Graciously Yours

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Chapter 3

“You have to come with me, please, pwease, puwease,” Anna, my best friend, whined over the phone.

I love my best friend so much but right now she seems like an enemy to me, trying to murder my beauty sleep.

“Are you kidding me? I don’t know the first thing about cooking. Plus, I got in late last night,” I said groggily and glanced at my table clock, “and It’s freaking 7 in the morning,” I almost screamed in desperation.

“You don’t love me anymore, do you?” she sniffled dramatically.

“Don’t go there,” I groaned at her antics.

“Aww come on,” her voice came back to normal, I guess she realised I wasn’t gonna fall for her damsel in distress act, “You know this competition is so important to me. The famous chef Wren Hudson is gonna be the judge,” she reasoned out.

“You really know how to manipulate me, yeah?” I sighed defeatedly.

“Yay, I love you too,” she chimed happily, “Be ready in 30. I’ll be at your place by then,” she sang and hung up before I could shout at her.

How the freaky hell am I supposed to be ready in thirty minutes?

I sluggishly started getting ready, in between, looking longingly at my bed. RIP my poor sleep, I’ll meet you soon again.

I barely finished combing my hair when I heard Anna’s car honking. She’s never on time but look at her today.

“Seriously!” I shouted at her through my window giving her an incredulous look.

“Hurry up! I have breakfast,” she shouted back.

My stomach grumbled at the word breakfast and my mood improved a little seeing I’ll be having Anna’s special treat. I skipped down after gathering my things in a small bag.

“Seriously, Girl you should’ve tried dressing up,” Anna commented, as soon as she saw me, giving my simple t-shirt and jeans a once over.

“Like having thirty minutes is more than enough for a girl to dress up,” I retorted sarcastically. That shut her up and we settled in her car while she grumbled about my dressing sense.

“Where is it?” I demanded, to which she grabbed a brown package from the backseat. She handed it to me before igniting the engine and driving off.

I took in the heavenly aroma of waffles and coffee. I would’ve hugged her tightly if she wasn’t driving.

“I won’t kill you for today,” I declared after finishing those heaven worthy waffles while sipping my coffee.

I got comfortable after filling my stomach, even coffee didn’t help me to stay awake and before I knew it I was dozing off.

Unbelievingly, I dreamt of an ice cream chasing me down a dark street who somehow sounded suspiciously like a dog. I was saved by a certain knight who looked a lot like cheese. Strange.

*-*-*-*-*-*-*

“Hey, Grace! Wake up!” I heard Anna, pushing my shoulders back and forth.

I rubbed my eyes and looked around, “Where are we?” I asked her.

“To heaven,” she replied sarcastically.

“Very well then, let me sleep,” I said and closed my eyes again. I heard her groan and chuckled.

“You started it,” I said childishly when she glared at me.

“We’ll be reaching there soon, I am a nervous wreck and you are sleeping,” she complained, making me feel bad instantly.

Anna and I have been friends since middle school. She was that nerdy transfer student, who was lost in the surrounding trying to fit in. One day when my friends ditched me at school. I saw Anna was sitting alone in the cafeteria which I later discovered was because her friends had ditched her too. We ended up having lunch together and later ended up sitting besides each other during classes. And the rest is well history.

“I am sorry, I am sorry, I just came home late last night and am just freaking sleepy,” I explained but she only scowled at me, “Your highness, do you need my help in anything?” I bowed dramatically, it was meant to be sarcastic but still I wanted to help her.

“I need to win this competition. Just imagine winning a competition who has Wren Hudson as the judge. My career will be accelerated at a pace you can’t imagine. Also, the prize includes a month training under him,” she said dreamily.

“Okay, okay. I get it. It’s important,” I said, now fully awake.

“It’s damn important,” she chided.

After that I earned her infamous scowl that dared me to fall asleep again.

Of course I slept again. What can I say, I can’t resist challenges but a whack on my head woke me up again.

“We are here!” I heard her nervous excited voice.

“Yay,” I said as unenthusiastically as I could.

I followed her out still sleepy as hell.

“I swear if you don’t wake up from your daze now, I’m gonna kill you with my butcher knife,” she threatened.

“I’m awake,” I said as I bumped into a hard wall and stumbled back, “Ouch!” My poor nose.

“Excuse me,” the wall spoke.

Are you dreaming, Grace? Walls don’t speak. My mind deadpanned.

I was still rubbing my nose when I heard Anna squealing,

“Oh my god!” She squealed, non-stop.

I looked up to where she was staring and my sleep vaporized like mist in the sun as soon as I found who she was dreamily staring at.

“You!” we said at the same time.

I couldn’t tell the color of his eyes last night, but now in broad daylight I could see his hazel eyes clearly. His five O clock shadow was now replaced with a clean shaven look.

He looks younger.

I liked that five O’ clock shadow better.

If I said I was surprised, it would be the understatement. I thought we might never cross paths again. I didn’t even know I was staring blatantly at him.

I cleared my throat to try to regain my composure.

“What are you doing here?” we said, again at the same time.

“Mr. Hudson,” Anna started, looking back and forth between us, confused. Wait, he’s Wren Hudson? Anna’s judge. So he’s a chef. So much for gender roles!

And he was amused at finding out I was a mechanic. Chauvinistic pig.

Is it wrong of me to hate people who comment on my work of choice?

“Hello, Mr. Hudson. I am a contestant here and this is my friend, Grace. She is here to support me,” Anna explained.

“Grace.” He said my name slowly as if testing it on his tongue and then his lips curled up in a breathtaking smile, “I totally forgot to ask your name last night, glad I found you again. Grace.” He did it again, saying my name slowly.

Like he couldn’t get enough of it.

What the freaking hell are you saying? Or rather concluding.

I thought I saw his flirting last night but now he’s on another level. I peeked at Anna. She looked like a fish, who kept opening and closing her mouth unable to say anything, trying to find a hint somewhere.

“I am Wren. Sorry for the late intro,” he chuckled and offered his hand for a handshake, I took it and gave a firm shake. My businesswoman mode instantly on.

“Nice to meet you, Mr. Hudson. I hope your Jeep isn’t giving you any trouble now?” I asked because that’s the first thing that came on my mind apart from his eyes.

He opened his mouth, maybe to retort or curse I won’t know because someone called his name.

“I would love to talk about my jeep’s well being but that seems urgent,” he smiled apologetically, “Excuse me ladies,” he took his leave.

My eyes followed his every move, and got stuck on his fine looking ass as I imagined squeezing it.

“That ass is something,” Anna mumbled. Crap, I’m not the only one staring at his dreamy ass.

Unwantedly a pang of jealousy shot through my chest.

The heck, why would I be jealous? It’s not like I own him.

Now I felt disappointed. Dang my hormones and mood swings.

“Eww Anna,” despite my words I giggled.

It looked like Anna collected her scattered brain because she started firing questions.

“Last night?” she asked totally misinterpreting Wren’s conversation, “What the hell happened between both of you? Is that why you were so tired? Because he worn you out? Why didn’t you tell me? I want all the juicy details. You had that fine piece of ass-” before her comment reached X-rated level, I stopped her.

“I fixed his vehicle last night. That’s what he was talking about, not some hot night sexcapde,” I commented dryly. Why the hell do I sound disappointed?

You’ve lost it, Grace.

I tried to give a short recap of last night’s event to Anna, because she kept on throttling me and even threatened me to never let me have her food again. That scared me shitless and I narrated everything.

“I think he’s smitten with you,” she said thoughtfully, making me snort.

“If I remember correctly, you said before, how Wren Hudson is a big player right? To him it was all just flirting. A way to kill his time, I guess,” I shrugged nonchalantly but inside something kept squeezing my heart.

Do I have indigestion?

“I don’t know. Look it’s time for me to go, they are calling all contestants. Fuck I am getting nervous now,” she said biting her lips.

“Hey, you are an amazing cook, you’ll be ok, I am sure no one is any match of you,”

“Really?”

“Yep.”

“If I didn’t win today, I’ll kill you,” she said jokingly then she hugged me and left.

I don’t understand why she’s so worried, she’s in top of her class. If she doesn’t win, it’s safe to say that those judges will need to learn some judging.

Judging reminds me of a certain judge, more of a handsome hunk. He certainly looked dashing dressed in formal clothes. Maybe it’s normal for me to be disappointed. Or not.

Who are you kidding? You’re obviously attracted to him. My mind chided.

Shut up.

*-*-*-*-*

All of the visitors got called and gathered in the hall where the contest will take place. I found a seat in the middle of the hall. An announcer came and started calling all the judges. My eyes instantly found Wren as he made his way to the judge’s seat.

He looked so serious, sitting there looking over contestants. His last night’s flirty and easy going demeanour nowhere to be seen. Is he really the same guy or am I being delusional?

There’s a thing called being Professional, you know? Again, my mind butted in.

Oh. Right.

He looked like someone else. It was weird, I felt like I knew him but now looking at him sitting there he looks like a completely different person. It made me realise I don’t know anything about him.

Of course you met the guy only last night, my mind interrupted again.

Is there any way where I can slap my own mind?

I shook my head, trying to get rid of his thoughts plaguing my mind. I tried to focus on the contest instead of drooling over some guy.

I learned that contestants had three challenges, and on the first challenge they had to find at least seven spices from a dish given to them. I smiled, Anna is an expert on it. It will be a piece of cake for her.

She was the first one who completed the first challenge, like I said she’s an expert, she found more than seven spices used in the dish.

Anna passed the challenge, and there were only 5 contestants left for the second round. She passed the second one too where they had to make a dish from aloe vera.

I waited on the baited breath when they were announcing the winner, and me being stop breathing, wasn’t really about Wren was one who was announcing the winner at all.

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