Like Water for Chocolate Prologue

Prologue

Gretchen still felt slightly sick after she had gotten home and climbed into bed. She sat there for a long time, legs curled up under her. And thought. In the silence, there wasn’t much else she could do.

The truth was, she had to get over her amorous feelings for Orlando. That was the bottom line. She couldn’t exist for the next several decades in the Thomas family wishing she could fuck her older sister’s husband–her brother-in-law, no less! That would be an awkward holiday season. Gretchen couldn’t imagine herself saying, “And I wish to be Orlando Bloom’s mistress” at the family table and come out alive.

He and Danie were perfect for each other. She was beautiful, charming, sexy, and dynamic. Gretchen was a geek in comparison. Danie was witty and talented and brazen—just the kind of woman that would make Orlando’s blood pressure rise whenever she walked into a room—in a good way, that is. He and Gretchen were just good friends. She was like a sister to him. It would be like incest.

But never had she ever in her life wanted to screw a blood relation so badly in her life. Never mind that she and Orlando were not blood-related.

Groaning with frustration, she grabbed the remote control and turned on the television. She flicked channels until she came to a familiar movie. She watched the characters on screen, speaking in a foreign language and their words translated in yellow lettering on the screen. After a few moments, she realized what movie she was watching and nearly turned it off.

Something kept her from pushing the power button. In fascination, she watched as the movie’s heroine argued with her mother’s ghost about the unborn child she was carrying.

When the doorbell rang, she frowned and glanced at the clock again. It was after one a.m. And you’re still awake? she mused as she walked to the door barefoot and wearing nothing but her long shirt and underwear. Thinking that it was one of her sisters, she opened the door without worrying about what she looked like.

Oh shit. Gretchen tried to remain calm once she realized who was standing on her doorstep.

“Orlando,” Gretchen said, not knowing how she had the capacity to even speak.

Orlando stared at her with an emotion in his eyes that she couldn’t read. Something told her that he was drunk. Gretchen guessed that he’d gotten inebriated at the bachelor party that Elijah Wood had thrown for him in Los Angeles. What surprised her was that he was here. On her doorstep. At one in the morning. The night before he was going to get married. To her sister, no doubt.

“We need to talk,” he said in a low voice. “Can I come in?”

Gretchen’s senses sharpened again. She gripped the doorframe with one hand and the door with the other, barring his way inside.

“Orlando, whatever you have to say to me, you can say it where you’re standing right there,” Gretchen managed, still surprised at her capacity for calmness when her heart was pounding.

“Gretchen,” Orlando began, frustrated, “we need to talk privately, and I would rather not do it right here.”

Gretchen held her ground. She refused.

A moment later, Orlando pushed past her and strode into her house, Incensed, Gretchen slammed the door and stalked into the living room behind him. She was fully awake now, and ready to throw fists. She grabbed him by the shoulder and whirled him around.

“Where the fuck do you get off coming into my house like that like you own the whole fucking world?” she demanded, ignoring the fact that Orlando looked severe at that moment. “You know, you’re getting married tomorrow, and we both have to get up early. I don’t see why this couldn’t have waited until later!”

In a burst of action, Orlando grabbed her by the shoulders roughly and she tried not to gasp. “Don’t you think I know that?” he snapped, voice almost at a growl. “Yes, I’m getting married tomorrow—I’m quite aware of that fact as it’s plastered just about every fucking place. And don’t you dare ask me where I get off, Gretchen! I should be asking you the same damn thing.” Gretchen frowned a bit, enough for him to continue. “Don’t act so goddamn innocent, Gretchen. You remember that night we stood in this very house and kissed.”

“You kissed me,” Gretchen insisted hotly.

“Oh no, Miss Thomas. You see, it takes two to make a kiss work, and if my memory serves me correctly, you worked just as hard as I did.”

“So what”—Gretchen pushed him away—”if I did? There is such a thing as being caught in the moment, as we were. We’ve kissed a dozen times on set and it didn’t mean a damn thing. I don’t see how that meant anything different.”

Laughing sardonically, Orlando turned and shook his head. “If you think that, Gretchen, you’re obviously not as smart as I gave you credit for.”

Silence hung in the air. Gretchen caught her breath and took a step backward. “What are you saying?” she asked. “Are you saying that there’s something between us?” The irony of it made her ire rise. “How dare you insinuate that the night before you go before a priest and my whole fucking family and say that you’re gonna vow to love my sister forever until death do you part? Huh?” she pressed when he didn’t answer. She waved a hand in dismissal. “You had better get the fuck out of my house right now before you do something you regret, Orlando Bloom.”

Obviously her words did nothing to calm him down. A moment later, he had her by the shoulders again. She placed a hand on his chest to try to push him away, but he was stronger than she was, surprisingly, since he was drunk.

“Too late,” he growled, and surprised her by pulling her closer to him.

homenext

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