Sexy Jerk(2)By: Kim Karr
“Yes, of course.”
“Great,” he says and then exchanges his iPhone for a small notebook. “Will you be using this location as office space or for retail?”
“Neither. I am going to open a gourmet café.”
Derrick puckers his lips as if uncertain of my answer. “When you asked about the wine and beer, I just assumed you were looking to open some sort of food store.”
“Is a café a problem?” I ask.
“No, no, it shouldn’t be.”
I furrow my brows. “Shouldn’t be?”
“I mean no, not that I am aware of,” he responds.
“Okay,” I answer skeptically.
He asks me a few more questions, and then finally puts his notebook away. “I just need your driver’s license number for the background check.”
“Not a problem, but it’s from New York.”
“That’s fine, and if you can provide the first and last months rent at the time of the lease signing, you can take occupancy as soon as March first,” he adds.
That is so much sooner than I had expected.
That is less than three days from now, not the more than three weeks or three months I had anticipated. I have so much to do. Planning. Permits. Equipment. Fixtures. Contractors. Furniture. Suppliers. Vendors. Décor. Staff. Menus. My mind feels like it’s flying.
“Miss Winters? Is everything okay?” Derrick asks.
Taking my hands from my pockets to fish my wallet from my purse, I put a giant smile on my face. “Everything is perfect.”
More than perfect.
AS TWILIGHT HOVERS over the Chicago skyline, the color of the sky reminds me of his eyes—stormy gray. My small car can’t accelerate fast enough for me to erase the image from my mind. I concentrate on moving through the traffic on Clark Street, changing lanes when I can, in an effort to think of anything else because he will not capture anymore of my attention.
After all, I have spent the last six years of my life with him, and thought it would be forever. Boy, was I wrong.
As crazy as it sounds, when Ansel Gaspard and I met, I just knew we were going to hit it off.
That day is a day I’ll never forget.
It was my first day at the Culinary Institute in New York City. I had recently transferred from the University of Chicago to complete my final year of studying restaurant management at the elite establishment. It was also Ansel’s first day. He had moved from France to finish his advanced culinary arts training in the city where he had decided he wanted to live.
He was late for class, and the only seat open was the one next to mine. I looked up. He looked down. When our eyes met, we both knew we had to have each other. I always said he charmed me from his very first ‘bonjour’. Not only was he hot, but his French accent left me breathless.
We quickly became an item, and before I even blinked, the year was over. That was when we became business partners. You see, after graduating, Ansel convinced me to stay in the city, and then he convinced me we should open Gaspard together. “With mind and talent, we can’t go wrong,” he’d said.
Unlike most businesses, startup expenses weren’t an obstacle for us because Ansel came from money. Gaining attention, notoriety, establishing ourselves, now those were obstacles. The first two years of Gaspard being in business were tough, both physically and emotionally. Ansel and I worked seven days a week, usually different shifts to keep management coverage. I opened at two and usually left by ten. He came in at four and stayed until closing. Our relationship had always been easy and I didn’t think the lack of quality time we spent together mattered. The fact was, I was independent, and I never relied on anyone.
So, I did my thing. He did his. I thought it worked.
Things started looking up for the restaurant after Ansel earned his Michelin star. So much so that two years later, four years after we opened the doors, we were considered one of the best French restaurants in the city, and we had done it together.
We were a team. At least I thought we were.
My phone rings and the sound jars me from my hostile thoughts. Reaching across the passenger seat, I slip my hand into the front pouch of my purse. When I check the display, I can’t help but smile. It is my best friend, Fiona Miller.