Authors: Jenny Lyn
Tags: #Erotic Romance
~ Acclaim for Jenny Lyn ~
was a sweet yet steamy read that kept me engaged with a fabulous love story between two very compelling characters. The sex enhanced the story rather than ran it, making this a lovely erotic romance novella that I thoroughly enjoyed.”
~ 4 1/2 stars from Nix, Scorching Book Reviews
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This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are fictitious or have been used fictitiously, and are not to be construed as real in any way. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales, or organizations is entirely coincidental.
1643 Warwick Ave., #124
Warwick, RI 02889
Copyright © 2012 by Jenny Lyn
Edited by Rachel Firasek
Cover by Annie Melton
All Rights Are Reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
First Etopia Press electronic publication: November 2012
~ Dedication ~
This one is all for you, A. Without your challenge, Kevin and Elle would’ve never met. Thanks for shaking those pompoms for me, buttercup. ~J
I blamed my best friend, Heather, for my current predicament. She always harped on the sad fact that I didn’t know a thing about cooking. I found it an unnecessary talent to have when you lived in a city the size of Atlanta, where decent restaurants were a dime a dozen. Besides, my lack of culinary skills kept me in pity cupcakes from her. The woman could bake Martha Stewart’s stuffy ass under her antique, flour-dusted table.
“Elle, you’ll never get a guy to stick around if you can’t cook him a halfway decent meal once in awhile.” She sounded entirely too much like my mother.
“I can suck a golf ball through a garden hose,” I retorted.
She rolled her eyes. “You can’t boil water.”
“Can too,” I said, then under my breath added, “in the microwave.”
“There’s no nutritional value in a cup of Ramen noodles.”
When I opened my mouth to dispute that, because I could—sodium
a nutrient, she slid a chocolate-brown envelope embossed with elegant, gold script across the counter. I should’ve recognized it as trouble in clever packaging. “I got you an early birthday present.”
Once I opened the envelope, I stared at the contents in disbelief. “Cooking school? Are you out of your freaking mind? You just said I couldn’t boil water! The people who take cooking classes at least have some basic knowledge of how a stove works, Heather.” I pointed toward mine, which hadn’t been turned on since I’d moved into the apartment. “Are you
to make me hate you? ’Cause if you are, it’s working.”
She waved off my empty threat. “You’ll be fine. Did you see who the teacher is?”
I studied the paper more closely, and my stomach dropped into my toes. “Kevin Lattimore?
Kevin Lattimore who’s on
Wake Up Atlanta
every Wednesday morning? The same one who owns Bite—currently the hottest restaurant in the city?”
“The same Kevin Lattimore you DVR so you can drool over him later?” She nodded. “Yeah, same one.”
That wasn’t all I did over him.
“But…but he’s… Why would he want to teach a bunch of amateurs how to cook? He certainly can’t need the money.”
“It’s something he does once a year for charity. The spots are auctioned off online through some foundation of his. I put in a bid on one of the ten spots and voila! I won. Or you did, because I’m giving it to you for your birthday present.” I shook my head but she was shaking hers right back at me. “Don’t say it’s too expensive or any of that bullshit. It’s done. The spot is yours. I’ve already registered it in your name, and it’s too late to change it. The first class is tomorrow night. You’ll thank me later.”
Well, the clever bitch had left me no way out. I hated her. OK, I loved her, but I wanted to strangle her.
* * *
Three classes in and I was pretty sure I was the most despised person in Atlanta. No, I was positive my classmates hated me. Not surprisingly, they were all women, all dressed to the nines in their designer labels beneath the custom white aprons we’d all been given on the first night of class. A few of them even wore pearls and pumps like some June Cleaver wannabes.
Whether they’d caught on or not, I’d started to subtly mock them, beginning with the second class. Instead of the ripped jeans and Doc Martens I’d worn the first night, I wore a leather mini and a Metallica tank top, just so I could watch in amazement as their jaws dropped and their noses tipped toward the ceiling. Tonight, I’d dug through my closet until I found a vintage-y, low-cut dress, then paired it with peep-toe stilettos. The icing on my attire cake? A candy necklace—cheap sugar pearls.
I could care less if they liked me. I wasn’t here to make friends or try to impress. To be honest, I wasn’t exactly sure why I was here, other than to humor Heather and get a lifetime’s worth of masturbatory material from the teacher.
Kevin Lattimore was just so damn good looking it should be a crime—tall and wide and fit, with short, black hair and the perfect amount of scruff on his jaw. He wore his sideburns long, similar to Elvis back when he was young and hot, way before he’d eaten too many of those fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches he loved so much.
Seeing Kevin in real life was infinitely better than high-definition plasma, even if you paused it at just the right moment when those coffee-colored eyes were staring straight into the camera, and you felt like they could see inside your soul. Or at the very least, see what your hand was doing between your thighs. What would he think if he knew? Would he be repulsed, indifferent, or turned on too? It’s doubtful that I would ever find out the answer to that question, but it couldn’t hurt to fantasize. If it did, I’d need an intravenous morphine drip every Wednesday night and some Thursdays.
I didn’t want Chef Scrumptious to dislike me, but if his nightly admonishments and exasperated looks were any indication, we were headed down that path.
During the first class we’d covered mostly the basics, with Kevin teaching us the proper way to hold a knife, the necessity of keeping a clean and organized workspace, and how to make a simple pan sauce. Simple for him, of course. I’d floundered and fussed. Then I proceeded to “massacre the basil,” and he’d surprised not only me, but probably the entire class by giving me some very personal assistance.
Kevin had stood directly behind me, close enough to heat my back with his front, draped his long arms along mine, and clasped my hands under his while he demonstrated how to do a perfect chiffonade. He had some amazing forearms too, thick and dusted with dark hair, ropy muscles flexing beneath the skin. You could just see the colorful bottom edge of a tattoo peeking out from under the rolled-up cuff of his chef’s coat.
If I wasn’t terribly mistaken, before he pulled away he’d smelled my hair. I was 100 percent certain my panties had gotten wet and my nipples painfully hard. Meanwhile, my fellow chef-enamored peers got
panties in a twist. They undoubtedly wanted my head served up on a silver platter, shiny Red Delicious apple in my mouth, and fresh parsley around my neck for garnish. But any stuffing to be done would only be allowed by our hunky teacher.
By the time the second class rolled around, I’d found myself actually looking forward to going. Not for the cooking lessons. That part still sucked. The anticipation was purely out of the desire to see if I could, like the ink on Kevin’s forearm, get a little further under his skin. Something I was unfortunately rather good at.
My fascination had quickly become an obsession, I feared. Never one to practice restraint, the only thing left for me to do was feed it.
The recipe for that night was bourbon-glazed pork chops. While I was mixing the ingredients for the marinade, I’d tossed back a few shots of the key ingredient. Just to, you know, help with the nerves.
“The bourbon goes into the recipe, Miss Connor, not into you,” he’d said from directly behind me. He had a way of doing that, catching me in the act. I suppose the number of times I screwed up made me an easy mark.
My spine straightened at the scolding, but my mouth did what it knew best. “Well, that’s just a waste of perfectly good bourbon if you ask me.”
He’d stepped closer and given in to a brief smirk. So yeah, not entirely bulletproof. His eyes dropped to my mouth and stayed there for a moment, until my mind wandered to the insane idea that he was thinking about kissing me.
“Bourbon-glazed lips,” he mused before raising his eyes to mine. “I wonder how they taste.”
My breath caught. “Hopefully better than pork chops.”
Kevin smiled at that, with teeth and everything. “They’re burning.”
I’d frowned and touched my mouth with my fingertips. Then I smelled the smoke. “Shit!”
I scrambled to turn the heat down under the pan of pork chops. Kevin had leaned around me to slide them over to another burner while I failed miserably at trying to figure out the knobs for the stovetop. His fingers had covered mine, calming me down by deftly adjusting the flame. Crisis averted, he’d walked away, leaving me confused, frustrated, but still in possession of my eyebrows and a massive lady boner. I was hot for my teacher. The pork chops could go to hell.
Kevin walked to the front of the room at the beginning of the third class. We all suited up in our fancy-schmancy aprons while anxiously waiting for him to spin the chalkboard around that would tell us what we’d be making tonight. He was rather sadistic in that regard. It was always a surprise, I suppose so we couldn’t practice ahead of time, as if that would ever happen. Or maybe he just liked seeing the abject horror on some of our faces when the big reveal came.
He flipped the chalkboard over. I read the intimidating words “Artichoke Soufflé,” and before I could perform the rare task of censoring myself, I blurted, “Oh, now you’re just fucking with us.”
Kevin froze, his dark eyes boring holes through my head, before slowly crossing his arms over his chest like some pissed-off drill sergeant in front of a lowly private.
His gaze drifted down to my chest, stopping on the spot where I’d used a blue Sharpie to add the word “Me” behind “Bite,” the name of his restaurant. His eyes flicked back up to my face, staying there as he announced, “Class is cancelled tonight, ladies.”
It was my turn for my jaw to drop. Damn, I’d made him so angry he was kicking us all out? Remorse flooded through me while my face grew so flushed I thought my skin might melt off.
My classmates openly expressed their annoyance with my big mouth. If looks could cut through flesh, I would’ve been julienned. See, I was learning
. But then Kevin shut them up by adding, “I’ll extend the classes to compensate for tonight’s cancellation.”
He kept staring at me while everyone else filed out of the room, still mumbling angrily in my direction. I couldn’t move. I don’t think he meant for me to move. I owed him an apology, and perhaps I was owed a butt-chewing for being so disrespectful. Typical Elle: always letting her mouth get her ass into trouble.
Kevin strolled over to where I stood, his face void of emotion.
When I made to untie my apron, his hand quickly caught my wrists behind my back, stopping me. My heart kicked into overdrive. Using one fingertip, he traced the embroidered name of his restaurant across my right breast.
“You don’t like my restaurant, Miss Connor?”
“I couldn’t say since the waiting list to get in is six months long.”
One side of his mouth curved up. “This is true.”
His finger lingered, and I tried to swallow the nervous lump in my throat. “I think you can call me by my first name now, seeing as how you’re touching my boob. That puts us a little past formality, don’t you think?”
He made a noise of what I thought was agreement in his throat, and then his eyes snapped up to mine. “Want me to stop?”
Well now, that was a loaded question if I’d ever heard one. But still, one I could answer rather easily, and with a disgusting lack of morals or shame. Oh yes, for him, I could be just that easy.
“No, I don’t.”
He did though, dammit, and turned me around so that he could untie the apron and lift it from around my neck.
“Nice necklace.” He spun me back to face him. His hand came up to rest on my throat, just beneath the string of candy beads. My pulse beat so hard there, he had to feel it against his palm. “Sadly, I think the effort was wasted.”
“I still got a kick out of it.”
“So did I. Despite what you might think, I like you, Elle.” He pulled me closer to whisper in my ear, “I lust after you too.”
A deep shudder rippled through me. I had to give him props for his blunt honesty, but that wasn’t the only thing I wanted to give him. Lust was too tame a word for what I felt for Kevin Lattimore. Was it pathetic that I’d bought his cookbooks just so I could look at pictures of him? That I had months’ worth of episodes of
Wake Up Atlanta
stored on my TiVo? And now the person I’d developed this filthy preoccupation over was whispering confessions in my ear as if we were already lovers. It was thrilling and hot, and also scary as fuck.
“The feeling is mutual,” I confessed right back.
“I thought so.”
I quirked an eyebrow. “I’ve always heard that chefs have big egos.”
He chuckled. “Perhaps, but when I see something I want, I don’t believe in wasting time. What’s the point?”
“There isn’t one.”
“Exactly.” Kevin stepped behind me. His hand touched the back of my neck, and then my dress loosened as he eased the zipper down. His lips brushed my bare shoulder. “Still sure you don’t want me to stop?”
I nodded because I suddenly couldn’t form words. Funny that.
My dress hit the floor.
Wasn’t I the little opportunistic slut, letting someone I barely knew strip me to my underwear—and maybe, possibly, hopefully, further—in the middle of a cold classroom? The door was undoubtedly still unlocked and we were surrounded by cooking utensils. And artichokes? It was the first time I’d noticed there were baskets filled with them sitting at each station. Of course there were. They were our main ingredient tonight. I laughed at the absurdity.
Kevin’s hands tightened on my waist. “Something funny?” The impressive bulge in the front of his jeans pressed against my ass. No siree, that wasn’t funny at all.
“I was just thinking about how odd this is, me standing here in my underwear in a cooking classroom, staring at a basket full of artichokes, while you’re still fully clothed. Of all the places I’ve had sex, this is by far the strangest environment.”
His teeth sank into my neck, and I shivered. “Who says we’re going to have sex?”
I spun around, grabbed his chef’s coat in my fists, and asked in my best Scarlett O’Hara voice, “You wouldn’t humiliate me in front of the vegetables, now would you?”
“I might.” He lifted me up and deposited me on the counter. As soon as the backs of my thighs made contact with the cold stainless steel, I squeaked. “Maybe the vegetables deserve a little revenge for your lack of respect toward them.”
“Wow, you really are a champion of your cause.”