Tales of food, sex and friendship




Season 8, Episode 5

December 4, 2012

The rumble in her stomach interrupted Ana’s train of thought. She glanced at the clock on her computer, amazed that it was already three. No wonder she was hungry! She hadn’t eaten since eight that morning. She was surprised that Joey hadn’t come in to see if she wanted to have lunch earlier – ever since they’d started working with each other, they’d taken lunch together every day. They were like new best friends in high school: Initially a bit shy and reserved, tip-toeing around conversations, trying to ascertain if the other person would think what they liked was ‘cool’, without having to actually come out and ask. But that had passed, and now they practically finished each others sentences.

Ana frowned. In fact, Joey hadn’t come past her office yesterday, either. Probably just super busy.  Standing up from her desk, Ana stretched her arms above her head and then grabbed her coat and bag. She stuck her head into Joey’s office to see if she was about, not surprised she wasn’t, and headed out into the rain in search of something lunch-worthy.

***

She shook her umbrella out and left it in the receptacle by the door of the cafe. It was the closest place to work, and she and Joey came here frequently when they were on a deadline and needed to grab something in a hurry. As she ambled up to the counter she could see that most of the savoury  foods were already sold out. Seemed as though it was going to have to be cake again for lunch. She glanced around the small cafe, empty apart from two other women sitting in the back corner, huddled over coffees. Ana peered closer. One of them was Joey. She smiled broadly and walked towards them.

“There’s just no way it’s going to work,” Ana heard Joey say in slightly hushed tones to her friend. “She’s too… different.”

Ana stopped mid-stride and was trying to decide if she could slip away without being noticed, when Joey turned around and saw her. Her face flushed dark red.

“I didn’t mean to interrupt,” Ana said. “I just saw you over here and…”

“I’m Vanessa,” the other lady said quickly. “Joey’s sister.”

Ana smiled and put out her hand. “I’m Ana.”

“You’re Ana,” Vanessa said, looking Ana up and down. “I’ve heard a lot about you.”

Ana gulped. From both the women’s expressions she knew she’d busted them talking about her. And it didn’t look as though it was anything good.

“I should get back,” Ana mumbled. “It was nice to meet you Vanessa.”

***

Ana couldn’t focus when she got back to her office. Why had Joey been talking about her? And what what had she been saying? Was Ana going to get fired… again?

By five o’clock she could take it no more. “What’s going on?” she demanded, standing in Joey’s door, hands on her hips.

Joey looked at her, surprised. “What are you talking about?”

“I’m not an idiot,” Ana said. “If I’m not working out here, just tell me. Don’t string it out any longer than it has to be.”

Joey looked genuinely puzzled. “You’re not happy here?” she said.

Now it was Ana’s turn to look surprised. “Of course I am. I thought that you weren’t happy with me.”

“What makes you think that?”

Ana sighed. “I don’t know. I feel like you’re avoiding me. And when I saw you today at lunch… just tell me if you’re going to fire me, OK?”

“You think I’m going to fire you?”

Ana blushed. “Yes. No… I don’t know.”

Joey threw her head back and laughed.

“I guess I’m a bit paranoid, huh?” said Ana, abashed.

“You don’t say? Ana, you are fabulous and you are spectacular at your job. I’m definitely not going to fire you.”

Ana smiled sheepishly. “Will you let this paranoid gal buy you a drink tonight in celebration of continued employment?”

Joey smiled sadly at Ana. “I don’t think I should.”

“Oh come on,” Ana pleaded. “Work can wait. Please. It’ll be fun.” She pouted and made her best puppy dog eyes. “I promise.”

Joey hesitated. “OK,” she said finally. “Give me two minutes.”

They went to a small wine bar and made light work of a bottle of Italian white before moving onto a Californian syrah then a New Zealand pinot. Ana felt deliciously blurry, the piece of cake she’d had for lunch doing little to soak up the booze.

“I have a confession to make,” Joey said suddenly, smiling lightly. Her voice was slightly slurred. “It’s what I was talking to my sister about.”

“Out with it then,” Ana prompted, when Joey didn’t say anything further.

“I like you Ana.”

Ana laughed. “How is that a confession? I like you too.” She picked up her glass and took another sip of the pinot.

“I don’t think you understand,” Joey said. The smile was gone and her face was serious. “I like you, Ana. I can’t stop thinking about you.” Joey took the glass from Ana’s hand and put it on the table. She leaned forward slowly, her eyes locked on Ana’s.

Ana could feel her pulse start to pick up. She licked her lips self-consciously.

Joey hesitated, her face inches from Ana’s. In her eyes, a question.

Ana gulped.

Joey pressed her lips to Ana’s, softly at first, their pressure intensifying when Ana didn’t immediately pull away.

Ana felt stars where her brain should have been. Neurons popped and fizzled like sherbet. Everything in the world stopped for a few seconds. But then…

“No. Wait.” Ana pulled away, her hand flying to her lips. They were swollen and wet. “You didn’t tell me… I didn’t know.”

Joey nodded. “I’m sorry. I didn’t want to freak you out.” She laughed sardonically. “Guess it’s a bit late for that now.” She opened her handbag, taking out some money and putting it on the table. “For the wine.” She picked up her coat, slinging it over her arm. “I should go.”

“Joey, no, you don’t have to go. It’s just… I’m not…”

“You don’t have to say it,” Joey said quickly. “I know.” She smiled sadly at Ana, a small sigh escaping her lips. “See you later.”

Ana took her arm. “Joey, wait…”

Joey paused and looked at the hand on her arm. “Don’t make it worse,” she said softly, gently lifting Ana’s fingers off. “Goodnight.”

***