Billionaires and Beach Bums(3)

By: Mia Caldwell

“Actually, yes. I can’t find a saute pan. I thought I’d bring one from home for tonight, but if you know where it’s hidden, that would be much easier.” I busied myself with chopping the spinach so I wouldn’t have to keep looking at him. He was watching me so intently it was unnerving.

“Saute pan. Got it. I’ll ask Mother and then I’ll ask Rosa, I think she’s still cleaning upstairs, she’s more likely to know where things are.” I felt his energy leave the room and it felt weirdly empty. You know how some people just have a presence? A lot of the really big politicians around here have that. Walker Alexander had that. Like he somehow filled the room. I went back to my chopping, willing my heart to stop beating so fast.

Really, what the heck was that? It was intense, that’s what. How could cleaning up broken glass and asking for a saute pan feel so…intimate? I resolved to keep him out of my personal space and to stare at his shoes if I had to, to keep from getting sucked into those green-gold eyes. Rich white boys might flirt with girls from Anacostia. They might even take them to bed so they can tell their frat brothers about the time they had sex with a black girl. But I’m not looking for affirmative action hook-ups.

My best friend Kiera says I’m an old lady in a hot girl’s body. She’s one of those work hard/play hard lawyers and she teases me because I’d rather watch Netflix than hit the bounce clubs. Partly, it’s that my job is hard–if I’m not cooking for customers or shopping the farmers markets then I’m on the phone trying to work deals with farmers in the area or in my own little kitchen, trying out new recipes. I’m on my feet most of the day, most days. But also, I don’t have the time and I can’t spare the mental energy. I’m not the only personal chef in town; if I don’t stay at the top of my game, some other hungry chef is going to take my place and take my clients. I do not have the time to be mooning after some boy. Like I said, if you have the money, you can buy time. I only sell it.

All my resolve was wasted, though, because Walker never came back to the kitchen. When I took Christina Alexander her lunch, he wasn’t in the room.

“What’s this shit?” she asked, sitting up in her huge bed and glaring at the bright green smoothie. Her voice had the rasp of a life-long cigarette smoker, although I didn’t smell smoke in the house.

“It’s a spinach, apple, and avocado smoothie, with a bit of ginger, Mrs. Alexander. It’s delicious, I swear.”

“I get to do all the swearing,” she said with a grimace. “My knee hurts like hell.” She looked too old to be Walker’s mother, more like his grandmother, but she clearly had been leading that fit, outdoorsy life wealthy retirees seemed to go for around here. Probably a lot of golf. While smoking. She looked over the plates on her tray. “I’ll eat this, but I’m not drinking that green shit.”

It was so shocking to me to hear this rich old lady swearing like a sailor that I had to suppress a giggle. “You’ll need to take it up with your son, Mrs. Alexander, that smoothie was on his orders. Just take a sip. I think you’ll like it.”

She fixed me with a steely glare. I won’t lie to you, I wanted to take that whole tray away and bring that woman anything she wanted. That was some kinda glare. But I’m a stone professional, so I just smiled at her, my very sweetest smile, and she picked up the glass and lifted it to her lips.

“Hmpf,” she said, setting it down again. “That’s not bad. Doesn’t taste like you put a hay field in a juicer.”

It probably also tells you something about me that begrudging praise means the most to me. My smile grew to a wider, more genuine one.

“Is that cream in there?” she asked.

“No, it’s the avocado that makes it creamy.”

“Avocado? I’ll be damned. Rosa!” she called. “Come here!”

A short Central American woman came into the room, taking off rubber gloves as she entered.

“Taste this, and tell me what you think is in it.” Mrs. Alexander looked at me. “She’s from Honduras. She eats all sorts of weird shit.”

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