Length: Epic Novel
Word Count: 108,251
Genre: Science Fiction/Futuristic Romance
Rating: Spicy/Erotic - Multiple Heroes
Available formats: PDF, RTF, Epub, HTML, Mobipocket (.prc)
© Cover Art by Jenny Dixon, October 2014
New Concepts Publishing
Lake Park, GA 31636
This is a work of fiction. All characters, events, and places are of the author's imagination and not to be confused with fact. Any resemblance to living persons or events is merely coincidence.
Mrs. Higgenbottom was glaring at her when she returned to the kitchen, her lips pursed. “You are to serve Mr. Draken first,” she said coldly. “The others in order of their station.”
Raina gaped at her. “Station?”
Raina wouldn’t have thought it possible, but Mrs. Higgenbottom’s expression turned even more sour. “Mr. Draken first. And then Mr. Smith, Mr. Black, Mr. Jones, Mr. Green, and finally Mr. White.”
Raina stared at her in disbelief. She was already irritated that the woman had told her she was ‘off’ for the day and then, when she’d come down to eat, had informed her that she had to serve first. Then someone, one of them, had pitched something at her when she’d gone in to serve their soup, almost making her drop the damned tray. And on top of that, she didn’t know the first thing about serving and, if the woman hadn’t noticed, she was clumsy, especially when she was nervous, and she knew she was going to make a mess before the dinner was over.
Especially since she couldn’t come within ten feet of Simon Draken without turning to jelly.
“Look, lady! I can’t tell one of the Quints from the other!”
Mrs. Higgenbottom’s eyes narrowed. “You know Mr. Draken, do you not?” she demanded testily.
Raina realized abruptly that she was thoroughly pissing the woman off and also that she didn’t give a damn if she was. “Tall guy? Boobs bigger than mine?--Wait! They’re all tall and they all have boobs bigger than mine! Dark hair? No that isn’t going to work either!”
“They do not look anything alike!”
“Well! You told me not to look at them at all! Especially Mr. Draken! I’d have to actually see their faces to tell them apart, damn it! Otherwise I can’t tell the forest from the trees because all I can tell is that they’re all really, really tall--really, really big, and they all have long dark hair, and they all wear those damned sunglasses, which cover half their face anyway! Maybe I should examine their damned belly buttons and see if I can tell them apart!”
“Mayhap you could try being a little more observant? They are not wearing their sunglasses now!”
“No, because one of them threw their damned glasses at me when I went in with the soup and I’m not taking anything else in there if they’re going to be throwing things at me because I’m slow in bringing on the chow!”
“I did not throw my glasses at you.”
Raina’s knees turned to pure water as the deep, masculine voice rolled over her. Her head whipped around so quickly at the sound that she felt a bone in her neck pop.
‘The god’ was standing at the door between the kitchen and dining room, leaning negligently against the doorframe, his arms folded over his broad chest, making all those lovely muscles bulge. Her mouth watered. He reddened faintly when she gaped at him.
“It was a churlish thing to do--and I beg pardon--but you were never an intended target.”
Raina averted her gaze, struggling to regain her equilibrium, feeling so weak she thought for several moments that she was going to do something really embarrassing--like faint. “Oh,” she mumbled, resisting the urge to fan herself.
Mrs. Higgenbottom stepped into the breach, and although Raina didn’t delude herself that it was intended for her benefit, she could’ve kissed the woman for distracting him from his intent study of her. She thought he’d been looking at her. She felt like he had been.
“Are you ready for the next course, my lor…Mr. Draken?”
Apparently he nodded and returned to the dining room. He didn’t say anything else, thankfully. Raina might have embarrassed herself by coming at the sound of his voice.
She was that close.
It ought to be illegal, she thought resentfully, for a man like that to be allowed anywhere in the vicinity of a starving woman. She was surprised women weren’t attached to the man all over like limpets.
On the other hand, that might be why he never went anywhere. He was afraid of being mobbed.
“You carry the tray and follow me,” Mrs. Higgenbottom announced when she’d arranged the plates with the next course. “And pay attention so that you’ll know the proper order to serve.”
Raina made a face at the woman as she followed her through the dining room door. Unfortunately, she didn’t discover until she’d done it that, although Ms. Hatchet-face couldn’t see her, the men at the table could and they were looking right at her when she did it. Embarrassed and completely unable to keep her color from fluctuating, she compensated by turning her nose up at them as she stalked behind Ms. Higgenbottom to the table.
Mrs. Higgenbottom gave her a stern look as she removed the soup bowl and carefully settled a plate in front of Mr. Draken.
“What?” Raina asked, all at sea.
The woman actually rolled her eyes. “Observe!” she hissed.
She removed Mr. Smith’s soup bowl next and set his plate in front of him. “Mr. Smith,” she said in an undertone, “likes his meat rare.”
Raina looked at Mr. Smith doubtfully.
He smiled at her and winked. She bit her lip to keep from smiling back at him. Diverted by his flirtatious interest, she almost ran into Ms. Hatchet-face as she moved around the table and stopped abruptly because she was still looking at him when the woman stopped. The housekeeper glared at her. “Mr. Black likes his meat medium.”
Raina frowned, abruptly uneasy about where all this careful instruction seemed to be leading. “Does this mean I’m going to have to cook, too?” she demanded in a loud whisper when the woman turned her back on her and moved to other end of the table. “Because I have to tell you I’m not worth a shit at cooking. They’re all going to get it rare in the middle and black on both sides, because I really don’t have the patience for cooking. I did say that when I applied. I distinctly remember telling you I couldn’t cook ….”
The last word was muffled by Ms. Higgenbottom’s hand as she clapped it over Raina’s mouth. Raina glared at her over the hand and then stuck her tongue out before she thought better of it. Ms. Higgenbottom snatched her hand back and gritted her teeth at her. Raina wiped her tongue on the shoulder of her shirt, wrinkling her nose. “Don’t tell me where you’ve had that hand because I do not want to know!”
Mr. White snorted his wine and fell into a fit of coughing. Mr. Black spat a mouthful of wine into his plate and then stared down at it in disgust for a moment. Finally, he shrugged and picked up his knife and fork.
Raina sent him a commiserating look. “That’s not nearly as bad as dropping it on the floor. It’s your germs, after all. And they do cook them in wine sometimes. It’s supposed to enhance the flavor,” she whispered.
Ms. Hatchet-face grabbed her arm and practically hauled her out of the dining room.
“Exactly what was that all about?” the woman had the nerve to demand.
Raina slammed the tray full of bowls down on the closest counter and glared at her. “That’s what I’d like to know! Lady! I’ve got a lot of patience, but if you manhandle me again you’re going to draw back a nub!”
It was at that point that Hatchet-face lost her contacts and breathed fire.