A Phone Call between Jared Wyatt and Diane Meer:
Diane: Who is this?
Jared: It’s Jay.
Jared: I was wondering if you still had that book. The one I lent you for our Sociology class and never got back.
Diane: Uh, I have it. Do you need it?
Jared: Yes. When can I get it from you?
Diane: Well, it depends on when and where you want to get it. How about we schedule something next week?
Jared: How about this week? I’ll call you when later.
“So only Mediterranean meals throughout the party, Mrs. Sullivan? Or would you like to add some other flavors to your palate? I happened to learn a new recipe during my visit to my family in Asia last weekend. It’s very good.”
“Really? What ingredients does it have?”
Theo Rogers (the best chef in my business’ itinerary) pulled out his cookbook (the one he carried everywhere on his trips) and started to list down the ingredients to Mrs. Sullivan, our new client, the morning of our meeting. David and I met him while searching for a chef to work with us full time and we happened to stumble upon the small restaurant he ran with his parents. It was jam packed and noisy but the smell of the food was intoxicating and delicious. Theo was cooking and serving the food at the same time, and immediately we realized why the place was so busy. He was a shock to the eyes, being so handsome (or rather, pretty), that everyone (every girl except me) was only too busy to order more food and stare at him to eat.
We ordered the day’s special and after eating the meal, we knew that he would be the best man for the job. It was fortunate that he accepted our offer because then I would never have met one of the most interesting people in the whole of Seoul.
Theo shot me a quick smile as Mrs. Sullivan looked very interested in the pictures he had taken care of the meal he was suggesting. I smiled back, nodding at his good work and giving him a thumb’s up. I put in some thoughts as well, helping Mrs. Sullivan with her decision until finally, she gave us a nod and approving smile.
“I knew it was a good idea to hire your catering services. I am impressed with everything you’ve shown me so far,” she said, pushing her glasses closer to her face, “I’d like everything prepared on Friday before six o’clock.”
“Of course, ma’am. We’ll do our very best.” I replied, noting everything she said into my planner.
“Mother?” A very pretty girl in a blue sundress stood at the entrance of the café.
Mrs. Sullivan turned to look at the person who called her, and smiled. “Oh, Monica. You came. Late of course, but, at least, you’re here.” She turned to me. “Ms. Meer, Mr. Rogers, this is my daughter, Monica.”
Mrs. Sullivan looked at her watch and motioned her daughter to sit down. “I have to leave now, Ms. Meer. If you have any questions, you may direct them to my daughter. It’s her party after all.”
With that, she left and the very pretty girl turned to us and smiled. “Hello, I’m Monica Sullivan. It’s nice to meet you.”
Theo stood up to greet her, as I did as well and we bowed together in greeting. She had a kind face, I decided, studying the girl who’d just arrived. At the corner of my eye, I saw Theo’s eyes glaze over.
I rolled my eyes. Goodness, I thought, and swiftly kicked him in the shin. You’re married, remember! I snapped at him telepathically.
He started at the blow and glared at me. Yeah, I know. That hurt! His eyes seemed to say and I grinned in return. He was the older brother I wish I had.
“Have you already decided on the dishes?” she asked, taking the seat next to me and her mother. Her eyes scanned the list we had already come up with with interest. Nodding here and there, she looked up after a moment and smiled.
“I like everything on this list. I trust the food will be fantastic on the day of the party?”
Theo nodded. “Of course, I’d expect nothing less if I’m the one in charge.”
“And he is,” I quipped, grinning.
“Then I’m looking forward to it,” she replied, “Please make big portions for my plate, I’m afraid I tend to eat a lot when the food is delicious.”
I laughed at her notion. “I’m the same,” I said, feeling at ease. “Anything that Theo makes is delicious, I tend to eat too much at a time.”
“Well, I am pretty awesome in the kitchen.”
I rolled my eyes at him. “Yeah, only when he’s being modest of course.”
Theo shrugged. “Well, I have to leave as well. If there is anything you’d like me to add on the menu, please let Diane here know and I’ll do my best to make it happen.”
“I’m sorry about Theo. He’s pretty… confident of himself.” I said, watching his retreating form. Monica shook her head, still smiling.
“I think the confidence is a little endearing. He’s so pretty too.”
I burst out laughing. “Don’t let him hear you say that. He hates that he’s always mistaken for a girl.”
“Well, I’ll try not to tease him when we meet again on Friday then,” she replied.
“Alright then…. do you have anything you’d like to be added to the menu?” I asked, calming down and going back to business. Monica shrugged.
“Nothing, really. I’m satisfied with the list as it is.”
“Why don’t we hang out for a while?”
I stare at her for a moment. “Huh?”
She shrugged again. “I’ve been in Japan for almost two years now, and I haven’t got many friends here that I like. You seem to be a nice person so I was wondering if you’d like to be friends and hang out a while longer.”
“Oh, so you’ve been in Japan all this time?”
She nodded. “Yeah. Supposedly to study the business chapter of my father’s company there.” Monica gave me a look. “So, would it be okay to get to know each other as friends?”
“But if you’re busy, I understand completely.”
I shook my head. “No, I’m not busy at all. I’m actually going to meet two of my friends for shopping later. I think they’d like you if you come. Would you like to join us?”
Her eyes lit up and she nodded enthusiastically. “I’d love to!”
I grinned. “Then let’s go.”
“It’s official. You are one of us now!” Summer announced, hugging a surprised Monica to her happily. Yana laughed, shaking her head at our friend’s antics as she skipped after, swinging her shopping bags playfully.
“You have to excuse Summer, Monica. She’s a bit—much.” Yana said in a stage-whisper, earning a smack from Summer at the back of her head. Monica and I laughed as the two decided to chase each other on the street.
“My friends are helpless. I’m sorry about that.” I sat down at a lowly park bench, setting down the bags in my hand beside me and scooted to give Monica space to sit. She took it and shook her head, watching Summer and Yana pinch each other playfully.
“I don’t know about that, sister. I think they’re pretty cool for friends.”
I cringed. “Please don’t call me, sister. It sounds odd. Diane is okay.”
She nodded. “How long have you known them?”
“I’ve known Yana since I was in highschool, we were in the same class together. Summer and I had attended the same basketball clinic during University.” I replied, pulling my bags in one hand. “How about you? Where are your friends?”
“Oh well, actually my friends aren’t living in States anymore. My sister, Laura, married her boyfriend right after they graduated University and now they’re living in Canada. Tiffany and Jessica are interns at a British firm. And June is studying dance at Julliard.”
She sighed. “I’m the only one left here.”
“Because of your parents.”
“Yes, that and… well, yes, just that.”
I nodded, ignoring the part where she trailed off. “It must be hard.”
Monica shook her head. “It’s not. I actually enjoy learning about my father’s company. But sometimes I just wish I could be a normal twenty year old.” She looked at me. “How about you? You’re twenty-four now, right? And you have your own business.”
“I run it with my friend, David Sutter. Yana’s boyfriend.”
“Oh. How about you? Do you have a boyfriend?”
“She doesn’t want one!” we hear Summer shout from where she and Yana were playing. I threw a paper napkin at her which she dodged.
An image of an uneven smile flashes through my mind’s eye the moment I think about Monica’s question. Damn it.
I shook my head.
“No, I don’t.”
She’s surprised, I could tell by the way her eyes shot up suddenly. I sigh, thinking of a way to explain to her when Yana spoke. She and Summer were only playing a foot away and could hear everything we were talking about.
“Our Diane has been in love with only one guy for years now. But he broke her heart and now, she doesn’t believe in it anymore.”
“Thanks a lot, Yana.” I mutter under my breath and turn to Monica. “I just don’t have time for it, really. It’s all very complicated.”
Her brow furrowed. “Is it true, though? That you still love him?”
I shook my head (forcefully. I almost nodded). “It doesn’t matter now. How about you, Monica? Boyfriend?”
“I used to…” she trailed off. The light in her eyes grew dim for a moment. Then it came back on again, and she smiled slightly.
“I have a fiancé.”
I raised my eyebrow in surprise. “I thought the whole idea for the party is for you to be presented as eligible to society.”
Monica shrugged. “It’s only for formalities’ sake. My parents have already arranged a marriage for me.”
“You must hate that.”
She shook her head, a smile on her face. “Actually… I don’t. I really like him. He’s different…”
“Different is always a good thing. What is his name?”
The name that leaves her lips stops Summer and Yana from their playing and had my heart fall from underneath me.
“Jared. His name is Jared Wyatt.”
A Voicemail from Diane Meer to Jared Wyatt:
Hey, Wyatt, so there's been a change of plans. I’m going to give the book to David tomorrow morning and have him deliver it to you. I just don’t have the time to meet up right now. Sorry for the inconvenience.
[pause] Goodbye, Jared.