in their lives. Though everyone knew everyone else's business, and the whole town knew about Lisa and Ben, especially after the accident. And so Lisa chatted briefly with the waitress, discussing the ups and downs of parenting a child alone, and the struggles Lisa faced now that Ben was getting older, in high school already. As they ended their conversation, Lisa couldn't help but look around the diner as she waited patiently for her food to arrive.
Luca grinned at the new comer as he took another sip from his coffee. His eyes averted from his coffee to the phone as it began to buzz incessantly on the table. He lifted it up to see a text from his brother Mickey. This time, Luca couldn’t help but smile. It seemed Mickey worried more about him then Luca worried about Mickey. The two always seemed to check up on each other regardless on the time.
After quickly texting Mickey back, he looked up to notice the woman looking around as well. He nodded towards her as she looked in his direction and lifted his mug up to take another sip. ”It seems we both needed someone else to make us breakfast today” he replied as he sat the mug down and looked back at his phone. It was an observation as he had blatantly heard that she had a son as well. It must be nice break to have someone else cook for you. Lord knew Luca couldn’t cook. In fact, when visiting Mickey, he always cooked for him. If it wasn’t for Mickey, Luca would never have a home cooked meal.
The buzzing of his phone made him jump just slightly this time as he replied to Mickey’s text again. ”I couldn’t help overhearing, I’m sorry” he spoke with an apologetic smile before the waitress came over, bringing his food.”Here ya go hun” she replied with a smile as she sat the food in front of him. ”Thank you” he replied with a grin as he grabbed the ketchup and squirted it all over his hash browns. He took a bite of them before grabbing the maple syrup and dousing his pancakes.
”Do you come here often? I don’t think I’ve seen you around here” he replied curiously as he dug in to his food, it being eleven already and his stomach was growling ridiculously. He figured he mind as well stir up some company with a fellow loner at the diner.
Lisa wasn't looking anywhere in particular as she gazed around, though she did stop on a man in a nearby booth. Mostly because she had caught his attention too. He looked nice, or was it just that he was nice-looking? Probably the later, as Lisa knew nothing about him, aside from he ate food. Keeping her chair swiveled around in his direction, Lisa nodded almost sheepishly. "I guess I got so distracted feeding my son, I forgot to feed myself. Normally I'll try to eat with him, but I was too busy looking for his report that he misplaced somewhere in his sanctuary he calls a room."
The guy probably didn't want to know that much information, from the look of him, he was just hungry as he seemed to gratefully accept the food from the waitress. However, when he continued to try making conversation with Lisa, she didn't feel so uneasy about giving him a longer answer than he bargained for.
"I work right around the block. I try to stick to home cooked meals, until I get distracted. Then I just thank my guardian angel that I have Shelly here watching over my stomach. But I'm guessing you're the one who isn't around very much? I've only lived here a couple years, but I think I've run into everyone at least once, and if I haven't met them, my son has made sure to draw attention to himself. I'd rather not meet the principal again."
Ben was a good kid, though like every teenage boy, strayed from time to time. Overall, Lisa had no complaints. Grasping the glass of orange juice that Shelly had silently slipped in front of her, Lisa took hold of her coat and moved over to the booth the man had been sitting at. It wasn't usual for her, normally she tried to mind her own business, but it was such a nice morning, it was a shame to be shouting across the room, or worse yet, eating alone. Sitting across from him, Lisa set her coat in the corner. "I'm Lisa. It seemed so silly to be talking over the restaurant."
”Oh I gotchya, yeah boys often misplace their homework”, Luca spoke with a smile towards her before looking back at his food. Knowing from experience, Luca was one who lost his homework from time to time. But his brother Grayson was the only one of the McCloud boys who always managed to lose his homework. He was the slacker of the three and just didn’t seem to care really. His carelessness aggravated Luca to no end and Grayson knew it too. Luca figured it was probably one of the reasons why Grayson still was indeed careless.
”Oh I see” he spoke gently with a nod as she replied that she had lived here for a few years now. Luca cleared his throat as he continued to look away from her, instead taking a sip of coffee. He didn’t mean to be seen as rude, he just grew a little uncomfortable as she said this. Luca was debating if he too should say that he was actually born here. He mauled it over for a moment in his head as he took a bite of his pancakes. After all, who could it hurt if she at least knew that little bit about him. It wasn’t like she was asking his whole life’s history and occupation. ”I actually grew up here, but” he left his sentence hanging for a moment as he tried to figure out how to finish the sentence, “ I don’t live here anymore” he finished.
His eyes flickered up for a moment as she moved from her seat and came to sit down across from him. He grinned at her an nodded his head in agreement, ”I agree, I’m Luca by the way” he spoke as he extended his hand across the table for her to shake. ”It’s nice to meet you Lisa” he spoke gently to her.
"Misplace...forget to do it...purposely lose it...it's all the same in the end." Lisa spoke like a mother who knew, and she certainly knew. Ben was a great kid in school, but he was no professional student. He was a teenager, like all the others, who preferred to spend time playing video games with his friends rather than at the kitchen homework doing algebra. Lisa understood, though she didn't support it when homework was slacking.
Suddenly feeling very uncomfortable, Lisa let the silence take over as she glance down into her juice, allowing the orange liquid to take her attention until Luca spoke up again. "Really? That's very interesting. I'm from Indiana, though it boasts an enormous population of four thousand. Battle Creek is like the city to me, it's about as big as I'd like to experience, though I understand the need to just get away from your neighbors and all the truths they know about you." Sitting up straight, Lisa leaned back slightly as the waitress had set her plate down, french toast with small container of syrup on the side. Picking up a knife, Lisa first busied herself with evenly spreading the melting butter along the bread.
"Anyway, it is nice to meet you as well Luca. Are you just passing through for the food and Shelly?" She wasn't trying to pry, as Lisa attempted to tip-toe around questions that would require a personal answer. He seemed reluctant to open up, and Lisa was easily the kind of person who could discuss personal matters all day long, if given the chance.
”Yeah” Luca replied with a soft chuckle as he reached over and grabbed his coffee, taking a sip. Luca was prone to misplacing his homework when he was younger, but it was Grayson who often purposely lost it or just plain ol’ didn’t do it. Luca often got annoyed at Grayson for doing this and tended to scold the younger brother quite often, even after his parents had gotten to him. In the end, the actions Grayson did were only hurting Grayson and so Luca left him alone.
Luca nodded, showing that he agreed with her when it came to Battle Creek and sometimes having to get away from neighbors. ”Well sometimes it’s not always neighbors, but they don’t help” he spoke with another smile as he sat the cup down. He dug into his food once more, this time eating some hash browns. It had been a while since he had these and so he savored his food.
However, when his new acquaintance Lisa asked if he was passing through for the food or Shelley, Luca almost lost it by spitting it out. He shook his head for a few minutes as he quickly swallowed his food. ”My” he replied before taking a big gulp of coffee, ”mighty forward aren’t we?” he spoke with another light laugh before taking another sip, making sure it was all down.
He grew quiet for a moment before deciding to answer, ”just passing through for the food” he spoke with a smile before this time digging into his pancakes. ”I don’t pick up waitresses” he spoke with a shook of his head before thinking, nah just bartenders.
Nodding, Lisa didn't say anything for a bit as the silence settled between them. He had seemed very nice when she was at the counter, though now that she was closer, he showed little interest in talking. He could have stopped by to eat brunch in silence, though it seemed weird that he would strike up a conversation with Lisa across the room if that were the case.
The ever-bubbly and friendly Lisa wasn't overly concerned though. She had turned many conversations around in her life, and could probably do it again. However, Lisa was taken aback by the fact that he was a local. Small town folk had a habit of talking and forming friends easily, though Lisa couldn't accuse every person as being the same as another. "At least they're neighbors from here. I've always found that neighbors in a small town are very helpful, and usually mean the best. They can get nosy, that's true, but usually with the best intentions. I've moved around a lot and that has always been my experience, which is a Godsend for a single mother." Save for all the questions regarding Ben's father and where he was. Lisa had no answers for that, she didn't know, nor did she care where Ben's father was.
Dropping her silverware almost instantly, Lisa could feel her cheeks flush red as she raised her hands in a 'stop' motion, shaking her head. "No, no, that's not what I meant. I'm so sorry. Shelly is one of the best waitresses I've ever met, so friendly, I love to come visit her and just chit chat about the day. The servers make up the entire atmosphere of the diner. She's half the reason I come by here, and the food of course. I'm sorry, I never meant to imply anything more than that."