Tales of food, sex and friendship




Posts Tagged ‘Friends’

Season 1: Episode 9

January 25, 2011

Ana felt two arms reach around her waist, a strong body pressing up against her.

“Well, that went ok,” Tom said, holding her tentatively as he gave her a kiss on the neck. “Are we friends again?”

Ana turned away from the sink where she’d begun to wash the dishes. She looked up into Tom’s smiling face, his clear blue eyes shining down at her. He was gorgeous. He was in his usual uniform of faded denim, plain T-shirt and trainers. At 29, he could pass for a first-year university student but Ana knew better. The jeans were EVISU, the shirt Dsquared2 and the trainers were Yohji Yamamoto for Adidas. Try as he might, Tom couldn’t mask the fact that he was an architect earning a six-figure salary.

And somehow, despite its beginnings, tonight’s dinner had been unexpectedly wonderful. Willow seemed to sense the tension in the air when she arrived but, typically, pushed right through it. And her good mood had rubbed off on everyone. She’d brought home some hand-pressed olive oil from an estate in Italy that only released 200 bottles a year. Who knew where she found such things? And Mia had baked a loaf of spelt bread, which – although it broke Ana’s rule about no more than one carb per meal –  had complemented Ana’s wild mushroom and goat’s cheese pasta beautifully. Mia’s secret? A splash of maple syrup to help the yeast activate and provide a subtle sweetness throughout the loaf. As always, Johnny had come through with terrific wine.

The girls seemed to love Tom and even Johnny was smitten – particularly when Tom discovered Johnny had played guitar in one of his favourite teenage rock bands. For the rest of the night Tom couldn’t stop raving about some set Johnny had “shredded” back in the 90s. Ana was thankful for Willow and Mia’s discretion. She knew they’d been watching her and Tom most of the night – how could they have forgotten the past two weeks of her behaving ridiculously because of Marc – but they’d been nothing but supportive. She felt lucky to have them in her life and couldn’t believe how irrational she’d been with Tom earlier.

Were she and Tom friends again? “Sure,” Ana said, smiling back at him.

At her response he touched her face, slowly rubbing the back of her neck. Leaning in to kiss her, he pulled her close and enveloped her in his arms. Ana was finding it difficult to resist him – and why should she? Marc had lied to her. He’d said he couldn’t spend New Year’s with her because he had to go to a dinner party, but then he’d phoned her from the airport. He needed more time for his family, he said, and was taking his wife on a two-week holiday to the Maldives. Marc was a fantasy, but Tom – he was real.

Tom reached under Ana’s blouse, all the while kissing her lips, her ears, her neck. She leaned back slightly as he cupped her breast. He unbuttoned her shirt; she could feel him hard through his jeans. She raised one leg around his hip and the other he grabbed, lifting her on to the wooden kitchen bench top.

“Are you sure?” he said, pulling away for a moment and resting his forehead on hers, breathing heavily. “What about Willow and Mia?” She responded by undoing his jeans and slipping her hand down his boxers. “They’re heavy sleepers,” she whispered, nibbling at his ear lobe. He didn’t need any more encouragement.

***

Ana woke to the smell of coffee. She opened her eyes and looked across the bed where she saw Tom laying a tray of croissants, jam and a plunger next to her. He saw she was awake and leaned in for a kiss.

“Good morning,” he said. “Hungry?”

She couldn’t believe how different it was waking up with him. Marc was like a motionless corpse most mornings (or afternoons) when she left,  but Tom brought her breakfast in bed. Ana sighed to herself. What had she been doing ’til now? And where did he get that amazing looking jam from?

She snuck a look at Tom, who was now poring over her modest collection of books. His strong, tanned forearms – hard with muscle through years of rock climbing – were visible under his rolled-up sleeves and dark blonde hair hung across his stubbled face. Here was this good, loving man who only wanted to make her happy, and all she could do was lie to him. Ana knew Tom wanted to get serious. He’d been brought up in a traditional home where all his family members still talked to each other. Hell, his parents probably still loved each other. It was normal for him to get domestic and play house, but it wasn’t for Ana. No, what was normal for her was sneaking around with a married man and feeling bad about herself the whole time. What was normal for her was treating a great guy like rubbish because she was holding out for some arsehole who would never, ever leave his wife. She made up her mind.

“Hey,” she said softly, “about our fight last night.”

Tom sat on her side of the bed and played with her hair. “Don’t worry about it,” he said. “I’m sorry if I’ve been wanting to spend too much time with you. I’ll step back a bit, I promise. I just love being around you, no matter how often. Just let me know what you need.”

“No,” she said, “that’s not it.” She leaned across his lap and picked her handbag off the floor. Reaching inside she pulled out her spare set of house keys and handed them to him. “Here. Seeing you last night with the girls and Johnny… they’re the most important people in my life. I want you to feel like you’re a part of that, a part of my home. I don’t want to see less of you, I want to see you more.”

Tom looked at her, then at the keys in his hand and squeezed them tight. Ana waited for him to say something. Instead, he pulled the covers over both of them and, working up her body, he showed Ana just how grateful he was.

 

Season 1: Episode 4a (Christmas Episode)

December 25, 2010

Ana hung up the phone, closed her eyes and took an extra moment to savour the rich, heady scent of Willow’s coq au vin before walking in to see her friends. Judging by the aroma and the peals of laughter emanating from the kitchen, dinner preparations were well underway.

“Merry Christmas!” they cried, as she walked in.

Johnny pressed a glass of Prosecco into Ana’s hand and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek as he moved past to decant a wine he’d selected for their meal. Ana was grateful for the drink and took a long swig. She felt a pang of guilt – or was it regret? – that she had not been there for the afternoon to help with the feast. If it wasn’t for Marc, and his tantalisingly persuasive ways, she could have spent Christmas Day laughing and preparing dinner with her best friends.

She shook her head a little at the thought. Much as she craved Marc, more and more she found herself walking away from their passionate, secret trysts feeling frustrated and, well, lonely. As their affair wore on, Ana was beginning to realise that her boss was never going to leave his wife.

“Ooh… what have you got there?” enquired Willow, craning her neck to peek inside the large white box Ana was carrying. Ana cleared her mind of Marc and turned to face her friend with a smile. Lifting the lid, Willow clapped her hands together when she saw the figs. “Perfect!” she exclaimed, giving Ana a quick hug before opening the fridge and taking out fresh butter and cream and placing it on the bench. Ana couldn’t help but smile to herself at the memory of the figs, remnants of her lovemaking with Marc earlier in the day.

Mia was over the sink, topping and tailing French beans, stopping every few minutes to take a quick sip of her drink. In a pot next to her was a selection of deep yellow Dutch Cream potatoes, which had just been boiled. The steam from the potatoes curled up in long fingers, disappearing just before it reached the ceiling.

“What can I do?” asked Ana, moving around the room refilling glasses with the refreshing Italian wine. She was hoping the others had already had a bit to drink so they wouldn’t notice the way she swayed as she stood. She and Marc had polished off a bottle of Moët earlier and she’d had nothing to eat all day. Except the figs, of course. And Marc.

“You could mash the potatoes?” Mia replied. “Willow will be much happier if you do them. I don’t put enough butter in, apparently.”

“It’s Christmas Day. Calories don’t count, Mia!” Ana teased in a sing-song voice. She ladled cream, butter and salt onto the hot potatoes and started mashing furiously.

***

At around eight o’clock, the four friends sat down in the dining room and surveyed the feast that was spread out before them.

Mia had laid the table beautifully, incorporating fresh apricots and rosemary sprigs into a simple, stunning centrepiece. They’d taken out the bone china dinner set Ana had inherited from her grandmother; the vintage lead crystal glasses sparkling in the evening sunset. Their fine white plates soon brimmed with food. Tender pieces of organic chicken breast that had marinated overnight in a French Burgundy and then slow-cooked for hours throughout the afternoon. Green beans – quickly blanched in hot water, then cooled to retain their crunch – glistened with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and rock salt.  And the mashed potatoes sat up in peaks like small mountains of buttery fairy floss.

Johnny had carefully selected some beautiful wines to complement the meal and was pouring a 2004 Pinot Noir from the decanter into their glasses. He explained that it was from his friend Claude’s boutique vineyard on the Mornington Peninsula and that only 600 bottles had been made. He had been lucky enough to get his hands on four of them.

The sun was turning a deep scarlet pink as the night air set in. But the unseasonal rains that had robbed them of much of the start to summer finally seemed to have stopped.

***

Mia looked at her empty plate and gave out a satisfied sigh. She picked up a lone green bean with her fingers and held it up to her mouth, licking the rock salt off before devouring the vegetable. It always amazed her that food could take so long to prepare, yet no time at all to eat.

Johnny began clearing plates next to her as Ana and Willow disappeared into the kitchen to put the finishing touches to dessert. Watching a lock of her friend’s dark mop of hair fall over his eyes as he leaned over the table, Mia felt herself fighting the instinct to tuck it behind his ear. She could detect what had become known to all of them as Johnny’s Smell: Beer, cigarettes and cinnamon. The smell perfectly illustrated the contradiction within him. Johnny only ever wore black and rarely shaved or slept in his own bed, but he liked to keep bundles of ribbon-tied cinnamon sticks tucked away in his cupboards. Something his mum used to do, he’d told them one day when the girls had quizzed him about it.

Even though they had all been friends for so long, Mia felt as though she and Johnny had rarely spent much time together alone. Why was that? She knew that Willow was close with him – they all thought it was hilarious that Johnny and Willow used to date years ago – but it was always the four of them together, whenever Johnny was around. There was something about him that unnerved her. She couldn’t pinpoint what it was, but she never felt comfortable alone in his presence. He seemed unpredictable. Dangerous. A shiver ran down Mia’s spine. And she kind of liked it.

Mia’s thoughts were interrupted by the sounds of Ana and Willow returning to the dining room. Mia and Johnny both drew breath at the sight before them. Ana held a tray of ripe figs, opened like flower blossoms. Inside each was a dollop of glistening mascarpone. Next to her a beaming Willow held a golden cake piled high with fresh cherries. After the coq au vin, the vegetables and the wine, it felt like the final act in some decadent, Baroque feast. Mia felt filled with happiness as she watched her friends excitedly carving up the cake to expose the dense filling within, and tipsily sucking at the mascarpone-filled figs. Life was good.