The GardenerFood had always been her passion. Good food, not the crap they can make for you in under five minutes at a fast food joint, but the kind of food people settle down with napkins on their laps and actually enjoy. She could talk about her love for kale and eggs endlessly and never once think that maybe no one else really cared what a great combination they made. Carys liked to feed people. Food brought people together. All of her favorite family memories included sipping coffee with her aunts and uncles, cousins and siblings, as they dove into Grandmas made-from-scratch coffee cake.
This is where our staff stays, Carys attention jerked back into place. The older lady, Martha? Maria?, Carys couldnt remember, showed her to a warmly-lit hallway with a low ceiling and wooden doors lining the walls. Someone will bring your bags around, dont worry about it. Im sure youre more concerned about seeing the kitchen, the lady winked and Carys forced a smile. She fought off the sudden feelings of cabin fever. This place was her home for the next year and already she was itching at her skin to get out.
Fresh out of college she had made the worst mistake of her young life, to settle down with a man who, quite honestly had not been worth her time. Carys had been foolish. By the time she realized her mistake he had already convinced her to move halfway across the country and play housewife, despite the fact he couldnt grow a pair and ask her to marry him. And on a dreary day, mid-spring, Carys found the strength to rediscover her soul. Under all that garbage she had put herself through was a young woman who wasnt ready to settle on a half-assed attempt at love.
Carys did the one thing she had always excelled at - besides making a mean omelette - she ran. Her tired feet had taken her to some God-forsaken region of Northern California. Carys, a self proclaimed nutritionist and expert gardener, found set out on the task of finding her ideal job.
We are a self-sustaining unit, Carys thought that was a nice way of saying commune, but she chose to hold her tongue. Martha/Maria led her through archways of gnarled wood, and hallways made of windows on both sides. The place was an architectural beauty. We are an organic farm, a bakery, coffee shop, we have artists workshops-
But Carys had stopped listening. They had reached the kitchen, and although it was humble, and beautiful, and earthy, it was not what had caught Carys attention.
Taking a few steps closer, Carys felt drawn to the openness of the land beyond the kitchen. The French back doors, fashioned into large, clear windows, were propped open and the farm rolled out before her. Thats where the object of her attention stood, unaware of his audience, heaving a wheelbarrow full of dirt.
Jack, her tour guide nodded, turning her gaze as well to the tanned, curly-haired man. Hes our resident agriculture specialist. He likes food, not much of a cook though, shockingly, She chuckled. Lets just say, were happy youre here.
Not much of a cook. That was something Carys could hardly believe. The guy looked like he spent a lot of time in the kitchen. It was clear that he enjoyed eating, maybe a little too much, based on Martha/Marias comment. Carys watched, silent and dry-mouthed as Jacks midsection wobbled ever so slightly as he pushed the wheelbarrow out in front of his heavy stomach. He couldnt be much older than she was, Carys got the feeling that they were the young blood of this establishment, but he had to be close to two-seventy, maybe even two-eighty. Carys had gotten good at eye-balling weight since she called it quits with Evan.
Her ex had been a rugby player, a solid guy, the kind of thick just about any girl would go for. Carys had doted on his sturdy legs and tree trunk of a waist, but she had always wished for just a little bit more. For years she had told herself that if she married someone like Evan, wide and muscled, that someday, even if it took years, they would grow into a more well-rounded form and shed get the pleasure of having a fat, happy man to wrap her arms around. But Carys had never really wanted to wait years for something she had always longed for.
Hell give you a hand in the kitchen though, Martha/Maria continued, placing herself between the kitchen doors and Carys, perfectly blocking her view just as Jack paused to wipe the sweat off his forehead. Damn it, Martha, Carys thought. Just have to make sure he doesnt eat all the food before it makes it to the table, the woman laughed. As much as she wanted to find the jab distasteful, she couldnt ignore the warm feeling that curled around her belly as she thought about his thick hands sneaking food out from under her nose as they cooked together.
Stop it, Carys. She thought, following Martha - it was Martha? Wasnt it? - out of the kitchen and back towards the dining hall. Carys, against her best judgement, turned back one last time. Jack stood there, one hand resting on the curve of his wide hips, the other rubbing sweat off the back of his neck. He pulled the saturated shirt away from the dome of his belly and glanced up in her direction. Carys felt her stomach drop and Jacks face soured and his hands immediately found the handles of his wheelbarrow, turning the other way.