Riverbend (The River Valley Series Book 2)(8)

By: Tess Thompson


“That’s right,” he said, in a tone that implied that it was none of her business.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to pry,” said Annie. “It’s just been the talk of the town. You know, who was the mystery family moving in there?”

“It’s not a family,” he said, his face twisting as if something pained him. “Just me. Excuse me.” He turned back to Linus. “I need the number for the chef at Riversong.”

“That’s me,” said Annie, surprised.

Drake Webber’s eyes moved down the length of her. “But you’re so small. And young.”

“Not that young,” she said. “Thirty.”

“That’s young,” he said, with a smile more like a grimace.

She shrugged, feeling suddenly vulnerable. “Why do you want my number?”

“I’ve enjoyed my meals there more than I can say. I’ve tried almost everything on the menu, as a matter of fact.” When giving someone a compliment, thought Annie, a person might smile or give some indication of pleasure. But this man’s face was stone cold.

“I’m glad to hear that,” she said. “I try my best.”

“Best restaurant I’ve eaten at in a long time. And I eat out a lot in Seattle.”

“Oh, you do?” she said, already forgetting her vow to squelch her natural curiosity. “You’re from Seattle?”

“I was.” He paused, glancing towards the window. “But now I’m from here.”

“Why here?” asked Linus. Apparently curiosity had gotten to him, too. Normally he would not have asked a personal question of one of his guests, especially a guest like Drake Webber.

“I’ve retired,” said Drake.

Retired? This man couldn’t be more than thirty-five. It must be some kind of high tech career. Figures, she thought. He was the type of man who had everything: good looks, intelligence, and money.

Drake looked over at Annie. “I want to offer you a job.”

“A job?”

“Yes, a job.” He said it slowly, as if she were a child.

“I have a job.”

“I’m quite aware of that.”

“The best job.”

“How sweet.” He obviously didn’t mean what he said by the sour and mocking expression on his face.

“Sweet?”

“Yes, very provincial. Like this town.”

“I’m from Los Angeles, actually.” Why did she feel the need to explain that to him? She glanced over at Linus. His face was flushed and his eyes piercing, almost glaring at this rude guest.

“I couldn’t care less where you’re from, actually.” Drake emphasized the word actually, mocking her. Despite her tired muscles from earlier, her body tensed. What a jerk.

Drake Webber went on, seemingly unperturbed. “Anyway, it’s not a full-time gig. I just need someone to come by my home once a week and make meals to put in my freezer.”

She flinched, uncertain what to say. “Like I said, I have a job.”

“I’ll make it worth your while.”

“I have a son. I’m not really available for a second job.”

“How hard could it be? Come to my house on Mondays when the restaurant is closed and make meals for the week. My kitchen is quite adequate—now that it’s finally finished. Apparently the contractor and his workers keep a slower pace than we do in Seattle.” He said this with more than a small hint of disdain in his voice.

There was no way she would work for this rude and inconsiderate man. She couldn’t put love in anything she made for this man.

“Monday’s my only day off and I like to spend it doing things with my son.” Why didn’t he just come eat at the restaurant if he liked her food so much? He could obviously afford it. “But you’re always welcome in our restaurant.”

“I’ll pay you five-thousand dollars a month,” said Drake. “Plus whatever the cost for ingredients.”

She stared at him. “Five thousand? Every month?” Surely he wasn’t serious. Five thousand additional dollars a month would make an enormous difference in her life. She could set that money aside for Alder’s college. A year of cooking for this insidious man would be enough for two years of college tuition.