IF YOU CAN STAND THE HEAT, THERE’S A HOT SINGLE DAD IN THE KITCHEN.
TITLE: Plus One
AUTHOR: Mae Wood
COVER DESIGN: Alyssa Garcia | Uplifting Designs
If you can stand the heat, there’s a hot single dad in the kitchen.
At not-quite forty and with his son in his last year of high school, Bert’s going to be dining alone.
His restaurant’s wine rep has a few ideas on how he might sate all of his appetites.
He hasn’t been buying what she’s been selling, but she’s only in Memphis for a few months before moving back home to California.
Besides, it’s not like he’s going to fall in love for the first time in his life or anything crazy like that, right?
Plus One is a steamy standalone novel.
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PRAISE FOR PLUS ONE
“I can go on and on about this book. The writing was so witty and all the food and wine references just made me want to hop on a plane and go taste some good southern food.”—After Dark Book Lovers
“…if you like Single Dads, good food, all the wine, and fitness coupled with stellar writing and extremely well-developed characters, then PLUS ONE IS THE BOOK FOR YOU. So, go ahead, one click it and enjoy.”—Y’all This Book
“Angostura bitters,” he said over his shoulder. “There was a shortage a few years a back, so I started making my own bitters.” I trailed him around the restaurant’s kitchen, a puppy in pursuit of a treat.
Ostensibly, I was here on a sales call, making my rounds at the downtown Memphis restaurants. Selling wine, taking orders, and moving on to the next restaurant or bar. But when Pig and Barley popped up on my iPad for today’s call list, I couldn’t help myself. Couldn’t help but dig around in my closet. No company-logo’ed polo shirt today.
A hint of lace.
I knew what he’d order.
And knew I’d take it.
Curving his tall frame over a chopping board, another vintage concert T-shirt thin with age stretched across his powerful shoulders, he crushed a star anise with the flat blade of a knife. The meat of his left palm quickly smacking the heavy blade he held still with his right hand. And I jumped. He’d never spanked me, and I’d never wanted it. Never wanted to play that way until now.
“Do you like Absinthe? Or Sambuca?” he asked, the smell of soft black licorice wafting from the crushed pod. “Because I’m going for a stripped-down version with this infusion and will then play around with it to make a bitter I can use in cocktails.”
Flipping the knife over in his palm, he used the back to scrape the crushed pod into a glass jar filled with a clear liquid.
“Vodka? Everclear?” I guessed.
“No. Good ol’ Tennessee moonshine. Don’t ask where I got it.”
“So many, many good things in Tennessee.”
He wiped his hands and knife on a neatly folded white towel and placed the knife to the side of the cutting board, parallel and just so. His deliberate moves were instinctual when he sought out pleasure, whether from his food, his cocktails, or from me.
“So this is a sales call?” he asked.
“Drennan,” he said with a smile while he folded his arms across his chest, drawing out my name like I was a naughty child. The three birds on his forearm fluttered from the muscle movement, and my hand ached to touch his inked flesh. “Who else are you calling on today?”
“Flight and a few other places.”
“Tight schedule?” he asked.
“I could work you in,” I replied, taking a step toward him and walking my fingertips along the top of the shiny steel work surface, trying to be cool while the heat built inside of me. Fighting to keep my itchy fingers to myself.
“Oh, you’ll make room.”
“Here?” I whispered, looking into his chocolate and caramel eyes. Even though it was the two of us in the kitchen, the restaurant’s general manager was working in the broom closet of an office just a few feet away.
“Uhm, did I not hear you say hi to Patti on your way back here? And she’s interviewing a couple potential new servers,” he said, quickly flicking his wrist to glance at his heavy silver dive watch, “about now, I think.”
I ran through options, scenarios, my brain fizzing from the thought of sliding my skin against his. “Just how big is the back seat in your monster of an SUV?”
“It’s still got my bike in in from yesterday. But hold on,” he said.
He pulled the phone out of his back pocket and tapped on the screen. I stepped closer to him, sliding my hands to my waist and then up, pressing my breasts together. His eyes fell on my cleavage, and his Adam’s apple worked in appreciation, his lips softening with want while his jaw tightened with need.
“Man, don’t ask any questions. Just say that I can borrow a conference room. I’ll be there in three minutes.” One hand shoved the phone back into his jeans and the other grabbed one of mine, lacing our fingers together, and he pulled me through the kitchen and the restaurant and onto the street.
“Conference room?” I asked, my legs spinning to match his long stride and quick pace as he tugged me down the bustling sidewalk.
“Yeah, be cool, okay?”
A few blocks later he blew through a glass door into a simple lobby. The Brannon Company shone in bold brass letters behind the receptionist desk.
“Mr. Forsythe?” asked a thin brunette from behind her big bangs.
“Jenny, right? Trip said—“
“Yes, sir. We’ve got a conference room ready. Will anyone else be joining you?
He’s taking me to his friend’s office to fuck? At ten a.m. on a Monday?
“Just us,” he said, not loosening his grip on my hand.
Jenny’s eyes moved to me. Taking me in from head to the tips of my nude heels and I felt my boldness begin to slip. I turned to Bert, to gauge his reaction. Yeah. No shame. His eyes fixed on the elevator bank ahead of us. The temperature of our frantic walk over pressed beneath this cool facade.
With a nod at me, Jenny led the way to the conference room. Keeping up the charade that we were here on some sort of business, I sank into an overstuffed chair at the large oak table, my back to the wall of windows. I grabbed a notepad and pen from the table and began doodling.
“If you need anything, Mr. Forsythe, please call reception and ask for me.”
“Thanks, Jenny,” he said.
“Of course. Have a good meeting,” she replied. When the heavy door to the conference room clicked shut behind her, my laughter burst to the surface.
“You cool with this?” he asked, one eyebrow lifting in amusement, as he tugged his shirt over his head, exposing his lean body with Ganesh inked in black wrapping around his right side.
“Depends,” I answered, not looking up from my notes. “What did you have in mind?”
“What did you have in mind when you decided to wear that to my restaurant?”
“Wear what?” I said, tilting my head and slowly blinking my big blue eyes at him.
“Come on, Dren,” he begged, the exasperation at my little game eating away at his patience.
“That,” I said, using the pen to point to the hard ridge in his jeans. “I was planning on coming on that.”
“Were you now?” he said, the irritation vanished.
“Yes, in fact, here’s the agenda,” I said, tossing the notepad toward him where it landed on the table.
“Are you serious?” He blinked at me and I again looked away, enjoying playing coy for once.
“We’ve got like ten minutes tops before Trip breaks this up.”
“Well, I suggest we move right to the action items, then,” I said, pointing at the paper.
His eyes rolled to the ceiling before he snatched up the notepad. “This is a drawing of a dick.”
“Yeah, I know. The agenda’s really meaty,” I said, examining the pen I twirled between my fingers.
“Ten. Minutes,” he repeated, a solid tap on the notepad punctuating each word.
“Do I hear a motion from the floor? I bet they says things like that in here, don’t they?” I said, finally turning my attention to him.
“The only motion I want from you is your ass out of that chair.”
“All in favor?” I asked, scanning the empty room for a response.
“Christ,” he said, scrubbing a hand over his face and rounding the table toward me. “I’m in favor. Let’s get down to business.”
The chair spun and he leaned down in front of me, his hands dipping into my hair to bracket my head. “You want my dick?” he whispered in my ear, the scruff on his face abrading my cheek.
I nodded as best I could in response, my teeth tugging on my lip as I let loose a soft whimper of need.
My hands explored the muscles of his shoulders. My fingernails dug in, biting flesh, and my answer to his question escaping me in a slow hiss of desire. His belt and fly open, I leaned forward to shove his jeans and boxers over his hips, so I could get my hands on his bare ass. I loved the way the heels of my hands fit into the indentations at his hips while my fingers grasped firm muscle.
His hands shoved up my skirt, running his hands along the tops of my thighs with a friction that made me melt. Thumbs stroked in tandem at the hinge of my hips and I went to open for him, but was bound by the chair’s arms.
He pressed my hips into the chair. “Patience, patience.”
“Ten minutes,” I bit out.
“He’s not going to open the door,” he replied, his warm hands sliding between my exposed ass and the chair to scoop me up and place me on the cool tabletop. “No one is. We could have this room all day. But I want you now.”
His hands returned to reach underneath my skirt, and my panties were yanked down. I could feel soft pops as his impatient fingers shredded the lace. “Sorry,” he muttered into my neck.
“Only apologize if you stop,” I replied.
“Quick pause okay? Not a stop.” He backed up, fished a condom out of his wallet and returned to me suited up. Strong and hard and proud. I pulled my feet to rest on the table and dropped my knees open for him. Opened for all of the city of Memphis beyond the wall of windows that was behind him.
Shameless for him.
Ready for him.
Needy for him.
I reached for him and, with a push, he found me. His hands once again gripping my ass and lifting me, holding me close, as he continued to thrust from below. “Drennan, Drennan, Drennan.” I knew this chant, mumbled against my lips and neck. The simple incantation of my name so filled with need and promise. The words that reduced the world to me and him. To this moment.
Coolness the length of my back snapped me out of the trance. “The window?”
“You want that?” he asked, nuzzling his scruff along my jaw. “I’ll put it on the agenda for our next meeting. But I don’t trust any glass for how hard I’m going to pound into you.”
Then I heard it—a door, banging on its hinges. “You’re not going to get invited back,” I said.
“Like I give a fuck. Come back to me. Here. Now.” My fingers tugged at his hair, fusing his mouth with mine.
A deep dive and rock against my clit and I was gone again. So gone for this man.
ALSO AVAILABLE IN THE PIG & BARLEY SERIES
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mae Wood is a mommy, bookworm, and lawyer (in that order).
A while ago Mae decided that she needed to give up the fear that she couldn’t write “great literature” and write what she wants to read.
And she wants romance. And laughter.
She wants heroines who are brave. Brave enough to be themselves and brave enough to fall in love.
She wants men who are strong and kind.
Mae lives in the Southeastern United States.
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