Today's Reading

CHAPTER 1

My life has this irritating habit of throwing its biggest changes at me while I'm completely in the nude.

Exhibit one, ten years ago: I was seventeen and enamored with a boy my parents hated, all for the completely unfair reason that he skipped school most days to smoke pot behind the local 7-Eleven. I'd snuck him up to my room, deciding against the back door in favor of the tree outside my window because it seemed so much more romantic. We were in the throes of quiet passion when my door flew open.

"Sadie?" my sister said, and her mouth dropped open. She was four years younger than me, so I would've felt bad for traumatizing her if I wasn't so busy screeching and scrambling for my clothes or a sheet or anything to cover up our naughty bits.

"Get out of here!" I grabbed the closest thing within reach—an old soccer trophy—and hurled it in her general direction for emphasis. It landed with a thunk on the rug, which made her jump and blink her eyes. "Get ouuuuuuuut!"

"Okay. Fine." She blinked again and adjusted her glasses. As she turned to go, she said over her shoulder, "By the way, Grandma died."

Exhibit two, six weeks ago: I was getting out of the shower when I heard my phone ding with a text. It was charging on the nightstand, so I picked it up on my way to the dresser. All I saw on the lock screen was that it was from Chef Derek Anders, my boss, and it started with, Hey Sadie '...' I sighed, figuring he was probably asking me to come in for a last-minute shift on the line. I entered my PIN and read the whole text.

Hey Sadie, I'm sorry but we're going to have to let you go.

Exhibit three, five weeks ago: I was walking around my apartment eating Nutella out of the jar with my fingers for breakfast, psyching myself up to put on fancy professional clothes and head out for my nine a.m. interview at the temp agency. My phone rang with a 212 number, which I knew was New York City, and the only reason I picked up was because I thought that the temp agency had its headquarters in New York and maybe they were calling to cancel the interview because 'what are you thinking, Sadie, all you've ever done is work in restaurants and all you've ever wanted to do is have your own, why are you trying to get an admin job at some obnoxiously hipstery tech company?'

It's not like I want to work at a tech company, I argued silently with the temp agency. 'It's that I've been blacklisted for the near future from the entire Seattle restaurant scene and need some way to earn money until all this fuss dies down.'

The temp agency scoffed in my head. Yeah, okay. Like you could do a fancy office job. All you can do is work the line, and now you can't even do that anymore. You're worthless.

I picked up the phone, my shoulders already drooping. "Hello, this is Sadie Rosen."

"Hi, Sadie!" It was a woman on the other end, her tone far too chipper for this hour of the morning. "My name is Adrianna Rogalsky, and I'm calling from 'Chef Supreme'. Is this a good time?"

I almost dropped my phone. "Yes!" I cleared my throat, trying to keep from squeaking the way I did when I got too excited. "I mean yes, this is a good time."

"Great!" Adrianna chirped. "I'm calling to tell you that the committee really liked your application and your cooking video. Would you mind answering a few more questions for me?"

My eyes involuntarily darted to my bookshelf, which consisted mainly of cookbooks. I spent too much time in restaurant kitchens to cook much from them—or at least, up until a week ago I had—but I liked flipping through them to gather ideas and marvel at the food photography. Five were written by winners of 'Chef Supreme', and four by runners-up and semifinalists. I'd watched every episode of all six seasons, seated on the edge of my couch to goggle at every cooking challenge and winning dish and contestant who cried when eliminated.

Season three's winner, Seattle's Julie Chee, was my culinary idol. Derek, my boss, had taken me by her restaurant after-hours one day. She'd laughed when I told her how I'd been rooting for her all season, patted my head like I was a little kid, and then cooked me a grilled cheese with bacon and kimchi. It was the best night of my life. Right after that, I'd started dreaming about competing on the show myself.

"Hello? Sadie?"

And if I didn't get on my game, that dream was going to evaporate like a pot of boiling water forgotten on the stove. I mean, I didn't really think I was actually going to make it on the show, but it wasn't like I was going to hang up on someone from Chef Supreme. "Sorry!" I said. "Bad connection for a minute there. Yes, I'd love to answer some questions." I shook my head and grimaced. Love? 'Love' was a strong word. I should've said I'd 'be happy' to answer some questions. Now Adrianna was probably—

...

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