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chapter six: redemption

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"Give yourself no choice but to succeed. Let the consequences of failure become so dire and so unthinkable that you'll have no choice but to do whatever it takes to succeed."

~The Wolf of Wall Street

"What were you doing in here?!" Chef Romano bellowed.

Kelsey didn't even flinch at her harsh voice. Her body was exhausted and her eyes would barely stay open. She and Ethan had stayed at the kitchen all night, trying to soak up the water, clean out the cupboards, and get rid of the lettuce sticking everywhere.

Needless to say, they hadn't gotten far before Kelsey had to shoo Ethan away before anyone saw him.

"I was cleaning up the dishes I used," Kelsey replied. "And the pipe underneath the sink burst."

Chef Romano waddled over to the sink and craned her neck down to look. When she straightened again, she paused. "What is this?"

Kelsey took a step forward to see, but Chef Romano spun around, holding two ramekins.

"Dessert for two?" She sneered.

Kelsey's eyes grew wide. "I—"

"Oh, do not even try the excuses!" She tossed the ramekins into the sink and Kelsey thought she heard one of them crack. "You come here, we give you a job! We let you stay and cook! And you bring strangers here!"

"Chef Romano, please—"

"No! It will not happen again," she fumed. "Because from now on, this kitchen is closed after five o'clock, as far as you're concerned. I would fire you in an instant, but unfortunately we still need a dish washer."

Kelsey's lips parted in shock. "No," she whispered, "I—I swear I'll never let anyone come in again, I didn't know it was against the rules. Please, I need a place to cook!"

"You wasted the chance," Chef Romano replied loftily, waving her hand in the air. "You should be grateful you still have a position."

Kelsey swallowed past the lump in her throat and nodded. "Yes ma'am."

She walked over to her station and began her daily routine—folding utensils, washing dishes, and serving lunch with a heart almost too heavy to carry around.

When she entered the dining room, she swept the tables to look for Ethan, but he wasn't there.

The hours dwindled by and soon it was time for everyone to go home.

Once the other chefs had filed out, Chef Romano hung back and searched Kelsey up and down.

"I'm giving you an hour-and-a-half here to clean. Once you're done, you go home. Do you understand?"

Kelsey cast her gaze to the floor. "Yes."

Chef Romano gave one more hard stare before leaving.

As Kelsey scrubbed dried egg yolk off the counter, she realized she wouldn't have wanted to stay tonight anyway. It had been more than 24 hours since she'd gotten any sleep and she felt ready to pass out.


The days lulled by, and Kelsey began to feel increasingly lonely. Sandy was always busy doing something; going to the beach for a photoshoot, or Pilates class, or out with Alex, or blogging.

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by Nichole
Kelsey Harris, a young chef moving to LA, struggles with work, the gl...
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