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chapter 3

Michael walked through the tall doors with hair ruffled by the juvenile December wind. It didn't take long for him to find out about the critic who took off from his restaurant without a trace.
If it wasn't for the crowd that was sitting at his tables, Michael would've hurled a glass against the wall but he pulled out his smart phone instead and started typing a message to his assistant as if his fingers were on fire.
"Shit!" Michael cursed as he passed his smart phone with a photo of a man from an online article to Damien who stared at screen.
"This is insane" Damien said, still in disbelief.
"We got even a bigger dilemma" Michael looked up and pointed through the glass window at a figure in a dark winter coat approaching their building.
"Damien, I will stall him as long as I can to give you time to prepare. Inform your staff to bust their butts but most importantly this impostor business will not leave these walls. Understood?"
Michael inhaled, a fixed smile on his face ready to welcome Paul Word with his suave moves.
Damien rushed into the kitchen to announce his staff about the unfortunate incident and prepared a new set of 5 course meal as if their lives depended on it. After the pep talk in the kitchen, Damien went over to the reserved table to introduce himself with an apologetic smile about a fictitious disaster in the kitchen that put a delay in the presentation. The critic nodded not giving anything away throughout the presentation.
Meanwhile Ed and the rest of the staff executed the meals without a pause despite the heat and the suspense that they were in. Two servers took turns in serving the dish at the special table with a minute of intermezzo in between.
When Damien came out with the main course, he saw a half eaten fillet on a plate at the special table unlike the one he carried in his right hand.
If it wasn't for self control, he would've dropped the plate to the floor not believing of having two misfortunes on the same night.
The critic looked up to Damien and to the sizzling dish with a sweet fragrant around the meat.
"I thought I tasted a strong presence of curry instead of the apricot glaze suggested on the menu card."
Damien held the plate like an Olympian carried a torch in their hand despite the exasperation in his voice.
"I apologize Mr. Word, there must've been a miscommunication somewhere. The staff has been well informed about your visit and the special menu made just for you. Let me take the plate and get you a new set of silverware."
"That's quite alright, I've done for the evening." He said as he moved the half eaten plate away.
"Mr. Word, I'd truly appreciate it if you would just... we.. I apologize about the delay... you see, someone must've brought a plate by mistake. This entree was..." Damien stammered.
"I'm sorry, Chef but I really have to be someplace else."
Paul Word rose from his chair and offered a handshake.
"Mr. Word, there are two more courses left from the menu" he fought to keep the tremor in his voice.
"Good evening, Chef. Please thank the staff for a wonderful presentation. You will be hearing from me soon."
Paul Word left a wad of bills on the table and passed the reception area before he walked through the door.

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