DANETTE KRIEHN
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Excerpts
From Fate, Flatulence and Fortune Cookies:

CHAPTER 1

One seemingly insignificant decision could change your life forever
.


Seattle, Washington

May 2012

 “You’re kidding, right?”

Grace wasn’t sure if Yingtai’s suggestion was a serious one or if she was just trying to make Grace laugh. Although, granted, a seasoned reporter for The Seattle Post Register—or rather, a recently-let-go seasoned reporter—writing the fortunes for fortune cookies for a living was laughable. If Grace didn’t cry first.

Yingtai shook her head. “No, Gracie, I’m not joking. I just talked to Mo last week and he said he’s looking for somebody new. I think the guy who does it now has some kind of writer’s block or something.” She smiled encouragingly when Grace didn’t immediately respond. “It’s not permanent, just something to help tide you over until you find another job.”

Find another job. It sounded so easy, Grace thought. Discouraged, she looked out the window of her second story condo at the fat gray clouds ready to dump another load of rain on the already-soaked Seattle area. The bleak weather matched her mood perfectly.

The layoff had come out of nowhere two weeks ago and had hit her like a sucker punch right in the gut. Marv Leibowitz, the owner and managing editor of the Register, hadn’t even been able to look her in the eye when he’d delivered the initial blow. But when he’d confirmed, after her jaw-clenched inquiry, that Candy Reynolds, the paper’s most recent hire—a buxom, platinum blonde who wrote the inane relationship column, Just Ask Candy—was still on the Register’s employee roster, Grace had been royally pissed.

Fueled by her indignation—what an ass—and a surge of adrenaline—she’d show him—she’d gathered her personal items and marched out the door with as much of her dignity as she could muster, then promptly sent out letters and resumes to twelve different newspapers, from Everett to Tacoma. She’d also followed up on every single one of them—with zero success. It seemed no one was hiring right now.

The only thing she hadn’t done was drum up the courage to tell her father what had happened. She unconsciously twisted a shoulder-length strand of wheat-colored hair—a habit she had unsuccessfully tried to break since childhood—and determinedly pushed aside that nausea-provoking thought. For now.

Light drops of rain began tapping at the glass as she finally turned back to Yingtai. “How am I supposed to look at myself in the mirror every morning? I’m an investigative reporter. A member of the press. How do I just toss away ten years of experience in the industry and take a job as a…a glorified fortune teller?”

Yingtai’s quick, easygoing laughter softened her response. “Don’t be such a snob, Gracie. It’s just a temporary solution, and it could be fun. I know it’s not the kind of writing you want to be doing, but you want to pay the bills, right?”

 

Grace couldn’t argue with that. She certainly didn’t want to lose her great condo in Ballard—she had waited a long time to find the right place, and when she’d heard about this new development and all its modern amenities being designed to fit right into the historic district, she had jumped in with both feet and snatched one up at a great price in the construction phase.

          She looked around her comfy living room with its warm mocha walls, cozy gas fireplace, and traditional crown molding, still appreciating how it merged seemlessly into her state-of-the-art kitchen with its cherry cabinets, granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. Nope, she definitely did not want to lose this place. Nor did want to be forced to sell her beloved Mini Cooper or dip into her small—and until recently, steadily growing
—savings account. And she did like to eat, she thought wryly, as did Reggie, her rescued-from-the-Dumpster tabby cat curled up at her feet.

             Grace ran a hand over his now-healthy gray and white striped fur, and was rewarded with an answering purr and languorous stretch. Yingtai was right, she realized. She really was being a bit of a snob. But having grown up with a father like Garrett Rothschild, it was sometimes too easy to slip back into that role from which she had worked so hard to free herself.

Grace mentally squared her shoulders. One thing she did know was that she was no quitter. Under these circumstances, she was just going to have to learn to think outside the box.

Like writing those fortunes found in fortune cookies. She could do that. Don’t let the door hit your butt on the way out. Okay, so maybe that wasn’t quite what the fortune cookie company would be looking for—and more likely just her bitterness toward Marv slipping out—but still. How hard could it be?

          Grace chewed on her bottom lip and stared for a moment at her good friend sitting across from her. Yingtai Xiang was not only a dear friend, she had been Grace’s college roommate at UW in Seattle, and she and her husband now owned one of Grace’s favorite local restaurants, The Jade Garden, in Seattle’s downtown district. Glossy black bangs fringed Yingtai’s curiously wide, innocent-looking eyes as she stared back at Grace expectantly.

          Grace finally relented just a little. “If I do this—and I’m not saying that I will—does the owner understand I could just up and quit when I find another job? I might not be able to give him much notice.” Just like Marv had given—or rather, not given—her. The jerk. 

          Yingtai tried not to grin as Gracie started to cave. It looked like Mo was right again. When she’d placed her order with him last week for another five thousand cookies, he’d told her that he’d just had one of his “feelings” that Yingtai was connected to someone he would be crossing paths with very soon. Oh, and that by the way, he was thinking of hiring someone because Michael was having trouble coming up with the new fortunes Mo was wanting as part of his new business plan to expand and become more competitive.

At first Yingtai hadn’t put the two together, until Gracie had come in last night for dinner, looking about as hopeless as Yingtai had ever seen her. As Gracie had bemoaned the recent loss of her job and her inability to find any work since, the conversation with Mo had suddenly popped back into Yingtai’s head and started to make sense. But Gracie didn’t need to know any of that now, or that Yingtai hadn’t simply dropped by today on a ‘whim.’

“I’m sure Mo would understand if you suddenly got an offer from another newspaper. He’s a very…understanding guy, Gracie. I know you’ll like him. I have his business card in my purse—do you want it?”

 

As the rain turned heavy and began pounding at the window, Grace closed her eyes and sighed—and held out her hand to Yingtai. 

 

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