This story is ‘mighty tasty.’ Admittedly, Mitch didn’t act great when he assumed all the wrong things about Samantha, but the delightful wise-cracking gnomette by the name of Lola gave him the inspiration to save his butt and not let Samantha, the next best thing to ice cream, get away!
The doorbell chimed, causing the dog to yap, and Samantha’s cell phone, which had the most annoying ring tone on the planet, blared, just as the chowder began to bubble like Mount Vesuvius right before an eruption.
“Ugh!” Samantha threw her hands in the air. Why does everything seem to happen at once?
She grabbed the phone on the way to the front door, punching the answer key. “Everything is fine, Conner.”
“It doesn’t sound fine.”
The doorbell chimed again. The dang house was so big a person needed a scooter to get from the kitchen to the front door. “I said everything is fine. Muffy is fine, your house is fine. There’s just someone at the door.” She glanced out the lacy curtain covered window beside the door and groaned.
“Who is there, Samantha Rose?”
“Oh, just one of your neighbors. I’ll call you back.” She flipped the phone closed before he responded, and opened the door a crack.
“Hi there.” He gave her what she supposed was his attempt at a smile and held out his hand. “Does this belong to you?”
Her watch. She looked down at her empty left wrist. The expensive timepiece must have fallen off when she was digging for clams. “Yes. Thank you for returning it.”
She reached through the crack, grabbed the watch, then tried to shut the door on the annoying man.
“Not so fast.” He stuck his foot on the threshold, blocking the door. “How about I say hello to Conner?” He pushed his way in. “Is he home?”
“You know him?”
“We’re neighbors.” His tone added a silent duh to the end of his comment.
The smoke alarm shrieked adding to the chaos.
“He’s not here right now.”
Muffy, the overly pampered pooch, scooted by Samantha and out the door. Her visitor reached down and grabbed the mutt. “There now, easy girl,” he said, cradling the pup in his arms.
“Some guard dog she is,” Samantha said. Why the heck did Conner own such a small dog, anyway? “Come on in. I have to fix the smoke alarm before every person on the beach calls the fire department.”
“By the way, my name is Mitch.” He spoke to her back as they walked down the long hall toward the kitchen. “Mitch Whitaker.”
“Okay.” And? She shrugged. He said his name like it should mean something, but it didn’t ring any bells. The people along the beach were millionaires, with a few billionaires sprinkled in for good measure. Or, so Conner said. Samantha figured maybe he’d exaggerated to impress her, but after she saw the cars his neighbors drove, the clothes they wore, and their houses—many of them second homes—she figured he’d told the truth.
Thick smoke filled the kitchen, the smell of burned cream soup and clams sticking to the bottom of a pan unmistakable. Samantha waved her hand in front of her face, covering her mouth to block out the odor. She flung the patio doors open, drawing in a breath of cool, fresh air. Immediately, the ocean breeze cleared out the smoke.
“What were you attempting to do in here?” he shouted, his booming voice adding to the alarm noise.
She felt his eyes on her as she climbed a step stool to reset the detector. “Make a clam chowder for the cook-off tomorrow.”
Once she pushed the button, the annoying buzzing stopped. With a sigh of relief she climbed down.
“First attempt at cooking chowder?” Mitch set Muffy down and walked to the stove. Burned soup had bubbled over, splattering the cook top.
“If you must know…yes…it is.”
“I didn’t know Conner liked women who cooked. Except in bed, that is.”
“From what I hear, he usually goes for women who…well…who have limited talents.” He looked her up and down. “You seem to be more well-rounded than the rest.” His eyes rested on her breasts.
Instinctively, she crossed her arms.
“I think you’d better go.” She left the kitchen, hoping he would follow. Of all the nerve! How dare he insult Conner? He was obviously clueless.
“I don’t usually take castoffs, honey. But when Conner’s done with you, look me up.” Mitch walked out the front door. “You know where I live.”
He thought she was her brother’s girlfriend! If his behavior weren’t so offensive, she’d laugh.
“Just you wait one minute, buster.” She followed him down the driveway. A small, red sports car sat at the curb. “You don’t know anything about Conner, and you know even less about me! Nothing at all.” Not even my name.
“I know all I need to know,” he said, coming to a stop beside the car. “What do they say? You’re judged by the company you keep.”
He opened the roadster’s door, and she watched as he climbed inside and backed out the driveway. He was rude and arrogant, a man who obviously thought he knew everything. She sighed. Lord willing, she’d never see him again.