Welcome to Culinary Goodness!

The Savorys were founded by Almond, the man who moved away from his life in Riverview and bought a plot of land in Sunset Valley. Will he and his legacy make it through fifteen generations, with fifteen simmers telling their story?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Chapter 20

Isn't it strange, journal? For the longest time, I just haven't had the energy to write in you. But now that things have settled down a bit, I can finally sit down and just take the time to reflect over the turns my life has taken. At least for a little while, anyway. There's only so much time I have in between working and taking care of my family. I know. That sounds so strange coming from me of all people.

I guess I should start at the beginning though.

Everything changed the day Cinnamon and I had our eighteenth birthdays. It was a small, family affair consisting of our parents and Parsley only. As we stood in front of our cakes, which dad had baked specially for us, we turned toward each other. As I met my twin's eyes, a mutual understanding flowed between us. Our lives would never be the same again. Things were going to change. I can't explain how we knew it, we just did. It's a twin thing, I guess.

I couldn't think of any wishes to make as I blew out my candles (after Cinnamon, of course, she being the elder twin). I don't believe in wishes anyway, so I guess it doesn't really matter, right? After all, life is what you make of it and all that jazz.

I can't believe how much my sister has changed. For starters, she finally got rid of the gigantic dork glasses she's worn throughout the majority of her adolescence and made the change to contacts. Thankfully, she picked clear ones so that the beauty of her eyes can still be appreciated. She also finally had the courage to grow out her hair again. Her soft, golden hair falls in gentle waves, framing her face. It's no where near as long as it was prior to the bubble gum incident, but who knows. Maybe someday it will be.

Cinnamon wasted no time in selecting a career. She headed on over to the theater and applied for a position there. She's as passionate about music as I am about cooking and I'm sure she'll get the big break she deserves someday. Maybe. Assuming there's no one better than her out there. Which there might be. Anyway.

Unlike Cinnamon, I don't think I've changed all that much except maybe my taste in clothes. I'd like to think that my style is a little more sophisticated now. More grown up. Not like it matters, really. Just like my sister, I knew what I wanted to do with my life. I think I've known since childhood. I wasted no time and maybe a day or two after hitting eighteen, I went to the local Bistro and applied for a position. When I first started, I was busing tables and occasionally mixing a salad or two, but I've made friends, surprisingly enough, with a few of the cooks and they gave me a few lessons on the sly, making it easier for me to advance a few rungs up the ladder to success. I spend so much time in my work clothes because of the long hours at work that my own personal style doesn't matter all that much.

Of course, I didn't only have professional goals. Meeting Johnny Espinoza and Maxwell Vermont changed the course of my life, making me yearn for personal, private goals that I'd never really had before.

I remember being nervous and regretting not having made a wish when I blew out the candles on my birthday cake. I'd donned my only dress and headed on over to Maxwell's house on a day that I knew Johnny and his parents would be out. I didn't want - or need - them to be around in case my plans backfired. Which they could have, of course, given Max's personality.

Max had changed too. He'd let his hair grow enough to cover up the numerous tribal markings he'd had shaved all over his head. When I'd asked him about them, he'd said that looking like a thug was what kept strangers away from him. An effective tactic, I'll admit, but one that he swears he doesn't need anymore.

I was well met upon arriving. Maxwell pulled me into a hug and cupped his large hands on either side of my face. I wrapped my arms around his waist, loving how solid and warm he felt. I can't believe how far he's come. From hardly uttering a sound above a whisper, he talks to me now and has a personality that shines with originality.

We held our pose for a little while, simply looking at each other and murmuring a word or two. Finally, I plucked up the courage (yeah, I know, this coming from me, the girl who always had audacity) to ask what had been on my mind for months. I asked him to marry me.

I closed my eyes, hoping that he wouldn't reject me. I felt Max's hands stiffen and I braced myself for what surely was to come. He was silent for a long time. I stood stock still, not knowing what to do. And then finally, his warm, deep voice spoke, "Chocolate... open your eyes."

My eyelids fluttered open and I chanced a peek at his face. He was smiling and his sea green eyes were shiny with unshed tears. His hands softened and slowly lowered, tracing along my arms, until he held my hands in his. "Of course I'll marry you."

We were wed right then and there, in the sitting room of his house. A quiet, private ceremony consisting of nothing but words of love. Sure, we knew that we would have to go and register our matrimony and get all the paperwork done in order for this to count, but we didn't care. It was our personal slice of perfection and paradise.

And as we held each other close, memorizing each other's faces, I realized that this was definitely the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. Who would have thought that the wicked little girl I once was would want this more than anything else in the world? If someone had told me during my younger years that I would meet someone and fall in love and cherish them more than anything, I would have laughed and spit in their face and called them a number of horrible names. Hell I'll still do that. Just not when it applies to this. To Max. My other half.

Maxwell moved into the Savory household and took the Savory surname. He's always known that the Espinoza family was only a placeholder for him until he found his place in this world, which, as he says, is by my side. I wouldn't have minded becoming Chocolate Vermont, but he says that he's joining the Savory family as a permanent member rather than me joining him, a lone man. I could argue with this, but I know my family is happy that I won't be changing my surname. Honestly, I couldn't be bothered with all those formalities and stuff. All I know is that I was very much in happily wedded bliss.

But I wasn't the only one with marriage on her mind. I don't think a full week had passed before Cinnamon was proposing to Johnny. He squealed like a girl and accepted. Unlike me; however, Cinnamon decided to move into the Espinoza household. I guess it makes sense. She belongs there with his family just as Max belongs with me. I am sad though. Even though my twin and I never really saw eye-to-eye, it'll be the first time we've ever been apart. Up until my marriage, we'd always slept in the same room together. To think that she won't even be in the same house, twanging away at her guitar, anymore is hard. I guess I was wrong in thinking that I'd never really shared a bond with her.

Still, I relished in finally being the official head of the household. Oh don't get me wrong. Dad's still working in the medical field, saving lives and all that jazz so he's still the primary breadwinner. And mom? She quit her job at the local newspaper, claiming that although she loves writing and being in charge, the work was becoming too stressful for her to handle. So she quit. She's far from unemployed though. She took advantage of the new salon in town and became a Stylist so that she can express her artistic creativity. Mom's still very much an author though and is currently working on what I believe is her fourth book.

I don't exactly like being in charge of the laundry or anything, but I gladly accept the chores if it means that I'm in charge. I thought long and hard about removing all bits of technology from the house, as I had longed to do during childhood, but decided that the vile machines could stay. Mom and Dad still benefit from them, as does Parsley and even Max. But one day I promise to extract my revenge on all things technological, you can quote me on that.

Besides, I wasn't up to smashing the computers the way I wanted to. Just a few weeks after my wedding, my stomach started acting up. At first, I thought that there might be some spoiled food in our fridge. An impossibility, but something I had to check nonetheless. But as I'd thought, none of the food was spoiled. And it obviously wasn't my cooking. I'm not as good as my dad yet, but I'm not completely awful at it either.

So I read. Books have never done me wrong and always have the answers to every problem in our world. I looked up various diseases from the numerous medical terminology books that dad brings home, but nothing seemed to fit. Everyone, aside from Max and me, seemed to find my nausea funny and I often heard mom and dad whispering to each other and then glancing guiltily at me if they knew I was in the room.

I ignored them though. That sort of behavior is beneath me. This kept going on for at least ten weeks when at last, dad put a different book into my hands. I stared at the title. What to Expect When You're Expecting. I stared at him. Expecting what? Never one to turn down a book, I flipped it open and what I saw astounded me.

I was pregnant. Apparently mom and dad had recognized the symptoms from the very beginning and just hadn't bothered to tell me. The two had even placed bets on how long it would take me to figure out that I was pregnant, the jerks.

Naturally, instead of rejoicing with them over their impending grandchild, I went to celebrate with Cinnamon instead. My twin was genuinely happy for me, expressing just how excited she is to become an aunt when she let the bomb drop on me.

She's pregnant too! Unlike me, Cinnamon had known right away that she was expecting a little demon of her own and had apparently gotten pregnant maybe one or two weeks prior to me.

I shouldn't really be surprised, of course. We are twins and I guess we're doomed to do things together for the rest of our lives. Still, I never would've guessed that Johnny had it in him. Maybe he's more manly than I thought?!

Everyone was more than supportive of me, but none more than my Maxwell. I think I can honestly say that not a woman alive has ever received such tender, loving care from a daddy-to-be like I have. Max gave my sore back and tender feet massages every day, never once complaining that his hands were tired. Despite his shy and quiet nature, he expressed a vast interest in our children. That's right. I said children. Dad being a doctor is a great thing. Having had to go through the maternity ward during his clinical rotations, he knew how to tell the difference between genders and the amount of children. I was having twins. Fraternal twins.

And sooner than I could have ever expected it, the day of my labor came three weeks earlier than I had been expecting.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Chapter 19

I guess I won't be winning any "sister of the year" awards seeing as the night I agreed to go out with Johnny - and found out about the mysterious boy - was Parsley's fourteenth birthday. Seeing as I rarely tell anyone of my plans, no one thought to stop me as I headed outside, thinking I was going to putter around the garden for a while before the great blowing of the candles on the cake. But nope. I missed it. It was worth it, though.

In honor of starting high school, Parsley adopted a sort of 'punk' look, letting his bangs grow out and wearing more black than usual. I don't know what mom and dad think about it, but I think he's turning into some sort of emo-kid. Parsley says it's just so that he doesn't look like the 'gentle poet' that he 'truly is'. Whatever. It's just him being his usual weird and dramatic self, I think.

Parsley didn't complain about my missing out on his birthday 'party' if it could be called that, though. I think he's actually relieved that I wasn't there to shove his face into the cake as is my tradition.

Anyway, I set out for the Espinoza household during the early hours of the afternoon. Johnny and I hadn't really worked out a specific time, so I'm hoping that I'm at least expected. I know I'll strangle him if he hasn't even told anyone that I'm coming.

I was surprised at the size of Johnny's house. He's never given me a reason to think of him as poor, but I wasn't anticipating seeing such a pretty and large house. It's nothing like the Savory property but somehow just as nice.

I stood, staring at the stained glass for a few minutes before I managed to work up the courage to knock. Johnny's never been over to my house and it feels weird knowing I'm about to enter his. Especially because I'll finally be put in contact with the mystery boy. What if he doesn't live up to my expectations? Have I built him up so much in my mind that I'll be completely and utterly disappointed when I finally meet him? Or worse still, what if I don't meet his? Johnny said he'd been intrigued by me and that's why he wanted to meet me. What if this "Max" doesn't think I'm worth his attention?

All my worries set my stomach churning and I thought about turning around and heading straight back home right then and there. But I'm no coward and I won't ever find rest if I don't get this stupid boy out of my head. Little did I know that the mystery boy would never get out of my head.

Johnny met me at the front door with the usual smile plastered on his face. "He's shy," Johnny warned, "But willing to meet you. I'll be upstairs if you need anything." And with an impish grin, my 'friend' ran off, leaving me alone at the threshold of the house.

I wandered inside cautiously, my mind throwing up a thousand different ways to murder Johnny for having left me in such a situation. I heard the gentle strumming of a guitar coming from my left, though, so I followed it hoping I might find someone who might be friendly.

Then I saw him. He was just as beautiful and mysterious as the first time I'd accidentally seen him during my very first drive. Johnny wasn't lying when he'd said that Max was shy. His hand gently squeezed my own, his touch feather-light, and his voice barely rose above a whisper as he introduced himself as "Maxwell Vermont" but could I "please call him Max?".

When I told him my name was Chocolate, a slow smile spread across Max's face.

I know it sounds corny to say it, but the very moment I looked into his light green eyes and saw that gentle smile, I knew I was a goner. Before this moment, I didn't believe in all that love at first sight crap, but apparently it's true. It really does happen! And it was easy enough to believe that Max felt the exact same way as me even though neither of us said it aloud.

For the first time in my life, I smiled for no reason and didn't care who was watching... except that I knew I wanted Max's eyes on me.

We stood in his living room and slowly, I worked on breaking Max out of his quiet shell, an endeavor that would have bored me within minutes if it were anyone else. But I persevered and got him talking, sharing interests with me. Max is a great listener though and it felt like we really connected. Although I'd wanted to murder Johnny for ditching me, now I could only think of gratuitous thoughts about his vanishing act. Maybe he wasn't trying to be mean. Maybe Johnny was just trying to make meeting his adoptive brother easier on the both of us. Whatever his reasons, I'm thankful for them. I doubt Max and I would've clicked quite so easily if he'd been present.

I'm not going to lie and say that I got Max talking and opening up to me within that one day. It took weeks before he started speaking in a voice other than the gentle whispers I'd come to associate with him. Slowly, I started to unravel the mysterious Maxwell Vermont. I learned that he'd been placed for adoption at the tender age of two when his parents, both drug sellers, had been killed during a gang fight. It wasn't a past to be proud of, but I felt nothing but joy when he told me. Up until that point, Max had never shared anything quite so personal with me and it made me feel that much closer to him.

Eventually, I became such a regular fixture at the Espinoza house that I wound up meeting Johnny's parents. I don't remember their names, but I am grateful that they took Max in. If they hadn't adopted him... if they hadn't moved to Sunset Valley, I would never have met my other half.

Max and I did everything together - often at his house given that Johnny was busy hanging out with Cinnamon at mine. Though I hadn't worked enough magic to make Max start attending the public school, I did manage to coax him out of the house every now and again. It was almost always after the hustle and bustle of the city was drawing to a close, but it was progress. Max has opened up to me and by extension, his own family, far more than anyone ever thought he would.

I would know. I received proof of that on one fateful Saturday afternoon. Max and I had been sitting in front of the fireplace, talking about nothing in particular, when I felt the itch to try something I'd never done before. Not knowing how to go about this sort of thing nor how Max might react, I moved slowly and carefully, cautioning him with my eyes.

Fortunately, I was well met and damn, what a kisser that boy is. Journal, I think I'm in love...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Chapter 18

My first time driving would have been fairly uneventful if it hadn't been for him.

I'd been cruising along the neighborhoods closest to the city, getting a feel for the streets when I first caught a glimpse of him. He was standing around outside in what I guess was his front yard, just staring up at the stars. His head whipped around when he saw my headlights and the focus of his eyes shifted from the night sky to me.

How do I know he was looking at me? Easy. When the glare of my lights illuminated his face, I saw that his strangely beautiful, clear green eyes were staring at me. I don't know what to make of this stranger. I've never seen him before, not in school or around town.

I went home thinking about that mysterious stranger. He appeared to be around my age. Maybe I'll see him in school sometime. I hope I do. He's the first person to ever intrigue me this way.

I drove Cinnamon and me to school the next morning. She wanted a turn, but I told her that since I'd already driven this part of town, it'd be better for me to do it. Really, I just wanted to control the speed so I could keep an eye out for the mystery boy from last night.

Unfortunately I didn't see him anywhere and I couldn't just go looking for him. Not when Cinn will follow me around, telling me I shouldn't be skipping. Not when I know that Cinn will go tattle to a teacher, swearing she's got my best interests at heart, the very second I ditch anyway. So I headed over to the Student Parking Lot - right across the park in front of the school - and got my stuff. Maybe I'd see him inside? He has to go to school, right?

Cinn took note of my distracted mood and headed off to school before I did, grumbling about it being her turn to drive when we go home. I ignored her. As if I'll let her drive! Anyway, I took my time gathering the books I wouldn't read and stuffing them into the backpack that I'd ditch in my locker. When I'd finally made it to the park, there were only ten minutes left until the first bell rang. I'd have made it in plenty of time if I hadn't been interrupted by a boy stepping in front of me so fast I nearly crashed right into him.

I studied the boy's face. Definitely not my mystery boy from last night. This one had a cute baby face with green eyes that didn't resemble the other boy's in any way. He had wild brown hair that I'm assuming he carefully styled to look messy given the amount of gel in it.

"Hi. I'm Johnny Espinoza." The boy said, talking too fast as if he were afraid I wouldn't hear him if he wasn't quick.

I stared at him. For a second, I contemplated just side-stepping around him and going on my merry way. But... I'd never seen this Johnny kid before, just like I'd never seen the other boy either. Maybe it wouldn't hurt to get to know him. So I introduced myself. "Chocolate Savory." I glowered at him, daring him to make fun of my name.

"Wow, that's an interesting name. Anyway, um, well, my family and I just moved in last night and... I was hoping someone might be able to show me around town. I do a lot of the errands for my family and it'd be nice if I could do them all without getting lost." Johnny grinned sheepishly. I couldn't help rolling my eyes. What a dorky kid.

When I only stared at him, Johnny pressed onward. "Will you help me out, Chocolate? Please? I noticed you have a car. I'll pay for gas and everything if you'll help me out."

He looked up at me with those puppy dog eyes. I sighed. Shaking his kid would be hard. So I shrugged my shoulders and nodded. "Sure. I'll take you around. And if I show you good places to eat, you're paying for that too."

Johnny's whole face lit up like a little kid. "Thanks so much!"

"Yeah, whatever. If you're enrolled for school, you'd better get your butt moving. We're gonna be late."

That's how life changed for me. Most days, we'd go straight to the stores after school. I'd show Johnny Espinoza around and then we'd go back a few days later to make sure he understood where everything was and whatever other odd tidbits of trivia I'd told him. I'm actually pretty impressed. That guy has an amazing memory and usually remembers things that even I don't remember saying.

Sometimes, we just hung out for the sake of hanging out. Mom and dad realized I was spending an awful lot of time with Johnny though and insisted I invite Cinnamon too. They swear that they just want Cinn to get out more often, but I know the real reason they made her tag along. Cinn is like the perfect spy. They wanna know who Johnny is and why I'm spending time with him.

I'm happy to report that Johnny doesn't like Cinn all that much. Apparently she'd been crushing on him for a while and when she tried hugging him, he freaked out. I found hanging out with the two of them most amusing. So spy away, mom and dad. It's all a huge entertainment factor for me!

But still. This whole idea of Cinn liking Johnny did bother me a little bit. She's my twin after all. I'm not totally heartless as to keep hanging out with the boy she likes. Especially not when it's starting to feel like he likes me.

Johnny invited me to the Bistro one night. We'd been hanging out for around two weeks. I still hadn't figured out how to bring up the mysterious boy and Johnny isn't spilling any family secrets either. I agreed to the outing for only two reasons.

1. I really wanted to know how Johnny feels about me. I can't let this hanging out crap continue if the boy likes me. I won't do that to Cinn.

2. I need to know if he knows about that mysterious boy! In all these two weeks of Johnny being in school, I have yet to see that boy again. Did I imagine him? No, I don't think I did and I have a suspicion that Johnny knows about this boy.

So I agreed to meet with him. The first half of the evening actually went really well, I think. We talked and joked around like usual while enjoying a really tasty dinner. The food wasn't anywhere near as good as I know my dad can make, but they get an A for effort.

But after a while, I just couldn't hold my questions in. I put my fork down gingerly on the plate and looked Johnny in the eyes. "Listen Johnny. I'll be honest with you. It's been fun hanging out for the past two weeks, but I just don't know what you want from me. You know my twin, Cinnamon, really likes you, right? I can't keep coming out with you if you like me or anything."

Johnny put his fork down too and looked at me. His green eyes seemed sad. To avoid looking at him and getting involved with the emotionally charged atmosphere, I picked up my fork and shoveled a little more food into my mouth.

"It's been really fun, Chocolate." Johnny agreed. "And I know Cinnamon likes me. I just couldn't focus on building a relationship with her. Not when I had something more important to do."

My eyebrow arched questioningly. "What could be more important than getting to know my sister?"

Johnny fidgeted uncomfortably in his seat. "You're gonna think it's weird, but I may as well tell you the truth now. To answer one of your questions, I really do like your sister and I'm not after you as a boyfriend or anything. We're friends and nothing more, I promise."

Well that was a relief. I'll be able to tell Cinnamon not to give up on the guy when I get home tonight.

"The reason I'm hanging out with you so much is because... well... I've never told you this, but I have a brother, Max. He's adopted and painfully shy so he's home schooled. He saw you once, though, when you were driving at night. He asked me to get to know you. He wants to meet you himself, actually. So I promised him I'd take you out tonight and see how you felt about coming over tomorrow."

Johnny looked at his plate, his cheeks turning red with embarrassment. I, on the other hand, was elated. The mystery guy! I'd found him! Stupid Johnny did know him. Part of me wanted to kill him for not telling me, but the rational side of me understands that Johnny couldn't possibly know that I'd been searching for the mystery boy.

"Well. Thanks for dinner, Johnny. See you tomorrow. And tell Max I'll be seeing him tomorrow too." I stood up then and walked to my car, fighting the smile that was plastered all over my face.