Husband Rollover (Husband Series Book 4)(8)

By: Louise Cusack

“Beanies?” He plucked a multicolored Alpaca wool specimen off the shelf beside the cake display and twirled it between two fingers before letting it fall back.

“Tea cozy—” I said from between gritted teeth.

He barked a laugh that sounded very much like derision.

“—because it is a Tea House,” I added.

In case you hadn’t noticed, you supercilious twit!

He shook his head, clearly appalled, and flicked a glance over my row of staff lined up behind the counter, some of whom immediately straightened. They wore clean and tidy uniforms of either harem pants or a skirt in an earthy tan color, teamed with a loose white shirt. Not one of them had a hair out of place, not even our dreadlocked chef Sammie, whose personal standards had dropped since I’d slept with him a month ago.

Typical of my managerial style, I couldn’t care less if his shirt was ironed, as long as his creations were superb, but today I wanted everything perfect. Luckily for me, it was. From my newest waitress to my front-of-house cashier Desiree who’d been with me from the start, they were all united in their terror of Maxwell Banks, and as a consequence they were turned out impeccably.

If anyone was looking less than professional it was me, and that was pure rebellion. Instead of my usual uniform of tan and white, I’d worn pink because I’d read somewhere that the high and mighty Maxwell Banks found that particular color childish. Louella had bought me a designer pink sundress during our holiday in Rome, and I’d teamed it with teal high-heeled sandals and masses of silver bracelets. My hair was down, but it was clean and combed into the loose ringlets that occurred naturally.

I’d even worn makeup which wasn’t like me, but I was damned if I was going to look like a country hick next to him, and seeing the stylishly cropped black hair and sartorial elegance he’d brought to my tiny regional town, I was glad I’d bothered, although I hadn’t been quite sure I was doing the right thing.

After breakfast I’d sent Jill a selfie to check, because I didn’t want to let her down—Bohemian Brew was her investment—but she’d told me I looked ‘classy’. That didn’t particularly match the laidback style of the teahouse, but Mr. Snooty Banks hadn’t sneered at me, so I assumed I was up to scratch, even if my restaurant wasn’t.

Before I could take comfort from that however, he snapped, “The lighting is shit,” and turned to face me.

“Lunch?” I asked as calmly as I could, and pointed to a booth at the back. “Perhaps you’d like to sit at the table where Noah Steele eats when he’s in town?”

Suck on that Mr. High and Mighty. You’re not the only celebrity we’ve had in here, and you’re far from the most important.

His pebble black eyes narrowed under those jet-black brows. “I heard you’d been lucky—”

“One visit is luck,” I cut over him. “Four visits means Noah is a regular.”

The blond assistant pulled a phone out of her pocket, and I immediately held out a hand to stop any texting she might do. If the newspapers got hold of this titbit, Noah would stop coming. I hadn’t even told Jill that he’d liked the lack of paparazzi so he’d come back. I’d thought I couldn’t trust a blabber like her to keep it secret, and now look at what I’d just done. I’d blabbed about it myself!

The blond with her slick ponytail glanced at Max, as though seeking permission, and I had a horrible premonition that the future of Bohemian Brew could collapse with a single tweet. I was blushing madly but I forced myself to sound calm as I lowered my voice. “Naturally that must be kept secret.”

Max’s arrogant expression hadn’t altered, as if it had been frozen onto his face in shock. I expected him to tell me off for my indiscretion, but he simply said, “Then perhaps you should tell me in future if there are ‘off the record’ comments, so we can speak…privately.”

He’d leant forward marginally to say this, and had also lowered his voice into a gravelly rumble, which did startling things to my stomach. It immediately started to quiver, and then as he held my gaze—seemingly to impress his statement on me—I smelt his aftershave and my lips dropped open.