Listen to Your Heart

Page 30


“Because she’s good at everything. Introduce the girl to a new hobby and she masters it.” I picked up the magazine, set it on top of my Math book, and flipped it open to a random page. “Knitting. See, I bet she’d be great at that.” The article in front of me reported on the projects an eighty-year-old woman had knitted over her lifetime. The list was over five hundred projects long. “She once knitted a sweater for a baby penguin at a zoo.”
“Alana did?”
“Oh. No, sorry. There’s an article about this woman and her lifetime of knitting. She did a sweater for a baby penguin. How awesome is that?” I flipped through more pages, then shut the magazine and put it back on the pile.
“She likes to cook, right?” Diego asked, leaning his elbows on the counter.
“I’m not sure; the article only highlighted her knitting. There’s also a story of a man who knows over a hundred bird calls.”
“I mean Alana.”
He was asking about Alana again. That was a good sign.
“Yes! She does. She has all these Hawaiian recipes because, as you probably know, she grew up in Hawaii.”
“I’d heard. When did she move here?”
“In the seventh grade. That’s when we met. You’d think I would have been the one to take her in, show her around because she was the new one. But it’s always been the opposite.”
“Really?” Diego asked.
The door to the center opened with a ring of the bell. I looked over my shoulder, ready to welcome Alana, but it wasn’t her. It was a lady who looked to be in her late twenties, followed by two kids I recognized—Camilla and Samuel. Diego’s niece and nephew.
“Monica, I can’t. I’m at work,” Diego said by way of greeting.
“I know. Believe me, I know,” the woman said, “but when you’re at home, Mom and Dad won’t let you help. It’s all about your perfect schedule.”
He clenched his jaw. I wasn’t sure if he was annoyed by her request or by what she had said about his parents.
“I wouldn’t ask if I weren’t desperate,” Monica continued. “I can’t very well take them to an interview. Two hours. Tops. Please, Diego.” She clasped her hands together and placed them on the counter in a plea.
“Are you trying to get me fired?”
“If your boss comes in, you can say they’re clients.”
“But my boss knows they’re my niece and nephew. Remember? She’s met them before. Last time you did this.”
“Your boss won’t come in. Two hours.” Monica didn’t give Diego a chance to say no again. She kissed her kids on the cheeks, then left quickly.
“My sister, ladies and gentlemen,” Diego said as if the room were full of people. His frustrated expression quickly turned to a smile when the kids looked up at him. “Hey, guys,” he said. “Did you bring homework?”
They nodded.
“Samuel, Camilla, you remember Kate,” Diego said.
I waved, then he ushered them toward the back, pausing where he was for a moment while they ran ahead.
“You’re a good uncle … and brother,” I said.
“Did you mean to say pushover?”
“No. I didn’t.”
“Thanks, Kate.” He went to join Samuel and Camilla and that’s when Alana walked in. She looked over at me, then at the empty counter with a questioning shrug. I nodded toward the seat next to me and she sat.
“His sister came in with his niece and nephew and he’s supposed to watch them for two hours at the expense of his job,” I whispered.
“So I’m just in time. Alana to the rescue. Would it be weird if I offered to take them to the park?” she said.
“Probably, since they barely know you.”
“Next door for some cookies from the grocery store?”
“Better,” I said.
She cracked her knuckles and walked to the counter. It didn’t take long before I heard Diego say from the back, “Alana?”
“Oh, hey. You work today? I just swung by to keep Kate company.”
“That’s nice of you,” he said.
“You know me.”
I gave a scoff, and she shot me a look over her shoulder.
“Are these your tutoring subjects for the day?” Alana asked, gesturing to the kids.
“My sister just dropped them off.”
“Oh, you run a babysitting service here, too?” she asked. She was good.
He moved back up to the front, probably so he could speak more quietly. “Not technically. They’re really not supposed to be here.”
“Do you know who’s amazing with kids?” Alana asked.
Diego’s eyes shifted to me, still sitting there like some third wheel.
“No,” Alana said, obviously noticing, too. “Well, I mean, she is because she has like a thousand cousins, but I was speaking about myself.”
He smiled at her.
“I can take them next door to get a cookie or something?” Alana offered. “I think they have one of those quarter-operated rides as well.”
I coughed instead of pointing out that the children were probably way too big for one of those.
“They might’ve outgrown that three years ago,” Diego said.
“You never outgrow a quarter-operated horse ride.” Alana recovered gracefully, as usual.
“I couldn’t ask you to do that,” Diego told her.
“Why not? We’re friends, right?”
“Friends do stuff like this for each other all the time. Right, Kate?”
“Yep. I rode a quarter-operated horse for her just the other day.”
Liza walked around the counter with Tommy, and I stood.
“You done?” I asked my cousin.
She nodded. “Thanks, Tommy,” she said.
When Tommy saw me, he held out his fist. I assumed that meant I was supposed to bump it with mine. I complied.
“Your podcast is awesome,” he said. “You are very funny.”
“I should call in and ask about something.”
“Do you have a problem?” I asked.
“No, but I want to hear how my voice sounds through that voice disguiser thing you have on the phones. You wouldn’t even know it was me. I could make up some really good problem.”
Liza giggled.
I wasn’t about to tell him that I’d definitely know it was him. That the “disguise” was added in after the fact. “Yes, you should call in. It would be fun.”
He bit his lip as if trying to think of a problem he would call in with right then.
I inched for the door and glanced toward Alana to make sure she didn’t need her wingwoman any longer. She and Diego were still talking.
“See you later,” I said. “Bye, Alana, Diego.”
They both looked over. “Bye, Kate,” Alana said. She was glowing.
“Bye, guys,” Diego said. “See you next Monday, Liza.”
“Or at school,” she called to him. “You know I’m in high school.”
“Oh, right. Of course,” he said.
I tried not to laugh. She’d obviously said that for Tommy’s sake. We walked outside, and Liza looked over at me. “Alana and Diego, huh?”
“They’re cute together.”
“I agree.”
She linked her arm through mine. “Thanks for being such a good cousin and taking me to tutoring, but I think I’m good now.”