Insatiable Part 17

Tyler mixed kosher salt, coarsely ground pepper and ground coffee. He tasted it, knowing it would be harsh, but...“Bleh!” He scowled. “These peppercorns are stale.”
In the dry goods room, he rummaged around for the peppercorns.
“Carlos!” he yelled. “Don’t we have any peppercorns?”
Ryan appeared. “I just did inventory, I’m sure we do.” He peered into the shelves. “Calm down, Tyler.”
Tyler looked at him, puzzled. “I am calm.”
Ryan’s head jerked around. “Uh...yeah. You are. Sorry.” He found the peppercorns and handed them to Tyler. Tyler smiled.
“Thanks, man,” he said. “The ones I have are old and taste like shit.”
He replaced the peppercorns in his grinder. “Anyone else need fresh?” He held up the container. “For God’s sake, don’t use old peppercorns. Please.”
His staff exchanged glances.
“You get laid last night?” Carlos asked him with a grin. He traded a look with Ryan.
Tyler started. “My business,” he said with a one-shouldered shrug. Although he had no intention of hiding his relationship with Chloe, he didn’t want it to start by announcing they’d slept together. They’d go out this weekend, out in the open, and then everyone would know. Yeah.
He continued working on his new creation and slid the pork tenderloins into the oven to roast. Now for the sauce. He went to the bar for inspiration. He wanted a cream sauce...but it needed a kick, a boozy kick. He studied the multitude of bottles lining the mirrored wall behind the bar. Brandy...cognac. Nah. Too...predictable. He grabbed the bottle of Jack Daniels and carried it back to the kitchen.
He chopped shallots and tossed them into a sauté pan with butter. They sizzled as he minced garlic, found demi-glace and heavy cream. When the shallots were nicely softened he added the garlic, then poured the Jack Daniels in. Flames shot up, attracting the attention of the others.
“What are you making over there, Chef?” Alejandro called.
“Trying something new,” Tyler muttered, focused on his creation. He added the demi-glace and the cream and left it to reduce. Then he started on something else.
A while later he cut a piece of pork and popped it into his mouth. He closed his eyes, chewed, savored, swallowed. It was good...but not fantastic. It was the rub. He needed to adjust the proportions and add something...thyme. Yeah, thyme. That was it.
By the end of the afternoon he had a new special that blew his mind.
“Chloe!” He pounded up the stairs.
“What do you want me to taste?”
“How did you know?” “I just know.” She smiled. “Should I come down?”
“Yeah. Please.” She followed him downstairs to the kitchen where he cut a piece of perfectly cooked pork, then lifted the fork to her mouth.
She tasted it, swallowed. “Oh, that’s good,” she said. “It’s fabulous! I love it!”
He gazed at her. She always gave him her honest opinion, but today she was A night of sizzling sex had loosened her up. He might have a new Chloe on his hands.
She tipped her head to one side. “What?”
He smiled slowly at her. “You are so sexy.”
She blushed and he was aware of the kitchen staff watching.
“Carlos, come try this!” he invited, and Carlos and the others surrounded them for a taste. Everyone expressed complete approval of his new creation and his chest swelled with pride.
“I’ll make it one of tomorrow’s specials,” he told them. “Carlos, what do you think we should serve it with?”
Carlos considered. “Let me taste it again.” He tasted and thought. “Potatoes,” he said. “Something simple.”
“Potatoes!” Tyler said. “No way. I think pasta.”
They argued for a while and then Tyler got his way as usual.
The next day when Tyler did the tasting for the floor staff of the day’s specials, including his new pork tenderloin creation, everyone was unanimous that it was fantastic. But when Tyler tasted it with the pasta he knew it was a mistake.
“Carlos, you were right,” he said, going into the kitchen. “Potatoes, man.”
Carlos grinned. “Thanks, Chef.”
As Tyler walked out to go reprint the specials with the change, he heard Carlos say, “That’s why I like working here.”
Tyler smiled.

* * *

Chloe had RSVP’d to the invitation to the Sea Center fundraiser, never in her wildest dreams imagining “Tyler Gregg and guest” would be her.
She’d gone shopping for a new dress. The strapless fitted bodice was intricate layers of sheer fabric, a sandy-pink color, flowing into a slim but soft skirt that floated around her ankles. She turned on her new snakeskin stilettos in front of the mirror, one way then the other, and bit her lip. Did she look okay for her first public appearance with Tyler?
Her doorbell rang and then the front door opened. Tyler. She hurried out of her bedroom and down the hall, heels tapping on the hardwood floor.
Of course, he was stunningly gorgeous in his tux.
“Oh,” she breathed, eyes moving over him.
He grinned and stuck a finger inside his collar. “I hate wearing this thing, but women do seem to like it.”
Her excitement dimmed, just a tad, at the reminder of how many women Tyler had worn this tuxedo for.
His eyes moved over her in turn, and the way they heated up erased all those other women from her mind.
“You look incredible, Chloe,” he murmured, stepping into her house. “I want to kiss you, but I don’t want to mess you up.”
Did she care about getting messed up? Not in the least. So she set her hands on his chest. Even in her heels she had to go onto her toes to reach his mouth. His hands held her waist lightly, then tightened as she kissed him again, and again.
He moved her away from him. “We won’t make it there if you don’t stop,” he warned, eyes glittering, a smile tugging the corners of his mouth.
“No, you’re not.” He grinned.
She arched a brow at him and went to find her purse and wrap.
The fundraiser was being held at Fess Parker’s resort in the outdoor rotunda. Arched windows provided views of swaying palm trees and the ocean across the street, and soft evening breezes wafted through the space. Tiny white lights twinkled in potted palms, and flowers scented the air.
Waiters mingled with guests, offering trays of champagne and hors d'oeuvres. Chloe sipped a flute of champagne as she stayed by Tyler’s side. He knew so many people there and chatted and flirted his way around the room. He introduced her to everyone, at times holding her hand, circling his arm around her waist, leaning in to whisper in her ear. This was the kind of party she and Michael had so often attended, the kind of party she’d detested, but Michael had never made her feel this special or included.
And speaking of Michael...there he was. Right in front of them, an attractive brunette on his arm.
As the four of them came face to face, a moment of heavy silence enveloped them.
Then Tyler broke it. “Michael,” he said easily, extending his hand. “Glad to run into you. I owe you an apology.”
Michael took Tyler’s hand somewhat reluctantly and the woman with him frowned.
“Sorry about hitting you, man,” Tyler continued with his most charming smile, and Chloe almost laughed. “Hope there was no damage done.”
Michael scowled and shook his head, his eyes moving between Chloe and Tyler, so close together there was no mistaking their relationship. “Hello, Chloe.”
“Hi, Michael. How are you?”
“I’m fine.” He introduced Tyler and Chloe to his companion and after a few more polite words, they moved on.
“Well, that was awkward,” Tyler said, a smile touching his lips as he sipped his champagne.
“Thanks to you, you pugilist.”
He grinned. “Hey, I was defending you.”
She smiled. “Thank you,” she said softly. “That really is very sweet. And I’m sorry I didn’t tell you the truth; that would have saved your knuckles. And Michael’s nose.”
Tyler removed her glass from her hand and set both flutes on a small table. Then he swept her into his arms and kissed her, right in the middle of the party, bending her back over his arm so far she had to grasp his shoulders to keep from falling. When he lifted his mouth and she gazed at him in astonishment, he smiled into her eyes.
Tyler glanced sideways, and following his gaze, Chloe saw Michael watching them. Tyler smiled with satisfaction. She whacked his shoulder lightly, but couldn’t help the smile that tugged at her lips. He was staking his claim, deliberately, in public and very, very possessively. It made her feel warm and tingly all over and she, in turn, kissed Tyler back.
His big hands slid down her back, briefly over the curve of her behind as he released her slowly. Then he picked up the champagne flutes and handed one back to her, eyes hot and sparkling at her over the glass as he sipped.
Chloe gulped her champagne, the bubbles stinging her throat and nose.
Later, they danced, the soft breeze off the ocean sliding over them, the sky midnight blue velvet sequined with glimmery stars. Palm trees drifted in the breeze. Tyler held her in his arms, close against him, her hand tucked between them as they moved to the music.
She pressed herself against him as they danced, buzzing with sexual excitement and anticipation. She kept remembering the things Tyler had done to her and how it had felt and every time she thought about those things her tummy fluttered.
“I want to take you home,” he whispered in her ear. “I want to lick you right between your legs.” A small moan escaped her. “I want to eat you until you come and then I want to fuck you every way I can, front, back, sideways, until you can’t even walk.”
“Oh God.” The ache between her legs intensified and she almost stumbled as they danced. “Let’s go.”
He smiled and shook his head. “Just a little longer. I want to dance with you more.”
She almost moaned again. “You’re torturing me.” She let her breath out long and slow.
He laughed softly. “I know. But the build-up is half the fun.” He kissed her cheek and she closed her eyes and sank into him. Heat radiated off his big body and she inhaled as she pressed her face against him, loving the warm spice and citrus scent of him.
When the song ended, Tyler led her back to their table, where they’d eaten dinner with some of his friends. Chloe picked up her glass and pressed it to one hot cheek while Tyler sipped his wine. She was acutely aware of the looks they were getting from the others, but couldn’t bring herself to care, she was so buzzed, so high from being with Tyler and wanting him.
She wanted to get up and drag Tyler out of there as they sat talking to other guests. She rested her hand on his thigh, beneath the table cloth, then shifted her fingers up, closer to his groin...just brushing...yeah, he was hard. Then his face changed and he abruptly said, “Let’s go.”
After quickly smiling their good-nights to the others, Tyler all but dragged her out of the rotunda and down a dark path toward the parking lot. Her heels clicked rapidly on the stone path as she hurried after him.
“Slow down, Tyler,” she begged, laughing, as she tried to keep up with him.
“Sorry,” he muttered. “I waited too long. I need you, now.”
“I needed you three hours ago,” she replied, and together they almost ran to the car.
They fell into his Jag, laughing, breathless, and Tyler started the car. He leaned over to kiss her, his hand on her face and she kissed him back, long and deep.
“God,” he groaned, moving away from her and slamming the car into gear. The wheels spun and spit gravel as he exited the parking lot. “Are we going to my place or yours?” He glanced sideways at her.
“Oh.” She hadn’t thought about that. “My place.” Then, “Is that okay?”
“Christ, yeah,” he said roughly. “I’d do you on the Breakwater right now if I had to, I don’t care where the hell we go.”