I know you've all seen the gorgeous cover and I've posted the blurb, but I thought I'd do a little excerpt from Chapter One and give you a taste.
Anxiety nagged the edges of Indie’s already frayed nerves as she waited in the dressing area with the other models. The haughty, judgmental glares from the younger, skinnier Barbie types had her desperately itching to offer a sarcastic smile and a middle finger. So what if she wasn’t even close to a size two? She did okay working as a model for the alternative fetish agency Exquisite Flesh. It wouldn’t make her rich, but it paid the bills and her tuition at culinary school.
Usually she did pinup shoots and ads for alternative clothing. Very rarely did she take assignments that required nudity. She wasn’t actually naked for this, but damn close to it. Who was she to pass up the opportunity to be a sushi model at a trendy restaurant like Crave?
Indie walked through the curtain and into the dining room with pride. Well, about as much pride as one can muster while wearing a flesh-colored thong and paper booties.
The manager, Elaine, stood waiting in her drab suit and looked rather alarmed. “Oh no, this is the new model? Lance, I thought I told you that she had to fit the type!” She whirled to face the man who prepared the display table before them.
“Exquisite Flesh was the only agency that had a girl available on such short notice. I’m an assistant, I don’t do miracles,” Lance said with a smirk.
“Chef is not going to be happy. At all. She’s covered in tattoos and,” she fingered a lock of Indie’s hair, “are those blue streaks in her hair?”
Torn between mortification and annoyance, all Indie could do was stand there. The last thing she wanted to do was piss off Chef Faust. He was the culinary world’s version of a rock star. He was known for being demanding, flashy and prone to excess, but his talent with food was undeniable. The chance to catch a glimpse of him in action was the main thing that motivated her to accept the job.
Her agent hadn’t mentioned they’d wanted to book a specific type. Just fucking great.
“I’m sorry that I’m not what you were expecting. I’ll just gather my things and be on my way,” Indie offered with a polite nod, but was met with the manager’s sigh of irritation.
“No, no, no. It’s too late to find a proper replacement. You’ve already been prepped. We’ll just have to make it work.”
Prepped meant she’d been shaved baby smooth and washed thoroughly with an organic unscented soap. It had been an odd experience, having unknown people scrub and shave her so completely. Actually she’d found the whole thing rather arousing. Maybe she should be embarrassed about that, but right now she was too nervous to put much thought into it.
The manager turned back to Lance. “Take her to pastry and have them airbrush over her tattoos. When they are finished let Chef know he will not be able to put the food directly on her skin. Then get her into place on the table in the corner, the one that’s out of the way.”
“You got it,” Lance responded as he held out a robe for Indie.
She thankfully wrapped herself in the silk and followed him into the kitchen. She stopped and stared for a second. She couldn’t help it. It was as if she’d just died and gone to culinary heaven. There was so much space. The polished stainless steel and top-of-the-line equipment almost had her drooling. Everything you ever needed to be a kick-ass chef was in this kitchen. She could just imagine the high-end, exotic ingredients it would be stocked with. This wasn’t a place for cooking. No, nothing as ordinary and mundane as that. This was a place to create art.
“Indigo?” Lance’s voice snapped her out of her trance.
“Sorry, it’s just…this kitchen,” she murmured.
“Come on, sweetheart. Shame really, but we have to cover those gorgeous tattoos of yours,” he said with a sympathetic smile. “If it were up to me I would—”
“What is she doing in here?” Chef Faust made a beeline for them, toweling off his hands as he approached.
It’s him. Indie’s heart did a little dance. Okay, so she could admit she was a little star struck.
Meticulously he scrutinized her as he stood waiting for an answer. He had the kind of intense features that made him appear almost angry—perfectly straight nose, hard, square jaw, brooding and stormy blue eyes. The man was chest-achingly beautiful. She knew from the articles she’d read about him that he was thirty-four, just six years older than her. To have achieved all of this so quickly, he had to have hunger and drive, two qualities no top chef could succeed without. She bet arrogance and superiority belonged on that list too.
“Chef, this is the replacement model. I was just taking her to pastry to have them airbrush over her tattoos,” Lance replied with an audible level of anxiety and eyes so huge it seemed as though he was braced for nuclear fallout.
“May I see?” Chef Faust addressed Indie.
Showing her personal bits to the executive chef of one of the most acclaimed restaurants in the area was not high on her list of fun things to do. This is what you signed up for so suck it up. She was not ashamed of her body and Chef Faust could go sous-vide himself if he didn’t like what he saw.
She nodded and let the robe slip off her shoulders to pool at her elbows. The way he drank her in made it seem as if everyone else in the room had vanished. Her already hardened nipples stood out like beacons. She felt the blush creep into her cheeks as she imagined him pinching, tugging, sucking on them. Where had that come from? Her unexpected arousal unbalanced her. She hadn’t reacted this way to a man in a very long time. Disconcerted by the need and lust he’d so effortlessly invoked in her, she averted her gaze before tentatively settling it on his once more. He ran a hand through his shaggy, walnut-brown hair as he studied her. “No. No airbrushing. She’s absolutely perfect,” he exclaimed, circling her.
Lance let out a sound that was halfway between a sigh and a laugh.
Had Chef Faust just said she was perfect? Indie with the extra padding around the hips, a bit of roundness to her belly and lily-white skin? She followed him with her gaze, watching as he continued to peruse her body. It should have felt cold and dispassionate. He was contemplating whether or not he wanted to use her as a display for raw fish after all. But the way he moved made her feel as if he were a predator and she his prey. It was somehow sensual, and she was incredibly embarrassed that she was turned on by it. Attempting to regain her composure, she straightened her spine and lifted her chin, praying he hadn’t noticed the way he affected her.