Billionaires and Beach Bums(4)

By: Mia Caldwell

The small woman took a sip and handed the glass back to her employer. “Um, some greens, sugar, and cream?”

“No!” said the older woman triumphantly. “It’s avocado! Isn’t that the damnedest thing?” She drank the last of it and set the glass back on the tray. “You can go,” she said to me, “I’ll give Rosa the tray when I’m done. I’ll see you at dinner. Can’t wait to see what you make me then.”

Chapter Two

When I came back five hours later, I’d almost forgotten the odd interaction with Walker Alexander. His mother’s personality had been so big she’d filled my thoughts as I’d tried to come up with more things to wow her. Surely it would be hard to impress a woman who’d been eating at the finest restaurants in the city for so long.

But my thoughts went back to the son when I saw, on the counter, a box with a ribbon on it. My name was written on a card. The weird weak-knees thing returned as I opened the envelope and slipped it out.

Andrea–please use this while you’re here and then take it home with my compliments. You really impressed Mother.

Inside the box was a six quart All-Clad saute pan. I’m sure a $175 pan was no big deal to him, but I’d wanted one of these for years. Still, it felt excessive. I could just use it for three days and then tuck it behind the Baccarat with the blender jars. Right?

I focused on my work and tried to put him out of my mind. When I texted Kiera about it, she’d said “He’s into you. He google-stalked you. Go git dat.” But it just seemed really far-fetched. This was an Old Money house, full of antiques and oil portraits of white folk in fussy clothes. And, like I said, I don’t have time. I have to focus on my career right now. And not on those incredible eyes. Greenish gold, who’s ever had eyes like that?

I was pulling the strands out of a spaghetti squash when Walker came into the kitchen holding a bottle of wine.

“Sauternes!” he said, holding it up as proudly as if he’d stomped on the grapes himself.

I had no idea what he was talking about and just gave my head a shake, smiling in spite of myself.

“Sauternes, the kind of wine that goes in that glass that broke this morning.” His crooked grin assured me that he wasn’t trying to rub my nose in it. “You said you’d never heard of it, so I brought some. It wasn’t easy to find, I don’t think anyone drinks it any more. I never keep it in my cellar.”

It took me a moment to realize he meant his wine cellar and not his dirt floor basement.

“It’s best pretty cold, so I’ll put it in the freezer. After you take up Mother’s tray, will you join me for a glass?”

“Um, sure,” I said. “Just the one, though, I drove here,” I hesitated, unsure whether I should really let my next impulse out of my mouth. Pride and, well, plain old attraction won out. “I’ll have extra food, would you like some?”

His grin widened. “I was hoping you’d say that. Mother was raving about your cooking, so I figured showing up around meal time was my best bet.”

“And buttering me up with that saute pan,” I pointed to the stove where it held caramelizing onions.

“I’m so transparent.” He inhaled deeply. “This house has never smelled so good and we had some talented cooks when I was a kid.”

“They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, but the way to a chef’s heart is through her ears,” I said, immediately worrying that I’d made it sound like I was trying to get to his heart. “Flattery will get you everywhere,” I added, hoping to clear up any misunderstanding.

But of course, I’d just dug in deeper.

“Everywhere?” he asked waggling his eyebrows at me.

“You watch yourself, mister,” I said, pointing my fork at him and smiling. Really, deflecting advances with charm is just a part of being a young woman in the service industry.“It’s unseemly to flirt with the help.”

“If I did it anyway,” he said, watching me intently, “would the help flirt back?”

Hoo-boy. I was utterly at a loss. I couldn’t deny I was attracted to him. I mean, I had eyes. This man was fine. But, you know, career, stay focused, blah-blah-blah. He was fine.

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