An hour later—showered and feeling fresher than she’d felt in days—she lay on her bed and stared at the ceiling. Well, actually, she couldn’t see the ceiling. Her eyes rested on the canopy above her bed.
There was a time she’d dreamed of having a bed like this. Felt envy—green eyed jealousy—for the girls in her class that had bedrooms all to themselves. Bedrooms with sweet smelling sheets edged in white lace. Canopy beds and frilly curtains. Fathers that tucked them in at night and mothers that woke them in the morning with a call to breakfast.
Actually, this bed, this room, was far more than anything she’d ever wished for. This room could have graced the pages of a magazine. She snorted. This room—this house—probably did grace the pages of a magazine!
She gazed around her, taking in the shades of gold and purple. Very regal. Not too feminine; not too masculine.
No white lace here. The canopy over her head, and the drapes falling from the four posters were a heavy satin damask stripe. In rich gold.
She was so out of her element.
This place was a galaxy away from the 1960’s mobile home where she’d grown up. A rickety old trailer. Twelve feet wide with fading white paint and peeling green trim.
Her stomach growled, reminding her her last meal had been courtesy of VIA Rail, and breakfast on a train left a lot to be desired. She hated eating assembly line food. It was just so—wrong. Meals should be created with style and flair. The proper ingredients deserved attention and detail.
Oh, well. C’est la vie.
She rolled off the bed and looked at the fresh clothes she’d laid out on a chair.
She’d packed up her car four days ago, and she’d spread the twelve hour drive from Edmonton to Winnipeg across the next two days. In Winnipeg, a friend of a friend of a friend who was a collector gave her top dollar for her old Austin Mini. From there, she’d hopped the midnight train to Toronto. That was more than thirty-six hours ago.
Before leaving Winnipeg she’d mailed the rest of her belongings to her sister’s address. Thankfully, they would arrive tomorrow. She needed different clothes. For some reason she was uncomfortable in her “this is who I am, take it or leave it” clothes.
She always found it interesting. People were so quick to judge you because of the clothes you wore.
It was also of interest that Richie Rich would trust her with his little sister, despite the fact she’d looked like a thrift shop reject.
Oh well, she wasn’t about to look this gift horse in the mouth.
She dressed in the most respectable clothes she had and headed out of her lair.
Jonathan—she wondered if she could get away with calling him Jonny just to bug him—had given her a room in the east wing. Yikes. This was going to take some getting used to.
Her stomach launched another rumbling demand for food, but she didn’t know what to do. Raiding the kitchen didn’t feel right, neither did leaving the house without letting anyone know what she was doing.
She’d need to find out the proper etiquette for being a live-in employee.
Since she didn’t see anyone, and wasn’t going to resort to snooping, she ran back to her room. Rooting through her bag, she found a pad of Post-it Notes and a pen.
After jotting down a quick message, she headed for the front door. She left her magenta—no blah yellow for her—note stuck to the inside of the door and then headed out.
Jonathan hadn’t given her keys to the Beemer yet, but she wouldn’t have felt right about taking it anyway. Her legs worked just fine, and she could use public transit for now.
She hadn’t been in Toronto for a few years, but she knew exactly where she was going.
She loved T.O.— for Toronto, Ontario, one of names Canadian’s had for the city. Or just Trawna, as nearly every born and bred Torontonian pronounced it. Recognized as one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world, you couldn’t walk two steps without being exposed to different races and cultures.
And their food.
For a foodie like her, this was paradise. Of course, it also meant lots of competition for someone like her. Someone wanting to get into the business of food.
Right now, she craved good, authentic, Indian food.
And she didn’t plan to eat alone.
Cell phone in hand, she called an old friend. “Charlie! It’s M. I finally made it here.”
“M! Girlfriend, it’s good to hear your voice. Where ya at?”
“I’m just about to hop on the subway. Can you meet me at Himalayas? It’s a little early for the supper crowd, so we should be able to get a table.”
“I’ll see you there.”
“Okay. I’ll order for us. Bye.”
Twenty minutes later, she watched Charlie walk toward her. They’d worked together last time she lived in Toronto. Forged a bond while working in the kitchen’s of Gericho’s, an upscale restaurant in the heart of the city. The fact that they both had issues with their parents had just made them more sympathetic toward each other.
He hadn’t changed a bit. And just by looking at him, she knew he was in one of his “bite me” phases. He had a unique way of dealing with his parents when they pressured him to become the staid doctor, lawyer type they’d expected him to be.
She was tempted to put her sunglasses back on, but instead squinted her eyes against his red leather pants and yellow t-shirt. Make that a spandex yellow t-shirt.
Huh, and yellow wasn’t supposed to work with his complexion.
He grinned down at her. “Hi, hi, sweetie pie! Stand up and give Charlie Chan a proper hug.”
M returned his gesture of affection. As she absorbed the spicy scent of his cologne and the exuberance of his spirit, she realized how much she’d missed him. Missed the unabashed joy of being with a true friend.
Being something of a hobo was tough on friendships. Tough on relationships period.
They sat down.
“So, tell me what’s up. You were pretty obscure when you called to tell me you were on your way to Toronto.”
She moved her glass of water over an inch. Took her finger and twirled her fork in a three-sixty on the tablecloth. “I want to start my own business here.”
Charlie’s brows inched toward a crown of glossy, raven black hair. “Cool. What kind of business?”
“Well. I’d love to start my own restaurant…”
He laughed, then looked over his shoulder. “Sweetie, did you rob a bank? Do I need to be on the lookout for the cops?”
M stuck her tongue out. “Oh, har har. If you’d let me finish, I was about to say that I’d love to open my own restaurant, but there’s probably more work to that them I’m aware of. So, if not that, I was thinking of getting into catering. I’m tired of working for other people. For prima donna chefs. Just because I never went to some hoity toity culinary school, doesn’t mean I don’t know what I’m doing.”
“Huh. I hear ya, sweetie. I did go to one of those hoity toity culinary schools, and I still get treated like I don’t know what I’m doing.”
Their food arrived.
She closed her eyes and inhaled. Ah, yes. She could smell the curry—the coriander.
She opened her eyes and reached for a slice of puri bread. Tore off a piece and dipped it in her channa masala. She popped it in her mouth and the cumin burst across her taste buds.
M swallowed, then looked at her plate and sighed.
Charlie laughed, and she looked up at him. “What?”
“You’re still hung up on the way it looks, aren’t you?”
“Well, yeah. You know I think good food should appeal to more than the taste buds. It should appeal to all of your senses except your hearing. Even the texture is important. But this…” She pointed to her plate. “How can something that looks so unappealing be so good?”
He dropped the persona he occasionally cloaked himself with, suddenly serious. “M, how many times have I told you sometimes there’s an exception to the rule? Everything isn’t always black and white. The fact that you love Indian food, yet it doesn’t appeal to your eyes, is just one example of that. One day your deeply ingrained perception of things is going to get you in trouble. You’re going to paint yourself into a corner you can’t get out of.”
She curled her nose. This was an old debate. Time to change the subject.
“You know how I told you I was going to live with my sister for a while? Well, I went to her house this morning, and found out… found out she’s dead.”
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