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Tonight was the night; it was all up to operation Catered Love now. It was already 8 pm and more and more people were showing up to Rainie and Peter’s engagement party unaware of what ridiculous fiasco that might ensue. Ariel had been standing in front of the door waiting for Mike and Joe to finally arrive and begin their plan but they were taking a long time for some reason. But, everything will soon be all over and hopefully Mike and Rainie would end up with their happy ending. At the very end of the hallway where the exit was, she saw Mike huff and puff his way through the kitchen.
“Mike!” Ariel called out, running towards him. “Finally, you’re here! What took you so long?”
“Sorry, I had to take the bus because my bike wasn’t fast enough and there was a lot of traffic,” he gasped as he panted hard, going through the hot kitchen.
“Where’s Joe?” Ariel asked disappointedly. “I thought he was going to come help us.”
“He’ll be here in a bit,” Mike quickly said.
“What?” Ariel asked in shock. “But…”
“Don’t worry we can handle this,” he smiled. “Now, is the food ready? Do we have the preparations done?”
“Yes,” Ariel nodded. “All we need is the chef, which is you.”
“You sure you remember how to serve? I don’t really need another server if you don’t want to do it,” Mike hesitated.
“Hey! I need to do this to stick with the plan! I’ll be fine,” Ariel proudly smiled. “Besides, all of Rainie’s relatives are in there; you better know what you’re getting yourself into instead of worrying about me.”
“Don’t scare me!” Mike frowned. “It’s not the best time to put me down when I’m already so nervous that I’m sweating bullets!”
“C’mon, don’t be so tense,” Ariel said adjusting his chef attire.
“Wait, where’s Rainie?” Mike looked around the door. “Is she already inside the party?”
“Yeah, she’s been in there for a while; her father and Peter are already inside as well.”
“Good! You ready?!” he nodded as he gave Ariel a platter of delicious food.
“Ready as I’ll ever be,” she laughed back, carrying the plate just slightly above her shoulder.
“Alright ladies and gentlemen!” Mike said rallying up his crew together. “We have a very special assignment today and not one moment should be lost to inaccuracy, incompetence or lack of detail! It is our job to create happiness from within and what better way than to start with the stomach. Remember…”
“You eat with your eyes before you eat with your mouth; presentation is everything! So go out there and DO YOUR BEST!” his crew said in unison.
“Glad you remembered,” Mike smirked. “Well what are you guys waiting for? Jia you! Jia you! Jia you!!”
As each waiter and waitress entered the grand ballroom, they spread out to every corner. The party was elegant as all of Ron Yang’s parties are but this time with a hint of something special just for tonight; maybe it was love, maybe it was excitement but whatever it was, it was special. Rainie, however, was too busy being hassled by her bratty, spoiled and snooty cousins.
“Well Rainie,” sneered her cousin, Jackie. “Looks like you finally got hitched; about time, huh?”
“Yes,” Joanie hissed. “And what a man he really is! He’s rich, good looking and all the more a perfect gentleman.”
“Don’t push it,” Rainie fired back. “I know what you’re trying to do and it’s not going to work on me.”
“W-what are we trying to do?” Joanie mischievously feigned ignorance. “All I said was that you are truly, one lucky woman.”
“I know that you are just dying to ridicule me and my father’s expectations of me so why don’t you just drink away your misery instead of throwing it at others, you damn parasite!!” Rainie spat out in frustration.
“Well I never…” Joanie began to say before flipping her hair and walking away from Rainie.
From afar, Ariel had caught Rainie giving a piece of her mind and finally telling off her cousins. It was always hard on Ariel to watch her best friend be bullied, especially from her own family seeing as how no one was there to defend her; not even her father. Ariel smiled and thought it was about time Rainie stuck up for herself.
“Excuse me?” asked a man, interrupting Ariel’s thoughts.
“Hmm? Yes?” she said, snapping out of her dreaming.
“A-Ariel?” Ron asked as he recognized her face. “What are you doing serving food? Didn’t Rainie invite you as a guest?”
“Oh, it’s ok,” Ariel scoffed. “I recently took this job so I can get myself an apartment.”
“An apartment?” he frowned. “Are you not going to be staying with us anymore?”
“I’m afraid so,” she nodded. “It’s about time I stopped leeching off your generosity.”
“Anytime,” Ron smiled. “You are always welcome in our home, Ariel, remember that.”
Watching Ron walk away, Ariel gave out a sigh and rolled her eyes a bit. Now she REALLY had to move out.
“Me and my big ideas,” she shook her head in disappointment as she headed back to the kitchen.
Entering the kitchen, Ariel widens her eyes to see the spectacle that was in front of her; complete disaster. Pots and pans were flying everywhere, dough and flour blanketed the air and the pungent smell of smoke filled the room.
“Mike!” she yelled while fanning her way forward.
“Uh, yeah?” shouted back a familiar voice amidst the fog.
“What happened?!?” she said before coughing a bit.
“It’s not good, Ariel, it’s not good!” he mumbled out loud.
Coming out of the smoke with a fire extinguisher at hand, Mike rolled his eyes and finally admitted everything to Ariel; his failure, his disappointment, his end.
“I ran out of pork fat!” he cried.
“I’m sorry, what?” Ariel asked a bit off.
“Pork fat!” he reiterated. “It’s all gone, I ran out! What am I gonna do now!?”
“OK that’s what I heard; I thought I needed to get my ears checked,” she shook her head. “Why do you need pork fat?”
“Because,” he sighed. “It’s the only kind of fat I use on all my cooking; without it, I might as well be cooking dirt!”
“You use pork fat in your cooking?” Ariel cringed. “That’s disgusting!”
“HEY!” Mike scolded. “No one utters such blasphemy in front of me.”
“Well, don’t worry I’ll go get some at the corner market,” Ariel swiftly said, taking off her apron.
“That won’t do,” he shook his head. “The only kind I use is back at home. I get it custom made from other countries.”
“Ok, look the fat is not important…”
“The fat is the most important part!” he yelled.
“Well I guess since you can’t finish the dinner, we’re just going to cut everything short and move the plan quicker,” Ariel decided. “You…ready?”
Ariel looked at Mike up and down and winced at the sight before her; he was covered with charred pieces of food and this apron was smudged with grease. His hair was a mess and his face was sweaty…not exactly a crowd pleasing first impression.
“OK, well I’ll go back outside while you make your entrance,” Ariel continued. “I’ll be waiting for your cue.”
“Sure thing,” Mike nodded a bit anxiously.
As she headed out the kitchen Mike didn’t know the first thing he should do because he was so nervous.
“I’m so dead,” he muttered to himself frantically.
“Not if I can help it,” a voice behind him sounded. “Anyone in need of 80 pounds of pork fat?”
“JOE!” Mike screamed as he gave Joe a great big hug. “Oh you made it, you finally made it! Geez, I can kiss you!”
“I’d rather you didn’t,” Joe smiled as he lugged the pork fat in front of him. “Now get off, you’re getting pork fat all over my suit.”
“Oh, Sorry,” Mike laughed.
“Well I wasn’t here to hear it so…” Joe nodded.
“So what?” Mike ignorantly nodded back.
“What’s the plan?” Joe demanded. “What are you guys going to do to persuade Rainie’s dad to let her be with you?”
“OH!” Mike remembered. “I have it all figured out! I’m going to stop Rainie and Peter’s engagement!”
“They are already engaged Mike!” Joe hissed.
“Not without the traditional rings!” Mike chimed. “The party is a ritual; the groom must place the ring on the bride’s finger with the family ring in order to be fully engaged. Whoever places the ring on Rainie’s finger, will automatically become the groom.”
“That is by far the stupidest and most materialistic thing I have ever heard in my life. Who the hell made up that rule?” Joe frowned.
“Rainie’s whole family had the tradition of being betrothed, so it seems logical to continue with tradition.” Mike answered. “So the plan is to steal the rings and stop Peter from ever putting them on Rainie! I even have a suit in the back as a disguise.”
“What suit? You don’t own a suit,” Joe inquired.
“…it’s one of yours,” Mike shyly admitted.
“You took one of my suits without my permission…”
“Joe, could you please for once look at the bigger picture,” Mike remarked, trying to get his way out of this sticky situation. “I haven’t finished the dinner service and I have to approach Rainie’s father in a bit…”
“Don’t worry, leave everything to me,” Joe said stiffly as he took off his blazer. “Now, get out of those clothes and I’ll switch you.”
“But…that’s your best suit,” Mike frowned. “And I smell like I just bathed in a tub of lard.”
“That’s what deodorant is for,” he smiled as he wrapped the blazer over Mike. “I suggest you use it. Besides this isn’t my best suit.”
“You mean that ugly one that I got?” Mike questioned.
“You steal one of my suits and you dare call them ugly!” Joe hissed.
“I’m just asking,” Mike defended. “I thought you have 2 suits.”
“I have three; Ariel has my other one,” Joe revealed.
“Ariel???” Mike said, puzzled. “Why would Ariel need a suit?”
“Look that’s not the point,” he said, quickly rushing to get Mike ready. “Don’t worry about it. I’ll take care of the back while you carry out the plan.”
“Oh speaking of Ariel, are you still proposing to her tonight?” Mike asked suddenly.
“That’s the plan,” Joe nodded as he wore Mike’s apron. “But until then we got to take care of you.”
“Thanks, Joe,” Mike sincerely looked at him. “I really appreciate it.”
“The hell are you still doing here, GO!” Joe snapped.
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