The second book in Devney Perry’s newest series—following the Eden family from the small, fictional town of Quincy, Montana—is out next week, and I have a sneak peek for you from this small town, neighbours to lovers romance.
“Hi.” Memphis gave me a whisper of a smile.
With an actual smile, she’d be more than trouble. She’d be a hurricane leaving devastation in her wake.
“Um . . . Eloise said something about coming in for lunch.”
“Yeah.” I nodded to the opposite side of the table where I kept a few stools. “Have a seat.”
“I don’t need anything. Really. I’m sure you’re busy, and I don’t want to intrude.”
Before I could respond, Eloise breezed through the door with my line cook, Skip, right behind her. “You’re not intruding.”
“Hey, Knox.” Skip glanced at Memphis, his footsteps stuttering as he did his own double take.
Memphis’s beauty turned heads twice.
“We’re making lunch.” I pointed for Skip to put on an apron.
Introductions could wait. At the moment, I just wanted to make this meal and send Eloise and Memphis on their way so I could concentrate without Memphis’s chocolate-brown eyes tracking my every move.
But did Skip get an apron off the row of hooks? No. Because apparently no one was listening to me today.
“I’m Skip.” He held out his hand.
“Beautiful name for a beautiful lady. What can I make you for lunch?” He held her hand for a moment too long with a stupid grin on his face.
“Tacos,” I snapped, rounding the table to get a package of tortillas. “We’re having tacos. Or we would be if you’d let go of her hand and get to work.”
“Ignore him.” Skip laughed but released her hand and went to pull an apron over his head. Finally. He tied his graying hair out of his face before going to the sink to wash his hands. The entire time he worked the soap into a lather, he stared at Memphis.
“Skip,” I barked.
“What?” He smirked, knowing exactly what he was doing.
Skip had worked in my kitchen since I’d moved home five years ago. This was the first time I’d ever wanted to fire him.
“So Knox owns the restaurant,” Eloise said, getting both her and Memphis a glass of water. “My parents own the hotel. There might be times when we ask you to help run room service deliveries, just depending on how busy we are. It’s sort of an all-hands-on-deck approach around here.”
“I’m happy to help with whatever is needed. Do you also run a bar service? Or just have the in-room fridges?” Memphis asked.
“What’s a bar service?” Eloise asked.
“Oh, it’s a newer trend,” she said. “Most upscale hotels in the major cities offer a bar service, like Bloody Mary carts delivered to individual rooms or an on-call service to the hotel’s bar.”
Eloise’s face lit up.
Shit. “No bar service.” I squashed that brainchild before it grew legs. “We don’t have a full bar here. All I serve are beer and wine. Both are included on the room service menu, which is different than the restaurant’s menu.”
“Got it.” Memphis took a sip of her water, her gaze darting to my hands as I began plating.
Skip made short work of grilling the shrimp I’d had in a quick marinade.
Memphis’s eyes widened as he placed six on her plate, like this was the first real meal she’d had in a while. “So, um . . . how does Chief Eden fit into your family?”
“She’s married to our oldest brother, Griffin,” Eloise explained. “There are six of us. How about you? Any brothers or sisters?”
“One sister. One brother.”
“Maybe they’ll come out to visit. We give employees a ten-percent discount.”
Memphis shook her head, her gaze dropping to the table. “We’re not, um . . . close.”
That explained why her sister or brother hadn’t come to Montana with her. My siblings drove me bat-shit crazy, but I couldn’t imagine life without them. But what about her parents? Memphis didn’t offer anything else, and Eloise, who I could normally count on to be nosy as hell, didn’t ask.
My hands moved automatically to assemble two plates, and when they were ready, I slid them across the table.
“Thank you.” Memphis inched the plate closer, carefully folding a taco before taking a bite.
Some chefs didn’t like watching people eat their food. They feared the raw reaction. Not me. I loved watching that first bite. In my early days at culinary school, I’d learned from expressions, both good and bad.
Except I should have looked away.
Memphis moaned. A smile tugged at the corner of her lips.
Any other person and I’d give myself a pat on the back and take it as a job well done.
With Memphis, my heart thumped and a surge of blood raced to my groin. Watching her eat was erotic. Only one other woman had had the same impact. And she’d fucked me over ruthlessly.
Trouble. Goddamn trouble. I needed Memphis out of my kitchen and, before long, out of my loft.