☠ Chapter One ☠
➳ ARIELLE'S POV
"And of course adding a miniature mint leaf on top not only adds colour, but also adds a small kick of flavour to the recipe," Chef Wilson says as his large meaty fingers delicately place a mint leaf on top of the dish.
I try my best to replicate exactly what he's done on his plate. It looks similar, but of course he's been cooking for over 25 years, I've been enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu for seven months. This plate of crunchy vanilla-almond French toast sits before me. The chef even had us make a simple fruit topping, and fry up some, what he called 'sweet-n-smoky bacon.' I had to admit, it smelled absolutely delicious.
Chef Wilson walks up and down the aisles, eyeing up everyone's dishes. He occasionally scratches at his tattered brown beard – a habit we've all grown used to. He's murmuring compliments to many of the other student chefs, and the occasional criticism. He begins slowly making his way down my aisle, and I can suddenly feel my heart in my throat.
Chef Wilson's opinion means the world to me . . . this college means the world to me. I've always wanted to be a chef. I can remember being told stories about how when I was nine years old, I was trying to cook my own grilled cheese, and when I succeeded I had to try it again. Of course when I tried it again, I had to add my own touch. My family usually found me in the kitchen adding tomatoes, onions, jalapeño peppers, bacon, pickles, and even ham – anything to give it that kick of flavour. That's when I realized that this is what I was meant to do. And so when I graduated high school, I immediately enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu, right here in Miami.
Chef Wilson stood before me, glaring down at my plate, "beautifully executed, Arielle. Wonderful job," he mumbles to me. He’s always nice to me, maybe a little too nice.
"Thank you Chef," I respond. I can swear he smiles at me before walking towards the next plate.
After Chef Wilson is done viewing everyone's dishes, he gives us the go ahead to eat what we've spent all class cooking. It was great, of course – everything he has us cook is really quite delicious, but that's only if you cook it correctly.
Eventually he dismisses us, and we're done for the day. I clean up my station, wash my dishes, and hang my apron up in its usual place within the classroom.
"Have a great weekend, Arielle," Chef Wilson calls after me, just as I'm exiting the room.
"You as well," I answer before heading out the doors and across the street to the dormitory.
I walk into the large building and up to the third floor where my room is situated. When I open the door, Zoe is splayed out on the bed. "Hey," I say as I close the door behind me.
"Hey, how was class?" Her wavy brown hair moves into her eyes when she looks up at me, and so she uses a perfectly manicured hand to push it away.
"It was good. We made vanilla-almond French toast," I throw my bag onto my bed on the one side of the tiny room.
"And you didn't bring any back for me," she pouts her bottom lip and sighs over dramatically before she begins laughing, "did Chef Wilson hit on you today?" Zoe raises an eyebrow in my direction.
"He never hits on me Zoe," I say all too unconvincingly.
"Psh," she spits, "he's like what? Twenty years your senior?"
“He's probably 40 . . . ish.” I stand awkwardly in front of her. “Come on, don’t start with me, he’s just really nice.”
"Have you ever listened to what he says to you?" Zoe lifts her body to sit upright on the bed, "how wonderful Arielle! Splendid! Such sexy food!" She does her best impression of him and I can't help but laugh out loud at the failed attempt.
"Sexy food?" I question. He definitely has never called my food sexy. She’s just making shit up now.
"Don't you remember that Ari?" She stuffs a handful of pretzels into her mouth.
"He never said that," I'm talking as I'm taking off my shoes. I shake my head furiously. I know that he’s never said that.
"It was that day when you made that fancy fish. What kind of fish is sexy?" She’s talking with her mouth full of pretzels.
I yell from the bathroom as I'm slipping my sweats onto my legs, "you can't be serious! You honestly believe you heard him call my fish sexy?" I feel everything within me relax as I slip on a comfortable t-shirt and the sweats.
"Hey, at least you weren't cooking cat." I hear a loud snap as she bites down on a pretzel. I peek my head around the corner of the bathroom. She looks down at the ground as she raises her eyebrows and her eyes go wide.
"What?" I ask obliviously. I roll my eyes, knowing that something perverted is about to fall from her lips. I step back into the washroom, trying to avoid her gaze.
"Well because then your pussy would've been sexy," she tries her best to hold back a laugh as she stares at me.
I literally choke on the water I just drank and I spit it everywhere on the mirror in front of me, "oh, my god!" I yell out, "you're disgusting! That’s disgusting Zoe! Totally not funny! Gross!” I over exaggerate my disgust, although I had to admit it was a little funny.
"Hey, why do you think I've been single since I've been here?" When I look around the corner of the bathroom and into the bedroom again she's sitting cross-legged on her bed, chewing mindlessly on another pretzel while reading the latest issue of Cosmopolitan. Well, she's probably just skimming through it, she doesn't have the patience whatsoever to actually sit down and read the entire magazine.
When I'm done brushing my teeth I wipe down the mirror and shut off the light to head into the room again. "I'm glad I decided to go in for that extra night course tonight, but it'll be nice to not have to go in so late ever again.” I say to Zoe. “So happy this shit counts as extra credit so I can graduate earlier.”
She looks up from her magazine, "I'm sure Wilson loves seeing you so late.”
"Oh my god! Can you stop fixating on him for one second? He's my teacher, nothing's ever going to happen – besides, like you said, he’s old . . . and just . . . gross,” I begin crawling into my bed.
Just as I'm about to pull the covers over my body I hear the undeniable sound of fast cars, too much liquor, drugs, and women screaming – a street race, great. It's not long before I hear the loud screeching of tires coming to a halt. I quickly stand from my bed and look out our little window which looks over the street behind the college.
There's a small crowd that had amassed down near the sidewalk. My curiosity gets the best of me and before I realize it, I'm tying my robe around my waist and covering my feet with my little slippers. "I'm gonna go check it out," I say to Zoe and point to the window.
"I'll come with," she answers and within two strides she's already out our door.
I grab our key and follow behind her. We take the steps down two at a time, wanting to see what all the commotion is about.
When we step outside, the warm Miami air hits my skin and I feel myself already missing the incredible feeling of air conditioning. The humidity's already making my hair frizz and we've been standing out here for under a minute. It’s a beautiful night though, and I find myself wishing I’d spent it outside, rather than inside a hot, cramped room cooking.
Zoe barges into the large crowd with a purpose, "so what're we all staring at?" She asks the entire crowd without hesitation. They all turn and stare at her.
"We were just watching the racers," some guy answers.
"That's it? No accidents? Deaths? Cops?" Zoe’s pushing her way through people until she reaches the front of the crowd. I follow behind quietly.
"No, someone's calling the cops now,” a girl says and points at this other girl who's talking on the phone. I watch the girl take a few steps away from the crowd so she can hear better.
"Oh," is all Zoe answers.
I stare at the cars before me, just like everyone else. I take a step forward and stand beside Zoe.
"Well hey there love, I've never seen you before," this man approaches me and I'd be intimidated if his voice wasn't so soft and sweet, "if you were a car, we'd definitely be running up the mileage together," he tries his best at seducing me, but I can't help but laugh.
I can hear Zoe cracking up beside me just as much, and then the pickup line guy uncomfortably laughs in front of us, but I can't see anything out of the tears that have formed in my eyes. "Oh, god that's the worst pick up line I've ever heard!" I say to him. I frantically wipe at the tears in my eyes.
"Does it mean I get your number? Y'know, A for effort?" He smiles and I can't help but think he's adorable – but that's it, he's adorable . . . in a horrible he-reminds-me-of-my-little-brother kind of way. Cheesy pick up line guy stands before Zoe and I and shifts out of nervous habit, I guess.
"I don't think so," I respond. I take the time to look around at the racers. Is this guy a racer? I mean, he's standing in front of a car, but it's not exactly jacked up or anything – not that I know much about cars. I notice two cars that are a little more jacked up. Two guys stand between the cars, a very muscular guy in a very tight muscle shirt. And then there's a guy wearing a beanie, and a white muscle shirt, and his arms are stained black with ink.
I watch the muscle shirt guy hand the other man something and then he gets in his car and drives off. The tattooed boy is left standing there, until a scantily clad woman steps up to him. She begins shamefully flirting with him.
"How about this?" Cheesy pick up line guy takes a step forward, blocking my view of the two men I was gawking at just a second ago. "Since gas prices are so high, I reckon we should carpool and go to dinner . . . together." His lips curl into a wicked smile. He breaks his gaze from me and it falls on Zoe.
"Mm, I don't think so," I respond. Before he can speak and say another stupid pick up line, police sirens are suddenly heard in the distance. I turn and begin walking back into the dorm before someone grabs my arm.
"But I don't even know your name," cheesy pick up line guy is lightly gripping my arm.
"It's going to stay that way," I respond and he stares at me for a second before turning and running away before the police arrive.
"This isn't over!" He yells over his shoulder. He turns and winks at me before getting into his car and speeding off into the distance.
My eyes quickly scan the road as the police begin to arrive.
The last thing my eyes catch is a red Nissan Skyline speeding off into the distance with several police cars barrelling after it.
jessica lowndes plays arielle :)
the stunning jessica stroup plays zoe!
oh, and jude law (with a scruffy beard) plays chef wilson!