Ryan strolled into the kitchen, the newspaper open in his hands.
“Have fun last night?” he asked Tyler with a grin. He held the newspaper in front of Tyler.
Tyler looked up from the lamb loins he was butchering and frowned slightly. Ryan showed him a page of photos from the fundraiser last night. There in the middle of the page, was him holding Chloe bent backward over his arm, their faces close, their eyes locked together in an intimate moment.
His hands stilled for a moment, then he grinned. “Yeah,” he said, looked closer. The caption read, ‘Chef Tyler Gregg and Chloe Graham enjoying a special moment’.
“You and Chloe?” Ryan asked, brows raised.
“Yeah.” He returned to his lamb, a faint smile on his face.
“You and Chloe?” Carlos repeated with interest.
“Check it out.” Ryan walked over to his station and showed him the photo. Carlos grinned too.
“You dog,” he said to Tyler. “How long has this been going on?”
Tyler shrugged. “Not long.”
Everyone else in the kitchen apparently needed to see the photo and make suggestive comments until Tyler finally said, in a mild tone, “Okay, back to work everyone.”
“Has Chloe seen this?” Ryan asked.
Tyler shrugged. “I don’t know. I’ll show her later. Leave the paper in my office.”
“Hey, who the fuck’s been messing in my shit?” Alejandro barked. “Where’s my knife?” He swung around and his eyes searched the kitchen. “Jason, you motherfucker, where the hell’s my knife?”
Tyler’s head came up but he said nothing, glanced sideways at Alejandro and Jason.
“I didn’t touch your fucking knife,” Jason said. “Or your mise...so, fuck off, asshole.”
“Oh, here it is,” Alejandro said, and went back to his station. Tyler grinned and continued butchering. Yup, that was life in the kitchen.
Once he was finished the tasting for the floor staff for that day’s specials, he went leaping up the stairs, newspaper in hand, to find Chloe.
“We made the paper,” he said as he entered her office.
She turned to him, smiling. God she was beautiful. He’d tucked her back into bed that morning when he’d left so she could get more sleep. He, on the other hand, couldn’t have felt more energetic and alive.
Her eyes moved over the page and widened when she saw the photo of them.
“Oh,” she said faintly. “How about that.”
He laughed. “We look damn good, don’t you think?”
She took a deep breath. “This is what it’s like for you, all the time, isn’t it?”
“Yeah.” He dropped the paper onto a table behind him. “You’re okay with that, aren’t you, sweetheart?” He crouched beside her chair and smoothed her hair away from her face.
She smiled at him. “Sure. It’s just weird for me. But it’s okay.”
He kissed her softly. “Gotta go. Come see me when you’re leaving, okay?” She nodded and he jumped back down the stairs to the kitchen.
It was a busy night at Insatiable but Tyler felt like he could go forever on adrenaline. He was so pumped from how fucking fantastic last night with Chloe had been. Then Allison, one of the wait staff, came into the kitchen and let out a scream of frustration.
“What the hell, Allison,” Carlos said.
“That bitch at table nine is driving me insane!” she cried. “She had questions about everything on the menu - everything, I tell you - now she’s complaining that the music is too loud, the lighting is too dim, she can’t see her food...and when I went to put her plate down in front of her, she tried to grab it from me and I almost dumped it in her lap.”
Tyler grimaced. Difficult customers were never fun to deal with. “You want me to talk to her?”
“Would you?” Allison wiped the edge of two plates ready for table ten. “Maybe that will settle her down.”
“I’ll go out in a minute,” Tyler said, focused on firing two entrees.
Shortly, he wiped his hands on a towel and walked out into the dining room. He wandered leisurely through the tables, greeting people he recognized, responding to others he didn’t know who recognized him, accepting compliments on the food.
When he reached table nine he stopped. “Good evening,” he said, flashing a smile at the young couple. “How was dinner tonight?”
The woman looked at him, open-mouthed. “Are you the chef?”
He nodded and held out a hand. “Tyler Gregg. Pleased to meet you.”
“Wow,” she said. “Uh...I’m Carrie and this is my fiancé, Trent.” They shook hands. “Dinner was great.” She stared at Tyler with fascination. “Absolutely fantastic.”
“Glad to hear it,” Tyler said. “Is this a special occasion for you two?”
She nodded, smiled and blushed faintly. “We just got engaged, actually,” she said, glancing at Trent, who nodded.
“Congratulations!” Tyler said. “Allow me to treat you both to a glass of champagne.”
“That’s so nice of you...thank you!”
Tyler went over to the bar and had a word with Emilio, then returned to the kitchen. He told Allison what had happened.
“Oh, you probably don’t believe me now,” she said in a huff. “She was a bitch to me, Tyler.”
“I believe you,” he said mildly. It wasn’t the first time that had happened...guests gave the wait staff a hard time but as soon as he, the chef, the big guy, appeared they were all sucky and flattering. Especially women. “They’re getting a free glass of champagne to celebrate their engagement.”
“You’re rewarding her for bad behavior!” Then she laughed. “I feel sorry for the guy, engaged to her.”
“Take them their champagne,” Tyler said. “Maybe you’ll get a nice tip out of it.”
Allison grinned at him. “Thanks, Chef.”
He went back to work, tossing food in sauté pans, flaming brandy over shrimp in a burst of heat, grilling scallops.
Then Chloe came in. “I’m going home now,” she said to Tyler.
“God, Chloe, are you still here!” he exclaimed with annoyance. “It’s eight o’clock!”
She nodded. “Uh...yeah.”
He quickly wiped his hands and led her out of the kitchen and down the hall. “You work too damn much!” he growled at her. “You should be at home, having a nice long bath and doing your nails or something.”
She smiled at him and touched his face gently. “I’m fine, Tyler.”
He studied her for a moment, then bent his head and kissed her. He was still kissing her when Emilio came around the corner.
“Oops,” he said, coming to a halt, eyes wide. “I was just going back for another bottle of Chivas. Sorry.”
He grinned at them and Chloe flushed. Tyler touched her cheek and smiled.
“Everyone knows now, sweetheart.”
Insatiable Part 19