The Adventures of Maite and Kepa: Part 181

After a few weeks, Kepa found his groove at the pub. Iratxe was still a bit rough around the edges, but he enjoyed the comraderie he was building with Belen in the kitchen. She was light-hearted, didn’t take anything too seriously, and laughed as his jokes. And, he admitted to himself, she was quite attractive. If he and Maite weren’t together…

The Adventures of Maite and Kepa is a weekly serial. While it is a work of fiction, it has elements from both my own experiences and stories I’ve heard from various people. The characters, while in some cases inspired by real people, aren’t directly modeled on anyone in particular. I expect there will be inconsistencies and factual errors. I don’t know where it is going, and I’ll probably forget where it’s been. Why am I doing this? To give me an excuse and a deadline for some creative writing and because I thought people might enjoy it. Gozatu!

He’d always stop himself there. Of course he and Maite were together, something he’d dreamt of so many times when they were just friends, just part of the same cuadrilla. He mentally kicked himself whenever he caught himself thinking about Belen. But, sometimes, those thoughts came unbidden.

On one particularly light Tuesday afternoon, Iratxe suddenly appeared in the kitchen. She had a preternatural ability to do that, to appear without notice. Kepa was always taken aback, wondered if she had some kind of special ability of her own that made her even more intimidating than she already was.

“You’ve got a visitor,” she said a bit gruffly, as if he wasn’t supposed to have any kind of visitors.

“A visitor?” he repeated as he threw the dish towel he was using to dry pans over his shoulder. He went around the long way from the kitchen to the bar. And there was Maite, sitting at the bar, looking as marvelous as she always did.

“Maite!” he exclaimed, swooping over to her and putting a little peck on her cheek. “What are you doing here?”

“Classes got out a bit early today and I’m all caught up on my homework, so I thought I’d see where you work.”

Kepa made a grand sweep of his arm. “This is it,” he said. “What do you think?”

“Oh, I like it a lot,” she replied. “It reminds me of my parents’ place.”

Iratxe appeared suddenly behind the bar, conspiculously clinking glasses together as she rearranged them on the shelves.

“Iratxe,” said Kepa, almost timidly. He waited more than a few seconds before she turned around. “This is my girlfriend, Maite.”

Maite stood up and waved to Iratxe. “Nice to meet you,” she said. “And what a marvelous place you have here.”

“Eskerrik asko,” replied Iratxe somewhat stiffly. “It pays the bills.” She paused a moment. “Kepa has really turned out to be a godsend.”

Kepa blushed. Those were the first nice words Iratxe had said since he started here. Before he turned completely red, he grabbed Maite’s hand and pulled her through the dining room. 

“Here, let me introduce you to the others.”

In the kitchen, Belen was cutting up vegetables for the evening soup. She paused as Maite and Kepa came through the doorway.

“Belen, this is my girlfriend Maite. Maite, this is Belen, the other cook here.”

Belen and Maite exchanged kisses on each cheek.

“It’s very nice to meet you,” said Belen. “Kepa talks about you all the time and it is nice to put a face to the stories.”

Maite raised an eyebrow in a way that always made Kepa jealous. “All good things, I hope.”

Belen leaned in and, in a whisper that wasn’t all that quiet, said “He adores you.”

It was Maite’s turn to blush.

“He’s told me about what a wonderful cook you are,” said Maite, changing the subject. “Better than his ama makes.”

Belen laughed. “Now that, I doubt. But thank you.”

“Hey,” she added. “The bar is closed on Monday. Do you want to get a drink? My boyfriend also has the day off.”

Kepa felt an odd pang at the mention of Belen’s boyfriend. She had never mentioned a boyfriend before. But, even so, why should he care?

“We’d love to!” exclaimed Maite.

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