The Sweetness of Life(4)

By: Kathryn Andrews

“Okay, what idea is that?” I ask as calmly as I can.

“I know this is last minute, and we still want you to finish your current article, but tell me, have you ever heard of Wolff Winery?” Blue eyes and a condescending scowl flash before my eyes for the second time tonight. I shake my head to clear the image and find the road in front of me cloaked in shadows and empty.

“Yes. In fact, I met Mr. Wolff last year.” I grit my teeth at his name. Arrogant ass.

“Ah, well, that’s great then! We’ve spoken to Mr. Wolff, and if you agree, we’ve decided to pair the two of you together for a feature article in the upcoming Southern issue. We would need you at his winery by tomorrow afternoon if possible. I just e-mailed over the details, you’ll need to clear your schedule for a bit, and he can fill you in on the rest.”


No. No. No. No. No.

The nerves in my stomach instantly flee and dread drops in. They want us to work together? I have to work with him? But I don’t want to work with him. He agreed to this? He doesn’t like me . . . and that’s fine with me!

“Okay, I need to run this by Meg, but it shouldn’t be a problem.” Meg is going to flip out, and then she’s going to laugh at me. Again, these things only happen to me. Of all the wineries in the south, they go and pick his.

“Perfect. We’re really excited about this new project for you two. You were our first choice, and we know the article is going to be great. Once you get settled in, give me a call.” The creak of his chair comes through the line and more papers shuffle in the background.

“All right, I will,” I say, trying my hardest to sound as excited as he is when everything in me is screaming to abort the mission.

“Thanks for being so flexible. Take care, Shelby.” Then he hangs up.

There should be silence in the car, but my ears are ringing so loudly my vision blurs.

Oh my God!

Sucking in some air to calm my pounding heart, my head hits the steering wheel, the phone drops to my lap, and I squeeze my eyes shut. What are the odds that Meg and I were just talking about him? What are the odds that of the thousands of wineries out there, his gets picked? And why did his get picked? Per that review, the wines are supposed to be mediocre. Maybe this is karma’s way of getting to me somehow. But why? At the event, he was cold and made me feel as if I were nothing more than an unwanted relative he was stuck with. He ignored me most of the night, preferring conversations with every other girl there but me, and he drank too much. It wasn’t that he became loud and obnoxious, quite the opposite, he became sullen. He made me feel inadequate, and I don’t let anyone make me feel that way, ever. I don’t care who you are. After that night, I made a solemn vow to never see him again . . . or drink his wine.

Leaning back in the seat, I take a few deep breaths and let out a resigned sigh before pressing the ignition button. Hopefully, this assignment with him won’t be a big one, and we can get it over with as soon as possible.

Shaking my head and rolling my shoulders, I push away the tension weighing me down, and that’s when it hits me.

Featured article.

Mr. Carothers, from Food Network Magazine, has asked me to pair up for a featured article! Me. Not another journalist, but me. And he said I was their first choice!

Elation takes over, and I squeal as if I’ve won the lottery. My name is going to be printed several times in this new issue, giving me even more exposure. Little by little, a little becomes a lot, and step by step, article by article, I’m getting closer to my dream.

My dream.

Flashes of my childhood flip through my mind, and each passing one acts as a stimulant to my already racing heart. That ever-present reminder of the things he said and the things they did, it’s the constant spark that keeps my determination blazing, and as my eyes widen and my hands tighten on the wheel, I’d swear the street light’s glow is brighter.

“I can do this! I will do this!” I chant to myself. Zachary Wolff is nobody to me, and he can kiss my grits. No one is ever going to get in my way.

No one.

Southern Baklava

A car door slams, and I glance out the window of my office to see a small black BMW parked by the fountain. A girl slips behind the back of the car and she appears to be alone. We usually don’t have many guests at eleven on a Monday morning, so my guess is that she’s here to sell something.

“Earth to Zach, are you even listening to me?” Kyle, my sales director says grabbing my attention. I turn back to him and find his lips pinched together, frustration evident. Whatever. He’ll get over it.

Scrubbing one hand over my face, I squeeze the football resting on my leg with the other and give him an apologetic look. My computer dings twice, alerting me of incoming e-mails and a sigh escapes me. My to-do list grows faster than I can cross things off, and I’m beat.