Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for language.
Oh. My. God. I knew she was vile, but I had no idea she would stoop that low.
“Holy shit,” I couldn’t do anything for the first few minutes. I was paralyzed, but then I realized each second I wasted gawking was another second Carter was subjected to the Step Monster’s hands. I then grabbed her arms and dragged her off him, gearing up for a screaming match, but my father beat me to it.
“MILICENT! WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO THAT POOR BOY!” I know the situation was pretty serious, but I couldn’t help but burst out laughing.
“Milicent? Who names their kid Milicent?” Nico started to laugh with me, and soon we were laughing so hard that we were rolling around on the driveway gasping for breath. This just opens the door for so many more perfect insults.
I picked myself and Nico up off the ground and grabbed Carter’s hand once we were up, leaving Maleficent to get yelled at by my father. Ooh, that’s a good one!
“Might as well call her Maleficent, huh, Nico?” I heard a chuckle come from the right of me, and I turned to see Carter struggling, and failing, to hold in his laughter. I smiled at him, but it soon dropped off my face as I remembered what led to the revelation of her name in the first place. “Hey, Carter? Are you… alright? I really am sorry for what she did. It was awful.”
He abruptly stopped laughing. “Uh, yeah I’m fine I guess. I’d rather not have to go through that again, though.”
“Done,” I said in a normal tone before raising my voice to be heard by those inside. “ Hey, Lucia, Beni, I have somebody that I want you to meet!” As soon as we were inside the house I was attacked by two blurs, one bigger than the other. “Oof!”
From my place underneath my three siblings on the floor, I could see their enormous grins, and I already knew what they were going to ask.
Sighing, I said, “Yes. Fine. Just-don’t harass Carter too much while I’m distracted.”
“YES!” All three kids whooped, jumping off me and running up the stairs. I shook my head at their antics, and, using the hand that Carter extended for me, pulled myself up.
“What was that all about?” Carter asked, looking at me like he was either very confused or amused at the entire situation. I laughed at him and took his hand, bringing him into the kitchen with me. I pointed him to a seat at the breakfast island/bar thing that we have, and started to explain.
“My mom used to always cook for us, back when we were in Italy. She made the best food, oh my goodness! She was an amazing cook, and I would watch her and help her so that I could be as good as her one day. So, after she… died, nobody really knew how to cook but me. At this point the women in our town came together and they would give me cooking classes, so that I would be able to cook for my family. After my dad met this clown,” I gestured outside with the wooden spoon I had just retrieved from the cupboard, “She practically forced us to move here. Of course, she didn’t know how to cook, so I cook for everybody everyday. And that little episode with the kids? Well, before she died, she taught me her recipe for pasta, and it’s the best pasta ever, trust me. The kids constantly want me to make it, and they always ask me the same way. So, there you have it.”
When I looked up from filling up the pot with hot water, I expected to see pity. That’s what everyone looked like when I told them that my mom died. Carter, however, was different. He was looking at me in… awe.
“I can’t believe how strong your entire family has been, Naomi.” I gave him a little smile; it was nice to not be pitied for a change.
Thinking back to how delicious his sandwich was, I asked him, “Hey, Carter? Do you know how to make anything other than sandwiches?” At the shake of his head, I grinned and pulled him around the counter. “Great. Now you’re going to learn how to make pasta.”
I had him set the pot on the stove and turn up the heat. I then had him watch how I chopped up the garlic and parsley, putting my hand over his when he poured the olive oil over the mixture so he didn’t pour too much. We then put the pan on the stove, heating it up and stirring it every once in a while. When he wasn’t looking, though, I salted the water. Don’t want to give away all my secrets, do I?
Once the pot of water came to a boil, I grabbed the pasta that the kids had left on the counter for me and I slowly poured it in. I put Carter to the task of stirring the linguine and making sure that the water didn’t boil over, while I opened the cans of tomatoes and crushed them. I poured the crushed tomatoes into the pan and stirred for a little bit, before going into our pantry and getting a half cup of sherry. I slowly poured it in with the sauce, giving it a good stir afterwards.
I checked the pasta and-perfect. It was al dente, which was just how we liked it. Mushy pasta was gross. I directed Carter over to the sink and had him hand me the strainer so I could empty out the hot water. Once that was done, I poured the pasta into the pan and began stirring again so that it would mix with the sauce and absorb some of the flavor. I then picked up the pan and set it on the table mat, along with a serving spoon and the place settings for all seven of us.
I turned to Carter and gave him a high five, huge grins on both our faces. We simultaneously counted our fingers down from three and yelled, “KIDS! DINNER’S READY!”
Immediately, we heard three pairs of feet stomping down the stairs, nearly tripping in their haste to get to the food. I first made them wash their hands, then sat them down while I took on the task of retrieving my father and Maleficent. Hehe, that will never get old.
Instead of actually going up to them, I shouted out the door. “HEY, DAD, MALEFICENT, DINNER’S READY.” Then I darted back inside and to my seat at the table between Carter and Nico. Dinner actually ended up being awesome because Dad came in and took his place setting and the Step Monster’s place setting off the table and announced that they would eat later. After that, we all joked and yelled and laughed at each other, having the best dinner ever. Well, other than the fact that we could hear Maleficent and Dad yelling at each other from upstairs, but we did our best to ignore that.
I could tell Carter was having fun, too, because his eyes were bright with a childish glee and he had a huge smile plastered on his face. Not only that, but he engaged in the conversations with us. It made me feel really good to see my little siblings treated with such love and respect from somebody who wasn’t me or dad.
The mood from dinner didn’t last long, though, because Carter announced that he should be leaving soon afterward. I think the kids are really attached to Carter-he’s almost like an older sibling or a father figure to them. Especially Nico. And when Nico showed such affection towards people, I knew that they were good ones, because Nico is probably the best judge of character, even though he is only seven.
When I went to go drop off Carter at his house, the closer he got the more fidgety and nervous he became. I wasn’t sure what was going on with him, but it was starting to make me nervous as well. I pulled up next to his driveway, as there were cars in the driveway already, and Carter immediately began fumbling with his seatbelt. I placed my hand over his to stop his actions, and when he looked up I have him a huge hug.
“Thank you, for being so kind to my little brothers and my little sister. That really means a lot to me.” He looked at me in shock, like he was surprised that he could have acted any other way towards the kids.
“It was no problem, really, they are great kids. And thank you so much for having me over and making me dinner. That pasta was excellent by the way. Well, I guess I’ll see you on Monday. Bye, Naomi.” He looked really hesitant, but then he leaned over and kissed me on the cheek before jumping down out of the truck and slowly making his way to the front door. He looked back once he was on the front step, waved, and then stepped through the doorway.
As I prepared to go home, I just managed to hear a something over the engine of my truck. It sounded like a loud smack, coming right from Carter’s house.