"I'm leaving." I reach down to scoop my sundress up into my fist from where he tossed it on the floor when he was undressing me. "If you decide to chow down at Magari, you can rest assured that I haven't fucked anyone who has ever worked there. I'm not a slut, Chef. Sorry to disappoint."
I deliberately block out everything he's saying even though he's a step behind me when I slide my dress on, grab my bag and storm out of his apartment.
My heart still feels like it's stuck somewhere in my throat when I walk into my place to find Sophia on her knees in the living room surrounded by three different fabrics, each a slightly different shade of green.
"It's about time." She darts to her feet. "I've been waiting for hours for you. That was the longest meeting ever."
I nod. I decided on the subway that I wouldn't blurt out everything that happened with Tyler the second I got home. I need to decompress and the quickest way for me to do that is to allow Sophia to pull me into her world.
Without fail, she's always got something on her mind that she wants to discuss when we see each other. Tonight, it looks like it's a new garment design that, no doubt, I'll be wearing within the week.
"I chose green for this because of your eyes." She claps her hands together. "Which shade do you like best?"
I walk over to where she's standing. She's turned on virtually every light fixture in the room but it's still not enough to distinguish the unique color of each fabric. We'd need to do that by the window, in the morning when the sun rises.
Judging by the nervous energy flowing from Sophia, she's got her sewing machine primed and ready to go so I'll need to make a decision on the spot.
"Can I see the design?" I struggle to focus on what she's asking of me.
I can't think straight right now. I'd left Tyler's feeling so bereft that I almost missed my subway stop. I could have eased some of that by answering when he called me, but I didn't. I turned the ringer off on my phone and buried it at the bottom of my purse instead.
"This time it's a surprise." She giggles. "You don't get to see the design until your first fitting."
"When's that going to happen?" I smile at the way she's bouncing in place. "Have you been drinking coffee all night?"
"No." She slaps her hand against my arm. "I'm just so excited about this design. It's my best yet, Den."
I envy her right now. Sophia made a promise to herself that she wouldn't date anyone seriously until her career is exactly where she wants it to be. I don't have as much self-control when it comes to men as she does, obviously.
"I think you should choose the fabric, Soph." I drape my arm around her shoulders. "Pick the one you think will best highlight the design."
"You're sure about that?" Her gaze darts up to meet mine.
"I'm positive." I lean my head against hers. "You're way better at this stuff than I am."
She can't know that I'm not just talking about choosing fabric. It's life. Sophia's life is as uncomplicated as mine is complex and at this moment, I'd give anything to trade places with her.
"I had a job offer." Maribel sips on the glass of lemonade she ordered after she arrived at the outdoor café.
I didn't hesitate at all when she called me an hour ago asking if I'd meet her for a cold drink. We're not friends, yet, but she's definitely someone I like being around.
I was looking for something to do for the afternoon. I'd spent all morning perfecting a chicken recipe. I took the results to Sophia for lunch. I knew she could use the food and my company. I heard her sewing machine running when I got up to use the washroom early this morning. A few hours later she was racing through the apartment, hurrying out the door without eating any breakfast.
I stare down at the almost empty glass of sparkling water I ordered when I first sat down. I'd walked here from Sophia's office. It was a hike but I wanted the exercise and since I'm dressed in navy shorts and a white tank, the heat hasn't bothered me. The only evidence of the trek here is the sole blister that's now forming under the leather strap of my left sandal.
"Where?" I ask quietly, not sure if she'd even be willing to share that with me.
"You won't say a word to Tyler about this, will you?"
I'm not about to say any word to Tyler. I know I'll need to talk to him soon. When I do, Maribel's job offer isn't high on the things I want to discuss. "I won't say a thing."
"It's in Brooklyn. It's a brand new place. They want me there from the get-go."
The obvious question is what position she's going to hold. I know that she wants to move up the ladder at Nova but she knows, as well as I do, that the chances of that happening are slim to none. Her career has stalled there and if she's going to leave a mark on the culinary landscape of New York City, she needs to do that now.
"It's a head chef job, Cadence."