Legal Theft: The Brush Off

“Wait, he doesn’t know, you haven’t told him?” Zach leaned forward over the kitchen island, surveying the stainless steel assembly of ingredient bowls. He didn’t know what half of them contained. Lena handed him a bowl of loose chorizo, which he blinked at until she indicated a yellow dish filled with spices. Dutifully, he mixed the two.

Lena tasted her crema mixture and then added salt. “No, but I’m not hiding it. He just hasn’t noticed.”

“Seriously?” Zach followed her over to the stoves holding up his phone. He watched her drop handmade tortillas onto a popping skillet. It smelled amazing, but everything she made did.

“He’s your brother. Doesn’t he follow you?” He asked, holding up a picture of the two of them on his family’s boat. A soft red flush covered her cheeks, and Zach grinned posing in the bright sunlight. They looked amazing in front of the sparkling blue waters. Others agreed, below the picture rows and rows of likes and comments gushed about them.

She looked over at the photo before going back to the hissing oil with a smile. “I like that one, which filter did you use? My brother just follows regional cuisine accounts and weird moody photography stuff. Don’t worry about him, he doesn’t pay attention to what I do. My friends know.”

“Yah, I guess. It was Amaro I think.” He scrolled down, gym selfies, bathroom ab pictures, and light-streaked photos of nights with his friends. But Lena was there too and properly tagged. They were official.

Still, Zach jumped a little when the kitchen door opened. But he wasn’t in Lena’s bedroom anymore, and technically allowed to be here.

The look he got from the newcomer said otherwise. Scorn narrowed the girl’s eyes for a moment. Then she turned away deliberately, like a cat who couldn’t be bothered about something displeasing in their vicinity.

“Hey, Ashlyn.” Lena said, in a tone Zach could now recognize as forced. “Are you and–“

“Photography club tonight.” Ashlyn cut her off, already halfway across the kitchen. Zach noticed the bag thumping against her  “Don’t wait up.”

Ashlyn’s hand was almost on the door handle before Lena positioned herself in the way. “Are you and my brother going to want any food?” She gestured almost violently at the various meal preparations with her spatula.

“Sure.” Ashlyn said slowly, as if realizing exactly what she’d been brushing off a moment ago. Still pride won out, Ashlyn edged around Lena without an apology. “Later.”

The door to the backyard snapped shut and Ashlyn was gone. Lena closed her eyes and breathed out of her nose. Zach took a few steps back, hoping she wasn’t going to throw anything.

“That’s lame. Are you really going to make them food after that?” Zach finally asked, soothing as he could muster.

“Of course.” Lena said, with a smile Zach didn’t trust at all.  “Hand me that chorizo, I’ll just section some out for them and cook it separate. Also those chiles, yah all of them. And the peppers.”

He quickly complied, handing her a handful of deep green chiles and curved peppers that made his hands itch. Zach knew he wasn’t always the smartest person, but at least he wasn’t stupid enough to get in Lena’s way.

He watched her mince the peppers and chiles and mix them into the smaller portion of the meat. “So they’re getting aggressively spicy tacos?”

“No, they’re getting passively aggressively spicy tacos.” She put aside the overly imbued chorizo, kissed him on the cheek and went back to her tortillas. After a few seconds Lena paused and looked over her shoulder. “Want to stay for dinner? Some space opened up.”

Zach put away his phone. “Yah, that’d be cool.”

I stole some aggressively spicy tacos from a critter filled blog. This theft, and many others, are part of the Legal Theft Project.  

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