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Cinnamon and Seduction

Author(s): Ari McKay

After the success of his two Gourmet Network specials, outspoken Executive Chef Stephen Pierce is offered a sweetheart deal for his own regular show. Everyone believes Stephen has a lot of self-confidence, but he is aware of his own shortcomings and refuses to sign on unless his loyal PA, Robert Logan, agrees to stay with him. Stephen knows Robert is the one person who can keep him in line, but Stephen has always hidden his more personal interest, fearing that if he knew, Robert would be disgusted and leave him.

Robert has been in love with his boss for almost six years, but he’s begun to believe Stephen will never see him as more than an efficient assistant. Resigning himself to never having the man he truly wants, Robert begins to date other men, hoping that one of them will strike the same sparks for him that Stephen does without even knowing it.

Can the efforts of their friends finally get Stephen and Robert together, or will Stephen’s hidden insecurities keep them apart forever?

Excerpt


As if summoned by the nature of Stephen's thoughts, Robert entered the kitchen and approached Stephen with a questioning look in his eyes. "I hope I'm not interrupting anything."
 
Stephen felt a flush creeping up his throat, and he quickly bent over the hot scones, hoping Robert wouldn't notice. "No, not at all. You know you can talk to me any time."
 
Robert raked his fingers through his hair, not seeming at ease despite Stephen's reassurance. "I was wondering if I could have the rest of the day off."
 
Stephen was surprised by the request, especially since Robert had taken off to go to some barbecue at Cooper's house the previous Saturday, then he felt disappointed. Robert usually stayed through dinner service, and Stephen enjoyed Robert's often wry commentary on the guests and the little dramas that played themselves out among the staff. But his own selfishness was no reason to deny Robert something he wanted, and so he straightened and nodded.
 
"Yes, of course you can. You put in more than enough hours in the week as it is." He offered a slight smile. "Before you go, though, I made something especially for you. Cinnamon scones. I thought perhaps you'd like them for breakfast tomorrow morning."
 
"Really?" Robert's smile lit up his entire face, as if Stephen had offered him the crown jewels instead of a few scones. "Thank you, sir. I'm sure they'll be delicious, especially with a cup of hot tea."
 
Robert's smile warmed Stephen in ways that were both pleasant and a trifle frightening. "That's what I was thinking, actually." Stephen felt oddly reticent, and he cleared his throat. "If you can wait a few minutes for them to cool, I'll wrap them for you. If I do it now, they'll end up soggy, unfortunately. But I don't want to hold you if you need to leave right now."
 
"Oh, I don't need to run out the door right now." Robert widened his eyes slightly in mute appeal. "Maybe I could try one before I leave?"
 
Stephen snorted in amusement and rolled his eyes, trying to ignore just how appealing Robert really was. "Of course you can." He strode to another counter, tore a paper towel off a roll, then returned and scooped up one of the warm pastries. "Here you go. There's no tea, I'm afraid, but I can lay hands on coffee or milk."
 
"I'm fine." Robert accepted the scone and closed his eyes as he inhaled the warm cinnamon scent rolling off it. When he took a bite, he looked positively rapturous. "Mmm… perfect!"
 
"Good." Stephen leaned a hip against the prep table, unable to stop himself from watching the play of expression on Robert's face. It seemed that once he'd finally noticed Robert, he couldn't stop noticing him. Touching was off limits, of course, but he told himself there was no harm in looking -- even though he had to wonder if a scone could make Robert look so enraptured, what would he look like over something really pleasurable?
 
"I used three different kinds of cinnamon and a bit of vanilla bean paste. I made the cinnamon chips myself."
 
"Did you really go to all that trouble just for me?" Robert stopped eating long enough to give him a surprised look. "Or are you experimenting with a new recipe for the menu?"
 
Stephen shrugged, feeling himself blushing again, and he spoke gruffly. "You're always doing things for me. I do notice, even if I'm not the best at showing appreciation. Consider this a small attempt at payback."
 
Robert's features softened, and his eyes were warm as he gazed at Stephen. "I don't do any of it expecting payback, but I do appreciate the scones. I've never had anyone make their own cinnamon chips for me before."
 
"Hmph." Stephen had to look away, before he did something completely stupid that would turn Robert's warmth to shock and anger, like kissing Robert to see how his smile would taste. He focused on the scones. "As though I'd use packaged chips for anyone, especially you."
 
"Well, they're delicious." Robert smiled as he polished off his scone and licked his slender fingers. "The cinnamon isn't too overpowering, and the vanilla balances it out perfectly."
 
Stephen's mouth was suddenly dry, and he couldn't help watching Robert's fingers sliding between his lips, unable to look away. Oh, God. I think I'm in trouble. He swallowed hard. "Good. I guess I'll be making them again."

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ISBN (Print):
ISBN (Electronic): 978-1-61040-603-1
Genre: GLBT
Date Published: 11/06/2013
Publisher: Torquere Press

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