She walked around her restaurant smoothing a table cloth here, polishing a glass there. Tonight was the most important night of her life. Tonight was the culmination of years of hard work and sacrifice. Tonight Melody’s was open for the first time. Just then there was a tap on the glass portion of the restaurant’s wooden door.
She looked up, saw who it was and smiled. She hurried to open the door and said “Charlotte you made it!”
“Yip I couldn’t miss my little sister’s big night. Are you excited or terrified Melody?”
Melody giggled, “Honestly? Both!” She grabbed her sister by the hand and pulled her towards a table.
They sat down at one of the tables with its classy white table cloths and heavy silverware. The glasses sparkled in the fairy lights strung on the trellis on the ceiling above them.
Melody jumped up, “We need wine.” she declared, “Or champagne? What do you think?”
Charlotte looked at her watch smiled and said “oh what the hell it’s after 12 why not. Lets’ go all out and have champagne, it is a celebration after all.”
Melody went and fetched a bottle of champagne from the liquor fridge in the kitchen and marvelled at the shine on her new steel cookers and fridges, she knew soon enough they would be working hard and not so shiny anymore. She remembered how it felt when the equipment had been delivered. She had felt like a kid at Christmas.
She walked back to the table, opened the champagne with a pop and poured them both a glass.
They had a sip or two and then Melody said “Come let me show you around” she said pulling charlotte to her feet like a kid eager to show off her new toy. Charlotte smiled at her enthusiasm; it was good to see her sister happy again after what she had been through last year.
Losing their parents in a car crash and her fiancé to another woman had devastated Melody but being the strong survivor she was, she had picked herself up and thrown all her energy into this restaurant. Charlotte was impressed, the place looked like any five star restaurant in Sandton. She was a lawyer and ate out often. This place her sister had put together could compete with the best of them. She only hoped the food was as good.
Melody dragged her laughing sister around the restaurant pointing out the crystal chandelier that her mother had always wanted. The Italian tile restrooms complete with luxury hand soap dispensers and fluffy turquoise towels. The restaurant’s colour scheme was turquoise with ash pale wood floors and white accents. Charlotte had to admit the colour scheme gave the place an elegant Scandinavian feel.
Melody had used her share of the inheritance from their parents to open the restaurant and Charlotte had invested her portion in stocks and bonds. She earned good money and hadn’t really needed the inheritance, but it felt good to have a financial cushion in the background just in case. The fact that the inheritance had enabled Melody to achieve her dream made Charlotte happy. Their parents would have been proud too, she was sure.
A knock on the door led the girls back to the front of the restaurant. It was the vegetable man. His arms were full of fresh produce in a box and a bag that teetered on top of the box on the edge of falling over.
Melody hurriedly opened the door, managed to snatch the bag off the heap just before it fell and said “Come on in Frank. I hope you didn’t forget the mushrooms?”
“No Melody they are right here,” he smiled, “portobellini, shitake and brown as requested.” The vegetable man noticed Charlotte then and his eyebrows raised a fraction. He gave her a sweeping look taking her in from her tightly bound hair and smart skirt suit to the high heels and stockings.
“And who is this vision of loveliness dear Melody?” he asked as he put the heavy box down on the bar counter.
Melody laughed “oh Frank, you are wasting your charms on her. This is my sister Charlotte. She is a big city lawyer, here to help me with opening night tonight.”
He stuck out a callused hand “How do you do miss?” He asked in a soft drawl. Charlotte shook his hand and it was dwarfed by his big callused one.
She answered a trifle breathlessly “I am fine thanks.” She looked him up and down and was impressed despite herself, he was rugged and manly and the complete opposite of the smooth lawyer types she normally hung out with.
He turned, picked up the box and said “Melody where do you want these.”
She replied “in the kitchen please Frank, I really need to get started on the prep for tonight.” He followed her into the kitchen and set the box on top of one of the steel counters.
“Where is Kyle?” he asked.
Melody glanced at her watch, “He should be here any minute” Kyle was her chef and she had been lucky to get him, even though he could be the most irritating stubborn man at times!
Just then they heard the rumble of a motorcycle, “Speak of the devil” she laughed and went to open the back door to let him in. His red Honda fireblade gleamed in the sun and he looked mysterious and dangerous in his leathers and helmet.
He climbed off the bike, took off his helmet and strolled towards her in that cocky arrogant way he had, “Miss me?” he said.
Melody looked at her watch and with a pretend snarl said “You’re late.”
He looked at his diver’s watch with its fancy dials for measuring water depth etc and said “No I’m not. Have the vegetables arrived yet?” he followed her back into the restaurant kitchen removing his biker jacket as he did so.
“Yes, they have, actually just arrived” replied Melody.
With a cocky grin he said “see I told you I’m not late, just in time, as always.” Melody ground her teeth, his cockiness really got under skin at times. But then she would look into those laughing blue eyes and see the way his unruly hair flopped on to his forehead and she would melt like chocolate in the sun.
Dam the man! She thought but said “By the way, my sister Charlotte is here.” She felt a little uneasy at this since Charlotte was beautiful elegant and sophisticated, everything she was not.
“Oh, interesting, let’s meet her then.” He said and put on his chefs jacket and bandana, his unruly hair now under control he looked more professional and unreachable. Melody led the way from the kitchen to where Charlotte was standing still chatting animatedly to Frank. Melody was taken aback a bit by her sister’s behaviour; she was batting her eyelashes and flicking her hair at the vegetable man of all people. Well I never! She thought and suddenly wasn’t so worried about introducing Kyle after all.
They walked around the bar counter and Kyle said politely, “You must be Charlotte, nice of you to come.” His handshake was cool and professional,” I am Kyle the head chef, I’m sure Melody has told you all about me,” with a cocky grin.
Charlotte put a pin prick in his ego, “Actually no. She hasn’t mentioned you at all. I am pleased to meet you.”
Frank looked at his watch, “Ok, I have to go, got deliveries wilting in my truck.”
He gave Melody a quick hug and said “Don’t stress too much Melody, tonight will go fine.”
Charlotte turned to grin at her sister, “Of course it will, what could possibly go wrong?”
Melody slapped a hand to her forehead “oh no Charlotte you did not just say that! Now anything that can go wrong will go wrong you’ve jinxed us.” She exclaimed.
Kyle patted her arm gently and said soothingly “Calm down Melody, nothing will happen that we can’t handle. Relax.”
Frank left with a last smile at Charlotte and a wink for Melody.
Melody turned to her sister and said, let me just give you keys for the house and you can go relax a bit till the opening later. Kyle and I have a lot of prep to do now.” She dug around under the counter and pulled out a handbag big enough to hold the kitchen sink and a few other things besides. It took her a minute before she triumphantly produced her keys.
She gave them to Charlotte, “I will see you later. I have to come home at five to get all dolled up for the opening,” she said with a grimace. Melody was a jeans and t shirt girl by nature; she hated wearing make-up and heels and only did so when absolutely necessary.
Charlotte laughed at her “Sis, it’s not torture to dress up you know.”
“So you say because you are used to it,” Melody said as she opened the door to let Charlotte out.
“Don’t stress, I will help you with your hair and make-up, you will look fine tonight, don’t worry”
Melody’s hair was long to the small of her back and curly, blonde streaked with brown and untameable most of the time, “Good luck with that” she giggled as her sister climbed into her rental car.
“I brought the heavy duty hair spray,” Charlotte teased as she drove away.
Melody took a deep breath and headed back inside to start the food prep. She entered the kitchen and put on her chef’s coat wrangled her mop of hair under her Bandana and washed her hands. She was pleased to see that Kyle had already started on the vegetables. They worked in contented efficient silence and it felt good. The one thing they did well was cook together.
By 430 the food prep was done and after giving the restaurant one more quick check that everything was perfect Melody left to go home and get prettied up for the opening at six.
Kyle stayed behind to let the staff in as they arrived and make sure everything was ready. Melody drove the short distance to her house thankful that Kyle was there in her absence. He might irritate her to her toes sometimes but she trusted him with the restaurant, he had almost as much riding on success tonight as she did.
She arrived home, pulled into her drive way and just sat for a few minutes catching her breath and calming herself down, it will be fine she repeated like a mantra. She got out the car, and stepped into the cool of the house. The wood panelling, comfortable antique furniture and pictures everywhere of them as children made the house a home and a haven, she always felt calmer here. She loved her house and, she had no intention of moving, ever. In fact secretly she hoped one day to raise a bunch of her own children there.
Fortunately Charlotte was fine with that, she liked her big city life and didn’t want the house. She was content to let Melody keep it and she did visit when she could. It was home to her too in its own way.
“Charlotte, I’m home” Melody shouted up the stairs.
“Coming,” replied Charlotte.
Two hours later a ravishing woman in a sexy black dress and sparkling silver high heels walked down the stairs. Charlotte had performed a miracle and turned her sister into a model.
As they got ready to leave Charlotte grinned, “you look drop dead gorgeous girl.”
Melody giggled nervously and smoothed down the front of her dress, “I feel all exposed Charlotte; you know I don’t normally wear such short dresses.”
“Yes I know and it’s a sin to hide those sexy legs in jeans all the time. Let’s go before you change your mind.”
Charlotte looked lovely too in an emerald green silk sheath dress that brought out the green in her eyes. Melody had the fair blonde hair blue eyed looks of their mother but Charlotte took after their Irish father with black hair, pale skin and emerald green eyes. People were often surprised when they found out she and Melody were sisters, they were polar opposites in everything from looks to personality. However they balanced one another and loved each other dearly.
The two girls had decided to take just one car and Charlotte drove the few blocks to the restaurant chattering away about Frank and how handsome he was. Her aim being to distract Melody and it worked. Melody couldn’t believe her sister was attracted to an earthy man like Frank.