A Hearty Feast

by Dawn Colclasure

A Hearty Feast

She watched him. He seemed to be way ahead of his opponents, but it wasn’t how fast he worked or his skill in slicing, dicing and cubing foods that she saw. Instead, her eyes fixed on how a curl from his black hair hung over his sweaty forehead. How his blue eyes seemed to flicker from one thing to the next. The curve of his lips as he carefully moved the food from a cutting board to a food processor or pan already simmering on the stove. How so often she had dreamed of having her own lips against his.


The booming announcement brought her out of her thoughts. She snapped to attention in her seat and clasped her hands together against her chest as she waited in anticipation.

“Now to see who has won the Bakerville Ninth Annual Cooking Championship!” the host of the competition announced, holding the microphone to his mouth. He smiled as he walked across the stage.

She watched as the competition continued. It was Julian’s first time competing and he had worked so hard to get the spot. She looked at him but he never looked at her. Instead, he stood back from his cooking station, his hands down at his sides. His competitor, the famous bakery chef Chalelle LaBeau, did the same, broadly grinning at her many adoring fans cheering for her in the crowd.

She held her breath as she watched Julian carry his creation to the judging table. The three judges, all master chefs, each took a bite of Julian’s food. Each one of them had nice things to say about it. Of course they did. Julian was perhaps the best cook she ever knew. He’d gone straight to a culinary cooking institute right after they had graduated from college, and the time he had spent perfecting his school in Paris then in Italy had only made his gift for cooking a tasy meal all the higher in demand after he returned to the US.

She watched now as Chalelle carried her plate over to the judging table. Her heart sank as she watched the judges respond to their samples of her food with excitement and wide eyes.

The judges huddled together to pick a winner. Finally, one of them stood and rang a bell. The host walked over to him and held the microphone away as the judge whispered into his ear.

“We have a winner!” the host announced into the microphone, looking back at the crowd again. He hurried to the front of the stage. “Will the contestants come forward, please.”

She watched as Julian stepped up to stand on one side of the host. Chalelle stood on the other side.

“After careful consideration,” the host announced, looking out at the crowd. “Our judges have declared that the winner of the Bakerville Ninth Annual Cooking Competition is none other than…”

She held her breath, nearly bursting with anticipation.

“Chalelle LaBeau!”

The crowd exploded with cheers and applause. All except for her, who sank into her seat, her look of anticipation long gone. She sadly looked up at Julian. Ever the professional and quite aware that everyone was looking his way, he kept a straight face. He even forced a small smile as he turned to shake hands with the rapturous Chalelle, who was tittering with glee and bouncing on her heels. Her smile was more genuine, but deep down, the look of disappointment in Julian’s face could be seen.

After the show was over, she walked up to him. “You tried your best,” she would tell him. He would smile at her and thank her for being there for him.

But as she drew closer to him, he turned to walk away.

* * *

She took a deep breath as she stood in front of his door. He hadn’t taken any of her calls, ignored her emails and didn’t respond to the comments she had left on his social media page. The poor man must be heartbroken. Sure, there would be other competitions, but this one had been important to him. This one had been his project all summer long.

She straightened. It was now or never. And, surely, her gift would cheer him up.

She raised her hand and knocked on the wooden door. After a few moments, the knob turned, and the door opened to reveal an elderly woman wearing a maid uniform.


“Hello, my name is Julia,” she began, swallowing the lump in her throat. “I am a friend of Julian’s. I have brought him something.”

She held out the wrapped package she had clutched in her hands.

“Master Julian does not want visitors,” she replied. She reached out her hands. “I will see to it he receives your gift.”

“Oh, no!” she cried, holding the package away. “I must give it to him myself.”

The maid twitched her nose and groaned as she stared at Julia with suspicion. Then she nodded and took a step back. “Very well. Please come in.”

Julia crossed the threshold, marveling at the grand entrance of Julian’s home. She knew that Julian was well off, thanks to his inheritance, but she never dreamed that his home looked so grand.

“Please wait here,” the maid instructed, bringing Julia out of her thoughts.

Julia looked at her and nodded. She watched the maid walk off and listened as the sound of her footsteps faded.

She examined the paintings on the wall as she waited. After a while, she turned just to see the maid behind her. She gasped in surprise.

“Master Julian will see you now,” she informed, staring at Julia with that same look of suspicion. “Please follow me.”

Julia nodded and remained silent as she followed behind the maid. They walked through the master kitchen and Julia looked around in awe at the expensive cooking equipment on the counters, the large double ovens, the expansive stovetop range, the large counters and the various cooking utensils either hanging from the sides of cabinets or placed in large steel canisters.

They next went up a carpeted stairway and once they reached the landing, she noticed the long wall of closed doors. The red wall matched the carpet on the wooden steps and floor. They walked along the landing and came to the last door. The maid knocked. “Miss Julia to see you!” she announced.

“Come in!” Julian’s voiced beckoned from within.

The maid opened the door and stood aside, allowing room for Julia to enter.

Julia nodded her thanks to the maid and entered the room, noticing that it appeared to be a meeting room of some sort. To her left was a long wooden table with leather chairs on either side. Along the wall were the same closed doors she had passed.

“Hello, Julia.”

She gasped as she turned to her right. A towering row of file cabinets lined the walls and there stood Julian, alongside one of the many windows with white silk curtains. He rested his right hand on the windowsill, as though he was just about to turn and look out of it, and rested his left hand on his left hip. He stood tall and thin, his black hair neatly combed over his head and wearing a gray striped suit.

“I’m told you have something for me,” he continued.

She smiled as the surprise faded and walked over to him. “Yes. Hello, Julian. You look well.”

“Thank you,” he replied with a nod.

“I’m so sorry about the competition,” she continued.

She wasn’t sure what she saw flash through his eyes as he froze in response. Was it anger? Disappointment?

Whatever it had been, it disappeared and he straightened as he turned to look out the window. “I appreciate your sentiment, but not to worry. There are other competitions. In fact, I am actually preparing for one right now.”

“Really?” Julia asked, smiling up at him. “That’s fantastic!”

He nodded, smiling. “Yes. It is quite a challenge, but certainly one which I am capable of facing. Of course, I’m not sure exactly what I will prepare, but perhaps in time the answer shall come to me.”

Julia looked down at the package, biting her lip. “Perhaps this will help?” she asked, holding the package out to him.

He turned and looked at her as though he was surprised to see her. Then he looked down at the package she held out to him and grinned. “For me?”

“Yes,” she replied, nodding.

He took the package and walked over to the table. She followed behind him then stood at his side as he gently opened it. Once he did so, he gasped in surprise. “Spices of the Seas!”

Smiling, she looked up at him. “Do you like it?”

“Julia, this is magnificent!” he cried, removing the bottle of oriental spices from the box. He stared down at it as he cradled it in his hands then he looked at her. “Where did you get this? I couldn’t find it anywhere!”

She shrugged. “I have some connections.”

He grinned then looked down at the bottle in his hands again. “This must have cost a fortune.”

“It did, but you’re worth it,” she replied.

“Really?” he asked, now placing the bottle onto the table. He moved closer and wrapped his arms around her. “You truly feel that way for me?”

She nodded, her heart racing. “I feel that way and more,” she whispered breathlessly, moving her own arms around his slim frame. His body drew closer to hers and her heart skipped a beat. “Oh, Julian. I have loved you for so long. Please tell me you feel the same.”

He remained silent. The look in his eyes changed, as though he was thinking about something. Then his smile returned, stretching across his face. “My dear, words could never describe my feelings for you.”

“I’m so glad to hear you say that,” she replied, lovingly looking up into his eyes. “My heart is yours.”

“Indeed,” he said, a cunning smile forming on his lips. “Have I ever told you that I also specialize in another type of cuisine?”

She shook her head. “No. What is it?”

“Oh, it is very exquisite,” he replied. “And a very rare specialty. Why, with your gift, I am sure to win the next competition. And it will all be thanks to you.”

She brightened. “That’s wonderful!”

His grin broadened. “Indeed.” He stepped away from her and gently held her hand as he stared into her eyes. He raised her hand to his lips and she shuddered as he placed a soft kiss upon it.

“Come, let us prepare this feast together,” he announced, using his free hand to grab hold of the bottle of spices.

They left the room through the door Julia had entered then walked along the brief landing. They turned to face another flight of steps with the same red carpeting and ascended. They stopped at the landing and stood in front of a large black wooden door. Julian removed keys from his pocket and unlocked the door. Julia watched with curiosity as he moved through the door into a dimly lit room, then followed him inside.

“Shouldn’t we be going into the kitchen?” she asked, as she stepped further into the room.

Julian closed the door behind her, locking it. “This is a kitchen,” he replied. “One of my other kitchens.” He switched on an overhead light and it shown throughout the room. In the center of the room stood a small table with one wooden chair behind it. To the left was a cooking area and to the right was what appeared to be an old wooden chair with one long wooden table next to it.

“Please,” Julian said, as he stood at her side and held his hand out to the old wooden chair. “Have a seat.”

She looked at him. “I thought I was helping you.”

“Oh, but you are,” he answered, smiling at her. He reached to move strand of her lilac-colored hair from her eyes, moving closer. “You will be such a big help to me,” he whispered in a sultry voice. “Please, sit in the chair.”

The way his eyes bored into hers and how his soft breath fell onto her lips nearly made Julia quiver with excitement. “Okay,” she replied, grinning at him. She turned and hurried over to sit in the chair. She clasped her hands together on her lap and smiled as she watched him walk over to the cooking area. He placed the jar of spices next to the stove and turned with a large grin on his face, his hands clasped behind his back. He almost had an evil look in his eyes as he stared at her, but Julia told herself it must be a trick of the light.

“You don’t know how much this means to me, Julia,” he cooed as he walked over to her. “To receive such a magnificent and rare gift such as yours! And, oh, what good timing! It’s perfect for the dish I will be preparing for the next competition.”

“Really?” Julia asked, sitting up with excitement. “When is this competition?”

“Tomorrow,” Julian replied, coming to a stop next to the chair. “I was at my wit’s end to decide on what meal to prepare. How I struggled! And to have you appear with just the perfect offering to solve all of my problems, why, it is meant to be!”

“I’m so glad my gift will help you, Julian,” she gushed, smiling up at him. “It will surely help you win this competition!”

“Indeed,” he agreed, smiling down at her. “Now, be a dear, and place your arms onto the arms of the chair please.”

“Like this?” Julia asked, doing as he instructed.

“There’s a girl,” he replied, flipping a switch behind her.

Julia gasped as metal restraints flew across her wrists and arms. She struggled to get free, but her arms remained restrained. She looked up at him. “Julian! What is this?”

“Shh,” he shushed, slowly lowering himself to her face.

She moved her head back as his face drew closer to hers. “Let us not ruin the moment,” he whispered.

He stared into her eyes and Julia wondered if that was love she finally saw in them. When his lips circled hers and he began kissing her deeply, she rejoiced in finally earning his love in return and passionately kissed him back.

Then a sharp pain hit her chest and her eyes widened. She tried to break the kiss but Julian kept his mouth over hers. She screamed as the pain in her chest intensified and she felt something yanked from her body.

He finally let her go, standing as he moved away from her.

Julia wanted to scream but her breath left her body in harsh gasps instead. She stared in horror as Julian stood before her, smiling as he gripped her bloody heart in his hand. In his other hand was the large butcher knife he had used to cut open her chest, blood covering the blade. Drops of blood fell from the knife, mixing with the drops of blood that fell from her still beating heart.

“Did you know, Julia,” he said, still examining her heart in his hand. “That Spices of the Seas is the perfect accompaniment to use for roasted heart? Why, with such exquisite flavoring, it makes the meal all the more tantalizing.”

She gasped for breath, feeling her life fade as her open wound continued to bleed.

“I thank you for this gift, my dear,” he added, smiling at her. “After all, you did say your heart is mine.”

He turned to walk away. Darkness fell over Julia’s vision. Just as she fell into death’s grasp, she heard Julian saying, “I shall ensure that it is put to good use.”

About the author

Dawn Colclasure

Dawn Colclasure is a writer in Oregon USA. She is a freelance writer, book reviewer and columnist. She is the author and co-author of over four dozen books, among them her horror novel, Shadow of Samhain. Her titles from PsychoToxin Press include the YA horror story collection, The Worst Thing You Ever Did, and the forthcoming psychological horror novella, All the Beautiful Things. Her short stories have appeared in magazines and anthologies. Her websites are dawnsbooks.com and www.dmcwriter.com. She’s on Twitter @dawnwilson325 and @dawncolclasure.

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