The story so far: Everyone agrees that they should find an international student to take over Elise’s room.
‘Are we all ready? The first candidate could arrive at any moment,’ said Bianca, waving a sheet of paper with five names on it. ‘How long will this nonsense take? I’ve agreed to meet my year group at seven o’clock,’ grumbled Willem-Jan. Vera threw him a dirty look. ‘This is very important WJ, it’s about someone we will be in living at close quarters with.’ Willem-Jan just shrugged. ‘I vote for that pretty Portuguese girl.’
In the next half-hour the would-be housemates came trickling in. A well-padded American girl who thought everything in the house was ‘amazing’, a friendly Chinese lad who said ‘yes’ to everything he was asked, a Spaniard whose English was incomprehensible and the Portuguese beauty, who turned out to have a boyfriend of two years’ standing. After an hour and a half of polite questioning, forced camaraderie and uncomfortable silences, Willem-Jan, Derk, Bianca and Vera were sitting on the sofa no closer to a decision. ‘Well, that was completely useless,’ Willem-Jan whinged.
The doorbell went again and Bianca looked at her sheet of paper. ‘That must be the Italian. Two hours late. He can forget it.’ But eventually Vera went to open the door. She returned with a bearded Italian in her wake. ‘Guys, this is Filippo.’ ‘Buonasera amici,’ said the newcomer charmingly. Willem-Jan sighed. ‘I don’t want a smarmy Italian in my house. Those guys don’t do any cleaning, they don’t keep appointments and they can’t speak English properly.’
Filippo turned to Willem-Jan with an irresistible smile. ‘I’m sorry I’m late,’ he said, giving him a friendly pat on the back. ‘But to make up for it, I will cook for you. Pasta di mamma, my mother’s famous recipe.’ He hoisted his backpack off his shoulders. ‘Principessa, could you show me the kitchen?’ he asked a gleaming Bianca. The two of them went off to the kitchen, followed by an amazed Vera and Derk. In no time long loud laughter was ringing out from the kitchen, along with the clatter of pots and pans.
Meanwhile, Willem-Jan paced up and down in the living room. Elise, who had discretely withdrawn to her room, came in. ‘My God, what smells so yummy?’ she asked. ‘Some spaghetti-eater or other. He thinks a bit of girly cooking is going to get him a room,’ growled Willem-Jan.
Before long Filippo came back with a big bowl of fresh pasta. The delicious aroma of gently fried tomatoes, fresh basil and strong Parmesan cheese penetrated Willem-Jan’s nostrils. Derk, Vera and Bianca laid the table, and Elise opened a bottle of red wine. ‘Buon appetito, my friends!’ As the rest served themselves with gusto, Willem-Jan continued to hover. Bianca looked at her watch conspicuously. ‘WJ, it’s seven thirty, didn’t you have your little boys club?’ she asked teasingly. Willem-Jan just stood there, hesitating.
‘Noo, my friend, you cannot leave. We have tiramisu for dessert!’ exclaimed Filippo. He patted the chair next to him. Casting off all doubt, Willem-Jan sat down. ‘I will give you the biggest piece, I promise,’ Filippo assured him with a conspiratorial air. Thus securing his room in the house.