After the summer thunderstorm passes, Allison walks back home. Going to the kitchen to make herself some lunch, she runs into Leo.
He’s always been welcome to use the main kitchen, ever since he moved into the basement apartment. Meeting up there on occasion was something they both looked forward to. For Allison, it was a reminder that someone in the world knew she lived, would notice if she was not there. As much as she loved her solitude, she also harbored a small knot of anxiety that she could disappear without anyone being much the wiser. Leo’s expansive presence dispelled that knot.
“Hey there,” he says. “How are you doing?” He’s in the middle of making something that might become a sandwich: there is a partially-sliced loaf of bread, crumbs everywhere; open jars of mustard and relish; a block of cheese with a knife stuck in it. It’s Leo’s usual MO: make a mess, make a messterpiece of a snack, and clean it all up at the end. Allison knows this well, and it’s never bothered her.
“Fine,” she says, in that tone people use when they are anything but fine. She grabs a dishcloth and starts swiping up crumbs.
“I’ll get that,” Leo says, obviously concerned. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to -”
“No. Of course not. You never do.” Allison hears the snap in her voice and wonders why she feels so angry.
“What’s wrong?” Leo asks.
“Nothing. I’m fine.” She tosses the cloth into the sink. “I’ll see you later.”
Allison storms up the stairs, slams the door to her bedroom. She half hopes Leo will follow so she can apologize. And she half hopes he does not, because she is so embarrassed.
She looks in her mirror. Her cheeks are flushed red. “What is wrong with me?” she murmurs. She flexes the hand that held Emil’s arm. “Do I seriously have a crush on that guy?”
There’s a tap on the door. “Allison?”
She opens the door. “Leo, I’m so sorry.” But it’s not Leo, or rather, it’s not only Leo. There’s someone with him.
“Hey,” he says. “Jeeves wanted to see you. Hope that’s okay.”
“Hello, my dear,” Jeeves says. “I think we need to chat.”