New Release! M/M Contemporary Romance
Like A Wolf
Young, fresh, and wise beyond his years, Robert Redding finds culinary success and contentment with The Lunch Basket, his upscale diner that dishes up good old-fashioned country food. Serving the food he loves to his customers has always made him happy. He sees no need to step outside his comfort zone. He doesn’t want to be famous; he just wants to feed people.
Every good meal should be served with an edge of danger…
At least, that’s Hank Wolf’s philosophy of food. Step through the doors of Hungry and you’re putting yourself in his hands. In the kitchen, Hank is in control of everything, and the result is a mouthwatering dining experience that the whole town loves. Letting go of the tight control he has on every aspect of his life just isn’t in the recipe.
Curiosity leads Robbie to Hank’s so he can see for himself what all the fuss is about, and the attraction between the two chefs comes to a quick boil. But give these two restaurateurs the same ingredients and watch haute cuisine and home-style come head-to-head.
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That's what the fortune cookie said.
Hungry was a bar…more of a club really…on the outskirts of the town of Millbrook. It had once been an old schoolhouse, and then a gift shop sometime in the seventies when the town began to grow and attract tourists, then finally a restaurant.
As a restaurant, it was too far from the main attractions of the city, and didn’t boast a spectacular enough menu to draw crowds.
The building was abandoned for some six years before Henry Wolf bought it. For him, it was perfect. He had the drive and ambition to turn it into something Millbrook needed desperately—something he called fine dining with an edge of danger.
The restaurant was rustic; the food, as many a satisfied patron declared, was three star worthy.
Robert Redding stared at the building. Despite the rather full—for a Tuesday night—parking lot, it seemed deserted. Not a bit of light peeked out, glinted, or shimmered in a window, unlike his own cheery diner in downtown. His place was deserted tonight, as was usual for a Tuesday night. He’d left his waitress Bella and the sous chef, Nico, in charge while he went on his fact finding mission because he had to know.
Why does everyone flock here and leave my charming restaurant with its pretty, smiling staff empty?
Wasn’t the remote location.
Or the charm of the building itself, which was squarish and rather lumpy.
“Are you going to stand here all night staring at the place? Did you change your mind?” The eagerness in Saul’s voice was unmistakable. His friend wanted to go inside Hungry.
“No, of course I didn’t change my mind.” But he had. A hundred times from the moment he’d opened the fortune cookie and read its rather mundane little message, Hungry had been on his mind.
To triumph, you must face your competition.
That was what the fortune cookie said.
“Then come on!” Saul tugged on his arm, and Robert reluctantly left behind the weak shelter of the single lit parking lot light and headed into darkness. “I’ve been dying to try this place!”
“It looks like trying it might be fatal,” Robert muttered under his breath. “Would it kill them to put some more parking lot lights out here?” Maybe considering Hungry to be his competition was cocky. After all, he ran a diner, not a fine-dining establishment. And he wasn’t even certain Hungry qualified as a restaurant. Maybe it was just a bar with good snack. He hadn’t actually managed to locate or talk to anyone who’d actually eaten there.
He stumbled slightly when his foot landed on something in the parking lot that he could feel dig rather painfully into his insole even through the rubber bottom of his shoe. “I hope there’s more lighting inside. I hate eating food I can’t see.”
His eyes slowly adjusted to the darkness, and he managed to get up the shallow step to the door without further mishap. “I just want to see what’s so special about this place.” His cheeks burned a bit as they crossed over the threshold. He sounded so…petty. “I mean, it's not looking like a big deal so far.”
Inside was better. There was a lot of dim candlelight creating intimate little circles, a lot of shadowed alcoves that were… “Creepy,” he uttered.
“If you say so.”
The deep voice from the left startled Robert and he gave an embarrassing squeak. “Oh!”
“I prefer to think of them as romantic, secluded little enclaves where a man can be alone with his…dinner…date. At least, I assume you’re talking about the curtained tables?”
Shuddering, Robert turned to the left. The man standing at a host’s podium was worthy of the reaction his voice had caused. He was tall, broad of shoulder and narrow of waist. His hair hung in a smooth curtain of darkness to the shoulders of his simple white dress shirt, nearly bursting at the seams trying to contain the muscles packed into that frame.
“I…we…” His voice gave out, probably because all his brain cells were focused on striving to see through the gloom to make the blur of white that was the man’s face into an image to go along with the voice and the figure.
“You have a reservation.” The voice purred smoothly along his skin…stroking it, leaving prickling hairs rising in its wake.
“You know who I am?” Startled, he moved closer and found himself under intense scrutiny from a pair of tawny gold eyes with a curious, elongated slant, almost Asian. “I…” Again, he was at a loss for words.
“No.” A soft chuckle broke the silence before it could grow awkward, and Robert started. That chuckle went straight to his groin. “You’re standing at my podium, and…” He raised a big hand in a cavalier gesture. “The rest is logic. Name please?”
“Red…ding.” Robert was grateful for the shadowy darkness that hid his face…and his blush, hopefully, from the man at the podium. “Um… Robert.”
The chuckle erupted into a full-throated, husky, ball-tightening laugh. “Ah, Red, I am the Wolf. Henry Wolf, to be precise. My friends call me Hank.”
Was that an invitation to be his friend?
“This way please.” Robert hung back just long enough to pick his jaw up off the ground, then followed Hank…the wolf…his host and Saul through the restaurant to a table…not one of the curtained alcoves, thank god, but a decently located table that would allow them to see. “I hope this is satisfactory. I need to get back to the kitchens, but your server will be with you shortly.”
Saul blinked across the small table at him. Soft candle light revealed a pewter place setting and creamy white linen napkins. “This is amazing.”
Robert shook off his fascination, broke his gaze away from the host’s retreating back, and looked at his friend. “What’s so amazing about it? It’s a candlelit table in a dark room. We haven’t had a crumb to eat or sip yet, so…”
“Aside from that hot hunk of man that just seated us? And flirted with you? Oh my god, he flirted with you!” Saul’s lashes fluttered in rapturous mockery.
“Oh shut up! He did not!” Robert adjusted his napkin, turned his water glass upright. “Where are the menus? I want to see what’s so special that this dark and dreary place is full on a Tuesday night when everywhere else in town is dead.”
“There’s no menu.” Saul leaned over the candle. “It’s chef’s choice, a minimum of three courses, but sometimes there’s been as many as seven.”
I’d choose the chef, too. Robert blinked, dispelling an image of those tawny eyes and the sexy shoulders. “How did you find that out? No one I talked to mentioned it.”
“Yelp.” Saul shrugged. “I was on there, posting a review of your new dessert menu, and well… Hungry popped up in the sidebar.”
“Yelp?” Robert shook his head.
“Here you go, Red…and friend.”
A rough pewter tray appeared between them in a large hand, tipped with polished blunt nails, decked with fine dark hairs. Robert followed the trail of hairs to a thick wrist, swallowing hard. A gleaming metal watch, a strong forearm, a rolled up shirt sleeve. At the other end of that hand was the man who’d sent his senses into disarray. How far did he want to go on this visual track? Was he braced for the impact of those eyes peering into his soul?
No. No, I am not.