Home > The Opposite of You (Opposites Attract #1)

The Opposite of You (Opposites Attract #1)
Author: Rachel Higginson

Chapter One

 

“Beautiful.”

I turned my head and smiled at my best friend since fourth grade. “She is, isn’t she?”

Molly pushed her dark curtain of bangs back from her eyes, revealing her heart-shaped face and determined expression. “She better be after everything I’ve done for her.”

My heart stuttered in my chest, my pulse sped up and hammered excitedly beneath my skin. This was my baby. My life. And after today I was one step closer to opening. “You’ve done for her?”

Molly turned and her bright blue eyes widened, twinkling with humor. She waved her still wet paintbrush in the air. “To her. I meant to her.” Ignoring my glare, she brought her paintbrush back to her messy palette and swiped the tip in the gloopy paint. “You’d be nothing without me, babe. Who cares what kind of magic you can do inside the Shaggin’ Wagon? Nobody would be able to find you without my perfect signage.”

I couldn’t help but laugh. Molly Maverick was a ridiculous person, and the only reason I still had my sanity after the past year.

“Can we not refer to my truck as the Shaggin’ Wagon? It makes me sound like a hooker.”

Molly’s sideways glance revealed her thoughts. “You could use some hookin’.”

I turned back to the fresh paint glinting in the sunlight, my whole body shivery with anticipation. “The smell.”

She snorted indelicately and paused her paintbrush midair. “What?”

“They’d find me by the delicious smell. Like little cartoon characters. They would follow their noses right here.” I pointed at the ground beneath my feet.

She tossed her head back, her long black hair dancing across her back, and laughed. “If you’re planning on also hooking, you might not want to advertise the delicious smells.”

I poked her arm. “You’re a pervert, Molly Maverick.”

“But you love me, Vera Delane.”

We shared a conspiratorial grin acknowledging both truths until the bright red lettering Molly had just finished painting on the side of my truck captured my attention once again. I couldn’t turn away from it. Or at least not for long. There was finality in naming something. And hope. Something burrowed in the action, pulled from the decision and conviction that said, “This is mine. I claim you.”

The fresh paint glistened against the silver siding. Most of the aluminum sparkled in the afternoon sun, except for the shaded part where my brand new black and white striped awning stretched along the row of windows, the frilly edges danced in the stifled summer breeze. The sliding line of windows were all clean corners and modern efficiency, but the rest of my newly acquired “wagon” winked with a kitschy vintage vibe that I liked to think mirrored my style.

She really was beautiful. Only made more perfect by the bright splash of fresh red paint. My insanely talented friend was an artist by nature and a graphic designer by trade, but her true passion was painting. And she was absolutely incredible at it.

Which was why I felt no shame exploiting our friendship. Not that Molly had taken much convincing. She was the first person I’d shared my crazy food truck idea with, and she was also the first person to offer her help when I’d returned home.

Now her retro-inspired design on the side of my truck would attract customers from all over the plaza. My most optimistic fantasy pictured them stumbling drunkenly in droves from the bars and clubs that dotted the trendy part of downtown.

Hungry droves.

Probably wishful thinking, but I didn’t have much to hope for these days. My endeavor with Foodie the food truck was my last ditch effort to salvage the remnants of my career that had gone terribly wrong in the last few years. In fact, my truck—my very own food truck!—was pretty much all of my dwindled goals and remaining aspirations and savings all tied up into one final push.

If Foodie didn’t make it, I failed too.

Which meant what?

I stared at the name I’d carefully picked after months of planning and dreaming and hoping and tried to picture a realistic future if this desperate venture fizzled—or worse, if it went up in flames just like everything else I’d built my life on.

I couldn’t see anything beyond this truck. I couldn’t imagine anything but Foodie working out for me. And it wasn’t for lack of trying.

I thought about this all the time. Concerns, anxiety and the fear of failure kept me awake at night constantly. Most nights I couldn’t stop staring up at my dark ceiling, trying to reimagine my life without food or cooking or creating.

And I honestly couldn’t.

This was who I was.

Life could take everything else from me—my stable future, my expectations, my dream of becoming a noteworthy, decorated chef before I hit thirty, my last dollar… all of it.

But I would not give up on my goal of becoming the chef of my own kitchen.

I would cook out of trash cans in an alley if I had to.

Just kidding.

That was a metaphor.

Nobody would eat food made in trashcans.

“Vera?” Molly asked in that small, careful voice I was coming to realize meant she was trying not to startle me.

I blinked until the world around me came back into focus. I already knew what she was going to ask before the question formed in her mouth, so I cut her off at the pass. “I’m good.”

“You spaced out,” she stated the obvious, looking concerned.

I let out a sigh and told her the truth. “I’m freaking out. This is scary.”

One corner of her mouth lifted in a smug smile. “This truck is going to be amazing. Your food is going to be amazing,” she promised. “This city is going to be crazy for you. I predict lines down the block and hour long waits and rave reviews.”

I allowed a wobbly smile that didn’t feel real or honest. “Everything I’ve always wanted.” I turned away before she noticed the tears that threatened to spill from my eyes. Sarcasm wasn’t enough to mask the truth in my words. Those were the things I honestly wanted.

Or had wanted.

Once upon a time.

Before everything went to shit.

Now I wanted them again, but on a smaller scale. Instead of a gleaming, five-star kitchen, I was settling for a shiny thirty-foot galley on wheels. Instead of a fully staffed, well-oiled machine, I was giving up my original ambitions and taking on this endeavor solo.

I hadn’t buried myself in massive student loan debt to cook out of a rescued Airstream that I’d gone into even more debt for. But four months ago, I’d moved back home with sharpened skills, an intense year of experience and Plan B.

Foodie was Plan B.

I’d put myself through culinary school to become a world renowned chef. I’d fought and battled my way through a male dominated profession to work in the best restaurants around the world. I’d slaved and sacrificed to build a resume and reputation that would open doors to any kitchen I wanted. And I’d hoped and prayed that I would be able to learn from the best chefs, to be accepted in their circles and maybe even, hopefully, someday be considered one of them. I’d promised myself awards, Michelin stars and industry-wide respect.

Only that hadn’t happened. My dreams had been delayed because I made a poor decision and got distracted.

I still felt distracted.

No matter how hard I’d worked over the last year to heal, I still felt the nagging pressure on the back of my neck, the hitch in my breathing and sickly feeling deep in the pit of my stomach.

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