TITLE – Cooking Up A Storm
AUTHOR – Ashley Ladd
GENRE – Contemporary MMM romance
PUBLICATION DATE – July 11, 2014
LENGTH (Pages/# Words) – 26,500
PUBLISHER – Totally Bound
COVER ARTIST – Emmy Ellis
Brooks and Rique desperately want to win the head chef’s position for eccentric millionaire Jonah Verleun on his beautiful, private, but peculiar island that includes a zoo full of exotic animals, an amusement park, and a monster shark tank beneath Jonah’s bedroom floor. While Brooks wants the job to escape his heartache and the lover who thwarted him, Rique is hiding from the mob hoping to live long enough to pay them off with the prize winnings. Fierce competitors, they cook up a storm in a series of cooking challenges all the while trying to turn down the heat on their intense attraction. When a hurricane strikes the island, the storm Rique has been cooking up, explodes and no heart or body are safe.
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Troubling thoughts whirled through Rique’s mind. Why had Jonah called him and Brooks into his office? Had they violated some fine-print rule he’d missed? Had Jonah learned about his debts and Mafia troubles?
Gulping, Brooks shared a worried glance. His gait was uneven and stilted and his frame was stiff and wary.
“Are we in trouble?” Brooks whispered.
Worried about the reason for their summons, Rique forced himself to relax and not shake his head at his lover and his loose-cannon lips. As much as he was beginning to love Brooks, there was no way he could share his mob secrets.
Not only would they overly alarm Brooks, but the security team might overhear and he didn’t trust anybody.
Jonah locked the door and leisurely returned to his desk. He folded himself into his chair and looked, long and assessing, at first Brooks then Rique. Finally, he said in a smooth, debonair voice, “No. Not at all. But I wish to remind you of your contract.”
Damn! Rique gulped as they pulled up chairs across from their boss. So they were in trouble. Too late, he realized his toes were tapping fast and that his fingers were linking and unlinking, so he stilled them.
“What about the contract?” Brooks inched forward in his chair and wrung his hands in his lap as his eyes bulged.
Jonah bent over the desk then he pointed at the security cameras.
Before a word came out of Jonah’s mouth, Rique had an epiphany. As he recalled Fiona’s warning, his heart threatened to burst. “You’ve been watching us. Everything. Everywhere.”
Several seconds later, Brooks blanched and his Adam’s apple convulsed. “You saw us together. Intimately, I mean.”
Leaning closer, Jonah nodded. “Yes. You gave your signed permission, and this is my private island which means it’s governed by my rules.”
It could mean Rique’s life if he left. With his heart feeling as though it was beating in his throat, he pleaded, “Please don’t kick us out. Our love lives are our choice and should be private.”
He watched a deep flush crawl up Brooks’ neck and into his cheeks as Brooks begged.
“Please don’t hold it against us. We didn’t plan to fall in love. It just happened. We haven’t hurt anybody.”
Fall in love? Shock and wonder filled Rique. Warmth flowed through him. So Brooks felt the same way he did.
Giddiness replaced the dread born moments before.
Brooks loved him. And he loved Brooks. How could he have fallen so hard, so fast? He reached over and put his hand on Brooks’ shoulder. Then he turned and faced Jonah. “I won’t apologize for loving this wonderful man. And I won’t stop loving him. If it means we can’t be together then I’m torn whether or not I still want the position.”
He couldn’t believe he’d just said that. Damn my heart!
When Brooks squeezed his hand and tilted his chin, light refracted off his glasses and made his pupils look fractured. “Ditto. No disrespect intended, sir.”
Laughing heartily, Jonah slapped the table, causing a few sheets of papers to float to the floor.
Is the man crazy?
Blushing, Jonah gave them a shy smile. “Don’t apologize, and please call me Jonah. I loved watching you. I wanted to join you. I came as much as you did.”
Ashley Ladd lives, loves, and writes in Paradise, aka Florida, thus many of her stories are set in the Sunshine State. Also a Trekkie and an Air Force disabled vet, Ashley often creates military heroes and heroines and goes where no woman has gone before. She loves romantic comedy, time travel, and cats so don't be surprised if a talking cat shows up in some of her stories.
Ashley writes for Ellora's Cave, Totally Bound, and New Concepts Publishing under this name. Please visit her blog at: http://www.ashleyladd.blogspot.com
To follow her on Twitter and Face Book, look for "AshleyLadd" (all one word, no quotes).
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