Tales of food, sex and friendship




Season 3: Episode 9

August 2, 2011

Willow tentatively opened the front door and peeked her head around to look down the hall.

She exhaled a sigh of relief. Safe.

Every day for the last few weeks there had been some kind of floral bouquet waiting on the hallstand, her name printed on the card. The cards were never signed, but Willow knew who they were from. The daily barrage of foliage made Willow more determined than ever that she was not going to go out with Robert Fortescue. She was not a girl who was bullied into dating someone by the constant provision of fresh flowers. Yet, it was becoming increasingly apparent that Robert Fortescue was not a man who took no for an answer.

“Willow, is that you?” Ana’s voice called from the kitchen.

“Yep,” she called out, dumping her bag in the hall and picking up the small tub of carrot and coriander dip that she had collected on the way home. Unknown to Ana, Willow had been doing some research into different catering companies for the wedding. In Willow’s opinion, Ana and Tom hadn’t put nearly enough thought into what they would feed their guests. She knew that they didn’t want a big fuss but, seriously, food was the most important thing about any party, wasn’t it? For the last few weeks she had been secretly bringing home samples from different places and getting Ana to try them, dropping subtle hints about what should be got from where. Willow was desperately hoping that Ana and Tom might ask for her assistance so that she could create a bespoke wedding feast for them, but she didn’t want to impose herself on their wedding planning and therefore resorted to clandestine missions to tucked away delicatessens and gourmet food stores.

“Hey Ana,” she called as she walked through the house. “I picked up some wonderful dip today that you should try. It’s from this tiny company based in…” She trailed off as she entered the bright cooking area and was confronted by a huge bunch of wild orchids making their way across the room. From somewhere behind them came Ana’s voice again.

“Seriously Willow, just go out with the guy already. Then he can stop clogging up our house with bloody flowers.”

Willow groaned. And here was she thinking that she’d escaped the floral arrangement today. She had made it perfectly clear to Robert on more than one occasion that the flowers were about as welcome in her house as a tiger snake, and for him to keep sending them was presumptuous and thoughtless and… and… just plain rude!

“How do I know that he’ll stop though?” snapped Willow.

A small piece of card was pitched from somewhere behind the flowers and landed on the bench.

Go on a date with me and I’ll stop sending flowers. R.F.

Ana plunged the stems into a bucket full of water and stepped out from behind them.

“These are quite pretty though,” she said begrudgingly, admiring the arrangement.

Even Willow had to admit that she was right. The delicate purple flowers were nestled amongst lush, green ferns and wisps of babies breath. The overall effect was… well… gorgeously elegant.

Ana caught sight of the dip that Willow had bought and lifted the top, inhaling the scent of fresh coriander and immediately scooping some up with her finger

“Delicious!” she muttered, helping herself to more, this time with a spoon.

Willow looked smugly at her, momentarily forgetting the flowers. It’s the sign of a good dip when you don’t want dipping implements sullying the flavour, she thought. This one will definitely go on the list of potentials.

Ana gave Willow a sideways glance amidst spoonfuls. She really didn’t understand why Willow didn’t just give this guy a chance? Sure, she understood that post-Carlo Willow had vowed off men, but maybe this one was different. If nothing else, he certainly appeared to be attentive, which was more than she could say about the Italian.

“Willow,” Ana began softly, “why don’t you just go out with him once. You never know, he might be really nice?”

Willow rolled her eyes. Ever since Ana and Tom had made up, Ana had been trying to get both Mia and Willow paired off as well; she was so sublimely happy with her partner that she wanted everyone to feel the same way. She didn’t entertain the notion that perhaps her housemates didn’t want their own relationships. Willow certainly did not want a boyfriend – particularly one as disagreeable as Robert Fortescue – and she was positive that Mia wasn’t interested in anyone.

What Willow didn’t know was that Ana had actually met Robert. He’d come to the house one day to speak with Willow. She hadn’t been home, but Ana had. Ana thought that Robert Fortescue was handsome, polite, charming and completely smitten with Willow. She had told Robert to persevere on his quest and she would help out in anyway she could. She didn’t see it as a betrayal of her best friend’s confidence, rather that she was doing Willow a favour by helping her discover something that she didn’t yet know she wanted.

Willow crossed her arms across her chest and began what had become her standard defence.

“For one thing Ana, he nearly knocked me down in his car. Then he tried to bully me into tutoring his son. And lets not forget that he has demonstrated a blatant disregard for my personal space by invading our house with flowers. And…” She paused for dramatic effect, even though Ana knew what was coming next; she’d heard this speech a few times. “I’m his son’s teacher, Ana! Ethically or morally or whatever it is, there is something just not right about dating a parent of one of my students.”

“Were,” said Ana, folding her hands over her chest.

“Pardon?”

“You were his son’s teacher. He’s in a different class this year, right?”

Willow made a non-committal noise.

“And he didn’t actually hit you with his car – for which he apologised, right? – and he offered to employ you to tutor his son, didn’t he? Hardly slave labour.”

Willow huffed and puffed a bit before Ana grabbed her hands. “Please Willow. For my sanity, go out with him just once.”

Willow shook her head.

“Please?”

“No”

“Pretty please?”

“Absolutely not”

“With a cherry on the top?”

“No way.”

Ana smiled. “If you go on just one date with him I’ll let you choose all the catering for our wedding.”

Willow was about to say no again, but paused. She looked thoughtful. “Including the cake?”

Ana nodded.

Willow thought for a long time. It would be quite something to organise every single morsel for her best friend’s wedding…..

“OK. But you have to agree with everything I suggest.”

Ana stuck out her hand. “Deal.”

They shook hands solemnly before Ana fished Willow’s mobile out of her bag and handed it to her.

“Now call him.”

“You can’t back out of our deal though, even if Tom doesn’t like it,” said Willow before stalking into the next room to make the call in privacy. She was damned if she was going to give Ana the pleasure of listening to her humiliate herself by begging for a date with the man she swore she’d never go out with.

Ana chuckled to herself. She and Tom had already discussed the catering and were going to ask Willow anyway.

Ana clasped her hands together in delight; she had a good feeling about this one. Now she just had to find Mia a fellow and then she could leave her housemates happy in the knowledge that they were as blissfully in love as her.