Chopped. Cutthroat Kitchen. Next Food Network Star. Anthony Bourdain. DDD. When I'm tired of the same old dinner recipes, those shows provide great ideas. Instead of making a regular burger at home, I make a Juicy Lucy with fresh jalapenos and pepper jack cheese. Instead of heading out for pizza, we take a drive and get our grub on at a local BBQ restaurant.
There's one thing that all those food shows and competitions have in common: The food must be delicious. You can have the highest degree from the best culinary academy, can talk the biggest game about your skills in gastronomy, brag about being the head chef at a five star restaurant, but your food must back it up.
So today I will back up my sweet and spicy with an excerpt from one of my books below.
Tonight, I finish cleaning up early and turn off the sign. Selecting one of my playlists and making sure the volume isn’t too loud, I carry the twinkle lights I bought earlier out to the back patio to hang them.
This will be good.
I know once the patio is set up the customers will love it, especially on sunny days and warm nights.
“Fade Into You” by Mazzy Star plays softly as I sing along, standing on a chair outside, stringing up the lights. I’m doing a pretty good job and am impressed by my work so far, when I hear someone call, “Jen?” from inside the café.
I yell, “Back here!” not worrying who it might be as they obviously know my name. Having trouble with this one string of lights, I stand up on the tabletop next to me to try and get it to wrap correctly around the clothesline I hung a few months ago.
“Back where?” The voice asks.
As I’m about to get the string just right, I see a ginormous green stick bug staring at me from the wall I’m leaning against. I freeze, not wanting to make any sudden moves that could cause it to jump and attack me.
The voice again calls, “Are you all right? Where are you?”
I’m paralyzed with fear, exactly like in my nightmares. I want to scream, but nothing will come out.
Calm down, calm down…
Finally finding my voice, I keep both eyes on the green goblin staring back at me, and squeak out, “I’m in the back.”
My heart pounds and I don’t know what to do. The door to the kitchen opens and shoes tap the floor coming toward me. The green goblin decides to make his move and starts to crawl closer to me.
Someone crashes through the door. Turning to see who it is in my bug induced fear, I find Jake looking up at me with a relieved look on his face.
“Jake, what are you doing here?” I ask, panting.
He eyes me up and down. “This isn’t smart, someone could rob the place while you’re back here.”
With a wobble in my voice, I turn back to the wall and watch the ugly thing inch closer to me. “Rob me of what, paper cups? I already closed the register.”
Please don’t jump on me, please don’t jump on me.
He huffs and asks, “Do you want help? Why did you scream?”
I snap back. “Because the green goblin is going to get me, and no I don’t need any help!” I take a step down to the chair below, with my eyes on my enemy on the wall, lose my footing and start to fall.
In the time it takes for me to reach the ground, I catch Jake’s eye and see him realize I’m falling and position himself to try and catch me. It all happens in slow motion and in that time I imagine falling into Jake’s open arms and him romantically cradling me against his chest.
That is not what happens.
Nope. Of course not.
I let out a yelp as the chair goes out from under me, praying I don’t hit my head on the wall as I come down. Jake tries to catch me but fails and I end up landing on him, taking him down with me. We’re in an awkward heap on the cement floor, me on top, and he grunts as my full weight hits him and knocks the wind out of him.
Straining to speak he says, “Well, that didn’t work.”
I’m embarrassed, but also disappointed he didn’t come to my rescue like in the movies. “Thanks for catching me,” I say sarcastically. “Help me up please?”
Jake scoffs. “I can’t. You are crushing me!”
“Oh, fine, I was hoping you were a gentleman.” I start to get up and accidently knee him in the stomach. “Sorry.” I get my feet under me and offer him a hand to help him up.
Jake gets up slowly, takes a deep breath and says, “No problem.”
Embarrassed, I move to pick up the chair, feel my ankle give way and hiss. “Son of a Biscuit.” Holding onto the edge of the table, I rub my ankle while I stand on one foot.
“Serves you right, that was dangerous in so many ways!” He’s scolding me again.
“Nope, no gentleman here!” I say, glaring at him.
Wow, so not the poor baby I was looking for.
Slowly, I start to limp back into the café and I hear Jake say from behind me, “Oh for crying out loud.”
He sweeps me up and my arm automatically goes around his neck as he carries me into the café toward the counter.
All I can think as I look up at his profile is how good he smells and how strong his arms are around me. Feeling no pain, I gaze up at him as he slowly sets me down on the counter. I let go a beat too late and he looks me in the eye, clears his throat and then looks down at my foot. My chest heaves and my face must be the color of a ripe tomato.
Could I be more obvious?
Sweet buttercups, he smells good.
He stands in between my legs as they dangle from the counter while he examines my foot and I can’t help but notice what a perfect height he is to…Stop!
I shake my head to clear those thoughts from continuing down that path and say, “Well, maybe there’s hope after all.”
With a little smirk he says, “Maybe."
Sweet Dreams is available on Amazon and Free with Kindle Unlimited.
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