She hated him.
Tossing around dessert elements as if they were juggling balls he had picked up to idle away the time and, first try, had dozens flying around his body in multiple figure eights.
Sarah hated him with every minute painstaking movement with which she made sure a nut crumb lay exactly the way Chef Leroi wanted it on a financier. She hated him with every flex of tendons and muscles in her aching hands in the evening, all alone in her tiny Paris apartment at the approach to Montmartre, knowing someone else was probably letting him work the tension out of his own hands any way he wanted.
She hated him because she knew he probably didn’t even have any tension in his hands. That after fifteen or more brutal hours in one of the most mercilessly perfectionistic pastry kitchens in the world, he was still as relaxed as if he’d been sunning all day on a beach, occasionally catching a wave.
She hated him because five thousand times a day, his body brushed hers, his hand caught her shoulder or touched her back to guide their bodies around each other, in that constant dance of sixteen bodies in a space much too small for so many people working at blinding speeds. She hated him because every time his body controlled hers so easily, she felt all the lean, fluid muscles from his fingertips to his toes – and knew that however lazy he looked, those muscles knew tension.
She hated him because most times when he touched her he didn’t even notice, and once in a while, when he did, those vivid blue eyes laughed into hers or winked at her as if she was gobble-up delicious, and then he was gone, leaving her heart this messy, unthawed lump that had just tried to throw itself into his hands and ended up instead all gooey over her own shoes.
Fortunately black kitchen shoes were used to receiving a lot of gooey messes on them over the course of a day.
“Sarabelle,” he called laughingly, and she hated him for that, too. The way her ordinary, serious American name turned so exotic and caressing with those French Rs and dulcet Ahs, like a sigh of rich silk all over her skin. The way he added belle onto it, whenever it struck his fancy, as if that couldn’t break someone’s heart, to be convinced someone like him thought she was belle and then realize he thought everybody was belle. He probably called his dog belle, and his four-year-old niece belle when he ruffled her hair.
And they both probably looked up at him with helpless melting, too.
She hated him because she knew he couldn’t even have a dog, given his working hours, and that somehow her entire vision of Patrick Chevalier, which was all of him he let her have, could not possibly be true.