Chapter 116:

Interlude: Is it blackmail, an opportunity, or both?

The Y-files [GL]

Mari's POVBookmark here

After our dinner Claire left the dinner table, Anna also left to go home, I had already taken an awful long break and told Tory and Dean that I had to go back to the kitchen.Bookmark here

On my way, Lisa called me over. Well, that break had been really extended so I guess it was normal that she called me over. But her smile confused me. Could there be something else?Bookmark here

She took me by my shoulder and looked at me like she was going to share a secret with me. “I want you and Tory to do something for me.” I was a bit baffled by her suggestion. She had created this big scheme to get Frank and Sam together. Since I was tired of their constant bickering too, I told her she could count on us.Bookmark here

When I arrived in the kitchen, I told Frank that he could go and take his break, I would prepare dinner for them. He passed me the remaining orders and gratefully accepted my offer.Bookmark here

While I started working on the orders, my mind wandered to what had just happened. I offered Tory to live together with me on a whim. Weren't things moving a little too fast? No, I should not doubt myself. Tory and I are meant to be. The more time we get to spend together, the better. At least her dad seemed supportive. Her mother surely was something else. I hoped she would come around eventually, but I had no idea how Japanese culture looked at lesbian relationships and lesbian marriage.Bookmark here

in comparison, my parents had just given up on me, the day I told them I was gay they thought it would be just a phase that would pass. I could sense the disappointment when they realized it wasn't just a phase. But we still talked, and even though they did not understand my sexuality, they did their best to be somewhat understanding and to stay in contact. Things got a lot better between us after I left the house. If I had to compare that to what Tory must be going through after that homophobic scene... I would have to make sure to give her some extra attention tonight.Bookmark here

Work proceeded smoothly and Frank was already back from his break. He was a really reliable boss to work under. The kind of boss that was always there when you needed him, but left you to your own devices when you were doing a good job. No stereotypical needless shouting of a control freak, like you can often see in kitchens. He did not even get angry when I occasionally messed up. He just calmly showed me how to do it in the future. This really was an awesome workplace. I felt a bit scared at leaving this all behind for the job I made Claire offer me.Bookmark here

While we were cleaning up my phone rang. It was a number I did not recognize but I still picked up the phone.Bookmark here

“Ah, is this Mari? This is Maxima, I am a friend of Thea.” The voice on the other line sounded happy but in a hurry.Bookmark here

“Yes?””Bookmark here

“Let me cut to the chase, I'm in a pinch for my birthday party tomorrow, and Thea told me she knew a chef that owed her. Could you be a darling and cook for my party tomorrow. There will be a team to work under you, so you do not need to worry about that. I will take care of a part of your debt to Thea in exchange.”Bookmark here

I was worried about getting the day off, without notice... I sighed. I owed Thea for that dress, and I did not like being indebted.Bookmark here

“I don't know. We agreed that she would tell me these kinds of things well in advance. I will check with my employer. Just a second.”Bookmark here

Frank who overheard my talk looked at me with a curious look in his eyes.Bookmark here

“Frank, could I have the day off tomorrow?”Bookmark here

Frank checked the calendar and said “Sure thing. I will manage for a day by myself.”Bookmark here

It was a good thing Frank was always so easygoing.Bookmark here

“Well, I guess you heard him, Maxima.”Bookmark here

“Lovely. Just lovely, I will send you the detail.”Bookmark here

I thought that would be all, so I started to say my goodbyes, but Maxima interrupted me.Bookmark here

“I need to ask you one more favor.”Bookmark here

I wondered what else there could be.Bookmark here

“I was reading Collegium Musicum, and when Thea told me the chef that owes her, is the girlfriend of Tory Yaki, the one in the magazine, I wanted to ask you to arrange for her to perform at my birthday party tomorrow.”Bookmark here

“She's here, want me to pass you the phone?”Bookmark here

It would be better if they just worked it out between themselves wouldn't it? But Maxima would not have it and replied to me, “It seems you are misunderstanding, my dear. I already promised my friends I would make it happen. So I am clearing the rest of your debt to Thea in exchange for this favor, that will be the payment for the concert.”Bookmark here

I was speechless. She was forcing me to push my debt onto Tory. I really couldn't agree with that. Maxima noticing my silence added. “If she does not want to, tell her the head sponsor of BOZAR will be present. It should be quite a career opportunity for her. Refusing foolishly would really not be wise.”Bookmark here

This Maxima seemed like a dangerous person. Thea was very friendly when I made this deal, I had no idea she would pass my debt on to a vicious person like this. She was threatening Tory's career if we refused. I knew how much her career meant to Tory, and I could not let that happen to her.Bookmark here

“I will talk to her, I promise nothing, but I will do my best.”Bookmark here

“I am glad we have an understanding. I expect a positive reply. Just reply to the mail I sent you earlier.”Bookmark here

I felt really nervous. How was I going to explain to Tory what had just happened? I walked over to her and her dad. They were still talking at their table and decided to just tell her everything from the start.Bookmark here

Her eyes became bigger about my deal with Thea, and when she heard about how I was blackmailed into asking her to perform, I could see she was getting furious. Then, I told her about the BOZAR sponsor that was going to be present.Bookmark here

I kept my head down. I was sure she would be angry at me for selling her out, and I had no way to pay her for the debt they were clearing.Bookmark here

Tory looked at me a little smug, bowed, and whispered to me “I'll make sure you repay me everything you owe me tonight.”Bookmark here

I looked at her surprised. “That sounds like you are rewarding me?”Bookmark here

“An audition with the main sponsor of BOZAR, that kind of opportunity does not come every day you know. I would be crazy to refuse a chance like that if I want to win the Queen Elizabeth contest.”Bookmark here

Tory seemed rather happy with this development. It seemed this was a positive thing. A real big opportunity actually, and she thanked me for it. Had Maxima's threats just been a way to tease me? I really don't understand a thing about the world of classical music. I would have to learn more about it quickly, now that things were getting more serious between the two of us. After all, we were going to start living together.Bookmark here

A little while later, Dean said his goodbyes and left, he told me again that he would never forgive me if I ever made his daughter cry, so I'd better take good care of her. The realization that I was meeting my girlfriend's dad for the first time only popped into my head at that moment. I guess the surprise and adrenaline rush which I had felt earlier when her mom tried to force us to break up had cleared all that nervousness I would have felt otherwise. He looked surprised when I gave him three kisses. “That is how we do it in Belgium,” I said when I saw the surprised look on his face.Bookmark here

“Well, I could get used to that,” he replied.Bookmark here

After that, I went back to the kitchen to clean up, and Tory joined me in the kitchen to talk, while I was working. I suddenly remembered what Lisa had asked me to do earlier. Frank was still working in the storage room, so after some innocent gossip that should make him think we did not know he was there, I said just loud enough for him to overhear clearly what we were saying. “Did you hear Sam earlier? She was talking about how she would be totally into Frank if he got his act together. You think she is actually into him?”Bookmark here

“CLANG”Bookmark here

We heard something being dropped in the storage room. I guess my mission was successful.Bookmark here

Tory who immediately got what I was playing at, giggled and said “It wouldn't surprise me. All she ever talks about is Frank this, Frank that.”Bookmark here

We heard some more loud stumbling. Frank entered the kitchen, completely, blushing heavily, and quickly left. I guess that was a bullseye!Bookmark here

When everything was ready in the kitchen to start cooking for the next day, Tory and I got ready to go home. I went to Lisa and said “Mission completed,” and I gave her a little wink.Bookmark here

Lisa got a smile on her face and said. “Now we just need to let it simmer for a while.”Bookmark here

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