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Authors: Z. A. Maxfield

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Jacob's Ladder

BOOK: Jacob's Ladder
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St. Nacho’s 3: Jacob’s Ladder

Copyright © June 2010 by Z. A. Maxfield

All rights reserved. This copy is intended for the purchaser of this e-book ONLY. No part of this e-book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without prior written permission from Loose Id LLC. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author's rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

eISBN 978-1-60737-806-8

Editor: Judith David

Cover Artist: Anne Cain

Printed in the United States of America

Published by

Loose Id LLC

PO Box 425960

San Francisco CA 94142-5960

www.loose-id.com

This e-book is a work of fiction. While reference might be made to actual historical events or existing locations, the names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author"s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Warning

This e-book contains sexually explicit scenes and adult language and may be considered offensive to some readers. Loose Id LLC"s e-books are for sale to adults ONLY, as defined by the laws of the country in which you made your purchase.

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* * *

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Dedication

For my Opa, who was no Zeyde, but wore a wool felt fedora as well as any man
ever did.

Big thanks to author Jeanne Barrack for sharing her wisdom and offering
suggestions. Any cultural errors are mine alone.

Chapter One

I stood outside the door to the restaurant kitchen, giving myself a much-needed break. Unlike the waiters and busboys, who sneaked outside to smoke, I liked a cloud-gazing break when I could get one. I was more than content to watch the changing sky and often sat outside in one of the cheap resin chairs during the endless morning bakes. While the busboys took long drags on their cigarettes, I scanned the blue horizon, particularly fond of the days when storm clouds rolled in from the sea.

I had a Dr. Brown"s—cream soda this time—although I harbored a marked preference for either ginger ale or Cel-Ray. The ice-cold bottle sweat cool droplets onto my hand in the muggy heat. I liked those kinds of days the best, when what felt like tropical moisture got pulled up and inland from the south and the air was sultry and felt thick on my skin. Southern California always seemed too hot and bone-dry, even though I was close enough to the beach that seagulls congregated in the parking lot of Il Ghiotto, where I worked as a pastry chef. Lately I"d needed more and more in the way of these breaks. It was a fact that I was just about out of patience with cannoli and tiramisu.

I took another pull of my soda, closing my eyes when the flood of sweet syrup became crisp bubbles that snapped and popped in my mouth, imparting a creamy vanilla flavor and bringing me an indefinable step closer to the place where I grew up.

Maybe it was time to head up the coast to see my brother, Daniel, whose recent moodiness and epic bouts of self-pity inevitably made me feel as though I had no right to complain about anything.

I got to my feet with some care and pushed my empty bottle into the recycling bin on the way back inside the sweltering kitchen. I"d come into work even though I wasn"t feeling well at all. I"d been by turns tired and dizzy all morning, and now a scratchy throat announced the beginnings of a cold. I didn"t know how much longer I could hide my condition from the others in the crowded kitchen.

“You don"t look so good, man.” Arthur, my assistant, gave me a wide berth.

That certainly answered my question.

“Yeah.” I headed for the sink to wash my hands. “I think I"m—”

“Jacob, I"m going to need something gluten free for the Ramirez rehearsal dinner to…” The assistant manager, Phil, reached out a hand and felt my forehead.

2

Z. A. Maxfield

“Shit. Go home. You have a fever, and none of us want to get sick.” Phil had some say in these matters.

I backed away from his touch. “But—”

“No arguments.” Phil walked to the sink and washed his hands. That stung for some reason, as if I were unclean. “I don"t need the swine flu or whatever it is you"ve got. Don"t you read the papers?”

“No.” I turned and started unbuttoning my chef"s coat, yanking the fabric a little more forcefully than necessary. One of the buttons popped off. “I don"t need to be treated like a leper, Phil.”

Phil turned around and winced. “I know, Jacob; I apologize. I"m paranoid about getting sick right now with Hannah"s due date looming. Head home. Arthur can take it from here. I"ll call you to check on you later.” When Maurizio, the owner, got in later, I knew Phil would make my excuses, and it wouldn"t be a big deal as long as the work got done. I glanced at Arthur, who nodded.

Sighing with relief, I told Arthur, “Flourless chocolate cake with raspberry coulis.”

“What?” Arthur"s eyes looked blank.

“It"s gluten free, for the Ramirez party.”

“Ah, all right.” Arthur turned and headed back to work. It was a lot of responsibility they were piling on Arthur this morning; he"d never been in charge of the baking alone.

I started to say something more, when Phil stopped me. “He"ll be fine. Just go, damn it. The sooner you go home and rest, the sooner you"ll be back. Please don"t let it be something bad.”

I snorted. “God didn"t let me survive a suicide bomber in Tel Aviv to die of the swine flu.”

Phil rolled his eyes. “Go home.”

“I"m on my way.” I tossed my coat into the laundry on the way out and stepped into the moist air. I wondered briefly if I should call Sander and see if he wanted me to pick up anything on the way home, but the fever was making my bones ache, and I thought if Sander was lucky enough to be able to sleep in, I didn"t care to wake him. Sander"s job as a bouncer for a local strip club kept him up late at night, even though he was making the rounds of auditions for film and television roles during the day. Since I worked from the early morning until late afternoon, our schedules were ideal when Sander didn"t have anything else to do but to sleep in.

As far as I knew, Sander didn"t have a call that morning, so I rode home as usual on the bus, then let myself in to our small apartment quietly and removed my clogs in the tiled entry.

As I neared the bedroom where Sander slept, I heard the unmistakable sounds of laughter. Thinking that Sander was up watching television, I didn"t announce St. Nacho’s 3: Jacob’s Ladder

3

myself but simply walked through the bedroom door. In retrospect, I realized there had been an extra pair of shoes, or three, next to Sander"s expensive trainers on the entry-hall floor.

That"s what I got for allowing my life since returning to America to make me complacent.

Of the four men in our bed, only one seemed to think my presence there—my horror at finding my lover engaged in an orgy—wasn"t laughable. The other men were certainly laughing. They laughed while they put on their clothes and all the way down the hall and out the door.

“I didn"t expect you back this early.” Sander picked up a tiny can of some energy drink off the nightstand and took a sip.

“I"m sick.” I practically fell onto the bed next to him, causing him to get up and stand against the wall. “And apparently you"re an asshole.”

“That was nothing.”

“How many people do you have to fuck at one time to consider it something?”

“It"s not like that.”

I was sick
in
side now, as well as out. I wished I felt better. I could hardly work up a good case of righteous indignation if I could barely lift my head off the pillow.

“How many times?”

“How many times what?”

“How many times have you jumped into bed with whoever took your fancy while I was stuffing fucking cannoli to keep food on the table?”

“I
work
!” Sander fired back, happy now to have some sort of argument of his own, his own reason to be indignant. “I spend my nights shoving drunks around a titty bar so I can help out.”

I was tired and let my mouth run. “You work so you can get newer and better head shots by expensive photographers and to pay for gasoline and insurance for your car so you can pursue your dreams, while I slog back and forth to the restaurant on the bus. It"s not like I see a dime of your damned money. It"s not like I"ve asked for it.”

Sander got quiet. “Shut the fuck up. It"s not like that.” I was too tired and sick to care. I reached into the nightstand for a couple of extra-strength pain relievers, then chewed the tablets to get them to work as fast as possible. “Could you get me a glass of water, please?”

“Get your own damned water.” Sander had apparently decided that the best defense was a good offense. “And while you"re at it, you could have a little consideration. I seen this new flu on the news, and people die from it. You could at least sleep on the couch until you"re not contagious anymore.
Motherfucker
.” I"d been living with the man for almost a year and realized I had no idea why.

Sure, he was pretty. Big and buff and blond with a perfect eight-pack of abs and an out-of-control libido that seemed like a damned good thing at the time. He wasn"t 4

Z. A. Maxfield

the brightest man, but the way he ate the special dinners I prepared for him in the early days of our relationship, so enthusiastically, with such childlike delight, had charmed me.

I"d realized a while back that Sander wasn"t exactly faithful, and put off the moment when I"d have to do something about it, because, for the most part, he was discreet. Until today.

“You need to find another place to live.” I rolled tiredly to my side and lurched to my feet, intending to get myself a bottled water from the kitchen. That seemed a long way away.

Sander followed me, itching for a fight. “And you need to
dream on
. This is where I live. You don"t like living with me, then you move on.”

“If I do, I"ll have to give the manager notice.” I told him. The sisters who owned the place managed it, and their reputation among the tenants was legendary—and not in a particularly good way. It took looking the other way when their eccentricities became uncomfortable in order to live in the building, which was a trade-off because it was priced far below market value. The older sister ran it like it was her own little low-rent kingdom, and we were her serfs; just seeing her was like an audience with the Wizard of Oz. Fortunately she liked me, and her equally frightening but less quirky sister was very fond of cannoli. “Since the place is in my name, you"d still be out of here on your ass.”

“My ass would land right side up at least.”

BOOK: Jacob's Ladder
4.12Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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