A little CHOCOLATE HEART snippet for the weekend! Three more days until it’s out! (Nov 26.)


Summer’s breath whooshed out of her as silk and a fine edge of soft wool slid over her bare arms and closed her in warmth and scent. A waiter straightened away from her, his face politely neutral, as she looked straight at Luc.

He smiled at her urbanely, and she must be imagining that hungry, satisfied edge to him like a cat watching a mouse wander well past its safety zone.

She rubbed the edge of the coat between her fingers. Dior, maybe, the texture very fine. It had to be Luc’s, she could tell by the labyrinth of scents: chocolate, butter, spice, stinging bright scents, and secret, mysterious warm ones. She wanted to get lost in them and never come out until morning.

“What the hell is that?” her father asked, since apparently that rule about keeping Luc happy didn’t apply to him. Her father had ambitions for a son-in-law with a brilliant financial mind.

Luc gave her father a cool look. Her fingers stilled on the coat. The chef pâtissier looked at one of Forbes’ top five hundred, who had just bought the hotel where he worked as a Christmas present for his spoiled daughter, as if he had the potential to be a headache and inconvenience and not much more.

She pulled his coat more snugly around herself, without even realizing she was doing it.

“Better?” Luc asked gently, reaching out to button the jacket near her throat, so that she wore it like a cape. Her heart beat so hard as his fingers grazed her throat that she was sure he would feel her pulse there.

What was wrong with her? What had she started with her stupid exhausted carelessness the night before? “Was I not up to the dress code?” Her quick grin invited everyone into the joke. “Coat and tie only?”

“You were perfect,” Luc said calmly. “But you looked cold.”

Her father’s critical look made her want to tuck herself up against Luc and thumb her nose at him.

“And you’re welcome in my kitchens any time you choose,” Luc told her, with exquisite manners that reinforced his possession of those kitchens. “You won’t get in my way.”

Damn it. She really hated men who didn’t let her get in their way.

“Welcome to the Leucé.” And he walked off and left her. Again. Draped in his coat, his scent twining all around her.

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