An unmistakable man opened Krystal’s front door.
Eleanor froze at the sight of Chef Michael. He was tall, rangy, and with his gold earring and dark curly hair, he had the pirate look down perfectly. Why was he here? Oh, she should speak.
“Eleanor Simmonds,” she put out her hand.
“Who is Eleanor Simmonds?” Chef Mike called back into the loft. What was that accent? French, Spanish, Hogwarts? It was the sort of accent that made Eleanor feel common, pedestrian, plain. The sort of accent that made her wish she was worldly. Spoke Mandarin. Had traveled to Benin. Or possibly Bhutan. Somewhere ten time zones away.
With a rakish grin, he studied Eleanor’s black velvet gown. “Are you the dotty aunt?”
Eleanor could not find words – or an accent of her own – for this thrilling repartee. Was she the dotty aunt? Suddenly, she wanted to be.
Now he winked. Was he Hugh Grant playing Huge Grant? “You’re no one’s aunt.”
“Eleanor is my ghostwriter,” Krystal called from the makeshift bedroom.
“Co-author,” Eleanor managed. “I mean I’m a with.”
“A with. Well. And, what are you two up to?” Chef Michael’s louche grin matched his earring.
“We’re collecting the last four recipes for our cookbook.”
“Ah, the cookbook.” He stared at Eleanor with his dark, smoldering eyes and she felt like he could see right through her dress. He was clearly impressed with himself, confident, enjoying his badass reputation. And darn, it was totally working.