Play Me(4)

By: Katie McCoy






Chapter 2




Jake



Beer, bed, babes. Beer, bed, babes. Beer, bed, babes. That was the chant in my head, each word accompanied by a slightly sloppy step. I had taken care of the first item on my list, and was on a path straight towards the second, but sadly, I didn’t think I was going to have any luck with the third. At least not tonight.

It was a damn shame, I thought, the city in a rare state of quiet around me. This was my favorite time of the day—when it was just me and the nighttime and the city lights. The less perfect parts of the world were hidden, cloaked in shadows or barely illuminated by streetlights.

As I reached my building, I didn’t see any lights on in any of the apartments, which made sense since it was after four in the morning. Not many people were up after I finished up at the restaurant, which is why item number three on my list was usually a difficult thing to find these days. Unfortunately, the same thing that kept me away from meeting women in the usual ways—my odd hours as a chef—was also the thing that usually got my adrenaline pumping and on a good night (and tonight had been a gooooooooood night), I usually came home totally riled up and completely horny.

Another night, another cold shower, I thought, gritting my teeth as I climbed the stairs. Not that I had any problems finding women to go home with me, but my hours didn’t allow for the traditional dinner and movie dates that started at seven p.m. Since I was seventeen, I had done pretty well for myself in that department. Women liked me and I liked them. I liked everything about them—the curve of their ass, the bounce of their breasts, the sway of their hips. But lately, I just hadn’t had the time, and one-night stands didn’t have the same appeal they used to. No, the most important thing right now was work, and a lot of women didn’t understand that.

I gave my shirt a sniff when I reached my apartment and found that it stunk, usually the case after a long day. But I couldn’t help grinning, thinking of how full the restaurant had been tonight. Only a few weeks with me as head chef and the reservations hadn’t even faltered. I knew the owner had panicked when the head chef, Patricia announced she was leaving—after all, she was the big name that had drawn people to the restaurant in the first place—and had loudly voiced her hesitation about me replacing her. And they weren’t any fears I hadn’t already had. But if I wanted to open up my own place by the time I was thirty (only three years away), I had to grab opportunity by the balls. And this opportunity had a big set of cojones for me to grasp onto.

I had worked my ass off to get this far, and even though it was true that I didn’t have as much experience as some of the other chefs Patricia had been considering, nobody could match me in sheer stubbornness and determination to succeed. I had done everything short of begging to convince my former boss to let me step into her very large, hard-to-fill shoes. Even after a few weeks, I was still waiting for someone to burst into the kitchen one night and shout “gotcha!” and reveal the whole thing was some messed up reality show. The soul-crushing version of Top Chef.

Still, even though I was grateful for my new position, I still wasn’t completely satisfied. I itched to try out my own menu. Marilyn, the owner, wanted me to keep cooking Patricia’s classics, at least for a few months, and while I understood the hesitance, I was still frustrated. I wanted to serve my own dishes—to make my mark and draw the attention of investors. Becoming head chef was a step in that direction and there was something invigorating about finally running my own kitchen, but I knew that I wouldn’t be satisfied until I owned my own place. Where I could control everything.

Lately satisfaction was a long time coming. Coming being the imperative term.

But by the time I reached my door, I was so exhausted, I barely had the energy to undress. I was pulling off my shirt and about to turn on my lights when I realized I had left the curtains open. Unless I wanted to be woken by the sun first thing in the morning—which I absolutely did not—I needed to shut them before I went to sleep.

I went over to the window, preparing to tug them closed, when I happened to glance down into the apartment that was one over and down.

And I saw her. All smooth satin and creamy skin, sitting on a piano bench. Her black hair obscured her face, as she furiously wrote in a journal. She hadn’t put up any curtains and the moon was on my side tonight, so I got a damn good look at my new neighbor. Hadn’t I seen her that morning, on my way to work?

Right. Yeah. She had been with a kind of serious looking blonde guy with a grimace on his face. Her boyfriend? I hadn’t had much time to think about it then, since I was already running late, but I did remember passing her in the hallway, that same shiny hair pulled tightly back, her thin frame swimming in black clothes, and her eyes. Those big, big eyes had caught mine and there had been a bit of a jolt. Enough that it took half a block for me to realize my heart was racing. I chalked it up to the steady pace I was keeping, but now, standing completely still, I didn’t have the same excuse for the same symptoms. Who knew I had a thing for pale brunettes with big eyes?