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I sometimes miss the days when Michael and I were dating. We went on a lot of dates before he moved in with me, but not so many after that because we saw each other all the time. Plus when you have a big mansion with so many different comforts all to yourselves then there’s really no need to go anywhere. There were many evenings where we would walk around in our underwear and watch movies and…other things. And then we got married, had kids and all that stuff had to end because they were always around, and always interrupting!

I was beginning to think they were doing it on purpose like they were all in on it. When they weren’t walking in on us, or knocking at our door in the middle of the night, or sneaking out of the house, they were fighting with each other, or wanting help with homework, or needing something that was never urgent but enough to keep Michael and me from having alone time. We actually had to go out now in order to have some time to ourselves.

“This place hasn’t changed at all.” He said as he looked around dining area of Chez Llama. “The décor and everything is still the same.”

“It is.” I agreed.

“Have you heard from Angela as yet?”

Angela was my agent who was shopping around my cookbook to different publishers. She was confident we would get many offers but I haven’t heard a single one so far. “No. I’m beginning to wonder if I’ve gotten my hopes up.”

“If you don’t get any offers then they’re idiots. Your book is great babe. Have you considered self-publishing?”

“I don’t know.” I shrugged. “It seems risky. I might not get much on royalties if I go that route and I’m afraid of investing too much money into one of my ideas again.”

“Babe, don’t do that. The Nookstone didn’t work out but that doesn’t mean everything you do won’t work out. What did you tell me when I wanted to give up on my art? You said I had to keep at it in order to succeed.”

Our food had arrived a lot faster than we expected. It all looked and smelled delicious. “That was back when I was idealistic.”

“You were right!” He smiled warmly at me. “Now my paintings are sold out and I’ve built a decent reputation in the art community. You just have to believe in yourself again like you believed in me.”

Everything he was saying made sense. I lost my confidence after my first restaurant failed but all I had to do was believe in myself. I know what not to do now. All the lessons I learned last time could help me tremendously in running another restaurant. As much as I enjoyed working at Sakura, I do miss making the decisions that I thought were best instead of asking for permission. Sam and Dawn were awesome bosses but I liked having myself as my own boss better.

I had a lot to think about. I just didn’t want to make another misstep especially since now it looks like I just wasted months of writing a cookbook that may never get published.

Towards the end of the meal, I received a call. It was Angela. Kinda funny how she called at that exact moment when I was contemplating what to do next.

I didn’t stay on the phone for long. She just gave me the gist of what she wanted to say and said she would call later since I told her I was at a restaurant.

Michael knew I was talking to Angela so he sat there staring at me for a few seconds waiting for me to tell him what she said. “So?”

“So what?”

“Don’t be coy! What did she say?”

“I got an offer from one of the publishing houses we were looking at,” I said with a smile. “She’s setting up the meeting for next week.”

“Uh…why aren’t you more excited? That’s great news!”

“I guess so…”

“Come on babe, seriously? You got an offer which means that someone loved your book enough to want to meet with you. This means you’re gonna get published! You should be excited!”

“There’s still plenty to discuss Michael. Nothing is set in stone as yet. This deal could very well fall through just like that. I don’t want to get my hopes up.”

“You gonna be this Debbie Downer for the rest of your life Maia?” He asked with a frown. “You need to take things as they come and enjoy them for what they are. Just cause things don’t always work out doesn’t mean you can’t be hopeful.”

“I know…”

“Maybe you were too much of an idealist in the past but I liked that girl’s drive and ambition more than your self-doubt.”

I liked her more as well. That girl, she had dreams of being an executive chef and entrepreneur who owned five-star restaurants and had bestselling cookbooks. I did become an executive chef at Sakura and my cookbook looks like it’s about to be published. I owned a four-star restaurant before I had to close down. I managed to achieve not all of my dreams but at least some of them which is more than what most people get a chance to do.

So why wasn’t I satisfied?

Michael was right. I had too much self-doubt that I can’t look beyond all that went wrong to see that so much went right. I have so much to be grateful for. I have so much more to be excited for and that was worth celebrating.

So I decided to celebrate!

Mary put Olive and Poppy to bed long before we got home and Nori was in her room working on a song which meant no interruptions tonight. Finally, tonight would be just for the two of us.

“Thank you,” I said to him as he pulled me closer to the bed.

“For what?”

“For always supporting me. For being my rock.”

“You don’t have to thank me for that.” He smiled.

“Yes, I do. I know it must not be easy being with me sometimes.”

“Maia, I love you. I love all of you, the good and the bad. And I love you ‘cause you’re my rock. You make me feel like I can do anything, so if you need me to return the favor, then I’m gonna do it.”

We kissed gently for while as I wanted to savour the moment. I’d been waiting to be with him for so long that I didn’t want to rush it. I didn’t care who came knocking at that door or what hell was taking place on the other side, nothing was going to stop us tonight.

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