He didn’t have time to prepare.
Jonathan was at the host station greeting guests during the lunch rush, and BAM. He turned around to greet the next person and there he was standing right in front of him. His hair had gone gray and he had crows feet on his eyes. Jonathan almost didn’t recognize him. Seeing Tony made him remember that in fewer than a week, he should have been old too. Even though Jonathan was standing to the side of him, he could still see his eyes. They were just as blue as he remembered; they hadn’t lost their vibrancy at all. Those piercing blues looked so kind in that moment, but they were the same eyes that deceived him. Jonathan may had been unprepared for that moment, but he wasn’t stupid. He knew that it was highly probable that Tony would show up at Viviana’s some day. No one was stopping him. However, Jonathan never imagined that Tony would lack the decency to stay away from him no matter how curious he got. But there he was standing there in front of him looking like a hungry customer excited about eating at a new restaurant. What was he there for? Did he not cause enough damage? Did he have another plan to finish off the Pruetts?
Jonathan had been imagining for a long time what he would do if he ever ran into Tony. Sometimes he imagined punching him in the face and breaking his nose. Other times he imagined he would simply burst into tears. Often times he imagined yelling at Tony and hurling insults at him and causing a scene. But, he did none of those things. Instead, he was oddly at peace to his surprise. He didn’t even want to punch him. He stood there checking him out. He looked well. He neither gained nor lost weight. He wore a ring on his left hand. He must have married his girlfriend after she had their son. Looking at his fancy suit, Jonathan saw that he was still spending his money. He wondered how Tony was doing. Not like was he having a good or in good health, but how was he living with what he did to him? Was it eating him up inside? Or, was he really that callous and never missed a night’s sleep? Did he have an ounce of regret? Despite the fact that he wanted to know these things, Jonathan smiled slightly with relish that he didn’t want to punch Tony in the face. He reminded himself that Tony attempted to ruin his life, but he did not succeed.
However, Jonathan quickly disappeared before Tony saw him standing there. Despite the fact that he had questions, he had no real desire to speak to the man. He worked very hard to get over their friendship and what was done to him. Tony no longer deserved a place in Jonathan’s life, and he made sure that would never happen. He went to the kitchen to go check up on Tiana and offer some assistance. Whatever Tony came there to do or say, he was going to have to live without it.
Meanwhile, Skyla was oblivious to Tony’s presence. She was chatting up their favorite customers. You could call them “the regulars,” “the crazy Pruett fans,” “ the Pruett historians,” or “the McDonnells.” Either way you slice it, they were at Viviana’s every day.
“Hi Adrianna. Where’s Connor today?”
“He started a new job this week, so…I’m back by myself during the day.” She looked at bit sad briefly. “But, at least I can still come here and see you guys every day!”
“That’s right. We always look forward to seeing you two.” Skyla looked up and saw how busy things were getting and cut her visit with Adrianna short. “I’m so sorry…I need to get back to work.”
“Of course, honey! I’ll see ya tomorrow!”
She greeted a few customers and checked on tables. As she was going from one table to another, she was caught. By him.
“Excuse me,” he said.
She turned around to address the gentleman and stopped cold in her tracks when she saw it was Tony.
She couldn’t believe it. Was she actually seeing this? She thought she was being punked and had no idea what to feel. Should she run away and find Jonathan? Should she order him to leave the restaurant immediately? Should she call the authorities? She had no words. She didn’t even realize she could speak.
He recognized her silence and raised her an introduction to the woman across from him. “Oh…this is one of my sisters. She’s visiting from out of town.”
She still had no words for him. She couldn’t even move. However, he was smart and anticipated the awkwardness and kept talking. He ceased Plan Small Talk and commenced Plan Charm.
“This place looks great,” he said. “You guys really out did yourselves. I was kinda proud when I heard about it, he he.”
For the first time since she laid eyes on him, she felt the movement returning to her body in the form of her balled up fists.
He continued, “I see this place classes up the neighborhood too. You should be proud! All the houses on this street are brand new…except yours.”
She could feel her cheeks getting red with anger.
“I’m sorry. I wasn’t trying to be insulting. I know it’s probably really nice on the inside.”
Quick, heavy breaths accompanied Skyla’s scarlet cheeks.
“Is Jonathan around? I’d love to speak with him.”
She didn’t know that Jonathan had already seen Tony, but she figured he knew he was there. Jonathan was always around and had never disappeared for so long before. His absence was very telling. She took a long, deep breath and forced her eyes away from Tony, finally. She looked around at all of her happy guests. They had no idea who Tony was or what he had done to them, and frankly it was none of their business—even the ones who knew. There was no way she was going to let her emotions reign and allow this so-called power play destroy their reputation because this scumbag couldn’t mind his own business. She calmed herself as much as she could and put on the best smile she could muster.
She said, “I recommend that you try our butternut squash soup to start and the prosciutto wrapped asparagus. If you will be staying for dessert, I think you will enjoy the tiramisu. Savannah will be your server, and she’ll be with you shortly. I hope you enjoy your meal and your visit to Viviana’s. Please make it your last one.”
Tony was oddly proud of Skyla. He only knew her through Jonathan and never thought of her as the assertive type. He knew her to be sweet and made the mistake of taking her meekness as weakness. From his point of view, Skyla’s inability to handle stress was what caused Jonathan to lean on him in the first place. But there she was standing in front of him with her emotions at bay, covering for Jonathan, and telling him to never return. It was such a change. He recognized that he had a lot to do with this change and complied with her request with a small grin and a nod.