Insatiable Part 9

“He was in a really pissy mood last night,” Ryan said to Chloe the next day. “Uh...sorry.”
She shrugged. She’d heard much worse language in the kitchen.
“We had a few problems yesterday but nothing that disastrous. I don’t know what’s bothering him. Can you talk to him?”
Chloe tipped her head to one side. “Why does everyone come running to me whenever Tyler’s in a mood?”
He smiled at her. “’Cause you’re the only one he’ll listen to.”
Chloe sighed. “Tyler and I aren’t exactly getting along right now.”
Ryan’s eyebrows shot up. He was such a cutie - that boyish handsome face, the stylish clothes – it really was too bad she wasn’t attracted to him.
“What does that mean?” he asked slowly. “What did he do?”
Chloe couldn’t help but smile. “Actually, it’s more my fault. So, I’d talk to him, but that might just make things worse, not better.”
“Hell, Chloe, if he’s not getting along with you, he’s not getting along with anyone.” His forehead creased. “We all love him, and we love working here, but it makes things tense in the kitchen, not knowing when he’s going to blow up.”
“Okay, okay, I’ll try to talk to him when I get a chance.”
Ryan’s face relaxed. “Thanks Chloe. You’re a sweetheart.”
Chloe studied him. “You look stressed, too, Ryan,” she observed. “Is everything okay with the restaurant?”

“Oh yeah!” He ran a hand through his short, light brown hair. Always impeccably groomed, every hair in place, seeing him muss his hair was startling.
“Something else is wrong. What is it? You know you can tell me.”
He sighed. “It’s just really busy. We’re making tons of money, but it’s crazy.”
Chloe considered that. “You probably need some assistant or something.”
Ryan shook his head. “Nah, I’m fine. I just need to get organized.”
Chloe snorted. “You’re the most organized person I know. Some would say anal, even.”
He grinned and rubbed his face. “I know, I know. Okay, it’s busy but it’ll get better. Tyler’s mood lately hasn’t been helping. If you can help with that, it would be great.”
“I’ll see what I can do.” Her stomach tightened as Ryan left her office and she took a deep breath.
They always ran to her as soon as Tyler lost it. She was the only one who could calm him down.
Ha! She leaned her forehead into her hand. It wasn’t up to her to keep him on an even keel. But after all those years of dealing with her mother it kind of came naturally to her. She sighed.
She recognized Tyler’s footsteps on the stairs and lifted her head, pasting a smile in place.
“Try this!” He burst into her office with a bowl in his hands.
She couldn’t help but smile for real at his enthusiasm.
“What is it?”
“White chocolate and cream cheese frosting,” he said triumphantly. “I’m going to frost those coconut cakes with it.”
“Why are you baking?” she asked. “Where Rhonda?” His pastry chef usually made the baked goods and desserts.
“She needed a day off. Go on, try it.”
He held the bowl out but had no spoon.
“Oh. Here.” He scooped up some creamy frosting on two fingers and held it to her mouth.
No way. She was not licking frosting off his fingers. She looked from his hand to his face, and he nodded encouragingly, his dark eyes all innocent. Reluctantly, she opened her mouth and leaned forward, closed her lips around his fingers. She tried to do it quickly but he let his fingers linger in her mouth. Damn him.
The frosting melted in her mouth,smooth and creamy, sweet but with the tang of the cream cheese. “Mmm. Incredible.”
“Have more.” He scooped out more and fed it to her and darned if she didn’t let him.
His eyes darkened and heated as he watched her suck his fingers. Warmth suffused her entire body.
“You can just leave the bowl,” she joked, tugging at her shirt. She wanted to fan herself.
Tyler scooped more frosting onto two fingers but this time he put them into his own mouth, drawing them slowly out, his eyes on hers.
She was all hot and tingling. He was doing it on purpose, she was sure of that, but how could she call him on it when almost every day he was feeding her food, getting her to taste things?
“Actually, I guess I have to, since I stuck my fingers in it,” he replied. “I just brought a little for you to try. Let’s finish it.”
He pulled up another chair and they silently took turns licking the rest of the frosting off his fingers as the air in the room grew thick and heavy.
Then he set the empty bowl on her desk, curled a hand around the back of her neck and pulled her towards him.
He took her mouth in a slow, tender kiss. She was helpless to resist him, totally softened up by white chocolate and cream cheese. She tasted it on him as his tongue slid into her mouth and she opened wider for him.
His hand on her neck pushed up through her hair to the back of her head, and he held her there as the kiss grew deeper, hotter, wetter. Their tongues moved together, tasting each other, and her whole body drew up and quivered.
“Tyler, no. We can’t do this.” She pulled away from him, trying to be sensible and smart, her heart racing.
“Why the hell not?” he demanded. “I’m sick of this. I want you Chloe.”
“But...I have a boyfriend,” she said desperately, saying the first thing that came to mind.
“Michael.” He spat out the name as if it was dog food.
She nodded. “Please don’t do this,” she begged desperately. “You know you don’t really want me. You want somebody like Mandy or Marla or Candy.” She named his last three girlfriends, all tall, gorgeous, sexy.
His lips formed a tight line, his eyes hard. “Right,” he said, and got up to leave.
“Wait, Tyler.” Hell. She’d promised Ryan she’d talk to him.
He turned and looked at her, his beautiful face dark and stormy. She sighed.
“You’re kind of taking out your anger on everyone else,” she said tentatively. “I know you’re ticked off at me, but could you try not to show it to everyone?” She paused. “If you can’t, then maybe I shouldn’t be working here after all.”
His scowl intensified. “Are you threatening to quit?”
She shook her head. “I’m not threatening,” she said gently, smiling at him hopefully. “I just want to you to control your emotions around the rest of your staff.”
“You have got to be kidding me,” he snapped, and stomped out of her office.
She put a hand to the ache in her chest at seeing him leave like that. Just as she’d feared, she’d probably made things worse. And she’d lied to him. She and Michael had been done since that night at her house when she’d told him it wouldn’t work.
But she’d only lied to Tyler out of self-preservation. How else could she possibly defend herself against his overwhelming charm, the overpowering attraction she felt for him, when he kept coming on to her like that?