Fate Only Knows

Fate Only Knows

Status: In Progress

Genre: Romance

Details

Status: In Progress

Genre: Romance

Summary

Life in the big city has been busy for Monica Richards since becoming one of the Food Network’s rising stars and recently getting engaged to Sam, an airline pilot. She hasn’t been home in some time and misses her family. An opportunity arises for her to travel back in conjunction with her TV show when she receives an invite from an old school crush, Tristan Livingstone. His family owns a small winery and invites her to tour it. Afterward, she takes some needed time off her active schedule, and she realizes that there is more to life than work. During this period of discovery, Monica also realizes that old feelings never really die for Tristan, which puts her relationship with her fiancé in jeopardy. Will she come to terms with her feelings for both men? What path will her future take?

Summary

Life in the big city has been busy for Monica Richards since becoming one of the Food Network’s rising stars and recently getting engaged to Sam, an airline pilot. She hasn’t been home in some time and misses her family. An opportunity arises for her to travel back in conjunction with her TV show when she receives an invite from an old school crush, Tristan Livingstone. His family owns a small winery and invites her to tour it. Afterward, she takes some needed time off her active schedule, and she realizes that there is more to life than work. During this period of discovery, Monica also realizes that old feelings never really die for Tristan, which puts her relationship with her fiancé in jeopardy. Will she come to terms with her feelings for both men? What path will her future take?

Chapter19 (v.1) - Camera Shy

Author Chapter Note

"True love cannot be found where it truly does not exist, nor can it be hidden where it truly does." --Anonymous

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: April 15, 2019

Reads: 111

Comments: 3

A A A | A A A

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: April 15, 2019

A A A

A A A

CHAPTER 19—Camera Shy

 

“Can I help?” Monica asked with a smile when she returned to find her host clearing away the dining room table.

Tristan rinsed their dishes to prepare them for the dishwasher.  “Nonsense.  You’re my guest.”

She rested her hands on her hips.  “I just feel silly watching you do chores.”

He laughed.  “Why not open another bottle of wine then?  You’re choice.”

“Are you trying to get me drunk again, Tristan?” she teased.

His eyes sparkled with amusement.  “Not in the least.  You look thirsty.”

She bit her lip as she examined the remaining wines.  He still read her very well even after all the years apart.  “The Tempranillo?”

“Please.”

She opened the new bottle and filled the two new glasses she found there.  Tristan dried his hands to accept the glass of wine she offered him.

“Thanks.”  He immediately took a sip and walked out of the kitchen.  She followed him to the living room where he sat on the long sectional of a pleasant blend of color both a dark red and tan.  He placed his glass on the coffee table of lovely cherry.  On it, she noticed a slew of high school yearbooks.  Having a seat next to him, she picked one marked 1998.

”Reminiscing?” she asked beginning to finger through the pages of her past.

“Guilty as charged, sweetheart.”

Monica laughed for he sounded like he mimicked that old actor he liked to watch in black and white movies of with his mother.  Who was it again?  Humphrey Bogart!

“The evidence is incriminating.”

With his body slightly turned to her, his right leg crossed over his thigh, and right arm braced against the back of the couch, he asked, “So how does one go from camera shy teen to TV personality?”

She blinked up at him from the yearbook of her freshman year.  “Camera shy?”

“I cannot find a single picture of you in any yearbook.”

She took another sip of wine.  “Are you sure?”

“Positive.  I looked through all of them.”

“Every last one?”

“In each when I look for you the picture is blank.”

She frowned at the four yearbooks on the table.  “There must be some with me for soccer though.  Coach made me stand for those.”

“Yes, true.  But, those are the only ones. Even then you are barely visible as you turn your face away from the camera.  There is also an action shot of you at the state championship where you catch the ball denying our opponents the winning shot.  It was awesome, and the same in all the newspapers as I recall and another of you named MVP with the rest of the team around you.”

Monica still flipped through the yearbook.  A soft smile spread when reaching the football page.  The boyishly good-looking Tristan grinned at her from there with his familiar spiky highlights and number 16 jersey.  She touched the picture briefly and remembered how she would gaze for hours at the pic when alone in her room.  It still made her tummy flip.

“So what gives?” he asked with the lift of his eyebrow.

She glanced at the current version which was just as good-looking.  His eyes were the same amazing bright but dark blue, and age only seemed to agree with him.  She continued to smile and sighed.  “Well, I was shy.”

He rose both his eyebrows at this as he sipped his wine.  “Come again?”

“Not about everything, just that.  I always thought it would reveal too much.  More than I was willing to show.”

Tristan nodded with understanding.  “You were trying to protect yourself?”

“High school was never a picnic for me.  I hated it.  I was so awkward and angry.”  She shook her head with a frown as she looked down at the yearbook and flipped more pages.  She sipped more wine before replacing it to the coffee table.  She believed that she neared her consumption capacity level and thought she should slow down.  She still needed to drive back to Seapoint.

“Not at prom.”

She glanced into his warm eyes.  “No, not then.”

“So what changed?”

“You mean at prom?”

He nodded.

She shrugged.  “I don’t know.  My parents talking to me about it, I guess, because neither of them ever went to theirs.  And, the regret they expressed at not going.  I’m so glad they convinced me to go.”

Tristan nodded again.  He smiled with fondness.  “So am I.”

She smiled at him almost shyly.  “But you asked me how I could stand being on TV, right?”

“I did.  So how did it happen?”  He sipped more wine before replacing the glass on the coffee table.

She brightened at the memory.  “Dunne MacKay.”

“Dunne, huh?  A boyfriend?”

She looked at him and shook her head definitively.  “While very charismatic and handsome, Dunne’s way too old for me.  Funny, I could not say how old he was.  His hair was white, but his face youthful.  I think he was prematurely grey.  Anyway, I worked for his company in Portland as an intern for the business classes I was taking at OSU.”

“You did the business route after all?”

She nodded and thumbed through another yearbook.  “Double major for business and English.”

“Impressive.”

“Would have been more so, if I could have gotten magna cum laude or summa, but I was just shy of summa by two-tenths of a point.”

Tristan frowned with sympathy.  “Very close.”

“Yeah, but no prize for very close.  Anyway, I did manage to land a management analyst position at Dunne’s company because he was so impressed with my attention to detail in the crucial error I found in some projections as he looked to expand in a new market.”

He took another sip of wine.  “What kind of company did he have?”

“His company ran his signature restaurants that are up and down the coast.  All differ slightly due to the fresh ingredient clause that was his mission.  He developed specific cuisine for each area based on that.”

“I see.  Sounds interesting.”

“It was.  I never knew how much work it was to market test for preferences and such on simple menu items.”

“So where does this Dunne fit with the TV gig?”  Tristan sipped more wine as he studied how animated she became speaking of this man.  Clearly, Monica liked the guy well, but he could not understand why that made him feel a twinge of envy toward the man.

“Once brought on permanently with his company, he took me under his wing.  I became more of his personal assistant slash management analyst.”

“So he mentored you.”

Monica nodded with a small smile of admiration.  “Yes.  An amazing man truly.  He worked on the Food Network as an Iron Chef and studied in all the best cooking schools in France.  He even did a stint in Oxford for international business I think but decided he preferred food to finance.  It had always been his passion, and through him and his influence I discovered my own.”

He blinked in wonder.  “You blossomed under him.”

“I guess, in a way.”  Her smile widened with her agreement.  “He opened my eyes to so many possibilities.  He was well-traveled and quite interesting or eccentric depending on your view.  And, on top of all that, he’s also half Native American like me, which I found so inspiring.”

“It sounds like you had a lot of respect for him.”  He tried not to sound invidious at her gushing over this man, but he did not know why it rubbed him the wrong way.

Monica continued to flip through the yearbook and smile.  “I do.  We still talk. I planned on visiting Portland to see him while I was here vacationing, but he travels a lot to gather inspiration for his newest cuisine selections.  My understanding is that he’s in Australia at that moment.”

He frowned a little with the shake of his head. “You’ve got this great mentor and job you love in Portland.  How then does that translate to TV?”

“As I said Dunne’s been on the Food Network as an Iron Chef and has had other dealings with them.  He’d seen some of my research with local wines in suggestions for the new selections for his restaurants.  He asked how I seemed to know so much about wines, and I told him because I grew up beside a vineyard all my life.  Mom also had a great passion for them but only for the local varieties especially when she was cooking.”

He chuckled.  “Yeah, your mom loves our wines and often buys bottles from us.  I think she said that she liked the Tempranillo the best, but the Merlot was a close second.”

“So one thing led to another, and I wound up giving this seasoned chef a demonstration at his teaching facility.  He told me he enjoyed watching me in that I was a natural not even professionally trained.”

Tristan sipped more wine with a slight smile.  “Big compliment then.”

“Huge, coming from him.  I told him I had always enjoyed cooking with Mom and Daddy, as they always made that time of our day a family affair.  All us kids would pitch in and do our part as per the instructions given by Chef Mom.”

“So from this I imagine there must have been a pitch then to the Food Network, I take it?”

She nodded and exchanged the yearbook for the last one for their senior year.  “Next thing I know I’m sitting at the Food Network studios cooking while Dunne is giving the pitch.  A week later, I got a call for my new show, which has been well-received.  My target audience is people intimidated by all the wine jargon and wine snobs but wants to enjoy wine, too.  They need some guidance on how to go about it while also exploring the palate by enjoying wine with the foods they eat on a regular basis.”

“I do find your show less daunting in its simple approach to wine.  It’s no wonder your show has done so well in embracing the public in the joy of good wine for less.”

“Good wine doesn’t have to be expensive, but some of the best are.  You have to drink what you like and not be afraid to try something new.”

He drank his wine and smiled mysteriously.  Monica was unsure how to read the expression in his eyes when she glanced at him from the yearbook.

“What?” she asked curiously.

“You.”

She raised both her black eyebrows at him and shut the book.  “What about me?”

“You’re different and yet you’re not.”

She smiled at him shyly.  “Being home reminds me of who I am, I guess, and not the person I’ve become in New York.”

“Who is the New York you then?”

“Engaged.”

He nodded and tried not to frown at her.  “Besides that?”

“Extremely busy.”

“Is that a bad thing?”

Monica shrugged as she stood up to settle the yearbook back on the coffee table.  “Sometimes.”  He watched her and frowned for he had the feeling something was wrong.  “Mind if we get some air?” she asked as she looked to him with warmth.

Tristan stood and took up his glass of wine.  He gestured to the front door.  Monica preceded him to the porch.  The night that greeted them proved pleasant with a mild touch of coolness.  No breeze though.  She stood by the railing, and he stood next to her as he studied her.

“It’s so peaceful here.  I miss that,” Monica commented after glancing at him.

“Too noisy in New York?”

“That’s an understatement,” she snorted, “It never sleeps.  The noise is constant.  Even after all the years I’ve lived there now, I still find it hard to sleep.  I bought noise canceling earplugs which work wonders believe me.”

Tristan chuckled with a nod in understanding.  “I felt the same way when living in L.A.  I never got used to it or the horrific traffic.”

She chuckled in compassion and touched his arm.  “Life is so much simpler here especially driving.  I like doing that here.”

“So why did you stay away so long?  Was it because of your fiancé?”

Monica shook her head.  “No.  The opportunities presented just couldn’t be passed up.”

“And it was worth it?”

“In some ways.”  She shrugged as she looked out over the scattered trees giving the house some semblance of seclusion.  “In others not so much.”

“Because you missed being here?”

“And the people I love, sure.”

“You ever think of moving back?” he asked as he sipped his wine.

“Sometimes.  Because of the contract though, I knew it would not be possible.”

“When does it end?”

“After the season’s over.”

He raised both his eyebrows at her. “You mean currently?”

“Yes.  Your episode will be the last of the season.”

“Wow.”

Monica winked at him. “You made contact at a good time.”

“You don’t think you’ll be renewed?”

“My assistant Oliver seems to think I will.”

“And you?”

She shrugged.  “It’s hard to say.  Maybe, but I’m not sure I want to renew.  I feel ready for a new challenge.”

Tristan raised both light brown eyebrows.  “Like what?”

“I’ve thought about maybe opening a little bistro style restaurant highlighting Native American cuisine.”

He blinked at her.  “Really?  Not something commonly seen.  Is there a market?”

She nodded with a small wistful smile.  “As long as it’s good, I’d like to hope so.  But, it’s just an idea at the back of my mind.  I’d have to do the research.”

“If you didn’t renew would you consider moving back here?”

Monica smiled with uncertainty.  “I hope to talk to Sam about that when he comes tomorrow.”

“I see,” Tristan said trying to remain calm, but his heart leaped in excitement at the prospect that she would come back to stay.

She turned to him with the tilt of her head and looked to him warmly.  “What about you?  Dating anyone?”

He blinked at her.  “As a matter of fact, I am.  Her name’s Eve.”

“Serious?” she asked as she leaned against the banister with her legs crossed at the ankle.  Her hands slipped behind her to brace herself.

He shrugged.  “I’ve probably dated her longer than most.  We get along pretty well but take it slow, I guess.  She has two boys from her previous marriage, but I haven’t met them yet.”

“Oh.”

Al Jarreau began crooning to a quick bossa nova inspired “One Way.”  Monica bent her knees with a Cuban motion as she picked up the beat and stopped leaning on the railing.

“Wanna dance?” he asked while smiling sexily and released his glass of wine to rest on the porch banister.

Monica looked to him and then around them on the porch.  She still performed the Cuban motion.  “Here?”

He raised his arms to her in invitation with a nod and fell into the Cuban motion with her.  “Now.”

“You’re still crazy.”

She came to him easily for she did love the way his hips moved in what looked to be a Bachata by the tap step added in the pop of his hips to the left and then the right.  Monica fell in step with him as he slightly positioned his leg between hers and held her close.  She could not help her gasp at the scent of him both musky and fresh skin.  She looked up into his bright eyes feeling drawn to them smiling down at her with flirtatious heat.  Tristan twirled her, then he spun, and they fell back into the basic three-step Cuban motion. 

The next song also Latin-inspired called “Falling Into You” by Celine Dion was a little slower. Tristan and Monica fell into a slow-quick-quick step that exaggerated hip movements with the added flow and flirtation of the arms.  His eyes sizzled as she gasped again.  Monica extended her arm elegantly above her head.  Like him, she glided gracefully across the porch with a careful distribution of weight into each fan, hockey stick or any other dance step that suited him.  Toward the end of the song, he dipped her.

He brought her up suddenly in his arms as she breathed a little laboriously and he the same.  Another sensual Latin-inspired song sounded by Phil Perry about “Perfect Island Nights,” but neither of them moved.  Tristan stared into her eyes and Monica into his.  His head leaned forward. Monica's full lips parted with anticipation.  Both felt the rampant beat of their hearts failed to slow. His eyes never swayed from hers.  They still held one another close seeming to share the same air.

Someone cleared their throat, and both looked to the porch stairs as a pretty ginger-haired woman stepped on the top step wearing a short but breezy cream tunic dress with black pumps.  “Hello.”

They looked at her and broke apart straight away.  Monica fidgeted with her hair, and Tristan cleared his throat.  “Hey, Eve,” he said sounding casual though he felt anything but that.

Monica nodded guessing that this was the girlfriend.  She bit her lip as she looked to the two of them.  Eve seemed to eye him with considerable interest.  Under such scrutiny, Tristan blushed!

“This is Monica who was doing the filming of the vineyard I told you about?” he said after clearing his throat again and licking his dry lips.

Eve nodded and walked passed him.  She held out her hand to Monica.  Monica looked to her gray eyes that seemed amused and not angry at all.  “I’ve heard a lot about you, Monica.  Nice to meet you.  I’m Eve.”

Monica shook her hand briefly that was warm like her smile.  She blinked at her and then Tristan who appeared fairly like the cat who ate the canary.  “We were just talking about you.”

“Were you?  Hmm.”  She looked back to Tristan.

Monica gulped down feeling the awkward tension fall off him in waves.  His girlfriend’s appearance shocked him.  “Well, it’s getting late, and I should be going.  It was nice meeting you, Eve.”

“Same to you, Monica,” she said with remarkable cordialness that met her lovely gray eyes.

Monica looked briefly to Tristan and nodded to him.  “Thanks for dinner and a nice evening, Tristan.  It’s been great catching up.  Goodnight.”  She retreated in quick measure.

“Bye, Monica,” Tristan said as he closed his eyes with a sigh.  When he opened them again, he watched her get into her rental car.  He could not understand how in the world he failed to notice when Eve pulled up.  So wrapped up in the dance, he never registered the approach of headlights or the sound of the woman rolling up the drive in her Subaru.

“Have a good time?” Eve questioned too sweetly as she picked up his glass of wine from the banister and sipped its contents.  She liked it and drank it straight down.

He turned to her with a weak smile.  “I did.  I thought you had the boys this weekend?”

“Me, too.  Switched weeks with the ex because he’s got some business conference in Texas next week.  So he wanted to see them early and not miss any time with them.”

Tristan nodded with the clench of his jaw.  “Makes sense.”

“I thought I’d surprise you, but it looks like I’m the only one surprised tonight.”

He shook his head.  “We were just dancing.”

Eve raised both her thin red eyebrows at him.  “Not from where I was standing.”

Tristan took the empty glass from her and walked back into his house.  She followed.  “Monica and I…we’re just friends,” he confessed as if trying to convince himself.

Eve lifted a single eyebrow at him enjoying his discomfort as she teased, “Uh-huh.  Just very cozy ones a minute ago, too.”

He turned to her suddenly with a look of determination.  “How can I prove you wrong?”

“Dance with me,” she challenged with heat in her deep green eyes.

Tristan sat the empty glass on the coffee table with a half-smile surfacing she always found sexy.  He pulled her into his arms and began to move from side to side.  Eve gasped at the bulge of his arousal and wondered if it were for her or the brunette in yellow who just left.  Her thoughts though went south when his mouth swept over hers as they swayed to the gentle piano sounding around them.


© Copyright 2019 Amy F. Turner. All rights reserved.

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