A Tasteful Beginning
"Cara, wake up!"
His shoulder was roughly jostled and Illya moaned from the effort of getting just one eye open. "What?" He coughed and reached for a nearly empty glass. He felt as if he'd swallowed seven tons of drywall dust in the last few days. He and Matt had been working non-stop trying to get the restaurant up to code before opening. It was still two months away, but there was so much work yet to be done
"I heard something."
"What? A mouse farting? Matt, you've been hearing something on the hour every hour since we got here. Go to sleep!" Illya's nerves were frayed and his body ached. It had been years since he'd worked at physical labor and muscles, long dormant, protested loudly. He'd just gotten comfortable.
"I'm serious. I heard something moving."
"The house has been empty for two years. There are probably rats the size of small dogs living here." Illya clamped his eyes shut and silently cursed himself.
From his spot on the thin mattress, Matt drew the sheet closer to his neck. "Rats?"
Illya clicked on a small light and pointed. "Look! Where is the cat?"
"At the foot of the mattress."
"If there were anything moving, do you think that she would still be here? No, she'd be gone like a shot or have you forgotten what an adept hunter she is?" Matt ran a hand through his curly red hair and looked so miserable that Illya was left with no alternative. He shook his head and held open his arms. "Come here, Mattie."
Instantly, the thin body was pressed up against him and Illya pulled him close. "Grazie"
"What are you worried about, Matthew?"
"This place, these people, everything." Matt's voice was muffled as he nuzzled into the crook of Illya's neck. "What if we open and they think we are no good? What if no one will come because of what we are?"
"City folks?" Illya kissed Matt's forehead gently.
"I know, but you are being silly. We've run the numbers, talked with experts, this place will be great." Illya snapped off the light and settled back down. Matt's hand was stroking Illya's chest in an absentminded way.
"So... what do we call this place?" Matt asked. "Chef Rehnquist said that was as importante as the cuisine we serve."
"That old fox should know. It should be short and something that isn't so crazy that no one can remember it."
"How about Gusto per l'avventura?"
"Taste for Adventure? How can a restaurant be adventurous?"
"We are going to be introducing to them a taste of the city, yes? A taste of what other cuisines the world can offer them? That's what I mean."
"Hmm." Illya stroked Matt's shoulder with his forefinger. "Perhaps you are right. But how about we just shorten it to Taste?" There was no answer and Illya smiled at the soft snore in his ear. He shut his eyes and sighed. Yes, Taste would be perfect