I emailed Nico to give him the news, and he was about Nolan’s reaction, and he was overjoyed. I suddenly realized that I doubled my workload, and for all of this to be successful, I would have to spend as much time as I could with Nico.
I went to the restaurant for lunch. Thankfully Leo was willing to run up Nolan’s lunch, and I headed over to the kitchens.
“Have you thought over what you’re going to do for the competition?” I asked.
“Now that I made the calls, I’m getting a little overwhelmed at creating a menu. Nolan is getting someone to judge our street food…” he raked his hands through his hair, “I just don’t know. This was probably a bad idea.”
“I don’t know. Your food has been changing. What have you been thinking about?” I asked.
“My dad,” he said, smiling. “Growing up, my parents were so different. My Mom’s Italian and my Dad’s Indian. So there were a lot of fusion experiments in the kitchen, mainly from my Dad who would try to cook Italian but accidentally would always cook Indian.”
“What’s you Dad like?” I asked.
“Loud, funny, sarcastic… I mean, he has a lot of expectations. He’s sick, and it has been hard on my Mom. You know?”
I knew. My Dad had died when I was younger, and though I don’t remember much, Miles remembered everything. He remembered the hospital visits and saw the pain that my mother had gone through.
“So, why don’t you make something for him? Something that he and your Mom would love. A fusion?” I offered.
“You’re brilliant! I could just-” he embraced me.
“Yeah, it’s no big,” I smiled.
“So, tonight? Will you stay? Maybe workshop some ideas?” He asked.
“9?” Nico said, looking at the clock.
“I’ll see you here.”
The good thing about the food truck idea was that he didn’t really need many items. Nolan began ironing out the competition throughout the day and limited each restaurant to 3 dishes.
He was able to get ahold of Melina Trowel; she was a meal network host, and I was surprised she would even come down to something like this. But, then again it was probably intriguing, and that was what enticed her to host this.
“You ready to go?” Nolan asked as he leaned on my desk.
“Actually, I can’t. I still have some stuff I have to do,” I said quietly.
“Just leave it for tomorrow,” he said curiously.
“Why don’t you go ahead, and I’ll meet you later?” I suggested.
He looked like he was going to say something in protest but then raised his hands in surrender. He walked out but not before glancing back curiously to see what I was doing. I waited a few moments and grabbed some paperwork that I had to bring over to Nico.
I walked through the bass beating in The Underground to the clattering of dishes, sonorous conversation, and upbeat jazz. I found my way through to Fierce Thyme, muscled my way through the packed dining room and into the kitchen.
“Just on time,” Nico smiled.
“I brought you some paperwork you have to sign. Also, you only need to make three dishes.”
He took me to the office, where we started hashing out ideas. Samosas were easy, staple street food, and something that automatically was on the list. It was the other two that we were having a hard time brainstorming.
We resolved to take the week to come up with dishes that we would present to each other over the weekend. Then we would come together and work on the concept. I would still have to go by tomorrow to keep Nolan updated.
Mary, Nico’s sous-chef, came by to talk to Nico, but we roped her into all of the hubbub. She was also going to think of some concepts. She was excited to see what I would come up with.
By the time I got back to the loft, it was almost midnight. My feet were aching, and I could feel a dull pain in my lower back.
“Where were you?” Nolan said dangerously soft. He was watching tv in his shorts and apparently waiting this whole time for me to come back.
“I was with- you know what, it doesn’t matter where I’ve been. It none of your business, Dad,” I said, standing with arms akimbo.
“What do you mean it’s none of my business?” He said moving toward me, “You literally never answer your phone. Something could’ve happened!”
“But it didn’t. I’m here,” I said.
“Why do you always have to be so frustrating?” He asked as he pressed his lips to mine.
“Thanks,” I smiled, “goodnight!”
He caught me by my wrist and backed me up against the wall. He lifted my skirt and snickered as he slid a finger against me.
“Are you going to keep pretending like I don’t turn you on? I can feel how excited you are,” he said, whispering into my ear.
“Is this what you want?” I asked as I dropped to my knees.
I looked up at him, as I toyed with the band of his shorts and pressed my face against the material. He looked down at me and petted my hair. Slowly, I pressed my lips against his shorts and felt his hardness underneath.
“Okay, goodnight!” I smiled as I pushed myself up and ran to my room. I closed the door, locking it behind me.
“Zoey,” he said, knocking on the door, “open the door.”
“Sorry, I’m getting ready for bed. Don’t worry, I’ll see you in the morning.”
I stepped out of my clothes and closed my eyes. I could hear Nolan walking away only to hear him walk back again.
“What in the-” I began to say.
“It is morning,” Nolan said as he managed to open the door.
“Nolan, we have work tomorrow,” I said, “it’s late.”
“Fine, you don’t have to work tomorrow.”
“I do have to work tomorrow, stop being ridiculous. Come on now,” I said, “time for sleep.”
“Okay, move over,” he said as he entered the bed.
“I sleep alone,” I said, beginning to get frustrated.
“Then don’t sleep.”