Way to a Heart

Chapter 2

Dear Coach Q,

I have come up with a menu and wondered if you would be free to do a tasting? What time is best for you?



Thank you for your time. We have practice at 9 am. I can get you access to the player’s kitchen and we can do our tasting there after practice, plan for 11?

Coach Q

Kimberly reread the emails she received from the head coach and made sure that her timing was correct. It was 8:30, Coach Quenville should be arriving shortly and she would need all the time she could muster. She’d been so nervous the night before that she’d prepared enough food for a small army and hoped they were on the hockey team’s diet.
Security had finally let her in and showed her to the player’s kitchen where she began prepping for today’s tasting. In reality, she only needed a couple of hours but it was better to be prepared for anything.

“Dude she was so hot, bangin’ body. I mean curves for days!” A male voice said coming into the kitchen.

“Are you going to see her again?” Another male voice, deeper than the first asked.

“Probably not, I mean she was only here for a couple of days and living between here and Buffalo is enough. I don’t know if I want to add California to it.You know?”

Kimberly made sure to chop a little harder on her celery, hoping to alert the two men that she was in there. Sometimes guy talk got a little crazy.

The men walked in and noticed her there.

“Well hello.” the taller one said. “You must be new here, this is a private kitchen.”

Kimberly rolled her eyes as she stopped chopping and swept all of her veggies into a bowl.

“Yes, Mr. Toews, I know. Coach Q set me up in here so I can do a tasting for his Movember charity event.” She said, moving on to chop onions. She wasn’t an idiot, but then most people treated her as if she were one.

“How do you do that without crying?” Patrick asked with a bewildered tone to his voice. “I swear every time I chop onions, my eyes water.”

“That’s just because you’re pansy.” Toews said to his teammate before walking to the fridge and grabbing a gatorade. “Obviously the way to do it is in the technique.”

Kimberly smirked and finally looked up at the two of them. “Actually, gentlemen,the way to keep yourself from crying is to buy fresh onions and use a really sharp knife. You can also light matches as something in the burning match counteracts the sulfuric content of the onion.”

“Bam, bitch. You just got owned.” Patrick said smirking at his captain before turning his attention back to the woman with the amber eyes in front of him. “So what are you making for this tasting, and can I have some?”

Kimberly laughed as he grinned unabashedly. “ I’ve got a whole batch of barbecue sliders in the fridge if you want to heat a couple up.Enough for the entire team actually if y’all are interested.”

“Barbecued what?” Patrick asked already heading for the fridge but Toews beat him to it.

“Around the South if we say barbecue it means pulled pork. This one is an Eastern Carolina style- vinegar based.” She said going back to her prep work.

The Captain bit into a cold one and he moaned, eyes rolling into the back of his head. “Dear God.”

Patrick watched for a second after a few moments chewing he looked up at her. “Can we keep you?”

Kimberly laughed again and shook her head.”You’ll have to ask your coach.”

“No seriously, I will hire you to be my personal chef. I can’t cook for shit and you are apparently God in the kitchen.” Patrick started speaking, looking directly at her, staring her down as if willing her to say yes.

“Quit creeping so hard, Peeks. Jesus.” Toews said laughing and dragging his friend out of the room. “I’m really sorry for his behavior. We tried to medicate him but there’s just no cure for pure creeper.”

She laughed and waved him off. “No worries. Y’all have a good practice.”

“We will.” Toews said leaving the room.
Kimberly went back to her cooking and heard feet in the hallway once more. She looked up and noticed Patrick in the doorway, leaning against it, his hands in his pockets.

“Hello.” She said to him.

“Hi.” He said back. “I just wanted to say thanks for the food and to apologize for being a total spaz.”

“Why are you apologizing? Maybe I like spazzes.” She said shrugging.

Patrick’s face lit up like a christmas tree. “Cool. I’ll see you after practice,then. There’s no way I’m letting coach taste this all by himself.”

True to his word, Coach Quennville, Patrick and Jonathan showed up for the tasting.

“Sorry to surprise you , if you don’t have enough food, that’s fine, but I was bombarded by these knuckleheads.” Coach Q said to her.

“No worries, Coach. I’ve prepared enough for six. I figured we’d have extras, and honestly having more opinions in this case cannot be a bad thing. Have a seat and I’ll start serving.”

“What’s your background? “Patrick Kane asked, pulling up a stool to the counter. “I mean obviously you’re Southern but I mean as far as cooking goes?”

“Are you asking my qualifications? “ Kimberly smirked and Kane had the grace to blush. “I trained at Johnson and Wales in Charlotte, and worked as a sous chef in a boutique hotel, I was then promoted to executive chef and culinary operations management for the company, after that I ended up doing all of the purchasing and catering for our local stadium’s catering company and found my way here to Chicago.” She said setting a plate at each of their spots. “Your first course or appetizer is an herbed buttermilk biscuit with chorizo gravy and a slow poached farm egg.”

“You don’t look old enough to have that much experience.” Patrick said

“ Thanks for the compliment, but I’m the same age as you are, Mr. Kane.” She said as she set down his plate in front of him. He looked up at her, with his playboy smile and her knees felt like butter.

She waited patiently as each person tasted their tiny portion. The room was silent, and she was nervous. Hoping that they really liked it.

“I can only hope that the silence just means you’re enjoying your food.” She spoke hesitantly.

“Kane was right, you are God in the kitchen.” Jonathan said to her.

She blushed and felt the heat rising up to the tips of her ears.. “I’m hardly God, but thank you. Second course, gentlemen, bibb lettuce with a housemade feta, quick pickled red onions and cucumbers with a smoke infused vinaigrette.” She said placing plates down in front of the men and clearing dirty dishes away. “Coach, I took the liberty of preparing 5 courses. If you would prefer more or less, please let me know.”

“No, five is great. I’m going to need you to give this vinaigrette recipe to my wife though, this is amazing.” he paused to chew another bite. “I’m also going ahead and offering you that position we spoke of. Your work is too good to work under Bill, he’s a buffoon and your talent would be wasted.”

“I’m glad you’re enjoying it.” she said grinning a million watt smile. “And as for the position, I’m happy to accept. I assume the paperwork as far as dietary restrictions and so forth will be emailed to me?”

He nodded. “Absolutely. Now bring me that third course. My tastebuds are antsy.”

The tasting went as well as Kimberly could have hoped. She landed a job, managed to impress the coach of the chicago blackhawks and make people happy. Honestly, her day couldn’t be better.

She was cleaning up the room when she felt eyes on the back of her neck.

“If you’re going to stand there, you might as well come over and make yourself useful. I assume you know how to wash a dish, yes?”

“How’d you know I was there?” Patrick asked sidling up beside her and rolling up his sleeves.

“All women grow eyes in the back of their heads on their 25th birthday.” She spoke nonchalantly as she scrubbed a little bit of dried gravy off of her pan.

“So that’s why my mom knew everything I did.” Patrick said with a heavy dose of sarcasm. “no really, was I breathing heavily or something?”

“I know when people are watching me. My hair stands up on the back of my neck. You’re probably just used to the feeling by now. I mean you’re out in front of thousands. hundreds of thousands every night.”

“ True. So what’s this position Coach offered you?” He asked rinsing off the pans that she passed him.

“I’m going to be your personal chef.” She said looking out of the side of her eye to gauge his reaction.

He stopped for a moment and looked at her, smiling. “Like my very own or...?”

“Well, you’ll have to share with a few other guys but from what I hear you’re all usually at each other’s places anyway.”

His face dropped a little but then he perked back up. “Well I’m still down. Good food, pretty lady. Whats not to love?”