It was a Sunday evening, where Emre knew that both Ruthai and Nirav would be grilling steaks and chicken in the backyard, and that Alyona would be busying herself between the hood of her rundown car. Emre walked up her block, and expectantly found Alyona pensively leaning against the greasy hood.

The dark brown eyes lifted up to peer at him, when she heard the fall of his steps on the concrete sidewalk. “Emre?” she squinted at him. “Is that you?”

“The one and only, lovely,” Emre smiled cheerily at her endearing state. She’d rush out from the clothing he had seen her in earlier, and had settled into the regular outfit in which she wore to work on her car. Alyona rapidly wiped her hands with the long t-shirt she wore as he came to her side. “How’s the old Davey?”

“Emre.” Alyona warned, but a sly gleam arose in her expression. “You know her name.“

He winked at his girl, and then said, "I see you’ve cleaned her engine all the too well, Alyona,” he noted, a hint of proudness lacing into his tone. Emre turned to face Alyona to only find a single finger stain of grease upon her left cheek.

She blushed under his gaze. “I’m going to buy her a new set of tires soon too,” Alyona said, clearly on the ramp of beginning a ramble of unstoppable words. “After I get her new paint job, of course.”

“You got the money for her paint?” Emre asked curiously.

A bright smile spread into her face. “I do.”

“How’d you get it?” Though Emre had already internally guessed what she had done to get the money, he wanted to see the excitement pour from her lips as she told him. “Pawning prized possessions?”

“Nope.” She shook her head, and neared Emre with a single step of her feet. “I worked at Joe’s repair shop and tutored several classmates.” She proudly stated.

Emre bumped her forehead with his own. He hesitated from pulling himself away. “You nerd,” he said, his heart stuttering with her glowing, brown eyes. “I’m happy for you.”

“I’m happy to share this with you.” Alyona fidgeted with her fingers, and glanced down before she returned her gaze upwards, “Would you like to stay over for dinner? Papa is going to make guacamole and pico de gallo,” she tempted the fact before him, knowing Emre was a lover of her father’s cooking.

“I’ll stay over, but only if your mother is making her special flan and you sit across from me,” Emre hoped he didn’t sound so greedy, but he had sincerely been craving the soft and sweet taste of Alyona’s mother’s desserts.

Alyona beamed. “I made it this time around, hoping you’d come.”

Emre kept silent for a short moment, stunned Alyona had made flan when knowing how much she detested to cook desserts. Alyona usually made flan and pumpkin rolls when it was Christmas holiday, and there was nothing more delicious.

But then Emre paused on the other half of her sentence, that struck him dumb as well, hoping you’d come. “You mean to say you made that flan for me, love?” Arrogance hadn’t come to his tone, but sheer awe had settled down upon his tongue.

Alyona nodded. “I may have meant to say that,” she budged, hesitantly.

“May have?” Emre repeated, excitement flurrying about his chest. “I’m pretty sure myself you meant to say that.”

“Don’t be so cocky, mister,” Alyona said, hitting his hip with a rag full of stains, and taking a few several steps away from him. “I may have made that flan for the sheer enjoyment of eating it whole without even offering a single piece to you.”

Emre took Alyona’s hand in his and gently pulled her back to where she had been, “You wouldn’t dare.” he said, not resisting in keeping away his teasing smile.

“I dare remind you I am covered in yucky grease, Emre.” Alyona said, but she didn’t seem encouraged to move away from their close state to one another.

Sweat beaded her forehead and cheeks because of the high temperatures of the Sunday evening. And the endearing stain he had spotted left to her face remained stubbornly, as he ran a wiping thumb upon it.

“I’ve hugged you in worse conditions,” Emre joked, chuckling too as her own laughter filled his ears.

“Hugging me when I smell like stinky lake water does not count, Emre.” Alyona smiled. “You know I fell off that fishing boat because of you and your distracting techniques.”

“I only waved at you!” Emre exasperated.

“Shirtless!” Alyona giggled, and covered her eyes from Emre’s widening ones.

Emre kept locked the teasings and prods he wanted to make to Alyona as the actuality of the incident came to the truth, but he did make sure to say, “I’m going to tell your father you were lusting after me since you were fifteen, Alyona.”

“Lusting after you!” Alyona exploded into laughter, and she nearly dropped down to the floor to keep on, but Nirav soon rounded the corner to the garage.

“Who is lusting after Emre?” Nirav asked in greeting, and both of them fell rapidly away from each other before her father looked up to face their daring proximity.

They kept solemn expressions, though Alyona remained on the verge of breaking laughter. “Supposedly, the old lady that lives on his block, Papa,” Alyona announced, grinning mischievously.

Nirav smiled a bit goofily. “Women, I tell you, son,” Alyona’s father started, as if he in his lifetime had gained much knowledge upon the opposite gender, but Emre sensed the man was only going about this chat to see his daughter laugh as like he attempted. “Always preying upon us the decent men.”

And Alyona could no longer bear to keep her laughter and snorts in as she gasped for breath afterwards.

Nirav lovingly eyed his daughter, but he turned to Emre and winked knowingly at him. “I hope to see you at dinner tonight, Emre. It would be good to keep your company around a while longer. But make sure to wash up before you both come to the table.”

Emre nodded to Alyona’s father, and her promptly returned to the back of the yard, to resume his grilling of meats and surely some veggies too. When he knew her father was out of earshot, he whispered over to Alyona with a gleam, “You, young lady, are mischievously daring to be saying you aren’t the one who is visibly lusting after me.”

“Quiet you,” Alyona poked a dimple in his cheek. “You came from this morning’s service only to be speaking of such sinful things.”

When he laughed, she kissed the knuckles from his left hand and said, “But if I really am sincere,” she smiled between the sentence, her gaze still upon his knuckles. “I may have been lusting after you just a tad bit that day. Blame yourself though, for have taken your shirt off. Or how would you have been if you saw me in nothing but undergarments?”

Emre blushed afterwards, and didn’t reply the bold question his beloved had presented to him. At least not externally, with verbal words.