“Shit! Shit! Double shit!” I said, slamming my fist onto the stainless steel countertop. “Everyone stop what you’re doing, I lost my necklace.”
“The necklace?!” my sous-chef Erika said, stopping mid chop. “Oh my God, you didn’t?”
“Yes the necklace with the disc. What other kind would I be missing?”
My entire crew stopped mixing, whipping, chopping and cooking to look for the missing chain. The convention center’s gourmet kitchen was huge. It could be anywhere.
Dear God! Do not let it be in those people’s appetizers.
“How did you loose it?” Erika said, placing her hands on her hips. “When was the last time you know you had it?”
“I don’t know don’t it fell off.” I said, my fingers habitually reaching or the gold coin that wasn’t there. “I had it when I came in, and when I started prepping. Just help me look.”
Not under the stove. Not around the pass. Not in the bank of pre-prepped food trays. Damn it! My blood pressure climbed higher with each ticking minute.
“Shit,” I muttered, tapping my forehead with a clean wooden spoon. “I have to tell them.”
The plan could still go through as long as I got those appetizers back before anyone found the coin and realized what it was.
I took two deeps breaths before hauling my leaden feet through the french doors. The hundred meters to the stage’s microphone was the longest stretch of plush carpet in my life.
This must be what inmates facing their final walk to the execution chamber felt like.
“Good evening ladies and gentlemen,” I said into the microphone. The steadiness in my voice belied the knots twisting in my stomach like waking dragons. “My name’s Rachel Herring. I’m your head chef for this evening, I regret to inform you-”
The woman’s shriek stabbed any hope of salvaging this evening right in the heart. The sound of clattering dishes and the thunk of a chair falling on the carpet came from one of the tables to my right.
Of course it came from her table. My stomach plummeted to my knees.
The normally calm, collected, charitable woman stomped over to me, her cheeks bright red. She may have been in a cobalt evening dress instead of her signature grey suit, with her blond hair hanging in big loose curls around her shoulders instead of her iconic bun, but she was still…The President of the Federation!
“Do you have any idea what this is?!” she said, shoving a plate of half-eaten pumpkin pie torte into my chest.
The coin’s central emerald gem glared up at me from the middle of the creamy orange filling like a demonic eye.
“Well, um, it’s what I came out to tell everyone.” Beads of sweat ran down my spine, my ears were on fire. “But luckily it’s been found before someone cracked a tooth. So I’ll just take this back to the kitchen and get you another torte…”
If I could just get the disc, all of this mess could be fixed.
Her green eyes dropped to my hand, still stupidly holding the plate against my chest. She snatched my fingers, gripping them like an iron vice. The little plate crashed to the floor, splattering pumpkin mouse across the carpet.
“You did this?” she said, her blood red lip curling. “This disgusting thing came off your hands? How dare you!”
Her grip tightened. Every beat of my heart pulsed pins and needles into my fingertips.
“I, I didn’t do it on purpose. It was a mistake, a stupid, stupid mistake… Ow you’re hurting me.”
Her eyes narrowed. But her white-knuckled grip on my wrist never wavered. The entire room went deathly quiet. Two dozen sets of the worlds most powerful people’s eyes, bore into me.
“This wasn’t a mistake,” her lowered steady voice echoed through the speakers. “It’s poison. This was an assignation attempt! That’s why you eagerly volunteered to cook for us, wasnt it… sister?”
“No, not an assassination,” I said, rocking back on my heels, smirking at the irony. “The main course does have a healthy dose of Verilium though”
“The Mad Hatter drug? You wanted to send all of us on a psychic trip,” she said around her laughter. “You’ve got to be the worst assassin ever.”
“I wasn’t paid to kill you, dear sister. In fact, I was given explicit instructions not to kill you. Such a shame really, it’d be simpler. It makes no sense to me why my bosses want you all mad as hatters and not dead. But that’s their business.”
Her face blanched for the briefest second, before cocking an eyebrow. “Well, either way you still failed.” A cold cruel smile spread across the President’s lips. “You and your entire staff, will never taste freedom again… terrorist.”
It was my turn to grin. “You sure?”
I dropped into a crouch, grabbing the pendant. I pressed the gem between my thumb and finger.
The evening’s events started playing in rapid reverse. Something caught my attention. I released the emerald slightly, slowing the reverse.
That traitorous bitch!
I reversed time until minutes before my sous chef stealthily snipped the gold chain at the back of my neck as she walked by.
I may have been instructed to merely poison my sister, but I had no such instructions for that saboteur. And I was still an assassin after all.