A Savory Seduction
Janet Lane Walters
New Concepts Publishing
Chapter OneWhen his mother entered the office of Five Cuisines, Greg Ramsey pushed his chair back and smiled in welcome. “Your timing is perfect. Just finished creating the menus for the week.”
Stella Ramsey crossed the room and kissed his cheek. “And how is my handsome son?”
“Pleased with our success.” The restaurant had opened six months before and was on the way to becoming a profitable venture. For the past month, there’d been few empty tables at either seating. Even on Wednesday and Thursday evenings, they’d been nicely booked. The weekend lunches were gaining the attention of the people who came to browse in the antique shops and other unusual stores.
He reached for the letter that had arrived in the morning mail. The offer could make or break his dream. He knew very little about the magazine other than a spread was eagerly sought by restaurants. As a silent partner, his mother had a voice in whether they should chance a bad review.
“What was so important you interrupted my lunch date.” She stared at him. “You’ve found a weekend hostess.”
He shook his head. “That job’s yours until you say you’ve had enough.”
“Then what?” She sat on the captain’s chair beside the desk. “Have you met the woman of your dreams?”
He laughed. “When do I have time?”
“Several of the sous chefs are young attractive women.”
“They’re taken, and I don’t poach anything but eggs.”
“Then what did you want to tell me?”
He handed her the sheet of paper. “This letter came today, and the offer is a very sweet opportunity.” As she read, Greg studied her. The few strands of silver in her jet black hair just added to her attractiveness. She’d been a widow for fifteen years, and he often wondered why she hadn’t remarried. Did she still mourn for his father? Why? He remembered the many nights that he’d awakened late at night to hear their angry voices.
“You will not let them near Five Cuisines,” she said. “I won’t have it.”
He frowned. “Why not? A feature in Good Eatin’ will place us among the top restaurants in the country.”
“I won’t let him use his magazines to destroy you the way he ruined your father’s dreams.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Peter Blakefield, editor in chief of this magazine, deliberately used his wife’s magazines to destroy Le Provencal.”
Greg rose and went to his mother’s side. He’d been sixteen when the tragedy had occurred. His father’s suicide had brought his mother grief and had brought drastic changes in Greg’s life. “Why would this Blakefield do that?”
She stared at his hand. “Your father told me the families had been at odds since they arrived in this country during colonial days. Your father and Peter had become rivals in high school. Then I met Peter at college. We fell in love and were engaged but we had a fight. I broke the engagement. Peter wanted no part of my parents’ restaurant. Victor learned about the rift and comforted me. He went to work for my parents and we were married. Peter was furious. He said he would destroy Victor. He waited for years, but he succeeded.”
“He wrote dreadful articles about the food, the service, and other things. The shame caused your father to take his own life. Victor wasn’t the most stable of men and when he was drinking became very depressed.”
“Do you have copies of these articles?”
“Your father wouldn’t let me read them. I watched him burn them. Promise you won’t let those people near Five Cuisines.”
Greg turned away. Her comments were disappointing, but, until he knew more about this feud, he’d hold off on sending a letter of regrets. “Are you sure this is the right decision?”
She looked away. “Yes.”
He nodded. “I’ll take care of this later.” He took the letter. “About this feud. Is there any real reason you and I should be involved in the mess?”
“Greg, drop the idea of being featured in Good Eatin’. Peter Blakefield doesn’t forgive or forget.” She rose and walked to the door.
There had to be more than she’d told him, but he had no idea how to discover just what had happened. Greg slipped the letter in a drawer. He didn’t want to slam the door on an opportunity. Maybe she would change her mind. He would hold off on answering for a time. He shook his head. An ancient feud. How medieval.