Print Length: 282 pages
Publication date: June 1, 2021
He owns the spotlight, she lives in the shadows.
My only purpose? Keep lethal cryptids in check, and our Company existence secret.
Sometimes a girl needs a night of karaoke and tequila though. Instead, after a vicious new cryptid species crashes the party, I end up saving and carting home a way arrogant, way hot chef. With Bruce Kantor now a temporary roommate it seems like the perfect time to indulge my forbidden civilian fascination—especially the friends-with-benefits part. But the feelings he ignites threaten my oath and mission.
Damn right I’m the bad boy of the culinary world.
I live for the limelight, and the legions of #BruceTheBastard fans love my temper as much as my food. After stomping out of one high-profile gig, all I’m looking for are directions to my next. What I get is a giant Komodo Dragon-wannabe, and Vee Ramirez, the most infuriatingly irresistible woman to ever hit my radar.
Even if we survive the relentless monster on my trail, our future is toast unless I can convince Vee there’s more to life than the Company.
Welcome to Region Two.
@Archaeolibrary, @PromotionsPsst, @JanetWaldenWest,
Chapter 1 Bruce
Five-inch height disadvantage or not, Bruce stared the taller restaurant owner down. “My kitchen means my fucking kitchen. You do not fuck with my prep line, my stations, my sous, or my plating. You definitely don’t. Fuck. With. My. Menu.”
The asshole readjusted his hundred-dollar tie. Probably an attempt to impress upon Bruce that a tie equaled all-powerful owner, while food-spattered coat and tattoos equaled subordinate chef. “After opening four restaurants, I can assure you the menu is always open to change.”
“That mindset is why your restaurant needed me.” Bruce crossed his arms, blocking the kitchen’s swinging door and daring the guy to move one inch further into Bruce’s territory.
The line cooks and the sous darted glances his way. They also kept cooking, smarter than their boss.
Sensing a losing battle, the guy took a different tact, angling in to Bruce and lowering his voice. “With the Food and Drink editor doing me a favor and letting slip that she would be here this evening, everyone who fancies themselves a foodie is in our dining room tonight.”
Bruce snorted. “Your crowd is here thanks to me.”
“Either way, there’s enough money and influence out there to buy and sell
Scottsdale several times over. All I’m asking is for you to accommodate two diners, with a few minor alterations to their meal.”
“You. Get over here.” Bruce pointed at the waiter who had brought in the contested order minutes earlier. “Repeat the table’s minor alterations.”
The waiter kept a healthy distance, adams-apple bobbing, but recited back the order. “The gentleman at the table requires you to sub out for jalapeños on his second course. The lady specified crema instead of the featured sauce, and double the amount.”
“It’s bullshit. Replacing heirloom Cochiti chili with fucking jalapeño? Drowning a delicate jicama and roe under goddamn cheese? If they want shit commercial food, send them to a drive through.”
The owner’s eyelid twitched. “That’s the mayor and her guest, and I’m sure they’re tired of waiting. Make the changes.”
The kitchen went still, line cooks stopped mid-sauté, dishwashers frozen. The pop of hot oil carried in the charged silence.
Bruce took his glasses off, polished them on his jacket sleeve, and replaced them.
The closest cook took a long step back, but the owner only glared. “You want jalapeños and cheese?”
Bruce turned and swept his arm down the plating station, china flying and shattering, his volume rising with every word. “Then cook it yourself, you hack.”
He rolled up his knife case, and stomped over the shards on his way past the open-mouthed owner.
The asshole recovered enough to hiss, “The door is behind you.”
Bruce flipped him off, shoving past him and marching through the dining room.
Ignoring the diner who half-rose and his, “Could I get a selfie?” Leaving startled silence then the frantic buzz of conversation in his wake.
Janet Walden-West lives in the Southeast with a pack of show dogs, a couple of kids, and a husband who didn’t read the fine print. A member of the East Tennessee Creative Writers Alliance, she is also a founding member of The Million Words craft blog. She pens inclusive Contemporary Romance and Urban Fantasy. As a two-time Pitch Wars alum turned Pitch Wars 2019 Mentor, Sherrilyn Kenyon scholarship recipient, and Golden Heart® finalist, she believes in paying it forward by supporting burgeoning Southern writers.
She is represented by Eva Scalzo of Speilburg Literary Agency.