Getting revenge can kill you. If you want real revenge, you have to be willing to pay. Life is not like the movies.
With these happy thoughts, I measured out fudge cake batter into cupcake liners and slid the pan into the oven. I set the timer and reminded myself for the thousandth time that I'd let go of the need for revenge. I wasn't a hot-blooded teenager. I was a thirty-three-year-old caterer with a business to run and work to do. Half-past six on a cool August morning? What I needed was coffee.
You never let go of the thirst for revenge.
Yeah, well. Maybe hearing other people's sad stories sparked thoughts of my own. Or in this case I'd heard one unhappy story, one story needing justice. But what could I do for a client in emotional pain? I'd agreed to cater her hockey party. A nurse had told my client, Patricia McCracken, that hosting this sports celebration would distract her from her problems. But whenever we discussed the menu, Patricia didn't want to talk about vittles; she wanted to talk about vindication. And I was as unenthusiastic about jumping into her revenge fantasy as I was about washing dishes after a banquet.
For six years, I'd run the only food-service business in the small mountain town of Aspen Meadow, Colorado. My son, Arch, was fourteen years old. Just over a year ago, I'd married for the second time. Add to this the fact that I'd already sought punishment for the scoundrel who'd recently wronged Patricia McCracken. I'd barely escaped with my life.
I retrieved unsalted butter and extra-thick whipping cream from my walk-in refrigerator, then reached up to my cabinet shelves for aromatic Mexican vanilla and confectioner's sugar. Stay busy, I had advised Patricia. It'll help. Make your guest list. Plan your decorations. Some people despise slates of tasks and errands. But I revel in work. Work keeps my mind off weighty matters. Usually.
Take this morning, for example. After finishing the cupcakes, I needed to check my other bookings, make sure our sick boarder was sleeping peacefully, then rush to pick up Arch from an overnight party. Before zipping back to my commercial-size kitchen in our small home, I was going to deliver Arch to the country-club residence of his can't-be-bothered father. My ex-husband, ob-gyn Dr. John Richard Korman, was the father--and scoundrel--in question. He was also the man my client Patricia McCracken obsessively hated. He was the man I had escaped from. He was known to his other ex-wife and me as the Jerk. Small example of Jerk behavior: Dr. John Richard Korman would no more pick up his son from an overnight than he would beat some eggs for breakfast. And careful of that word beat.
I stared at the menu on my computer screen and struggled to refocus on the task at hand. After much hesitation, Patricia had finally decided that her party would be a two-month-late celebration of the Colorado Avalanche winning the Stanley Cup. But making the plans with her hadn't been easy. One week she didn't care about the menu; the next she obsessed about details, such as how long to grill fish. After many discussions, Patricia had finally ordered Mexican appetizers, grilled fish from Florida (the Avs had beaten the Florida Panthers in the Cup finals and I'd dubbed the entrÚe Goalies' Grilled Tuna), three kinds of salads, puck-shaped biscuits, and homemade potato rolls. Plus a dessert Patricia's husband had dubbed Stanley Cupcakes. I sighed. After dropping off Arch this morning, I still faced a truckload of food prep. Not only that, but this evening's event promised to be raucous, perhaps even dangerous. I mean, hockey fans? Now there are folks who take revenge seriously.
I turned away from the computer. Our security system was off, so I opened the kitchen window and took a deep breath of summery mountain air. The postdawn Colorado sky glowed as it lightened from indigo to periwinkle. From the back of my brain came the echo of Patricia's furious voice.
"I'm telling you, Goldy. I need to see someone punished. "
I slapped open the other window and tried to block out her anger by inhaling the crisp air skimming down from snow-dusted mountains. August in the high country brings warm, breezy days and nights cool enough for a log fire. Heaven.
Unless you have to deal with John Richard Korman, my own inner voice reminded me. Then it can be hell.