Will Antonio’s romantic confession win Orlanda’s heart, or destroy their partnership? A partnership made in heaven/hell—they secretly lust after each other, but … business first! How can they build a successful business together if their focus is on the bedroom instead of the bakery?
Published: February 2013
Word Count: 26,632
Genre: Contemporary Romance/Romantic Comedy
Available formats: PDF, RTF, Epub, HTML, Mobipocket (.prc)
© Cover Art by Jenny Dixon, February 2013
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.
Antonio would never forget the night of the big fight at Angelina’s by the Sea Restaurant. Orlanda’s “friends” decided they wanted to buy out her portion of the business they’d built up and keep her as a manager with a cut in pay “due to the economy.” Rose and Danielle had a large inheritance from their grandmother—the woman for whom the restaurant was named—so they’d had most of the funds up front to start the venture. Orlanda had contributed what money she could afford at the time, so she wasn’t a full partner, more like an investor. Still everyone who worked at the restaurant knew Orlanda’s business sense and talent for marketing had made the place a success—that and the fact they had hired the best pastry chef around.
People flocked to Angelina's by the Sea not so much for the entrees, but for desserts straight from heaven. At least that’s how Orlanda described them in their ad campaigns. Local food critics backed her claim, regularly bestowing five star reviews on Antonio’s desserts.
He heard the argument from where he stood whipping egg whites in the kitchen. The way those bitches spoke to Orlanda pissed him off so much that he beat the eggs hard enough to resemble the contents of his cousin Sal’s cement truck. He could have set a stone walkway with them rather than top off the lemon meringue pie they were intended for.
Orlanda, with her usual quick mind and quicker mouth, laid them out like a new rug. She left them with the knowledge that they’d hear from her lawyer because she intended to get every penny owed to her.
Directly after she left, Antonio quit. On his way out, he noticed Orlanda’s car parked in front of the bar across the street.
His heart thumping, partly from anger but mostly from the idea of seeing her outside a work environment, he strode into the bar and glanced around.
He saw her almost instantly. With her silky sable bob, large brown eyes and a body that made a man sweat just from looking at it, she sat in a booth sipping a Mai Tai, her brow knitted and her mouth set in a sexy yet intimidating pout. Sexy because her lips were so full and glossy. Intimidating because he knew that pout meant she was mad enough to rip someone a new asshole.
He walked to the table and stood admiring her for several seconds before those thickly-lashed brown eyes fixed on him. After inviting him to sit, she appeared shocked to hear he’d quit.
“Antonio, I appreciate what you did, but what about you? Do you have another job lined up?”
“Better. I’ve been putting away some money because I want to start my own business. This is the push I needed to do it.”
Again her brow knitted, but a thoughtful smile tugged at her lips.
“We made that restaurant a hit,” she said. “If we get together, with my business sense and your talent in the kitchen, we could be a bigger success than Angelina's by the Sea because I guarantee now that we’re gone my former partners won’t know what to do with themselves. All their lives they’ve had someone telling them what to do. Before their grandmother died, they wouldn’t break wind without her telling them how loud first. ”
Antonio snorted with laughter. One thing about Orlanda, she could be sweet and classy, but piss her off and she didn’t mince words.
He wanted more than a business venture with Orlanda, but she didn’t seem interested in anything except work. At least this way he’d get to keep seeing her every day and eventually she might notice him as a man instead of simply a pastry chef.
From the moment they’d met he’d wanted her. Orlanda had hired him.
He’d joined the military right out of high school. It was a family tradition. His father and grandfather had been in the army and navy respectively and Antonio had spent five years in the Marine Corps.
When he’d returned to civilian life, he’d pursued his dream of chef’s school with plans to eventually open his own bakery. During his job interview, Orlanda had liked his no-nonsense attitude. By the expression on her beautiful face and the sounds that had escaped her lush lips when he’d baked for her, his cannoli had nearly sent her into orgasm. Too many times since then he’d wanted to send her into orgasm the old-fashioned way.
He needed only a hint from her that she wanted more from him than a business partnership and he’d sweep her off her feet. Yet Orlanda remained coolly professional and Antonio would rather admire her in secret than risk losing her entirely.
“What do you say, Antonio? Want to go into business with me?” she asked.
When she looked at him with those intense brown eyes, he couldn’t refuse her.
“All right,” he said, offering her his hand. “Partner.”
She slid her manicured hand into his and Antonio’s heart skipped a beat.
Whether or not he could keep their relationship business only would be a bigger test of his self-control than boot camp had ever been.