Earthquakes and Chills

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Chapter 6

I watched Nico disappear into the kitchens thinking that I was right behind him, and ended up walking back over to the office. I pulled out some silverware and put the meal on the desk within reach, so it was easy for him whenever he was ready. Then I quickly went and just sat down at my desk.

I hadn’t asked Nolan about my paycheck and felt weird about lunchtime. Sometimes I would try to sneak across the street to make something really quickly, but today we were booked in the afternoon and the evening. I was fielding many calls because it was almost Halloween, and Nolan had a lot of events he was booking for October.

Pretending not to hear my stomach growl, I turned over to my computer and started going over some of our bookings. Nolan’s big Halloween idea was a collaboration with this huge DJ called NightPalace.

The big plan was that they would block off the street in front of the club and have a block party. Most of our tickets had already sold out, and it was looking like it would be something people were going to talk about for a while.

I could see Nolan was stressed by the idea because he also had many things he was planning for in December. Nolan never did the same thing twice, and he was always trying to figure out bigger and better ideas.

“Hey,” Nico said, sliding a plate in front of me, “you left without any lunch.”

“Nico… I…”

“Don’t say no. You don’t look like you’ve taken a break, and you definitely don’t look like you’ve eaten. This is one of my new creations, so you have to try it,” Nico said as he pulled up a chair and sat on the other side of my desk.

“Are you going to sit there and watch me eat this?” I asked, laughing.

“No, I’ll share it with you. I’m excited to try this as well,” Nico smiled.

I looked down at the lamb shank in front of me. It was definitely a huge meal that I was grateful I could share. I looked at it before I touched it.

“Did you curry the potatoes?” I asked before touching them.

“How did you…” he began.

“It’s hard to miss their color and their wonderful smell,” I smiled. “But the gravy, that’s definitely what I’m interested in. I wonder,” I said out loud to myself as I tried it.

The sauce was well balanced with a definite red wine and tomato base. I scooped a little of the mashed potatoes with the sauce, and it was great but missing something. The whole dish just felt too complex.

“What? What’s that face? Explain this,” Nico said, irritated with me.

“Hold on, I think I need to try the lamb.”

I had never had such a fantastic piece of lamb. It was beautiful. Especially with the potatoes... it was amazing. With the sauce, it was great. It was the potatoes and the sauce where there was something off.

“What if you didn’t add the wine in the sauce. What if you made it a sweet paste?” I suggested.

He was silent but thoughtful. He put some potatoes on his spoon and dipped it in the sauce, and he opened his eyes at me.

“That’s actually not a bad idea to try.”

“Just something simple, tomatoes, bell peppers… maybe you can even add a slight spiciness to the sweetness,” I added.

“Nolan didn’t tell me that you cooked,” he said loudly as he suspiciously eyed Nolan as he was walking over.

“Hey Nico, it’s rare that I see you out of the kitchen. Is this something new?” Nolan asked.

“Yes. I brought it over personally at Leo’s suggestion. He advised me to let Zoey try this. It turns out that it was good advice,” Nico said, winking at me.

“Are you going to add it to the menu tonight?”

“No, not yet. Zoey suggested a past that I’m going to try to make instead of this sauce. I’m eager to see how it’ll taste,” Nico said

“That reminds me, Zoey, I need you to pick up some of the Halloween permits from the lawyers,” he said, placing some keys in front of me, “I need to check them ASAP.”

“I guess we’ll have to raincheck,” I smiled. “Thank you for letting me try a bit of your new creation.”

I grabbed my phone and headed across the street to the garage. I was a little confused why Nolan just hadn’t told me earlier about the permits. I would’ve done the first thing in the morning had he told me.

I looked at my phone quickly and saw that not only was my message box full, but I had over 200 texts that I hadn’t read. So I deleted my voicemail without listening to a single message. In case Nolan needed to call, I wanted to make sure that he could leave a message.

Nolan never called, he only texted, but I was beginning to realize that I would need another phone. Besides which, my mother paid for this one, so I didn’t know how long she would allow me to have it for.

By the time I got back from Beverly Hills, it was already late. The whole office had left, and it was just Nolan and me. I slid the envelope on his desk and massaged the kinks in my neck.

I checked my email and saw a message Nikki had sent to the girls calling for a girl’s night tomorrow to celebrate me surviving my first week on Sunday. It was sweet, and I smiled at her thoughtfulness.

“Why are you smiling?” I heard from Nolan’s office.

“I’m just imagining multiple ways of poisoning you if you have us stay here much longer,” I said, throwing him an evil smile.

“You are more than welcome to leave early,” he said.

“Or you could just let me help you with what you’re working on,” I quipped.

“I’m almost done. It’s just marketing approvals. Jan sent them to me earlier, but I didn’t get back to her,” he said.

“What? You want to have a movie night? Sure. I mean, I didn’t plan anything, but it’s Friday night, so why not?” I said to him, pretending to be continuing a conversation that we never had.

“Wait. You want to have a movie night?” He asked.

“No, you just said you wanted to. So, what kind of movie were you thinking?” I asked as I walked over and leaned against his door frame.

“Fine. If you cook, I’ll watch anything but a chick flick,” Nolan smiled.

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