Truly Scrumptious(3)By: R.G. Alexander
One eyelid lifted at Robert’s knowing chuckle. He knew. How could he not? From that light, delectable Caprese salad to the decadently sinful hazelnut foam with white chocolate shavings that had her groaning aloud in pleasure—it was heaven. Not at all what she expected when she walked into this hole-in-the-wall. In fact, she couldn’t remember the last time she’d enjoyed a meal so much.
She set down her cup and opened both her eyes. “Okay. Tell me. Is this a practical joke? Did you bring the chef from the ski resort over here to pull my leg?”
Robert shook his head. “I swear. It’s no joke. Besides, that old bastard couldn’t cook like that on his best day, and you know it.”
It was true. “Then who?”
“I’m going to soccer practice. So you should give me my tip now.”
Truly jumped in her seat. That boy was fast, sneaky and rude.
And he wasn’t alone.
“Just for that, you overgrown Thundercat, I’m keeping your tips for the rest of the week and buying your baby brother a new toy. A loud one. Now apologize to the nice customers and get to practice.”
The voice belonged to a drool-worthy man dressed in tight jeans, a black T-shirt and unbuttoned chef whites. Gerard Butler had cooked her dinner? She must be dreaming. It wouldn’t be the first time she’d had that fantasy.
“Damn—I mean, darn it, Uncle Nate. I’m sorry.” The boy looked down at Truly and Robert. “I’m really, really sorry. I hope I didn’t offend you.”
Truly nodded absentmindedly, unable to tear her attention away from the chef-cum-hunk of sizzling man meat. He looked more like he’d just tumbled out of bed after a night of exhausting but satisfying sex than out of the kitchen. The dark shadow of stubble on his jaw and carelessly ruffled charcoal hair with just a few strands of gray at his temples only enhanced that illusion.
Robert stood. “Nate, good to see you again. I have someone I really want you to mee—”
Nate held up his hand, his chocolate brown stare still fixed on the tween. “One more chance, Justin. Only one. Come in an hour early tomorrow to scrub the kitchen floor and help Louis with morning prep.”
The young boy’s shoulders dropped, and Nate lifted his dark brows. “I mean it, boy. Spawn of my sister or not, if you want to see a penny of that paycheck you’ve been spending in your head, you’ll be here without complaint.”
“Yes, Uncle Nate.”
The bell above the door rang as he rushed out without another word, and the restaurant fell silent.
Truly watched as the man ran a frustrated hand through his silken hair and turned to his two customers with a grimace.
“He told me you were here, Bob. Good to see you again.” He gestured toward the door. “Sorry about that. Justin is at that stage where he thinks cynical and rude are synonyms for mature.”
Bob? Truly smirked at the red-faced Robert, watching as the two men shook hands. Nate-the-hot-chef glanced in her direction for a moment, his jaw tightening before he looked away, dismissing her.
That one, silent rejection was suddenly more disturbing than Clive’s years of harassment. It was more than she could stomach for one day. The food may have soothed her anger at being so summarily ejected from her work, but how many insults was a grown, educated woman supposed to take?
“Maybe rudeness runs in the family.” She muttered the words under her breath, but when he turned back to her so quickly, his gaze heavy-lidded and dangerous, she knew he’d heard.
“Bob, you should warn your girlfriend about the dangers of insulting a chef in his own restaurant.”
Damn, how could a threat sound so…delicious? “Robert, you should warn the chef of the dangers of insulting someone who knows every food critic and food inspector in town.”
Robert chuckled and held up his hands. “Time out. I think I should make introductions before this goes any further. Nate, this is TS Larkin, creator of Brunch with Laura, one of the most popular local cooking shows in Denver. TS? This is Nathaniel Grange, co-owner and one of the exceptionally talented chefs at The Iron Horse.”
Surprise filled Truly at Nate’s reaction, or lack thereof. There wasn’t a chef in the state who didn’t trip over themselves when they found out who she was. She’d learned long ago that the only thing the egotists wanted more than to be admired in their restaurants was to be admired on television. Though few of them had the photogenic ability to carry it off. Unlike this man.