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Kindling Flavors

By Rita Gracie

Copyright © 2019 Rita Gracie

Smashwords Edition, License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return it to and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

From the Author

This novella is for Saint Valentine’s. If you’ll be spending the night on your own, then cuddle up with this charming, hot and sexy story. If you’ll be with your partner, it’s a short read to end your evening.

Enjoy and Happy Saint Valentine’s!

I’d like to thank Ada Frost for the sexy cooking scene book cover.

Chapter One


I didn’t think it through when my friends from college days asked me to meet them in New York for dinner. In the beginning, I thought, There are thousands of restaurants in the Big Apple, so what would be the chances they’d book a table at Massimo Lupo’s restaurant? Well, if Murphy’s Law applies, I feel like it has grabbed me by the hair and is spinning me around like a hurricane.

After a four-hour flight, I’m sitting in the back of a cab on my way to the restaurant—Max’s restaurant—and my resolve is slipping away. I’m not so sure I can do this. I haven’t seen Max in ten years and I’ll be having dinner at his three-Michelin-star restaurant tonight! My head is buzzing since I haven’t slept in days; not since Chloe told me she booked a table at Massimo’s for our annual get-together. Since then, I haven’t been able to get Max out of my mind. Memories of when we were together keep popping into my mind—like how he made me feel special every time we made love or how he romanced me with his culinary dishes—these memories have been agonizing. It was my decision to break it off, but truth be told, I never really got over him.

My thoughts are swimming in the past, thinking about how good it had felt to be kissed by him and how happy I’d been when he held me in his arms. I’m so absorbed by these emotions that I don’t realize when the cab reaches the restaurant.

Miss? This is the address. It'll be twenty-five dollars,” the cab driver says.

Oh, yes, of course,” I say, opening my bag to pull out the cab fare. I pay the cab driver and get out.

The cabbie gets out and gets my carry-on bag out from the trunk.

“Thank you,” I say.

Arianna! You made it,” Chloe says as she sees me on the sidewalk.

Yes, I’m here!” I give her a weak smile because I suddenly feel knots forming in my stomach. I can’t hold off the inevitable any longer. I’ll need to face my dragon slayer—Max—sooner or later, and the time has come.

Josh and Ann are already inside, so let’s go in and see if our table is ready,” Chloe says.

I follow her inside and can see right away the restaurant is buzzing with people. It’s such a popular place that it’s a miracle Chloe was able to book a table. To be honest, I’ve been following Max’s career for a while now and I know for a fact that there’s a long waiting list to eat here. I wonder how Chloe managed to book a table.

We’re spotted by our friends, Josh and Ann, and we make our way over to the bar where they’re waiting.

Hi, Arianna. It’s so good to see you,” Josh says, leaning over to hug me.

Hey, Arianna,” Ann says, hugging me too. “How was your flight?”

I look at the two and realize something is different. Josh leans over and places his arm over Ann’s shoulder. They look like a couple and it makes me smile. I always thought they’d be perfect together. “It was long. Let’s just say I’m ready for a glass of wine.”

Chloe takes a seat beside Ann at the bar while I stand beside Josh.

So, how long before our table will be ready?” I ask as I start to get fidgety. The prospect of seeing Max is making me nervous.

“It shouldn’t be too much longer,” Josh says.

I turn to Chloe and ask, “How did you manage to get a table on a Friday night? Rumor has it that there’s a long waiting list, straight through to next year.”

Really?” Ann says. “I didn’t realize it. I’ve heard lots of great things about the food. I’ve also heard that the chef is one hot piece of Italian flesh and the women drool over him like there’s no tomorrow.”

Josh gives Ann a dark look like he doesn’t like her comment; he’s obviously the jealous type.

Can you imagine waking up in the morning beside someone like him? I’ll bet he’d bring you breakfast in bed,” Chloe says, dreamily.

What? She’s never seen Max and she already wants to wake up in bed with him? “Hey, are we here for dinner or to talk about the chef?” I say, needing to change the subject. I’m trying really hard not to think about Max, but my friends’ joking isn’t making it easy.

Well, I heard from a friend of a friend who’s been here before that the chef might pass by our table during the course of the evening. He’s known for chatting with the restaurant patrons,” Josh says.

God, I hope he does. I’d love some dessert before I go home tonight.” Chloe winked.

“Chloe!” I hit her on the arm.

“What? A girl can’t hope?” Chloe grins.

We’re here to spend some time together, not to get your hands in the chef’s pants!” I say, a little annoyed with the way the conversation is going.

We’re finally shown to our table, and the moment I open the menu, I recognize some of the dishes: some of Max’s trademarks from when we were first starting out. He must have perfected these dishes and placed them on a menu worthy of three Michelin stars. Very impressive!

When I look at the desserts, I notice the one with my name—Ari's Delight. I still remember when he created it. We were joking around on a Saturday night and I was feeling a little tired because I’d been studying for finals. Max had gone into the kitchen and made me the most delicious dessert I’d ever had with the few ingredients I had in the kitchen: flour, eggs, chocolate and vanilla. He called it Ari’s Delight to cheer me up—and this very dessert is on his three-star Michelin menu!

“Arianna?” Josh calls.

“Sorry, what was that?” I need to focus or I’ll never get through this evening.

“Do you want white or red wine?” he repeats.

Oh, I would prefer red, but order what you like. A glass will be enough for me,” I say.

Chapter Two


Chef, there’s a guy at table ten who says he’s an old friend of yours and he asked if you could pass by to say hi,” George, the waiter, says.

Sure; tell him I’ll be out in a few minutes,” I say as I inspect the dishes that are about to be carried out to the dining room.

When I’m sure the dishes are ready, I hand them over to the waiters and clean my hands before going to see who is sitting at table ten.

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