When they had entered the 24-hour diner, all eyes were on them. Eli easily said hello to every worker by name and then led Aurora to a booth by the window. She ignored the stares and sat down across from him. But as she picked up a menu, Eli took it out of her hands. "What are you doing?"
"I'm ordering for you, duh. You're just gonna waste time looking at the menu and I'm hungry." He didn't wait for an answer and motioned to one of the many waiters sitting and doing nothing at the counter.
A middle-age lady came over, eyeing Aurora intensively, who just smiled awkwardly. "The usual, Eli?" The woman asked, never taking her eyes off of Aurora.
"Yes please Stephanie. How are you tonight?"
"Oh same old, same old. And you?" She finally looked at him and he smiled.
"Same old, same old. Hungry." She just laughed and walked away with their orders of whatever the usual was.
But Aurora couldn't contain herself any longer. "Why is everyone staring at me?"
Eli looked at her quizzically. "What are you talking about?" A hint of a smirk was on his lips but he hid it well when Aurora looked down at her lap.
"Everyone. All the workers are staring at me. You didn't notice?"
"Oh that. They're probably just surprised I'm not alone for once." Finally he smiled, eyeing her. "Got a problem?"
"No ... I just ... wondered why everyone was staring."
"Well if that's all, I guess we can change the subject to something actually important." Eli said sarcastically.
She looked up at him and scowled, reaching across the sticky table to hit him. But just before her hand made contact with his shoulder, he caught her wrist and laughed as she stared at him in shock.
"You hit me earlier, remember? I think this is getting out of hand." He smiled as he held onto her and she paused to find the right words to say.
"Your snarky comments are getting out of hand. Now if you don't mind, you can let go of me now." she snapped back finally.
He stared into her eyes as she spoke and it unsettled her, but she'd never admit it. But finally Eli squeezed her wrist once before releasing her.
"That wasn't funny!" She said louder and confidently, now that she was free.
"I was just giving you a friendly reminder."
"That I'm not to be messed with." Aurora was about to answer but then their food arrived. Two plates of three waffles each, two pieces of bacon each and scrambled eggs.
Eli dug in right away but Aurora just stared, her stomach curling in disgust. "This is so much food," she whispered.
"I know!" He laughed happily, cutting his waffle in half, drenching it in syrup before picking it up with his hand and stuffing his face.
Aurora on the other hand took her time buttering her waffle and cutting it up into small pieces. She then ripped her two pieces of bacon into tiny pieces and also cut up the eggs.
Eli watched her, fascinated. "In the time it's taken you to get ready to eat, I'm almost done eating."
She shrugged. "And I'm still not done yet." Only after she was done reducing everything to smaller pieces did she began to eat. She ate three little pieces of bacon, two bites of the eggs and six bites of the waffle, all under Eli's watchful eye. By this time, he had already finished the waffles and was working on the eggs and bacon together.
When she pushed her plate away, Eli’s eyes bugged. "You're full?" If anything, his mouth was.
"But you barely ate anything. You had like five bites of the waffles."
"Actually it was six." His eyes bugged even further and then narrowed.
"You sure you not hungry anymore?"
"Positive. You ordered so much food."
He rolled his eyes. "I ordered the amount of food normal people eat."
"Oh, so now I'm not normal?" She rolled her own eyes at him and played nervously with the ends of her hair. He really did make her nervous.
"No, you're not. Not until you explain yourself. You ... barely ate anything." Eli stopped eating, his fork frozen in the air.
He turned his gaze on Aurora and she fidgeted beneath it. "Listen, okay? I am a dancer, so I'm on a strict diet. I dance seven days a week."
"I used to be a dancer once, Aurora. And even I know how to eat."
He wasn't letting this go and finally she sighed loudly. "I'm not telling you this story until you tell me why you stopped dancing."
"Oh damn it." Eli suddenly looked seriously angry now and he slammed his fork down on the table, making the waiters at the counter all disappear into the back kitchen at once. "It was my mom, okay? My mom got cancer and I stopped dancing." He crossed his arms over his chest, still angry, but waiting for her to explain herself.
"I used to be bulimic. I'm not anymore cause I know how much to eat in one sitting. But ... big meals overwhelm me and sometimes I go back to my old self." She crossed her arms as well.
Then they were both silent for a moment, staring angrily at each other. After two minutes of an intense staring contest passed, they burst into laughter, cracking up so much that tears came out of Aurora's eyes. After the laughter died down, Eli looked into her eyes as he took both her hands in his.
"Didn't mean to be an asshole." He said quietly.
"Didn't mean to be a bitch."
And even though 4 a.m. kisses across the sticky table of a 24-hour diner weren't ideal, Eli leaned across anyway and kissed her lips as she smiled.