Posts tagged restaurant
Insatiable Part 22
“I need you,” Chloe said.
Tyler looked around her office and lifted a brow. “Here?”
She smacked his shoulder, smiling. “For work, goof. There’s some stuff I need to talk to you about.”
He shrugged. “How about now?”
They sat at Chloe’s desk. She pulled some papers toward her. “Okay, where to start,” she muttered. “Well. Your TV appearances have sparked a whole lot of interest with a few people. First of all, Oprah’s people have been calling Joe and they’ve got dates we’ll need to look at. They’re going to come here and film you here, and then you have to go to Chicago to be on the show.”
“Chicago. Cool.”
She took a breath. “We’ll have to call back Joe to discuss this more, but Food TV is apparently interested in having you do a weekly show. They have some ideas for the concept they want to run past you. Also, they want you to do a ‘Chef Wars’ show.”
“Whoa. That’s that show where the two chefs compete to prepare a meal with the ingredients they give you?” His eyes lit up with interest and speculation.
“Yes. It’s pretty intense. You each get to bring two team members, your sous-chef and one other. But Joe says the publicity is incredible, especially if you win.”
“I dunno.” His forehead furrowed.
She stared at him. “Really? You don’t want to do it?”
He shrugged, mind obviously working. “Not sure. What else?”
“Joe thinks you should enter the Bocuse d’or this year. He says it’s your time. The deadline is the end of December so you have time to consider it, plan what you’d do.”
Tyler sucked in a breath. “Wow. Okay, these are all huge.”
“Yeah.” She tipped her head to the side and squinted at him. “You don’t seem as excited as I thought you’d be.”
“I’m not as excited as I thought I’d be.” A faint smile touched his lips. “What do you think, Chloe?”
“Me? What do I think? It’s up to you, Tyler.”
He shook his head. “No. I want to know what you think.”
Her stomach did a little flip and her heart skipped a beat again. “I...I...” she stammered. “I want you to be happy, Tyler. You don’t need to do any of this stuff if you don’t want. But the publicity would be incredible. These are just more steps on the way up...right?”
“Way up to where, though?” He set his fingertips together and leaned back in his chair. “I’m not sure where I’m going anymore.”
She gazed back at him, not sure what to make of that, not sure what to say. He smiled at her.
“You know I’ve been feeling the pressure lately, Chloe.” She nodded slowly. “I need to think about these things.”
“Okay. Sure.” She gathered papers together. “How about tomorrow we talk to Joe? He knows more about all this, and then you can decide.” She paused. “The last thing is the magazine article for Epicure.” She handed him the faxed copy of the planned layout. He took the pages from her and quickly looked at them. “You can review it and if there’s anything you want them to change, we can fax it back to them by the end of the week.”
He nodded. “Okay.” He glanced at his watch. “Back to work.” He jumped up, bent down and kissed her quickly, touched her cheek with his fingertips, then bounded down stairs.
She sat back in her chair. She knew he’d been feeling the pressure of everything lately, but he was such a rising star...just look at the attention his recent television appearances had garnered.
She shook her head. They really needed to talk to Joe. She stayed late getting caught up, and around eight o’clock wandered down to the restaurant. People waited for tables in the full-to-capacity bar, humming with talk and laughter. Chloe smiled.
She made her way through the crowd to the far end of the bar where she could catch Emilio’s eye. As she leaned on the counter, smiling and waiting for Emilio to finish serving a couple, she spotted Tyler at the other end of the bar. She straightened, took a step, then saw he was talking to...Mandy.
Mandy shook her long golden curls down her back and smiled up at Tyler, her hand on his arm. He stood beside the bar stool on which she was seated, smiling down at her and listening to her. He laughed at something she said.
Something hot burned inside Chloe and her stomach cramped deeply, painfully.
Mandy was the only woman who had ever broken up with Tyler. He’d been so devastated, he’d sat at home getting drunk rather than come to work. Of course, Chloe reminded herself, she’d proven his heart hadn’t really been broken. But still...she watched them together and her eyes stung. She blinked rapidly.
Emilio saw her and concern tightened the corners of his eyes. She raised a hand to her mouth, motioned as if she was drinking and he nodded and pulled a wine glass down. He poured red wine into the glass, walked down the bar to where she stood and set it in front of her, his eyes worried even though he smiled.
“You’re still here,” he said. “Working late tonight, aren’t you.”
“Mmm. I had a lot to catch up on after the last few days.” She dragged her gaze away from Tyler and Mandy to smile at him. “Thanks.”
“No problem.” He went back to work, casting anxious glances both at her and Tyler.
She could just go up to Tyler and talk to them. She was his girlfriend. But the feeling of inferiority compared to glamorous Mandy and all the beautiful people in the restaurant flooded back. She sipped her wine, her throat so tight she almost choked on it.
She wasn’t sure what to do. Had Tyler really changed? Was this the moment of truth? How she handled things at this point could make the difference between a long and torturous ride down the roller coaster, as opposed to just stopping it and getting off right now.

* * *

Tyler looked up just as Chloe turned her back and left the bar, a glass of wine in her hand. Her small figure pushed politely through the crowd around the bar, long smooth hair gleaming in the dim light.
“Don’t you think so, too?” Mandy asked him. “Tyler?”
He forced his attention back to her, worried about Chloe and what she’d seen, what she was feeling.
“Sorry, Mandy, I have to go.” He flashed a quick smile and lifted her hand from his arm. “Nice to see you again. Stop in any time you’re in town.”
He barely noticed the frown on her face as he left her side and made his way out of the bar but goddammit, people kept stopping him to greet him, to tell them they’d seen him on Leno, talk about their dinners. He politely exchanged greetings and comments through gritted teeth and a phony smile, finally escaping the dining room. He took the stairs to Chloe’s office two at a time.
She sat there, her computer off, sipping a glass of wine.
“Why’d you leave?” he demanded. “I just saw you as you were leaving the bar.”
“You were busy,” she said coolly.
He shook his head. “No, I wasn’t. I was just saying hi to Mandy. She’s in town for a few days and stopped in for a drink.”
Chloe nodded, her face calm and expressionless. She was so good at that. But he’d seen her allowing herself to feel, to show her emotions, and wow, what emotions those were. This was that calm, cool and collected Chloe who kept it all inside her.
“Are you jealous?” How could she be when she knew he loved her?
Her eyes flickered but otherwise her expression didn’t change. “Should I be?”
“Of course not,” he said roughly. “I was talking to a friend.”
“She’s not just a friend.” She sipped her wine. “That was the only girl who’s ever broken up with you. You were pretty destroyed by that.”
He laughed. It was actually funny. “Yeah, but you got her out of my mind damn quick,” he reminded her. Then he saw the sober look on her face even though he was laughing. “Chloe, don’t you trust me?”
She looked away from him.
“Chloe!” He went over to her and took the wine glass out of her hand, set it on the desk. “You know I love you.”
She gazed back at him, her blue eyes cool. His hands tightened on hers in disbelief.
She finally spoke. “Tyler, I know you think you love me right now, but we both know that won’t last. Relationships are not your thing.” She shrugged. “It’s okay. I know that. I knew that going into this. I’ve always known it wouldn’t last forever.” She smiled faintly.
What the fuck was she talking about? Anger knifed through him, sharp, stabbing. He wanted no one but her. In fact, he wanted nothing but her. Awards, celebrity, money...it meant nothing without her. He’d told her he loved her. He did not tell that to every woman he dated. In fact, he had never said those words to any other woman in his life, besides his mother. How could she not believe him, trust him?
She gazed back at him, a flicker of something in her crystal blue eyes, then she looked away from him and removed her hands from his grasp.
“I’m going home now,” she said, voice even. “You need to get back to work, or whatever. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
She stood and pushed past him, and his eyes almost crossed with fury. How could she do this after what they’d shared? He watched her leave, rage and despair rising up in him, choking him. Christ, she was right - the restaurant was crazy busy tonight and he couldn’t leave. He slammed a hand down on her desk.
Carlos was in major weeds when Tyler got back to the kitchen, sweating and yelling out orders. “Pick up one salmon!” he yelled, hands moving quickly as he did five things at once. Relief passed over his face when he saw Tyler, but then he did a double take.
“Oh-oh,” he said. “Don’t tell me - Chloe saw Mandy.”
Tyler nodded and stepped in, ripping tickets off the slide to see what was needed. He scowled.
“She’s mad,” Carlos guessed.
Tyler shook his head violently. “Hell, no,” he bit out. “The ice princess doesn’t get mad. She’s very calm. She thinks I’m just going to drop her and run back to Mandy.” He shook his head and made a noise of disgust. “Jesus. She doesn’t trust me at all.”
“Table ten...pick up!” Carlos yelled. He ladled sauce onto some veal and added vegetables, perfectly cooked, bending low as he arranged them meticulously. “You’re saying you’re not going to do that?”
Tyler stared at him, a ferocious scowl on his face. “You too?” he snarled. “What the hell?”
“You do have a reputation. We’ve all been wondering how long this thing with Chloe would last and what would happen after. She’s too sweet to mess around with.”
Tyler’s rage intensified like the flame that shot up under the veal chop on the grill. “Fire two pork tenderloin and two specials!” he yelled. “Shit, Carlos, I’m not playing around with Chloe. I love her.”
“I guess you have to convince her, then.”
Yeah. Tyler kept working on automatic, moving rapidly and fluidly in the kitchen, hands flying. He was pissed off but he wasn’t giving up. Chloe was too important for that.
The rest of the night blurred into fast movements in the kitchen, blasts of heat as he cooked, frantic yelling to the others. He had no clue if Mandy was still there or not, didn’t care. He didn’t emerge from the kitchen for the remainder of the evening, even stepped in to wash dishes when they sent Diego to the store for a bottle of Tanqueray when the bar ran out.
He wanted nothing more than to leave, go to Chloe’s house and show her how much he cared, but he was so furious he knew he should wait.
Later when things were quieter and they were done cleaning up, he went back to his office and threw himself down in the chair behind his desk. His eyes fell on the magazine article layout he hadn’t had a chance to look at yet. Glumly he picked it up and started reading.
It felt as if he were reading about someone else entirely, someone familiar to him but not him. The article was flattering; there wasn’t much he could fault about it. Then he got to the part where it said, ‘Tyler Gregg is a confirmed bachelor, a playboy chef with a reputation for dating a succession of beautiful women: models, actresses, socialites. When asked about his love life, Tyler smiles and says, “I love women. I love women almost as much a food. Maybe more than food.” He gives a sexy shrug. “I have no plans to settle down. I just like to enjoy variety...”’
Jesus, had he really said that? He did recall talking about variety, but he hadn’t meant it specifically about women. He’d been talking about food, about his career. He seemed to recall dodging the question about his love life, despite Joe’s specific instruction to him, and he’d dodged it because of Chloe. It had felt wrong to claim to be happily single and looking, when he and Chloe had just started something...but yet at that point, he couldn’t have claimed to be in a committed relationship.
He picked up a red marker and started scribbling on the article.

Insatiable Part 23
Insatiable Part 21
Chloe watched the action as people descended on the restaurant for the photo shoot and interview for Epicure Magazine. Frighteningly chic and professional people had flown in from New York, everyone thin and dressed in black. Except Joe who’d driven from LA, wearing a very expensive grey t-shirt and two cell phones clipped to his designer jeans.
Scrims and umbrellas were set up and lights popped as the photographer’s assistant studied a device in his hand. They arranged Tyler in the dining groom, leaning against a table, arms crossed over his chest.
People fussed around him, the assistant held the device up near his face and lights popped again.
She wasn’t sure why she was even needed here, but she hung around in the background anyway. As she stood there, Ryan came and joined her to watch.
“Crazy, huh?” he asked, smiling. He smoothed back his short hair, straightened his tie. “So...you and Tyler.”
She glanced at him, and couldn’t help but smile, her cheeks warming.
“That’s why you two weren’t getting along, isn’t it?”
She nodded. “Yeah. It’s a long story. I’m sorry if it caused problems in the restaurant, I never intended that. In fact, that’s what I was trying to avoid, that’s why I was pushing Tyler away. That, and the fact that I didn’t want to get my heart broken.” She sighed.
“You two are great together,” Ryan said. “Why would you get your heart broken?”
He’d told her he loved her. He’d made her feel so special and loved and safe that she’d confessed her feelings for him, too, even though she knew she shouldn’t. She knew this wasn’t going to last forever. But not telling him didn’t change anything, including the fact that her heart was at risk.
“Oh come on,” she said lightly. “You know what Tyler’s like. He’ll never settle down. When this ends between us, it’s going to be so awkward.”
Ryan looked at her, his face somber. She knew he couldn’t disagree with her. They all knew Tyler and his many girlfriends. She smiled at him.
“It’s okay,” she reassured him, though her chest felt tight and achy. “I’ll try to make sure the rest of you don’t suffer, too.”
“Chloe, it’s not just us...we all care about you, too. If you get hurt...”
“Thank you,” she said, touching his arm. “But I’ll just have to deal with it when it happens.”
There was a break in the action as the photographer, stylist and assistant gathered around the computer attached to the digital camera and started intently discussing the photos. Tyler beckoned to Chloe and she strolled over to him. He spread his legs, still leaning against the table, and pulled her between his thighs, linking his hands behind her waist. He smiled down at her.
“This is nuts,” he said. She smiled back at him and nodded. He bent and kissed her mouth.
“Hey, you two!” called the photographer. “How about some photos of both of you.”
Chloe turned in Tyler’s arms, thinking the photographer was joking, but he was behind the camera preparing to shoot.
“No way!” Chloe and Joe both uttered the same protest at the same moment. She glanced at Joe, striding purposefully toward them. She tried to escape Tyler’s arms, but he tightened his hands around her.
“Sorry, Chloe, no offence, but we’re trying to market an image here. You know, the sexy chef...we don’t want photos of him and current girlfriend in the magazine.”
“Why not?” Tyler growled.
Joe was firm. “We want women to lust for you. If you’re single they all think they have a chance...”
“Jesus, I’m a chef, not a rock star.”
Joe shook his head. “At this point there’s not much difference, Ty, buddy.”
Chloe nodded uncertainly, glanced at Tyler, a scowl darkening his face.
“That’s okay,” she said breathlessly, this time escaping Tyler’s grasp. “I don’t want to be in any photos.”
She tugged her blouse down and made her escape back to the periphery where she could watch.
Well. The sexy chef. He was that, no question. It made her feel a little extraneous. Once again she wondered what on earth Tyler was doing with her, and an icy wave of fear washed over her.
She followed the entourage when they moved into the kitchen, where Tyler donned his chef’s white jacket and posed. She could tell he was losing patience with all the fussing and finicky details, and wanted to get it over with. When they were finally finished, she started toward him where he was discussing where to have lunch and do the interview with the magazine editor.
“We can do it here,” Tyler said. “We can use Chloe’s office, there’s lots of room there.”
“Oh, let me take you out for lunch,” the editor said, smiling at him. She, too was a chic stick-girl all dressed in black, her short dark hair styled in a spiky, sexy cut.
Tyler shrugged. “Okay.”
When the editor went to collect her things, Joe said to Tyler, “Now remember, Ty buddy, when she asks about your love life, there’s nobody special, you’re still looking for the right woman, you love all women, yadda yadda.”
Tyler frowned at him. “She’s not going to ask about that.” He took Chloe’s hand and drew her nearer. “Coming with us?” he asked.
She glanced at Joe and shook her head. “Uh...no. I have lots of other stuff to do.”
“Sure?” He tipped her chin up and smiled at her, then brushed her lips with his again.
She felt so insecure and out of place today, but Tyler was treating he like he always did, and she tried to find comfort in that. She watched him leave with the magazine editor, then Joe took off back to LA and the photography team all lugged equipment out of the restaurant.
“Martha Melville is coming tonight.”
Chloe’s head jerked up at Lola’s words. “She is not!”
Martha Melville was a prominent food writer and critic. Her review of the restaurant could have huge implications.
Lola grinned. “Yup. She made a reservation under her publisher’s name. I recognized it and called the number they left to double check.”
“Does Tyler know?”
“Oh, yeah. He had a minor freak out just before everyone showed up.”
“Oh lord.” Chloe sighed.
“I gotta get back to work,” Lola said. “Just thought you should know.”

* * *

Lola quickly alerted everyone when Martha Melville arrived. The reviewer was trying to be incognito, but failed. However, nobody could let on that they knew who she was. Tyler called all the front of the house staff in to talk to them about the special guest at table twelve.
“Okay,” he said. “You all have to be on top of service. Allison, Mitch is taking over your other tables so you can focus on twelve.”
Her eyes widened. “One table?” she asked. She immediately grasped the importance of this guest.
“Service has to be impeccable,” he warned. They all nodded seriously. “Okay, go on.”
He went back to work and only his hands touched the meals that were prepared for that table. Martha was with three other people, but he knew that she would taste every dish that was ordered.
Sure enough, four different dinners were ordered, including appetizers. He grinned. He loved the rush he got from the pressure of having to perform. His hands moved quickly, surely as he prepared their meals, tasting everything to ensure perfection.
“Uh, Tyler?” Allison stood next to him.
“Yes?” He didn’t look up.
“Table nine just stopped me and said they’ve been waiting for their appetizers for almost an hour.”
Tyler’s head shot up. “What?” He looked around. “Who’s got table nine?” he bellowed.
“Mitch does,” Allison said.
“Get him the hell in here.”
She scurried off to find him.
“What is it?” Mitch asked seconds later, looking a little harried.
“Table nine has been waiting for appetizers for almost an hour,” Tyler informed him in a hard voice. “What the hell is going on?”
Mitch blanched “Appetizers?” There was no ticket for table nine on the slide. “Oh shit,” he groaned. “I forgot to put their order in.”
“Jesus Christ,” Tyler growled. “Get their fucking order in now!”
He had never stopped working on the plates for table twelve. He scowled as he worked.
Mitch hurriedly entered the orders into the computer, luckily appearing to remember what they’d ordered. None of the servers at Insatiable ever wrote anything down. That was Tyler’s policy.
“What did they order?” Carlos asked, taking over. He quickly went to work.
“Give them free drinks,” Tyler ordered. “And comp the appetizers. Apologize to them. I can come out later if you think I need to, but not right now.”
Fury boiled up inside him that other customers had to suffer because of one damn food critic.
Later, when Martha and her crew were gone, he found Mitch.
“Sorry I snapped at you,” he apologized, rubbing the ache at the back of his neck. “I know that was too much for one person to handle all those tables.”
“Thanks,” Mitch said. “It’s okay. They were happy enough they didn’t get charged for the food and the free drinks helped too. I sucked up big time.”
Mitch, like all the other wait staff at Insatiable, was hired in large measure for his personality. The servers had to have good people skills, the ability to read the mood of a table, know when to hurry things up or slow things down. Tyler was sure Mitch had used all of his considerable charm to mollify the guests at table nine.
“Good work,” he said, clapping Mitch’s shoulder. “Thanks.”
Mitch looked relieved, probably afraid he was going to get reamed out for the mistake. And Tyler had to admit, there might have been a time when he would have done that, his volatile temper difficult to control. Tonight yeah, he’d been pissed off, but somehow things didn’t get to him like they used to. He grinned as he turned back to the kitchen.
Holy crap. He was really in love.

Insatiable Part 22
Insatiable Part 20

Tyler stared at Chloe as she unbuttoned her shirt. Standing, she undid the button and zipper of her Capri pants and stepped out of them. Then she climbed onto his lap, straddled him as she had that afternoon, her blouse hanging open over her bra and black lace boy short panties.
His eyes were so hot she was surprised she didn’t combust on the spot under his heated gaze, scorching her as he lowered his gaze to the opening of her shirt and his hands parted the two sides. Today her black demi-bra was so low-cut her nipples almost showed. He sucked in his breath.
“Holy shit,” he muttered. “Chloe, your underwear is killing me.”
Her heart expanded and warmed. His hands slid up her legs and under the lace edge of the panties to cup her cheeks. The touch of hands on her bare thighs and bottom sent flames licking over her body, need twisting inside her. She leaned forward to kiss him with everything she had, remembering that last time and how badly she’d wanted to feel his hands on her. And now...God, it was hard to believe she was here, doing this, and it was real.
They kissed like that for a long time, slow, open-mouthed, wet kisses, his hands on her butt, her hands on his face, holding him. She lowered herself fully onto his lap and scooted forward until his erection pressed right against her pussy, and it felt so good she gasped.
He lifted his hips to press his hardness against her and she broke the kiss.
“God!”
Then his hands pushed her blouse off her shoulders and down. It fell somewhere, she didn’t care where. She sat up straight, her head falling back, her long hair brushing his knees. His hands cupped her breasts, slid under the top edge of the demi-cup to touch her nipples. He lifted one breast out of the low-cut cup and leaned forward to touch his lips to her nipple. Sensation shot through her and swelled between her legs. He kissed her softly, then tucked her breast back into the bra cup and moved to the other one.
“Take my bra off,” she whispered. He shook his head, surprising her.
“I love this bra. Leave it on. Just for a while.”
A soft moan escaped her and she canted her hips against his erection. He brought her head down to his again to kiss him.
Then she slid to the floor in front of him, her fingers on the button of his jeans. He groaned again, hands fisted in her hair, as she opened his zipper carefully and drew out his erection, rigid and engorged, heavy veins pulsing. So beautiful. She gathered her hair behind her, leaned to the side, took that long ponytail and wrapped it around his cock.
His hips jerked off the couch. “Shit, Chloe!” She tightened the hair around him and slid the ring of hair slowly up his shaft and off. And again. She sat back a little to look at him, loved the expression of agony and ecstasy on his dark face, his eyes closed, cheeks flushed.
She loved the feeling of power she had, the power to arouse him so fiercely. At this moment, even though she suspected otherwise, she could believe that she was the only one who could affect him so deeply. Then she shook her hair back and leaned forward to kiss his cock. Again his body shook.
“Oh, fuck, yeah,” he muttered. Encouraged, she kissed the tip of him again, opened her mouth over him and sucked the head into her mouth. She licked over the head, finding a drop of moisture there that she tasted and liked. His fingers drove into her hair again and he held her head tightly.
Hungry for more of him, she licked him all over, up and down the shaft, took him in her hand to hold him as she did so. When he was wet all over, she closed her hand around the base and pulled, as she had done in the shower. Now she knew he liked it hard, she gripped him firmly. Then she took him in her mouth, as deep as she could. He was so big, and when he hit the back of her throat her eyes watered, so she eased off at bit, still sucking. Then she lifted her head from him and looked up.
“I can’t...”
“You don’t have to do it if you don’t want to,” he said, his voice ragged. He squeezed his eyes closed, the corners of his mouth turned down.
“No, no! I want to, I’m going to...I just can’t...take you very deep.”
“That’s okay, baby. You don’t have to deep throat me. Just put your mouth on me like you were doing. That felt so fucking awesome.”
His hands guided her head back to him and she took him in again, loving the feel and the taste of him. She swirled her tongue around him, over the head, took him as deep as she could, squeezed his shaft with her hand. With her other hand she cupped his balls, eliciting another growl from him. Her fingers went lower, around behind his scrotum, pressed the firm skin there and he thrust deeper into her mouth.
“God, yeah,” he groaned. “Oh, Chloe.”
She sucked and moved her hand harder and he lifted into her mouth faster.
“I’m going to come. Chloe, if you want to pull back, do it now...”
But she didn’t. She let him thrust into her mouth, his hands hard on her skull as he held here there and then she tasted the salty sharp taste of his hot semen as he spurted into her.
“Yeah, fuck yeah.”
Liquid trickled out of her mouth and her hand became wet and slippery, and he shuddered beneath her touch.
She sucked gently, licked the head of his penis, which made him jolt. He must be sensitive after that. She lifted her head and wiped her mouth. She stayed there, between his knees for a moment, gulping air into her lungs.
He laid there, head flung back, eyes closed. His hands still rested on her head and chest heaved as he, too, struggled for breath.
“Holy shit,” he finally whispered. “Holy shit.”
“Was that okay?” She nibbled her bottom lip.
“Okay? Uh...no, that wasn’t okay...that was unfuckingbelievable.” He grabbed her and dragged her up so she lay on top of him.
“I loved doing that,” she whispered to him, gazing into his eyes, amazed at how much she had loved it. “You taste so good, Tyler.”
“I’ll take your word for that one,” he replied, a smile touching the corners of his mouth. “You are incredible, Chloe. So hot.”
She smiled and laid her head on his chest.
Then he said, “Now the bedroom. And my turn to eat.”
He pulled her down the hall after him.

* * *

He left her bra and panties on because they were so damn sexy. That bra! It pushed her breasts up so high they were practically falling out. And those panties! So short half her cheeks were revealed, and the loose lace around the bottom gave him easy access. His fingers happily slid there to feel her. She was wet, so wet, and that turned him on all over again.
He was so wrung out from that stupendous blow job he hoped he had the energy to go down on her and give her at least one orgasm. Then he remembered the taste of her, and voracious hunger and adrenaline kicked in.
He lowered her to his bed in the dark. He left the door ajar so light from the living room gave just enough illumination to see her beautiful face and sexy body.
Still dressed, he yanked the t-shirt over his head, and shucked off his jeans. Then he climbed up beside her and lay down, bending one arm and resting his head on his hand. With his other hand he stroked up her stomach and between her breasts, across her chest and shoulders, down one soft, slim arm. Then he did the same with her legs, reaching as low as he could go, trailing his fingers up the inside of one thigh. Her legs shifted, parted for him.
“That’s it, sweetheart, open your legs for me.” He watched her face, eyes closed, lips parted, and he felt a jolt as a vision of her mouth on his cock flashed into his mind. His own eyes closed, then opened again to watch her. He continued to pet her, everywhere, and her legs opened wider in invitation. She moved on the bed, her hips lifting.
“Touch me, Tyler,” she whispered.
“Oh, yeah. Tell me what you want, Chloe. I’ll do whatever you want.”
She moaned. “I want you to touch me.”
“Touch you where?”
“Oh God. Don’t make me...”
“Yes, Chloe, you have to tell me...”
Taking a breath, she whispered, “Touch me between my legs.”
“Your pussy?” he asked, and she moaned again, low and ragged.
“Yes,” she hissed. “There.” Then, bravely, “Touch my clit.”
Her words almost undid him and he shuddered. “Yeah.” He moved his fingers where she’d asked him, slipped through the slick folds, parted her labia, stroked her wetness all over and rubbed. Then he found her clit and circled it, then rubbed over it.
“Is that the spot, sweetheart?”
“Yessssss.” He stroked a little harder, firmer over her inner lips, found the entrance to her and pushed a finger in. And out. In and out. His thumb brushed over her clit and her legs fell open wider and her hips lifted against his hand in a jerky rhythm. He knew she was going to come. He withdrew his hand.
“Noooo,” she groaned, hips lifting against nothing. Her head tossed on the pillow. “Tyler...please.”
“I want to taste you again, Chloe. Do you want that?”
“Yes, yes, I want you to lick me.”
“Oh, me too, baby, me too.” He slid down her body, kissing her belly, dipping his tongue in her navel, then pressing his mouth to each hip bone in a soft wet love bite. Then he proceeded to feast on her sweetness, making her come over and over.
When she was limp and sated, he pulled her over him, tucked her head under his chin and covered them up with soft blankets.
“Now tell me about your mother,” he said.
She sighed and snuggled in closer. “You want to talk? Now?”
He kissed her hair. “Sure.” He was hoping that after what they’d just shared she’d open up a bit more. How much more intimate could they get?
She gave another pretty sigh. “Well, you know about my mom. Our dad left her when my sister and I were little. I don’t think he could handle the stuff that went on with her moods. Up, down, all over the place, that was my mom. He did try to keep in touch but she made it difficult, and over the years we just grew apart. He got married again, had more kids, had a new family.”
“That’s hard.” He stroked her hair and she nodded.
“I missed my dad because he was so nice and normal,” she said. “And I really hated him for leaving us with her. Sometimes I wished he’d taken us with him. And sometimes...and I’m so ashamed of this...I even said that to my mom.” She shifted against him. “I know that hurt her. I was such a selfish kid.”
“That’s not selfish, Chloe. You were a kid.”
“All kids are selfish to a certain extent,” she said. “But I did care about Carly and I cared about my mom, too, so I couldn’t just leave her. I thought about running away and trying to convince my dad to let me live with him, but then I guess pride stopped me because he obviously didn’t want us. And I was afraid for my mom if I left.”
“You looked after her.”
She nodded again. “Yeah. I looked after her. When she was up, it could be fun. Sometimes she was very charming when she was manic. But it was scary, too. She wouldn’t eat, or sleep. Then she’d go on a rampage, not go to work, say mean things to us. She’d go nuts cleaning the house.” She paused. “I didn’t have a lot of friends at school, because I was afraid for them to meet my mom. I was embarrassed by her.”
“It’s hard when you’re a teenager, trying to fit in.”
She nodded against his chest. “She’d lose a job, find another one for a while but it never lasted. A couple of times she ended up in the hospital. So I had to start finding part-time jobs to help support us.” He stroked her hair, the smooth curve of her back. “And when she was down it was horrible. Her depression just sucked the life out of everything. I felt so helpless, but when I tried to get Mom to go for help, she’d just yell at me, tell me I was a bad kid and I should just get out of her life.”
“Oh, Chloe.” His chest ached and he wrapped his arms around her tighter. Tyler pressed her head to his chest. “I told you before, I know you did the best you could. It sounds like you busted your ass trying to look after everyone else.”
She tipped her head back to look up at him. “I tried. When Mom was in the hospital, I didn’t have much choice. Carly was so little, she didn’t understand what was going on.” She pressed her lips to his chest. “I’ve never told anyone stuff like this.”
He felt like an ice cube had lodged in his throat, didn’t trust himself to speak, so he just wrapped his arms around her. Then the words he’d never said to any woman fell out of his mouth. “I love you, Chloe.”
Insatiable Part 19
Monday morning Chloe got the call from Tyler’s agent before Tyler had arrived. “Hi, Joe,” she said cheerfully. “What’s up?”
“Just got a call from Oprah’s people,” he said, excitement edging his voice. “Apparently she had dinner there a few weeks ago?”
“Yes, she apparently did,” Chloe said with a laugh.
“Well, she wants to have Tyler on her show. They’re thinking of coming to the restaurant, doing a bit with him cooking, customers in the restaurant, yadda yadda, then she’ll have him on the show and interview him.”
“Wow. That’s awesome.”
“No shit,” he said. “Is Tyler there?”
She glanced at her watch. “He’s probably on his way. Did you try his cell?”
“Nah. Have him call me when he gets in. Maybe do a conference call so I can talk to both of you at the same time and we’ll get this set up.”
“Hold on. He just walked in.”
Tyler lifted one eyebrow as he entered her office and heard her. She smiled and said, “Joe.” She put the phone on speaker.
Tyler listened as Joe talked, a slow smile spreading across his face. They talked about dates and when they were wrapping up, Joe said, “I just want to make sure you really want to do this, Ty buddy.”
Tyler frowned. “Why are you asking that? Who wouldn’t want to be on Oprah?”
“Just a word of caution. Once you’ve been on Oprah and people see that show, your business is going to literally explode. You think you’re busy now, just wait. I want to make sure you’re prepared for that.”
Tyler nodded, eyebrows pinched together. He rubbed the back of his neck.
“You don’t have to do it, Tyler,” Chloe said softly.
“Yeah, I know.” He met her eyes. “What do you think, Chloe?”
She sighed and shook her head. “Tyler...you have to decide. Obviously there are pros and cons...do you want to think about it before you decide for sure?”
“No.” He gave a short nod. “That’s okay. Yeah, I’ll do it. It’ll be a blast.”
“Great! I’ll see you Thursday for the magazine shoot,” Joe said as they hung up.
“Holy shit,” Tyler said, pressing his fingers between his eyes.
“I know.” She stood and walked around behind his chair to rub his tight shoulders. The big muscles were like boulders. “You’re a star, Tyler.”
It wasn’t a surprise to her that all this was happening. She’d seen this coming long ago, once the attention had started. He was a star. His personality drew people like a magnet. He charmed them, cast them under his spell and then he fed them with his fabulous food and they were all his, devoted adoring fans.
“That feels so good,” he groaned, rolling his head around.
She massaged his shoulders for a few moments longer, digging her fingers into tense muscles, then he spun the chair around and grabbed her, pulled her onto his lap. He buried his face against her neck. “Thank you.”
“For what? The massage?”
He shook his head against her. “For being here. For being you. I couldn’t do this without you, Chloe.”
She smiled and stroked his silky hair. “Sure you could.”
He shook his head again. “No. I always knew it. You’re so important to me.”
Her heart felt like it was going to explode out of her chest. While Tyler’s success was no surprise, it was still unbelievable that he wanted her...her! Chloe Graham, a total nobody.
“Thank you,” she whispered to him, her breath catching. She wanted to tell him how important he was to her, too, but couldn’t bring herself to say the words...not yet, anyway. Although hope flickered inside her at his words, she still couldn’t shake the feeling that this was too good to be true.
“What do you want to do tonight?” he asked her a moment later. “I feel bad. I work so late every night. We can’t do things like normal people.”
She drew back, her arms still looped around his neck and smiled. “You’re not a normal person, Tyler.”
“You’re saying I’m abnormal?” He lifted a brow.
She laughed. “How about extraordinary?”
“Yeah, I like that better. Come to my place tonight. I’ll make you dinner.”
“Really? Do you want to cook on your day off?”
“I want to cook for you.” He kissed her mouth. “You can help me.”
They spent some time on business, planning, making decisions, then Tyler worked in his own office for the afternoon. Around five o’clock he came back to get her.
“Leave your car here,” he said. “I’ll take you home in the morning and drive you to work.”
Chloe loved Tyler’s house. Perched on a mountain above the city, it looked over the city and the ocean. In his living room, she wandered over to the wall of windows and gazed out. The city fell away beneath her, green trees and red tile roofs, down to meet the ocean where it rolled in. Deep blue water stretched out, faded to a hazy blue at the horizon where it met the sky of the same color.
She turned around and her eyes fell on the black leather couch. She couldn’t help but remember the last time she was there when she’d seduced Tyler. When all this had started.
“Tell me the truth, Chloe,” Tyler said from his open kitchen. “That day you came on to me, here...you really did want me, didn’t you?”
Apparently he was remembering, too.
She wandered over to the gleaming dark granite counter that separated the kitchen from the living room. He handed her a glass of wine.
“Not at first,” she said. “I actually thought I could do that without getting...involved.”
He raised a brow at her. “But after...?”
She laughed and shook her head. “Your ego is big enough, Tyler. Do you really need me to tell you how turned on I got and how much I wanted to keep going?”
He grinned. “Yeah, I do.”
He opened the stainless steel refrigerator and started pulling things out.
“What are you making me?” she asked.
“Tacos.”
“Huh!” She blinked. “Tacos.”
“Yup.” He pulled a pan from the rack that hung over one end of the island and set it on the stove.
“Special, fancy gourmet tacos?”
“Nope. Just tacos.”
They cooked, laughed, and yeah, kissed, and then they ate tacos, dripping hot sauce and guacamole, dropping pieces of lettuce and tomato. Tyler reached out and with one fingertip swiped a drop of sauce from beside her mouth.
She watched in amazement as he devoured six tacos, then she lost count. “Where do you put it all?”
“Good metabolism,” he said with a grin. “This is the kind of food I grew up eating. My parents own a tacqueria in Carpentaria.” She nodded, recalling that. “My sister and my brothers all work there now. It’s a great little place. You can’t get better Mexican food.”
“Why didn’t you stay there too?”
“I needed more,” he said simply. “I love food...I wanted to know more, though. I wanted to know about French food, Italian food, Japanese food...all of it. I wanted to try new things. I mean, create new things, not just eat them. It was like something inside me that had to get out, the creativity I guess.”
She helped him clean up and as they finished, he said, “Next week come with me to meet my family.” Her hands paused as she hung a dish towel. Holy crap. “On Monday I’ll take you there and we can have dinner...better tacos than mine even.”
“That’s hard to believe,” she murmured. He settled his hands on her waist and pulled her against him.
“I know,” he said with a complete lack of modesty, grinning. “But it’s true. My mom makes the best in the world.”
They sat on his couch, the scene of her outrageous seduction, and he talked about his family, then told her stories about the places he’d worked and the crazy people he’d worked with - the chef who’d screamed abuse at the kitchen staff and actually threw knives at them, the cook that came to work drunk and stoned every night, the time Tyler’d caught the hostess giving the chef a blow job in the walk-in, the restaurant in New York which he was sure was a money-laundering operation for the owner who was one day arrested for trafficking.
“I wanted my kitchen to be different,” he said. “I know everyone throws language around and drops the f-bomb all over the place, but I won’t put up with abuse.”
She nodded, lifted her hand to his lean cheek, rough with stubble, and kissed him, a deep, full-bodied kiss. His arms tightened around her, one hand spearing into her hair to hold her head. His tongue filled her mouth and a little groan escaped her. She slid her hands up his chest to his shoulders and burrowed closer in to his body. His erection pressed against her leg and she wanted to touch him, so without conscious thought her hand slipped down to his lap and stroked his hard length through his jeans. Now he groaned, covered her hand with his and pressed her against his arousal.
She stroked him more and kept kissing him, their kisses growing hungrier and hotter, their mouths eating at each other until he broke the kiss and they stared at each other, panting.
“Do you want to keep making out here on the couch? Or go into the bedroom?” he rasped.
She smiled slowly at him. “I want to finish what I started that afternoon.”
Insatiable Part 18
Ryan strolled into the kitchen, the newspaper open in his hands.
“Have fun last night?” he asked Tyler with a grin. He held the newspaper in front of Tyler.
Tyler looked up from the lamb loins he was butchering and frowned slightly. Ryan showed him a page of photos from the fundraiser last night. There in the middle of the page, was him holding Chloe bent backward over his arm, their faces close, their eyes locked together in an intimate moment.
His hands stilled for a moment, then he grinned. “Yeah,” he said, looked closer. The caption read, ‘Chef Tyler Gregg and Chloe Graham enjoying a special moment’.
“You and Chloe?” Ryan asked, brows raised.
“Yeah.” He returned to his lamb, a faint smile on his face.
“You and Chloe?” Carlos repeated with interest.
“Check it out.” Ryan walked over to his station and showed him the photo. Carlos grinned too.
“You dog,” he said to Tyler. “How long has this been going on?”
Tyler shrugged. “Not long.”
Everyone else in the kitchen apparently needed to see the photo and make suggestive comments until Tyler finally said, in a mild tone, “Okay, back to work everyone.”
“Has Chloe seen this?” Ryan asked.
Tyler shrugged. “I don’t know. I’ll show her later. Leave the paper in my office.”
“Hey, who the fuck’s been messing in my shit?” Alejandro barked. “Where’s my knife?” He swung around and his eyes searched the kitchen. “Jason, you motherfucker, where the hell’s my knife?”
Tyler’s head came up but he said nothing, glanced sideways at Alejandro and Jason.
“I didn’t touch your fucking knife,” Jason said. “Or your mise...so, fuck off, asshole.”
“Oh, here it is,” Alejandro said, and went back to his station. Tyler grinned and continued butchering. Yup, that was life in the kitchen.
Once he was finished the tasting for the floor staff for that day’s specials, he went leaping up the stairs, newspaper in hand, to find Chloe.
“We made the paper,” he said as he entered her office.
She turned to him, smiling. God she was beautiful. He’d tucked her back into bed that morning when he’d left so she could get more sleep. He, on the other hand, couldn’t have felt more energetic and alive.
Her eyes moved over the page and widened when she saw the photo of them.
“Oh,” she said faintly. “How about that.”
He laughed. “We look damn good, don’t you think?”
She took a deep breath. “This is what it’s like for you, all the time, isn’t it?”
“Yeah.” He dropped the paper onto a table behind him. “You’re okay with that, aren’t you, sweetheart?” He crouched beside her chair and smoothed her hair away from her face.
She smiled at him. “Sure. It’s just weird for me. But it’s okay.”
He kissed her softly. “Gotta go. Come see me when you’re leaving, okay?” She nodded and he jumped back down the stairs to the kitchen.
It was a busy night at Insatiable but Tyler felt like he could go forever on adrenaline. He was so pumped from how fucking fantastic last night with Chloe had been. Then Allison, one of the wait staff, came into the kitchen and let out a scream of frustration.
“What the hell, Allison,” Carlos said.
“That bitch at table nine is driving me insane!” she cried. “She had questions about everything on the menu - everything, I tell you - now she’s complaining that the music is too loud, the lighting is too dim, she can’t see her food...and when I went to put her plate down in front of her, she tried to grab it from me and I almost dumped it in her lap.”
Tyler grimaced. Difficult customers were never fun to deal with. “You want me to talk to her?”
“Would you?” Allison wiped the edge of two plates ready for table ten. “Maybe that will settle her down.”
“I’ll go out in a minute,” Tyler said, focused on firing two entrees.
Shortly, he wiped his hands on a towel and walked out into the dining room. He wandered leisurely through the tables, greeting people he recognized, responding to others he didn’t know who recognized him, accepting compliments on the food.
When he reached table nine he stopped. “Good evening,” he said, flashing a smile at the young couple. “How was dinner tonight?”
The woman looked at him, open-mouthed. “Are you the chef?”
He nodded and held out a hand. “Tyler Gregg. Pleased to meet you.”
“Wow,” she said. “Uh...I’m Carrie and this is my fiancé, Trent.” They shook hands. “Dinner was great.” She stared at Tyler with fascination. “Absolutely fantastic.”
“Glad to hear it,” Tyler said. “Is this a special occasion for you two?”
She nodded, smiled and blushed faintly. “We just got engaged, actually,” she said, glancing at Trent, who nodded.
“Congratulations!” Tyler said. “Allow me to treat you both to a glass of champagne.”
“That’s so nice of you...thank you!”
Tyler went over to the bar and had a word with Emilio, then returned to the kitchen. He told Allison what had happened.
“Oh, you probably don’t believe me now,” she said in a huff. “She was a bitch to me, Tyler.”
“I believe you,” he said mildly. It wasn’t the first time that had happened...guests gave the wait staff a hard time but as soon as he, the chef, the big guy, appeared they were all sucky and flattering. Especially women. “They’re getting a free glass of champagne to celebrate their engagement.”
“You’re rewarding her for bad behavior!” Then she laughed. “I feel sorry for the guy, engaged to her.”
“Take them their champagne,” Tyler said. “Maybe you’ll get a nice tip out of it.”
Allison grinned at him. “Thanks, Chef.”
He went back to work, tossing food in sauté pans, flaming brandy over shrimp in a burst of heat, grilling scallops.
Then Chloe came in. “I’m going home now,” she said to Tyler.
“God, Chloe, are you still here!” he exclaimed with annoyance. “It’s eight o’clock!”
She nodded. “Uh...yeah.”
He quickly wiped his hands and led her out of the kitchen and down the hall. “You work too damn much!” he growled at her. “You should be at home, having a nice long bath and doing your nails or something.”
She smiled at him and touched his face gently. “I’m fine, Tyler.”
He studied her for a moment, then bent his head and kissed her. He was still kissing her when Emilio came around the corner.
“Oops,” he said, coming to a halt, eyes wide. “I was just going back for another bottle of Chivas. Sorry.”
He grinned at them and Chloe flushed. Tyler touched her cheek and smiled.
“Everyone knows now, sweetheart.”
Insatiable Part 19
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 so...hot. 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.
“Sorry.”
“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.”
Insatiable Part 16


Tyler had a feeling he would never get enough of her. He had never tasted anything like her, and when he left her sweet pussy, her taste stayed in his mouth like a craving for more.
But his cock throbbed painfully and he wanted to fuck her, too.
“Do you want to get on top of me?” he whispered. “Or do you want me to fuck you like this?” He lifted his hips over hers and waited, pulsing.
“I don’t know,” she whispered, her head tossing on the pillow.
“Okay. Next time you can get on top.” He stroked his cock through her folds, wetting the head with her moisture. She was so wet. He wanted her now, but he needed a condom. He leaned over the side of the bed, and her small hands held his sides as he stretched down, his erection thrusting between them. He found his jeans and dug in the pocket for the condoms he’d shoved in there before leaving home.
He ripped one open and rolled it over his dick impatiently. Chloe watched him, her blue eyes hazy, a soft smile on her full lips.
“I want to see,” she said, sitting up. He grabbed a pillow and thrust it under her, then gently pushed her back onto them. Then, taking his penis in hand again, he stroked her, wetting the latex, then pushed inside her.
“So tight,” he murmured, taking it slow. Her warm velvet pussy squeezed him. Tortured him.
“It’s been a long time,” she said on a sigh.
He tore his gaze away from the sight of his cock easing in and out of her pink, glistening pussy to meet her eyes. “How long?” he asked tightly.
“I...about a year.”
“You and Michael...?”
She shook her head.
Good. He didn’t mind knowing she’d had other faceless, nameless lovers, but he did not want to picture her with Michael.
He pushed in deeper, every muscle in his body bunched tight, straining to stop himself from ramming into her. He was so hard he hurt, so hot he burned. Moisture clung to his forehead, his chest, as he pushed, withdrew, in, out, further each time until he was buried in her. Flames licked over his body and the base of his spine buzzed.
“I was afraid you wouldn’t fit,” she whispered, her hands still on his sides, holding him.
“We fit perfectly.” He kissed her face quickly, hotly. “God...Chloe...”
He withdrew again and slowly thrust all the way, harder this time, then harder again, setting a rhythm that she matched with her hips. She rocked against him, finding her own pleasure again but God, that felt good to him, too! He buried his face in her neck as he pumped into her, the only sounds in the room their gasping breaths and the wet noises of their bodies sliding together. Chloe’s orgasm had her pussy rippling around him just as his balls tightened, his spine tingled and heat flashed over his body. He exploded in a hot, hard, jolting orgasm, pouring himself into her.
He couldn’t expand his lungs, couldn’t get oxygen. He collapsed onto her, oblivious of his heavy weight pressing her into the bed as he struggled for air, his heart pounding wildly in his chest. As the ability to think returned to him, he realized he was crushing her small body beneath him and he rolled to the side, pulling her with him.
Still trying to drag air into his lungs, he tightened his arms around Chloe and pressed her head to his chest. He couldn’t speak, didn’t know what to say. All the easy compliments he’d ever given after sex were stupid and meaningless. There were no words to describe how he felt.
But he did have questions. Long, heart-thudding moments later, he said, “Chloe?”
“Mmmmm?”
“When did you break up with Michael?” After a short pause, she said, “Do we have to talk about him now...here?”
“Just answer the question,” he growled. She moved against him, pressing her face into him.
“I don’t remember,” she whispered into his chest.
He waited. And waited...
“Okay, okay, it was the night that Oprah came to the restaurant.”
His sex-fogged brain took a moment to process that. “It was the night after you attacked me at my place?”
Her head nodded against his chest.
“Jesus.” Mind still working slowly, he then asked incredulously, “Did you tell him about that?”
She lifted her head. “No! Of course not!”
“Oh.”
She stared at him, her cheeks flushed a pretty pink, eyes wide. “Why’d you ask that?”
“Uh...something he said.”
Her eyebrows slanted down. “What did he say? Never mind, I don’t want to know.”
She flopped back down onto him. He pushed her hair gently back from her face and stroked her hot cheek. He didn’t know what it meant, and he wasn’t sure if he wanted to know what it meant...right now, anyway. So he let it go.
“Chloe...”
“Now what?” Her smile tickled his chest.
“I can’t tell you how incredible that was.”
“I...thank you. I think it was incredible, too.”
He stroked his hands over her soft body, eyes closed, drifting off to sleep.
“Um...Tyler...can we get under the covers?”
“Oh. Yeah, of course.” They scrambled around, pulled the comforter back, settled themselves with pillows into each other’s arms.
“Your bed is soft,” he murmured drowsily. “And it smells like you...brown sugar and peaches. I’m gonna make a dessert...with brown sugar and peaches...”


* * *


“Okay, spill it. I gotta know. Why did you lie to me about Michael?”
They sat in her bright kitchen drinking coffee the next morning. He watched her closely as she searched for words.
“I’ve told you so many times, Tyler...we can’t be involved. I work for you.”
“I don’t see the problem.” He pressed his lips together.
She sighed. “What’s going to happen when you get tired of me? I know you were only interested in me because I...provoked you that day, and then you only wanted me because you couldn’t have me.”
“Bullshit,” he said. “Yeah, you provoked me, but you just made me realize how blind I’d been about you for so long.”
She shook her head and smiled gently at him. “It’s okay, Tyler, you don’t have to pretend this is more than it is. I know you. You even told me yourself, Mandy was the only girl who’s ever dumped you. You always break up with your girlfriends. I don’t expect this to be any different.” She sipped her coffee. “It’s just going to be really awkward when that happens. I may not be able to work for you after that.”
He stared at her. Okay, he could see why she was thinking that way. It was true, he’d never had any long-term girlfriends. He got tired of them so quickly, they bored him or were too needy, or they were looking for marriage to a rich celebrity chef or a ticket to their own fame.
Was she right? Was he going to do the same thing with Chloe? He’d been so focused on having her, he never thought about what would happen after that.
She was right about one thing. The fact that she was unavailable had definitely frustrated him and increased his determination to have her. He was willing to admit to that.
He lifted his mug to his lips and gulped the hot coffee into his mouth, letting the rich scent of Sumatran Gold fill his nostrils. Thankfully Chloe bought her coffee from Karma Coffee, as did the restaurant - the best coffee in town.
But, watching her sitting there, sipping her coffee, her beautiful face calm and smiling slightly, her gorgeous blonde hair still damp from the shower drying in a silky curtain down her back, he couldn’t imagine himself ever tiring of her.
But then, did he ever think that with other women? He pondered that while Chloe waited patiently for him to respond to her.
He never went into a relationship thinking it would be long-term. That just wasn’t him. But why not? Why not a long-term relationship? It’s not like he couldn’t do it if he wanted. He just never wanted to.
Did he want to now?
He knew for sure he could not, should not make promises to Chloe he couldn’t keep. But right now, he had no intention of leaving her.
He chose his words carefully. “I’ve never felt this way before, Chloe. Right now, I have to be with you. I have to. You want to be with me too.” He said that with certainty and she gave a small nod. “So let’s just go with it and see what happens.”
She gave a crooked smile, and the hint of sadness there twisted his heart. “Like I have a choice,” she said. “Apparently, I can’t resist you. You devil.”
He grinned, relief shifting through him. He leaned over, kissed her hard on the mouth and stood. “I wish we could drive to work together.”
“That would be bad. We don’t need everyone knowing about us.”
He stopped and frowned. The only reason they couldn’t drive together was because she was going to leave about six hours before him. “Why not?”
She stared at him. “Uh...well, don’t you think it’s better if we keep this...um, private?”
“No. I don’t.” He held her gaze. “Why can’t people know about us?”
She shook her head and shrugged. “I just thought...”
“Chloe. I’m not going to sneak around like this is some kind of sleazy affair. If we’re going to be together, everyone’s going to know. And,” he added firmly, “it’s exclusive. Right?”
Her eyes widened. “There’s nobody else, Tyler.”
“Okay, good. Me too. I was thinking.” He moved behind her and ran his hands down the length of her hair. “We should go out on a date.”
She went very still.
“We’ve never gone on a date,” he continued. “I have to go to that fundraiser this weekend. Will you come with me?”
Insatiable Part 15
If you read Friends with Benefits, out this week with Samhain, watch for the little connection to Insatiable...


Tyler twined his fingers with Chloe’s and lowered her hands. He leaned forward to kiss her mouth again, sliding, open-mouthed kisses and she leaned into the kisses, too. The only parts of them touching, besides their mouths, were their clasped hands. A veil of heat shimmered around them.
“Unbelievable,” he murmured moments later. “Unfuckingbelievable.”
His words thrilled her, let her know he was as aroused and moved as she was.
“I want you to take your clothes off, too,” she whispered boldly.
He nodded, his face tight as he strained to control himself. His hands released hers and lifted behind his neck to grab his t-shirt and yank it off forward over his head. He gripped the shirt in his hands momentarily, sitting before her bare-chested as she studied him with excitement and admiration.
Her gaze moved over wide shoulders, rounded biceps, his firm, smooth chest, down to flat defined abdominal muscles. He was so, so beautiful. She wanted to see more.
He tossed the shirt aside and his hands went to the button of his jeans. He stood up and, with a completely masculine flick of his wrists, undid the button and the zipper, then shoved his pants down along with the black cotton underwear she caught only a glimpse of.
He stood before her naked, dark-skinned, long and lean-limbed, with a huge, throbbing erection.
Her mouth watered at the sight. Her lips parted in anticipation of tasting him. She leaned forward, still kneeling on the couch, but he set his hands on her shoulders.
“Let’s go into your bedroom.”
He lifted her by her upper arms so she stood beside him. She kicked off her shorts and moved into him, twined her arms around his neck and pressed herself to him, naked body to naked body. His skin scorched her and they both gasped at the sensation of skin on skin, from chest to knee. She twined a foot around his calf, trying to get closer, and buried her face in his neck.
It felt so incredibly, arousingly erotic. But it also felt achingly tender and right.
His hands moved to her hair, fingers digging into the twisted coils, trying to figure out how to undo it. She reached up and hooked a finger into the single elastic that held it, yanked it out. Her hair tumbled down over her shoulders and back and he groaned.
“I love your hair, Chloe,” he mumbled, burying his face in it.
“I know.” She smiled.
His hands threaded through her hair, over and over, sending little arcs of electricity through her, and she pressed small kisses to the side of his neck. Her tongue darted out to lick and she felt him the rumble of his groan.
“Bedroom,” he growled. “Now.”
Reluctantly she turned and he followed close behind her, snatching up his jeans from the floor with one hand, holding her hand with the other. She led the way down the short hall to her dark bedroom.
Tyler crossed to the table beside the bed and found the switch for the lamp.
“You want the light on?”
“Oh, yeah.” He pulled her into his arms again. “I want to see you. I want to taste you, smell you, hear you, feel you, and I especially want to see you.”
She smiled, again wrapped herself around him, practically climbing onto him.
His hands stroked over her bare back and down to the curves of her butt, pulling her against his hot, hard erection. Her breath hitched in her throat and another spike of sensation drove through her womb.
“Oh, this is incredible,” she breathed.
“Incredible.” His hands still grasped her cheeks, holding her against him, against his pulsing penis. He kissed her again and her mind spun out of control, delirious and dizzy.
He ate at her mouth with feverish, devouring kisses. She took in his desperation and gave it back to him, trying to press closer, unable to get close enough.
In a fluid movement that reminded her of how he worked in the kitchen, he turned her, moved her back toward the bed, and lowered her down to the soft comforter. Then he followed her down and lay beside her, half covering her, his heavy, hair roughened leg covering hers. He kissed her over and over, one hand on her face, long, consuming kisses and she opened her mouth to him, taking him in, sucking his tongue.
His hand covered one breast, fondled it, twisted the nipple between thumb and fingers, tugged at it until she writhed beneath him in an overload of erotic sensation.
She held onto his shoulders as the room spun around her. Then his hand slid over her abdomen and lower, again through the soft curls, then lower. His fingers stroked her, over her folds, then deeper.
“Chloe, you’re soft,” he murmured against her mouth. His fingers stroked her again. “So soft and smooth.”
She nodded tightly, eyes squeezed closed.
“I love it,” he whispered. His fingers stroked deeper, through the liquid center of her, and he rubbed her moisture all over the smooth outer lips. Sensation built inside her, and her hips lifted against his hand, asking for more in a silent plea.
His mouth on hers barely touched her, his breath warm on her parted lips. He dipped a finger into her, and her inner muscles clenched in anticipation of being entered. “You’re tight,” he murmured. “I can tell already.” Fingers dipping and caressing, he suddenly groaned, “Chloe I have to taste you!”
He thrust away from her in a desperate push, shifting down her body until he lay between her legs. He parted her thighs with his hands, pushed them wide. Then he looked at her.
“Tyler,” she moaned, heat washing over her. “Don’t...”
“I told you I want to see you.” And he leaned forward and pressed a kiss to her curls. He kissed the crease of her leg on one side, then the other, and turned his head inward and inhaled deeply. Mortified, Chloe fisted the comforter with both hands and groaned.
“I told you I want to smell you, too,” he continued softly. “And you smell delicious.” She choked on a giggle. “You smell sweet and hot and mouth-watering.”
“Oh, God.”
He inhaled again, then gently kissed her inner thigh. Then his mouth closed over her and sucked. He tasted her with his tongue, with long, luscious licks between her slick folds, over her clitoris that pulsed and jumped at his touch. With each slow lick, each time his tongue touched her clit, little jolts zipped through her and pleasure built inside her, tighter and tighter.
“You’re delicious, Chloe. So fucking delicious. I will never get enough of you.”
His words sent more heat swirling through her bloodstream and her embarrassment disappeared. She opened wider for him. “That’s it,” he murmured, still taking long, slow licks. “Open wider for me.” His hands pressed on her thighs and her legs parted so wide her hips ached.
“You taste like brown sugar, Chloe.”
“What!” Her eyes flew open at the description, and she peered at his dark head between her legs. The ecstasy on his face made her melt into the bed.
“Brown sugar,” he said again. “Sweet and delectable. I thought you would taste like a peach because your breasts taste like peaches, but here, you taste like brown sugar.”
She couldn’t help but giggle. “I sound like a grocery store.”
He lifted his head and his eyes gleamed with humor, his lips shiny with her juices. “Sorry. It’s all about food for me, you know.”
“I know. I love it.”
She bit her lip, immediately wished she hadn’t said that, but he lowered his head to taste her further. This time his tongue went deeper, tasting inside her, and then he closed his lips over her clit and sucked.
Her hips arched off the bed as he sent her over the edge, sucking deeply, ravenously on her. Sensation exploded in her, waves of hot delicious pleasure washed over her again and again until she lay limp and trembling on the bed.
Tyler’s hands still on her thighs, he lifted his head, then licked her more, so softly and gently. He licked his way over to the crease of one leg, kissed her there again and then shifted his body upward so he lay on her, supporting his weight with his arms. He kissed her mouth and she tasted herself.
She expected him to enter her then, but he didn’t, just kept kissing her mouth, her cheek, her neck, her chest. Then he lay down just to the side of her, partially covering her again so his full weight wasn’t on her. His hand came up to cup her breast, just holding it as they both caught their breath.
“I love eating you, Chloe,” he whispered, kissing her mouth again. “I love the taste of you. I knew I would. I wanted this so bad.”
She shivered uncontrollably at his words. They made her feel so special and she closed her mind to what would happen after this. Highs were always followed by crashing lows.

Insatiable Part 16
Insatiable Part 13

The noisy kitchen immediately fell silent except for the sizzle of food cooking.
“Holy shit,” Carlos said.
Tyler shook his hand. Goddamn it, that hurt. His knuckles were going to swell up for sure.
“What the hell!” Michael struggled to his feet. Blood trickled out of his nose and dripped onto his pristine blue and white striped shirt. Tyler turned and grabbed a towel from a rack, tossed it to him.
“You bastard,” Tyler growled. “What the hell do you think you’re doing cheating on Chloe? And coming here...are you out of your mind?”
Michael stared back at Tyler open mouthed, the towel pressed to his nose. “Chloe? What are you talking about? I’m not cheating on Chloe. She dumped me weeks ago!”
Now Tyler was staggered. “What?”
Michael wiped blood off his face. “Jesus Christ, what’s the matter with you? I’ve got blood on my shirt, for Chrissake.”
“She broke up with you?” Tyler asked slowly, his mind struggling to process this information.
“Hell, yeah. I can’t believe you didn’t know...seeing as you’re the reason.” Michael hurled the towel at Tyler, who caught it automatically, and stalked off through the kitchen doors.
The kitchen was still silent, everyone staring at Tyler.
“Get back to work!” Then Tyler, too, stormed out of the kitchen. He started toward his office, then changed his mind and stuck his head back in the kitchen. “Who’s got table twelve?” he demanded.
“Me,” Mitch said.
“Comp their meal,” Tyler barked.
He stomped into his office. What the hell? What did this mean? Chloe kept using the fact that she had a boyfriend to keep him away. But she really hadn’t been seeing Michael. Man, this was too much for him to comprehend.
He knocked his head against the wall once, twice, gritted his teeth.
His first instinct was to grab his car keys and hightail it over to Chloe’s house, but he was so outraged he knew he would scare the hell out of her.
So? She deserved to be scared, the lying little witch.
No, he couldn’t scare Chloe. He played out different scenarios in his mind and then made his decision.
He went back and had a word with Carlos. They’d be okay for the rest of the night without him.
He drove to his house to shower and change. He didn’t want to smell like the kitchen when he saw Chloe. In his bedroom he grabbed a handful of condoms and stuffed them in his pocket.
Then he drove through the dark city to her small house, proud of himself for his control, his body vibrating with repressed energy and anger and lust.
At Chloe’s house he set his finger on her doorbell and held it there until she opened the door, wide-eyed.
“Tyler! What is it? Is everything okay?”
Of course she would immediately assume he was there to get her to fix a problem. He smiled.
She wore shorts - shorts! - that revealed her incredible, smooth legs. They were like boxer shorts, white with pink hearts, and the waistband was folded over so they sat low on her hips. On top she wore a pink ribbed tank top that fit snugly over her breasts, clearly revealing she had on no bra. A strip of smooth golden skin between shorts and tank top tantalized him. Were those her pajamas?
“Did I wake you?” He pushed gently past her into her home. She let him in, biting her lip, eyes wary.
“Uh...no. I was just getting ready for bed.”
“Is that what you slept in last night?” he asked with interest.
Her eyes shifted. “No,” she said slowly. “Why are you here, Tyler?”
“I wanted to see you,” he said. “Offer me a drink.”
Her eyebrows drew together. “A drink?”
“A beer would be great.” He walked in, looking around. “I like your house, Chloe. It’s very...calm.”
“Um, thanks.”
He sat down on her white couch and spread his arms along the back of it, looking at her expectantly. She turned and walked out.
Tone-on-tone white and cream created a calm feeling, different textures adding interest – smooth ivory walls, a white-brick fireplace, creamy jacquard upholstery. Shabby-chic white slipcovers wrapped the furniture, and cushions of different cream and white fabrics created cozy nests. A fat candle on the coffee table dripped and burned with a lazy flame, filling the room with the scent of vanilla. So different from his starkly modern house with stainless steel, black leather and wildly colored art on the walls.
Chloe returned with a beer and a tall glass.
“Aren’t you having anything?”
“I was just going to bed.” Her voice was chilly. “Could you just tell me why you’re here so I can get on with it?”
He grinned. He poured the beer into the glass carefully so the head just came to the top edge, then set it down on the table in front of him. He took a breath and relaxed back against the cushions, then reached for the beer. Chloe hovered beside the couch.
He pulled her down beside him with his free hand, circled her slim shoulders and pulled her close. He’d never seen her wear pink. It was good...it was pink like her lips, like her nipples...
He had to grab hold of his self control, his heartbeat deepening to a drumbeat, his cock hardening. She tensed under his arm and tried to pull away.
“Please, Tyler, what’s going on?”
“I wanted to see you,” he said again. “Is that so bad?”
“Yes! I mean, no...but...”
His fingers slowly stroked her bare arm and he sipped his beer. He didn’t even want the beer. It was just something to slow him down so he didn’t jump her sexy bones.
“What were you doing tonight?” he asked idly, sensuously caressing her soft skin.
She shot him an exasperated glare. “I unpacked, did a load of laundry and worked in my garden,” she said. “Weeding. Sound fascinating?”
He nodded, looking at her indeed with fascination. Her hair was pulled back into a bun that was all loops and spiky ends sticking up, something else he’d never seen. It showed off the curve of her neck and shoulders, but he preferred it down, long and loose so he could touch it.
“You look so different tonight, Chloe.” His eyes roamed over her body in the skimpy clothes.
She tried again to move away from him. Again, he pulled her closer, his arm tightening on her body.
“I’d love to see you weeding.” He pictured her bent over in those little shorts, her curvy ass sticking up. The shorts would probably be so short you could see the bottom curve of her cheeks...
“You’re insane!” she gasped with a choked laugh. “How could you possibly...”
He smiled again. He carefully put his beer down on the table then touched her face, her cheek hot, his fingers cold from holding the frosty glass. She shivered beneath his touch as he drew his fingers down her cheek, over her full bottom lip.
“Last night...” she began, and he shook his head, pressed his fingers on her mouth.
“Forget last night,” he said. “Some time I want you to talk to me about your mother...I want to hear about it, and I think it would be good for you to talk about it. But not now.”
She gazed at him, her eyes huge and smoky blue.
He leaned forward and kissed her softly, lingeringly, once, again...and again.
Her eyes drifted shut as he brushed his lips across hers. She softened against him and hot male triumph shot through him. He was right about her and how she felt about him, how she reacted to him.
He deepened the kiss, opening his mouth over hers and going in, licking at her mouth hungrily but carefully. He didn’t want to scare her. He sensed her nervousness, even as he felt her arousal.
His hand on her cheek slid down to the curve of her neck, over her shoulder, then down to the swell of her breast under the soft cotton. Her nipple tightened against his palm and he hardened in response, his jeans too tight against his aching cock.
“Tyler you’re doing this again.” She set a small hand on his chest and he loved the feel of it. He covered her hand with his, pressed it there, his heart thudding beneath their joined hands.
“Doing what?” His lips trailed over her peach-soft cheek.
“Doing this!” she cried in frustration, her head falling automatically back to allow him access to her ear, her sweet neck. He licked and nibbled his way down to where her neck joined her shoulder and sucked softly there.
She tried again to move away from him. “How many times are we going to have to go through this? You’re driving me crazy.”
“Me too.” He licked her ear, making her shiver. Her nipples tightened even more, poking through her shirt, and flames licked over his body.
She pushed on his chest, the feel of her hands on him there a delicious pressure. He held her against him, muscles in his arms and shoulders taut with the effort.
“For all you know Michael could be here!” she gasped, trying to avoid his mouth.
He smiled against the side of her neck. Perfect.
“I know he isn’t,” he murmured, licking again. God she tasted good. So sweet. “Because I just left him at the restaurant.”
“Huh?”
“Actually, I think I broke his nose.” He licked her shoulder underneath the strap of her tank top. Delectable.
She jolted back in his arms. “What the hell are you talking about?”
He drew back a little and smiled at her. “Michael was having dinner tonight at the restaurant. With another woman.” He couldn’t resist touching her while he talked, so his hands cupped her breasts. She was so stunned she didn’t even try to stop him. “I thought he was cheating on you, so I punched him in the face. He was bleeding pretty good.” Then he frowned. “Damn. Isn’t he a lawyer? He’s probably gonna sue me.”
“He’s an accountant,” she answered automatically, apparently trying to take this in, blinking rapidly at him.
“You’re busted, sweetheart,” he said softly. “He told me you broke up with him weeks ago. Too bad he didn’t tell me that before I plowed him. Oh well.”
He leaned down and took her mouth again.
“Wait,” she begged, jerking her head aside.
“Uh-uh, Chloe. I’m not waiting any longer. You’ve got no excuse now...I’m going to have you and you’re going to love it.”
Insatiable Part 12

Tyler’s mouth crushed hers, his tongue in her mouth, his hands rough on her body. Chloe’s head spun, dizzy with lust, burning with need. Why, why did he have this effect on her?
His teeth nipped at her bottom lip, then he feasted off her mouth in a kiss that was so consuming she could do nothing but sink into it, give herself up to it. He plunged his tongue into her mouth again and again. Heat spiraled through her, built inside her, every nerve ending throbbing.
She whimpered when he finally lifted his mouth from her.
“Chloe, Chloe, I’m so hungry for you,” he groaned, nibbling the side of her neck again. “I can’t help it, I want to taste you, eat you up...”
Even in her dazed state, amusement registered at how everything for Tyler related to oral pleasure. Her spinning head slowed and she grasped frantically at some control, some sense. With all her strength, she threw herself off his lap, stumbled backward, banged her back painfully on the balcony railing. She knocked the small table where the wineglasses sat, and they wobbled slowly. As she watched, the wineglasses teetered for a slow eternity then crashed to the balcony. Ruby red wine splattered everywhere, dripping down the white stucco wall.
She stared at the mess. Just like that night...
With a choked cry, she turned and darted into the hotel room, into the bathroom, falling against the door to close it. She leaned there for long moments measured out in thudding heartbeats. Scalding tears spilled out of her eyes and she grabbed a towel off the railing and wiped at her face, a whimper leaking from between trembling lips.
She saw her mother’s angry face, heard her screaming voice echoing in her ears. She’d been drunk, manically cleaning the kitchen in the middle of the night, and when Chloe’d tried to take her glass of red wine away from her and get her to go to bed, the glass had smashed, red wine splashed everywhere and her mother had been enraged.
Chloe gasped, chest heaving, emotions raw and painful. The white hotel towel now had dark smears on it from her eye makeup, and she stared at it blankly. She clutched the plush cloth in her hands, trying to get air into her tight lungs, trying to stop herself from shaking.
“Oh God, oh God, oh God,” she whispered. It had been years since she’d had this kind of reaction to anything. She prided herself on the control she had over her emotions. But Tyler’s attention had stretched her nerves taut. His persistence and his irresistible charm tested her fragile control and her helpless response to him.
She took a deep breath, then another, and pressed a hand to her stomach. A small tap on the door made her jump.
“Chloe?” Tyler called softly. “Are you okay?”
She breathed in.
“Chloe?” His voice was louder, concerned. “If you don’t answer me I’m going to break the door in.”
Oh God, he would probably do it, too. Trust him...Mr. Intensity.
Still holding the towel, she reached over and turned the knob on the door, popping the lock open. Tyler immediately thrust the door open, his big body filling the small bathroom.
She’d never seen such a look on his face, worried, distressed...scared. His dark eyes toured over her and his hands gripped her upper arms. His hands were so hot and she shivered, still trembling within.
“Are you okay?” he demanded again, studying her intently.
She nodded and dropped her head, lifted the towel to try to wipe beneath her eyes.
He tipped her chin up so he could see her face.
“I’m so sorry, Chloe,” he said. “I didn’t mean to push you that hard...I had no idea...”
She shook her head. “It’s not your fault,” she said in a choked voice. “You had no way of knowing...I just had a bit of a flashback, that’s all.”
He stared at her, his mind obviously churning. “Chloe, was it that bad?”
She pushed her hair back from her face. “You have no idea.”
“Tell me.”
She shook her head. “Please...I can’t. Not now. I’m done, totally done, Tyler. Please, I just want to be alone and go to sleep.”
He waited a moment, then said, “Will you unlock the door between our rooms?”
She was so wrecked, so emotionally exhausted, so crumbly she could barely summon the energy to protest. “Why, Tyler?”
He scowled. “I just want to make sure you’re safe! That’s all, I swear, Chloe. I won’t come in unless you need me for anything. I just...I’m just concerned about you. Truly.”
She nodded. “Okay.” He helped her unlock the door from her side, then after a gentle kiss to her forehead, he left her room and went into his own. A moment later, he opened the door from his side.
“Call me if you need anything,” he urged her, his eyes almost black with worry.
“I will.” She wouldn’t.
She changed and climbed into bed, lay there staring at the ceiling, embarrassed at having lost it in front of Tyler. She had worked so hard to maintain that image of calm composure, cool serenity. Tyler the chef was mixing her up, stirring things up, whisking up all the emotions she’d kept carefully locked up all these years.
And then slowly a sense of relief slid over her, lightened her. Why? Was she relieved that Tyler knew? Was she relieved that she had finally shown her feelings to someone?
And she felt something else. Underneath the oppressive memories and fear and embarrassment, she was tingling with sexual awareness. Tyler had awakened all these feelings and sensations within her, and now they were undeniably there, making themselves felt in her breasts, her womb, between her legs where she knew she was wet. She pressed a hand there, trying to ease the empty ache, and squeezed her eyes closed.
Damn him for doing this to her. She didn’t know why he was playing this game with her but he was driving her out her mind. She’d cruised along a smooth flat highway for years and he was turning it into a roller-coaster ride of hills and valleys. She didn’t like roller coasters. They scared her.

* * *

They were well into the second turn the next night when Tyler wandered out of the kitchen for a few moments to survey how things were going on the floor. Table six was eating his new appetizer special, the scallops with hazelnuts and watercress, and he wanted to see how they liked it.
As he passed the table and saw the empty plates he smiled.
Then he saw a familiar face...was that Michael?
He strode over to Lola, who wished some customers good night with her glamorous smile.
“Who’s that guy at table twelve?” he asked her in a low voice. She glanced over.
“It’s Michael,” she confirmed reluctantly. “I seated them.”
“Who’s he with?”
She shrugged, wrinkled her nose. “Some woman. I don’t know her.”
“Sister? Mother?”
“Uh...I don’t think so.” Lola looked their way again and Tyler’s gaze followed. He watched Michael pick up the hand of the attractive woman across from him and press his mouth to her fingers in a lingering kiss. Jesus, he thought he saw tongue.
A red haze crossed his vision. What the hell was that rat bastard doing with another woman? And he had the balls to come here, of all places, with her! Shit!
“Is Chloe here?” Tyler asked Lola urgently, voice still low.
“I don’t think so.”
“I don’t want her to see this,” he growled, watching Michael slobber over the woman.
“She should see this!” Lola hissed. “If he’s cheating on her, she needs to know it!”
That did it for Tyler. He strode over to table twelve. “Michael,” he said tersely.
Michael looked up and recognized him. “Tyler.” He gave him a phony smile. “Good to see you! The scallops were fantastic...”
“Can I speak to you for a moment in the kitchen?” Tyler interrupted him coldly.
Michael’s eyebrows rose, but he stood, dropped his napkin onto his chair and followed Tyler through the doors into the kitchen.
The moment the door had closed behind him, Tyler turned to him and drove his fist into Michael’s nose, dropping him to the floor with a stunned howl and a spurt of blood.
Insatiable Part 11
Chloe paused, key card in her hand, and turned to him. Tyler met her eyes, trying to look innocent and friendly.
“I’m not ready to turn in yet, it’s way too early for me,” he said. “Let’s just have a drink and talk.”
Still she hesitated.
“Come on, Chloe,” he said softly. “Just talk.”
Without saying a word, she nodded jerkily, slipped the card in and out of the lock on the door, then pushed into her room. She flicked the light switch and a lamp on the table across the room lit up.
Chloe dropped her little purse on the desk and went to the minibar. “What would you like?” she asked, surveying the contents. He followed her to the fridge.
“Nothing from here,” he said after a brief look. “Let’s see what we can get from room service.” He perused the leather-bound room service menu, then picked up the phone and ordered an expensive bottle of wine.
Chloe shook her head, smiling. “Tyler, we’ll never drink the whole bottle. You’re spoiling me.”
Oh yeah. That’s what he wanted to do.
While they waited for the wine he wandered over to the sliding doors onto the balcony. Their rooms overlooked the lush hotel gardens. On the left, the swimming pool glowed aqua in the darkness and little white lights twinkled in the trees. It was a mild evening, warm enough to sit outside, so when the wine arrived Tyler brought it and two glasses outside.
“This is so beautiful,” Chloe murmured.
Tyler deftly uncorked the bottle and poured a small quantity into a glass. “Do you want to try it?” She took it from him and pronounced it fine, so he poured more into her glass then some into his. He lifted his goblet and held it out to touch hers with a gentle clink.
“Thanks for coming with me tonight,” he said. “It wouldn't have been nearly as much fun having dinner by myself.”
She smiled but shook her head in the dusky light. “Like you’d ever have to eat alone, Tyler. You have women panting after you everywhere.”
“Yeah, but I’m not interested in them,” he said with a long sigh.
She was looking at him and he knew she wouldn’t ask.
“Tell me about your mother now,” he said. “You started to earlier.”
Her face changed slightly, her mouth tightening. She took a breath and her breasts lifted under the silky dress. “Why do you want to know about that?”
He met her eyes. “I want to know you, Chloe. I feel like I don’t really know you. You don’t show a lot of yourself.”
Her eyes clung to his, full of questions and uncertainty.
He wanted to reassure her. “It’s okay, Chloe,” he said gently. “We can talk...right?”
She nodded slowly and sipped her wine. “My mother was bipolar,” she said finally. “She had episodes where she was up, manic, hyper...sometimes it was fun, but sometimes it was scary because she’d get so hyper. She’d be scrubbing the toilets at three in the morning. But worse was when she got depressed.” Her eyes were shadowed. “She’d get so down and it was so...frustrating. I felt so helpless to help her. When she was manic, I got pretty good at calming her down. To a point. But when she was depressed I couldn’t do a damn thing.”
“Didn’t she take medication?” He didn’t know a whole hell of a lot about manic-depression but he thought it was treatable with drugs.
Chloe nodded. “She did, but it was the usual story...when she felt good, she’d stop taking it. She’d say she didn’t need it any more, she was better.” She grimaced. “But you don’t get better. You have to keep taking the medication and she didn’t.” She paused. “She committed suicide.”
Tyler swallowed a groan. “Shit,” he muttered. “I’m sorry, Chloe.”
He’d had no idea that such tragedy lurked in her past. She was so even and calm and tranquil, giving the impression that she’d had a perfect, happy life. A fist squeezed his heart at how much she’d suffered. Christ, why had he insisted on talking about this? It must be tearing her up to spit this all out.
“My little sister found her,” she continued. “She hung herself in the bathroom.”
“Oh my God.”
“I always wished it had been me that found her. Carly was too young, too fragile...I could have saved her from that.”
“How would you have saved yourself, though?” He reached out and took her hand, small and soft in his, and he rubbed the back of her hand with his thumb.
She looked at him uncomprehendingly.
“You always look after everybody else,” Tyler said. “What about you, Chloe?”
Her eyes, blue and shadowy, stared back at him silently.
“I suppose you think that’s why Carly ended up running away?”
One shoulder hitched. “I don’t know why she ran away. She acted out all the time, got in trouble at school, got into drugs and booze and boys. I was at my wit’s end trying to keep her safe. But I couldn’t.”
“You feel guilty about that, don’t you?”
“Of course.” She met his eyes again and frowned. “Of course I do! It was my fault! I was responsible for her and I wasn’t good enough...”
“Oh bullshit,” he said forcefully. “Chloe, that is bullshit. You did the best you could.”
“You don’t know anything about it,” she murmured. “You have no idea how messed up everything was. I was in charge, and I screwed up and now Carly’s God knows where, doing God knows what.” She swiped a finger under her eye. “And the worst thing is, I worry that Carly may be bi-polar, too.”
Tyler considered that and the implications. “If she is and she hasn’t gotten treatment...”
Chloe nodded, wiping another tear. Now Tyler put his glass of wine on the table, and took both her hands in his, pulling her out of her chair on onto his lap. She resisted only a little, and when he got her on his lap he tucked her head under his chin and stroked her hair. For the first time, he was stroking her hair to provide comfort to her instead of him. He held her close to him, feeling the tension vibrating in her, pissed off at himself for starting this, but more pissed off at life for the tough breaks she’d had.
“Chloe, I wasn’t there but I know you well enough to know that you give one hundred percent of yourself all the time. You always do your best, you work hard. I know whatever happened to Carly was not your fault. If you hadn’t been there for her, things might have been worse. She might not have finished high school, she could have gotten caught up in all kinds of shit long before that...”
He desperately hoped his words were helping her. For a change, he was looking after Chloe. It was a strange and moving turn of events.
“Thank you for telling me about it,” he murmured, his lips pressed against her silky head.
She was silent then she gave a huge, shuddering sigh and drew back to look at him.
“It actually feels good to talk about it,” she said, seeming surprised by that. “I never have before.”
“Never?” He paused. He wouldn’t ask...but he had to. “Not even with Michael?”
“Uh, no.” She shook her head.
That was weird. She and Michael had been going out for months now. Tyler would have thought they’d shared a lot in that time. He stroked her bare shoulder and arm, slowly, enjoying the feel of her warm skin, tantalizingly soft...like a peach.
He felt something that, to him, felt like hunger, a deep ravenous hunger, and he knew it was for her.
His cock hardened under her thighs and her body changed as she felt it. Instead of soft and sad, she now hummed with tension and awareness.
He lifted a hand to her chin to turn her face up to his and he saw the confusion and fear in her eyes. “It’s okay, Chloe,” he said, soothingly, reassuringly. “I won’t hurt you.”
He leaned forward and took her mouth.
She was sweet and he was fascinated with the taste of her. He licked his way into her mouth, tasting her, eating at her mouth, opening her lips further with that hunger that craved her, had to have her.
She tasted delicious, sweet and hot. His tongue stroked hers, licked her lips, thrust back into her mouth in long, deep, devouring kisses like nothing he had ever experienced.
“Tyler...” she whispered, her small hands resting on his chest.
He pushed his hands into her long hair, wrapped it around his fists and tugged so her head fell back and he could taste the smooth skin of her throat. He licked and nibbled and sucked on her flesh, wanting to devour her. His mouth moved lower, over her chest to the ruffle at the top of her dress. He craved the taste of her breasts again and his mouth pushed at the fabric of her dress, trying to move it lower.
“Tyler, we can’t do this,” she whispered. She pushed against his chest, but not hard, not like she meant it, so he ignored her. His lips were on the top curve of her luscious breast, but the dress was still in the way of getting a complete taste of her. Releasing her hair with one hand, he gently pulled the fabric out of the way with his fingertips, then slid the strap off her shoulder so the top of her dress fell down, revealing a perfect peach of a breast, tipped with a pale pink nipple.
“Oh, God, Chloe, you’re beautiful,” he groaned. He had to sample her nipple and he took it in his mouth. His tongue tasted it, then he sucked and felt her body give a little jolt against his. “Delicious,” he whispered, licking and sucking, eating at her flesh with gentle nibbles and tugs.
His cock was so hard he was in danger of bursting and he could feel Chloe’s thighs pressing against him, torturing him. He cupped the breast in his hand, squeezing gently, his other hand in her hair, holding her in place. His body craved her, was desperate for her, had been ever since that day she’d given him the lap dance of his life.
He kissed her again with all the passion and repressed craving he’d felt since that day, his hand on her breast, loving the feel of that tight little nipple pressed into his palm. His fingers tightened in her hair - that hair! - and she gasped.
“I’m sorry,” he muttered. “Did I hurt you?”
She shook her head. “You’re scaring me, Tyler,” she said, pushing harder against his chest.
He drew back, panting, trying to make sense of her words.
“Huh?” Scaring her?
Her eyes were huge and glittering, her mouth all swollen and red and lusciously kissable.
He shook his head, still dazed with lust and hunger.
“You’re scaring me,” she repeated. “You’re so intense. This wasn’t supposed to happen. You said we’d just talk.”
He swallowed hard. “Uh...I guess I got carried away. I was just trying to comfort you, Chloe, like you always do for me...”
She bowed her head, her long hair curtaining her face from him.
“I’m sorry,” he growled softly. The last thing he wanted to do was make Chloe sadder. He’d been so sure she felt the same way about him...he’d felt her response, and while it hadn’t gone as far as last time, he recognized her arousal, her excitement, her heat. And this wasn’t the first time. How was he going to get past this with her, goddamn it?
“Chloe, why? Why are you denying what you’re feeling for me?” he asked urgently, pushing the hair away from her face. “I know you’re feeling it too, I know it! Why can’t we have this?”
She kept her head down, taking in deep breaths. Then she looked up and met his eyes. Her eyes were cooler now but still sparkled with unshed tears. “You tell me why you think you want this,” she said tightly.
He stared at her, at a loss. “How can I explain that? You’re beautiful, gorgeous, sexy...you’re sweet and caring and smart...you turn me on like I’ve never been turned on before...” She made a rude noise at that and his hands tightened on her waist. She tugged her dress up to cover her breast. “What?” he demanded again. “You know I’m turned on! I’m so fucking hard I could pound nails. I’m losing it here, Chloe, I need you...”
She shook her head. “Tyler, I know you. We’ve had this conversation before. You have women hanging on you all the time. You could have anyone. Why do you think you want me?”
He was speechless, stunned, frustrated to the point of wanting to punch something.
“Chloe,” he said finally, “have you seen any other women around lately?”
“Uh...no.” She was silent for a moment. Then she said, a little desperately, “But you seem to keep forgetting that I’m with someone else.”
Her words sent him over the edge and he lost it.
“Yeah?” he said tightly. “Well, sweetheart, you seem to keep forgetting it too.” And he yanked her against him hard. This time his kiss was demanding, desperate, and out of control as his mouth crushed hers, opened hers beneath his, their tongues sliding together. Rapacious need exploded inside him and fire streaked through his senses.

Insatiable Part 12
Insatiable Part 10
Tyler tossed her suitcase into the trunk of his car and they got in. “I brought you coffee.” He indicated the cup in the holder on her side. He had one too. “Gotta have my coffee,” he added with a grin.
“Thank you,” she said, touched by the thoughtful gesture. After she buckled her seatbelt she sipped the coffee, the rich dark roast immediately recognizable as Karma Coffee, the micro roaster near the restaurant.
How had she left him talking her into coming to LA with him on this business trip? Her tummy jumped with nerves as they drove north on the 101. She gazed out the window, first at the intensely blue Pacific Ocean stretching out to the curved horizon on her right, later at orchards and mountains on her left, carved and grooved by winter rains.
Near LA the traffic thickened and their speed slowed. “I like visiting LA,” Tyler said, “but I’m glad I don’t live here.”
“You wouldn’t want to open a restaurant here?” Surely the idea must have occurred to him, given his popularity. A restaurant in LA would be the pinnacle of success.
“I don’t know,” he said thoughtfully. “No.Things are getting too big...”
This wasn’t the first time he’d alluded to that. “I thought you wanted big.”
“I never wanted big!” he said with a laugh. “Everyone else wants big.”
“But Tyler...if you don’t want all this...”
He was silent. “Don’t get me wrong,” he said, eyes on the road, shaded by his sunglasses. “Believe me, I want to be successful. I love knowing that people appreciate what I do. I love knowing I’m the best.”
“And so modest,” she murmured.
He laughed. “Yeah. It’s just...a lot of pressure sometimes. I like the attention, but the constant pushing to do more...makes me feel like I’m not doing what I’m really good at.”
“Which is...”
“Sex.”
Chloe choked and he laughed again. “No. I mean, cook. That’s what I really love doing. Well, and sex, too.”
“Uh...I’ll take your word for it.”
“You don’t have to do that...”
“Tyler....”
“Yeah, yeah. Anyway, it's a hell of a ride. Unfuckingbelievable.”
She couldn’t help but smile at his exuberance and knew she was along for the ride of her life.
“Michael okay with you coming with me?” he asked suddenly.
“Of course!” She turned to look out the window again. “Why would you ask that?”
He shrugged. “If I was your boyfriend, I wouldn’t let you go away with me.”
She laughed helplessly. “Of course everyone must be jealous of you.”
He grinned devilishly. “I know me.”
Oh-oh. Since they’d shared a bowl of frosting and a kiss in her office, he’d backed off a bit. He seemed to have gotten over his temper tantrums, as Chloe thought of them with amusement, but his impudent charm was even more dangerous. What was she in for?
* * *
After their business meetings that took all afternoon, they drove to the hotel. Tyler wondered how he was going to get Chloe into his room. Given she was the one who had made the reservations, he was pretty sure she’d booked them two separate rooms. Maybe he could try that old ‘there was a mix-up with the reservation and the hotel is all booked up’ ploy.
Nah, it would never work. He sighed. Goddamn Michael was still in the picture, hanging out in the background, making Tyler’s admittedly small conscience prickle with guilt.
Yup. Two rooms. He checked them in and they went up the elevator followed by a bellhop with their luggage. At least they were next door to each other.
Tyler tipped the bellhop and helped Chloe into her room.
“Dinner’s at seven,” he said. “Josh is sending a car for us. Do you want to meet down in the bar for a drink before we go?”
“Sure.”
“An hour?”
She smiled and all but shut the door in his face. Damn. He went to his own room to shower and change.
When he walked into the hotel bar an hour later he almost didn’t recognize Chloe. She was sitting at a small table across the room. His eyes were drawn immediately to the long shiny hair but, whoa...the last time she’d come to an awards dinner with him, she hadn’t looked like this.
All she wore in the office were casual pants, long skirts and button-down shirts. Today, for their business meetings, she’d worn a navy blue suit.
Now she wore an amber-colored slip dress with tiny straps and a little ruffle along the top edge. It showed a lot of smooth golden skin, round shoulders and slender arms. She glowed like a candle, sitting there in the subdued light of the hotel bar.
Tyler crossed the room toward her.
“You’re like a movie star,” she said to him as he sat down, a smile tugging her glossy lips. She’d put some makeup on her eyes that make them look huge and sexy. “You don’t even notice people staring at you, do you?”
Still oblivious, he gazed at her, mesmerized, hoping he wasn’t actually drooling.
“What?” Her eyes narrowed a bit.
“Chloe, you’re gorgeous,” he said, unable to take his eyes off her. She flushed a pretty pink.
“I look okay?” she asked uncertainly.
“You look fucking awesome.”
“Thank you.” She shifted in her seat and he continued to gaze at her until a waiter arrived to take their drink order. Tyler confirmed they had Chloe’s favorite Pinot, then lifted a brow at her and she nodded. He ordered two glasses of it.
They looked up as a man approached their table and introduced himself as maitre d’ of the hotel restaurant.
“Mr. Gregg,” he said, extending his hand. “Are you joining us for dinner this evening?”
Tyler stood up, smiled and shook his hand. “Unfortunately not tonight,” he said. “We’re having dinner with an old friend.”
“Ah.” Was that disappointment or relief on the man’s face? “Well, we’d be honored to have you any time.”
After he left, Tyler dropped back into his chair and he and Chloe shared a laugh.
“Did you see the look on his face?” she whispered, putting her hand over her mouth.
“They didn’t have my name in their book,” he said, laughing too. “Then I show up and they panic!”
Her blue eyes sparkled with humor, her mouth curved in a tempting smile, and Tyler’s breath stuck in his throat.
“Ah, Chloe, you should laugh more often.”
“I do laugh,” she protested.
He shook his head. The waiter arrived to place their wine before them. Tyler waited till he was gone.
“No, you don’t,” he said, now serious. “You don’t laugh, you don’t cry, you don’t get mad...you’re so even-tempered it’s scary.”
She looked astonished. “But...”
“I know, I know,” he held up a hand. “I probably yell and cry and laugh enough for both of us. And you do have the ability to calm me down. How do you do it?”
“I don’t know,” she whispered. “I guess I had lots of practice with my mother.”
“How so?” He tipped the glass to his lips. The silky, voluptuous taste filled his mouth. He wanted to know everything about her.
She sighed. “I don’t want to talk about it right now,” she said. “This is so nice...” She glanced around the elegant room.
“Okay.” He’d let it go for now if that’s what she wanted.
He glanced at his watch. “We should go in a few minutes,” he said. “The car is likely here.”
They finished their Pinot Noir and Tyler tossed some bills on the table to cover the bill.
When they stood up, Tyler’s mouth almost dropped open again. Now he could see the full effect of Chloe’s dress, instead of just from the waist up. The silky fabric was cut in a way that made it cling to her body even though it was not a tight dress. Her breasts jiggled enticingly under the thin fabric. The skirt ended just above her knees and she was wearing the most incredible shoes he’d ever seen. Okay, he’d seen shoes like that before, just not on Chloe. They were bare and strappy with a spiky high heel. He couldn’t drag his eyes off her as they walked through the hotel lobby.
A limo waited in front of the hotel and the driver hopped out to get the door. Chloe flashed him a clearly uncomfortable look. He grinned.
“We’ll see what Josh cooks up for us,” he said, rubbing his hands with anticipation.
Chloe smiled. “Are you hungry?”
“I’m always hungry,” he said with a grin. “But I’m curious, too, to try something different.”
Josh’s restaurant was more casual than Insatiable, with an open kitchen, a packed bar of people waiting for tables, and a high energy level.
They were led immediately to a table for two in the corner – no waiting at the bar for them! Josh emerged from the kitchen moments later to greet his friend.
Tyler stood and they grabbed each others hands and slapped shoulders. “Hey, buddy, how the hell are you? Long time no see!”
Tyler grinned, stepped aside a little so he could introduce Chloe. She rose out of her chair and shook Josh’s hand with a smile and Tyler admired her all over again as she did so. He saw the appreciation in Josh’s eyes too and felt a tug of possessiveness. Huh.
“So, Tyler, you dog,” Josh said. “You’re everywhere these days...it’s incredible.”
“I know.” He grinned and shrugged. “It’s been fun. So what have you got for us to eat tonight?”
Josh grinned back. “You’ll have to wait and see.”
He disappeared back into the kitchen and Tyler and Chloe sat back down to enjoy their experience.
They talked and laughed and ate and drank, starting with a terrine of foie gras with dried fruit chutney and black truffle vinaigrette, then pan-seared dorade with caramelized sun chokes and roasted red peppers, ending with little sticky toffee puddings with vanilla ice cream. Tyler could have pointed out some things, made some changes, but he said nothing, would never say anything to Josh, and ate with appreciation and genuine pleasure.
“It’s all fantastic,” Chloe said later. “I think so, anyway.”
“Fantastic,” he agreed. “Do you want to come see the kitchen?”
She shook her head. “You go. I know you want to.”
Tyler had to see it, check out the equipment, see how Josh’s team worked. It was professional curiosity and Josh was happy to show off for him.
“Business is good?” Tyler asked.
“Hell, yeah. Business is great. Not as crazy as yours, pretty boy, but it’s good.”
“Asshole,” Tyler said mildly.
“Dinner’s on me,” Josh said. “I owe you from when I came up to check out Insatiable.”
“Thanks, man. Come back any time.”
Tyler went back to the table and found Chloe patiently waiting for him.
“Sorry, sweetheart,” he said.
“It’s fine, Tyler.” She smiled. “I know you.”
Tyler left a very generous tip for the wait staff then they stood out front as the limo was brought around.
Back in the hotel they paused outside Chloe’s room. “Invite me in for a drink,” Tyler said.


Insatiable Part 11
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 help...an 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.
“Uh...”
“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?
Insatiable Part 8

Bullshit.
That was the word that sprang to Tyler’s mind.
She was not the ice princess she pretended to be. He watched her struggling to control the fire within her. No matter what she said, she’d been hot for him. The only thing he didn’t get was why it had taken him so long to realize he was hot for her.
“We have to talk about those investments,” she said.
He tried to concentrate on work, but all he wanted to do was touch her. Especially her hair. He had such a weakness for her hair, such a fascination with it. He loved touching her hair. And now he knew what her body felt like, he wanted to touch the rest of her.
She was a peach. His eyes wandered over her as she talked to him. Her skin was soft like the fuzz of a peach. She tasted sweet, even smelled like a peach. She was sweet and juicy. Her breasts reminded him of peaches. He loved peaches.
His mind wandered from sex to food. He thought about a warm peach clafouti with luscious whipped cream, which led to the idea of licking whipped cream off Chloe’s body. Okay, sex and food were two of his favorite things.
He thought about eating Chloe. Oh man, now his boner was huge. He shifted in his chair.
“Tyler.”
“What?”
“You’re a million miles away.”
“No, I’m not.” Sweet and juicy...
“Pay attention,” she said. “Joe e-mailed me possible dates for the Epicure Magazine article. Which do you prefer...the twenty-third, twenty-fifth or twenty-sixth?”
“Whatever.”
She sighed. “They’re going to do a photo shoot here at the restaurant. Morning would be better, right?”
“Sure.”
“You do want to do it, don’t you?”
He smiled. “Oh yeah. I want to do it.”
The magazine article!”
“Oh. Yeah, sure.”
Her lips tightened. He wanted to kiss them and coax them into luscious softness. Her mouth was amazing. When she’d sat on his lap the other day and kissed him, he’d felt like he wanted to consume her, just eat her up.
“Joe is negotiating with them about final approval of the photos and article. I’ll tell him to go for the twenty-third.” She typed into her computer as they spoke.
“So what happened with Oprah?” she asked, as if suddenly remembering.
“She liked the food.” His eyes still moved over her, recalling how round and pretty her breasts were.
“That’s it?” “She mentioned having me on a show sometime. She said...” now he grinned, “...her people will call my people.”
“Tyler, that’s awesome!”
He shrugged. “Yeah. I guess so.”
“You don’t sound too thrilled.”
He lifted a shoulder again. “I’m distracted.”
She blew out a long breath, signaling her aggravation with him. “Okay, we’re done here.”
He didn’t move. He had to feel her hair. He reached out and stroked the length of it down her back. It was something he’d done hundreds of times, but he’d never felt her flinch at his touch. Something stabbed his heart at her reaction. Shit.
“It’s okay, Chloe,” he said soothingly. He stood up behind her chair and clasped her hair in a ponytail as he usually did, stroking the silky length, then running his fingers through it. What could she say? He did this all the time.
“I’ve got stuff to do in the office,” he said finally. He had to get away from her before his hands wandered further.
“How’s your hand?”
He shrugged. “It’s fine. Just another scar.” He held his hands in front of her, scarred from cuts and burns and calloused from constant use.
He didn’t want to leave her but he had so much to do: inventory, lists, calls to purveyors, ordering. He sighed and dropped a kiss to the top of her silky head.
“See you later,” he said.
He was greeted by a huge crashing noise as he walked downstairs. He hurried into the kitchen to see Alejandro standing staring in horror at a case of wine at his feet, liquid spreading on the floor beneath it.
“I dropped it.” He looked up at Tyler, aghast.
“Shit.” Tyler bent and opened the case to see what the damage was. Every goddamn bottle was broken. “Shit!” It took every ounce of restraint he had to keep himself from bellowing or even firing Alejandro on the spot. Taking a deep breath, he said, “Clean it up. This isn’t from Abby Creek, is it?”
Alejandro shook his head.
“Okay,” Tyler said tightly, “we can replace it. I’ll go call.”
When he called the wine supplier they told him they couldn’t get him another case until tomorrow. Damn. He’d have to go check the wine cellar and see what they had for tonight. The last thing they needed was guests wanting to order specific wines they didn’t have.
In the wine cellar he did a quick check and sure enough, they were low on almost every kind of Chardonnay. Tension coiled and tightened inside him as he returned to his office and called back his wine supplier.
“What can you get me today?” They had a short discussion and Tyler ended up with wine, but not what he really wanted.
He leaned his elbows on his desk and rubbed his head, an ache starting at the base of his skull. His conversation with Chloe hadn’t gone the way he wanted and now all this wasn’t helping.
He glanced at his watch. Better get back to the kitchen. A few moments later he was looking for basil in the walk-in.
“Where’s the basil?” he shouted.
Carlos appeared. “The delivery came this morning. It should be in there.” He started looking, too.
“Did you see it?” Tyler asked. “This morning?”
“Uh...I don’t remember.”
“No fucking basil! How the fuck am I supposed to make goddamnn pistou without basil?”
Carlos looked alarmed. “Don’t freak out, Chef,” he said, following Tyler back to the kitchen. “We’ll get some.”
“Damn right!” Tyler slammed saucepans onto the flattop with violent clangs.
“What’s going on?” Ryan appeared in the kitchen, having heard the noise.
“No basil,” Tyler growled.
“I’m on it.” Ryan disappeared.
“Jesus Christ,” Tyler muttered.
He was still mumbling when Chloe wandered in looking for something to eat. He was immediately aware of her, his body on high alert.
“What are you cursing about?” she asked with a faint smile.
“Somehow the delivery was missing basil. How can I make pistou without fucking basil?” “Calm down, Tyler. Has someone gone to get some? Do you want me to go?”
“Jason has gone,” Ryan interjected, on his way back to his office. “It’s being handled.”
“Okay, so it’s all good, Tyler.” She set her small hand on his shoulder and gave him a brief rub, and he felt tension ease out of him. “What can I eat?”
“There’s soup. Wild rice and mushroom.” He took a deep breath, chopped shallots and readied his mise while Chloe found a bowl and ladled soup from the big stockpot simmering.
Tyler watched her hungrily. Her beautiful serenity in the midst of the crazy, noisy kitchen drew his eyes to her, calmed him. Damn, he’d almost chopped his thumb. Focus man.
Ryan came back. “I tore a strip off Manuel,” he told Tyler. “He doesn't know what happened to the basil. I told him find out, and there’d better be basil here tomorrow or we’d fire his ass.”
Tyler nodded shortly, starting to butcher some pork loins. He knew he could count on Ryan to deal with the purveyor.
Chloe stood and carried her dishes to the dishwasher, and his eyes flickered to her.
“You’re tense, man,” Ryan said. “Anything I can do?” “No,” Tyler said shortly, his eyes following Chloe as she walked out, and he felt unreasonably annoyed. He concentrated on his work until they were well into the first turn and it was momentarily quieter.
He left the kitchen, knowing there was a little time before tables started turning and orders started coming in again. He took the stairs to Chloe’s office two at a time.
She looked like she was just getting ready to leave.
“Going home already?”
She turned to him, her lovely face expressionless. “Already? It’s nearly eight o’clock.”
“I just thought maybe when I’m done we could have a glass of wine together.”
She looked back at him and blinked. “Why?”
Now he was surprised. “Why? Uh...”
“Tyler...don’t do this.”
“Do what?”
“Do not even think you can get me into bed,” she said. “I know that’s all you ever think about, but go find one of your model-slash-actress girlfriends for that. I’m going home.”
She grabbed her purse.
“Got a date tonight?” he asked.
She paused, lifted her chin. “Yes, as a matter of fact, I do.”
“Whatshisname...I mean, Michael?”
“Of course. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Insatiable Part 7
Chloe gasped. The gleam in Tyler’s eyes sent a shiver of excitement and fear running through her. She tightened her hands on the arms of her chair as he advanced towards her.
“Tyler...”
He stopped in front of her, legs spread, arms crossed across his chest. Baggy cargo pants hung low on his lean hips and a snug olive green t-shirt stretched across his wide chest and revealed his thick biceps.
He smiled at her, damn his gorgeous smile, then bent forward and brushed a kiss across her startled mouth. Her lips parted involuntarily and her eyes widened.
“Tyler no...” she protested, scooting her chair back from him.
“Come on Chloe,” he coaxed. “Let’s finish what you started.”
Chloe’s heartbeat kicked up a notch.
“No, no,” she said frantically. “I didn’t mean to start anything! I was just proving a point.”
He followed her backward movements until her chair hit the wall. He put his hands over hers on the armrests, trapping her there with his big body.
Dark eyes hot and glittering, he leaned closer.
“Okay, you proved your point. I didn’t really have a broken heart. See...” he grinned and patted his chest. “I’m fine. You were right.” His voice deepened and his smile turned sexy. “Come on, Chloe.”
She shook her head nervously, licking her lips.
“But...”
He leaned closer yet and she could see every long eyelash around his eyes, the whiskers shadowing his lean cheeks. His citrusy, spicy scent made her dizzy.
“You proved something else, Chloe,” he said softly, his breath warm on her mouth.
“Wh...what?”
“You proved you want me.” He brushed his mouth over hers again.
Oh Lord, she was melting. Again. Helplessly, foolishly melting into a puddle of lust.
She wriggled her hands out from under his, his left hand still bandaged, and pushed on his big chest. He was like a cliff, hard and immovable.
“I do not. It was just an act to get you to realize you were okay.”
He shook his head and his lips drifted across her cheek, nuzzled her ear under her long hair. She closed her eyes briefly against the onslaught of sensations. Sparks and shivers ran down her body from his lips to her womb. Helplessly, her nipples tightened and she felt herself go wet. No! Her body was betraying her. Again.
“Sweetheart, that was no act.”
“Yes! Yes, it was!” She turned her head to the side to avoid his seeking mouth. He slid his mouth down the side of her neck and his tongue came out to lick her gently. “You taste so sweet.”
Oh God. More shivers increased the aching low in her belly. Her body trembled and she fought to control it. She pushed again on his hard chest to no avail.
“Chloe,” he murmured. “You can’t fake that. You were so wet you creamed all over my jeans.”
Her heart literally stopped.
She couldn’t get air into her lungs and her mind went completely blank. She could not think of two words to string together to refute him. Mortification scorched her cheeks.
“You were hot for me,” he continued, continuing to nibble and taste her. “Admit it, Chloe.”
His ego and arrogance finally gave her strength to push harder and she slid out of the chair and under his arms, jumped to her feet and wrapped her arms around herself.
“Your ego is beyond belief, Tyler,” she said, trying to sound cool, knowing her voice still trembled.
He straightened up and looked at her. Oh, he was so, so beautiful.
She held up a hand. “Stop! We cannot do this. Have you lost your mind?”
His eyes shadowed slightly.
“Maybe I did have a...physical reaction...” she stumbled on the words. “But I was only doing that for one reason. One! Seriously, Tyler!”
She pushed her hair off her face with hands that still shook.
His eyes narrowed.
“Did you go out with whatshisname that night?” he asked tightly, out of the blue.
She stared, then nodded. “His name is Michael, for the hundredth time. We went to a party one of his clients was having at the Biltmore.”
“Did you sleep with him that night?”
Once again she was dumfounded. “That is none of your business,” she said with as much frigid disdain as she could muster.
He scowled.
“Apologize for that, Tyler.”
They stared at each other, the air in the room hot and charged with electricity.
“You can fire me if you want,” she added, tossing her hair and straightening her back.
He still stared at her, then shook his head slowly. “I don’t want to fire you, Chloe.”
She held his gaze with difficulty, resisting the urge to throw herself into his arms and take everything he offered.
“I’m sorry,” he finally growled, rubbing a hand over his face, then through his hair. It stuck up appealingly in all different directions, glossy and black.
“Let’s just get things straight here.” She took a deep breath. “We do not have a personal relationship. I apologize for what I did, too. It was a totally unacceptable way to deal with a problem. It won’t happen again. It meant nothing.”
He was watching her as she talked, his eyes shadowed, almost hurt...she shook her head.
“We need to work together, so let’s just pretend that never happened,” she said firmly.
“I don’t think I can.”

Insatiable Part 8
INSATIABLE Part 6
“This amber ale just won the silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival,” Zach Montgomery told Tyler. Zach was the brew master at Surf Coast Brewery just down the coast in Rocky Harbor. He’d been making quite a name for himself, winning awards like crazy with his quality beers. “It’s excellent with steaks, chicken, pasta...”
Tyler studied the glass of ale he’d just tasted – beautiful amber color, and a rich caramel malt flavor. “I want to serve this beer in the restaurant. You can talk to my restaurant manager, Ryan. He handles business details. And I’d like to try some of your other products, too.”
Zach grinned. “Great. Thanks.”
Tyler caught the interest from his female restaurant staff as they watched him talk to Zach. Since Zach had walked into Insatiable, they’d been hanging around making a pretense of folding napkins and setting tables. The big blonde guy had a surfer-dude air about him and a quick, charming grin. Tyler shook his head and called to Lola.
“Can you go find Ryan, Lola?”
She disappeared with a last look at Zach. A few moments later Ryan joined them. Immaculately dressed as usual in elegant pants, a crisp shirt and silky tie, he was as meticulous and detail-oriented about his appearance as he was about managing the restaurant, and Tyler appreciated that.
“I’ll let you two talk business,” Tyler said. “I have to check things out in the kitchen and then make some calls. When are you heading back to Rocky Harbor?”
Zach shrugged.
“Let’s have lunch after,” Tyler suggested. “You can tell more about your brewery.”
“Sounds great.”
Tension coiled in Tyler, and he rubbed the back of his neck as he walked to the kitchen, thinking about everything he had to do. This was where he wanted to be – in his kitchen, creating...cooking. At the stove, he dipped a spoon into a pot of simmering sauce. “Damn, that’s good.” He nodded his approval.
Tyler watched Jon chop vegetables with precise speedy moves, his knife thunking on the cutting board. Jon had been a line cook for a few years and was developing into a fine chef, but sometimes Tyler worried that he wasn’t enough of a perfectionist. He really tried hard, though. A good worker in the kitchen was nothing to complain about.
“Make those leeks a little finer.”
“They’re good, Chef.”
“They’re not perfect. They have to be perfect.”
Jon nodded and kept slicing.
Carlos called from across the kitchen.
Tyler strode over to him. “What’s up?”
Carlos had worked as Tyler’s sous-chef for years. Although they shared the same intense passion for food, neither took it too seriously. It had to be fun for them. They had the same flowing, economical moves that allowed them to work together in a tight kitchen, moving as if they were doing a graceful, choreographed dance. And Carlos was capable of running the show during the frequent times Tyler was away “Check out these tomatoes.”
Tyler picked up a tomato in each hand, hefted their weight, squeezed gently, then sniffed, eyes closed with sensuous pleasure.
“Where’d we get these?” he asked. “Manuel?”
Carlos nodded. “They’re the best I’ve seen this summer.”
“Perfect. Let’s get some more. I’ll do a tarte – tomatoes and goat cheese and some of those awesome Sevallanos from Santa Ynez Olives. Yeah.”
That started him thinking about a pasta special for the day and he strode to his office. He threw himself down into the chair behind his desk and grabbed a pad of paper and a pen, started thinking, scribbling ideas, creating. He loved thinking about food and creating new combinations, loved intense tastes and combining them in ways so that you could taste them together and separately at the same time. Pine nuts and dried currants...saffron... They had lots of fennel left. Add some anchovies and onion, some of those tomatoes...that would be awesome.
After the conference call with two staffers from the Food Network to plan his upcoming appearance on a television special, he spoke to his agent. As usual, Joe had a few things on the go. Tyler’s cookbook had been released a few months earlier, resulting in a flurry of publicity appearances all over the country. He was still inundated with requests for book signings, cooking demos and more TV appearances.
“Leno wants you on his show,” Joe said.
Jesus. Should he be happy? Or overwhelmed? Hell, it was getting to be a lot. Sometimes lately he was away so much it felt like it wasn’t even his restaurant any more. That familiar pressure built inside his chest.
“Okay.” He pushed aside his weariness and reservations. What was happening to him? He used to love doing TV. He’d never had a problem with attention - only if he wasn’t getting any. Centre of attention, life of the party, the star...that was him. And yet that feeling of being squeezed, out of control, kept mounting in him.
Life had become so damn complicated lately. He’d always managed to deal with stress by having sex. Lots of sex. But after what had happened with Chloe, sex was only making things more complicated. Dammit.
“And Epicure Magazine wants to do an article about you. They want you on the cover. I’m trying to set something up later this month.”
“Where?”
“They’ll come to you,” Joe said. “I’ll work with Chloe to find a good time.”
“Okay. She knows my schedule.”
And speaking of Chloe, he had to go face her. He hadn’t seen her since that little stunt at his place Saturday afternoon.
He bounded up the stairs to her office and she turned to face him as he strode in. As usual, she was all serene composure, her long blonde hair hanging in a silky curtain down her back. But the flicker in her pretty blue eyes told him she felt...something.
“Are you mad at me?” she asked immediately.
He stared at her.
“Hell, no,” he said. “I want to thank you.”
Her eyes widened fractionally.
“You did what you had to, to get me here. Thank Christ. Oprah was here and I was acting like an ass.”
“I shouldn’t have done that,” she murmured.
He shrugged and grinned, moved closer to her. “But it was so much fun. The only problem was - you stopped too soon.”

Insatiable Part 7
Insatiable Part 5
image: http://www.lancethomsonphotographic.com/



Tyler threw open the bathroom door then slammed it shut behind him. He turned on the shower and stepped into it fully clothed, the cold water a shocking jolt to his overheated body. He flattened both palms on the tiled wall and leaned there, arm muscles rigid. The icy water ran over his back, drenching his clothing, turning it to a frigid weight on his body. He sucked in deep breaths through gritted teeth.
He could not believe what had just happened. He loved flirting with Chloe and touching her, but he didn’t think about her that way. She had a boyfriend, for Chrissake, and he needed her too much to scare her away with sexual advances. Although she’d instigated it.
He slammed a palm against the wall and closed his eyes. Jesus, he should fire her ass for doing that. After a few more deep breaths, though, he knew he couldn’t.
As his scattered thoughts came together, jelling in the brisk downpour, he contemplated her little act. She’d said it was an act - but how could she have faked that kind of reaction? She’d been hot, desperate – wet. You couldn’t fake that. And there was no denying his own red hot reaction. He groaned again.
Shivers quaked his body. He reached over and cranked the tap off, stripped off his wet clothes and left them lying in the shower, then strode naked from the bathroom to his bedroom. If Chloe saw him – oh well.
He dragged on a pair of black pants and a white T-shirt and returned to the living room, every muscle tense, his jaw clenched so tight it ached. Chloe handed him a cup of coffee. Oh yeah. Coffee. He took it from her without a word and gulped it. Strong and black, just how he liked it. She knew how he liked it. Jesus. He drank again, the coffee scalding his tongue.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
He narrowed his eyes at her. “I’m so furious I’d like to turn you over my lap and spank your ass.”
“Promises, promises.”
A jolt of heat speared through him at her words and he stared at her.
“Okay, let’s go,” she said, picking up her purse. “I’ll drive.”
When they arrived at the restaurant, she pulled up out front and stopped. “Aren’t you coming in?”
She shook her head. “I have a date tonight.” What! Hot fury spiked inside him again. He gripped the door handle so tightly his fingers hurt. She was all primed and hot, thanks to him, and she was going out with someone else? Probably whatshisname...Michael. Unbelievable! ”Relax, Tyler.” She put a hand on his upper arm. “I’ll see you tomorrow.” He slammed out of the car and stalked into the restaurant.

* * *

When Michael picked her up that evening, Chloe still felt edgy and hot. Her pelvic area still had a full achiness and her inner muscles clenched every time she thought back to sitting on Tyler’s lap.
This would be the night. She and Michael were going to have sex. It would take that edge off and let her get back to her normal serene self.
One of Michael’s clients hosted the elegant cocktail party at the Biltmore. Whenever Chloe mentioned to other guests what she did for a living, people wanted to hear about Tyler.
“He is so sexy!” one woman gushed. “Those eyes are incredible! I saw him on TV the other night.”
Chloe smiled, feeling Michael tense beside her. When the couple moved off, Chloe sipped her drink and looked at Michael, his lips pressed together, brows drawn down.
She sighed. “What is it, Michael?”
He gave his head a slight shake and his forehead smoothed. “Nothing at all,” he said. “Let’s go talk to Jim and Barbara. I need to set up a golf game with him.”
She let him lead her through the crowd, smiling and greeting people. As he chatted with Jim she excused herself to find the ladies’ room. On her way back, she paused in the hallway outside the party and slipped her cell phone out of her bag.
“Good evening, Insatiable,” Lola purred. “Hi, it’s Chloe.” She paused. “Is everything okay there?”
“Everything is great!” Lola gave a big sigh. “Tyler is here and he’s on fire tonight!”
“Did Oprah show up?” “Yes! It’s so exciting! She’s here now. She wanted to meet him and he came out and talked to her, and he’s cooking for her right now. You know him; it’s got to be perfect.”
Chloe sighed and her tense muscles relaxed. “Okay, good. Just wanted to make sure he was there and doing okay.”
“You did it again,” Lola said. “What would we do without you, Chloe?”
Chloe smiled just as Michael appeared in the hall. He frowned at seeing her on the phone.
“Gotta go,” she said to Lola. “Bye.”
“Who were you talking to?”
“Lola. At the restaurant.” She snapped the tiny phone closed and tucked it in her bag. “Just making sure everything is okay there.”
“Christ, Chloe, can’t you leave that place for an hour?” She gazed at him, not really surprised at his sharp tone.
“Is it a problem if I check in at work?”
“You’re always checking in. You practically live there. And when you’re not there, you can’t stop talking about him...it.”
It was Tyler. She’d always sensed it.
“You sound...jealous.”
“Oh for God’s sake! I am not jealous,” he snapped. “Sometimes I would like your undivided attention. I want you, Chloe. Why are you holding back on me?”
She stared at him. She’d known this was coming.
“I’d like to go home now,” she said quietly.
He didn’t move.
“Chloe...I’m sorry. I don’t mean to pressure you. Let’s go back to your place and talk.”
She nodded and he went to get her wrap. She’d planned to sleep with Michael tonight. But that was before what had happened that afternoon with Tyler.
At her place, she let Michael follow her in, her stomach tight, her mind a whirl of crazy thoughts. She hated having all these...feelings. Feelings just got you in trouble.
She dropped her wrap and bag on the small table in the entrance of her small house. Then she turned to Michael, stepped closer to him and wound her arms around his neck. She pulled his head down to hers for a kiss, pressing her body against his long, lean length.
His arms went around her, his mouth opened on hers, hot and demanding, and he kissed her back.
She wanted to respond. She wanted to feel the same thrilling excitement she’d experienced that afternoon on Tyler’s lap. She wanted to burn up, melt down...but it wasn’t happening.
She felt nothing.
After a moment, Michael lifted his head. He looked at her. “What’s wrong, Chloe? Are you really mad at me?”
She shook her head and stepped back, out of his arms.
“I’m sorry, Michael. This isn’t going to work.”
“Okay, you’re not ready. I’ll wait. I’m patient.”
She shook her head again, slowly. “It’s never going to work. I’m sorry.”
He stared at her, his face tight. “You know he’ll never want you.”
“It’s not like that!”
But he turned and slammed out of her front door.
Lord, what had she done? She’d only wanted to show Tyler what an ass he was and get him back to his restaurant to avoid a disaster. Now everything was turned upside down. Her calm and organized life was a storm of emotion and the turbulence inside her terrified her.
Insatiable Part 4

“I’m helping you relax.” Chloe’s hands moved again on his shoulders, stroking, rubbing. Tyler lifted his head and his face was right in her breasts, in the open neck of her blouse. His hands, which had been lying on the couch beside him, moved to her hips, warm through her skirt.
“Chloe, you’re wearing a pink lace bra.” Wonder shaded his voice.
“Mmhmm. And my panties match.”
“Oh Jesus.” His hands tightened on her. Chloe shifted her hips forward to press against his erection and a triumphant thrill sizzled through her as she met his arousal with her pussy. She wanted to press the throbbing between her legs against him, rub against him to ease that empty ache. She struggled to control herself, reminding herself of her goal, which was not an orgasm. Was. Not.
But having him right there in her hands, between her open legs, was making her hot and testing her control. She rubbed a little, unable to resist, and sensation rocked through her body. It was all she could do to hold herself back.
Tyler’s big hands moved on her hips, slid up over her waist to the sides of her full breasts. She couldn’t restrain the soft moan that escaped her. He slipped his fingers into her blouse, pushed the two sides apart, touched the top curves of her breasts, then slid inside the lace cups to brush her nipples with his fingertips.
A tremor shook her body and she had to press herself against him, there was no stopping. She lowered her body fully onto him, right where she needed it.
“Chloe,” he gasped. She met his eyes, dark and hot, so hot he blistered her with his gaze. She smiled slowly at him, then his hands tangled in her hair and he pulled her forward. He pressed her mouth against his in a hard, urgent kiss. She opened her mouth to him and touched her tongue to his and he responded with an erotic thrust into her mouth, startling her. Lust exploded in her and she opened wider for him, their mouths locked in a long, wet, hot kiss like nothing she’d ever experienced.
She thought she might burst into flames. Her skin burned and tingled, her pussy ached and throbbed as she rocked against him again and again, pleasure winding up in her tighter and tighter. She was lost, flames consuming her, and she broke away from his mouth to gulp in air. His mouth trailed down her throat, hot and wet, opened over the curve of her breast and sucked gently.
“Oh, God,” she cried, and she pulled her blouse open wider for him. Tyler had one hand in her hair, and with the other he freed her swelling breast from her bra and put his mouth to her nipple.
“Chloe, you have awesome breasts,” he breathed. “Why do you cover them up?”
She choked on a laugh. “Maybe because it’d be illegal not to.” She felt his smile on her breast, then his mouth closed over the tip again in a suckling kiss. Sensation poured through her, thick and liquid, and she shuddered at the tug of his mouth on her nipple. She moaned again.
“Incredible,” he whispered, moving to the other breast. He used two hands to undo the front clasp of her bra and pushed it aside so he had access to both breasts. He laid his hands over them, squeezing gently, shaping them, then cupped one and lifted the nipple to his mouth again.
She was so close to coming, just from rubbing against him. The vague thought lurked in the back of her mind that this wasn’t supposed to go this far, but it was a hazy, incoherent wisp in her lust-fogged brain. She put her hands on his chest.
Then he slipped a hand down between them and under her skirt. Her pink lace thong matched her bra, and the thin strip of fabric between her legs was no barrier to his fingers. She could tell her panties were damp, she was so wet and hot, and his fingers slid easily between her folds and into her.
“God, you’re wet,” he breathed, his other hand pulling her head in for a kiss again. His tongue thrust into her mouth as his fingers pushed into her and she was desperate, frantic for more, needing to be filled.
“Hold on,” he murmured against her mouth and withdrew his fingers. His hands went to the button of his jeans.
Suddenly chilled awareness of what was happening shivered over her. He was about to open his pants and in two seconds he’d be inside her and they’d be having sex.
This wasn’t supposed to go this far.
With gut-wrenching determination, she pulled away from him, throbbing and panting.
“Stop!” She pushed her hair back from her face and held it there.
He looked at her in stunned confusion. “Chloe...what?”
She scrambled up from the couch and stood before him, yanking the sides of her blouse together.
“I’ve just proved my point,” she told him coolly, getting her breath. “You are fickle. You’ve forgotten Mandy already.” She deliberately glanced at her watch. “Now let’s get to the restaurant.”
He stared at her while her heart drummed in her chest.
“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me!” His hand pressed hard against the fly of his jeans, still bulging with his arousal. A flush darkened his cheeks and his eyes glittered. He reached out and grabbed her hand. “Chloe, what the hell...”
She stepped back, out of his reach. “I mean it, Tyler. You’re not heartbroken, you’re just horny. Now, come on, you have a business to run.”
He stared at her in stunned disbelief. “Are you telling me that you did that on purpose?”
She nodded.
“You were faking all that just to prove you were right about me?” Again she nodded, cool and composed. Then his eyes grew hot and furious. “You...”
She held up a hand.
“You can call me names later. Hell, you can fire me if you want. You have every right to, actually.” It was true, and her heart skipped a beat at the thought. But for now she had to save him from himself. “Let’s go.” He looked down at his hard-on. “I can’t go like this,” he muttered.
“Five minutes. Go change.”
He stood up. “Give me ten. I’m going to need a little hand action and a cold shower.”
He strode out of the room and Chloe collapsed onto the couch. She buried her face in her hands, shocked at herself and the lengths to which she would go to manipulate him. She’d definitely changed his mood. But what had she done to herself?
The crack of a door slamming made her jerk upright.
She’d rather see him angry than depressed any day. He did some of his best work when he was angry... but not when he was down.
She was even more shocked at her reaction to him. She should have known she was explosive, like the gas ranges in the restaurant – pilot light burning low and slow, but at one touch from Tyler bursting into flames. Now he was furious with her and she could even lose her job. This was what happened when you let emotions take over, dammit. No good. No good.
She sighed. If Tyler didn’t show up at the restaurant tonight, and Oprah was there, there’d be hell to pay. He’d thank her later. Maybe.
She did up her blouse and tucked it into her skirt with shaky fingers, ran her fingers through her hair to smooth it down, and glanced down the hall where Tyler had disappeared.
Insatiable Part 3
“Guess what!” Lola, one of the hostesses, quivered with excitement. “Oprah is coming tonight!”
Chloe stopped on her way into the restaurant. She wasn’t supposed to be there on a Saturday, but wanted to get a few things done.
“Oprah? Really?”
“Well. We think she’s coming.”
Chloe slanted her an inquiring look.
“The reservation’s not in her name, but Emilio says that’s her manager’s name and a friend of a friend of his told him Oprah has been planning to come here and check it out.”
“Oh.” The bartender’s information network was pretty reliable.
“And,” Lola rushed on, “we’re all betting she wants Tyler on her show! Wouldn’t that be cool!”
Lola, young and gorgeous like everyone else who worked at Insatiable, flipped her long, auburn, perfectly flat-ironed hair behind her shoulder and smiled expectantly at Chloe.
“Tyler must be in heaven,” Chloe said.
“Um...that’s a bit of a problem.” Lola’s slim brows drew together. “He doesn’t know...and we can’t find him.”
“What do you mean you can’t find him? Isn’t he here?”
Lola shook her head.
“Have you tried his cell phone?” Chloe could hear the edge in her usually tranquil voice.
“Of course! Carlos has been trying every fifteen minutes, but he’s not answering.”
“Did he have a date last night?”
Lola squinted her eyes. “I’m not sure,” she said. “He was popping painkillers all night...oh, my God!” She clapped a hand over her mouth.
“What?” Chloe pushed down the alarm fluttering inside her.
“Maybe he OD’d! Those painkillers were narcotics!”
Cold fingers of fear tickled Chloe’s skin. No, that was crazy. Tyler was many things - temperamental, unpredictable, artistic - but stupid or careless he definitely was not.
“I’ll talk to Carlos,” she said, heading into the kitchen.
Controlled chaos energized the kitchen, everyone preparing food and talking. Kanye West blasted over the yelling and banging of pots.
“Chloe!” Carlos spotted her and dropped his knife. Wiping his hands on a towel, he hastened over, agitation tightening his features.
“I heard,” she said calmly. She put a hand on his shoulder. “Any ideas?”
He shook his head, concern in his dark eyes.
“Was he with Mandy last night?”
“He could have been. She’s been hanging out here almost every night.”
“Do we know her number?”
He shook his head. “Nobody even knows her last name.”
Chloe’s mind worked. “Okay. I’ll drive up to his place and see if I can find him.”
The tension in Carlos’ face eased. “Great idea,” he said. “Call us as soon as you know anything.”
Chloe sighed and left the restaurant. This was not part of her job description. Okay, she didn’t actually have a job description, but if she did, searching for her missing-in-action boss would not be in it. God, he was probably in bed somewhere, high from too much sex and Mandy. She pressed her lips together.
As she drove up to Alameda Padre Sierra she tried Tyler’s cell phone again, but it rang unanswered and went to voice mail.
“Tyler, we need you here at the restaurant. If you get this message before I find you, call me.”
She drove past mansions secluded behind walls and dense green vegetation to Tyler’s home, perched on the side of the mountain. She pulled into the short driveway and used her key to get in the locked gate.
She rang the doorbell – no answer. The key she had for times Tyler was traveling and she needed access to his home rested in her palm. She hesitated to use it, but she had to know if he was in there. Her stomach tightened at the thought of what she might be interrupting.
She unlocked the door and stepped into the cool, dim foyer, the terracotta tile floor of the hallway gleaming beneath her feet. “Tyler?”
“What?” His voice came from the living room. She walked in and dropped her purse and keys on a side table. Tyler sprawled on the black leather couch, staring out the wall of windows overlooking the city and, in the distance, the ocean. A scruff of dark beard shaded his jaw and a nearly empty bottle of red wine sat on the table in front of him. Well, at least he was alone.
“Tyler, what are you doing?”
He looked back at her with a slightly murky gaze, not even surprised to see her.
“Getting drunk.” He toasted her with his wine glass.
“Tyler, you’re supposed to be working right now. They need you at the restaurant.”
He shrugged. She took a deep breath.
“What happened?” She sat beside him.
He gazed down into his wine. “Mandy dumped me.”
“Oh. Oh, Tyler. I’m sorry.” She paused. He looked so dejected, she just wanted to kiss it all better for him. But that was out of the question. And really, how heartbroken could he be? He and Mandy had only just met a few weeks ago.
“I’m sorry,” she said again. “But Tyler...you need to get back to the restaurant.”
He lifted his head. “I don’t give a shit about that right now. I’m dying here, Chloe.”
She returned his gaze steadily. “You’re not dying, Tyler. You went out with her for what...two weeks?”
He lifted a shoulder again.
“Get yourself together,” she said gently. “I’m making you some coffee and then I’m taking you to the restaurant.”
“I can’t go there. Not right now.”
“Tyler, you have to. There’s a rumor that Oprah is coming tonight.”
“Oprah?” He blinked, then shrugged. “Too bad.”
“Tyler, come on! You have to be there!”
In his kitchen she found what she needed to start a pot of coffee. When she came back Tyler had leaned his head back against the couch and closed his eyes.
“You don’t understand,” he muttered.
“Oh, please. Everyone gets dumped some time.”
“Not me.” He wasn’t bragging, just saying what was undoubtedly the truth.
“This is the first time a girl ever broke up with you?”
He nodded, eyes still closed. “I’m always the one who does the dumping.”
“So what happened?”
“She said I wasn’t paying enough attention to her.”
A snort escaped Chloe before she could stop it, and she covered her smile. “Well, she was obviously too needy for you. Her loss.”
He opened his eyes and looked at her. “Nice try, but I’m in pain here.”
Resisting the urge to roll her eyes, she smiled at him. “Come on Tyler, you know you’ll have another woman by tomorrow. You’re so fickle, you can’t possibly be heart-broken.”
He frowned. “I’m not fickle.”
“Yes, you are.” She tried to make her voice a gentle nudge. “You go through women like most men go through socks.”
“Do not.” He ran a hand through his dark hair, spiking it up even more.
She looked at him. She could prove it to him...how much time did she have to get him to the restaurant? She glanced at her watch. Enough. She drew in a long breath.
“Okay,” she said. “Maybe I’ll join you in a glass of wine, and we’ll commiserate together.”
“Now that’s more like it.” He got up to get her a glass and when his back was turned, she unbuttoned the top two buttons of her blouse. Then one more. Tyler came back, grabbed the bottle and poured some into the glass.
She took it from him and smiled at him. “You’re so cute when you’re miserable.”
He looked at her, dark brows pulled together, mouth open. “You think I’m cute?”
“Of course.” She gave a little laugh. She shifted in her seat and tucked one leg under her, so she faced him. She leaned toward him, knowing her blouse was gaping open. “You’re gorgeous and you know it.”
“I didn’t think you knew it,” he muttered, then gulped his wine. She saw his glance dip to her chest then quickly back up again. Chloe tasted her wine, a lush Pinot Noir, watching him over the rim of her glass. Then she reached out a finger and traced a straight, thick eyebrow.
“Mmm. I know it.” Her voice was husky. Her tummy quivered as she frantically tried to think what to say next. She had no freaking idea how to seduce a man.
Her finger trailed down his cheek, his throat and into the open collar of his shirt. Again his gaze drifted down to her open blouse.
“Chloe...”
“What?”
He guzzled more wine.
“Maybe you need a shoulder massage to relax you.” The genius idea popped into her head and she clinked her glass onto the table and stood. Instead of circling behind the couch to reach over it for his shoulders, she hiked her skirt up and knelt on the couch, straddling his legs. His eyes flew open, now clear and dark gold.
She rested her hands on his shoulders, the large muscles bunched beneath them. “You are tense,” she murmured, kneading the muscles. Again she was fully aware of him looking down her blouse, knowing he was getting a glimpse of cleavage and pink lace. She didn’t dress in sexy, stylish clothes but she did like nice underwear. Thank God.
She rubbed firmly, using fingers and thumbs to slowly press and release his muscles.
“That feels so good,” he groaned, tipping his head back. Chloe’s hands stilled on his shoulders as her eyes moved over his face. He was so beautiful. Heat flared in her, a sweet hot rush. She lowered herself a bit more onto his lap, his thighs hard beneath her own, and leaned closer. God, if they were naked she could slide right onto him and have him fill her up.
The thought caused a jolt of sensation down low in her belly and her nipples tingled. Damn, she was getting herself hot, not him. Then he hardened more beneath her thighs and she knew she was having some effect. With a rush of relief, she leaned closer still and brushed her breasts across his chest. The spicy masculine scent of his shampoo filled her head.
“Chloe, what are you doing?”

Building Castles - Kelly Jamieson's Blog: Insatiable Part 4
Insatiable Part 2

Here's another picture - this is how I imagined Chloe.






Chloe’s heart leaped in her chest and a surge of adrenaline propelled her out of her chair and down the stairs.
“Is he okay?” She fought to maintain her usual calm composure. “What happened?”
“He’s bleeding all over the freakin’ kitchen but he won’t go to the goddamn hospital,” Alejandro cried.
She hastened into the kitchen to find Tyler yelling at everyone to get back to their stations.
“Dinner’s in less than an hour!” he shouted. “I’m fine, for Christ’s sake.”
A blood-soaked towel wrapped around his left hand.
Chloe approached him, taking deep breaths.
“Tyler, let me see,” she said calmly.
“Shit, Chloe, I’m fine.” But he let her open the towel and look.
The sight of the deep cut to his flesh made her knees go weak and her stomach roll. But she couldn’t show Tyler that. She took another towel from the sous-chef’s outstretched hand and wrapped it tightly over the blood-soaked one. “Thanks Carlos. Come on, Tyler. I'll take you for stitches. You’ll be back before dinner.”
She prayed the ER wasn’t too busy - but even if was, the restaurant could survive without him for a few hours.
“I don’t need stitches,” Tyler snapped. “I’m fine.” “Carlos, can you get my purse?”
The surge of relief in the kitchen was palpable as she led Tyler out the back door.
“Sorry, Chloe,” Carlos said in her ear, handing her her purse. “You’re the only one who can make him listen to reason.”
She nodded and smiled reassuringly at him. “We’ll be back.”
She drove as fast as she could without appearing to panic. Her heart was pounding and she knew she wasn’t breathing in enough oxygen because she was starting to feel just a tad lightheaded. Damn.
“What happened, Tyler?”
“I was trying to get some frozen demi-glace out of a can. I was stabbing it with my knife and it slipped. Shit, shit, shit.”
He rubbed his pale face, then glared at his wrapped hand.
“Does it hurt?” She slanted him a sideways glance.
“Nah.”
She smiled. “Tough guy.”
His lips quirked too. “Bet your ass.”
Luckily the ER wasn’t busy and when they recognized Tyler from his recent television appearances, he was seen quickly. While he was stitched and bandaged up, Chloe stayed with him.
“Such a fucking stupid thing to do,” Tyler muttered, his face tight with pain.
“It was an accident.”
He shook his head, closed his eyes. “I’m just so stressed lately. Sometimes...it’s all too much.”
She stared at him. “But, Tyler...I thought you wanted all this.”
He opened his eyes and met her gaze. “I thought I did too.” He rubbed his forehead with his uninjured had. “I mean, I do. But sometimes...I just want to cook.”
Oh lord. Maybe that explained his volatility lately. He’d always been moody, but he did seem to go off more easily the last few months.
The nurse gave Tyler painkillers to take with them and they were back at the restaurant an hour and a half later.
“You don’t need to go back on the line,” Chloe said.
He tossed the painkillers into his mouth and ignored her, striding back to his mise.
“Who cleaned up the blood?” he asked with a grin, now cheerfully relishing the gruesomeness of the incident.
“I did,” Carlos said. “Good, job, chef.”
“What orders do we having hanging?” Tyler barked.
“You’ve got two steaks on order for the deuce on five, three soles are fired.”
And he was back into focused, intense movement.
Chloe wobbled up the stairs to her office and collapsed into her chair in a heap of stretched-out nerves and spongy muscles. Her body trembled and her heart thudded, the reaction to Tyler’s injury delayed by having to deal calmly with him.
She pushed her hair off her face with a shaky hand and sucked air into her lungs. Thank God he was okay. There’d been so much blood...she’d been afraid he’d severed an artery or cut off a finger.
She allowed herself the luxury of wallowing in emotion for exactly two minutes, then pulled herself together. She hated feeling like this. Emotion exhausted her, scared her. Nothing good ever came of it. Damn Tyler for scaring the shit out of her.
She took a deep breath. Okay, time to go home. Michael was picking her up at seven to go to a new play at Center Stage Theatre and she had to get ready.
She and Michael had been dating for a few months and he was a nice man – easy going, intelligent, a good companion for the rare times she wasn’t working. She cared about him. Okay, it wasn’t an exciting relationship, but excitement wasn’t for her, and he seemed all right with that; maybe he was hoping things would develop over time.
At home, as she changed into a dress, her mind remained back at the restaurant. But she had to have a life outside the restaurant, so she touched up her make-up and forced a smile at her reflection in the mirror.
Michael arrived at her door exactly on time.
“Hi, Chloe.” He kissed her cheek. His conservative suit fit his tall, slim body with custom-tailored perfection - expensive and classy and entirely appropriate to his work as partner with a prominent accounting practice. His hair receded slightly from a high, intelligent forehead. “You look lovely.”
“Thank you.” She smoothed down the skirt of her black sheath dress, also conservative and appropriate. Her concession, her fashion weakness, were her sharp-toed, spiky-heeled black pumps. She picked up a wrap and a small evening bag and locked the door behind her.
“This should be a nice evening,” Michael said as they drove to the theatre in Paseo Nuevo.
“Mmmm.” Chloe gazed out the window of Michael’s BMW.
“You’re so quiet, Chloe,” he remarked a few minutes later. “Everything okay? Chloe turned and smiled at him. “Sorry! We had a little accident in the kitchen just before I left. I guess it’s distracting me.” “What happened?”
Chloe hesitated to mention Tyler. Any time she talked about him to Michael, the atmosphere seemed to chill by several degrees.
“Tyler cut his hand. I had to take him to the hospital for stitches.”
Michael frowned. “Is he okay?”
“Yes, he’s fine now. Did you read the review in the paper today about the play?” She was totally changing the subject.
Chloe laughed through the hilarious play along with the rest of the audience and after, when she and Michael went out for drinks with some of his associates, she forced her mind away from Tyler’s face, pale and tight with pain, and his jaw-dropping admission that he wasn’t entirely thrilled with the way his life was going.
Later, Michael walked her to her door. “Can I come in?” he asked, voice low and pressing.
“I’m really tired. I’m sorry, Michael...”
Disappointment and annoyance flickered on his face. But he leaned down and gently kissed her lips.
“Okay. I’ll call you next week.”
She walked into her small house, shut the door behind her and leaned back against it, eyes closed. He wanted more, and he was starting to push harder. How long would he be prepared to take her out, escort her around town, before he got tired of their shag-free relationship?
She sighed and pushed away from the door. She should just sleep with him. She did care about him. They got along well...so why not? Maybe Saturday...they were going to a party hosted by one of Michael’s clients. Yes, Saturday. When he brought her home, she would invite him in...and screw his brains out.