So the stir began.
In US Weekly the next week, Jessica managed a mention with Midori grinning next to her in a picture amid the coverage of the Fray’s album launch party. The mag reported that the two became fast friends and Midori was planning to photograph her for an unknown project.
The truth was, Midori was planning to do so…but she wasn’t going to tell anyone what she was doing until she was done. It was her way.
Jessica’s eyes passed right by the supermarket tabs while in–where else?–the supermarket in line. In sunglasses, a baseball cap, and a hooded jacket, she tried to remain incognito, but every once in a while, some one would appear and ask if she was Jessica Simpson. She felt like saying, No, but I’m wearing her underwear.
In front of her, a blonde with a frozen pizza and a two-liter Sprite was thumbing through People magazine. She was slightly taller than she, and she looked very familiar. As the conveyor belt moved, Jessica placed her bounty–chicken breasts, lemon pepper, milk, eggs, and bread–on it. The two-liter Sprite wobbled, and, before the blonde could catch it, it fell to the ground. And immediately burst open.
“Oh my God!” Jessica shrieked, more in shock than discomfort, forgetting the fact that she was trying to stay incognito.
The blond squealed in anger and embarrassment as the drink fizzled over her and Jessica’s feet. It gushed out of the cracked neck like hot water from Old Faithful. “Bloody hell,” she swore, as she picked it up. “I just had to settle on the one that was shaken to combustion.”
A clerk came then with some paper towels as another dashed off for the mop. The blonde set the bottle back to rights, but that didn’t work. Much to her dismay, a rogue stream had splattered all over Jessica’s hooded jacket.
The woman placed a hand over her mouth. She hurriedly grabbed paper towels and rubbed at the wetness on Jessica’s jacket. “I am really sorry. I didn’t mean for you to get caught in the, eh, crossfire. I think this’ll come out with a little water.”
“It’s alright really,” Jessica assured her. She gestured to the blonde’s spotty white tee and denim Capris. “I think you got more of it than I did.”
Realizing this, the blonde sighed, and handed the broken Sprite to the clerk with the paper towels. “I think I’m going to be washing this stickiness from myself for about two weeks.” She waved off an offer for another drink and paid for her pizza. “But I really am sorry about this. Is there anything I can do to make up for it?”
* * *
Her name was Angelia Buchannan, and she had been a model.
Although convention told her that she was insane for bringing a stranger home, Jessica had to admit that she had a feeling about this woman that indicated that she wouldn’t brutally murdering her anytime soon.
Nick was visiting his younger brother Drew and would be back later. He had suggested that they’d have some time to themselves for the moment. Apart. So the house was empty for the moment except for Jessica and her guest, Angelia.
Jessica was glad that she didn’t have to be alone. CaCee was still sick, and she was holed up in her apartment. Jessica was going to visit her later with some good cheer and an autographed CD from the Fray. Right at that moment, she was watching Angelia make stir fry.
Jessica sat on a stool and observed Angelia chopping up yellow, red and green peppers, carrots, mushrooms, onion, and broccoli. The chicken breasts were sitting in a marinade of soy sauce and other ingredients. Snow peas were in a bowl nearby. She had to admire the way Angelia chopped up vegetables and threw them into a large pot. It was certainly better than anything she had attempted.
“Where did you learn how to cook like this?” Jessica asked, awed.
Angelia’s lips curled up as she diced onion. “During college. I figured out that fast food was a quick way to high cholesterol and an empty checkbook. So I bought my own food and learned how to cook by trial and error.” She threw onions into the mixture sizzling on the stove. “It’s a snap to learn. Especially if you have a cookbook.”
Jessica smiled sheepishly. “Even with the cookbook, I still mess up.” She tilted her head and rested her chin on her palm. “Nick had to get out the fire extinguisher once when I tried to make fried chicken.”
Angelia laughed. “We all slip up at times. But then again, it’s also good to know if you need to keep away from the stove.”
“That’s me. I can get cereal right, and that’s about it.”
Angelia laughed again. “I wouldn’t worry your head about it too much. That’s why there were geniuses in the world to make up microwaves and frozen dinners.” She cleared off the cutting board then turned around to the sink. “When is your husband going to be home?”
Jessica looked at the clock nearby and made an estimate as the faucet ran. “Well, he’s visiting his brother and you know how guys are…”
“Oh absolutely. I can guarantee that he’ll be most of the day, watching sports or something.” Angelia turned the water off and extracted a chicken breast from the bowl. She cut it up in small cubes and then placed it on a plate as she selected another to dice. “So what do you do when he’s not here?”
A good question. It almost made her sound like a normal, everyday wife. Except she wasn’t. She answered the question truthfully. It had seemed like a long time since she’d had the leisure to be at home, alone. “I’m usually…out. But sometimes I just sit around and watch TV or read magazines. Or do my nails.”
A long moment of silence fell in between the two. Angelia completed the chicken and then tossed it into the mix. Steam rose and meat sizzled when it came in contact with heat. She appeared sheepish.
“You know, I almost forgot that you’re Jessica Simpson,” Angelia remarked. “As odd as it sounds, it seemed normal just now, you watching me cook and talking to me.” Inquiry burned in her eyes, then she lowered them to the skillet. She stirred the concoction with a wooden spoon. “It really doesn’t sink in, the demand, the pressure of it all, until you can put it up against moments like these.” She turned to a bowl of brown liquid with the consistency of gravy of which Jessica didn’t know the ingredients. When she looked at Jessica, she was smiling. “But I don’t want to bring you down. Do you mind starting on the rice?”
Panic widened Jessica’s brown eyes. “Rice? You want me to do the rice? But–?”
Angelia placed her hand on Jessica’s with a practiced and perfected calm. “Just put enough in the pot for the two of us with some water. I’ll take care of the rest.”
* * *
The rest had turned about to be delicious. An hour later, Angelia’s stir fry induced Jessica to undo the button in her jeans and sigh.
“I hope you wouldn’t be offended if I shackled you to the stove for the rest of your natural life,” Jessica remarked, sipping on Pepsi from a tall, ice-filled glass.
Angelia laughed. “Of course not. I’d just be shackled.”
“So, does that mean yes or no?”
As they laughed luxuriously, full and enjoying the company of one another, the front door opened. Jessica picked up her glass and took a sip.
“Honey, I’m home!” filled the house, and Jessica nearly dropped her glass at the sound of Nick’s voice. She didn’t think he’d be home until long after Angelia had left. She still hadn’t figured out how she was going to explain Angelia’s being there.
As if sensing her discontent, Angelia stood and walked to the kitchen with the empty plates. Nick strolled into the dining room just after Angelia had fled to the kitchen. Jessica sat up as he appraised her curiously. He could sense that something was up.
He leaned down and kissed Jessica. And smelled food on her. “Did you get takeout?” he asked, nose still on alert.
“Um…” Jessica swore inside her head and climbed out of her chair. Nick was staring at her. Waiting for an answer. “Um, no, it’s not takeout.” Nick started toward the kitchen, seeing the flash of white and denim.
“Nick–” Jessica uttered the word, but did not know what she was going to say after it. Nick turned to look at her.
“Jessica,” he began in a stern voice, “what’s going on?”
Angelia drifted to the doorway, looking slightly sheepish. When Nick turned his head and found her leaning on the doorframe, his face just went blank with shock. Well, now he knew where the food came from.
“Um, hello,” Angelia greeted him in her British accent. “I followed her home and seduced her with cuisine. You’ll have to forgive me.”
Nick, annoyed, looked at Angelia, then Jessica, and back at Angelia again.
“Perhaps I should be going now.” A silence. “Unless you want me to cook dinner.”
A snicker bubbled up from Jessica. The blank expression on Nick’s face cracked as he started laughing. Angelia grinned at her statement and stepped away from the doorway.
“I suppose that’s a yes,” Angelia remarked in a deadpan tone.
* * *
At bedtime, Jessica curled into Nick and was laughing.
“You should have seen your face,” Jessica said amid her giggles. “Especially when she said she was going to cook dinner.”
“I’m glad you find that amusing,” Nick said, “but what if she had killed you? Or kidnapped you?”
“Angelia?” Jessica shook her head, tracing the line under his left pectoral, where his heart thumped mildly. She couldn’t imagine the clever blonde she’d met that day capable of that sort of subterfuge. “She’s…she’s too pure for that, you know? I could look at her and tell. Some people, you can look and just tell.”
“I hope that judgment of yours works if you come across a serial killer one day at the supermarket.”
It was Jessica’s turn to be exasperated at Nick. She shifted and looked up at him. “Oh, and you think that I couldn’t spot one if I met one?”
Nick shifted and trailed a thumb along her cheekbone. He loved the way her eyes looked when she was mad. He could see them now, even in their darkened bedroom. He especially loved the way her eyes looked when they were smoky, filled with desire as they had been a short time ago. Nick placed the image away for later. But not too far away.
“I just think you’re too trusting,” Nick finally responded. “You never know when someone’s going to turn on you.” He paused for a second. “But she’s a damn good cook,” he added. “I figured that a meal as good as that one couldn’t have come from you, Jess.”
“Hey!” Jessica said in protest. “I could cook, if I wanted to.” She pouted. “Angelia could teach me.”
“Yeah, maybe.” Jessica made a sound that Lizzie McGuire would have been proud of. “Look, the last time you cooked, I thought I was going to have to call the fire department.”
Jessica pouted more and tried to disentangle herself from her husband. Nick calmly grabbed her wrists. He grinned as she glared at him. She fought him for her wrists, but it was futile. He rolled both of them over, Jessica now on her back. Those whiskey-colored eyes were smoky once again. Nick leaned down and pressed his lips to Jessica’s, trailing down to her neck, where her pulse beat wildly.
It seemed now, the disagreement was stalled at a mutual stalemate. All was well again.
It was too bad the peace couldn’t last.
FROM CRAVE MAGAZINE (Based out of Gracia, California)
JESSICA SIMPSON’S NEW GAL-PAL
Just Who is Jessica’s New Friend?
Last week, pictures surfaced of Jessica Simpson with a mysterious blonde walking out of the supermarket. Simpson was thought to be accompanying friend and personal assistant CaCee Cobb, but now it is revealed that the blonde is not Cobb, but a mysterious woman that no one had ever seen before. Now we know that Simpson’s companion in the photos is twenty-five-year-old Angelia Buchannan. While she doesn’t look familiar in the photos, Buchannan is no stranger to photographers and fame. The England-born Buchannan took up modeling to foot the bill for her college education and was featured in spreads in Elle, Vanity Fair, and other note-worthy magazines. When she was offered contracts from big-time agencies, she turned them down and turned to the more mundane life of a teacher. A source calls Buchannan “a humble young woman with clear ideas of what she wants and what she needs.” The striking Buchannan now teaches English at Edward D. Creighton High School where her biggest worry is a dangling participle. But now that she has befriended one half of the world’s most sought-after couple, it looks like Miss Buchannan may have to contend with being in the public eye once again.