“All I was asking,” Carisa said, “was what made you buy this place. It wasn’t a judgment, Carlos. I’m just curious.”
Her brother relaxed slightly. She really hadn’t meant for the question to sound judgmental, but that was apparently how it had come out. Or at least how he had heard it. Did he really still think she was so much like her father? She’d have thought he’d have known better by now.
“Before I bought this place,” Carlos said, “I was working as a cook at another restaurant. Aberto hired a lot of people just out of prison. Gave ’em a chance. One chance. If you screwed up, broke one of his rules, you were gone. Roman and Cristine knew him and helped get me a job as a dishwasher there when I was released. Roman had already done enough by getting me a very reduced sentence. This was so much more than what he had to do.”
“Because Tereza asked him to help you. And he promised to do what he could as long as she didn’t see you again.” She knew that part of the story.
His lips curled up a little. “Yeah. It was smart. We would have ruined each other back then.” But, he ran a thumb over the ring on his left hand. They were married now and so happy. She was happy for her brother. Even if she was a little jealous, too. “Anyway, Aberto was killed in a drive-by and his place shut down. I’d been thinking of opening my own place by that time, and Cristine helped me get started.”
“I know all that, Carlos. What I was wondering, why this place? This neighborhood. Isn’t this where you grew up?” It had to hold hard memories for him to deal with. It did for her, and she’d been young when her father had moved their mother, her and her only remaining sister to another city.
“That’s why. And I wanted to continue what Aberto had been doing. I was given a second chance, so I wanted to give that to others, too. And this place was available and in my budget.” His lips curled up even more at that. “You should have seen it. It was only a step above being condemned. It took a lot of work, but I turned it into this.”
“And it’s a good place.” She’d seen the good he’d done here, the people he’d helped. It wasn’t enough for her father to ever forgive him, but he was holding a grudge against Carlos that wasn’t his fault. So nothing would ever be enough.
He gave her a quick hug. “Thanks, little sis. I’d better get back in the kitchen or no one else will think so.”
She smiled as he did just that. She was so glad she’d re-connected with her brother, even if it had taken another death to do so. One had ripped them apart and one to bring them back together. But, nothing would take her from his life again. Nothing.
I combined Story a Day and Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompts again. Story a Day was to focus on worldbuilding. So I decided to go with how Carlos did come to have his restaurant. And for Stream of Consciousness was to use all or nothing, Use one or both and bonus points if you start and end with one(or each) of them.