He reached over to grab a piece of pita bread. His eyes narrowed as he looked at the concoction in the bowl and then at the pita in his hand.
“What did you do?” he asked again. “What sorcery is this?”
I laughed aloud.
“I made some guacamole and fried up the pita since you guys don’t have any tortilla chips.”
“You made guacamole?” he echoed in disbelief. “How? How!”
“I’ll never tell you my secrets,” I replied. “Can you get the others? It’s almost ready.”
But Seth didn’t move, his eyes bulging from his head as he chewed.
“YOU MADE THIS?” he choked when he finally swallowed and my brow furrowed.
“Yeah…is it okay? I was missing some—”
“It’s fucking fantastic!” Seth howled excitedly and I giggled as he scampered off to collect the others.
I started to lay the plates out on the kitchen table, followed by the fixings for the homemade fajitas and as I moved the filling from the stove to a bowl in steaming mass, the others started filtering in.
“Sasha, what did you do?” Dan asked and I shot him a warm smile. To my surprise, he didn’t return in and I felt my heart drop a little. I dismissed his expression, realizing that he was probably still stressed out about work matters.
“I made dinner—uh, lunch,” I replied brightly. “I hope everyone likes Mexican.”
“I do!” Harry called, dancing into the kitchen and flopping down into a chair. “This is awesome, Sasha, thank you!”
“You should be resting,” Stevie chided and Jim ambled in after him. They both seemed to be avoiding my gaze and I saw that Bash was doing the same.
“I’m fine,” I insisted. “I’m doing much better and it’s the least I can do.”
I looked around, my eyebrows knitting.
“He’s not hungry,” Stevie said quickly, shooting Dan a look. But Dan didn’t seem to notice as he reached for a tortilla shell and began to dig in.
The smile on my face began to fade as I looked around the table. Harry and Seth were digging in with gusto, complimenting me extensively while the others were silent.
“Aren’t you going to eat?” Harry asked and I realized I was just standing there, looking at them all.
“Of course,” I replied, moving toward the table. “I-it just feels weird without Graham, doesn’t it?”
“Don’t worry about Graham,” Harry piped. “He won’t starve.”
I looked toward Jim and Stevie again but they purposely kept their eyes trained on their plate. Dan was looking at his cell phone but I knew there was no service so what could he be looking at? Bash, as always, eluded my stare.
A weird uneasiness pushed through me for the first time since arriving at the cabin and I looked searchingly at each of them, willing them to tell me what was going on but there only sound which reached my ears was the sound of chewing.
* * *
After a tense and awkward lunch, Dan asked me if I needed help cleaning up. I thanked him but refused, hoping that we could grab a minute to talk but he cited work and left the kitchen.
Seth had already fallen asleep on the couch by the time Stevie and Jim finished their plates but the stripping duo quickly found an excuse to go also, leaving me alone in the kitchen with Harry.
“I can’t believe they stuck you with the clean-up after that,” Harry muttered, shaking his head.
“It’s fine,” I replied quickly. “You can go too if you want.”
A feeling of wistfulness enveloped me when I realized I was going to be alone but Harry shook his blonde head.
“No way! After what you just did for us? I’m doing the dishes. You just sit and relax.”
“I’m not listening!” Harry interrupted and I smiled, realizing that he wasn’t just being polite.
He’s a charming guy.
He turned his head to look at me.
“Was it just me or was there an obscene amount of tension at the table?”
Harry cocked his head in confusion.
“Not that I noticed,” he replied. “But I’m probably used to it.”
“Used to it?”
Harry chuckled and threw a dishrag over his shoulder.
“You may not have noticed but we all have very different personality types.”
“Yeah,” I muttered dryly. “I kind of did notice.”
“We weren’t always so defined,” Harry explained and I found myself leaning across the table to hear him out. Harry sauntered around the side of the counter and joined me at the table, plopping into a chair.
“What changed?” I urged. “Living together?”
“No,” Harry sighed. “I think we had to live together after we realized what had changed.”
“That bus accident which killed the rest of our team,” he said, lowering his voice. “None of us was quite the same after that.”
“I imagine not!”
“No,” Harry sighed. “It’s not just that we lost friends…our personalities changed.”
He must have read the perplexed look on my face.
“Graham, for example. He was always serious, somewhat of a downer but after the accident, he was downright emo. Fatalistic. Almost paranoid.”