“I was hoping you’d say that.” Sliding into the Ford Explorer, I ask, “Whose car is this?” I think this is the first time I have ever been in a Ford.
Logan turns before he starts it. “It’s both of ours.” His tone is chilly. He sounds insulted. Perfect, he hates me.
Brance enters on the other side of me and promptly goes to work on my face.
“I’m starving. I hope this place is good.”
Logan guns it, merging onto the famous 405 Freeway. I barely get a chance to look out the window with Brance doing my eyes.
“We love Osteria Mozza. Best Italian food in LA. And don’t get me started on the desserts. We go so often, we’ve become friends with the owner and the pastry chef.” Brance is happily saying all this as he starts to fix my hair. Logan drives quietly, listening.
We pull up to the valet and shuffle out. I feel better and Brance seems satisfied. We’re on the corner of Melrose and Highland. It’s like night and day from Manhattan. The palm trees swaying over my head are a glaring reminder that I’m finally here. I look up to the right and there it is: the famous Hollywood sign welcoming me. That, and the numerous hipsters wearing shorts and flip flops.
I squeak and grab for Reed’s arm. “Look, we can see the Hollywood sign.” I jump up and down in excitement. “And this weather, it’s so beautiful. I never want to leave.”
He looks around Melrose, his blues eyes sparkling at my silliness.
Logan holds the large door open. As we all file into the restaurant, I barely notice the teal-green walls and dark wood.
Turning to Brance and Logan, I say, “I’m starving! I want the whole menu.”
Brance chuckles. “Good. Something tells me you’ll be stuffed when we leave.”
He reaches for Logan’s hand. “Did I ever tell you that Tess is my personal Barbie?”
Logan looks confused. “Um, no you failed to mention that when talking about her.”
“Look at her. Tall, thin, clothes just weep for her to wear them.”
Logan clears his throat. Brance glances at him. “What?”
“I’m sorry, this is the first time I’m seeing this side of you.”
Reed snorts. “I wish I could say the same.” I pinch him.
“Hello.” A pretty hostess greets us. Brance steps up, taking charge. We follow as the hostess sits us at a square bar. I notice that it’s made out of Carrara Italian marble.
“Fantastic.” The smells make my mouth water.
“Yes, it’s a very enjoyable experience. This is the Mozzarella Bar,” Logan informs us, putting a napkin on his lap.
“You okay?” Brance examines his boyfriend, somewhat confused.
He nods. “Yes, I’m tired. I had a full day of work.” Brance places his arm around the back of Logan’s barstool.
“Logan recently opened his first of many yoga studios. He’s teaching a lot of classes, getting his staff ready.”
I look at Reed who is checking out the Mozzarella Bar. A cute curly-haired woman is making what looks like a plate of a big ball of mozzarella and bacon.
“We need to order that.” Reed stares at the mouthwatering dish.
I elbow him, bringing his attention back to us.
“Reed, did you hear what Brance said about Logan and his new yoga studio?”
Reed looks over at them. “Congratulations.” His eyes move back to the curly-haired woman and her new creation.
Brance laughs. “That’s Nancy, the owner. I’ll introduce you in a minute. Maybe she’ll have time for a glass of wine with us.”
The music is loud, and I can’t help but gawk at all the pretty people. Not that New York has ugly people—it’s just different. There is a lightness in LA that is appealing on so many levels. The bartender introduces himself and sets a couple dishes in front of us.
“Compliments of Nancy.” Brance and Logan thank him and request the sommelier to pair our wine with our food.
Then we start. Now, bread is my weak spot. And if I had one last meal on earth, I would ask for bread, or more specifically, this bread. Oh my God, it’s huge, grilled with olive oil I think. Then the mozzarella arrives with roasted cherry tomatoes. After that, the grilled octopus salad is placed in front of us. Reed takes one bite and promptly orders another.
Halfway through, I’m stuffed and on my way to being drunk.
“I’m in love with this food.” I lean in between Reed’s legs and he wraps his arms around me. “Wow, it gets busy fast in here, huh?” Looking around the large room, I recognize some big celebrities eating dinner. The vibe is energetic. “Give it Away” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers pulses through the space.
I turn in Reed’s arms. “I want to live here,” I speak into his full lips.
He chuckles, sipping a glass of red wine. “I know. You’ve been saying it all night. I thought you wanted to graduate?”