Read Consume Me Online

Authors: Kailin Gow

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Romance, #Self-Help, #Relationships, #Love & Romance, #Health; Fitness & Dieting

Consume Me

BOOK: Consume Me
4.41Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

 

 

 

 

Consume Me

Master Chefs #3

 

 

Kailin Gow

 

Consume Me (The Master Chefs Series #3)

Published by Kailin Gow Books

Copyright © 2013 Kailin Gow

 

All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, graphic, electronic, or  mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or by any information storage or retrieval system, without the permission in writing from the publisher except in case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

For information, please contact:

 

Kailin Gow Books

11700 W. Charleston Blvd. Ste 170-95

Las Vegas, NV 89135

www.kailingow.com

First Edition.

Printed in the United States of America.

 

ISBN: 978-1-59748-082-6

 

 

DEDICATION

 

To my readers, thank you! If you love this story, this wouldn’t be possible without your love and support!

 

 

 

Prologue

 

 

T
he lunch rush at Sam’s Restaurant went off without a hitch and Taryn Cummings quickly shifted gear and prepared for the dinner crowd.  She’d barely had time to sit down, had only taken a quick chomp of a carrot stick, and hadn’t even gone to the bathroom yet.  She took a minute to breathe, collect herself and get going again.

Thank goodness she had Errol’s staff on hand.

They were a dream to work with and she silently thanked Errol for the thousandth time for allowing them to leave their stations at his New York restaurant to come help her out.

Though Errol’s restaurant had been seriously damaged by fire and his staff had been dispersed to his other restaurants, he had generously transferred a handful of them to her aid.

“I know you need a helping hand, Taryn,” he’d said as he’d prepared for his flight back to France.  “Your mom probably won’t be up and about for a while still, and your brother has his cooking classes.”

“You have no idea how I appreciate it, Errol.  I think I’d be lost without them.”

And as she now watched the team clear the kitchen of the midday feast and dive into the preparations for the dinner menu, she realized just how true those words were.  As Darla chopped celery, Sharon prepared a wine sauce and Nigel seasoned steaks, Taryn wiped down the stainless steal counter.

“A little distracted, Tar?” Darla asked.  “I think that’s the fourth time you wipe the counter.”

She chuckled and tossed her damp cloth into the sink of sudsy hot water.  “Yeah, I guess.”

“Long distance relationships are never easy.”

Taryn looked quizzically at the older woman with the graying temples.  She was a whiz in the kitchen; never tired, never complained, never missed a beat.  And apparently knew more about her personal life than she let on.

She’d never mentioned anything about her relationship with Errol and even less about her feelings since he’d left for Europe.

“It’s not very hard to see, sweetheart,” Darla went on as she efficiently chopped the celery into consistently sized pieces.  “You have that unmistakable lovelorn, lost puppy dog look in your eyes.”

“Then I guess there’s no point denying it.”

“How long has he been gone now, a week or so?”

“Two weeks, three days and…” Tar glanced at her watch.  “Ten hours.”

Darla chuckled as she reached for another stalk of celery.  “Be thankful this place is so busy.  Gives you a chance to think of something other than your distant love.”

“I do.  Everyday.  I’ve actually surprised myself more than once… looking at the clock, happy to realize it’s been over an hour since I last thought of him.  Otherwise time crawls on at an excruciating pace.  I mean, I know that filming that television show of his is important and everything, but…”

Darla kept her eyes on her quickly chopping knife and called out, “But…?”

Taryn shrugged and let out a childish sigh.  “This is New York City, for heaven’s sake.  Why couldn’t he just tape his show here?  Why does it have to be all the way over in Paris?”

Shooting her a quick knowing glance, Darla smiled.

“Yeah, yeah,” Taryn went on as she lifted her hand straight out in front of her and lovingly gazed at the diamond ring on her finger.  “I know.  Everything started over there… the studio kitchen is already set up…  yadda, yadda, yadda.  I know.  I’m just being silly.”

“You’re just in love.”

She was engaged to a handsome, rich, successful man and this was a part of his life.  This was a part of him and she would just have to get accustomed to it.

Throughout the preparations for the dinner rush, she thought of him, but then the night took on a life of its own.

In addition to the reservations made well in advance, an impromptu crowd filled the restaurant to capacity.  The evening flew by in a flurry of braised lamb, grilled salmon, flambéed strawberries and more wine than Taryn would have ever thought possible.

By the time closing hour arrived, she was exhausted, but thoroughly satisfied with the evening.  Even with her mom still recovering from her fall and her brother Bobby off to his cooking class, she’d successfully run the restaurant the whole day.  It was as close to perfect as she could hope for.

As the last of her employees as well as Errol’s staff left Sam’s Restaurant, Taryn leaned back against the counter and smiled.  Running a restaurant was one hell of a job, but she’d never felt more invigorated and happy.

“Long day?”

Startled, she turned to the unexpected sound of the male voice. “Matt!  What are you doing here?” She reached out to give him a hug.

He shrugged.  “I was in the neighborhood…”

“Great. I’m really happy to see you. Want a bite to eat?”

He shook his head.

“You sure?  I have a big bowl of salad.  I was about to have some, and aside from that and the portion I want to take to my mom, the rest is going to go to waste.”  With her head she gestured toward the big stainless steel bowl on the counter.  “My take on a Waldorf.  It’s full of almonds and dried cranberries, and of course my own secret vinaigrette.”

Walking over to the bowl, he picked up a piece of lettuce and put it in his mouth.  “Pretty good,” he said with an impressed cock of his brow.  “Maybe I will have a bit.”

“Great.”  She patted his arm.  “We can have a little chat while we eat.”

She tossed the salad, bringing the almonds and cranberries that’d sunk to the bottom back up to the top, then shoveled two healthy servings into large bowls.

“I haven’t seen you in a while,” she said as she brought the bowls to a little table just outside the kitchen.

“Sam’s is a little more out of the way since I’ve transferred to that new firehouse.  I keep telling myself I should pop in more often, but I rarely get the chance.  It’s a busier neighborhood.  We don’t have much time to fool around.”  He sat down and plunged his fork into the salad.

He fidgeted, suddenly uncomfortable and silent as he ate.  Taryn had known him for so long and had never seen him so agitated and ill at ease.  She’d also never seen him looking so handsome and sexy.  While she was very well aware of the cliché that clung to firemen, Matt was sexy in a very subdued and charming way.  He almost seemed oblivious of his good looks.

Taryn caught his gaze that skimmed over her diamond ring and suddenly realized why he seemed so anxious.

“Besides, you seem to be in good hands,” Matt finally added.

Though he smiled, the regret was plain in his voice.  For the first time since her engagement to Errol, Taryn felt uncomfortable at the sight of her engagement ring and discretely set her hand on her lap.

“Well, I’m glad you finally took the time to come out.  I’ve missed you.”  She’d felt his absence all the more since Errol had left.

He frowned as he nodded.  “Actually, this isn’t just a social call.”

“Oh?”

He hesitated an excruciatingly long time and Taryn was about to question him when he finally met her gaze.

“I’ve been privy to some fire reports lately.”

“Is this regarding your new position?  What are you now, captain?”

He nodded.  “I guess you could say that.”  Setting his fork down, he swallowed as a pained look came over him.

“Is something wrong?”

“Earlier today a report came to my attention; the fire report of Errol King’s restaurant.”

At the sound of Errol’s name, Taryn’s heart skipped a beat.

“It was initially believed that a faulty stove was at cause, but…”

Cocking her head to the side, she narrowed her eyes as she waited for him to go on.

“Turns out that stove was practically brand new and in perfect working condition.  Nothing faulty about it.  We also inspected all the wiring at the restaurant and everything was in order.  The place had been fully re-wired a little while back and was up to code.  His electrical system could have easily handled a few more stoves, some refrigerators and a slew of small kitchen appliances.”

“Matt, what are you saying?”

“The report seemed to be leaning toward the suspicion that the fire was deliberately set.”

She chuckled.  “That’s absurd.  Errol is a celebrity and he’s loved by everyone.  He has no enemies, even in the culinary world.  They all look up to him and revere him.  No one would torch his place.”

Matt sat back and looked down at his lap.  “I don’t think it was an enemy either.”

Taryn frowned as she anticipated his next words.

“It looks like Errol may have set the fire himself.”

Letting out a loud harrumph, Taryn sat up and leaned her elbows on the table.  “Now, that’s not just absurd, it’s downright crazy.  Do you have any idea who you're talking about, Matt?  Do you have any idea how much blood, sweat and tears Errol has literally put into that restaurant?  There is no way… no way he would ever set a match to it.”

“Tar, the report says…”

“The report is wrong, Matt.  You're wrong.  I know him.  I know he wouldn’t do anything to destroy something he worked so damned hard to build.”

“Tar, please listen.  Despite all his hard work, and I have no doubt he did work to make this restaurant a success, things weren’t really going as he’d planned.  Reservations this year fell way short of what they’d forecast; way short.  On top of that, Errol also opened another restaurant –
Chez Les
Copains
– in Santa Monica last year.  It seems to have bombed and it’s draining funds from the other restaurants.”

“Errol knows how to run a restaurant… a successful restaurant.  If
Les Copains
was failing in California, he’d shut it down before his other restaurants were affected in any way.  You must be mistaken… or whoever it is who wrote that report.”

“I’m not mistaken, Tar.  He can’t close
Les Copains
because of his business partner who’s hungry for the prestige of that location.  Apparently it’s the place to be seen and heard and there’s no way they’re going to allow it to close… even if it means trouble for the other restaurants.”

Taryn shook her head in disbelief.  “I still think there must be some other explanation.  Errol isn’t the type of man to play that sort of game.  If he were having financial trouble, he’d find another way of rectifying the situation.  For crying out loud, he’s a world renowned chef with his own show and cookbooks.”

“Do you know what he was doing the day of the fire?  Were you with him?”

She huffed with exasperation.  “No, I wasn’t with him.  We’d had a falling out and… well, I just didn’t see him for a little while.”  She could have sworn she saw a hint of a grin come to Matt’s lips.

“So he doesn’t even have an alibi.”  He shook his head.  “I really hate to be the one to have to tell you this, Tar, but this is serious.  If Errol King torched his place in order to collect from the insurance company, he’s in for a hell of a lot of trouble.”

“You're jumping to conclusions.  Just because I wasn’t with him doesn’t mean no one saw him.”

“And I think you're in denial.”

“Look, the next time I talk to him, I’ll ask him where he was that night.”

“You should do that.”  Matt put his hand on her shoulder and gave her a tender squeeze.  “I really hate to see you get mixed up with the wrong type of guy.”

“I’ll call him first chance I get, and I’ll prove to you that he’s not the wrong type of guy.”

Matt stood.  “For your sake, I hope you're right, but from where I’m standing, things don’t look too good for Mr. Errol King.”  He leaned in to give her a peck on the cheek.  “Thanks for the salad.  It was really great.  I understand why this place has taken off like it has.  You have a real talent for delicious food.”

BOOK: Consume Me
4.41Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Murder for Bid by Furlong Bolliger, Susan
Boston Avant-Garde 4: Encore by Kaitlin Maitland
El coronel no tiene quien le escriba by Gabriel García Márquez
Meatonomics by David Robinson Simon
Go, Ivy, Go! by Lorena McCourtney
In the Falling Snow by Caryl Phillips