Cas always has been Dean’s best friend, but now Dean wants to take it to the next level. Problem is, Dean’s got no idea on how to tell his best friend that he’s been in love with him for years, and Cas keeps getting his heart broken. Can Dean finally tell Cas about his true feelings, or will they forever be in relationship chicken?
People deal with breakups in different ways. Some like to wallow in their own self pity before they pull themselves up again and get back out there. Others enjoy drinking away their sorrows while listening to weepy breakup songs. Dean, in particular, enjoys pounding a few beers and then going down to the Roadhouse to complain about his ex.
For Cas, breakups include bingeing Food Network shows for days on end while eating ice cream.
“You can’t just throw the arugula on top as a garnish! The judges will eat you alive!” Cas yells at the television as Dean walks through the door. “I can cook a better chicken dish than that!”
Dean runs a hand over his face and sighs to himself. If Cas is watching Chopped again, that can only mean one thing.
“Don’t tell me that Meg broke up with you,” Dean says out of courtesy, but the large gallon of ice cream sitting next to Cas speaks for itself.
Cas reaches for the remote and turns down the TV. “She said that she met someone else and that I was only going to hold her back,” he mutters, and then reaches for the bowl next to him. “It’s like our three months together meant nothing.”
Dean tries to conceal his grin, but he really can’t. He’d been waiting for Meg and Cas to break up in their own time, and never did Dean really believe that they could last. Meg is a troublemaker with a penchant for cigarettes and hard whiskey, while Cas runs a ‘save the bees’ group and works in a coffee shop. Sure, opposites attract and all that, but there is such a thing as too opposite. They were doomed from the start, but there is no way that Dean will ever tell Cas that.
“Sorry, Cas,” is Dean’s only response, and Cas just throws him a glare and a pout.
“You don’t need to lie to me. I know that you didn’t like her.”
“She wasn’t good for you, Cas!” Dean says while he tosses up his hands. “Hell, the girl tried to convince you that breaking and entering into that abandoned liquor store was a good idea, and you almost went along with it!”
Cas puts down the bowl, crosses his arms over his chest, and sniffs. “The heart wants what the heart wants.”
“Oh yeah? And what does your heart want, Cas? A girl with three felonies on her record who left you for another guy?”
His friend goes quiet next to him, and even Dean realizes that he’s being a bit of a dick. “Look, I just want you to be with the right person, that’s all.”
Cas looks up at him and winks. “Then who do you think is the right person for me, Dean?”
The baristas at the Starbucks nearest to my apartment knew my order by heart since i was there so often. They knew my name too, but it seemed like it was spelled differently on the cup every time I got it. It was almost as if they just added vowels and consonants to wherever in the name they wanted. It always made me laugh. I had been out of a job for about two months, so every day I would walk to Starbucks with the newspaper and my laptop and look for job offers. There were plenty of places hiring all around the city; small deli’s and independent little restaurants, but that’s not what I wanted to be a part of. I wanted to be somewhere like Ruth’s Chris where plates of food sold for 65 dollars each. That’s what I was about. I was good enough for expensive restaurants like that and I knew it. I also wouldn’t be able to handle myself as a chef in an Applebee’s or Outback Steak House. No. I was much better than that.
The seats in the Starbucks were comfortable, so I easily lost track of time. A small growl escaped my lips as my laptop screen went black. Of course, I would choose today not to bring my charger with me. I sat back and sipped on my cool coffee, frowning when I realized after all this time that the barista used whole milk instead of soy today. I peered at my dark reflection in the blank screen of my laptop; my messy brown hair pulled back in a ponytail, my dark bluish-gray eyes… I tried to fix the red bandana I had tied around my head like always, but the more I messed with it, the worse it looked. When I was officially irritated with my looks, I slammed my laptop shut.
“Did you hear about Harry Styles?”
Suddenly, my ears perked up. I remembered the name from the TV yesterday and didn’t mean to eavesdrop on the conversation happening between two men near me, but I couldn’t help it. It’s not like I was doing much else anyway.
“Yeah. He’s one of the best. He can take hit after hit after hit and he’ll still be on his feet. He’s fast too.”
“Well what happened to him?”
The first man laughed. “He got the flu. He’s out for a few weeks because of the flu.”
“What?? That guy is like a machine. He’s not fighting because of the flu???”
I laughed too. Society often painted these celebrities up to be like invincible people, so it amused me to hear that they could still get a little cough here and there. It reminded me that they were human. I was sure that Clark would be complaining all about Harry being out of boxing for a while when he got home. Clark liked this Harry Styles guy.
After an unsuccessful morning of job hunting, I collected my coffee and my laptop and stepped out into the streets on the outskirts of New York City. It was a gorgeous day out, so a lot of people had decided to walk today instead of driving to wherever they needed to be. I liked the city when the weather was nice – it seemed like more people came outside and brought their pleasant attitudes with them. I was convinced, after two years of observation, that the weather determined people’s attitudes. If it was raining, people were especially rude. Sun usually meant more pleasant crowds.
I closed my eyes for a moment and let the warm sun sink into my skin. A small smile spread across my face but quickly disappeared when someone slammed into me, causing me to spill my coffee all down my front and drop my laptop onto the sidewalk. The technology fell open, a two of the keys from the keyboard popping loose and the screen cracking with the impact.
“What the heck??” I blurted, trying to shake coffee off of my arms and whimpering as I looked down at my destroyed computer. I threw the empty coffee cup angrily into a trashcan as hard as I could.
“I’m sorry Miss, just one second-“ The stranger was a shorter man in a suit with black hair combed to one side. His face was pale and he looked completely worn out. He addressed me and then continued to speak on his cell phone rapidly like he had been before, but he helped me pick up my computer in the process. “Yes… yes… okay… okay, well if he wasn’t such a picky eater!… ugh yes… I mean, just tell him I’m trying, God dammit! It’s not my fault we’re in this mess!”
It was then that I noticed a second guy standing with the short, flustered cell phone talker. He looked much more relaxed in jeans, black Vans, and a white tee with his brown hair wind-blown to one side. He was much more tan and looked almost as if he were my age, if not a little older. He watched as the first man struggled to help me with my computer and then simply looked back at his own cell phone, completely unconcerned.
I pinched my coffee-soaked tee between my two fingers and pulled it off of my skin, grimacing down at the mess before I sighed. I glared back up at the two men who had run into me, but both were still on their phone, so I turned to walk away.
“Wait! Wait!” The older man called to me. He had finally hung up his phone. “I’m so sorry. That was my boss on the phone. Please let me help you get cleaned up,” he insisted.
I tried to smile politely and shook my head. “I don’t live too far from here. It’s okay.”
“Oh geez,” the man sighed. “Well I broke your laptop. At least let me replace it for you.”
I started to protest, but closed my mouth quickly. A complete stranger? Offering to buy me a new laptop?
“I… I can’t let you do that…”
“Aww it’s okay. He’s rich,” the younger of the two finally spoke up. “Isn’t that right, Arnie?”
The old man sighed. “Louis, I asked you not to call me that. It’s… demeaning.” The man smiled at me. “Arnold is the name. This is Louis.”
I smiled. “Kennedy. I would shake your hand but I’m sticky with coffee.”
Arnold laughed. “New shirt, new laptop? Please, I insist.”
Louis looked up at me, his icy blue eyes meeting mine for the first time. He was completely handsome. As he nodded, encouraging me to accept the gift, I couldn’t help but nod too. Arnold grinned and started to lead me down the street. “Are you from around here?”
I nodded. “I’ve lived in New York for a while.”
Arnold almost began to bounce on his feet. “Perhaps you can help us then. Do you know many of the restaurants around here?”
I hummed and chewed my lip. “What kind of food are you looking for?”
“Well, we’re not looking for any exact food… more like the person who makes the food. You wouldn’t happen to know any particularly good chefs around here, would you?”
Okay, so maybe I should bump into strangers more often.
“I don’t mean to sound boastful, but I’m a pretty good chef myself…” I said slowly.
Arnold gasped. “Like, a real chef?”
I nodded. “I graduated from culinary school…”
Arnold’s old eyes lit up. “LOUIS!! Did you hear that???”
Behind us, Louis chuckled while still looking at his phone. “What are the odds that you would spill coffee on a chef today?”
Arnold stopped me in the middle of the sidewalk and held both of my hands. I tried not to let my laptop fall from under my arms again as he gripped my hands in his own.
“Kennedy, I need you. How good are you at cooking? Honestly?”
I shrugged. “I like to think I’m pretty amazing…” Arnold’s eyes looked pleadingly into my own. I nodded reassuringly. “Seriously. I’m not bad. I worked at Ruth’s Chris-“
“She worked at Ruth’s Chris, Louis!” Arnold interrupted. Louis hummed and raised his eyebrows like he was impressed. I laughed. That was the same thing I did to Clark all the time when he was talking to me about something I didn’t care about.
“Okay,” Arnold continued. “I work for a man who is a very picky eater… but he really wants – well, he really needs a chef to cook for him right now.”
Suddenly, my excitement began to dissipate. My smile faded. “Look, I don’t do personal chef kinds of things. I’m more of a restaurant kind of person.”
Arnold squeezed my hand a little more tightly. “No, you don’t understand. I’m desperate at this point. I’ll be fired if I don’t find someone for him. You’ll be paid $150 a day with weekends off and you’ll even be provided a room in the house for the weekdays and a kitchen and pots and pans and ingredients… you name it and we’ll get it for you.”
$150 a day plus room and board? And I wouldn’t even have to buy ingredients? When I thought about it… I would have a whole kitchen to myself. That’s essentially what I wanted, right? My own kitchen, my own restaurant… baby steps, Kennedy, baby steps, I thought. Maybe if I saved up enough of the money, I could buy my own restaurant space. Before I could consider it anymore, I was shaking Arnold’s hand.
“I’ll do it.”
Arnold’s face filled with a pink shade of relief. He exhaled hard and patted Louis on the shoulder. “We did it man. We found a chef for him.”
I cleared my throat, one thought suddenly arising in my mind. “Who exactly will I be cooking for?”
Louis smirked. “You’re not allowed to know.”
I laughed and pushed Louis’ arm playfully. He smirked a little bigger but didn’t say anything. I stopped laughing and frowned. “Wait, really? I’m not allowed to know?”
Louis shook his head and looked back down at his phone. “He prefers to be anonymous at the moment.”
I glanced back at Arnold, who was watching me intently, probably hoping that I wouldn’t back out of the deal knowing this new information. I chewed the inside of my lip for a moment before asking, “Okay… do I get a hint or anything? I mean, is this guy like, a drug dealer or something?”
Louis threw his head back as he laughed. Arnold even shook his head and grinned at me.
Louis wrapped his arm around me and started to lead me into the Apple store. I was still in shock that they were buying me a completely new laptop.
“I like you, Kennedy, so I’ll give you a hint,” Louis said. “Your weapons are your knives, his weapons are his fists.”