What happens when a suave, handsome chef meets a cute, sassy food critic?
When Shelbi Arrington accepts a position as a food critic in the hopes of burying her medical career and foregoing her residency, the last thing she’s searching for is love. However, that’s just what the doctor ordered especially when she lays eyes on the handsome chef, Justin Richardson. While sorting out her secret conflict of continuing her medical career, she falls for his mouth-watering charm, leaving her hungry for anything he has to offer.
Justin is leery of doctors because a doctor’s negligence caused his mother’s death when he was twelve. He has put his focus and energy into his restaurant, which had been a dream he and his mother shared. Justin is immediately smitten by the cute, sassy food critic that has him cooking up different ways to please her appetite. But when things start to heat up, Shelbi learns of a shocking revelation that could extinguish the flame of their relationship. Will Justin be able to forget his pain and commit to the woman who has stolen his heart?
A little background information for this excerpt: Food critic, Shelbi Arrington, has already dined at Lillian’s Dinner and Blues Club. However, the executive chef/owner was on vacation at the time. She’s now returning to interview him for an article for The Memphis Tribune.
Shelbi entered the kitchen and was engulfed by the delectable aromas. B.B. King and Lucille roared through the speakers of the iPod dock on the shelf above the stove. She recognized the song from her dad’s B.B. King record collection, “Caught a Touch of Your Love.” The chef, whose back was to her, sung off-key, but it still made her smile. She didn’t want to disturb him, especially when he turned the music up and sang into the spoon. She placed a hand over her mouth to muffle a giggle.
His crisp jeans showcased his thighs and butt, relishing the fact he was quite muscular and probably athletic. His broad shoulders filled out the white chef jacket he wore. The chef’s hat was tilted to the side and waved back and forth as he danced. He gyrated his hips to the song as he stirred something in the pot. As much as she enjoyed his performance, she interrupted him.
She cleared her throat and tried to hide another giggle.
“Excuse me, but are you Jay?”
The chef turned off the king of blues, took off his hat, and twisted his muscular physique toward her.
“Why yes I am, Ms. Arrington.”
Shelbi’s heart raced as her breath caught in her throat. Falling back on the door to steady herself, her stomach tightened and a heat wave charged through her. The man she tossed and turned over last night stood in front of her appearing even more delicious than yesterday.
“It’s you! The man from the trolley.” She ran her fingers through her hair and hoped she didn’t look like she felt—completely flustered.
“Yep. One and the same,” he said, flashing a million-dollar smile. “Come sample this caramel sauce and tell me if it needs anything else.” He held out the spoon for her. “I’m experimenting with you today.” His lowered voice held a hint of seduction.
I wouldn’t mind him experimenting with me, but not in the kitchen. Well, maybe we could start in the kitchen and end up somewhere else…
A sensuous shiver raced through her. She tried to remain composed, but how could she when this fine masculine man stood before her with a sexy smile, succulent lips, firm chest and wild, crazy hair she just wanted to grab a hold to while he drove her up a wall. Literally.
Shelbi placed her belongings on one of the stainless steel prep counters and walked toward him, trying to shake herself from her fantasy, but her imagination was running rampant. She blew on the hot caramel before placing her lips on the spoon, and he slowly inched the tip of it into her mouth as his eyes held hers in an intense stare. She closed her eyes and moaned as the sweet caramel with a hint of cinnamon traveled down her throat. Her tongue licked over her lips.
“Justin, this is superb. What dessert are you making this for?”
“Haven’t decided yet, but it reminds me of you. Sweet, hot caramel with a touch of cinnamon, like your eyes.”
Blood rushed to her face, and she hid her expression by leaning over the stove to open the stockpot on the back burner. A New Orleans low-boil consisting of crabs, shrimp, hard-boiled eggs, potatoes, onions, and corn on the cob smelled heavenly.
“This looks and smells divine.”
“So do you,” he answered in a seductive tone before turning off all the burners on the stove and stepped toward her. He was close enough to kiss her, and she almost wished he would. After last night’s tossing and turning, she needed him to just hurry up and satisfy her longing. She stepped closer, and the enticing scent of his cologne mixed with his manly scent, filled her senses. She inhaled to take it in even more.
“Is the low-boil for me?”
“Yes. Hopefully, it will make up for my store-bought barbecue sauce you didn’t enjoy when you dined here the other evening,” he responded sarcastically.
A heat wave of fury washed over her skin, and Shelbi became annoyed at the handsome chef.
“I know you aren’t flirting with me just to receive an excellent review because we can end this meeting now!” she snapped. She turned to gather her belongings.
“Look, lady, I don’t need some young contributing food critic telling me my homemade barbecue sauce taste like it came from the grocery store. If you thought that, then maybe I should bottle it!”
His comment forced more anger from her, and she turned toward him as she waved her finger in the air and rested her other hand on her hip.
“Well, then maybe you should bottle it along with your attitude.” She stepped into his personal space, refusing to back down, the anger seething through her body. “First of all, I like your restaurant. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have requested to meet the executive chef and owner. If I’d known he would be an arrogant, pompous jerk like you, I wouldn’t have wasted my time!”
Shelbi stared him down like a bull ready to send the matador flying across the ring with a swift blow to his butt. She hated being unprofessional; however, this man caused her to lose her cool. Heat rushed through her body, and apparently his as well, because she could feel the warmth radiating from him onto her skin. The room was silent except for their hearts beating fast and loud in sync.
He stepped closer to her. Too close. Little beads of perspiration had formed on his face, drawing his manly, intoxicating scent out even more. His muscular chest rose up and down, and his dark, smoky eyes penetrated her, causing her breathing to stagger. His bold gaze held her entranced, and she couldn’t unlock it, no matter how hard she tried.
Cooking Up Love is the first book in the Arrington Family Series.
Dr. Bria Arrington has had her heart broken by one bad boy playboy and doesn’t want to travel down that road again. However, she finds herself attracted to her best friend, self-proclaimed bachelor, Rasheed Vincent. After a passionate kiss leaves them desiring more, seducing each other is the only cure.
A retired basketball player, Rasheed is a player on and off the court. When a woman gets too close, he bounces to the next one. But the condition he’s in makes him want a permanent dose of Bria’s love, and he’s ready for the shot. She knows falling in love with Rasheed is a prescription for trouble, yet she is willing to risk it. But can she trust him with her heart?
“Yes!” Bria jumped up and down followed by the Reebok dance from the 1990s. “Another strike. I’m the bomb. And you said I would only hit a few pins.” Bria glanced up at the computer screen above their lane as her name flashed like a lightning bolt for her second strike.
“Yes, another strike for someone who can’t bowl, pushes the ball down the lane, and then talks to it.” Rasheed said through gritted teeth as he picked up his own personal black bowling ball, got into position, and glanced back at Bria.
“Yet for some reason, you can’t even make one strike tonight, and you usually can do at least six in a row.” She shrugged and gave him a wink.
He chuckled. “Watch your boy in action.” He rolled the ball which hit only half of the pins.
Bria laughed. “You were saying, Mr. Vincent?”
She had been trying to remain composed the entire evening. Rasheed looked particularly fine in a pair of jeans, a red sweater, and a black newsboy cap—which added to his already sexy persona. She couldn’t jerk her eyes away from how his butt fit in the jeans, enhancing his muscles. She imagined clenching her fingers on his bare bottom as he thrust in and out her as she pulled him deeper into her. The image she’d conjured up was making her want to forget their truce and satisfy her longing for him.
“You’re a distraction, Bree,” he said through clinched teeth as he waited for his ball to return.
No, you’re the distraction. She twitched her mouth to the side and approached him. “How am I a distraction?”
“You can’t possibly expect me to concentrate when your hair is curly and bouncy down your back and you’re wearing a sexy little black sweater dress with thigh high boots—well bowling shoes at the moment—but you’re still sexy. If you’re going to hang with me, you need to not look so hot.” He grabbed his ball and bowled a spare.
Bria sat back on the bench even though it was her turn.
He joined her a few feet down and stretched one arm across the back of the bench, his hand almost reached her shoulder. He shook his glass of rum and Coke. “I do believe it’s your turn, or are you ready to throw in the towel?”
Throw in the towel? Bria was ready to throw in the towel but not for bowling. She was ready to throw off her sweater dress and beg Rasheed to do her and do her good. Who was she kidding? How did she possibly think she could just forget about his lips caressing hers, his hands on her bottom, or the deep groans that ignited from his throat, all of which sent a tidal wave of fire through her at the mere thought?
To avoid being next to him, she went ahead and bowled. She bent over, set the ball on the line and pushed it down the lane. It slowly rolled while she yelled “go, go.” The ball hit all but two pins. She rejoined Rasheed on the bench while she waited for her ball to return.
“Damn, girl,” he chuckled. “You keep bending over like that, and I’m going to forget the deal we made the other night and seduce you right here in this bowling alley.”
A heat wave washed over her at his words. She’d had another sleepless night last night pretending her hands were his massaging her breasts and in between her thighs. She shuddered and squirmed in her seat at the possibility of that becoming a reality but with more than just his hand between her thighs.
Rasheed was jokester, but when she looked at him, she couldn’t tell if he was joking or not. Even though he was laughing, his expression and tone had been serious. She decided to find out.
“Boy, stop playing. However, I was just talking to Taylor the other day about having a sex buddy.”
“A sex buddy?” He scooted closer to her on the bench and relaxed his arm behind her. “I’m intrigued. Explain more, please.” A wicked grin crossed his handsome face and the beats of her heart sped up.
“It’s really just a joke between Taylor and me but …” she looked away from him to hide her embarrassment.
“Um … as in you and Taylor being sex buddies.” He downed the rest of his drink and set the empty glass on the other side of him on the bench. “Okay, now I’m really intrigued. Please continue.”
She playfully punched Rasheed in the arm. “Get your mind out of the gutter. No, not me and Taylor. Me and a guy.”
He looked stunned for a moment. He cleared his throat and a serious expression formed on his face.
“Wait, you’re serious, Bree?”
“Sure, why not? I wouldn’t mind having someone I can have sex with but no strings attached. Just sex. That’s it. No emotions. No relationship. Kind of like how you’ve been doing but only with one person, not a Mac truck load.”
His stare was intense and his pupils turned darker than she had ever seen them. “I’m available, Bree,” he said in a sexy tone. He moved closer with his lips less than an inch from hers, sending tingles through her body. “You already know what it’s like to kiss me. Imagine if you had a chance to experience more than that.”
Copyrighted August 2012 by Candace Shaw
Cannon Arrington has pushed aside a social life to dedicate his time to medical school, extracurricular activities, and helping others … that is, until he lays his eyes on the angelic face of Yasmine Dubose. For Cannon, meeting her was a breath of fresh air. Something about the bubbly, sexy teacher makes him realize he needs to stop and smell the roses.
Yasmine has had a crush on Cannon since high school, but he’d never noticed the nerdy freshman. Now she’s blossomed into a woman who’s full of life. She knows Cannon’s drive for success is important to him, but she fears he’ll become even more of a workaholic than her father, who died when she was a child.
Will Cannon settle down and learn how to balance his career and love life, or will he lose the simply amazing woman who has stolen his heart?
Cannon sat across from Yasmine at her kitchen table while she graded papers. They’d been dating for over a month now, and he’d never felt so relaxed with a woman in such a short time frame. She’d made him take breaks and just have fun. He’d lived in Nashville for almost two years and had never ventured out much as far as site seeing because he was there for medical school. Thanks to her spontaneous nature, they’d been to the Cheekwood Botanical Gardens, the Nashville Zoo, and the Opryland Museum. She’d suggested a country music concert just for the fun of it, but instead they went to a traveling carnival where he felt like a kid again eating corn dogs and funnel cakes as well as riding roller coasters and Ferris wheels.
He was supposed to be studying for an upcoming test on Monday about anatomy, but he was more concerned about her anatomy. His eyes kept straying to her face, and inhaling her perfume that smelled like a mixture of apples and pears. When she’d returned downstairs from her shower earlier, he’d been mesmerized by her mint-green nightgown, which was why he could no longer concentrate. It wasn’t sexy lingerie, but it was hot on her with spaghetti straps that kept falling off of her soft shoulders and little pink ribbons around the hem that stopped mid thigh. Before she sat back down, she’d dropped her red pen and bent over to pick it up, exposing pink boy shorts that fit her cute butt like a glove and toned thighs he needed to get in between.
“Shouldn’t you be studying?” Yasmine asked with her reading glasses pulled down on her nose.
“I am. I could study you all day and all night and never get tired.”
“I can believe that since you never sleep.” She closed her folder of graded papers and took off her glasses.
“I know. I guess when I start my residency in a few years, I’ll be able to stay up all night. Maybe even pull a double.”
She smiled and said softly, “I’m glad you’re here.” She rose from the table. “I’m still trying to get used to this townhouse. Do you want some more coffee?”
He wanted something all right, and it damn sure wasn’t coffee. He wanted her on the kitchen table, on the island, against the wall, on the chair. Wherever she would let him have her so he could hear her soft moans when he was slow and gentle and her passionate screams when he was fast and rough.
No, I can’t. Not yet. Too soon. Right? Everything with her felt right and grounded, but he didn’t want to rush things.
Before he could consult his conscience any further, she placed her gaze on him and gave him a smile so amazing that any other questions he may have had for himself were thrown out the window. He needed her with a hunger so fierce it shook him.
Driven on a steadfast urge, he went to her and crushed her to him so fast, she let out a startled moan that he quickly muffled with his lips.
He kissed her hard, taunting her lips with his; her mouth succulent and soft. He was in control of their kiss, overpowering her warm, willing mouth as she sighed against his lips and reached for his head to pull him further into her. The moment their lips touched, all the reasons why he shouldn’t proceed escaped him. Instead, all of the explanations why he should make love to her overtook him and blazed within him so deep, it created a surge that rippled through his being and into her.
She responded to his kiss as if she’d been waiting for this moment to happen as well. He loved how perfect she felt in his embrace, her soft hands caressing his face and neck. He deepened the kiss even more, and she shuddered, letting out a muffled moan while her mouth vibrated against his. Heat flared in his gut, and he let out a profound groan while an intense flood of aching desire completely consumed him.