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For Your Dining Pleasure

At 2:15 in the morning, Teaghan couldn't think of anything more obnoxious than the sound of an incoming cellphone call. Whether it be the thrashing thrum of “car collision” music, or the velvety voice of the sexiest crooner, or the pixie-like chime of bells, it always took considerable restraint not to pound the little piece of glass, plastic, and electronics into dust whenever it dragged her from her slumber. The intrusion at this very moment was no exception.

As it rang for another five seconds, she groaned and squeezed her eyes shut, wishing it would stop or, better yet, the battery would just die in the stupid thing. But of course, she knew it wouldn't stop. She thumped her head back against her pillow and cursed under breath. Grudgingly, she rolled over onto her side, her long brunette hair falling across her face, and slapped her hand around on the nightstand, fumbling for her phone in the dark.

"What the fuck do you want, now?!" That was what she wanted to scream as she raised the device to her ear. Instead, she cleared her throat, took a deep breath and said, "Yes? Is there something that you want?"

"Oh, I think you know what I want," a low, slithery voice spoke on the other end.

Teaghan rolled onto her back, her head sinking into the soft down pillow. "Isn't it a little late for this?" she said wearily. It was more of a plea than an actual question.

"It's never too late for this and you know it," the breathy voice replied, "I really want it now. You have to do this for me now."

She rolled her eyes and sighed, "Andres, I'm in no mood to play games with you. Can't you just leave me alone tonight? Please? I'm exhausted."

"I want it hot and I want it sticky and I want it fresh. I can't wait to sink my teeth into your sweet, sweet meat and lick your tender flesh," he droned on, ignoring her. "And you know you're the only one who knows how to do it right. The only one who can give it to me. The only one who can...satisfy me."

Teaghan paused and rubbed her forehead. She slapped her hand down beside her on the bed sheets and said tersely, "Alright. Enough! I'm getting up."

"So you're going to do it?" Andres said. She could feel his stupid grin through the phone.

"Yes," she sighed. Of course she was going to do it. The jack-ass knew she had no choice.

She sat up in bed. Yawning she asked, "You want it the usual way?"

"You know it!" he piped in. "But make it a sour dough bun instead of onion. And I want some of your sweet potato strings too."

“Why not a salad, as well?” Teaghan asked, sarcasm mode on.

“That's a great idea!” Andres chimed. “Balance out those carbs. Drizzle some of that honey-balsamic dressing of yours on it, Tigger.”

Teaghan seethed quietly. Fuck...you...

She opened her mouth to say something but was cut off by the click of his phone. Holding up the cell phone, the words "Call Ended" glowing back at her, she stuck her tongue out at it. Flipping it on the bed, she threw her covers off, stood up and stumbled in the darkness across the floor of the guest house. She pulled her halter-top down past her belly. Her body was hating her for this right now.

“Bastard,” she grumbled. As she picked up her track pants from a chair by the window she muttered, "Why can't you get your own goddamn pulled pork sandwich?"

***

About three weeks ago...

Teaghan Luang leaned over a couple of white square plates on her marble prep counter. Alone, she worked like an alchemist in the large, pristine kitchen. On each plate, she carefully laid down a set of mini-crepes, fanning them out across the centre, and topped each off with a bud of fresh ricotta. After applying a tablespoon size wedge of her mango-basil “pâté” on the side, she arranged slices of peach and avocado around the edges of the plate. Finally, she drizzled everything with raspberry sauce and dusted her master-piece with lemon sugar.

Any person would have stepped back to admire such a delicious piece of art. Teaghan didn't bother, though. She knew it was great. A quick wipe of her hands and she picked up the plates and brought them to the Nikolaous, awaiting their morning breakfast in the sun room.

Teaghan had the second best job she could ever have. The first would be for her to own and run the kitchen of a bistro restaurant in Napa Valley; a place she could unleash her inner bitch and boss around three or four slaves --preferably men; sweaty, obedient men-- in her own kitchen, all the while receiving accolades for her amazing culinary creations. Reservations would be made months in advance and some of the dining plebs would offer to suck on her toes just to garner a seat outside by the bistro's dumpster. Until she could afford to do so though, working as a personal chef to an elderly couple on their private vineyard estate in California and making a crap-load of money for it would just have to do for now.

She had been working for the Nikolaous for the last five months. They were a funny, boisterous couple. Maybe it was because they hadn't felt the weight of financial struggle for the better part of their lives now. Maybe it was that bold and passionate Greek blood that flowed through them. Whatever it was, they were still very spry and alert for a couple who were over seventy.

It was her job as a chef and nutritionist to make sure that they stayed that way as long as possible. Fortunately for them, Teaghan was an excellent chef if she did say so herself. She had years of training packed into her ripe old body of twenty-nine years. She was still riding along the plateau of enthusiasm for her art and would continue to do so for a good long time.

The Nikolaous were the perfect clients, undemanding and extremely appreciative of her culinary skills. They loved her seriousness for cooking and her spirited nature in general. She had a bit of brash and cheeky fire, just like them. They often enthused that she was like the daughter they never had, albeit with several notably defined Oriental features and a light hint of a British accent.

So when the Nikolaous asked her to be their on-call chef for the summer, she was already close to agreeing. A proposed increase in salary had her mouth open to say "yes". But even before she could, once they offered her residence in their guest house at the back of the rolling, large, and manicured garden rent free, she immediately went to her apartment to pack her bags later that night.

How difficult could a 24-hour on call chef's job be with this couple, she thought, except maybe a request for some toast and tea at 9 o'clock at night?

"Our grandson, Andres, will be staying with us for a month. He'll be flying in from New York the day after tomorrow," Mr. Nikolaou informed Teaghan as he dined on her crepes.

She nodded thoughtfully and said, "That'll be fine, Mr. Nikolaou. Do you know if he'll be requiring any specific dietary needs? Is he a young person?

The elderly man smiled and waved his hand, "Oh no, no! He's just finished his third year at Stanford. Andres will love your food, Ms.Chef! He won't be a problem at all! But perhaps you could make an extra special meal for supper on his first night here?"

Teaghan smiled and nodded again. "My pleasure."

Two nights later, she did the full court press. Not only did she provide as a main course a succulent braised herbed-lamb with brandy flambéed apricots and mint dressing mesculin salad, but she agreed to "present" the courses for the evening in her full chef's regalia: white hat, tunic, shoes, the whole bit.

Standing uneasily to the side as she tried to adjust her stiff uniform with subtle shifts of her body, she watched as Mr. and Mrs. Nikolaou savoured the meal, her eyes flitting across to the large pendulum clock ticking away on the wall.

"The things you do with lamb," Mrs. Nikolaou spoke after swallowing, "You must have Greek blood in you, my dear!"

Teaghan managed a polite smile. Clearing her throat softly, she asked, "Um, how late did you say Andres might be arriving?" Her eyes were focused on the empty place setting.

Mr. Nikolaou chewed for a bit then said, "Oh, well, his plane arrived hours ago. He said he wanted to stop in with some friends first. But don't worry. He'll be here. Mmm, you have really outdone yourself, Ms. Chef!"

Again she smiled, hiding the slight anxiety in her eyes. The chair remained empty through the entire dinner.

Later that night -much later- Teaghan awoke in bed to the sound of her cellphone ringing. She opened one eye, taking a second to focus on the clock. 3:20 a.m. It didn't stop ringing. With a groggy groan, she picked it up and answered.

"Yes?" she croaked.

"Hey, are you the cook?" a snappy voice replied on the other end.

"Huh? Who is this?"

"Andres. I heard you made some really sweet lamb," he said, his voice way too smooth and easy for her taste right then. "Can you slice it up and throw it on a pizza? With olives?"

"Huh? Pizza?" she replied, struggling to clear her 'sleep-throat'.

"Great. I'm in third bedroom at the right of the stairs. Opposite wing of my grandparents. Right at the end." He didn't stop talking. Why was he talking so fast? "Say -what- maybe twenty-five or thirty minutes is good for you?"

"Twenty-five minutes? Wha-?"

"Twenty-five minutes, then. Thanks, sweets." Click.

"Huh?" Teaghan's head was stuck in a dreamy loop. "Hello?"

She figured she still must have been dreaming when she found herself five minutes later in her robe and a pair of track-pants, shuffling across the expanse of the back garden and into the house. Wearing her glasses, she tied her hair into a neat bun as she walked, something she always did before she cooked. Somehow she found the kitchen and it was only due to her deftly honed skills as a chef that she was able to pull something together.

She plodded up the stairs holding a tray full of pita-pizza with lamb and olives. Walking through the dark hallways she came to the last door on the east wing of the house and rapped it twice with her knuckles.

The door opened, bright light and heavy dance music spilling over her. She winced and squinted. "Andres?" she asked.

In front of her, filling the doorway, was a tall young man wearing a navy-blue golf shirt and grey dress slacks. His smile was wide, his blue eyes, rimmed with thick eyebrows, were bright, and his dark blonde, curly hair had that beach-boy wave in it. He was way too fresh at this point of the night. He held up his finger to her and finished the conversation he was having on his cell phone.

"Yeah. Right. Gotta go," he said with a wink, "Delivery girl is here with the pizza. Yeah, bye!"

Teaghan, in her current state, was duly unimpressed. If she were awake, she'd probably would have been livid and cursing a storm.

Pocketing his cell phone, he leaned up against the side of the doorway and raised his eyebrows. He sighed. "It took longer than thirty minutes. Does that mean it's free?"

The woman simmered for a long moment, a trace of steam actually appearing on her glasses. Then shoved the tray firmly into his chest. "Your pizza," she grumbled.

Barely managing to keep the tray from spilling onto him, Andres smiled crookedly and chuckled, "Hey! Hey! Just kidding, chef. Why so much mean on such a pretty face?"

"Why so...?" The words got stuck in her mouth. She propped up her glasses with her finger...not so unconsciously using the middle one to do so. She dug her fists into her hips then unleashed a surly grumble, "It's 4 a.m. I am dead to the world at 4 a.m. as the world is dead to me. The next time you desire a pizza at 4 a.m. call Dominoes!"

“I'm Andres, by the way,” he said, holding out his hand.

She wanted to punch his smile sideways across his face. “I know who you are!”

The man tilted his head. "I can't place your accent. Where are you from?"

Teaghan's mouth dropped; a bad habit she couldn't break. She was dreaming. That's why she wasn't hearing him grovel and apologize like any sensible man should have been doing. She was sure of it. Her mouth still open, she turned on her heels with a roll of her eyes.

She began to stomp away when he called to her, "It's Meaghan, right? Or Regan? Or-"

She spun around. "It's Teaghan! TEE-gan," she said.

"More like 'Tigger' if you ask me," he mocked.

"Good night, Andres," she droned, "Or should I say good morning?"

"G'night," he said as he turned away from the door, "Tigger."

A couple of hours later, after her normal wake-up time, Teaghan was slumped on the vanity in her bathroom, wearily looking into the mirror through the twists of hair that had fallen across her face. She was still wondering if it had been a dream.

Yet a short while later, there he was, Andres, sliding into the sun room where she serving Mr. and Mrs. Nikolaou breakfast. He looked the same way he had four hours earlier, relaxed and fresh like a peach. Even in the brighter sunlight and with her eyes more alert and focused, his handsome features did nothing for her. That's what she insisted to herself, anyway.

"This is Teaghan Luang, dear. Our chef," his grandmother said.

"A great pleasure to meet you," he said with a polite smile. He offered no hint of their earlier introductions over a late night pizza delivery.

“Yes. Hello.” Teaghan simply nodded then looked out the window.

“I hear you've got the magical touch with a spatula,” he added.

Teaghan mused about a very intimate introduction with Andres and her spatula.

"Prepare to have your taste buds be delighted by her skills, Andres," Mr. Nikolaou said.

Andres chewed on a piece of crusty bread and flashed a wry smile. He said, "I'm sure they will be, Poppa."

“Just stay out of her kitchen, my dear,” Mrs. Nikolaou offered, “That's her territory.”

Andres nodded. He winked at Teaghan. “I'll be sure to respect her domain.”

Teaghan shot him a very cold stare.

Over the next couple of weeks, Andres tested the depth of her admittedly shallow patience. First of all, as it turned out, he had very different tastes in food than his grandparent. Andres liked red meat, lots of it, and all of those other wonderful culinary treats people would find in a shopping mall food court. Teaghan now had to prepare two different menus for each meal, one for Andres and one for his grandparents. And damned if her sensibilities as a chef would allow her to serve simple burgers and fries. It had to be Kobe beef and oyster mushroom patties on a fresh-baked corn bread bun and spicy tempura sweet potato strings on the side.

And forget about “respecting her domain”. She had to shoo him away from the fridge and cupboards so often, he reminded her of a fox in the hen-house. Then he'd perch himself on a stool across from her at the counter, usually munching on an apple or chips, and chat her up while she worked. It took everything she had not to toss a knife at him.

Andres would never eat at the same time as his grandparents. In fact, he never had any meal at the same time from day-to-day. The most annoying aspect of this problem being his after midnight -way after midnight- 'snacks'. The only saving grace of having to bring him something to eat after 2 a.m. each morning was that he never fulfilled her dread of knocking on his door and possibly walking in on him in bed with a woman. To her mild surprise, he was always by himself at that point in the night. Each time he would invite her to join him in his bedroom --”Just to eat and chat, I swear!”-- each time she'd decline, sometimes politely, sometimes not so much.

She tried her best not to snap at him, though it never really bothered him when she did. Always that impish smile on his face, he seemed to enjoy her attention, no matter how sour she got. She reminded herself that her payment was enough, barely, to put up with the wise-ass. Mostly, she was trying to avoid hearing that "Tigger" nickname he was quickly growing fond of.

Surely a professional like herself could put up with him for the rest of the summer.

Or maybe one morning the Nikolaous would wake up to find a thousand dollar set of chef's knives harpooned in Andres' back.

***

Teaghan forked the tender strings of pork dripping in her fresh-made zesty stout-barbecue sauce onto the oversized sourdough bun. The sweet potato strings sat in a bowl lined with parchment paper dusted with a chilli powder blend.

As she put down the bowl with the pork, she brought her thumb up to her lips to lick some of the sauce that had dripped onto it. She caught herself, tongue sticking out, and glared at the sticky red sauce.

"Whoops," she said with a slight, wicked smile as she instead wiped her thumb off with a towel.

Three minutes later she was at his door, handing him the platter.

"Thanks, chef," he said with a smile. He motioned with his head back towards his room, "You want to come in for a bit?"

"Not unless you have a bowlful of pomegranates," she replied.

"Ten minutes," he cajoled, "I'll be good."

Teaghan shook her head. She eyed him and said, "It's just a tad late, Andres. I'd like to go back to bed."

"Come on, Teaghan. Just to talk. I've hardly gotten to know you since I've been here," he said.

He wanted to get to know her at 3:00 in the morning? Whose fault was it that he was hardly ever around the house during the normal hours of the day? "If you'd like to talk," she replied, "Breakfast is at 8, lunch at 12:30, and dinner at 6."

Then she pivoted and walked away.

"Sorry to get you up, Tigger," he said from behind.

Half-way down the hall, Teaghan turned around. “Read the salad, Andres,” she said.

“Read the salad?” Andres frowned and looked down at the plate of greens. An elegant scrawl of balsamic dressing around the edges read, “Please choke.”

“That's nice penmanship, Tigger,” Andres conceded with a wide grin.

"Enjoy your barbecue sauce, jerk," she said softly, grinning to herself. Andres may have woken her up, but he was the one who was going to stay up all night.

***

Teaghan -- Age 19

It was 1:30 a.m. After a six-hour dinner service at Le Chanteur Heureux, slaving in the kitchen chopping sack-fulls on vegetables, prepping endless plates of salad, and then working like a fiend to scrub down the entire kitchen with sponges and mops, Teaghan could have been forgiven if she came off as a bit fatigued.

Yet, this was the hour that her senses and talents truly came alive. With vigour and inspiration, she worked at the hot stove and kitchen counter, chopping, mixing, simmering, seasoning, tasting. The light sheen of sweat brought out the rose in her high cheeks, added a gloss to her curled, pink lips, and a brightness to her almond-shaped eyes. She looked great when cooking, and she knew it. She hoped Daniel knew it, too.

Her mentor, head-chef, and co-owner of the restaurant stood aside and watched her intently. It was just the two of them in the kitchen, in the entire restaurant; the rest of the staff had gone home unaware that the lights had come back on the moment the last of them had exited.

Within a short while, Teaghan served a lovely salmon-red, smooth and lightly creamy soup in a bowl, topping it with a dollop of fresh cream and sprinkles of parsley. She looked at it and smiled, before pushing it over toward Daniel and offering him a spoon.

She pulled off her tam, letting her short brunette hair fall into its relaxed bob, and held it between her hands. Nodding, she said, “It's a simple recipe...I wanted to start with something simple...but it's my own.”

Daniel indulged the young woman with a bemused smile. Taking up the spoon, he swirled the cream into the soup for a few deliberate seconds then had a taste.

Teaghan twisted the tam in her hands.

After a few more sips, he leaned back and smiled at her. “It's good.”

“Yeah?” Her eyes widened.

He nodded. “It's very good.”

“Yeah?!” She allowed herself to smile.

“This is a very...lovely and deceptively sophisticated soup, Teaghan,” he enthused, “You've done really well here.”

It amazed even herself how buzzed she was by Daniel's praise. Beaming from ear-to-ear and feeling a fire in her belly like no other, the generally reserved and intense young woman bounced on her heels like a child being handed an ice cream cone.

“It's great,” Daniel added.

“That's...great!” she laughed.

Swept by a hungry compulsion, she propelled herself into Daniel's arms and shoved her mouth over his. Aside from buzzed, she never realized how turned on she could be when her food was praised. She had the approval of her mentor, now she needed the passion of her lover.

Driving the older man against the white tiles of the kitchen wall, she moved her lips through his blonde whiskers surrounding his mouth, and twisted her tongue with his and tasted her soup still lingering upon it. It was marvellous. Her fingers deftly worked apart the buttons of his shirt and pushed it apart revealing a manly pattern of soft curls on his broad, white chest.

It was an easy thing to be caught up in her sudden voraciousness. Daniel didn't remain idle, his hands quickly freeing her of her apron, then her blouse, and finally her black slacks. He dragged them indulgently from the back of her thighs, around the round rump of her tight thong-clad bottom, before working their way up her back to snap apart the clasp of her bra.

Teaghan's dark lashes came down, her eyes shut as she chewed on her lower lip, feeling Daniel bend down and caress his tongue around her swelling nipples. A groan ached up her throat as his talented fingers pulled aside her panties and danced and slid along her pulsing slit. Breathing hard, her soft hand found its way down the waist of his pants, rubbing his hardening length with her warm palm.

Moments later, the aspiring young chef braced herself, hands on the wall, feet spread apart. Her mentor, positioned behind her, dropped his air of refinement with his trousers and briefs at his ankles, unsteady breaths slipping past his saliva-glossed lips, and rough hands clutching desperately at her smooth waist. A turgid first thrust of his hips lifted her to her toes and drove a languid groan through her mouth. As he filled her with furious strokes of his rigid shaft, she soon filled the air with moans and sighs and curses.

Flesh slapped against flesh unabated. The sound of their frenzied groans and their colliding bodies echoed violently in the empty kitchen, practically rattling the pots and pans. Even with the ovens off, the two were sweating as if standing under the warming lamps.

Daniel's hands were all over Teaghan, teasing and massaging her shaking breasts, circling and stroking her tingling clit. No surprise there from a chef used to multitasking. He was relentless, and his drive was finally rewarded with a sultry, wet groan from the woman's mouth and the unmistakeable shudder of her tensed body.

Teaghan twisted seductively as she came with a soaking rush. Her face glowed pink, eyes closed, tongue licking her parched lips. She still felt Daniel's delicious cock continue to surge through her; felt the angry, throbbing muscle ready to burst.

With intent seared in her eyes, she slipped off of him, spun around and knelt down on the clean, cool floor. It was Daniel's turn to brace his hands on the wall as she gathered him up in her palm and took him full into her mouth. Her unspoiled palate tasted herself on him. It filled her with an unexpected thrill.

Over and over she drove her lips over him, whirled her tongue around him, pushing him against her inner cheek and against her gullet. She moaned, her vibrating hum drawing a gratifying groan from Daniel. Drips of saliva fell to her lap. She pulled her head back, a shiny web tethered between her bottom lip and his thick head, and gasped.

That was more than enough for Daniel, and with a grunt he loosed a spurt of sticky cream onto her pretty, flushed face, smearing her cheek and chin with his spunk. Her mouth surrounded him before his next release, his bitter gush pasting the roof of her mouth and the back of her throat.

Teaghan swallowed hard and gasped again. Drips of Daniel's rich cum mingled with saliva on her lap. Her dreamy dark eyes looked up at him. He leaned above her, looking down, breathing like a man who had just completed a marathon.

She grinned. “So my soup was great, huh?”

Not bad at 1:30 in the morning after a busy day in the kitchen.

***

There were several fringe benefits to working for the Nikolaous. First, Teaghan's guest 'cottage' was beautiful. It was a wide-open one room concept, with a full size kitchen, skylight windows, a luxurious bed and bathroom, and a drop down living area with a fire place and big screen television. Rose and lavender bushes lined the outside of the cottage and its wood deck and jacuzzi. Exiting and walking towards the mansion, guests found their way across the perfectly groomed garden and lawn. And even before they got to the mansion, they'd come up to the huge marble garden patio at the back of the house. Along with various statues and a 10-foot wide fountain, Teaghan's favourite addition would be the pool.

Whenever she had free time, Teaghan would go for a swim or lay on one of the lounge chairs and read or listen to music. She usually stayed under a patio umbrella to cover her light skin. Today, she decided to give her body a little bit of sun and it felt great. With her sunglasses on, she lay on her back in her blue two piece swimsuit, and just listened to the soft breeze push the water along the pool. It was like a private spa.

Well, usually it was private.

Over the rim of the book, she noticed Andres walking down the steps from the house towards the pool. She hadn't seen him at breakfast or at lunch. She grinned. Well, his absence wasn't surprising if he actually ate that sandwich last night.

He was wearing his swim trunks and a cabana shirt, a towel wrapped around the back of his neck. His dark blonde hair glistened with highlights under the sun. He strolled casually around the pool to the side where Teaghan was lounging, the ever-present coy grin on his face. Under the cover of her dark glasses, she rolled her eyes and sighed.

And it had been such a beautiful afternoon so far.

Bracing herself for some verbal sparring, her body tensed slightly in the lounger. Unexpectedly though, Andres, still walking slowly towards her, took off his shirt and tossed it aside on a lounge chair a few feet away along with his towel in one smooth motion. Without stopping or saying anything, he took a few steps towards the pool just in front of her and then dived in.

Teaghan flinched expecting a back-splash, but his body arched perfectly and simply slipped into the water like a javelin. Lowering her book further, she watched him swim back and forth across the length of the pool gliding like a dolphin. She wished she could swim that gracefully.

After a few minutes, Andres pulled himself up from the pool at the same spot where he had dived in. His wet hair had gone dark. The woman in the lounger lifted the book slightly but she still continued to watch him, hoping her sunglasses hid her inspection of him. She told herself she was just keeping a wary eye on him, making sure he didn't do something stupid like splash water on her. As he picked up his towel and patted himself down, though, she couldn't help but note that he had, as she expected, a really nice physique. Andres had a swimmer's body with lithe, long muscles, lean without much bulk and the accentuated V-shape upper torso. This fine shape was wrapped in a rich olive, tanned skin.

On his back, just below his neck, was a large tattoo: a muscular figure riding a chariot across the bright sun. She knew her Greek mythology. It was Apollo. Of course it would be.

His Speedo trunks certainly more than hinted at a Sun God's package beneath them.

She winced and held the book up, covering the view just below his waistline.

Andres sat down on the edge of the chair beside her, facing towards her. Teaghan refocused on the words in her book.

"Thanks for the sandwich last night," he finally broke their silence.

"Glad you enjoyed it," she replied staring at the pages of the book.

"It really hit the spot," he continued.

Deep down in her gut, she chuckled. She couldn't help herself and said, "Actually, I'm a bit surprised to see you come for a swim today. Sometimes those sandwiches can turn on you, you know?"

Andres smiled and looked down at his hands. "Well that's certainly true. But you can't beat a good flushing out of the system to get you re-energized!"

God, was there anything that could kill this guy's chirpy mood?

Teaghan pursed her lip. “Well sometimes you just have to get your shit out, don't you?” she sniped, then continued reading her book.

“True, that,” Andres chuckled, nodding as he looked at his hands. "Do you have any sun block on your shoulders or back?" he suddenly asked.

She dropped her book onto her lap."What?"

He nodded towards her. "Well, your shoulders are starting to get a little red. You've got pretty fair skin. Should protect it."

Turning her head to the side and pulling her eyes downward, she could barely see the red glow on the back of her shoulder.

"Here." He picked up the sun block lotion from the side table. "Turn around."

She eyed him over the rim of her glasses. "Yeah, like I'm going to turn my back on you," she said.

"I'm not going to whack you over the head...though I probably should. Come on, sit up."

Teaghan sighed, dropping her harsh demeanour a little in spite of herself. “You don't let up, do you?”

“Slow learner,” he said with a playful shrug of his broad shoulders.

Still tentative, she set aside her book and pulled herself from the lounger. Andres gave her the "twirling finger" signal and finally she turned around in her seat. She may want to flip over at some point anyway, she thought. Good to have some sun-block.

Squeezing the lotion into his palms he looked at her back and said, "Um, your hair?"

Teaghan reached behind her head, twisted up her long locks, and held them over her neck.

"What about your straps?"

"I'm not touching those," she said tersely, "And you're not going to either, okay?"

Andres shrugged and smiled. As he rubbed and warmed the lotion in his palms, he admired her smooth back. Sitting up like that, it was hard not to notice and appreciate the slope of the small of her back had a particularly pronounced curvature leading to a lovely backside. The chef looked quite appetizing out of her cooking garb.

Just as his hands moved within an inch from her shoulders, Teaghan cocked her head around and eyed him. "Just smooth it on, alright? Don't try to pull any deep massage crap," she warned him.

Andres raised his hands up innocently. He chuckled, “Not unless you pay me. I may be annoying, but I'm not cheap.”

She raised her brow towards him, clearly serious.

He shook his head and chuckled again. For someone who had secretly slipped him a laxative the night before, she certainly was lippy towards him; calling her “feisty” was putting it mildly.

Finally allowed to gently place his hands onto her skin, he moved the cool, creamy lotion around. His hands were surprisingly soft, she thought as she felt them slide around her back. Relaxing a bit, she swayed slightly as he applied more pressure. It felt good. With the sweet aroma of the lotion floating in the air, she closed her eyes.

"So what's your story?" he asked.

"Hmm? What do you mean?"

"Your background is obviously a mix. Oriental features, brunette hair, fair skinned, that accent...your name? Teaghan Luang?"

He could feel her body tense under his palms and fingers. This had probably come up before. Teaghan had the crescent shaped eyes of an Asian, accentuated by high cheek bones, but they lacked the smooth eyelid and were a bit wider and a brighter shade of brown. Her hair, long and slightly wavy, also was more a natural chestnut brunette rather than black. Her skin was fair, a milky honey-beige. She was tall, about five foot seven or eight. And she did have a hint of a drifting accent when she spoke.

For a moment, Teaghan didn't say anything then she took a deep breath and said, "My father is Thai, my mother Irish. He met her when he lived in England while working. I was born in London, moved to Toronto when I was six. Finished high school, moved on my own to Montreal when I was seventeen. I left at nineteen then took four years of culinary classes in California and Paris then apprenticed in Florence for two years and was a sous chef in London for another. A former teacher in California recommended me to your grandparents, so I'm back here."

Her voice was monotone, very matter-of-fact.

“Wow, you're a real medley of ingredients there, Tigger,” Andres said with a whistle.

“I've been working in restaurants since I was fifteen years old.” She added, "I'm very serious about what I do."

“Yeah, I know.”

Teaghan shrugged his hands off her back. “I've studied long and hard just as any serious student would. I was at the top of my classes.”

Andres leaned back. "Hey, that's fine," he said, "I'm not asking for your résumé. You already have the job."

Teaghan glanced back at him.

"Okay, I'm done," he said slapping his hands. "You're covered. That'll be ten bucks."

She lowered her hair and moved to pick up her book.

"Hey, come on, Tigger," he chided, "Why are you always so grumpy? Lighten up and have some fun!"

"I'm not here to have fun," she said, "I'm here to work."

He nodded and opened his mouth but she went on.

"I said that I'm very serious about what I do and I don't think you understand that."

Andres raised his hands, pumping them slowly towards her. "Okay! Okay!" he said, "Back down a bit. You're a good cook. I know that!"

"I'm a chef," she said sniped.

Now Andres was starting to get a little annoyed.

Before the poolside could erupt with the sounds of a full blown argument, however, Mr. and Mrs. Nikolaou strolled around a corner and waved at them. Andres and Teaghan glanced at each other and quickly and silently agreed to a truce.

"Been out for a stroll, Poppa?" Andres asked.

"Just out checking on your Yaya's perennials in the garden," he said.

The couple sat with them by the pool and told them of their plans to go to San Francisco for the weekend. They invited Andres along.

"No, it's okay. I think I'll just take it easy around here," he said. He was looking at Teaghan when he added, "But while you're away, would it be okay if I invited a few friends over for a small party?"

His grandparents, of course, thought it was a great idea.

"We'll give you the names of some caterers," he replied, "Do it up however you want."

"Thanks a lot, Poppa!" Andres glowed. "Let's do that."

Teaghan turned her head away and rolled her eyes. The excess lavished on this guy was beyond her realm of sanity. Then again, it was probably a good idea that his little shindig was catered. God forbid that he even suggest-

"And I was hoping Teaghan wouldn't mind showing off her skills a bit for my friends. Maybe make those amazing Kobe beef burgers of hers and stuff," Andre chimed in.

And stuff? Teaghan cringed. She turned on him, a deep frown over her dark brown eyes. "What the fu-..." she sputtered as she looked over at Mr. and Mrs. Nikolaou sitting beside their prized grandson. He flashed his sparkling teeth. She swallowed hard then said, "Um. Oh I don't think your guests would want just simple burgers for this type of party."

"Teaghan, dear, I'm sure your burgers are wonderful just like all of your fabulous foods," Mrs.Nikolaou enthused, a gentle, encouraging smile on her face.

The matronly woman was right, God bless her, Teaghan thought. But there was no way in hell she wanted to indulge Mrs.Nikolaou's grandson's petty little grudge games.

"She's absolutely right. That red sauce of yours was spectacular, Tigger!" Andre said, smirking at her.

Vindictive bastard.

Flustered, Teaghan stuttered through a twitching grin, "Bu-But, I'm not sure I'd feel so comfortable cooking at the barbecue with all those people around."

"Well, how about you use the one at the guest cottage?" Mr.Nikolaou offered, "It's a full size grill and we can ask that the waiters come and get them whenever you're ready. Of course, we'd compensate you with a little bonus for all the extra work."

"Besides," Andres added, "I wouldn't want the smell of smoke hanging all over my guests anyway."

His blue eyes twinkled as he spoke. Teaghan mentally stabbed them out of his head with a spoon as she glared at him. Her eyes burrowing into his, she spoke with a low, steady voice, "You know, there's nothing really that complex about my burgers. Mix some fresh spices with meat. It's not that difficult. I'm sure your grandson has had a lot experience handling meat. A guy like him has probably squeezed and rubbed a lot of meat between his fingers and palms."

Andres blinked. The look on her smooth-angled face was like a wicked storm over the horizon. He could smell the electricity and found himself unexpectedly drawn towards it.

"Just work it and pull it and knead the meat with your hands," she continued, the words slipping slowly through her clenched teeth. "You can even beat it if you want to."

The young man leaned back in his seat a bit. He wasn't sure if it was the sun on his bare back but he was suddenly feeling really hot.

“Yes, I'm certain Andres is very good with his meat.” Teaghan finished with a sharp upward snap of her brow.

Andres shuddered slightly.

Mrs. Nikolaou laughed, "Oh no! Andres is terrible in the kitchen! I would never let him near raw meat, let alone handle it that way."

Andres snapped out of his funk, choking on a chuckle surging up from his gut. Teaghan's mouth dropped along with her heart as she stared at Mrs. Nikolaou, dumbfounded.

"But you know," the elderly lady said leaning toward her husband, "That's not a bad idea. Maybe Teaghan could give Andres some private lessons."

His face was red and he could barely stifle the laughter in his throat as he snickered, "Yeah, that'd be great. You can give me lessons on how to work with my meat."

Mr. Nikolaou concurred loudly, “I'm sure Ms. Chef has some impressive techniques that she could show you! I wouldn't mind watching myself sometime.”

The grandparents and grandson all laughed now, Andres a bit more heartily than his grandparents. Despite being in the sun, Teaghan was sure she was growing pale as the seconds passed. She ground her teeth together. What was with these people?

"Ah, but then we'd have to give the young lady even more of a bonus," Mr. Nikolaou said, innocently. "If we pay her too much, she'll have enough to leave us and start that restaurant in no time! And we can't let go of such a lovely and talented young woman so soon!"

"No we certainly can't have that," Andres concurred with a smug tone. He tapped the stunned chef on her bare shoulder and said, "We'll need enough for about seventy to eighty people. Just a small group. I'm sure you can handle it. You're here to work, right?"

He stood up and walked away along with his grandparents, around the pool and up the steps to the house leaving Teaghan seated on her lounge-chair staring out at nothing. As he reached the top of the stairs, he glanced back at her; she still hadn't moved. He stopped and blinked. That haughty feeling he was enjoying was suddenly tempered by compassion for the woman with long brunette hair and almond eyes. He probably pushed her a bit too far.

Deeper down, he knew there was something else he was feeling.

It hadn't been the sun that made him so hot moments before.

To Be Continued...

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