Thursday, December 1, 2016

Thursday's Opening Scene - Seducing the Chef #MFRWauthor #contemporaryromance #cooking

Allie Blakefield stormed into her father’s office. “What is the meaning of this memo?” She slammed the offensive paper on her desk. Last week she’d submitted her plans for the six issues starting in January. “Let me read the memo. “Good Eatin’ will have no good or bad words for Five Cuisines, a restaurant owned by the Ramsey family.’”
Peter Blakefield ran his hands through his thick blond hair where a few streaks of gray could hardly be seen. “The memo is clear and you will honor the terms. There has been bad blood between the families for generations.”
Allie laughed. “Is this like the Hatfields and the McCoys?  I thought as editor of Good Eatin’ I make decisions about the restaurants to be featured.”
“In this case I’ve over-ruled you.” He leaned across the desk. “How was California?”
Allie’s hands fisted. His change of subject rankled but she knew he’d told her all he planned to say about the Ramsey family. She would discover a way to learn more.
“Warm. Some good food and some bad. The restaurants have been selected and the photo shoots arranged.” She curled in the chair across from his desk. “Why can’t I visit Five Cuisines? I’ve heard dozens of raves from people who have eaten there. Some family fight from years ago is a poor reason not to do a feature.”
“Forget that restaurant. I made a similar decision fifteen years ago.”
She frowned. Fifteen years ago her mother had been ill and had died. Back then her father had edited Good Eatin’. He’d become editor in chief for all four magazines and a single parent of four children. What else had happened then? Her curiosity simmered but knew he wouldn’t tell her more. “I still want to scout the place.”
“I said no. Stop pushing. Don’t you understand no means no.” He slapped the desk. “Have the galleys for the next issue been proofed?”
“Then I’ll see you on Sunday for dinner.”
Allie rose and turned toward the door. “I’m not sure I can make it.” Though Sunday dinners were a family affair, usually one or more of her siblings were absent.
“Always do,” His command followed her down the hall. She entered her office and slammed the door. Vowing to learn more about her father’s reasons for meddling in her territory she dialed her aunt’s number. When the older woman answered Allie grinned. Time for questions and answers. “Aunt Laura, what can you tell me about the Blakefield-Ramsey feud?”
Her aunt laughed. “Why now? That ended when Victor died. His wife took their son to her family in Europe. Never heard of them since.”
Allie leaned back in her chair. She talked about the restaurant and the raves she’d heard from people who had eaten there. “I want to feature the place. He forbade me to go near Five Cuisines or do an article.”
Laura chuckled. “So he waved a red flag and like a bull you’ll charge.”
“Yes, but I need the facts.”
“I’ll tell you as much as I can. Let me refresh my coffee.”
“Guess I’ll need some.” Allie filled her cup.
“The feud began over loyalties during the Revolutionary War. They were Royalists and we were Rebels. There were ups and downs. All signs of the rivalry disappeared during the Civil War.”
“So why now?” This whole matter was ridiculous.
“Your dad and Victor attended County Day School. They were rivals in sports and academics. This followed them to college where they fell in love with the same woman. She and Peter were engaged but Victor married her.”
Allie’s spine stiffened. “What about Mom? Didn’t Dad love her? Did he marry her or the magazines?”
Her aunt sighed. “Peter married her on the rebound. They learned to value each other and I believe he loved her. When she died he was devastated.”
“Nothing explains today’s attitude about me doing a feature. The past can’t be changed. Shouldn’t trouble the now.”
Laura’s voice took on a knowing tone. “I know. This might give you a clearer picture. Several months before your mom died Victor Ramsey lost his restaurant. He killed himself. His wife blamed your father.”
Hearing the final bit didn’t make sense to Allie. “Thanks for the info. Bye.” She hung up.
The situation belonged in the dark ages. She couldn’t see why Good Eatin’ couldn’t do a spread on the most unusual restaurant in the area. A dining spot that produced raves by bloggers and reviews by customers intrigued her.
She clenched her teeth. No matter what her father ordered she intended to visit the restaurant. She leaned back in her chair and made a decision. She had some accumulated vacation time. The latest edition was done and the next still being worked on. This was a good time to take a few days. The thought of driving across the bridge for five days in a row didn’t thrill her but she would unless she found another way.
She booted her computer and searched the employee base for someone who lived on the west bank of the Hudson River. She found several, read the names and tapped an extension. One of the names belonged to a good friend. A deep voice answered.
“Steve, Allie here. When do you leave for Alaska?”
“Tuesday evening. Why?”
“Do you have a guest room?”
“Could I sack out there for five nights while you’re away? I promise I won’t snoop.”
He chuckled. “You I trust. You’re too direct to be a snoop. Meg’s the one who pries. What’s up?”
“I want to check Five Cuisines.”
“You’ll love the restaurant. When you do I want to shoot the pics.”
“This is only a preliminary look. Keep what I’m doing tucked away.”
“Will do. The apartment is yours.”
“Just where is your place?”
He gave her the number. “Just a few blocks from your destination.”
“While you’re in town wander around. There are some neat shops and several other good restaurants.
“Sounds like I’ll have a busy time. Where do I find the key?”
“I’ll drop it off tomorrow and alert the doorman to your arrival,” he said. “Oh, I have a new neighbor. He’s a good-looking guy. Just your type.”
“And just what is my type?”
Steve laughed. “Not me.”
“Which apartment?”
“Directly below mine. If you score, I want a finder’s fee. He seems to be the strong silent type.”
She grinned. “You’re outrageous. See you tomorrow.”

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