COPYRIGHT © 2019 Miu
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, mechanical, electronical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior written permission of the Author.
This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and events are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
All pictures and multimedia used are not the author’s work and doesn’t claim any legal rights.
MATURE CONTENT and VULGAR words not suited for young readers below eighteen (18) years old.
After Eric and Evangeline deposited their shopping bags back in the condo, they rode a car and stopped in the middle of a park.
As soon as they got off, the smell of freshly baked Christmas loaves of bread and pastries from the surrounding bakeries waft in their nose. The pink and orange hues of dusk sky faded, replaced by dark shades of blue. Illuminating the surroundings were the amber lights of street lamps lining the pathways.
Evangeline took a lingering gaze at the gigantic Christmas tree at the center of the park adorned with glistening ornaments and lights before she roamed her eyes. Scattered around the park were Festive stalls in all shapes and sizes, decorated with blinking Christmas lights and attractive signs, charming customers in a long line of cue. They offered a variety of things from skillfully handcraft greeting cards, unlimited choices of gifts down to delicacies and drinks.
She blinked, didn’t get why Eric brought her in such a place.
“Ah. There it is. Still, the same as I remember.”
She heard Eric’s delightful voice and directed her sight to the spot he was looking.
It was a small stall made of wooden planks, hidden from all the bustling and hustling. It had a small kitchen inside with a small wooden rounded chair lining the wooden table. From the cook, she could tell whatever it sells was Asian. She didn’t have any qualms with Asian food. In fact, her favorite food was mostly Japanese dishes.
But she did have qualms with foods that were sold by unreliable vendors and stalls at the side of the street.
Don’t tell me . . .
And yes, Eric pulled her precisely in that direction. She wanted to pull her hand from his grasp. Only she was finding it difficult as her strength left her when she saw it was that kind of stall in the street were smelly men from the construction site eat and drink.
“Eric, it’s not safe,” she said, squinting her eyes at the cook who only ignored her and greeted Eric with a broad smile. They seem to know each other based on their greeting and small talk and the warmth in Eric’s voice.
Eric sat down on the small rounded chair, entirely at home, while he stared at Evangeline. Innocent painting his face, fighting a mischievous grin from stretching his lips.
“What’s wrong? Come on, sit,” he said, tapping the chair next to his. “The food here is great. I’m a regular here when I’m still staying in Everland.”
Evangeline forced out a smile that only appeared bland. Every nerve in her body screamed in protest not to didn’t even a single of her hair nor take a single spec of morsel from the stall.
“Eric, street foods are dirty. They are exposed to air and all kinds of bacteria,” she blurted, a little panic in her voice.
Eric casually wiped his hand with a wet towel the cook handed to him while the latter glanced at her with a raised brow. Evangeline raised an eyebrow in response, twitching the corner of her lips, not hiding her contempt.
She believed all foods that were outside of an enclosed double glazed floor to ceiling glass window were all dirty and full of unknown bacteria.
“Eve, I may not know anything about bacteria and all that, but ninety percent of our cells are made of bacteria,” Eric said.
“I promise you, the mixed rice here is the best. And besides . . . ,” He glanced at her, lips grinning and eyes teasing, “a little bacteria might be good for you. It boosts your immune system.”
Evangeline’s face couldn’t be painted, brows tightly glued together when Eric totally ignored her after saying that. He faced the cook, who was peering at her from time to time with piercing glares.
She sharply took an intake of air and exaggeratedly sighed, head snapping upwards and eyes rolling towards the night sky. She grabbed a disinfectant wipes from her purse and rubbed it on the wooden seat and table while Eric watched her, fighting a smile.
After all the effort of disinfecting the chair and long table, making sure that even the dust scurried away from the cleansing fragrance, Evangeline hesitantly planted her butt on the chair beside Eric. Trying her hardest not to squirm when the hardwood touched her skin.
She was sitting at the far corner while Eric occupied the only chair left at her side. With this, no one could sit beside her.
She knew Eric purposely did that. Luckily for him, since her tolerance towards him was not limitless. Eating street food and sitting on a chair that God only knew how many times stinky smelly people occupied, she could still force herself to do it for him.
But if a fishy smelly person or someone who had done a marathon for three days under a summer sky without taking as much as wiping his sweat sit beside her, she would totally freak out and ran back to her room.
She sat so rigidly, arms square within the circular scope of her personal space, not wanting to touch anything.
“Here you go, two plates of mix rice special.” The cook handed their dish and didn’t bother them anymore as there was another group of new customers to feed.
Evangeline didn’t know what was special about the rice, which was served in front of her. It was an ordinary dish of rice, seasoned with spices, vegetables, and meat cubes. It’s not even hot!
She shot Eric a dark look while he reciprocated it with an innocent smile.
“Go on. Try it. It’s delicious. I promise.” He urged.
“In case you haven’t noticed, there’s no spoon and fork. How do you expect me to eat?”
Eric blinked before the innocent smile on his face stretched to a full-blown grin.
“Oh, right. Forgot to tell you, there’s a special way of eating at this place. But first, wipe your hands with a towel,” he said, handing her a wet towel.
Evangeline didn’t accept the towel. Instead, she snatched her disinfectant wipes and grumpily cleaned her hands with it. Who knew if the cloth was even washed?!
Eric didn’t take offense and softly laughed. He rolled his sleeve to his elbow when Evangeline peered at him, asking with her haughty eyes the next step.
“Well, at this place, this is how you eat food. Watch closely.” He clumped his four fingers together and scooped a decent amount of rice, explaining along the way. “You scoop the rice with your four fingers, and using your thumb, you push the rice into your mouth. Like this.”
Eric shot the food into his mouth, munching a little and gulped before he glanced at Evangeline, expectation in his eyes. She remained stationary throughout the process, dumbfoundedly looking at him like he had done something outrageous.
Bubble of laughters threatened to escape Eric’s throat. He fought it and asked, innocent in his tone, “Did you get it?”
Evangeline didn’t know how to respond. Her eyes were wide as they could stretch, jaw slacking, raw expressions flashing on her face. Even her arrogance gave up on her as she lowered her head in defeat, glancing left and right.
“Eric . . . it’s alright if there is no spoon or fork. How about a knife? A chopstick? A tablespoon is also fine.”
Eric could no longer hold his laughter. He burst out laughing while Evangeline smacked his arm.
“I’m serious. How do you expect me to . . . to . . .”
She couldn’t put her feelings into words. Horror painted her face as she stared at the food. Without warning, as if possessed, she grabbed the disinfectant spray inside her box bag and sprayed it onto her food.
Luckily, Eric stopped her in time. He grabbed the disinfectant spray from the absent-minded woman and casually hid it inside his pocket. To be on the safe side, he snatched the wipes from her and hid it from view.
“Eve . . . try it. It’s a new experience, and it makes you connect with food, making the whole experience enjoyable. Not to mention the meal taste good if you’re using your warm hand than the cold spoon.”
“. . .”
Evangeline didn’t reply. She was murdering the food with her eyes. This was not her idea of a romantic dinner with him! It was a mistake to make him owe her dinner!
She slowly, ever so slowly, peered at him, who was ignoring her. He was enjoying munching his food with his fingers. From his fluid actions, she could tell he was very familiar with the custom of eating without using utensils.
She closed her eyes tight, lips curved downwards when her shaking fingers pinched the mixed rice.
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