Publisher: Phaze Publishing
Length: Novella ♦ Contemporary Romance, Erotic
Fashionista + Killer culinary skills = haute cuisine. Throw in a sexy reality tv chef and watch the sparks fly, on and off camera!
Diana Radford’s divorce settlement includes three million dollars and an island resort off the coast of Grenada. Although not classically educated in the culinary arts, she possesses a rare natural ability to create brilliant Italian/Caribbean fusion dishes. When she is selected by the reality cooking show, Fighting Chance, she can’t turn away the opportunity. Win or lose, this is much needed press for her restaurant, “Dolce”.
Culinary celebrity and reality show host, Chance Kohler possesses arrogance to rival his talent. After helming several 5-star restaurants in the States, he is disappointed to discover his opponent is an ex-waitress with no formal culinary training. From the moment they meet, this fashionista whets his appetite and leaves him craving for second helpings. If he loses, his career is on the line and he must survive the fierce but tasty competition…while the whole world watches.
Read an Excerpt
Warning: This excerpt may contain material inappropriate for minors and is intended for readers over 18 years of age.
The sound of her stilettos clicking always calmed her nerves during an intense moment. She didn’t have to look to know the cameras were rolling, scrutinizing her every move. She watched enough reality television to know the viewers never missed a beat.
Diana forced herself to ignore the dozen or so crewmembers moving silently around the room while she prepared the chicken. Once the meat was marinated, she popped the baking dish into the oven with satisfaction. All that was left was the dessert and in four hours she would be serving one of her finest creations to an audience of unknowns.
To kick off the first official day of filming, Diana wanted to be a little daring. Her secret weapon was the latest craze, known by the mainlanders as New World cuisine. She wanted to get everyone’s heart racing and opted for a menu of spicy shrimp and lobster soup, mixed greens with mango salsa dressing, poulet a la Creole and for the grand finale, grilled plantains with brown sugar rum glaze.
The kitchen seemed exceedingly quiet now without her staff. Diana had sent them off to prepare the dining area, also allowing them adequate time to dress for tonight’s live event. In truth, she needed a bit of silence after a full day of frenzied hustle and bustle in the kitchen.
Her nerves must have rubbed off on her crew and the usual cohesiveness of their work routine turned into little kitchen spats and unnecessary mistakes. Not a good start for her day, but she was certain this type of reality would serve well for the producers.
Diana let out a sigh of liberation and pulled off the lid to her main dish. The sweet, pungent aroma of curry and coconut arrested her senses and immediately warmed the kitchen, and her stomach, with its intense bouquet. The mix of star anise and saffron added to the unique blend, which demonstrated the powerful union of Caribbean and Asian.
Her delectable combination would certainly be the highlight of any outdoor summer dining extravaganza. The complexity, yet simplicity of the meal made her think of a forbidden sensuality that would ignite the taste buds.
Sweet and spicy.
Just like her first encounter with Chance Kohler.
As if she had conjured up the phantom with her thoughts, Diana caught a glimpse of bronze skin peeking out of a short-sleeved, pale blue dress shirt. How long had he been watching her without her knowledge?
Diana frowned at the sudden invasion of her space, especially despising that smug look on his handsome face, the way he crossed his arms and leisurely leaned against the refrigerator door.
Diana wondered how many sit-ups he did each day to get that washboard stomach, accentuated by the arms he folded against his chest. The fabric practically molded to him, showing off his lean, muscled body. Definitely a man well kept. She had the sudden urge to rip those tiny little buttons off of him and lick each exquisite ridge as she made her way down to his…
Oh, my. She needed to squelch that thought before it went any further.
“I’ve never seen anyone work the kitchen in three-inch heels before.” Chance straightened up and eyed her Michael Kors stilettos with interest.
Diana struck a model pose. “My kitchen is where Haute Cuisine meets Haute Couture.”
A movement off camera caught her eye and Chance turned in the direction of the producer, Albert Lundgren. The overweight bald man with a white goatee stood behind the cameraman. Apparently pleased with her comment, he threw a thumbs-up sign at Chance and mouthed, “They’re gonna love her.”
Awareness jarred her at the sight of the cameraman. Of course, she had initially felt intimidated and conscious of his presence but as the day rolled on she had forgotten the man’s existence.
As if Al had spent enough time behind the scenes, he glanced at his watch and let out a silent curse. With a quick wave, he strode through the door with his lumbering gait.
Chance shrugged his shoulders and walked over to the stove to get a good peek at her sauce. He leaned in for a sniff and gave her a boyish grin. “Smells to me like you’re making curry with a vat of chili peppers. Very interesting choice for a first presentation. Risky, Red. Very risky.”
Her brows furrowed together at the nickname he had taken the liberty of creating for her. Nicknames denoted intimacy and they were far from friendly, let alone on cutesy abbreviated terms.
Diana shut the lid on the pot with a clang and moved toward the cooking island. She wasn’t about to let him get a rise out of her. She pulled the cutting board closer to her before responding. “I suppose you wouldn’t pull a move like that? And the name is Diana, by the way.”
“I’ll keep it in mind, Rrrred.”
He rolled the “r” in such a way it sounded sensual to her ears. Perhaps the heat from the kitchen was getting to her head after a twelve-hour shift on her feet. Or maybe her hearing had been temporarily impaired by the boisterous conversations of her kitchen staff before she dismissed them.
Diana snapped in irritation, “Shouldn’t you be moussing your hair or flexing in front of a mirror or something?”
“Is that a sexist statement? Isn’t there a disclaimer in our contract to play nice?”
She reached for a stainless steel Masahiro knife and started to dice away on a cucumber from her vegetable basket. “If you think snooping for a bit of an advantage is playing nice, you might want to step back because I’m wielding a sharp object here.”
Chance walked over to the opposite side of the island to face her. He gave her a lopsided smile. “Okay, okay. I’m actually more fascinated to learn where you picked up your sloppy technique.”
Diana grabbed a handful of the chopped cucumbers and threw it into an empty bowl with a vengeance. She glared at him and waved the knife in the air while she spoke. “Sloppy? Excuse me, but your less than adequate manners are sloppy. As long as I create dishes that satisfy the palate and score me some points, I’m sure no one will give a hoot in hell about my technique.”
He stepped back and raised his hands in mock surrender. “Whoa there. You’re as fiery as those pretty red locks of yours. If you aren’t careful you may just win my show by default.”
Her hand stopped in mid-air and she glanced sheepishly at the knife and back at Chance. Embarrassment stained her cheeks at her unconscious movements and she busied herself with her chopping task to cover her reaction.
Diana placed the knife on the cutting board and deposited all the cucumbers in the ceramic bowl before going to the sink to wash her hands. She wiped her hand on a dishtowel, her back facing him. As she mentally prayed for Chance to leave her kitchen, a realization dawned on her. “I know what you’re doing.”
“What exactly is that?” There was a hint of curiosity in his tone.
“You’re trying to throw me off my game.”
“I suppose you learned that line from MTV?”
She fisted the dishtowel tightly in her hand. “You’re such an a—”
Diana whirled around from the sink to confront him without noticing how close he stood to her, and she collided with his solid chest.
“Tsk. Tsk. Cameras rolling,” he leaned in and whispered, giving her a look that could heat the kitchen without an industrial stove.
She blinked several times in awe of his liquid silver eyes staring hotly back at her. They were too beautiful to be real and she couldn’t help being sucked into the vortex of Chance Kohler.
Wake up, Diana. Don’t fall for the pretty boy bullshit.
Her body tensed in agreement with her conscience. “Fine. If you plan on being a nuisance, you might as well be a useful one. Why don’t you clean up.” Diana tossed her dishtowel onto his head, biting back a smile before swiftly moving away from him. She wanted to start on the dessert while the curry simmered.
Chance let out a throaty laugh. “The host of the show is now reduced to cleanup crew.” He pulled the cloth off his head and tucked it into his back pocket before he started collecting the dirty bowls and utensils. He brought the items to the sink while Diana pulled out plantains and ingredients for the rum glaze from a nearby shelf.
The oven beeped and she knew the chicken was ready to go. Diana’s shoes clicked loudly across the tiles until she reached the oven.
She slipped on an oven mitt and pulled the door open, sliding the rack out a few inches. Before she could reach for the hot pan, Chance placed a hand on her wrist.
His fingers were gentle and his touch seared her skin with an erotic awareness.
“Allow me.” Chance slipped the oven mitt from her hand with a slow sensuality. The simple act made her body hum with a desire to throw him against the refrigerator and finish this game he had begun.
Diana tried to quiet her own sharp intake of breath, not understanding why this man made her feel a revitalized sexuality she hadn’t known with Will. Her mind raced to find answers that couldn’t be explained with Chance so near. She turned abruptly and marched off toward the curry simmering on the stove, while Chance transferred the chicken onto a plate.
She stirred the sauce with a wooden spoon, focusing on the task, but unable to brush away the thought of his eyes, those lips, and the hot looks he gave her. As much as she hated to admit it, she wanted him in an awful way.
God, how was she going to avoid temptation when the man was always literally within arms length? Diana closed her eyes to calm her jumbled nerves when she felt his fingers swipe a lock of hair over her ear. She held her breath, her heart pounding against her chest as his warm lips made contact with her skin.
His mouth burned a path up her neck and she knew her will was too weak to push away her body’s needs. Chance turned her gently toward him to access her lips. His mouth latched onto hers and the tender kiss soon deepened when he thrust his tongue between her parted lips. Diana fell into the fiery duel of exploration and the erotic touch of tongue-to-tongue made her panties dampen in response.
As Chance took her unawares, the once tender kiss turned brutal, almost angry? She should push him away, but the punishing kiss further excited her. His actions spurred her on and she returned some angry kisses of her own! The fire between them blazed on and his velvety tongue did things to her no man had before. Like knotting cherry stems with one’s tongue, his moves could be mastered by few.
He deepened the kiss and all senses flew out the window. Diana longed to touch him, to feel the solid mass of his chest she had devoured with her eyes earlier. With impatience, she tried to wrap her arms around his neck and froze in horror when she realized she had knocked the plate right out of his hand.
They both looked on and the shock on his face made her stomach tighten angrily. She didn’t know which angered her more: the thought of losing her main dish or the fact that yet another man had taken liberties with her.
Diana couldn’t tamp down the emotions boiling inside of her any longer. “I knew you were out to sabotage me. Get the hell out of my kitchen!”
“I didn’t mean—”
She lunged at him, pushing against his chest with all her might. “Get out of here. Get out!” She yelled as a fat tear rolled down her cheek.
“Please get out,” she squeaked softly, so soft she didn’t think he had heard her.
He gave her a pained expression and left the kitchen without apologies, without excuses, without another word.