Tales of food, sex and friendship




Season 7, Episode 4

August 14, 2012

The hustle and bustle of the downtown San Francisco lunch rush wasn’t doing the job that Ana had hoped: Getting her out of the funk that she had woken up in. For the last few weeks the early morning blues had persisted long past the normal pre-caffeine and breakfast fix. She couldn’t quite pinpoint why. It seemed to be a combination of factors – the loved up couple who barely made it out of the bedroom, the constant singing and laughter than echoed around the walls, the positive energy that radiated from every pore of everyone in the house. Everyone except her.

She was glad for Mia and Johnny, of course, but the nagging jealously – certainly not one of Ana’s many virtues – just wouldn’t go away. Why couldn’t she have a relationship that just worked? (She had a convenient amnesia when it came to the trials and tribulations that Mia and Johnny had been through to get where they were.)

And now with Willow floating somewhere around cloud fifteen about her new coffee and cake business, Ana felt like she was the only one who was… well… a bit lost, really. Being out of the house – a lot – seemed to be the best way of dealing with it for now. It was just way too sunshine, lollipops and rainbows there at the moment. Ana preferred it when there were a least a few grey clouds on the horizon. Kept things interesting and made her feel less… inadequate.

Failed marriage, failed business, failed social life. I’m quite the catch, Ana thought to herself bitterly as she dodged people dressed in suits and skirts, hurrying about with pre-packaged sandwiches and their Starbucks excuse for ‘coffee’. She had a brief moment of nostalgia for her previous life, where she was the one grabbing a meal-on-the-go between meetings. It seemed like a lifetime ago now.

Maybe if I found a job things would look a bit brighter, she thought.

She found a cafe that didn’t look like a chain and joined the long queue to get another coffee, taking her place behind two impeccably dressed women, one with brilliant flame-red hair and the other with glasses that were almost too fashionable. They made an incredibly striking pair and Ana tried not to stare at them. Not that they would have noticed – they were deeply ensconced in their own conversation.

“I can’t believe Jenny left,” Ana heard the the glasses woman say. “That’s… what… the fourth consultant since the start of the year?”

The redhead rolled her eyes. “I swear there’s something in the water. They all start and then – bam! – pregnant within a month.”

“So what’s he going to do?”

The redhead shrugged. “Advertise again. Hire a new senior PR consultant.”

Ana’s ears pricked up.

“I just hope he does it soon,” the redhead continued. “We’re swamped.”

Before she knew what she was doing, she had tapped redhead on the shoulder. “Excuse me,” she said quickly. “I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but I worked at one of the top PR firms in Australia, but I moved over here and now I’m looking for a job.”

The women looked her up and down.

“I don’t normally dress like this,” Ana said, suddenly embarrassed by her oversized t-shirt and loose-fitting jeans.

“I love your accent,” the redhead said.

“Er, thanks.”

“Where did you say you were from?”

“Melbourne. Australia.”

The redhead nodded, thoughtfully.

“She looks like the sort of person Chad would like,” glasses said, with an almost-sneer.

“Chad?” Ana said.

“The president of the company,” red said, fishing a business card out of her bag. “Email me your CV and I’ll pass it on. You never know,” she said with a shrug. “You might get lucky.”

Ana grinned. “Thanks. Thanks so much.”

The women collected their coffee and turned to leave. Red stopped, turning back to Ana.

“Oh, and…?”

“Ana.”

“Ana. Include a photo.”

***

Two days later, Ana was dressed in her favourite Prada suit, Manolo Blahniks, her hair freshly washed and twisted up into fashionable bun, sitting in the foyer of an incredible fifteenth floor office in downtown San Francisco. The company was simply called ‘Bleau’ and they were the one-stop marketing shop for all of San Francisco’s promotional needs. Their clients ranged from tech companies to hospitality to non-profit organisations.

Ana glanced at her watch. Her interview was supposed to start twenty minutes ago. She flipped through an industry magazine, which had a three page spread on ‘Bleau’ highlighting the multitude of awards they’d won in the last year. Ten minutes later a woman appeared and smiled frostily at Ana. “Follow me. Chad will see you now.”

Ana followed her through the impressive open plan office, noting that most of the people that worked there were very attractive women. Alarm bells started ringing somewhere in the back of Ana’s mind. The woman ushered her into a huge office – bigger than Ana’s living room back in Melbourne – and shut the door. It opened again seconds later, and there was Chad.

Ana’s breath caught in her throat as his cool grey eyes locked onto hers. He was tall, with a thick head of dark hair, his bespoke suit emphasising his lean, toned body.

Deja Vu.

It was Marc all over again. Everything about him reminded Ana of her old boss. Her old lover. His appearance, the way he moved, but most of all, the way he looked at her.

“Ana.” He held out his hand and Ana took it. Even though she was expecting the current of electricity that was going to run through her body as soon as their hands touched, it still took her by surprise.

“Sit, please,” he said, indicating to a sofa in the corner of the room. His lips curled into a small smile as he looked at her. “Tell me about yourself.”

***