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Wine Eggs Mornay.Poached Eggs on Canapes with Cheese Fondue Sauce.Souffle Aux Blancs D'Oeufs.
Angelina Amalfi tossed the recipes aside. They'd never do. They were simply too common.She sat cross-legged on the floor of the den in her Russian Hill penthouse apartment. Stacks of recipes sent to her by readers of her food column -- as well as those she'd clipped over the years from other newspapers, magazines, and fund-raiser cookbooks-lay scattered around her. It was Sunday., She had barely one hour left to fax Mon& Monday'scolumn to the newspaper, but even so, she was being choosy. She needed a recipe that was eye-catching and appealing,' perhaps with some particularly interesting ingredient.I
She ran her fingers through her hair in frustration, then let herself slump, her elbows on- -her knees and her head in her hands.
How could a sweet, little old man like Sam have failed her this way? He frequently contributed to her column. Her readers loved his unique recipes, as did her editor. And Sam enjoyed seeling his words in print, even if they were only recipes. When he had called that morning and said he had a recipe for her next column, she had offered to meet him at a nearby park to pick it up. Nice though Sam was, she felt uneasy about inviting him to her home. Besides, he dyed his hair black, and something about a man in his late sixties with hair the color of Count Dracula's was just plain weird.
They should have met two hours ago, but he hadn't shown up. She had waited for him for over an, hour, enjoying the warm October sun, and then hurried back to her apartment to meet, her deadline.
She frowned as sheglanced at the unrelenting clock.
Chocolate Meringue. Almond Mocha Torte. Italian Rum Cake. Yes, these recipes were much more her style than the ones for breakfast foods. Sam usually gave her.
There was a knock on the door to her apartment. Now what? she wondered. She didn't have time for interruptions.
The knocking grew louder.
Irritated, she stood up and stuffed her silk blouse back into her slacks asshe hurried through elegant antique-laden living room. Shereached the front door and it swung open.
No one was there.
Puzzled, she stepped onto. the plush carpeting of the hallway. The well-polished doors of the elevator were closed, as was the door to the stairwell.
As was quiet.
As she turned back, she saw a small, brown package, aboutthe size of a pound of butter, propped up against the doorframe. She looked around again, puzzled, and then picked it up and shut walked back inside, kicking the door shut shut as she searchedfor the sender's name and address. There was none.
Whowould hand-deliver ai package to Occupant?
Occupant! She'd been interrupted, her deadline upon her, for nothing hut a lousy sales pitch? These advertising companies were getting pushier every day.
She stomped into the kitchen to toss the package into the trashbad under the sink, then hesitated. Today was Sunday. Would a sales delivery be made on a. Sunday?
The package was, heavy for its size. Quite heavy. She gave it a little shake.
Nothing seemed to move inside. She raised it to her ear and shook it again. A soft tick-tick-tick filled the cold silence of the kitchen.
She shuddered. This was silly. She reached for the string binding the package, but her hand shook. She clenched her hand A moment, then relaxed and tried to touch the string again. She pulled her hand back as if burned.
This was nothing short of foolish, she told her self Still, it might be even more, foolish to take chances.
The police. She'd ask them what to do. She laid the package on the counter above the dishwasher and tiptoed backward out of the kitchen. Once in the living room, she looked up the special phone number her father had given her from his Mend, the police commissioner. She avoided relying onher father's money or influence under normal circumstances, a mysteriously ticking package was definitely not normal.
"Police," a youthful sounding voice answered.
"My name is Angelina Amalfi. Commissioner Barcelli told me to use this number if I ever needed special assistance."
"Yes, ma'am."This is Officer Crossen. Whatcan I do for you?.
"I've got a strange package here."
"It's wrapped in brown paper and it, ticks."
"Someone sent the package to you?"
"It was left at my door. It's marked Occupant."
"Occupant? Are you sure it's not some advertising campaign? A sample from Timex or something?"
That gave her pause. "Are you suggesting I open it and find out?"
No, ma'am. Please don't do that. I'll send someone out right away.He'll take care of everything. What's your address?"
"1010 Green, apartment 1201. What should I do in the meantime?"
"It's probably nothing dangerous but to be safe, don't touch it."
"But it's in my kitchen!"
"That sounds like a good place for it, ma'am."
She hung up.
She went back to the kitchen and stood in the doorway, looking at the. package. Her kitchen. was a food columnist's dream. She loved her oversized, fire engine red' stove imported from France, her Cuisinart, espresso machine, Belgian waffler, pasta maker, her Magnalite pots and pans, Henckels knives, cast-iron bakeware, microwave, and even her electric wok. These things filled her shelves, walls, and snowy white Corian countertops. Was the ticking louder, or was it her imagination? She should leave the package alone, as the policeman said, but then he didn't seem to think it was a bomb. No one would send a bomb to Occupant, for pity's sake. But if it did go off...
She hurried across the kitchen, opened the door of her dishwasher -- a Maytag, advertised as indestructible -- gingerly placed the package inside, locked the door, and spun the dial to start the water flowing. Whatever the wretched thing was, she'd just defused it, she hoped.
She returned to the living room and sat down, one hand against her chest, breathing deeply to still the rapid id pounding of her heart.
A loud blast from the kitchen shook the walls and rattled the windows. Angie clutched the arm of the sofa as a Dali lithograph fell off the wall, shattering its glass facing.Something's Cooking. Copyright © by Joanne Pence. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.