Tales of food, sex and friendship




Season 2: Episode 14

May 31, 2011

Ana turned slowly towards the voice, heart beating a mile a minute and her mouth suddenly dry.

“You look great,” the voice said, She felt eyes running over the length of her body and shivered involuntarily.

She should have guessed whom this event was for; everything about it had his stamp on it.

“Hello Marc,” she said, finally meeting his eyes.

He looked well, but Ana felt only pure revulsion seeing him now. She couldn’t believe this man had consumed her thoughts and her heart for so long. He walked over and gave her a kiss on the cheek, running his hand down her back, lingering a few seconds too long. Ana wanted to brush him off, but she was frozen, numb.

“You’ve done a great job,” he said. “It’s a wonderful party. Fortuitous you could do it at such short notice.”

She nodded, her thoughts only on how to extract herself from the situation before it got out of hand. She didn’t trust Marc. Hell, he’d probably orchestrated the whole thing to get back at her! Things had been going so wonderfully with Tom and she didn’t want this – whatever this was – to ruin it. She wondered if Tom had noticed who the client was and, if not, how she could prevent him from finding out.

She didn’t have to think about it too long.

“Ana, can we grab some more of the…” Tom stopped mid sentence as he noticed Marc upon entering the room. “What is he doing here?”

Marc strode over and held out his hand. “Good to see you. Tim, wasn’t it?”

He shook Marc’s hand, not bothering to correct the mistake, but Ana could see the muscles in Tom’s jaw tighten.

The door opened again and Marc’s wife, Cynthia, walked in. “Darling, the guests are waiting.” She looked at Ana quizzically, trying to place her. “We’ve met, haven’t we?”

That was the last straw for Tom. He ripped off his waiter’s apron and threw it on the floor. “She worked for your husband. Ask him about their affair sometime.”

He stormed through the door and left the three of them standing there, speechless. Cynthia visibly paled and walked over to Marc. She slapped him across the face, hard. Ana could see her hands shaking ever so slightly. She took a deep breath and smoothed an imaginary stray hair back into place.

“Like I said. The guests are waiting.”

She turned to Ana and looked at her coolly. “I think we’ll be able to manage from here. My husband’s assistant will arrange payment.”

And with that she took Marc’s hand, plastered a smile on her face and walked back into the party. Ana sank to the floor, tears welling in her eyes. The door opened again, this time Mia, wondering where Tom and the extra Champagne had got to.

She gasped when she saw Ana and rushed over to her. “What happened?”

Ana looked up, her eyes wide. “I have to find Tom.”

***

Tom strode out into the road, flagging down a cab.

“Where to?” the driver asked, wearily. It was another slow night.

Tom thought. He didn’t want to go home, Ana would likely go straight there and he didn’t want to see her at the moment. He needed some time to think. He pulled out his phone and dialled a number. The person on the other end was surprised to hear from him.

“Are you at home,” he said. “Can I come over?”

He directed the taxi driver and sank back in his seat, mind reeling. He thought he was over the fact that Ana had an affair with her boss. He’d dealt with it and he’d forgiven her. At least, he thought he had. The rage that overtook him when he saw them together tonight indicated otherwise.

His mobile phone rang shrill.

Ana.

He declined the call and punched out a short message.

Need some time. Will call tomorrow.

Was he doing the right thing, marrying Ana when, obviously, he hadn’t forgiven her? Could he ever truly forgive her?

The taxi arrived at his destination and he paid the driver, mumbling thanks as he got out of the car. It was cold and he pulled his jacket closer around him, pushing open the front gate and knocking on the door. It swung open and the familiar face broke into a wide grin.

“Hello, stranger,” she said, pulling him into a hug.

Tom gave in to her warm embrace and was gratified that it was as comforting as he’d remembered. She still smelled the same, he thought, feeling her soft hair against his cheek. She held him at arm’s length and looked at him with a bemused expression.

“Come on. I suspect you need a drink.”

***

A bottle of red wine later and he’d filled her in on the whole story. She hadn’t yet said a word as she stood up to get a new bottle from the wine rack. In the haze of the alcohol he couldn’t help noticing the contour of her jeans and the way her casual jumper clung to the curves of her body. Lilly. His high school sweetheart. They’d thought they were going to be together forever, but they’d been so young then. And times change. The break-up had been painful but amicable. She moved to London for university and he resolved he’d never find anyone like her again. They’d seen each other a few times since she’d moved back two years ago, and she’d hinted they could be something more than just friends. But then he’d met Ana, who was just about as different from Lilly as could be, but had the same effect on his heart. Tom never told Ana the full details about Lilly. He didn’t think it was really necessary – what was in the past was, well, in the past.

Lilly turned and caught him staring, giving him the same bemused look she had at the door. She opened the bottle of red and topped up his glass, disappearing into the kitchen briefly before returning with homemade salsa and corn chips. Tom gratefully tucked in, not realising how hungry he was. The salsa was delectable – spicy, tangy – bursting with flavour. Way better than any shop-bought stuff he’d tried.

“What are you going to do?” asked Lilly, pulling her feet up on the couch and sipping her wine thoughtfully.

Tom shrugged, licking his fingers, enjoying the way the chilli made his lips sing. Suddenly he didn’t want to think about Ana. He just wanted to be in the company of someone with whom he could be himself. Where it was just… easy.

“Can I stay tonight?”

Lilly looked at him for a long time before slowly shaking her head.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean…” his voice trailed off as her hand rested lightly on his arm.

“It’s not that I don’t miss you, Tom. I’ve wanted you to call for such a long time and tell me it was a mistake.  But…” she removed her hand and ran it through her hair. “You’re upset. And you love Ana. You would regret this.”

Tom felt like a fool. When he’d said he wanted to stay, he hadn’t meant it in that way. Or had he? He just didn’t know any more.

He wearily lifted himself off the couch. “I should go.”

Lilly walked him to the door and kissed him softly on the cheek.

“’Bye Tom.”

He smiled at her ruefully and hunched his shoulders against the cold, turning up his collar as he walked back out into the night to find a cab to take him home.