Food, Cats, and Being in Love

I don't want to think about it
I don't want to talk about it
When I kiss your lips
I want to sink down to the bottom
Of the sea


1. Chapter One

Prequel here:


One of my favorite things in the entire world was the sizzle of food in a hot pan. I loved the naked flames, the smooth pan, the little bits of oil that jumped around and the comforting scent that reached my nose the moment I dropped whatever ingredient onto the metal surface.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t a real chef. I only worked at a corner grill called Ennis’s Steak House. It was known all over town as Penis’s since it was owned by a man named Pete. The place was named after his late father. It was a joke amongst the locals. But if you wanted the best steak in town you still ate at Ennis’s. And I was usually the one who got to make that steak.

This particular one was my own special recipe. Pete decided that he wanted to add something new to the menu since it hadn’t changed since his father opened the place in the 70’s. He didn’t want to CHANGE the menu. He’d been very clear that we were keeping everything his father had already set into place. However, each of the cooks had a chance to invent their own recipes. Only a few of them would make it onto the final menu. If the customers didn’t like it, they didn’t last long. And we each had a trial period before the final decision was made.

My steak was marinated with my own unique blend of herbs, spices, and oils. Then it was seared in a pan instead of an open flame. That way the outside had a nice crisp crust and the inside was juicy and pink. It was a customer favorite. Pete even named it after me. He called it the Pip Steak.

I loved it when I got an order for a Pip Steak. It had been on the menu for over a year now but every time I saw it on a ticket, I felt myself take on a warm glow, and I got all giddy and excited. In fact, if we weren’t too busy the other cooks would let me handle all the Pip Steaks and the waiters would take them to the table and say, “Pip cooked this up herself.” It always made me feel awesome. Of course, only one person had ever actually called me Pip, and I hadn’t seen him since high school. But a Piper Steak doesn’t sound nearly as appetizing as a Pip Steak. And Piper just looks like a typo of Pepper.

I finished up the steak and slid it onto a fresh white plate. Then I handed it across the counter to the waitress who’d made the order. She thanked me and went to fill up the plate with the side of potatoes and greens. I turned off my stove and put the pan on a back burner to cool. Then I stepped away from the grill and untied my apron. I was already off the clock, but I couldn’t resist the last Pip Steak.

“Alright, guys. I’m done,” I said.

“Already?” one of my coworkers asked. His sister was probably my best and only friend in the world. Caitlyn. She was a few years younger than me and taking classes in Boston. But she and her brother helped me get the job when I quit McDonalds, and I was eternally grateful to them both.

“My shift ended at four today. I’m waiting for some important news.” I stepped toward the back.

“Yeah, yeah. That fancy ass school. Leaving us all. Think you’re better than us. I got it.” I laughed.

“Shut up,” I said. Then I headed to the very back to say goodbye to the manager so he knew I was leaving.

I lived in a town just outside of Boston most of my life. I lived in this really nice old house with my parents Robert and Patrice Finnegan. I had an older sister named Paige and a younger brother named Phillip. They were all very professional types. My dad worked for some advertising company that basically just sold ideas to other companies and made lots of money. My mom sold candles and mail order beauty products. My sister went to school to study biology, but gave it up and decided to study business science. Or something like that. I didn’t know, and I didn’t care. But she got a decent job at a bank in DC. My little brother was still in school but well on his way to becoming class valedictorian. They were all really annoying.

I wasn’t like them. I mean, I kind of was. Being that my name started with a P and we were all blonde. But putting that aside, I didn’t particularly excel in science or math or business or English or History or Art or—anything for that matter. Just food. It was my only passion. And my mom was supportive to an extent. But working at Penis’s Steak House wasn’t quite what she had hoped for me.

My mom thought it was the most horrendous job in the world. She tried to get me into the really fancy restaurant at my dad’s golf course/country club. But they didn’t take newcomers. I had to have at least two years’ experience in fine dining. My only experience was working at the McDonalds two blocks from my house and then two years at Penis’s.

So my mom was doing everything she could to change that. She figured if cooking was where I really wanted to be, then she was going to make the best of it. So she got me in touch with school ala “fancy ass” in Boston proper. And she said if I got in they would help me get my own place in the city so that I could be closer to school. THAT was the winning ticket.

I still lived with my parents in the house they bought after my dad started making decent money. My room was still decorated by my mother and filled with the collection of cat posters I’d obtained as a teenager. But that was okay with me. My favorite person in the entire world was my roommate. Sir Reginald. My cat.

When I got home, I parked my car in the driveway and rushed up to the front door. I let myself in and felt my smile fade when I realized the house was too quiet. It was empty. Phillip was probably off studying for something and Paige only came around on holidays. She was living in DC and told my parents she had her own cool apartment, but it truth she was shaking up with the married guy she met on a college “field trip” to the Capitol.

The house was quiet, and it made me sad. I went to where my parents always kept the mail on the table in the foyer next to the silk flowers. I shuffled through everything and found only one thing for myself. The CD I ordered. Well, the return would probably come tomorrow. I stepped toward the kitchen, so I could pull something out for dinner and found my mom waiting for me. She was holding a champagne glass and a helium balloon that said “Congratulations!” in bold print. I stood still for a moment and looked at how strange her face was when she smiled.

“Oh my God,” I said. She seemed ready to explode.

“You got in!” she shrieked.

“Did you read my mail?” She nodded.

“I’m sorry. I was too excited. Here it is.” She handed over the thick envelope and let me read the first page as she poured another glass of champagne. I wasn’t actually allowed to drink the champagne just yet, but she made exceptions sometimes.

“Oh my God!” I repeated. “I got in. I got in? I got in!” She handed me the glass and planted a kiss on my cheek.

“I knew you’d get in. You’re so talented, sweetheart.” This is how I could tell my mom had already been drinking without me. She was only ever affectionate when intoxicated. Luckily she found a reason to have a drink almost daily otherwise we never would have been loved as children.

“I got in! I got in!” I wrapped my arms around her, and we jumped up and down like we’d just had a visit from Publisher’s Clearing House.


Something magical happened! And that is that I actually finished this story. It's a miracle! *Throws confetti*

The reason this is a miracle is that I wrote the first story like several years ago and started this immediately after. Only I made about 10 or so chapters and gave up. I eventually rewrote the first story and edited what I'd already written for this one. And gave up again. Then the other day I opened it again and didn't stop until it was done. *Screams*

I hope you guys like it. Piper is a bit grown up now. My child.

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