An award-winning chef, an unabashed foodie, and a road trip leading to unexpected love…
Called “the foodie romance of the year,” an all-new contemporary romance is out now from author Layla Reyne, and I have an excerpt for you.
“Did you walk through the restaurant’s garden today?” Miller asked.
Clancy shook his head dramatically, then had to adjust his glasses. “Was too busy enjoying my lie-in on the Egyptian cotton sheets.”
“Your lie-in?” Miller laughed. “Were you watching BBC all day?”
“It was raining outside.”
Miller laughed and nudged him across the street toward the garden. “Walk, then. It’ll help the digestion.”
Clancy buttoned his overcoat and patted his belly. “I’m not sure how I got it all in there.”
“Never had a meal like that before?”
Even with the moon shining bright, Clancy had to watch his step over the curb and wood mulch, then onto the grass and level ground again at the edge of the garden. It was mushy from the earlier rain, but the thick grass kept his Oxfords out of the mud, mostly. “I’ve been to places with tasting menus before, but nothing quite like that.”
Miller shoved his hands in his coat pockets and turned right, down the first row. “Around LA?”
“There and Chicago.” Clancy stopped at each placard they passed, reading what winter vegetables grew in the neatly maintained plots.
“That was my last Michelin-star meal, before this one.”
“The flavor Grant packs into those courses is incredible.”
“Right!” Clancy had talked incessantly about that meal for weeks after. “That truffle explosion course.”
“One of the best,” Miller agreed.
At the end of the row, they peeked into the chicken pen where all the residents were tucked into their coop or hay for the night. They turned the corner and headed down the next row. Clancy hung back, taking in the impressive scope of the cultivated garden, alight in the moonlight. And the impressive backside in plaid pants that walked ahead of him, sure-footed, like he’d traversed this particular ground countless times.
“How’d you get into food?” Miller asked. “Especially with all those years of schooling and residency.”
“LA’s a big town, you know.” Clancy thanked his long legs, able in just a few strides to catch up with Miller, who’d stopped next to a half-harvested plot of willowy, leafy stalks that towered over them both. At least eight feet high, they looked like corn stalks, but not. “Holy shit, what are these?”
“Remember that soup you were moaning over at the start of the meal?” Miller laughed when Clancy stuck his tongue out at him. “All that—” he waved a finger up and down at the stalks, then pointed at the ground “—for a bulb down there. Jerusalem artichoke, also known as—”
“Sunchoke. I had no idea this was how they were grown.”
“Bitch to clean,” Miller said, as he led them on down the row. “And you didn’t answer my question. Were you always a foodie? Because you look like you barely eat.”
“Hey!” Clancy backhanded Miller’s gut. “We can’t all be bears.”
Miller feigned injury, clutching his belly, and trapping Clancy’s hand underneath. Their hands tangled briefly, so did their gazes, sparking like they had at their first meeting. Clancy hoped like hell his blush wasn’t noticeable in the moonlight. He drew his hand out from under Miller’s big warm one.
“I liked food well enough as a kid. Mom could cook, and we had a chef that came in once a week to prepare meals and such. I’d hang out with her, watch what she did on those nights when my parents would take their night out on the town. That is, until Mom left.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t—”
“Nothing to be sorry about,” Clancy said. “They all still get along. My dad and stepdad even golf together, if they’re in the same town. My parents still love each other, but they weren’t in love any longer.”
It wasn’t exactly tension that rippled through Miller, but a sort of pensiveness that made Clancy wonder again about what his mother had mentioned on the plane. About Miller and Sloan. But not wanting to destroy the happy bubble cast by the meal and moonlight, Clancy didn’t poke. “Anyway, when she left, he lost his weekly dining companion.”
“So you filled in?”
“It was the only thing I could do to get him out of the house those first few months, aside from when he went to work.”
“I thought you said—”
Maybe not poke directly, but Clancy could offer Miller his sympathy, vague as it was. “Didn’t mean he didn’t miss his best friend.”
Miller glanced his direction, curiosity, fear, and hope all swirling in his blue eyes that looked ghostly in the pale light. “He’s okay now?”
Clancy jostled a shoulder against his, grinning. “He’s dating a pastry chef we met on one of our dinners out.”
“And you’re going to work with him?”
“After this trip.” A small cringe slipped out before he could stop himself. “Did I just do that?”
Miller chuckled. “Yeah, you did.”
Clancy pushed his glasses up and got them moving again. “Too much wine. And a story for another dinner.” They stopped at the edge of the garden, close together as they waited for a car to pass. “Speaking of, you want to tell me where we’re going next?”
Miller’s eyes flickered down to his mouth, and in the flash of passing headlights, there was no way he didn’t notice the blush burning up Clancy’s cheeks. “I’ll tell you where we’re going next.”
“Where?” Did he sound breathy?
Did he have any breath left?
“To sleep,” Miller added.
Clancy stuck out his bottom lip, pouting, and got the reaction he wanted. Miller’s deep, sexy laugh played on in his dreams all night long.