To say that there was a bright aura around Fry when she showed up for shift the next day would have been an understatement. She was beaming. Until she got a look at French. That beam turned right into a smolder.
French hadnt done anything special to herself. Shed barely had time to get to the restaurant, shower and change. But she would have sympathized with Fry had she known what she was thinking. Something very similar was going on in her own head. It boiled down to something like, meet me in my office in five minutes.
The few guys in the kitchen watched the two women who stood stock still staring at each other. Barbra walked through the door and spotted Fry. She stepped forward, took her by the arm and led her out of the kitchen. Frys eyes never left Frenchs as she was drawn away.
Whats up with you? I thought you had more sense than that. Barbra thought she might have to slap Fry. She was standing in front of her with a far away smirky look on her face. Come on kid. Dont do this to me. Whats going on with you and Cruella in there?
Not what? Barbra was getting impatient.
Not cruel. Shes wonderful.
It was Barbras turn to stare.
Youd never know it. But shes really very sweet. Fry said.
Barbra was going to gag. Id never know it because its not true. Not in the universe the rest of us are inhabiting. What did she do to you?
That was more information than Barbra needed. Thats not what I meant! Snap out of it Fry.
Fry looked at Barbra and smiled. Oh, dont worry, I did it right back. With that extra bit of information that Barbra hadnt needed either, Fry wandered off to find Miguel.
French was thinking about the most convenient break in her schedule to call Fry into her office. It would be a while before she could get away from her station. She needed something to distract herself until then, work wasnt cutting it. She let another part of her mind mull over the other pressing items on her itinerary... Louisa for example, or the people who were so intent on bashing her head in.
Everyone seemed to want a piece of her. Fry certainly did, but she didnt count because she seemed to want the pieces to stay intact. Those other people didnt. French, being an efficiency nut, decided that the best way to handle all of those people would be to get them in the same place. Like at a party or a dinner. She could throw a party. She had the means. Why not invite them all to dinner?
She could use the box as bait. Maybe do a little barter with it. After all, it was the oldest form of currency. And maybe shed solve a murder while she was at it. Sounded like a good idea. Shed have to work out the checks and balances. No sense having a bunch of loose cannons in your restaurant. Shed have to set down a few ground rules.
Fry walked in for a salad and Frenchs nostrils flared. She wasnt going to be able to wait much longer. She saw Frys apron strings as she turned to go. Shed tied them provocatively. French noticed details like that.
She pulled herself together and glanced off to her left. Andre, who was working at full tilt, had been watching her.
Whats your problem?
Andre shook his head and shrugged. Just working.
Fry went into the kitchen during a two minute lull. All of her tables were taken care of and one had just emptied. French was nowhere in sight. Fry made a bee-line for her office. She didnt care who wasnt watching her.
She was on Frenchs lap in what must have been a land speed record. She pushed the chair further away from the desk, she hadnt given French time to pull all of the way back. She had more important things to do.
French was busy making sure they didnt end up on the floor. The chair had tipped back with the force of Frys landing. Fry wasnt wasting any time, she knew how efficient French liked to be. She was kissing her and undoing the buttons of her jacket. French reached up to start on Frys clothes. She made a mental note to change Frys uniform. Way too many clothes in Frys uniform.
Fry slapped her hands away and opened her jacket. French grabbed Frys hands and held them off to the side so that she could get back to work on her tie and buttons. Thats when she realized that she only had two hands. Fry took the opening that was cleared by their arms being preoccupied and attended to Frenchs neck and collar bones.
Between bites and licks she said, I have two minutes. Tell me what you want.
As two minutes in an office chair went, French couldnt complain. Fry had hopped off her lap and sprinted back out front, before shed recovered enough to grab her. She wondered as she buttoned up her jacket what had happened to that talk Fry had been so determined to have yesterday. Shed ask her the next time she barreled into her office and dove across her desk.
Fry was having fun. She didnt want it to stop. Shed known that once she started to touch French, stopping wasnt going to be easy. And dealing with anything that resembled reality wasnt high on her list of priorities. To a certain extent, this happened to her whenever she entered into a sexual relationship. Fry, at heart, was a hedonist. A socialist maybe, but a hedonist for sure. She considered herself a sensual person, but her mother always disagreed, saying that there was a difference. A sensualist was someone who was able to maintain a little perspective. Hedonists wallowed in the pleasure. She was wallowing alright.
They finished out the shift in much that fashion, taking turns attacking each other in the back hallway, Frenchs office or the break room. The rest of the staff had no clue what to make of the goings on in their midst. It wasnt like Frenchs behavior was new. It was just, different. And Fry had seemed like such a nice young woman.
They all understood that French could have that effect on an otherwise normal person. What they didnt understand was Frys effect on French. The chef wasnt relaxing after each encounter with the waitress, she seemed to get more agitated. No one hung around after work that night. They cleared out of there like animals running from a fire.
They were alone again. Not that they noticed for a while. If Frys bed had been small, Frenchs couch was smaller. When they rolled off of it for the second time and Fry burst out laughing, they regained something like temporary sanity.
And I thought you were modest. French said.
When? Fry had stopped laughing and was wiping the tears from her face. She was lying next to French on the floor in the small space between the couch and her desk. She was on her stomach propped up on her elbows, French was lying on her back looking over at her. They were both in a state of undress, or as close to one as you can get with bits and pieces of clothing inconveniently hanging on.
That day at Gillman Rock. You acted modest.
Oh, you mean when you stripped near to naked in front of me without so much as an, Excuse me. Yeah, I might have gotten shy. That much skin has an effect on me if you hadnt noticed.
French laughed. Yeah, I guess Ive noticed. Are we going back there on a date later? Not that I can see the point now. I think Ive picked all of your berries today.
As if. You dont know much about my berries if you think that.
Ive created a monster.
I was a monster long before you came along. Ask my mother.
I will, maybe tomorrow morning. Think I can get her to make sausage for me? French cringed, remembering that she was supposed to avoid the mother jokes. Fry just slapped her shoulder though.
I dont think you want to get into that argument with my mother. And whats wrong with your place? Dont you have any food there?
Yeah, but theres no room service like at your place. French was surprised that she was actually serious to some extent. She wouldnt have hated the idea of waking up in Frys home again. Not anytime soon, but the thought of it didnt make her queasy.
My mother was letting us know that they were up and about. Dont expect that shes going to be bringing you coffee in the morning after having your way with her daughter. Shes very protective in her own way.
Not to worry. But you ought to tell her that you have a way of your own.
Youre an inspiration to me. Fry leaned her head down and brushed her cheek on Frenchs shoulder. Youre very beautiful you know?
So people tell me.
French shrugged. Fry looked up to see that the chef was looking at the ceiling. Does it bother you if I say it?
No. French didnt want to think about it. She also had the feeling that she was landing back on earth after a brief hiatus. Its not important.
Fry sat up and looked down at her. Can I ask you something?
Ah, the talk. French thought. Yeah. She answered, but wasnt sure she was ready for it.
Why havent you had sex since you met a Frenchman?
French couldnt help it, she laughed. Then she told Fry about Hercule and how her summer had gotten off to such a unpleasant start.
Wow. Thats amazing. He changed your life.
Yes. I guess he did. Well see what I do with it. My sleep has been like crap and for a while I had these headaches all of the time. Half of them I put down to you and all of your questions, but the rest of the time I think they were from the pressure. It built up from my trying not to explode and yell in the kitchen all of the time. At least those have gotten better.
Youre learning to let go. Fry noted.
Learning to let some of your anger go. I was going to suggest this before, but maybe now is a good time. Joely Williams teaches a yoga class at the community center, you might want to try it. It can help you with your breathing and a lot of the tension that comes from that kind of stress. Its great for detox.
My breathing is fine thanks. I dont need yoga or crystals or anything else thats passing for therapy these days. Ill work it out.
I wasnt going to suggest therapy. I didnt think you were ready to hear that yet.
Well, it had crossed my mind that Ive never heard you mention your childhood or parents or anything outside of this restaurant and your past relationships seem, on the surface mind you, to have been kind of unhealthy. Im not judging you or anything.
Well, gee thanks. Im not sure I could take it if you were.
Sure you could. I like that about you, youre very strong.
You mean Im not so screwed up that there isnt something you think I should fix? French asked.
I didnt say that you were screwed up. Everybody could benefit from therapy and yoga. And youre going through a lot right now. Whats wrong with professional advice? Youre in new territory. I wouldnt imagine that if you wanted to start a restaurant with a Cajun menu, you wouldnt consult someone who knew something about it.
If I ever wanted to run a Cajun restaurant Id appreciate it if youd shoot me.
Its regional cuisine. Thats why.
You know what I mean. Fry said.
And I think you know what I mean, so lets drop it. French warned.
So, what are your parents like?
French rolled away from Fry and groaned. Shed known she wouldnt like the talking part.
Continued in Chapter 38.