Morning sun streamed through the wide windows of the lower floor office of Five Cuisines. Greg Ramsey typed the last item on the week’s menus. He checked the list of supplies needed and sent orders to the various venues. Monday mornings when the restaurant was closed had become his planning day.
He loaded the heavy paper in the printer and began the process of producing the menus for each of the five rooms. As the papers slid from the printer he heard a light tapping at the door.
When his mother entered he rose and lightly hugged her. “Your timing is perfect. Just finished creating the menus for the week.”
Stella Ramsey, tall, slender with a gray streak in her dark hair, kissed his cheek. “How is my handsome son?”
“Pleased with our success.” Six months ago they had opened the restaurant and they were on their way toward becoming a profitable venture. For the past month there had been few empty tables at either evening seating. Even on Wednesday and Thursday they’d been solidly booked. The weekend brunches were gaining the attention of people who came to browse in the antique shops and other unusual stores in the Hudson River village.
He reached for the letter that had arrived last week. The offer could make or break his dream. He knew little about the magazine Good Eatin’ other than a spread was eagerly sought by the nation’s restaurants. As his silent partner, his mother had a voice in whether they should chance a bad review.
“What was so important you asked me to cancel my lunch date?” She smiled. “Please tell me you’ve found a weekend hostess.”
He shook his head. “The job is yours until you say you’ve had enough.”
“Might be soon.”
He arched a brow. “Something serious happening in our life.”
She laughed. “You’ll be the first to know. What about you? Have you met the woman of your dreams and the one who will make me happy?”
“When do I have time?”
“Make time. Several of the sous chefs are young and attractive. Ask one of them out.”
He held up a hand. “Not going there. They’re taken and I only poach eggs and a few other foods.”
She sat on the chair beside his desk. “So what’s the news you’re bursting to tell?”
He handed her the letter. “This arrived the other day. The offer could be a sweet opportunity”
As she read he studied her face. Her expression changed like the weather. His mother’s beauty always made him smile. He’d always wondered why she hadn’t married again. Had she mourned her father for fifteen years? He recalled the nights when he’d been awakened by their angry voices raised in accusations.
She touched the silver streak in her dark hair. She scowled. “You will not let those people near Five Cuisines. I won’t have them here.”
The venom in her voice surprised him. “Why not? I hear a feature in Good Eatin’ will place us among the top restaurants in the country.”
“I won’t let him use his magazine to destroy you the way he ruined your father’s dreams.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Peter Blakely, editor of Good Eatin’ of the Good Magazine Group, deliberately used his wife’s magazine to destroy Le Provencal.”
Greg rose and went to her side. He’d been sixteen when the tragedy had occurred. His father’s suicide had brought drastic changes in their lives. “Why would this Blakefield do that?”
She stared at her hands. “Your father told me his family and Peter’s had been at odds since they arrived in this country during the colonial days. Your father and Peter became rivals in high school. I met Peter in college. We fell in love and were engaged but we had a fight. I broke the engagement. Peter wanted no part of my parents’ restaurant. Victor heard about the break-up and comforted me. He went to work for my parents and we were married. Peter was furious. He threatened to destroy Victor. He waited for years until he found the right time and he succeeded.”
“How?” Greg met her gaze.
“He wrote dreadful articles about the food and the ambience. Victor had made changes in the décor and the menu. People stopped coming. The shame caused your father to take his life. Victor had always been mercurial and volatile. When he drank depression brought him low.”
“Do you have copies of these articles?”
“Your father wouldn’t let me read them. He burned them. Promise you won’t let these people near Five Cuisines.”
Greg looked away. Her comments disappointed him. Until he learned more about this feud he would hold off sending a letter of regret. “Are you sure this is the right decision?”
She looked away. “Yes.”
There was more to her story but he wouldn’t pry. He took the letter from her, folded the paper and placed it with the envelope in the center drawer. “I’ll handle this later. About the feud. Is there any reason for us to be involved?”
“Drop the idea of a feature. Peter Blakefield doesn’t forgive or forget.” She rose and walked to the door.
He had no idea how to discover what had been said about his father of Le Provencal. He didn’t want to slam the door on an opportunity. Maybe she would change her mind. He shook his head. An ancient family rivalry. How medieval.
* * *