“Yes. I did.” He regarded me silently for a moment, as if trying to decide whether or not to press the issue of the plane. Whatever he saw in my face must have convinced him to drop it. “The assignment today revolves around the sensuality of food and eating and capturing the moment, but not making it look like a cow chewing on cud. There’s a fine line.”
“Assignment?” I put my fork down, smoothed my napkin across my lap while I took a deep breath. “Am I some sort of charity case here? What’s up with the lessons and assignments? I thought we’d both already been hired to do a job?” My voice rose toward the end along with my temper.
Nick took a long swallow of his coffee. “We have. And you’re right, normally I wouldn’t work with a colleague this way. But I see hidden potential in you — raw talent that needs some refinement. What you do is good, very good in fact. You have a great eye, but your emotional range is a little stunted. Everything you do is bright, cheery, soft. There’s so much more to explore. Shadowed, dark, moody, seduc—”
“What’s that got to do with food?”
“Seriously? If you don’t see the connection between food and intimacy, we have more work to do than I thought.”
My eyes narrowed in warning.
“Look at the buffet behind me. Take the bread for instance. Notice how the baguettes are displayed upright, with the smaller, round rolls in front. Cocks and balls.”
I choked on the coffee I was sipping.
“Check out the fruit. If you don’t see the ripe curves of breasts within that arrangement, you’re blind.”
A reluctant smile tugged at my mouth.
“And the thick sausage links — they’re bratwurst size. That’s some thick meat. You think that’s a coincidence? Not one bit. The whipped cream they’re so eager to top everything with? Should I continue?”
“Does everything go back to sex for you?”
He paused. “No. It’s not a me thing. It’s human nature. We’re wired to respond to sex on a primal level. It’s natural to crave it, be drawn to it, respond to it. What’s smart is using that to your advantage, employing it either subtly or overtly to hold someone’s attention, even if they don’t realize that’s why something is aesthetically pleasing. It’s the most basic, and effective, of marketing strategies.”
“So you’re telling me my lessons with you will somehow or another all pretty much revolve around sex?”
I’m a Southern girl who firmly believes mornings should be outlawed. My perfect day would include lounging on a hammock with a good book, carbohydrates, and the people around me randomly breaking into choreographed song and dance routines. It would not include bacon, cleaning, or anything requiring patience.