One More Taste Excerpt
End of Chapter 1
Emily pushed a loaded food cart behind the resort’s main reception desk, then through the maze of cubicles and offices tucked away from the guests’ view. She nodded to Ty Briscoe’s secretary, then let herself into his corner office.
Knox’s fierce intensity beat like waves of power through the air in the room. Emily froze near the door, stunned to find herself suddenly, uncharacteristically, intimidated.
Knox rose slowly, buttoning his suit jacket as he loomed over Emily. “Are you asking to be fired, Ms. Ford? Because I was hoping the chef I hire for the new restaurant would see the value in keeping on some of the resort’s restaurant workers as line cooks.”
Oh, this man. Emily visualized the way his perfect suit would look covered in mushroom reduction, sweet potato puree, and bits of roasted pheasant. In the end, she decided against the childish act, more out of respect for Ty than any sense of dignity or self-preservation.
Ty jabbed his spoon in the air at Knox. “You watch your tone with her. Emily’s too valuable an asset at this resort to work as a line cook.”
Spoken like the father figure he was to her. Emily’s heart warmed for the man who’d taken a huge risk in hiring her right out of chef school, homeless and without a penny to her name. Of course, she didn’t reveal any of that. She carefully schooled her features, refusing to splay open her chest and give Knox Briscoe one single glimpse of her heart. His careless response to her peaches was proof enough of his lack of a soul.
The gleam in Knox’s eyes turned cool and calculating as he turned his focus to Ty. “I wouldn’t have expected that from you, Ty. Sleeping with the special event chef. Interesting. And against my business policy.”
Emily’s self-control snapped. She pushed up from her chair, ready to get in Knox Briscoe’s face and give him a piece of her mind. She slammed her hands onto the table for emphasis, but instead of hitting the table, her right hand caught the rim of the soup bowl. As though in slow motion, the bowl launched itself at Knox. Emily lunged for it, but she was too late. Bright orange soup splashed all over the front of his suit.
Mortified, she stood over him and watched glops of peach and brûlée topping ooze like lava into the creases of his waistband and belt.
For his part, Knox didn’t rise or curse at her—as Ty was doing, she noticed out of the corner of her eye—nor did he attempt to clean himself off. He kept his cucumber- cool gaze locked on hers, a slight smirk curved on his lips. “Did I hit too close to home on that observation, Ms. Ford?”
Holy shit. She’d spilled soup all over her new boss. There was no way she was getting the restaurant now. She’d be lucky to keep her job. What she refused to give up was the last shreds of her dignity. Nobody insulted her by insinuating that she’d slept her way to the top and got away with it, not even the intimidating Knox Briscoe.
She rose to her full height. “I may not know what your father did to get disowned by the Briscoes, but it’s no wonder you’re trying to deflect some of that shame you inherited from him onto the people of this resort. Even after all these years, it still stings, doesn’t it? Whatever he did to get shunned? The shame of it all?”
A shadow crossed Knox’s face. Good. She’d meant for that to hurt.
A hand closed around Emily’s arm and tugged her away. Ty pushed between her and Knox, scolding her, apologizing to Knox. When did the giant she’d long revered as a force of nature turn into a spineless, apologetic noodle? She would’ve never expected her idol to fall from grace in the blink of an eye.
Emily glared past Ty, to Knox. “It makes sense, now, this whole alpha power vibe you’ve got going on. You know what they say about men who seem like they’re overcompensating for something.”
The shadow vanished from Knox’s eyes and the shark- like calculation returned. “That they have big feet? Or am I mixing my old wives’ tales?”
“Emily, please. Leave us,” Ty said. “You’re embarrassing yourself and insulting me.”
That pulled her up short. She was way beyond dam- age control when it came to her own embarrassment, but she did care about insulting Ty. She might not trust Ty to know what he was doing, not after this crippling deal with the devil himself, but she still respected Ty enough to honor his plea. With a nod, she walked with stiff, proud steps to the door.
“Ms. Ford, the suspense is killing me. What do they say about men who seem like they’re overcompensating?” Knox said, sounding amused.
Gritting her teeth, she paused with one foot out the door and tossed a look over her shoulder, startling all over again at Knox’s aura of cool perfection. The cut of his jaw, the fullness of his lips, eyes that were as cruel as they were wise. How had she ever thought she could win over a man like that with peaches and pheasant? Whatever family shame Knox was overcompensating for, it wasn’t going to save Emily or her beloved resort. Knox Briscoe was beyond redemption, her career was over before it had even gotten off the ground, and life was never going to be the same again.
“Haven’t you heard?” she said. “The thing about men who seem like they’re overcompensating for something, is that they always are.”
CREDIT: From ONE MORE TASTE by Melissa Cutler. Copyright © 2016 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Paperbacks.