Archive for September, 2008

30
Sep
08

Foodie, Chapter 16

written by Mary Beth

“It was never supposed to get this far,” Professor Talbot muttered to himself as he paced the corridors outside Malorie’s room. He wondered how he could have made the same mistake again, and let another person get so close to danger.

He thought back to that time last year when Interpol sent out feelers for an agent to work undercover tracking an assassin that had left a string of bodies across Europe. First there was Chef Pierre Poisson, acclaimed Directeur of Le Cordon Bleu, found dead of an overdose just days before a budget meeting, during which he was preparing to override the plan for large increases in professor salaries; then Signor Giovanni Uccello, up and coming restaurateur who was found drowned right before the grand opening of La Cipolla Rossa, his third restaurant in Milan, and who’s wife was very happily spending his money with her current boy-toy; and finally Heinz Schafe, considered the heavy favorite to win La Citadelle de Chocolat, the international chocolate competition. The European cooking community was up in arms and desperate for Interpol to solve these crimes.

The authorities had one small lead, a physical feature that seemed to be shared by someone connected to all three crimes. In every case, there was a young woman with one blue and one green eye. Whereas the condition is rare and was worth pursuing, it wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute anyone. They needed someone on the inside who could definitively say whether all three women were in fact the same person. And, if so, was she also the killer? The undercover agent would have to have a strong culinary background because of the victims’ connection to food.

Enter William Peele, Chief Inspector at Scotland Yard, whose superiors were anxious to get him away from London for a while. His last case had ended with the murderer getting off on a technicality. And then the witness that he’d sworn to protect had become just another victim of “random violence”. Everyone knew it was retaliation but couldn’t prove anything. Peele’s thoughts were constantly on revenge, which wasn’t helping him solve his current caseload. All that combined with the time he’d spent as chef at a London restaurant, while he was still in University, made him the obvious choice.

And so he had entered the world of undercover work and his new persona, William Talbot, had been born. At first, getting used to the name had been rough. So was letting go of his straight-laced demeanor, which worked well in law enforcement but stuck out like a sore thumb once he left the hallowed halls of Scotland Yard. On the instructions of Interpol, he’d begun hanging out at food conventions and international cooking competitions, watching and listening for anything out of the ordinary. He also watched for young women with two different colored eyes.

Finally, Interpol’s luck turned. An inept bank thief, caught in the middle of the robbery, tried to trade information on a more serious crime for leniency. He had hired an assassin to kill his wealthy uncle, a celebrated Spanish chef, who had originally planned to leave his nephew his fortune. His uncle didn’t approve of his playboy lifestyle and began to talk about changing his will. The thief wanted his uncle out of the way before that happened. Sure of his luck, he had gambled away his payment for the killer, and then robbed the bank to replace the money. The killer caught wind of his capture and disappeared, but not before the local authorities got her description – a young French-woman with one blue and one green eye.

Then another stroke of luck – there were mutterings of a job in America, and the possibility of a meeting in Cannes. Quickly, with the help of a local snitch, introductions were made. Interpol manufactured evidence of an ill-advised liaison with a student in Talbot’s past that Celine could use to blackmail him, and William Talbot became Celine’s unwitting accomplice.

He gained her trust by letting slip some previously unreleased information he had gotten from an “insider” at Scotland Yard headquarters. Thanks to him, she now wore contacts that made both her eyes a brilliant green. His instructions from Interpol were clear – get enough hard evidence of her next murder and protect the victim at all costs. The first part he’d managed well enough. In his position of professor, he’d been able to pass on quite a lot of personal information to Celine, helping her set the time and place of the murder.

But all the planning they had done together had gone flying out the window last night. Talbot wondered what had caused Celine Richelieu to make her move now. The original plan had been to wait until the old man died. Was that what she had been about to tell him in his office last night before they heard someone moving in the outer room? Could Richard Constantine be dead? Or was it something else that had made her act precipitously.

And why had she let herself get caught? She was much too cautious to allow that to happen without an underlying reason. He knew he had never had her complete confidence and now he wondered just how much he didn’t know about the plan. He only knew he felt sorry for Malorie. Poor girl, she had no idea that her life was in danger. All these questions flitted through his head as he turned to knock on her door. Sticking his head in to check her progress, his last thought was to wonder if she’d told Evan yet that she was still married to Jack.

17
Sep
08

Foodie, Chapter 15

written by Desiree

Evan had no problem agreeing to help Richard Constantine. His mother had worked for Richard for many, many years and he hardly remembered a time without him in their lives. It was always satisfying to help Richard when he was needed, preparing meals for him when his cook was away or whatever other task needed to be done. It was just a small repayment for all the generosity he had bestowed upon Evan & his mother through the years.

It took no time whatsoever for him to consent to the task. Really there had been little difficulty accepting the generous offer; full payment for culinary school, an apartment, and a car. It was a dream come true for Evan, to make his life’s wish a reality.

What he had never counted on, could never have imagined would happen, was that he would fall so completely in love with the daughter he had been paid to watch over. The same girl who was fitfully sleeping in the hospital bed next to him. Oh, she had scared the crap out of him with her whole ‘I’m just gonna walk myself out of this hospital’ stunt. But the crash to the floor ended her escape plan and stripped about 10 years off his life.

What at mess. How was he going to tell her the truth about himself? When could he tell her the truth? At what point would she ever believe that his feelings for her were legitimate, that it wasn’t just about the money. Mal, I love you. I’ve loved you from minute one when I saw you sitting in that first culinary course. But I’ve been paid by your father, your real father to watch over you. Oh, yeah, that sure would go over well. He imagined the resulting banishment from her life.

Yes, he was pretty sure she’d never accept him when she found out the truth. And he didn’t blame her. It seemed a set-up from the start, his appearance in her life timed with her beginning courses at the academy and the relationship he was trying to build with her. She’d probably only see that he had been around to spy on her, tried to use her. Despite the fact that he truly wanted to be a chef and was attending the academy out of the genuine desire to one day open his own restaurant. She had to know that part was real. Their time together cooking was testament to his love for it, his skill. And their time together as friends, the camaraderie they shared, and the attraction they felt as evidence of his attachment to her, his desire for her.

Malorie began to stir, coming to consciousness again. “Evan? Are you still here?” she asked in a groggy voice.

He could hear the whispering of machines coming from the bedside of the patient next to Mal. God, how he hated the hospital. Any hospital. Every hospital. They reeked of sickness, death, and always reminded him of his father struggling to live while the cancer ate at him from the inside like colonies of termites eating away at the timbers of a home. And had it only been a few months since his own hospital visit? It suddenly felt like years to him.

“Yes, Mal, I’m still here. So it seems like our roles have reversed now.” He quietly replied smiling down at her, “what was it you wanted to tell me?”

Slowly Mal shifted in the bed to face Evan. Her long curly hair was a tangled mess around her beautiful face. He wished that he could brush her hair. His desire to gently stroke her lovely saddened face, little by little, to remove all signs of distress that lined her visage was almost overwhelming him. Finally, she settled in a semi-reclining position reaching out to take his hands into her own fragile cold grasp.

“Thank you for being here for me and for staying with me this whole time. I’m not sure I can find the words to tell you how much it means to me not to wake up alone in this hospital.” She shivered slightly as she made that declaration. “Thank you for calling my Mother, too.” She smiled weakly. “I – I wanted to explain why you saw me leaving that restaurant with Jack, he wanted to have time alone with me to clarify or really to at last tell me the truth of what happened with our relationship and his total disappearance; he told me so many things. I was stunned and shocked by his confessions. To say the least.”

She sighed deeply and began again more adamantly, “Evan, I want to be honest with you, none of that matters, not one piece of crap that happened with him in the past matters now, because it fully became clear to me that I don’t love him anymore.” He could see the relief and happiness shining in her eyes. “I ran from you and him outside that restaurant because I needed more time to come to terms with what he had revealed to me. I wasn’t prepared yet to tell you how I felt or to tell him that it was over, so utterly over, with no possibility of us ever being together again. Somewhere inside me I guess I thought that maybe if I ran away and quit the academy that I’d never have to face Jack again and that I’d avoid hurting you with my betrayal. It’s silly thinking about it, telling it to you now, I know. But it’s what I believed in that moment.”

“Oh Mal,” he began, squeezing her hands, feeling them finally warm-up, “thank you for being so open with me about why you were with him and for telling me what your true feelings are for me. I’ve wanted to tell you something for so long. Something that has been tearing me up and I just don’t know the right way to – to…”

Before he could finish his words, the nurse hurried in, “Ms. Shawe, I need a couple minutes to check on your vitals, can you please sit up so that I can take your blood pressure? Thanks Love.”

Evan looked around the nurse to say, “Mal, listen, there is something important that I have to tell you before any more time passes, you need to know that there’s an investigation that’s been started against Celine and Jack.”

“What? Wait, what did you say? What do you mean an investigation? For what?” She stammered. Abruptly the memory of Jack and Celine sitting together in the waiting room, with Jack’s hand covering Celine’s, barged into her consciousness.

“They think it wasn’t an accident that you were hit by Celine’s car, they’re investigating the connection between Celine and Jack, and – Professor Talbot may be involved.” He replied truthfully.

07
Sep
08

Foodie, Chapter 14

written by Flutter

Richard Constantine was a man of wealth, accomplishment and prestige. He was also lonely.

He was also dying.

He’d promised Delores so many years ago that he would stay out of the picture, let Fred raise Malorie as his daughter. Stay back, stay away, stay alone. With cancer riddling his lungs like black bullets in a blue sky, he lay thinking about life.

About his daughter.

A rattling cough ripped through him as he dreamed of Delores, with her beautiful honey hair and her lush hips. He was just dreaming about running his hands up her shirt when he coughed himself awake. He closed his eyes again, letting the coughing rock his body, but letting his mind take him back to falling asleep with his head resting on Delores’ breast. He wondered if Malorie looked like her, or if she’d gotten his wavy brown hair, or his dark, chocolate eyes. He wondered if she was healthy. If she was happy.

He wondered too, if Delores had ever thought about him. If she’d remembered the sand grit of the beach between them when they had made love. If she thought about how much easier her life would have been if she had let him love her. That one question had tainted every success he’d ever had. That and that he hadn’t exactly kept his promise to Delores. He hadn’t exactly stayed out of the picture.

He met a young man, the son of his executive assistant. Oh how he hated not being able to use the word secretary. This young man cooked for him on days that his chef was out. He was capable, creative and good looking. He wanted to go to culinary school. Richard, through his resources, found that Malorie had just been admitted into a culinary program in her home state.

He brought the young man into his office, turning his head when the coughing railed him. He told the young man he would send him to culinary school, as a gift for his mother’s years of exemplary service. He would pay for an apartment, he would pay for a car, his tuition, his books. He only needed to study. Oh, and one more thing…

“What one thing?” asked the young man, his eyebrow raising.

“Watch after my daughter.” Richard had answered, simply.

Richard explained the story, pausing to cough and to breathe with a heavy rasp. He watched the eyes of the young man sitting before him, and smiled that they held so much compassion. This was a good kid. He could help this kid out, and serve his own purpose, too.

The wheels were set in motion, as the young man agreed to the terms. Richard placed his checkbook on the desk and wrote out a check for a large sum of money. Enough for all of the things he’d promised the kid in front of him. Richard smiled and signed the check. Made payable to Evan Randall.