Here is the next draft of the problem scene from yesterday:
Helen Pitney, in her plaid nightgown, walked along the bar, her hand trailing the surface. Her moccasin slippers shuffled against the slate. Her scratchy footfalls were the only interruption to the awkward silence. Gerald hunched nearby, his hand grasping the wine bottle. Zélie adjusted her robe. Helen commenced another lap. Jules’ eyes sought direction from Étienne, but Étienne wasn’t sure whether he should dismiss the chef or tell him to do something.
“This is the first time you’ve served ice wine,” Gerald Pitney said.
“Your daughter bought it,” Étienne replied.
“Adelaide?” Gerald said.
“Oui,” Étienne confirmed.
“When did she learn about wines?” Gerald asked.
“You don’t spent a decade with Étienne d’Amille and not learn about wines,” Zélie said.
Étienne approached the bar, reaching for the bottle from Gerald so he could have a second glass. Gerald passed it and his breathing, heavy with emotional uncertainty, filled the kitchen. Étienne poured the wine, only partially aware of the alcohol filling the cup. He focused instead on Gerald’s detached stare. Étienne righted the wine bottle, returning it to the bar. He lifted his glass, talking a half-step toward his wife, when he paused and rested his hand on Gerald’s shoulder. Gerald’s eyes met Étienne’s and while they said nothing, the sadness in the air made the fruity notes smell sickeningly sweet. He deserted the wine on the counter. Jules swept across the room and dumped the contents of the glass in the sink.
“My pumpkin and the wine,” Gerald said. “I like eiswein. Other countries flash-freeze the grapes. In Germany, nature does it. Did you know that?”
“Mais oui. This bottle is from the Saturday harvest,” Étienne replied.
Zélie braced her arms against the overstuffed chair and pushed herself to standing.
“Oh, for the love of heaven. What’s going on?” she asked. “Are we here to have a wine tasting or did we hear something in that bathroom?”