I led the way back to the table, where we sat and enjoyed our Caprese pizza for the next half-hour. There were extra tomatoes on it, just like Antonio had requested, and the mozzarella was lovely and melty with the garlic and herbs. When it came time to leave, Antonio insisted on staying behind to help Lovino clear our table. Bella, Gilbert, Francis and I walked back into the freezing October day after paying.
We had walked almost a block and a half back before I realized: "Shoot! Dang it, I left my bag on the bathroom counter." Before anyone could say anything I took off in the direction of the restaurant, pumping my arms. I couldn't believe I'd been so stupid!
I made it back to Nonno Rome's with snot running from my nose and my cheeks whiplashed from the harsh wind. When I collapsed through the door, the first thing I saw was Lovino and Antonio sitting across from each other at our booth. The next thing I realized was that they were making out.
"Uh!" I exclaimed in shock. They broke away from each other, looking up at me with wide, horror-struck eyes.
"Fuck me!" Lovino swore.
"Oh! H-hi, Lizzie," spluttered Antonio, his face red as he stood up awkwardly from the booth.
"You guys!" I cried. "Youyou're"
"You didn't see anything!" cried Lovino furiously. My mouth was still wide open as Antonio came over to me, his eyes pleading me.
"Please, Lizzie, you can't tell. If anyone found out"
"You mean you have not told anyone you're" I stumbled on my sentence. I was still so surprised I could barely speak. "You have not told anyone about you and Lovino? Does anyone know?" Poor Bella.
Antonio looked wildly uncomfortable; he shifted his weight and avoided looking at me directly. Lovino came up and stood next to him, scowling. "Not really. I mean! I found no opportunity to mention it, and since Lovi goes to a different school, it is not like we can display our relationship."
I looked around before lowering my voice. "Toni, you know Bella is trying to get you to like her, right?"
Toni closed his eyes painfully. "Of course I know. It's just so awkward to have to tell her that, after we've been friends for all these years and all of a sudden she is attracted to me
"I would think it would be easy to tell her," I responded, furrowing my eyebrows. "If you've known her for this long
"I justI don't want to hurt her," said Antonio sadly, wrapping his arm around Lovino's waist lovingly. "Please don't tell."
"Because no one can know I'm in love with this bastard!" said Lovino hotly, his ears and cheeks an adorable shade of pink. I realized as I looked at him that he had a hickey on his neck. Definitely a hickey...I tried not to stare at it.
you don't mean that," I said slowly. "As partners, you are allowed to express your affection for each other publicly."
"Sure." Lovino rolled his eyes, but his expression was sad. "It is not like the public accepts homosexual couples. If we expressed our affection, as you call it, openlywe would be persecuted into wanting to kill ourselves."
I realized he was right. "I am so sorry," I said sincerely. "I am sorry you have to keep it locked up like that
you could at least tell Bella before things get too bad. Tonishe is already convinced you like her. She has plans to ask you out."
Toni sighed heavily and pinched the bridge of his nose between his fingers. I saw his grip on Lovino's waist tighten protectively. "See, I did not want this to happen." His deep emerald eyes lifted back up to mine. "Lizzie, I am asking you: please do not tell Bella about me and Lovino. I will talk to her later, when I feel the time is better."
I pursed my lips stubbornly. I respected Antonio's decision to remain silent, but I didn't know if it was the best choice. "Fine," I said at last. "Just promise me that you will not lead Bella to believe you are in love with her. She thinks your general kindness towards everyone is a sign that you like her that way."
Toni sighed. "Okay," he said. "I will try. Thank you for understanding." He smiled kindly. "But
may I ask why you came back to the restaurant? Did you need something?"
My mind snapped back to my previous dilemma. "Oh, yesmy bag." I excused myself to the girls' bathroom, my mind buzzing with a confusing mess of thoughts. I had definitely not been expecting that! Now I was forced to keep a secret; to talk to Bella normally, all the while knowing that the guy she liked was not attracted to her
or to any female at all.
To my relief, my purse was still sitting on the counter where I'd left it. I hurriedly dove into it, hoping that nothing had been stolen from it. My fingers pushed against my phone, my books, my wallet
everything was there. As well as
To my surprise, I pulled out a small piece of paper, folded four times, that had been wedged between my chemistry and history binders. I unfolded it and instantly recognized Gilbert's chicken-scratch handwriting:
Hiányzol. Beszélni velem, kérem.
My breath caught in my throat as I automatically registered the Hungarian. It was roughly worded, so he'd obviously used a translator just as he used to when we were kids
but I could understand it. As a kid he'd never said anything like this.
I crushed the paper in my hands and felt my heartbeat increasing wildly. He must have put this in my bag when he came into the bathroom! How had I not seen it? I closed my eyes and took a few deep breaths before slinging my bag around my shoulder and stepping back into the restaurant. Lovino and Antonio were sitting quietly together in a booth, Lovino leaning on Antonio. His face was still red as Antonio stroked his palm with his thumb.
"I'm going to go," I choked out softly, not wanting to break the affectionate silence.
"I'll come with you. They are probably wondering where I am by now, sí?" Antonio smiled at me and slid out of the booth with Lovino. "I will try to see if I can come by tomorrow," he said softly to Lovi, who blushed and averted his eyes from the taller, older boy. Toni took both of Lovi's hands in his and kissed his knuckles gently. "Nos vemos mañana, mi querido tomate," he said lovingly.
Lovino sighed happily and mumbled something in Spanish back at him. My heart was warm as Antonio and I left the restaurant. I did not understand how a love so strong, so clearly pure, could be rendered evil by society.
They really loved each other, I decided. I hadn't known of their existence as a couple ten minutes ago, and already I was sure of it.
Now, when it came to my own relationships, I wasn't sure of anything.