Chapter 48:

Working at Alente Part 2

New Leaf!

 It was currently lunch, and I was sitting in the cafeteria. Bailey was free and decided to accompany me — or as she put it, she ‘graced me with her almighty company’.Bookmark here

“Hey, Ren.”Bookmark here

“Yes?”Bookmark here

Bailey’s fiery red hair contrasted with the grey outfit she was wearing. Bookmark here

“This isn’t a question or anything, but do you remember our old days at Laurent High School?”Bookmark here

Laurent High School is the old high school that Bailey, Connie, Valerie, and I attended. It is not located here in Tronito, but rather located in a separate city located about 2-3 hours away by car. The education system in this country works so that high school is split into four years, and we stayed there for all four years.Bookmark here

“Ah, good times, right?”Bookmark here

“Yeah…”Bookmark here

“Like the uniforms, right? They were a bit bland, but they were pretty stylish, don’t you think?”Bookmark here

“Yeah…”Bookmark here

“And our teachers, right? They were all nice… Especially Mrs Torrez!”Bookmark here

“Yeah…”Bookmark here

“And… Um…”Bookmark here

Bailey cast her eyes downwards. I do not think they were in sadness, but rather in frustration…Bookmark here

Bailey suddenly leaned forward and slapped me on the cheek. I saw this coming, so I quickly put my eating utensils down.Bookmark here

“Bailey?”Bookmark here

“Hmph! Sorry Ren, I just remembered something that happened and got pretty agitated by it… I know you told me to forget about it, but it’s still pretty frustrating when it comes to my mind every now and then!”Bookmark here

Oh, she’s talking about that, isn’t she…Bookmark here

“I see… Well, I’m sure it’ll disappear entirely from your mind eventually.”Bookmark here

Bailey leaned on her hand and flashed a small puzzled smile at me.Bookmark here

“You know, you’ve been pretty chatty recently.”Bookmark here

“O-Oh?”Bookmark here

“Yeah… Meh, but it’s not like I care or anything…”Bookmark here

She crossed her arms and turned her head away.Bookmark here

“I see…”Bookmark here

Camryn’s POV:Bookmark here

About an hour after my conversation with Mr Li, we were all working. Alan and I were standing at the front desk, Elyssa was cleaning tables and the windows, Mr Li was preparing something in the kitchen, and Valerie was doing some paperwork in the staff room.Bookmark here

“...And Camryn, that is why I think, despite the Mineto T-Form being a weaker console compared to its competitors, will be the better console!”Bookmark here

“Oh…”Bookmark here

I nodded in genuine interest as Alan finished his explanation. Over the days that I’ve gotten to know him, I learned that he has a big interest in technology — to the point where he wants to pursue computer science when he graduates. I think a contributor to his interest is the fact that he enjoys video games and the culture surrounding it.Bookmark here

Alan and my eyes sparkled with passion.Bookmark here

“I mean, it makes sense, right? On top of it being portable, the uniquely shaped T-Form controllers have accelerometers, gyroscopes, infrared cameras, and NFC sensors. With just a little creativity, I think games that go beyond just skillful button presses can be made, enhancing user experience!”Bookmark here

“I see…”Bookmark here

Even though I don’t have much experience with gaming consoles, with what he told me and the links he texts me to watch when I’m at home, I think I have gained enough knowledge to properly carry this conversation.Bookmark here

“But it’s targeted to the more casual audience, right? Because of that, the more serious audience won’t want to try it out, right?”Bookmark here

“This is more of a software thing, but many developers are dishing out games for this console. The console has a variety of games for many different types of gamers.”Bookmark here

“True, but wouldn’t the performance power of the console affect that? Many developers usually make their games available on multiple platforms, and since their performance powers are greater, wouldn’t consumers buy those versions instead?”Bookmark here

“Oh, ho, ho… The T-Form also has the advantage of being portable! The game is given an additional feature when on this console.”Bookmark here

“I see… So, high-performance games can be played on the go. Oh, and a laptop is also portable, but the console is more fit for it… Wait, but people who play these more intense games don’t usually play portably, right? Like, they usually play on bigger screens and such… Oh, and for story-based games, playing portably kinda hinders the experience…”Bookmark here

“Hm, good point… But-”Bookmark here

“Oi Alan, shut up with your nerd language!”Bookmark here

“But Lily…”Bookmark here

I also learned that Elyssa doesn’t like it when Alan talks extensively about tech. Elyssa has the decent amount of knowledge of tech that a girl her age needs, but it’s nowhere near Alan’s level. Elyssa’s knowledge of tech is the size of an orange, while Alan’s is a cantaloupe. And compared to both of theirs Mr Li’s knowledge is that of a grape. As for me… I think mine is a small cantaloupe on its stem that might grow to be the same size as Alan’s.Bookmark here

“Nah, shush, Alan! You’re soiling my poor Cammy with your nerd speak!”Bookmark here

N-Not really, this is actually pretty interesting.Bookmark here

Wait, ‘Cammy’? Is that supposed to be my name? Er… I never really understood it when Elyssa said that the name Lily makes her feel young, but now I do — I don’t even have a history with her name for me!Bookmark here

Alan sighed.Bookmark here

“And Lily, aren’t you supposed to be cleaning right now?Bookmark here

“What? Hell yeah I did! I rushed to tell you off!”Bookmark here

“Oh, uh, well… G-Good job I guess…”Bookmark here

Alan hesitantly raised his thumb. I think he purposely acts differently than what's expected with the mood to throw Lily off.Bookmark here

“A-Anyways, I think you should-”Bookmark here

“Hey, what’s up Alente Bistro!?”Bookmark here

Alan’s eyes widened.Bookmark here

“Oh shoot!”Bookmark here

He quickly ducked under the counter.Bookmark here

“Hm?”Bookmark here

The voice that just rang out now was a familiar one. It was friendly, but personally, it was a bit much… This man was a little shorter than Ren and was wearing a rather casual getup with shorts and a colourful shirt… This man was Connie…Bookmark here

“Ah, Elyssa, how are you doing?”Bookmark here

“Oh, da- I-I mean…”Bookmark here

Elyssa forcibly smiled.Bookmark here

“H-Hello sir, welcome to Alente Bistro! If you’d like to order something, please order at the front desk…”Bookmark here

“Pretending not to know me? Oh, you’re so cold Elyssa.”Bookmark here

“Yeah, and there’s probably a reason behind it too…”Bookmark here

“Pardon.”Bookmark here

“Oh, I missed a spot while cleaning! Better get to it!”Bookmark here

Elyssa ran to the other side of the restaurant.Bookmark here

While showing off an amused look, Connie turned his head towards me. His look suddenly switched to a look of perplexion.Bookmark here

“Oh? Well, if it isn’t Camryn… I didn’t know you were working here! How are you!”Bookmark here

“Oh, I’m good, thank you! Welcome to Alente Bistro, how may I help you?”Bookmark here

After a while and experience dealing with customers here at Alente, I’m a bit more relaxed with talking with him.Bookmark here

“Oh, nothing much. I see Mr Li back there — hey Li!”Bookmark here

Connie waved and Mr Li waved back.Bookmark here

“Ah… Oh! Since it’s this group of people, is Alan here?”Bookmark here

“Oh…”Bookmark here

I discreetly looked down and saw Alan aggressively shaking his head and mouthing no. Then I’ll say yes! Not… It would have been a harmless joke, but I don’t know the situation. Is Connie looking for Alan to extort money out of him or something? I doubt it — and I don’t know, but it feels illegal.Bookmark here

“No, not right now…”Bookmark here

“Ah, I see… Perhaps I should just wait here for him.”Bookmark here

I felt someone shaking my leg. Alan probably wanted to tell me something, but I think Connie would see if I looked down. So, should I lie?Bookmark here

“Oh, you don’t have to. Besides, he won’t be back until, um, a long time.”Bookmark here

“That so? Yeah, that’s fine. Besides, I can stay here for as long as I need to — after all, I do live here.”Bookmark here

He what? He lives here? But this is a restaurant… Oh wait, he probably means the apartment building above us, right? Okay… It’d be a different story if he meant the bistro.Bookmark here

“You live here?..”Bookmark here

“Correct! You see, I-”Bookmark here

“Wha- Connie!?”Bookmark here

From the side came a gasp and an excited voice. Did Valerie hear Connie’s voice from the staff room? Well, Connie’s voice does stand out, so of course, she’d hear it. And she’s also related to Connie, so of course, she’d recognize it.Bookmark here

Valerie ran towards Connie and… hugged him, what? Well, there aren’t many customers right now, so it’s fine. But that type of greeting is a bit much, right? Well, they’re cousins that were classmates, so of course, they’d be close.Bookmark here

“Welcome back, dear!”Bookmark here

“Ah, hello!”Bookmark here

They’re just really close…Bookmark here

“Ah, I’ve missed you so much!”Bookmark here

“Oh, honey… I love you!”Bookmark here

They’re just really really close.Bookmark here

Then, Valerie went on her tiptoes and started kissing Connie passionately while he wrapped his arms around her lower back.Bookmark here

Gah, wait, I’m pretty sure that’s illegal!Bookmark here

“Don’t worry about these two chewing on each other’s faces, Camryn…”Bookmark here

Beside me was Elyssa. She leaned onto the front desk and raised her voice.Bookmark here

“They’re just a couple of idiots that enjoy flaunting their love to everyone and causing despair!”Bookmark here

While still hugging each other, they turned so that Connie’s back was to us. Valerie smiled at Elyssa over Connie’s shoulder.Bookmark here

“Oh, calm down Elyssa — we can’t help it that we love each other so much. Besides, it's better than your virtual computer boyfriend.”Bookmark here

“Hey, he’s not virtual, it’s called communicating through the internet, boomer!”Bookmark here

I’m so confused right now… Valerie and Connie are having a make-out session in the middle of the restaurant, and Alan is hiding under the counter… They love each other so much, huh? But they’re cousins, aren’t they? Do they really love each other that much? Hm… Bookmark here

Oh wait, I’m an idiot.Bookmark here

“Um, Valerie? A-Are you and Connie…”Bookmark here

“Oh, you know Connie?”Bookmark here

“Oh, yeah. We met one day when Ren and I were shopping at Beattie’s Heart.”Bookmark here

“Oh, I see…”Bookmark here

Connie broke from Valerie and stood beside her, still with his arm wrapped around her.Bookmark here

“Camryn, I think I know what you’re about to ask. Yes, Valerie and I are married!”Bookmark here

I never officially confirmed what their relationship was, so I was always assuming that they were cousins. Married huh? Actually, I think that makes way more sense than what I guessed — I think Connie even mentioned that he was married. Why did it never come to my mind?Bookmark here

“M-Married?”Bookmark here

“Correct!”Bookmark here

The two both happily raised their hands and showed the back of them to me. They were both wearing matching light grey-coloured rings.Bookmark here

“We’ve been married for three years already!”Bookmark here

Twenty-five minus three, so twenty-two? Did they get married at twenty-two? As Alan would say, it’s a marriage speedrun! But four years after high school? Weren't they, or more so Connie still in university? Were their parents rich? It was also when Alente Bistro was doing well, so maybe they got the money from there…Bookmark here

“W-Wow… Congratulations!”Bookmark here

Valerie shrugged.Bookmark here

“We aren’t newlyweds, but thanks!”Bookmark here

Connie and Valerie turned to each other.Bookmark here

“So, my little bundle of loveliness, how have things been?”Bookmark here

“Just lovely dear! Oh, I hope you aren’t too tired from work.”Bookmark here

“What, oh, no, no. Just knowing that working supports you makes it all so worth it! But how about you babe? You run a business, so you’re obviously working twice as hard as me.”Bookmark here

“Like you said, knowing that working supports you makes it all worth it. But it can be tough sometimes — especially since you aren’t here.”Bookmark here

“Oh, I’m sorry… But I’ll come to relieve you any time.”Bookmark here

“Oh, same for you, dear… I-”Bookmark here

Ah, so much cringe! I can tell that they love each other and that it’s genuine, but still! Thankfully, Elyssa interrupted the chocolate and roses flying between them.Bookmark here

“Oh my gosh, please stop!”Bookmark here

Elyssa ran to them and started pushing them towards a door in the corner. I was told they were stairs to the apartment building.Bookmark here

“Yeah, yeah, we can see that you love each other very much and you’re getting excited for each other. Go upstairs before your feelings escalate or whatever…”Bookmark here

“Oh, are we making you uncomfortable, Elyssa?”Bookmark here

“Unbelievably! Now go and get out of here!”Bookmark here

The couple chuckled and spoke in unison.Bookmark here

“Heh, sorry!”Bookmark here

“Heh, sorry!”Bookmark here

“Oh my gosh, j-just leave!”Bookmark here

With a slam of the door from Elyssa, Valerie and Connie ascended the stairs. Elyssa angrily walked back to us with a ‘good grief’ look on her face.Bookmark here

“Elyssa?”Bookmark here

I could hear a small chuckle coming from Mr Li in the back.Bookmark here

“Ack, they’re so annoying! They’re not really that clingy with each other, but they usually act that way when I’m around. Damn Connie… It’s because they both laugh at the fact that I met my boyfriend online!”Bookmark here

“I see…”Bookmark here

I mean, an online meeting is abnormal… Does it have something to do with the age difference? Well, it’s only eight years, so maybe not...Bookmark here

Alan rose from under the counter.Bookmark here

“Oh, is he gone?”Bookmark here

“Alan? Oi, what were you doing to Camryn down there!?”Bookmark here

“Calm down, I was only hiding…”Bookmark here

I turned to Alan.Bookmark here

“Hiding?”Bookmark here

“Hiding from Mr Capperman…”Bookmark here

I tilted my head.Bookmark here

“Mr Capperman is an authority figure at my school…”Bookmark here

“What!?”Bookmark here

“Not just that, he’s the principal.”Bookmark here

“What!?”Bookmark here

“I know… I want to keep our relationship at a distance suitable for a student and a principal, so I didn’t want to talk to him right now…”Bookmark here

Wow… I can’t believe that manchild has a high-ranking authoritative job. Principal, huh? He’s basically in charge of the school that Alan attends, right? I never would have guessed — again, my first impression of him was that he was a frivolous manchild…Bookmark here

Taylor Victoria
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