The foreplay of paradise. A chef, crew, traveling food diary, and attempts towards fame.
|Anthony lit another cigarette as he sauntered back to the van, unsure what the guys would make of his absence. They seemed unaffected, the three of them leaning against the van, talking. He reached the passenger door, greeted them solemnly, and swung himself in. A thought had creased the dark tan on his forehead. The visit had been disquieting. He was a betrayer, another Judas in the lot of them, leaving her in this sterile Swiss town. He looked back at the apartment complex. He frowned at the constricting symmetry of the trees. His guilt burrowed deeper as his thoughts ran over the last twenty minutes.
The doorsteps had creaked wearily under Anthony's worn sandal as he climbed the last one and stamped out the cigarette. The phone he held to his ear was on its third ring. How strange she hadn't answered. He cleared his throat expectantly, nervously, as it rang once more. What was taking her so long? He wouldn't ring the doorbell. The tiny hairs on his arms suddenly stood on end as a chill froze his blood. Was he found out? Trapped?
He saw nothing unusual, glancing back towards the parking lot from where he'd come. She'd said her apartment was on the second level, high enough that the windows betrayed nothing of what went on behind them. He glanced up at them anyway. Before the thoughts of fleeing could entertain his patience any longer, the building's heavy red door swung open.
“Anja.” He said. Her hair was dripping wet as if she'd just come out of the shower. It smelled distinctly of the chemical odor that sometimes gets described as raspberry. Anthony pulled her towards him and pressed his nose against her, inhaling deeply. “So fresh!” He laughed, relieved.
She led him inside to her apartment. He'd never seen it before. The white walls were bare, as was the small studio except for a bed, love seat, and a few books that filled the space sufficiently.
“Would you like some tea?” She offered in a heavy Russian accent. She stood awkwardly in the center of the room, unsure what to do with her hands. It's something he'd always found irresistible about her, that sweet innocence.
“No.” He said from the edge of the bed. “I won't be staying long.”
She creased her brow and jutted out her lower lip. “What?”
“I can't stay. I told you about the project. I've invested a lot of time and money into it.” Already he noticed how slowly things were progressing. He reached his hand to pull her towards him.
“But I thought you wanted me. I thought you wanted to be together.” Her eyes moistened. She was doing a fine job at conveying how hurt she felt.
“I do, I so badly do.” He leaned towards her slender neck, brushing a strand of wet blond hair away, he kissed her.
“But wh-” She persisted.
“It's because I love you.” His words were forced, rushed, but time was fleeting. “After I finish the project and return to Germany you and your daughter can come to me there. But now with your husband--”
The mention of the grim Swiss chef had a strong effect on the girl. She placed her finger against Anthony's lip, quieting him. “I don't love him.”
“I need to know.”
She stood and obediently slipped out of the dark jeans and unimaginative sweater. The curves of her body were thick. Anthony ran his hand over the smooth surface as she reached for his shirt.
When he opened his eyes she was watching him with the loyal indulgence of a golden retriever. He hadn't meant to fall asleep, but now he was sure he had. The guys would be wondering what happened to him.
“Hi,” she whispered gently as she leaned to kiss him.
“Anja, let's go for a walk.”
He snapped a picture of the two of them and she cried a little before he left. She didn't want to meet the guys or have anything to do with whatever it was that kept him from her.