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  Em would have called herself sexually adventurous. Okay, maybe not quite, but she was at least sexually game. Now she had to admit, maybe she wasn’t nearly as game as she’d thought.

  This hotel had certainly been an eye-opener. A costly one. She thought of her expense account and winced as she stared at the elaborate but somehow elegantly simple, menu of Amuse Bouche. And yet, she reasoned, if coming here got her Chef Jacob Hill, then every penny spent would be worth its weight in gold.

  Or so she hoped.

  Logically she knew that even if she somehow managed the miracle and convinced him to come to Hollywood to star in his own TV show, it was only half the battle.

  She still had a successful show to make.

  One crisis at a time.

  Liza set down her menu, took one look at Em and nodded. “Alcohol,” she said. “We need some.”

  “Not until I talk to him,” Em said, determined, but getting nervous. “I need all my wits about me for that.”

  “Honey, with this guy there’s no chance of having your wits at all. The guy’ll charm the pants right off you without trying.”

  “You don’t know that.”

  “I’ve heard. And then what happened today proves it.”

  Em was already regretting that she’d told her friend about the E.I.

  Liza waggled her carefully waxed eyebrows. “Personally, I think you should go for it, you could use the cookie.”


  “Orgasm,” Eric explained, checking into the conversation. “She calls orgasms ‘cookies’. She thinks it’s cute.”

  “You used to think it was cute,” Liza sniffed.

  Eric’s blue eyes sparkled. “Maybe I still do.”

  Liza stared at him, then reached for her water as if parched. Em eyed the door to the kitchen. “What’s the best way to approach him, do you think?”

  Liza was still staring at Eric. With what looked like great effort, she tore her gaze from him, her thumb rubbing her ring finger where her wedding band used to be. She turned to Em. “What did Nathan suggest?”

  Nathan wanted her to play hardball from the start, offering Jacob standard money, and when he balked, adding small slices of the profits. And when all else failed, she was to resort to hair in the food.

  As if she’d ever really do such a thing. “Maybe I could ask the waitress if I could talk to him.”

  “Jeez, at these prices, he oughta come with the meal. Maybe sing and dance, too.” Eric tossed down his menu and smiled as the waitress came close. “Excuse me, do you know the chef?”

  “Of course.” The waitress smiled back. “Wait until you taste his food, it’s out of this world.”

  Liza leaned close to Em. “And according to you, his food isn’t the only thing that tastes out of this world.”

  “Stop.” Em felt the blush creep up her face.

  The waitress rattled off the specials. “Everything is fabulous. Trust me, you’ll love everything you taste.”

  “Including the chef himself,” Liza murmured for Em’s ears only.

  “Could we have another minute before deciding?” Em asked the waitress.

  “Oh, you bet. Take your time.”

  Em waited until it was just them and turned to Liza. “I shouldn’t have told you about the elevator incident. I don’t even know for certain that it was him.”

  “Well, it was somebody named Chef. You sure you don’t know why he kissed you?”

  “No, he just said ‘do you mind?’ and then he was doing it.”

  “And you didn’t think about kneeing him in the ’nads?” Eric asked.

  At the first taste of him, Em hadn’t thought at all. In fact, she’d been the one to deepen the connection. “It wasn’t like that.”

  “Uh-huh.” Liza looked at her speculatively. “Must have been some kiss.”

  Oh, yeah. “It was…interesting.”

  “Interesting? Honey, this menu is interesting. The decor is interesting. But a kiss? A kiss is either hot stuff or not worth the trouble. No in-between.”

  Worth the trouble. Times ten. Times infinity.

  Eric was studying Liza thoughtfully. “Which was it with us?”


  “Those two months we were married. Was it hot stuff or not worth the trouble?”

  Liza opened her mouth, then closed it.

  Eric’s amusement faded, replaced by an unmistakable hurt. “Right.”

  The waitress came back and took their orders by memory, and then offered the services of their sommelier, who could come to the table and make wine suggestions if they’d like.

  The sommelier turned out to be one of the women in the elevator, though if the tall, elegant, beautiful brunette recognized Em, she gave no indication of it.

  When they were alone again, Liza set down her drink and looked at Eric. “It was hot stuff.”

  Now it was Eric’s turn to blink in surprise.

  Liza seemed just as taken aback and abruptly turned to Em. “If you don’t approach the chef tonight you’ll have to make an appointment,” she babbled. “By all accounts, this guy is media reclusive, and not interested in a career path other than what suits him personally. I bet he wouldn’t easily grant you an interview.”

  “I know.” Em had worried about this. She worried about a lot of things. But mostly facing the sexy, gorgeous Jacob Hill now that she knew he lived up to his reputation. “I need to make contact tonight—” She broke off when the waitress came back and set down a plate of appetizers that they hadn’t ordered.

  “From the chef,” the woman explained. “Vegetable spring rolls with chili oil and teriyaki mustard sauce. They’re a favorite here.”

  Eric looked around at the other tables. They were all filled with people having conversations, sharing food, all enjoying themselves greatly, if the happy buzz in the place meant anything. “Does the chef always give away his food?”

  “For his friends, or special guests, yes.”

  Liza looked at Em.

  So did Eric.

  Em laughed nervously. “Uh, thank you.”


  “Oh, boy,” Em whispered when she’d left. “Do you think he sees us here?”

  “You, you mean,” Liza said. “Does he see you here. Of course he does. He sent the food over.”

  Em stared at the appetizers, then looked around her. Waitstaff moved easily and discreetly around the crowded room. No chef in sight.

  “Must have been a helluva kiss.” Liza dug into the spring rolls, then moaned. “Oh, my God. Em, you’ve got to taste this.”

  “Oh, yeah,” Eric said when he’d popped one in his mouth. “This guy knows his stuff.”

  “The man’s a god,” Liza moaned.

  “Are you sure all you did was kiss him, Em?” Eric reached for his second. “Because this isn’t a thank-you for a kiss. This is a thank-you for a good fu—”

  “Eric.” Liza glared at him.

  Eric just popped another appetizer into his mouth.

  “Men,” Liza muttered. “Dogs.”

  “Woof woof,” he agreed happily.

  Em shook her head and tasted a roll herself. It did melt in her mouth, made her stomach rumble happily, and actually brought a helpless smile to her face, just as a movement caught the corner of her eye.

  A tall, broad man stood at the back of the restaurant, leaning against the doorjamb of the kitchen. Seeming extremely comfortable with both himself and his surroundings, his posture and manner spoke of a quiet, rock-solid confidence.

  A confidence she’d experienced firsthand.

  Unlike earlier in the elevator, he wore a white chef’s hat and jacket, which only accentuated to his height and well-built body. His staff moved around him like a well-tuned army, most of them taking the time to say something to him, or at least cast him a smile, which he always returned.

  “That’s him?” Liza whispered. “Because wow.”

  “Yeah.” Suddenly Em felt hot in the cool