#Chapter 114: Midnight Diner
It was almost as if something possessed Enzo when he tried to kiss me in the locker room. At that very same time, I felt Cora’s presence inside of me. As I watched him walk away, I could feel her sadness permeate through me.
“What was that?” I said out loud once I was alone.
“I’m really sorry,” Cora said, “but I wanted to test something. I released a little bit of my scent to see if it would attract him, and it did.”
I shook my head. “First of all, warn me before you do that next time,” I replied in my mind after realizing that I would seem utterly insane if someone came in and saw me talking to myself. “Second Does that mean I’m his mate after all?”
“Not necessarily, but it is interesting. I’d like to try it again, if I can gather the strength.”
I bit my lip, thinking about Cora’s proposition as I gathered my medical supplies and walked out of the locker room into the completely empty arena. Her proposition was tempting, but…. Maybe Enzo was right about his fated mate. If this mystery woman really was his fated mate, then maybe it would be cruel of me to try to drive them apart.
That night, I went to work at the diner. It felt nice to return to a shred of normalcy as I walked around taking orders and cleaning tables, and it was just busy enough to keep me occupied instead of thinking too much about Edward and Enzo.
Toward the end of my shift, however, James came in and sat at the counter. I hadn’t seen him at all since I overheard him in Edward’s house. He seemed a little haggard, and looked like he was wearing yesterday’s clothes, which was out of the ordinary for him as he was normally very clean and put-together.
“Hey,’ ,” I said, hesitantly approaching as my mind raced with a million possibilities. Was he secretly working with Edward and was coming to spy on me or lure me elsewhere? Did he know that Edward’s disappearance had something to do with me and he was going to try to get revenge on me for making his secret lover vanish?
But, neither of those things happened.
“Hey,” he replied, sitting down in front of me. “I’m craving a burger.”
I nodded, pulling out my notepad. “One burger coming right up,” I said, jotting his order down and sticking it through the kitchen window for the cook.
James was silent for a moment. He looked like he wanted to say something, but he seemed to be choosing his words very carefully.
“So…” His voice trailed off for a moment before picking back up. “ Werewolves, huh? And you knew all along?”
I felt my face get hot. James, likely seeing how red I became, offered a friendly smile. “It’s okay. I’m just curious.”
“Um… Yeah,” I replied. I rubbed the back of my neck nervously and let out a tense chuckle. “Pretty crazy, ,huh?”
Much to my surprise, james merely shrugged. “I guess. Although, I always wondered what was up with those physical fitness records.”
The mention of the physical fitness records reminded me of the times that James had shown them to me. Aside from Tiffany, who apparently knew all along and never would have revealed something like that, only James and I had access to these records. Was it possible that James was the one who posted the files online?
“Speaking of those files,” I said, “You last had them, right? Do you think there’s a chance someone stole them or something? I mean, it’s a pretty big deal for this to get out.”
James narrowed his eyes then. “You don’t seriously think that I was the one who snitched, do you?” he replied, poking his index finger into the center of his chest and giving me an incredulous look. “You guys are my friends. I would never do something like that.”
I shook my head vehemently, feeling a little stupid now for even assuming such a thing. James, despite his apparent hidden relationship with Edward, had done nothing except being an extremely good friend since I’d met him. He didn’t even seem to be aware that Edward himself was a werewolf — if anything, James was probably just someone who got mixed up with the wrong man.
“No, of course not,” I reassured him. “I know you wouldn’t do something like that.”
James smiled weakly. Behind me, the cook rang the bell, and I turned around to take James’ burger and placed it on the counter in front of him. When I turned back around, however, I saw another unexpected guest walk in through the door: Enzo.
A lump rose in my throat. Was he going to come in and accuse me of flirting with James now, just like he had with Matt?
“Should I release a little scent?” Cora asked.
“No!” I abruptly replied out loud without thinking. Both James and Enzo suddenly looked at me with confusion on their faces.
“Huh?” James asked, his mouth full of
I felt myself blush. “Sorry,” I replied. ” I’m just tired. I meant to say hello.”
Neither James nor Enzo seemed convinced, but regardless, Enzo sat down next to James. James glanced up for a moment; there was a flash of something behind his eyes that I couldn’t quite read.
“C-Can I get you anything?” I asked Enzo.
He nodded, his brown eyes fixed
unwaveringly on me in such a way that it was all too reminiscent of the way that he used to look at me when we first met. For the first time in a long time, I felt like prey beneath his gaze. “Grilled cheese, please. And fries.”
“Gotcha.” I wrote his order down on
my notepad, then tore the page out and
turned around to give it to the cook.
“Oh, and Nina?” Enzo called.
I froze. I could feel his eyes boring holes into my back. Was he going to say something cruel again? Was he going to ask why I was talking to James? For some reason, a thousand different possibilities swirled around in my head.
I slowly turned around to face him. ” Yes?”
“And a chocolate milkshake too, please. Extra thick.”
I let out a small sigh of relief. “Coming right up,” I said, managing a small smile before I scurried over to the milkshake machine. I made his milkshake extra thick just the way he asked, and added a swirl of whipped cream and a cherry on top before setting it down in front of him. He mumbled some words of thanks as he took it and began to sip. Much to my surprise — and my relief — he stopped staring intently at me and instead pulled out his phone and scrolled while he waited for the rest of his food.
“I’m gonna go now,” James suddenly said, standing.
I furrowed my brow as I looked at the burger and fries still sitting on his plate. “Do you want a box or anything?” I asked. “You took, like, two bites.”
James shook his head and dug his wallet out of his pocket. “Just lost my appetite,” he said, tossing a wad of cash down on the counter. “I’ll see you later.”
Before I could stop him, he quickly turned on his heel and walked out of the diner.
Strange, I thought to myself as I watched him walk across the parking lot through the window. He had his hands in his pockets and seemed to be looking around nervously as he walked very quickly.
For some reason, Enzo stayed well after he finished his food. He continued to sit at the counter on his phone,
occasionally asking me for a little more coffee or something extra to eat. Even after the last customer left after midnight and I began to clear the tables one last time, he was still there.
Finally, I worked up the courage to ask him to leave.
“Sorry,” I said, walking up to him and handing him his check. “I hate to kick you out, but I have to close up.”
Enzo merely nodded and looked at the check, then took out some cash and set it down on the counter before he stood.
“I’ll be waiting outside,” he said.
I frowned. “Why?” I asked. I wanted to ask him why he was so keen on being around me after he had essentially just told me that he didn’t want anything to do with me the other night. I also wanted to tell him that I was a bit frightened after the way he acted in the locker room, but I didn’t.
“I said I’ll protect you, didn’t I?” he asked. “I don’t want you to be walking home alone in the dark.”
His words gave me a small ache in my chest. That was the Enzo I had come to love — and yet somehow, that part of him was getting smaller and smaller every day after what Edward did to him. It pained me to see it.
“Alright,” I said with a sigh, nodding.” I’ll be out soon.”
Not long later, after I had finished cleaning up the diner and counting out the register, I grabbed my coat and my bag and walked out. Enzo, as promised, was waiting for me in the parking lot on his motorcycle.
He handed me a helmet as I approached. “Hop on.”
I didn’t protest. I put the helmet on and climbed onto the motorcycle behind him, tentatively wrapping my arms around his waist. He started up the bike and drove off.
As we rode down the winding roads that led us back to campus, the cold autumn wind in our faces, I couldn’t help myself from leaning closer against his back.
And as I did, I came to realize that his back was tense beneath my touch.