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CHRISTINA MARIE MONTGOMERY was an only child to Walter and Barbara Jean Montgomery, born on New Year's Day Christina was given everything on a silver spoon from the time she entered the world. Walter Montgomery made sure that his little princess got everything she wanted. Barbara Jean Montgomery told her husband that he spoils her too much, and she will never find a man to equal up to him. Its ok Christina's father would respond, I'll always be here for my princess. As an infant all Christina had to do was make a face to cry and her dad was right there to scoop her up. When Christina got older all she had to do was tell her dad what she wanted and the very next day she would have it even if it took every penny Walter had to get it for her, nothing was too large or too much for his little princess. When Christina was eleven in elementary school and their neighbor Jenny got a new watch for her birthday Christina told her dad she just had to have one too. In her junior high another friend's father gave his daughter a friendship ring and Christina told Walter that he had to buy her one also, then in high school when her friend Elizabeth got a new car for graduation Christina swore she had to have one too. Even now that Christina is grown and on her own her dad still caters to her every need. They love their daughter very much but now at age thirty six they had given up on ever having grandchildren. Christina was married to her career, and the people that worked under her were her children. Ever since she got promoted and got her own corner office with a view of the North and West Christina loved what she did so much she put marriage and family on the back burner. She was a good supervisor, she bought Christmas presents for everyone and even remembered everyone's birthdays and bought presents. When someone was out sick she always sent flowers and a fruit basket. Everyone at the office adored her and they let her know it every time they had a chance. Christina had no enemies and everyone loved her.
Nicholas Harrison Bank's Jr. parents were relieved when the doctor announced it's a boy. Nicholas Harrison Banks Sr. Immediately left the operating room with a big smile on his face and went to the waiting room handing out cigars. Nicholas four year old sister Charmaine was relieved to have a baby brother because she knew that's what her parents wanted to make their family complete. Nicholas was spoiled by his mom, dad and big sister. Charmaine helped her mom bath and dress him in pajamas every night, sometimes she would even sleep on the nursery room floor just in case he cried in the middle of the night. In high school Nicholas was well known by all the girls, he was the best looking boy in the senior class according to the senior girls. Mr. and Mrs. Banks both worked full time jobs and Nicholas from age ten started watching his mom in the kitchen and it interested him so he would always ask to help, unlike his sister Charmaine who stayed far away hoping her mom wouldn't ask her to help. On graduation day all the girls wanted to take pictures with Nicholas to keep in their album because they knew they would never see him again.
After graduating from high school Nicholas was accepted at The Culinary Einstein Institute of America, a well-known school in New York but only spent one years there. He decided he had, had enough school. I already know how to cook, why do I have to go to college for them to teach me something I already know how to do he complained. His parents never pushed the issue, and let him make his own choices. His sister Charmaine never wanted to go to college she married her high school sweet heart and they were expecting their second baby in just a few months.
After dropping out of college Nicholas landed a job at Red Lobster as a prep cook and loved it, after three years he got promoted to head cook position and one year later after the chef left Nicholas became the top chef. Now at age twenty two he was the youngest top chef known and very good at what he did. He was interviewed by well-known Magazines. Good Housekeeping magazine was the first to call him, then Southern Living Magazine, Let's Cook Magazine, Bon Appetite Magazine and Savor Magazine. Nicholas was even on the Oprah Winfrey Show showing off his talents.
Nicholas introduced new items to the existing menu at Red Lobster and the customers raved on his meals. The cliental doubled in two weeks by word of mouth. One customer Nicholas noticed would eat at Red Lobster every Friday night, he always found himself looking forward to seeing her on Friday nights at eight, two hours before closing time. Why don't you go out there and introduce yourself the other cooks would tell Nicholas. They too noticed her every Friday night when she came in to eat.
Nicholas got up the courage one night and walk out into the dining room and offered her one of his famous deserts and even added a cherry on top to empress her. That night he made sure his white uniform was starched and his shoes were polished and clean.
Christina was impresses and even blushed a little when Nicholas put the plate down in front of her. Oh I didn't order desert Christina smiled up at him. Compliments from the kitchen Nicholas told her smiling down at her. Please give the cook my thanks Christina told him, well why don't you thank him yourself Nicholas said smiling holding his shoulders back. Oh are you the cook Christina asked? That would be me Nicholas smiled showing perfectly straight white teeth. But you're so young Christina told him. I'm actually the top chef here Nicholas smiled down at her. Oh I think I read something about you in one of those magazines somewhere. I hope they showed my good side Nicholas kidded turning his head and showing the side of his face. I like everything I see in front of me Christina blushed. Well in that case would you like to join me for coffee after I get off Nicholas asked? Are you old enough to drink coffee Christina smiled? As a matter of fact I drink mine black Nicholas shot back. How old are you anyway Christina asked curious, I thought you said you read about me in the magazine. Well I didn't read the entire article Christina volunteered. I'm twenty two Nicholas told her, so how about that coffee. How about I fix you a whole pot at my place Christina offered. I get off at ten Nicholas told her. Here's my address Christina told him writing her address down on a small piece of paper from her purse and handing it to him. I live right around the corner from here. Christina took her last bite of desert and then ate the cherry, then motioned for the waiter to bring her check. After she gave her credit card and signed the receipt she left cash on the table for the tip. When the waiter brought back her credit card Nicholas walked her to the door and opened it for her alone with six other customers leaving the restaurant at the same time. That was so nice of him he heard one of the other customers say while exiting the door. When Nicholas returned to the kitchen the other cooks gave him a pat on the back, that's one classy chick one of the cooks told him, did you see those long gorgeous legs the prep cook said, "hey" that's my future wife you all are speaking of Nicholas said picking up a towel, throwing it in their direction. How old is she anyway another cook questioned, I don't care I love her Nicholas said.
Christina rushed home to put the coffee pot on and she put raspberry turnovers on a plate. She brushed her short hair back and freshened up her makeup. Her dark chocolate even skin was as soft as silk. She always took pride in her looks, every night it took Christina two hours to prepare for bed. After the thirty minute soak in the tub she used four different creams on her body. One for moisture one to keep her skin tone even one to keep her feet soft and one especially for the face. Christina didn't look a day over thirty and with her aerobic classes four times a week she didn't feel it either. When the last drop of coffee dripped into the coffee pot the doorbell rang, perfect timing Christina said as she headed across the soft carpet to answer the door. She checked the mirror by the door one time before opening the door. When she opened the door Nicholas stood there with flowers and a big smile on his face. His big smile showed off his perfect white teeth shinning off his dark chocolate skin. His starched all white uniform was replaced now with a black starched shirt and black jeans. His comfortable walking shoes were replaced with black dress cow-boy boots. "Wow" are these for me Christina asked reaching for the roses. Oh no I just thought I would have them with my coffee Nicholas teased. You should try it, first you gently take the pebbles off and dip them into the coffee..... he couldn't go on, he started to laugh looking at the expression on Christina's face. I hope you like raspberry turnovers Christina said, that was all I had. I love raspberry turnovers Nicholas told her as she closed the door and they walked toward the kitchen. You have a nice place here Nicholas told her looking around on their way to the kitchen. May I Nicholas asked before reaching for the coffee pot on the counter and pouring two cups? Christina had set out two coffee cups with matching saucers underneath with a beautiful pattern of gray birds in flight. Yes and I'll have extra cream and sugar Christina said. And you call yourself a coffee drinker Nicholas laughed. Lots of people have cream and sugar in their coffee Christina told him. I know but I drink mine black I like to taste my coffee Nicholas told her not cover it up with cream and sugar. Nicholas sat the two cups of hot coffee on the table and Christina brought over the plate with the raspberry turnovers on it and Nicholas noticed the plate holding the turnovers had the same pattern of the gray birds in flight on it. They sat at Christina's kitchen table and talked until after midnight, the pot of coffee was gone alone with a tall bottle of white wine. So would you like to know how old I am Christina asked, why? Does it matter Nicholas asked. I don't go by tradition only by feelings. So what do you do for fun he asked her? Well my job keeps me pretty busy Christina told him. Where do you work he asked? I'm the Managing Editor for O Magazine, I approve all articles before they are printed and I always leave a little quote of the month on the last page of every magazine, just a little something to make people think. Your job sounds very exciting Nicholas told her, and I think you're a little tipsy Christina laughed removing a crumb off his chin. Hey I was saving that for later Nicholas laughed.
Nicholas and Christina were together every day for the next three months going to dinner parties and night clubs then after dinner and a movie one night when Nicholas drove Christina home she asked him not to leave. Every time Christina would bring up the conversation about their age difference Nicholas would quiet her with kisses. Christina decided since the fourteen year age difference didn't bother Nicholas she wouldn't let it bother her so she stopped bringing up the subject. Christina's mom on the other hand didn't approve, and she wasn't afraid to tell her daughter so. One day he will break your heart she told her daughter, he's almost old enough to be your son. I love him and I'll take my chances Christina told her.
All the cooks at Red Lobster loved Christina and all the workers at O Magazine loved Nicholas. After twelve months they celebrated their one year anniversary with all their friends from both their jobs, then again on their second and third, three months into their third year together Nicholas changed. Christina first noticed it when they had a lovely night out on the town. After they shared a bottle of white wine with their dinner at Olive Garden Nicholas got a little too friendly with their waitress. Holding her hand when he talked to her and when she gave him their check he insisted on giving her the ten percent tip in her hands instead of leaving it on the table. When Nicholas excused himself to go to the men's room Christina saw when he passed their waitress and handed her a piece of paper. After that night Nicholas always wanted to return to that Olive Garden restaurant when they went out to eat forgetting their plan to try a different restaurant every time they went out. They opened a new Swedish restaurant on ninth you want to try it out Christina asked Nicholas one weekend, no let's go to our favorite place he would say. Olive Garden is "Not" my favorite place Christina would tell him, it's your favorite place. I don't know I just love the food there Nicholas would tell her. So they went to Nicholas favorite place for the next five Saturdays until Christina told him she had, had enough. Nicholas always wanted to sit in the same section at Olive Garden so they could have Valencia as their waitress.
Valencia Renee Carpenter was an eighteen year old 3.0 college freshman who loved to party and have fun. Valencia was friendly to everyone, she never met a person she didn't like and to keep her tips big at Olive Garden she was always flirting with her male customers because she knew the more she turned on the charm with them the bigger the tip would be. Her parents were struggling just to keep her in school so the more tips Valencia made at work the better it was for them. Valencia had Nicholas and Christina's table waiting for them when they came in. Christina didn't know Nicholas had called Valencia in advance to let her know they were coming, infect Nicholas and Valencia had been talking on the phone every night unbeknownst to Christina. When she did find out three months later Nicholas promised her he would stop talking to Valencia.
O Magazine was building their new office in Dallas Texas and Christina was offered to transfer to the new Dallas office. When she mentioned it that night to Nicholas he yell and said "absolutely not" I can't leave my job. But you can put in a transfer to Red Lobster in Dallas Christina cried. But what about my friends? We can make new friends. I don't want new friends Nicholas yelled at her and stormed out. Christina avoided his calls for the next three days and on the fourth day he appeared at her house with flowers and a bottle of her favorite white wine. They spent the next two weeks doing only the things she wanted to do. I'm sorry Nicholas told her, I don't know what got into me. I think her name was Valencia Christina said.
They went to Christina's parents for dinner one night and to Nicholas parents' house for dinner twice. She just loved his parents. Nicholas had a dark complection like his parents and older sister Charmaine. His sister and her family was there also for dinner, Christina loved playing with their two kids. Nicholas saw how good she were with his niece and nephew tickling them and making them laugh. Christina even got him to go to her yoga class with her once. They watched a girly move together and Christina even got Nicholas to massage her feet the entire two hours the movie was on. Christina was glad thing were back to normal with them until Nicholas told her he wanted to take her to Olive Garden for dinner. No thank you Christina told him politely, why don't you go and have fun I'll be fine. When Nicholas said ok and walked out Christina could do nothing but stand there frozen looking at the closed door Nicholas had just walked out of. After the initial shock Christina took a long hot shower crying in the shower trying to wash away the hurt, she didn't think he would actually leave. They had just spent two glorious weeks together laughing, talking and enjoying each other's company she thought things were ok with them now. When she dried off and got into her bed the tears started again. When she woke again it was eight the next morning and the phone was ringing. She checked the caller ID to make sure if wasn't Nicholas. When she saw it was her job she quickly answered. Are you coming in today her co-worker asked? Give me an hour, I'll be there Christina told her in a low scratchy voice from crying most of the night.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Christina"
Copyright © 2018 Jo Ann Jennings.
Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
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