“Doctor’s orders.” I present him the pills and then the water.
He begrudgingly takes them. Once he’s drank some water and sampled the tea—he doesn’t like it—he lays down.
Since he can’t sleep, I sit at the foot of the bed, and we talk. About nothing and everything at the same time. Stupid, silly things that come up.
It’s our first realconversation in months. Salvatore asks about Salt and Pepa (he’s only seen them sparingly during his late-night visits). I ask him about the state of the loft and how things are at the club. We talk until the afternoon fades into the evening, secretly grateful that we’re not at each other’s throats.
For the moment, we can pretend we’re okay.
At some point,I do fall asleep, but it’s after hours of talking with Delphine. I wake later in the evening to her curled up in a chair in the corner of my room. She’s glued to her phone until she notices I’m awake out of the corner of her eye. In another second she’s up and padding over on the side of my bed, a nurturing softness about her expression.
I clear my throat. It’s sore, like many other parts of me. “You going to make good on that threat to cook something for me?”
“Athreat, is it?” Her expression sharpens, eyes narrowing, and I laugh. “You’re really lucky you’re injured, Salvatore. I’m forced to be nice to you.”
I ease myself up into a sitting position on my bed, propped up by pillows and the headboard. My side cramps even from that small adjustment, but I barely notice the twinge of pain. I’m too busy giving Delphine a hard time.
“I think you like it more than you let on.”
She half rolls her eyes and bites back the threat of a smile—it’s subtle in how her lips almost quirk. She leaves the room with the order that I stay put and rest.
Of course, I’ve never been one to listen. Stefania used to say I was allergic to following rules. Probably one of the only true things she’s ever said. I scroll through my notifications on my phone—just a few calls from business associates and some texts from Stitches at the club—and then I follow Delphine into the kitchen.
For the first few footsteps, the ground feels like it’s shifting under my feet. I pause and wait out the dizzy spell before continuing.
Initially, she doesn’t notice. I’m grateful for it—the sight of Delphine in the kitchen is always an amusing one.
Needless to say, it’s not her domain like the courtroom. She’s out of her element and it shows.
When I sneak up, she’s rushing between her phone and a bubbling pot on the stove, clutching a big spoon in her hand. A string of profanities leaves her full lips when she discovers she forgot to add the minced garlic. She rushes to correct this mistake as steam wafts from the giant pot she’s using.
The urgency in which she moves makes me grin, like she refuses to fuck up whatever she’s cooking.
I survey the kitchen counter. The ingredients splayed out are all familiar. It dawns on me just what she’s cooking: chicken gnocchi.
My favorite soup.
It’s the soup I’ve told her I used to eat as a small kid the few summers we went to visit my Grandma CiCi in Italy. In the brief time we dated during high school, she’d brought it to me from the local Italian restaurant when I came down with the flu.
All these years, and she remembers…
I’m far from the sentimental type, but this… it stuns me. Though, I guess it shouldn’t. Delphine has always been thoughtful.
No better moment showcases how unchanged she is deep down. One of my favorite qualities about her—still just as caring as she was at age fifteen. Even when she presents herself as some formidable, no nonsense assistant district attorney, she’s still the girl who stuck up for a kid being dunked in a pool, and who cried real tears when I showed up with bruises after a beating from Lucius.
As my presence finally dawns on her, she looks up, her pretty brown eyes wide and startled. Her lips part. She clutches the spoon as though tempted to hide it behind her back.
I grin at her. “Need some help?”
Flustered, she gestures to the bubbling pot. “I’m making you soup… and you’re supposed to be resting.”
The heat and steam in the kitchen have made her skin dewier. Only Delphine would glow as she awkwardly clutches a big spoon and fucks up a recipe in the kitchen. It’s cute and amusing at the same time. It might be the effects of the medication, but it makes me feel appreciative she’s stayed.