So it may not be my strongest episode, but I hope this helps set up some more of the drama ahead. Apologies if the tone seems a little disjointed at this point, I'm still trying to figure out the right mix of comedy and drama here, but I think it still turned out okay.
Thanks for reading!
It's buzzing at The Royal. The grand opening is upon us, and champagne is in every glass. Kian, Jason and Peter socialize with the local foodies and press, basking in the glory of their creation. Ryan passes by them, hors d'oevres artfully displayed on the tray in his hands. Jason pulls Ryan over momentarily.
JASON: Can you do me a favour and ask the kitchen to wait ten minutes before serving the mains? I'm gonna have Peter and Kian give speeches, then at my cue, get the staff ready and we'll parade everything out all at once, alright?
RYAN: Got it, boss.
Ryan is about to hastily scurry away, Jason stops him before he does so, and looks at him with a wry smile.
JASON: And don't call me boss. Got it?
RYAN: Yes, b..Jason.
Jason lets Ryan go, and wrinkles his nose, shaking his head.
Jason then goes back to mingling with the crowd, drinking far faster than anyone else in the room. He still manages to come off charming, if a little sloppy.
Kian and Peter shmooze with the press, Kian held close to Peter's side, but Kian's eyes are clearly following Jason instead. Peter's so caught up in having a sexy young guy on his side, he barely notices as he chats endlessly with the socialites around him.
Kian tunes it out and daydreams of he and Jason in bed together. Jason's kiss on his neck and heading south before Peter calling his name snaps him out of it.
PETER: You look like you're a thousand miles away, babe.
KIAN; Sorry, I just...I couldn't believe that all of this was for me. I had to soak it all in for a sec.
PETER: Well, get used to it, babe, cos this is just the start of it for you.
Kian smiles a wide smile and gives Peter a quick peck on the lips, more in appreciation than out of love. Regardless, the group talking with them still beam at them, mistaking their display as a sign of great romance.
As this happens, Jason gets up on the small stage in one corner of the room, clinking his glass with his fork to draw attention to himself.
JASON: Excuse me, everybody. Can I have everyone's attention for just a second, please.
The room grows mostly silent and turns to face Jason, a few members in the crowd still chatter.
Jason points to the source the noise, a twinkle in his eye as he does so. The crowd laughs.
JASON: I wanted to thank you all for coming here, and I have something extremely important that I want to say about someone who is very important to everyone here, but especially to me.
Kian looks to Jason with eyes darting. Kian shakes his head at Jason hoping to avert a disaster, while Jason looks relaxed and ignores Kian's worries.
Down on Queen West, Darren chats with his friend, artist Calvin J at his art show. Out of the corner of his eye, Darren spots Alexis come into the gallery. Alexis' face drops and she turns sharply to the bar, avoiding contact with Darren as much as possible. Undeterred, Darren excuses himself and heads over to Alexis.
As Alexis picks up a glass of wine at the bar, Darren startles her with his greeting.
DARREN: HEY baby, what's up?
ALEXIS: You want me to spill this all over the place?
DARREN: Sorry, baby, if you spilled, i'ma buy you another.
ALEXIS (unimpressed): How gracious of you.
DARREN: Come to think of it, I might just buy you one anyway.
ALEXIS: *sigh* This may come as a huge shock to you, but you're actually nowhere near as suave as you think you are.
Darren grabs at his chest.
DARREN: MY HEART!
Alexis rolls her eyes, takes a sip of wine as she walks away.
DARREN: Wait wait wait, wait a minute, girl. Come here, I got someone I want you to meet.
ALEXIS: If it's your mother, I don't think we're at that stage of the relationship yet.
DARREN: Yet. Cha-ching! Progress.
Alexis follows him reluctantly, shaking her head at his theatrics as he takes her over to meet Calvin.
Back at the restaurant, a beautiful black woman in her early 40s enters the room in a dazzling red gown. Her hair done up in a tight bun, she looks every bit as beautiful as a woman in her 20s, but twice as graceful. She stands at the back of the room as Jason makes his speech.
JASON: I'm glad you're all here tonight for our grand opening. It really means a lot to me and Kian, and Peter of course, that you're here to help us celebrate the launch of this amazing new restaurant.
Kian winces at Jason's remark. He knows the comment was unintentional, and realizes he's overthinking things, but worries that there's a possibility some buried resentment at Jason's status as Kian's hidden lover will make its way into Jason's speech.
JASON: The Royal will be one of a kind in this community, a restaurant of fine food for everybody. And we have two very important people to thank for this...Kian and Peter.
The crowd applauds as Jason motions them to step up. Kian is unsure of what's going on, still deep in thought, while Peter, eager to grab the spotlight, races up to capture the glory of the moment.
PETER: Thank you, everybody. Thanks for coming out, and even greater thanks to my talented, and loving partner, in life and in business...Mr. Kian McClary.
The applause continues as Kian finally steps up on the stage.
PETER: Kian is probably the finest discovery I've ever made. Not only is he one of the best chefs in the country, but he also has quite possibly the best taste in the world. Not only for his food, but for choosing an old lug like me.
Peter jabs Kian in the side, as the audience laughs. Kian laughs along with them but a slight discomfort is still visible in his face.
As Peter continues to go on about how great he is, Ryan stands in the doorway of the kitchen, ready to lead the night's parade of great food with the wait staff. He notices the beautiful black woman in the doorway and can't take his eyes off her. She gives a seductive smile and turns back to Peter. Ryan smiles back clumsily, then looks back at the stage as well, waiting for Jason's cue.
PETER: ...and that is going to be the key to our success.
JASON: Now without further ado, let's all raise our glasses to The Royal.
As the call goes out to raise their glasses, Ryan's handed a glass of champagne by another member of the wait staff, Jason motions to Ryan to hand it over to the woman he was looking at before. Ryan quickly scurries over to her and hands her a glass.
RYAN: Here you are, Madam.
MARY: Call me Mary. And thank you, handsome.
RYAN: You're welcome.
Ryan shuffles back to his corner, as the room prepares to toast.
JASON: To The Royal
ALL: To The Royal!
Alexis toasts with Darren. She's had a few drinks by now, but still seems put off.
DARREN: You look like you could kill someone, and I don't think I've crossed that line yet.
ALEXIS: You're teetering on the edge, but no, you haven't.
DARREN: Then I guess I better watch my step.
ALEXIS: Trust me, you're nowhere near as bad as some people tonight.
ALEXIS: I wasn't supposed to be here alone tonight but--
DARREN: But you got stood up and now you wanna get your mind off it. I get it. I know the feeling.
ALEXIS: Why does that not surprise me?
DARREN: Now YOU'RE teetering on the edge.
Alexis laughs and orders another drink. Darren finishes his and sits a little closer.
DARREN: You really better slow down, you know.
ALEXIS: I'm a big girl, and I don't need some he-man looking out for me.
DARREN: Nah, it's not that. I just know a lot of girls who think they can handle their booze, then they end up trippin' over their heels and throwing up on some dude's Cadillac.
ALEXIS: I feel like there's a story there.
DARREN: You have no idea.
ALEXIS (laughing): Well come on, tell me!
DARREN: Only if you promise to let me walk you home.
ALEXIS: Hmmmm.....I think considering we're both going to the same place.
ALEXIS: I think I could handle that.
ALEXIS: Now don't get too excited. I don't want you getting the wrong idea.
DARREN: Promise. I'm a gentleman. I treat you like a lady.
ALEXIS: Good. You know you're a lot less annoying after a few drinks.
DARREN: Well thanks a lot, lady. What you tryin' to say?
Darren gets in closer and tickles Alexis a bit. Alexis, whose defenses are now fully and clearly down, is actually enjoying the attention, which passive, distracted boyfriend Ryan never gives her.
ALEXIS: AH! Stop it. (laughs). Come on. TELL ME! Tell me the story.
Alexis looks up at Darren, who leans in to kiss her. Alexis at first recoils, but it's only momentary. She leans back in to reciprocate.