I shouldn’t have worried about getting a job right out of college. Coming back home, I made the rounds of the various restaurants and bistros. It actually didn’t take long before I was offered a line-cook position. It wasn’t too glamorous, but it was a start. I knew that I’d have to work my up to head chef, if that was what I wanted to do.
Anne, however, did not fair so well getting a design job. She tried the museum, but that didn’t work out. Then she tried teaching art at the school. She hated it. Finally she elected to do freelance work, but it didn’t pay the bills. It felt strange when she came to me and asked if there was something she could do at the restaurant.
“I don’t know,” I said. “I suppose we could use a spice runner or a vegetable prep cook.”
“I’ll do anything.”
“I’ll ask the boss.”
So that’s how Anne joined me in the culinary world. She still did free-lance design, but working in the restaurant gave her a steady pay-check.
“I’m thinking of going into the hotel business,” she told me one night while we were eating dinner. I’d tried out my new recipe for organic spaghetti sauce.
“The hotel business? Isn’t that sort of outside your element?”
“Not really. I mean, I have the design experience to make it really amazing. I’m learning all about food at the restaurant and I’ve learned a lot about business trying to make it as a freelance artist.”
“But you don’t know anything about working at a hotel or resort.”
“Well, I can learn. I can just go work for one and learn everything I need and then I’ll open my own.”
Anne was so excited about the idea, I didn’t have the heart to continue pointing at the flaws in her plan. I kept my worries to myself.
Meanwhile, I decided I needed to work on getting healthy again. Working in the food industry can be hard on a person’s waist-line as I well knew. I became an expert at organic cooking and ate fresh as often as I could. I also continued working out like I had in college. It had worked last time, so I figured it would work again.
Alton, who was home on leave from the army, was a big help. He and my parents supported the changes I’d made in my diet, and he also agreed to help train me when I worked out.
Well, he said he’d train me. Alton wasn’t very good at it. “Hey!” I huffed as I tried to do the 50 jumping jacks he told me to do. “You aren’t even watching! Shouldn’t a trainer do the jumping jacks with his trainee?”
“Keep going sis. I do PT every day. After this, 50 burpees!”
“Shhhh. I’m about to put myself in check mate. Keep jumping!”
My hard work paid off and once again I lost the weight. My job was going well, too. I was now the head line-cook and assistant to the sous chef. But I was getting bored working at the restaurant. Everything was routine, so I decided I needed to make a change.
I invited Anne to meet me at the new Bistro Moderne that had opened up. I loved it’s atmosphere—so modern and elegant. It had a minimalist style that I appreciated it.
“Have you eaten here already?” Anne asked me as she perused her menu. “Everything seems so snooty and expensive. Are the portions good?”
“It’s gourmet dining, Anne. The portions are small and elegant.”
“Fancy doesn’t mean good, Rachel. You know that.”
We ordered our meal. Anne got a play on chicken and waffles. “Breakfast for dinner,” Anne said when it arrived. “My favorite!”
I ordered a minestrone soup. Soups are some of the most difficult things to make right. Sometimes the things that are so simple are really the hardest. It was excellent.
As we ate, I was shocked when the chef came out to see how we were enjoying our meal.
“I am Chef Georges, and how is your dinner?” he asked with a faint accent that hinted at Champs Les Sims.
“It’s great,” I smiled at him nervously. “This soup is delicious. Do you grow your own herbs? I really taste the rosemary and the thyme.”
“We serve everything with fresh ingredients,” he said, nodding at me.
“Wonderful!” I smiled. “I’m a chef at Isla Bistro across town. I’m always encouraging them to use freshly grown ingredients.”
“Oh, I know who you are, Miss Fields.”
“Oh yes. Have you come here to check out the competition?”
I gasped and put down my spoon. “Oh! No! That’s not it at all. I just wanted to check it out. I’m sorry. I’m not here to spy!”
He nodded again. “Good. Perhaps you are here to apply for a job. I need a new sous chef. Mine has found himself a lover and forgets all about work.”
Anne and I gaped at Chef Goerges. “Are you serious?”
“But of course. You can give notice and start in two weeks. Come in tomorrow and we will discuss salary.”
“I don’t know…”I hesitated.
“Rachel!” Anne gaped at me and kicked me under the table. She turned to the chef. “Of course she’ll do it. She’ll be here!”
So everything in my life was going well except for one thing: Love. My only date since graduating had been with my sister.
“What’s the point of being skinny if I never get to go out with any guys?” I whined. “It’s hard work keeping this up. I might as well just let it go.”
“Don’t be ridiculous Rachel. You’re just too busy. You need to relax and have fun. Let’s go to the Spring Festival tomorrow. It’ll be fun and there are bound to be men there.”
I agreed reluctantly. The Festival was known for having kissing booths, Love-o-meters and a couple’s dance competition.
“Maybe you just need a little reassurance about your love life,” Anne said, dragging me over to the Love-o-meter.
We both put in our money. Anne’s meter went about half way up, but mine only went to the third rung. “Not any time soon,” it read.
“I guess love isn’t coming to either of us,” I said. “What a waste.”
“Forget it, Rachel. It’s just a game. What we need is a little lip action. Let’s get kissed!”
“Anne! You can’t be serious. I am not going to pay someone to kiss me!”
I refused to let the guy at the kissing booth kiss me, but Anne wasn’t as shy. She went up to him and paid the money and kissed him for about 2 minutes.
“Yuck, Anne!” I said afterwards. “You didn’t have to use tongue. No one said it had to be a Frenchie!”
“I was not going to pay 5 simoleons and not get my money’s worth!” Anne said, laughing. “And he was a good kisser. I just wanted him to remember me.”
“Yeah, he’ll remember you alright. You’re the girl with too much tongue!”
A few weeks after the Spring Festival, Anne joined me for breakfast…something she rarely did because she never went to bed before 1am.
“I’ve got a surprise for you!” Anne gushed as she sat down with her waffles.
“I hate surprises,” I said around a bite-full of waffle. “
“You’ll like this one!”
Anne refused to tell me anything at the table. I did my best to ignore her, hoping she’d break first and blab it all, but Anne is nothing if not stubborn.
The doorbell rang later that day and Anne screamed “Rachel! Your surprise is here. Better get the door.”
I sighed and went to answer it. Anne came bounding down the stairs as I opened it.
“Travis!” we both said at the same time. Anne passed me and gave him a hug. Then she turned to me, “Surprise!”
“Wow,” I said. “I can’t believe you’re here.”
“Not just me,” Travis said. Then he stepped back and revealed his friend Harold who had grabbed the bags from the taxi and paid the driver.
“You owe me 20 Simoleons, Trav.”
I couldn’t believe Anne had invited Travis Jones and Harold Assange to Twinbrook. I figured we’d never see them again after college. We introduced them to Mom and Dad. Travis was charming as usual. Mom loved him, but I could tell that Dad was suspicious.
“Who is this guy?” Dad asked me later. “Do you even know him that well?”
“He’s a good guy, Dad,” I insisted. “Anne and I knew him in college. Harold, too.”
“I like Harold,” Dad said. “He’s in the military like Alton. What does Travis even do?”
“He’s a personal trainer, Dad. I told you, both he and Harold were Athletics majors.”
Travis and Harold stayed at the Inn downtown, but they came over every day. Travis told me I looked good and I told him how much I’d been working out.
“I’ll come join you,” he said, making me nervous. Did I really want him to see me sweat?
It was easier when Travis and Harold both hung out with us. It was like being in college again, but Harold spent a lot of time at the local base. Apparently he had some business there and that is why he and Travis had come to Twinbrook.
Most of the time Travis came over alone. It was nice to hang out with him. He even shocked me by assisting in my garden.
“I’m growing vegetables and fruits for the Bistro,” I told him as we both harvested. “Organic cooking is my specialty,” I said and told him about my new job at Bistro Moderne.
“Sound like you’ve really got it together, Rachel,” he congratulated me. “Someday you’ll be a famous chef, and I’ll be able to say I knew you when.”
“You’ll be some famous trainer and you can promote my super healthy organic meals.”
“We could be partners!”
We both laughed at the idea, but inside I was jumping for joy. I had visions of Travis and me in 20 years as the gurus of healthy cooking and eating. We’d be like the husband and wife fitness heroes. Yes, I just knew we’d get married.
How could I be so stupid and naïve? Travis hadn’t come to Twinbrook at my invitation. He’d come at Anne’s. Yes, he spent time with me, but he spent and equal amount of time with her.
I didn’t even think anything of it, either. I mean, they were friends, right? Anne was much more outgoing than me. She always made friends easier. I just didn’t know how good of friends the two of them had become.
It wasn’t until Anne and I took Harold and Travis to the Festival that I figured out that my sister and the man I thought I might marry were more than just friends.
We were all having a pretty good time, but it was starting to rain. Anne and Travis had gone off somewhere or another and Harold and I were having fun at the dance contest. We were seeing who could do the stupidest dance moves. I assured him that I was the worst dancer in all of Twinbrook. He told me he was the worst dancer in the whole sim world.
When it started to rain, I said I’d look for Travis and my sister. Harold said he’d get the car and meet us on the street.
Imagine my surprise when I found Anne and Travis by the Love-o-meter making out!
To say that I was shocked was an understatement. I quickly went from stunned shock to hurt anger.
“Anne!” I shouted. “How could you?”
“Rachel, I’m sorry,” my sister stammered, backing away from Travis, her hand over her mouth as if she could hide what I had just seen them doing.
Travis turned to me. “Rachel,” he said. “What are you doing here?”
Furious, I glared at him. “It’s raining, in case you haven’t noticed. I was coming to get you.”
Anne was still apologizing. “Rachel, it’s not what you think,” she had the gall to say to me.
“What? You weren’t kissing?”
“We were, but…”
“Well, he’s not your boyfriend or anything.” I glared at my sister.
Travis’ eyes opened wide. “Oh,” he said, looking at me with pity. “I had no idea.”
I reeled back in pain. All this time I’d liked him and he had had no idea?! Could things get any worse?
“Rachel,” Travis said, “we’re just friends. I thought you knew about me and Anne.”
“What?” I said, stricken. “You and…Anne?” How long had this been going on and I’d missed it?
“I didn’t mean it to happen, Rachel,” Anne said. “It just did.”
“That’s rich,” I told Anne, hurt more than I could really handle. “You must have had a great laugh at my expense. Here you were, trying to find me a boyfriend and then you decided that you’d take him instead!”
“It wasn’t like that!”
“What was it like then?”
Both Anne and I were crying. Finally Travis put his arm around her. I flinched. Then he said, “Rachel we didn’t mean to hurt you. You and I have always been friends. It wasn’t until I came here that my feelings for your sister became clear. I love her.”
I couldn’t believe what I’d heard. Not able to bear it anymore, I turned and ran toward the car. Harold was shocked when I told him to drive, but thankfully he let of the brake and did. He didn’t say a word to me until we got home.
“Things aren’t that bad,” he told me when I finally managed to reveal what had happened. He seemed to have known about Travis and Anne all along.
“How can you say that?” I asked. “The man I thought I’d marry is in love with my sister!” I paced around the room. “How could Anne do this to me? I hate her! I’ll never speak to her again!”
“Rach. Don’t say that. You and your sister are best friends. She didn’t do this to hurt you. You should think of this in a more positive way. Travis loves Anne. Isn’t that a good thing? Doesn’t your sister deserve to be loved?”
“Not by him! He was supposed to love me! No one ever loves me! Everyone loves Anne!”
“Nonsense. People love both of you. When you calm down you’ll realize that Travis wasn’t really right for you. You never really knew him. He’s just an idea to you. You don’t really love him. You just love the idea of him.”
“No!” I sobbed. “If I didn’t really love him, why does it feel like he’s broken my heart?”
“It will get better,” Harold said, taking me into his arms.
“No it won’t!