Archive Page 2

20
Aug
08

Foodie, Chapter 13

written by AndreAnna

She told them. But the question was how much did she tell them? They hadn’t let him see her since the hospital room so he wasn’t sure how much information they actually had on him. Did they track down his brother?

How hard is it to kill someone with your car? Jack thought, the anger at Celine’s incompetence rising inside of him. You push the gas pedal, you aim the steering wheel, and you kill them.

He was sitting in an interrogation room. He knew that’s where he was from television and movies and so far the portrayals were pretty accurate. Green tile walls. One large mirror he knew was a window to see inside. One table. One old chair with brown metal legs and a faded leather seat with cigarette holes in it. On one side, the padding was pushing through the cracks and he fingered it nervously while waiting. No one had come in yet. They were letting him stew. He noticed a drain underneath, by his feet, and knew from some movie he’d once seen that its existence is so that they can just hose the room down if there’s too much blood from “interrogating.” Or maybe he made that up in his head. He couldn’t think straight.

It was all falling apart so quickly. And he had worked so hard at this con. He had worked for years.

He knew who she was when he first asked her to be his date to the benefit. He had been scoping her out for 19 months. He knew who her father was. Her real father.

*************************

Richard Constantine was one of the nation’s leading geneticists. His pioneering work had paved the way for some of the world’s foremost research on stem cells. He had started in a small laboratory in Silicon Valley back in 1972 and now ran eleven worldwide corporations. The media claimed he was worth upwards of 300 million.

Malorie didn’t know that man. The parents she knew, Delores and Fred Shawe, were middle-class, hard-working people who ran a diner until their fingers bled. Some years when the economy was bad, they survived on next to nothing. Malorie became an expert at making elaborate things out of so very little – clothes, games, meals – that’s where she credits her innovation and imagination in cooking. She could see something in nothing.

Richard had reminisced about Delores all the time. He’d met her in the mid-seventies at a political rally in Northern California. She smelled like daisies and marijuana. She’d intoxicated him. She talked of freedom and women’s rights and LSD. All he’d known was universities and the inside of his laboratory. He felt different with her. He felt free. Their romance only lasted two months. She was in California spending the summer with her aunt, a woman who lived in a bungalow on the beach. Delores told him from the beginning not to fall for her. That even though she was a free spirit, she was in love with a man named Fred back home. Richard couldn’t understand how anyone could love someone named Fred.

One August evening when the air was thick with humidity and the sound of crickets, she said goodbye.

Three months later, he received a letter. Delores was pregnant. Richard was the father. But she was in love and happy with Fred. He knew and wanted to raise the baby as his own. Delores didn’t need anything from Richard. She just wanted him to know.

And so Fred and Delores raised Malorie and had a happy life. They never saw the need to tell Malorie the truth.

Other than her parents, Richard, and Richard’s estate lawyer, the only other person who knew the truth about Malorie was Richard’s corporate financial manager, the suit that flies in to verify all corporate documents are in order when a CEO is finalizing the liquidation of his estate upon the date of his death. The man who knew that he was leaving his entire life savings to his only daughter Malorie Shawe: Jack Finnigan.

Jack was also one of the only people who knew Richard Constantine was battling lung cancer. The doctors had given him two years, tops.

*****************************

Malorie had looked stunning the night of their first date. Her golden hair was up tight in a bun, no loose pieces about her face – nothing out of place. Her black dress clutched her body almost as tightly as she clutched her handbag nervously waiting for him on the steps of the hotel where the benefit was to be held.

He wanted to pick her up. He had asked. But she was wary and wanted to meet him there. He liked that about her. He liked a lot about her. He just couldn’t let it get to him. This was business, he reminded himself.

They began to see each other more regularly and eventually he moved in.

He often took side jobs in other states. He’d get a call, fly in for a few days, and help with whatever They needed. That’s why They liked him and why he still had this job. He didn’t ask questions and was well respected in his corporate job. No one suspected he was capable of conning or that someone with a high-paying job needed the cons. Maybe he didn’t. Maybe it was his addiction. He started out in college when he needed the cash and for one reason or another, he never stopped. He liked the rush. When he told Malorie back at the restaurant that he went on these trips so he could use, maybe he wasn’t entirely lying.

One afternoon, just over a year and a half ago, his brother called and it changed everything.

He was on the next flight to England, where met up with Patrick and together they hopped a train to France. Patrick was the only one he trusted. He knew about the job Jack was trying to pull. It would be big. It would be enough to stop him from having to answer to anyone else. It was the job to end all jobs. Find Malorie Shawe, make her fall for him, marry her, wait for the inheritance money to come through, kill off Malorie, and retire on some Fijian beach somewhere. Patrick only wished he had thought of it first.

Six hours later, at a train stop in Cannes, they met Celine Richelieu and Professor Talbot.

14
Aug
08

Foodie, Chapter 12

written by Catnip

Evan sat on the waiting room floor. The pain in his leg and shock of seeing Malorie collapse kept him glued to one spot. He watched helplessly as nurses and doctors swarmed around her and quickly took her away. A small puddle of her blood coagulated and darkened on the tile where she had lain. He’d heard someone say something about her arm bleeding where her IV had been yanked out.

None of it seemed make sense to Evan. What had she been doing out of bed? They hadn’t even let any of us see her yet and now she was up and walking around? What the hell was happening?

Evan had just hung up with Mal’s mother to give her directions to the hospital when Mal stumbled into the room a few minutes ago. Mrs. Shawe was only an hour away now. When the nurse at the front desk told that they needed to talk to family first, he took it upon himself to start digging around in her purse. He found her cell phone and scrolled through. Thank god Malorie was organized and her mother’s number was easy to find. Mrs. Shawe was calm and collected both times he’d talked to her, but her voice was so much like Mal’s it gave him the chills.

The silence of the waiting room was broken by the sound of footsteps in the hall. The four visitors appeared to turn as one, expecting to see a doctor with an update on Malorie’s condition. Instead, a uniformed police officer filled the doorway.

“I’m looking for Celine Richelieu. If the rest of you are here for Ms. Shawe I’m going to need to you stick around. I’d like to get everyone’s version of last night’s events.

Last night? Evan glanced at his watch as the pair left the room. It was morning. It seemed like the night had stretched forever, that had time had stopped. For the rest of the world, time had marched on, but for Evan, it was shocking to realize a new day was dawning.

Slowly, he picked himself up off the floor and looked around at his companions. The smugness was wiped off of Jack’s face. That arrogance had set off alarms in the back of Evan’s brain, but he couldn’t put his finger on why. Jack showed his concern with a furrowed brow and by mechanically tapping his heel, but only since Celine had disappeared with the officer, not, apparently, out of distress for Malorie.

Evan shifted his gaze to Professor Talbot, who looked exhausted and terribly upset. Waves of anxiety seemed to roll off of him. Was he just worried about his student or was there something more to it?

Evan sighed and rubbed his hand from his forehead down to the stubble on his chin. I need sleep; the paranoia is getting to me. He took the closest seat and closed his eyes. Waiting. Sleep wouldn’t come until he knew what was happening next. What was going on with Mal? When was Celine coming back? The questions spun in his mind, whirling in all directions and never stopping.

The footsteps came again, and this time Evan knew it was the cop returning. Celine wasn’t with him. “Ms. Richelieu has been taken to the station for further questioning. I think the rest of you will need to do the same. She said some things to us that were rather disturbing.”

Two more uniforms blocked the exit as the officer fixed a steely gaze on Jack.

“Jack Finnigan. You’re under arrest for conspiracy to commit murder…”

*********************

The room was dank, and dimly lit. Evan finished his hand written statement and waited for someone to come back. Events were only beginning to click into place. Clearly Jack and Celine’s familiarity went far beyond these last few days. Evan was curious, but more than that, he was enraged, burning with anger. They tried to kill Malorie. A conspiracy. But for what?

Through the little dirty window in the door, he could see the room where he knew the Professor was writing his own statement. Did he know something? Why had he been at the Culinary Institute so late last night? What was Celine doing there with him?

Evan knew that the Institute stayed open as long as the Professor was there. Security was always on the premises and they allowed students to come in to practice and study as long as at least one teacher available. He’d been there late himself once in awhile, using the culinary library to study for exams or playing around with new herb and spice combinations in the kitchen. But after midnight? It seemed odd but he’d never been there that late, so he didn’t know if it was unusual or not.

Thinking of the school, Evan tried to use a mental exercise to calm his mind. All his life, cooking something, anything, had always been his panacea. Now he combined ingredients in his mind. Flour and butter, milk, and a dash of nutmeg, his brain created a béchamel. Slowly he added cheeses, of all kinds, and his mouth watered. He could taste the sauce, and his arm lifted, as if with a spoon in hand. “Taste this Mal, tell me if it’s right…”

He woke with a start, his cheek mashed into the cold metal table. The crick in his neck told him it had been some time since he’d fallen asleep, and dreamed of Malorie. Malorie.

The door banged open. “Hello, sleeping beauty, time to go.” The officer from this morning ragged on him and waved him out of the room. “We came in and got your statement earlier, but you were fast asleep. Seemed like you needed it so we let you stay awhile. We need the room though, so you gotta go now. We have everything we need from you but stay around town, in case we have further questions.”

Evan got up and hobbled down the long hall, only the sound of his crutches reverberating against the closed doors and blank walls. He arrived at the front door and saw Professor Talbot sitting on the steps outside. Talbot turned and crushed a cigarette on the concrete as Evan come toward him.

“I took a taxi back to the hospital. I checked on Ms. Shawe before I came back to get you. Her mother let me go in to see her…she’s awake and she’s asking for you.” Talbot continued as he looked down and smeared the cigarette into dust with his shoe. “I haven’t had a smoke in twenty years…but last night…I just can’t believe all of this. Anyway. She asked me to bring you back to her. She said she has something to tell you.”

06
Aug
08

Foodie, Chapter 11

written by Dana

Malorie saw white.

She stared for sometime before realizing the objects that she had been subconsciously counting were ceiling tiles.

Slowly, sounds permeated her foggy brain. Beeps, ticks and whooshes that would have panicked her had she any available energy.

Malorie sluggishly took in her surroundings. Cheap drapes enveloped her. The beeps, ticks and whooshes did not appear to be for her. A blood pressure cuff was attached to her left arm and an oximetry device to her index finger. An IV was feeding electrolytes and intermittent analgesics into the back of her hand. Her supine body was artlessly draped over a hospital bed. The sedation had obviously started to wear off some time ago: her hospital gown and bedsheets were twisted, as though she had been wrestling with something. No peace, even in unconsciousness.

The events preceding her current situation rushed in without warning. Jack. Evan.

She quickly resurveyed the vicinity for visitors. She was alone.

She exhaled in relief. She hadn’t realized that she had been holding her breath.

I need to get out of here! Before Jack or Evan find out where I am and decide to confront me. I can’t face either of them right now. I can’t deal with the mess that is my life right now…

A little panicky now, Malorie took stock of her physical condition. Hands and feet: present. Head: unfortunately, present. Despite pain meds, the headache was both stabbing and throbbing, but it was tolerable. Carefully, she skimmed her abraded fingers over her face. They came into contact with gauze wrapped around her head. Perversely, she prodded it to see how badly it hurt. She winced. Not too bad.

Cautiously, she pulled herself into a sitting position. Slight vertigo assailed her for only a moment. She edged her leg off the bed. Ouch! Her knee was sore. The next leg joined the first. The sharp intake of breath announced that that knee hurt, too.

She sighed. Who the heck hit me, anyway?

Malorie put out an arm to steady herself as she inched her way into a standing position. Pleased with herself, her dry lips pulled into an uncomfortable, stupid grin.

She wearily divested herself of all medical paraphernalia. Even the IV, though it nearly caused her to gag. She did not do well with blood.

After fortifying herself with an indulgent mouthful of water from the cup at her bedside, she started hunting for her clothes. They weren’t far but they were barely usable. The concrete had nearly shredded her slacks. Her dressy knit top had gaping, bloody holes at every pressure point.

Terrific.

She found a hospital robe hanging in the bedside closet and clumsily slipped her shoes on. It would have to do.

Attempting stealth, she awkwardly peeked around the curtain. The other occupant of the room was in much worse shape than Malorie.

This must be the trauma unit, she thought, absently, while scouting the exit for intruders. Looking across to the bathroom mirror, she tried to assume a look of perfect health and confidence.

She exited the room.

Nurses and orderlies buzzed around busily. All overcapacity beds appeared to be filled. Several medical personnel were debating treatments and potentially transferable patients. Unit clerks were speaking urgently on telephones or running charts to physicians. No one seemed to spare her a second glance. Why should they when most of their patients were immobile?

Malorie headed down the corridor and genuinely smiled, sensing the ease of her escape.

“Hey!” a female voice called out.

Malorie walked faster, though the pulling and stretching of her flesh exacerbated the soreness of her muscles.

“Hey!!”

The voice was closer this time. Malorie plunged carelessly into a waiting room on her right and closed the door.

The inhabitants of the room stopped all conversation and peered at her in surprise. The silence emphasized Malorie’s heavy breathing. Recognition set in.

Evan sat on one side of the room with his casted leg propped up. His pallor testified of fatigue. The picture on the opposite side of the room was much more astonishing.

Jack’s hand rested on that of none other than Celine Richelieu.

The door opened behind Malorie before anyone could react to her entrance.

“Ms. Shawe!” the nurse exclaimed. “I was just coming to check on you! What do you think you’re doing?!”

The first name on the ID tag read “Esmerelda.” Malorie opened her mouth, but nothing came out.

Evan stood as Esmerelda fussed about and continued.

“The CT scan was negative but the quality left something to be desired so they want another one to be sure. This place is a madhouse tonight and your condition was stable so we…”

“Why doesn’t she wait with us while you arrange things, Esmerelda?” Evan interrupted, charmingly. All eyes went to him. “I’ll watch out for her,” he murmured, vehemently.

Esmerelda’s mouth turned up at the corners and her eyes twinkled. She winked at Evan and left the room.

The silence descended again. No one seemed to know what to say.

“I hit you with my car.”

Malorie followed the voice to Celine, her face incredulous.

“What?!” Celine continued, defensively, “You ran out from between a row of parked cars! I couldn’t stop in time!”

Evan hobbled towards Malorie. Celine’s self-important tirade was halted by Jack’s hand on her arm.

Something struck Malorie at that moment. Jack was being “familiar” with Celine and Malorie didn’t care! Evan’s evident exhaustion was far more consequential to her than any budding romance between her bête noire and ex-boyfriend, regardless of the fact that he had professed a wish to renew their relationship. She was ashamed that she’d let Jack get to her head.

Malorie’s face was beatific, as she turned toward Evan, eager to share her revelation.

A wave of nausea doubled her over just as Evan reached her. He grabbed her and gently eased her onto to a bank of chairs.

“What’s wrong?!” his alarmed voice reached her through a barrier of mental peanut butter. Malorie’s vision was rapidly going tunnel on her.

“Jack, grab that nurse!” she heard Evan demand frantically.

Her last thought as the lights went out and she melted bonelessly into Evan’s arms was that she was in love with him.

29
Jul
08

Foodie, Chapter 10

written by Danielle

“Evan?”

Malorie spun back around to Jack.

“Jack.”

Both men stared at her, waiting for her reply.

Malorie’s mind was racing. She could not make eye contact with Evan, but at the same time, instinctively knew that she must.

“I…….Evan…” Malorie trailed off. She meekly reached out to touch his arm as she attempted to raise her eyes to his face. Strong, broad chest. Thick neck. Perfectly shaped chin with a tiny dimple. Fleshy, kissable lips.

Malorie turned on her heel, walking briskly away from the two men, before she could summon the courage to reach his eyes. As she turned the corner and began running, she heard both Jack and Evan calling her name.

***************

Malorie barely made it to her car before the panic attack seized her. Tears streaming down her cheeks, she heard someone sobbing, vaguely aware that the pained sounds were coming from her own throat.

Fumbling in her large, trendy purse for her keys, she began cursing herself.

Damn purse. Why did I buy this stupid thing any way? I can’t find shit in it! Why did I let Jack convince me to meet him for dinner? Why didn’t I let Evan know where I was? Why can’t I get in my damn car??

After finding her keys, and dropping them twice trying to unlock her car, she pulled open the car door and slid in. Closing the door, Malorie laid her forehead on her steering wheel, and tried to calm her breathing. Her hands were clammy, and sweat was forming along her brow. She pulled her hair off of her neck, and closed her eyes.

Mind scrambling, Malorie put the car in drive when she was able to breathe. She picked up her cell phone as she maneuvered her way out of the parking lot.

The phone rang four times before the voicemail picked up: “Hi, you’ve missed me. Leave me a message and I’ll give you a yell when I can.” Beeeep.

Malorie took a deep breath, and spoke:

“Mom. Where are you? I really need to talk with you. Jack told me you gave him my contact information. Mom….he told me why he left me the way he did. I need you. I think I’m in love with Evan, and he just, oh Christ, he just saw me hugging Jack. And I don’t know what to do. Please call me.”

Malorie tossed the cell phone onto the passenger seat. What the hell do I do now? I can’t just expect Jack to explain everything to Evan. I can’t just pretend it didn’t happen. I can’t easily forgive Jack.

The warmth of Jack’s hug came back to her full force as she drove aimlessly down old neighborhood streets. His smell began to intertwine with Evan’s, and her mind was having trouble separating the kisses with Evan from the past with Jack.

Malorie found her way to the Culinary Institute. She sat in the parking lot for a while, re-playing the conversation with Jack and that one night with Evan. Tears welled in her eyes as she confronted herself, fully realizing that she was so afraid of hurting both men. Malorie could not figure out what to do, how to make the situation bearable, how to decide.

In the passenger seat, her cell phone began ringing. Malorie glanced over at it, only to see Jack’s number. She held her breath, and began to reach for her phone, only to bring her hand back to her chest when it went silent.

It began ringing again, and this time, it was Evan’s number. Again, she reached for it, only to withdraw again. She found herself growing light-headed, and let out a huge sigh.

Malorie took the keys out of the ignition and stepped out of her car with purpose.

It would hurt, but there was no other way.

Malorie entered the building and knocked on the door of Professor Talbot’s office. She could hear murmuring behind the door, and decided to wait it out in one of the chairs in the hallway. As soon as she sat down, the door opened, and Celine Richelieu walked out of the professor’s office.

Celine glanced at Malorie’s tear-streaked face, and gasped.

“Oh, honey, what’s wrong? Burn a soufflé?”

Malorie squinted at Celine, opened her mouth, only to close it again. She had no snippy reply, and didn’t have the energy to care at this point. She stood up and pushed past Celine to enter the professor’s office. She shut the door behind her, briefly leaning against the door frame.

“Malorie? What is wrong? Please take a seat.” Professor Talbot stood up behind his desk.

Malorie melted into the office chair, and hung her head.

“Professor Talbot, I have to withdraw from the program here.”

Professor Talbot sat down heavily. “What are you talking about? You are so talented. You have worked so hard! You’ve come so far. Why would you choose to leave the program?”

Malorie sat in silence, thinking of the pained look that would surely appear on Evan’s face when she tried to explain why she couldn’t live with him or be with him. Close behind, she thought of the look on Jack’s face when she tried to explain why she couldn’t ever talk to him again. She simply could not do this to either man. No.

Professor Talbot had made his way around the desk, and was leaning down in front of Malorie.

“Malorie? Malorie? Are you okay?”

Malorie stood up quickly, mumbling an apology to the professor as she stumbled out of the office. She could not control her tears as she ran out of the Culinary Institute, and across the large parking lot. Through her tears, she noticed that the moon had risen. She ran through cars, trying to find her own. She could hear the professor calling out to her across the parking lot. Her mind did not register the sound of screeching tires as she ran out from behind one row of cars towards the next.

Her mind exploded into a million bright stars as she felt the impact of the car. Her body skidded across the pavement, and the last thing she saw before her eyes fluttered closed was the moon, rising full and fat, glaring down on her.

17
Jul
08

bit of business

Howdy folks! How do ya’ll like the story so far?

Yeah, I don’t know why I’m talking like that either. It might be the shock.

See, I’m hoping we might see a few more visitors here soon, via ALLTOP! That’s right if you head over to books.Alltop you will find ChapterBytes listed. Seriously, how cool is that?!

If you ARE new here, wondering what the heck this place is, I should direct you to these early posts, and to the “rules” (like we actually follow them or something!) and I will say:

  • we’re still looking for authors, email me, catnip35 at gmail dot com or chapterbytes at gmail dot com
  • the next book will be scifi and I’m taking names now!
  • we will be moving to a self hosted url before we start the second book
  • we love comments! Every writer wants feedback don’t they?

Okay, I also wanted to announce today that in addition to giving out info over twitter, (what do you mean you’re not following us on twitter?!) I have started a NING group for us. That way we can have discussions about anything we want to without interrupting the flow of the story here. Before that will work, you ALL have to join. Not just authors, but readers too. Some come to our ChapterBytes Ning and say hi! Start a discussion or something, cause I don’t wanna be the only one talking over there!

15
Jul
08

foodie, chapter 9

written by Heather

“Mal, I need to apologize to you for the way things ended,” Jack began, obviously searching for exactly the right words even though he’d rehearsed this for weeks prior. “I hate to use the phrase ‘it wasn’t you, it was me’ –“

“Then don’t.” Malorie cut him off. She wanted to stop him before he went any further.

“No, Mal, I need to. I need to tell you this. I need to talk to you about this. It’s important to me,” he continued.

“What about what is important to ME!? You walked out and left a message on my answering machine. You threw away everything and didn’t even have the decency to tell me to my face that you didn’t want to be with me. The CDs that you left really made up for just walking away… going to London for some business trip and never returning. It took me a long time to move on and just when I start to rebuild my life – just when I am finally HAPPY again, you waltz in and want to “talk”. Well you know what, Jack, I don’t want to know what you have to say. I don’t want to know why you left. I don’t want to know why all you cared about were your stupid books, so if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back home and help my roommate.” She pushed her chair back ready to stand and make her dramatic exit when Jack grabbed her hand.

“Mal. Please. Please sit down and let me explain.” He pleaded. “Please?”

And there it was. With one simple word, Jack had managed to evoke memories that she had worked so hard to repress. It was the way he looked the first day they met outside the laundromat when he asked her to tell him when she would be back to do more laundry. When she refused, he looked at her and uttered, “Please?”

It was the same look that he gave her when they again ran into each other once again and he asked her to attend the benefit dinner his company was hosting to which he needed a date. When she refused to be “arm candy” for a complete stranger, the look in his eyes kicked in when he again spoke just that one simple word… please.

She couldn’t resist it then and it was apparent that she couldn’t resist it now, all these years later.

Malorie, be strong. Don’t give in. You’ve come so far. Evan is at home and he needs you. Don’t risk everything to get sucked back in by someone who only cared about books, someone who didn’t have the decency to say goodbye.

Losing to the inner struggle, she again took her seat. “What, Jack? What is it that you have to tell me? And so help me, if you tell me that you want that Ulysses book…”

He laughed, his dimples appearing. “No, Mal. This has nothing to do with the Ulysses book. Can I just ask you to listen to me, without interrupting? Please?”

There it was again. She nodded, as the server appeared to take their order.

Jack ordered for her as he typically did. Prime rib, medium rare, hollandaise sauce on the side, asparagus as a side, grilled, of course, and a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.

Jack looked at Malorie as if to seek her approval for taking the liberty of ordering for her and she nodded slightly, appreciating his selection.

Jack always did know how to pick a restaurant and my meals on dates… Date? That’s not what this is, right? No, it’s not a date. A date would be if I wanted to be here with him and not at home with Evan…. Is Evan okay? Did I leave the remote on the end table next to the chair so that he didn’t have to hobble over to get it himself? Evan…

“Mal?” Jack interrupted her thoughts of Evan. “May I continue?”

Malorie nodded and Jack began, “Mal…when I left, I never meant to hurt you. I really didn’t. I know that you don’t believe that, but it’s the truth. Things weren’t right for a long time –“

“What?” she interrupted him with a look of shock and disbelief. Surely he was not sitting across from her telling her that the demise of their relationship was apparent and she was too dumb to see it.

“Malorie. Let me finish. You promised that you wouldn’t interrupt.” Malorie slouched back in her chair, crossed her arms, and let him continue. “When I say that things weren’t right for a long time, I’m not talking about between us – I’m talking about with me. I wasn’t honest with you. I hid things from you. I took a lot of “business trips” and you were just so trusting. You would help me pack my clothes, often packing little notes into the sleeves of my suit coats, or pants pockets when I wasn’t looking so that I would find them and think of you while I was gone.”

“You were always so thoughtful, caring, and all I could do for you was pick up some cheap trinket in the airport gift shop to make up for the fact that I didn’t call while I was gone. And you? You accepted that. You were so happy to see me when I got home and it was easy to use the excuse that between the time zones and all the meetings that I was in, that I wasn’t able to call.”

“I kept doing it. I kept going on these trips; I looked for trips to volunteer to go on and sought out the promotions that would allow me the most travel time. I wanted to be on the road and not for the reasons that you might think. It was not because I didn’t want to be with you or that there was someone else.”

He paused and took a deep breath.

“Mal, I wanted to take these trips, I could be me. And by me, I mean I could use.” He stopped.

Malorie stared at him waiting for him to continue, waiting for him to explain what he was talking about. When he didn’t say anything, she asked, “Use?”

“Well mostly cocaine, but sometimes there were other drugs involved…some weed, ‘shrooms…” He explained.

“Drugs?”

“Yeah and a lot of them.” He looked down, not able to look her in the face.

Malorie didn’t move. She didn’t speak. Did he use drugs when he was with her, when he was at home? How often had he used and she not known? How could she not have known? Was she that stupid? She had so many questions, none of which she was sure she wanted an answer to. She wasn’t sure what to say, how to respond and after several minutes Malorie broke the silence. “Do you have more to say? I’m sorry. I’m not following where this is all going, why you needed to talk to me now.”

“I’m clean now. I’m working a 12 Step program and I’m up to step 9 – making amends. Actually, I half assed worked the steps a few times, but I never truly made the amends that I needed to. I always thought of you whenever I heard step 8 but when it actually came to making the amends, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t face you. I couldn’t look in eyes and tell you why I left the way that I did.”

“Jack. You still haven’t told me.” She explained to him, still in shock that she was even having this conversation.

After their meal arrived, Jack proceeded to detail the events leading up to the trip to London and the last time that Malorie would see him before that fateful answering machine message. He told her about arriving in London and his brother meeting him there. He described what it was like when his brother found out that he was using again, and by again, he explained that he had been through rehab and the program when he was 18. Jack continued by telling her that his brother checked him into rehab and the phone call he placed to her, the message that he left, was all he could muster. He knew that he couldn’t explain to her in a message everything that had happened and left it at that. He wasn’t coming back.

Malorie asked the questions that she had over dessert and Jack answered them honestly. When the check was delivered, Jack paid, got up from the table and crossed over to Malorie extending his hand.

She took it and rose from the table. As they began to walk toward the entrance of the now almost empty restaurant, Jack squeezed her hand and smiled at her.

Once outside, Jack turned to Malorie, took both of her hands in his, looked into her eyes and asked her forgiveness.

“Mal, I don’t know how I can make it up to you. I need you to know that I loved you with all my heart and I hate that I hurt you. But I felt that to cause the least amount of pain would be to do what I did, to simply make something up. If you want to never see me again, I’ll respect that.”

He reached for her to embrace her and as he did, she remembered how warm and comforting his hugs were. As they lingered there, arms around one another, he whispered in her ear, “I’d really like to see you again, though.”

For a brief moment, she forgot all about Evan, home, in a cast until she heard someone call her name.

As she pulled away from Jack and turned around she felt her heart drop past her stomach and onto the sidewalk below.

It was Evan.

11
Jul
08

foodie, chapter 8

written by Christy

Malorie heaved a long, heavy sigh and pressed her back into the door, as she closed it behind Jack. They had all finally decided to call it a night, and Malorie could not have been more relieved. She could hear Evan in the other room, inching his way toward the kitchen using his crutches. She knew he was probably trying to clean up before she could get back in there to help him, but she just stood there, feeling all the stress of the evening beginning to seep into her; she was exhausted. Oh, my aching head. She closed her eyes and began massaging her temples in an attempt to ease some of the tension of this seemingly endless night.

“Well, that was an absolute disaster” Malorie said quietly as she moved away from the door. She opened her eyes, and was startled to see Evan standing in the hallway with her.

“So that was him?” he asked, leaning over her with his chin propped on one of his crutches. “That’s the guy that took off without so much as an ‘it’s not you, it’s me’?”

“That would be him, yes.” She studied Evan for a moment before looking down at the floor and trying to catch her breath. She wasn’t sure how much of this story she was prepared to rehash just then. She had told Evan about Jack—sparing him most of the gory details, but now that Jack had shown up, Evan had a name and a face to place with the story of the guy that didn’t even have the courtesy to inform her that she was being dumped. “What?” Malorie questioned, noticing Evan’s sideways glance.

“I don’t know. It’s just…don’t take this the wrong way or anything.” Evan stammered a bit and then grinned, “I guess I just wasn’t expecting him to be so nice.”

Malorie felt her chest tighten a bit; a sure sign that she was about to play defense. “Oh, he’s nice all right. Just a little uncommunicative is all.” She knew that her words came out sounding a lot more sarcastic than she had intended them to, and she averted her eyes from him. Why did I use that tone?

Evan pulled her chin up so that she had to face him and gave her a wry smile. “Hey…you wanna know what I think? I think a couple of years have gone by, maybe Jack has grown up a little bit, and he realizes what a shit he was to you. My guess is that he wanted to stop by as a gesture to set things straight, and maybe give you some closure.”

“That’s very generous of you, but I’m not so sure he’s that deep” Malorie said, suppressing a little laugh.

——————————————

The next few days went by without incident. Professor Talbot had given Malorie and Evan some obscure recipes to create menus around as part of an exam, and Malorie tried to remain focused. She didn’t want to allow Jack and that piece of her past to be an intrusion into her life and her work at the Culinary Institute but she was failing miserably. It was almost all that she could think about. And the situation brought up and endless amount of questions. Why would he show up out of the blue like that? What was he playing at? What did he really want? She had a hard time believing Evan’s theory that Jack simply showed up to make amends and then intended to run along on his merry way. That didn’t seem quite his style—at least, not the style she remembered. But then again, she thought maybe it just is what it is—people change, Mal.

Later that week, Malorie spent the afternoon at the library, pouring over 19th century cookbooks and doing research for their exam, when her cell phone rang. She looked around quickly, embarrassed that she hadn’t remembered to silence her phone when she came in. She grabbed the phone, abruptly flipped it open, and whispered a distracted, “hello?’ into the receiver.

“Hey. Malorie, it’s Jack…obviously. Uh…I wasn’t sure you’d pick up, honestly. Listen, I really need to see you. Can we maybe meet, later tonight? No chaperones this time?”

“Jack?” Malorie questioned. She didn’t want it to be him on the other end of the phone. She felt her pulse quicken a bit, and her palms were sweaty. That familiar feeling in the pit of her stomach had returned…it had been so long, she had almost forgotten about it. This is not good, she thought to herself. Not good at all.

——————————————

Malorie meandered down the sidewalk toward the restaurant where Jack had suggested they meet. All she could think of on the entire walk over from the library was what the hell his motives could be. I shouldn’t be here. I should be with Evan. She admitted to herself that she was more than a little suspicious of the possibilities, and she was in no great hurry to get in there and find out. She approached the entrance to the restaurant and hesitated a moment before ducking inside.

Once inside, a smiling hostess greeted Malorie. “How can I help you?” The hostess asked eagerly.

“Uh, I’m meeting some—“ Malorie started.

“You must be Mr. Finnigan’s guest.”

The hostess led her through a warm and dimly lit room filled with cozy little tables for two. Malorie felt uneasy. The two of them finally stopped at the very last table in a far corner of the room near the kitchen. There was Jack. He thanked the hostess as she hurried away and gestured for Malorie to sit.

Malorie sat quietly, not at all certain what to expect. She didn’t have to wait long before Jack began to explain his sudden appearance.

“Listen. I’ve been waiting a long time to say this, so I’m just going to get to it. I was hoping we’d have a chance to talk the other night when I came to your apartment, but you’re roommate was there; it was awkward…and he wouldn’t leave us alone. I need to tell you…”

“Evan is more than a roommate. He’s my…well…he’s a really good friend.” Malorie interrupted. She knew that those words sounded lame as soon as she uttered them. She hoped that Jack wouldn’t pick up on the reluctance in her tone and assign some self-satisfying meaning to it. She needn’t have worried—he didn’t seem to notice. He held up his hand to silence her and continued with his speech.