We're getting closer to the 20th, the official release day of Secret Tastes, Sam and Adam's love story. I'm really excited. (Yes, I always get that way every time I publish a book. Admittedly, I get nervous, too.)
I promised to post Chapters One and Two of Secret Tastes so for today, here's the first chapter. I'm splitting them in two so each post wouldn't be too long–but also so you can have something to look forward to tomorrow ;-).
Without further ado, here it is. Hope you enjoy it!
Samantha Lane was wet. Very wet. Even the ends of her long, deep brown hair were sodden. Her umbrella was nowhere near big enough to protect her from the incessant rain.
The good news was she was now first in line for a taxi. The bad news was she'd been standing there for over twenty minutes, and the last cab that picked up the passenger before her had left ten minutes ago. Where were all the blasted taxis?
If she wasn't still on a high from a wonderful night, she'd be downright cranky by now. Fortunately she was still feeling the buzz, which negated the dampening effects of the bad weather and the long wait to get home.
The cooking master class presented by the Michelin starred celebrity chef, who flew in to Sydney just for the special event, had been fantastic. But it was the last two hours of mingling with the attendees that held enormous value for her.
Those who had paid top dollar for the closed door ‘after-class drinks' had been given the opportunity to meet and greet food industry experts who were normally out of reach to the general public. Professionals from fresh food suppliers to well-known Australian chefs were on hand.
And paid top dollar, she had. She wouldn't have missed it for the world. While part of her reason for coming to Sydney was to visit her cousin Kris McCann and their best friends, Jasmine Allen-Summers and Ari Mitchell, she made sure her trip coincided with this rare occasion.
All in all, she had an excellent time. Except for one thing. She was sure she had just made an enemy tonight—with an ultra-glamorous, sensational-looking woman whose first name she didn’t get to know.
Miss Glam-Who-Couldn't-Cook—as she’d nicknamed her—rubbed her off the wrong way with her haughty, unfriendly attitude and her ridiculous questions that anyone with the most limited understanding of food preparation would know. For heaven's sake, people shelled out good money to learn advanced cooking techniques, not waste their time hearing answers to basic questions like ‘how do you know if the oil's hot enough?' Seriously!
She wasn't usually the rock-the-boat type of person, but geez, Miss Glam-Who-Couldn't-Cook really got up her nose. It had been her bad luck that she had to sit next to the woman all through the class. When she quietly—and very politely—volunteered to teach Miss Glam-Who-Couldn't-Cook the basics of cooking after the master class had finished, she got an evil glare and a bitchy flick of lustrous hair with perfectly manicured fingers. She probably shouldn't have offered, but the woman was hogging the Q&A with her elementary level questions.
Samantha exhaled loudly. Thinking about Miss Glam-Who-Couldn't-Cook while standing in the middle of a driving rain diminished her remaining enthusiasm. Thank God she wasn't likely to bump into that woman again.
She craned her neck, hoping that the vehicle drawing near was an empty cab. Unfortunately, it wasn't even a taxi. Maybe she should text Kris back and tell her she needed to be picked up after all. She should have waited until she was inside a cab before sending her cousin a message that she would catch one home instead.
The approaching car slowed down to a stop directly in front of her and the driver wound down the passenger side window.
“Sam?” a man called from within.
Surprised, she bent down to look inside the vehicle. Her heart started beating wildly as a handsome face with chestnut hair and hazel eyes grinned at her. Goodness, it was Adam Craig.
“Adam! What are you doing here?”
“I've come to pick up a friend. I didn't know you'd be here. Hop on in.”
She eyed the interior of his expensive luxury car. “I'm drenched. I might ruin your leather seat,” she responded.
“Don't worry about it,” Adam said with a laugh, reaching over to open the front passenger door.
With a grateful smile, she closed her umbrella and got in. She felt guilty about the amount of water dripping off her but she let herself relax. She was comfortable with Adam. As he was one of the best friends and business partners of Trey Andrews, Kris's fiancé, she'd known Adam long enough to know he was a wonderful, easy-going guy.
“Are you okay?” Adam asked.
“Yeah, thanks. I'm glad you saw me standing there. I was debating whether I'd go back inside and ask Kris to pick me up. I didn't anticipate the lack of taxis but I suppose it's understandable in this weather on a Saturday night.”
“I should have known you'd be here. How come you didn't mention it yesterday?” Adam asked.
“Oh, I told the girls about it but you guys must have been so busy chatting that you didn't hear.”
“We should have another karaoke session like that,” Adam said with a grin. “That was fun.”
“It certainly was,” she agreed, remembering with fondness their little party organised by Kris and Trey at their place in celebration of her short visit from Melbourne.
Adam was a bit like her when it came to karaoke—not bad at all, but not good enough to win any competition. As usual, Jasmine had been the best singer. Her husband Kane Summers had stared at her like he'd wanted to ravish her as she sang a sexy song. Ari could carry a tune, too. When her fiancé Dylan Summers—Kane's brother and Adam's other best friend and business partner—joined her for a duet, it had been touching. Cheesy, but touching. But she thought the best part of yesterday was when Trey proposed to Kris after showing off his new dance skills while Jasmine sang.
“So how was the cooking class?” Adam asked as he drove toward the covered area just outside the entrance of the function centre.
“It was great! Well worth it.”
“Good,” he answered distractedly as he scanned people's faces. “There's Sandy,” he murmured as he honked his horn briefly to attract his friend's attention.
Sam's eyes widened in dismay as a strawberry blonde looked up from her phone and smiled at Adam's approaching car.
Oh, hell. She couldn't believe it. Miss Glam-Who-Couldn't-Cook was Sandy—Adam's on-again, off-again girlfriend.
She thought Adam and Sandy had broken up for good. Were they back together again? Why was Adam picking her up?
Appearance-wise, it didn't surprise her that the two were attracted to each other. Adam was a gorgeous hunk and Sandy was a stunning girl. But how could someone as nice as Adam have someone so bitchy and juvenile as that woman for a girlfriend?
Adam shook his head surreptitiously as he watched Sandy trot to his car. He was certain Sandy would assume his acquiescence to picking her up as a sign that he still cared. She'd be wrong. But as much as he had been tempted to ignore Sandy's call for help, the chivalrous part of him couldn't stand the thought of leaving a woman—any woman—stranded in this type of weather. The fact that Sandy was an ex who was still pushing for a reconciliation didn't stop him from doing her this favour.
Sometimes, especially when it came to obstinate girls, his considerate nature was a curse.
Sandy was about to get in the front passenger side when she froze. She'd caught sight of Sam already sitting there. Obviously, this was totally unexpected.
He pressed a button to wind down the window. “Sandy, get in the back,” he called out.
It took long seconds before Sandy snapped out of her shock and did as she was told.
“Hi,” Sam said as Sandy settled herself in the car.
Sandy didn't respond.
Adam sighed. Sandy was the competitive type and typically couldn't stand being overshadowed by another female.
“Sandy, this is Sam,” he said, glancing at his rear-view mirror and catching Sandy's big scowl. “Sam, this is Sandy,” he said to Sam who was staring at the road ahead.
“Hi, Sandy. Good to meet you,” Sam said pleasantly. Turning to Adam, she said, “Sandy and I were sitting next to each other during the class but we didn't get to properly introduce ourselves.”
“Oh, right. I hope you both had a great time,” he said conversationally.
“Hello, Sam,” Sandy finally acknowledged from the back. “How come you've never mentioned Sam to me before, Adam? We've been together for months and this is the first I've heard of her.”
He suppressed the desire to roll his eyes. Sandy's tone was amiable but the barb was there. “I had my reasons,” he answered mysteriously.
There was a time when he'd considered Sandy's bitchy attitude as plain straightforwardness. He had been quite infatuated with her. As a big plus, she was a bombshell. But when he finally came to his senses, he simply got more and more annoyed by her behaviour. Sandy could be ultra-charming, but she also loved spending his money.
He used to see Sandy as a sweet, albeit somewhat immature, twenty-five-year-old who simply wanted a good life—a lifestyle he was easily able to give her. Well, not anymore. Now, he just found her irritatingly shallow. Funny how his perspective had changed when the lust had worn off.
“So, darling, you're dropping Sam off first, right?” Sandy asked sweetly. “I thought we could have coffee at my place before you head back home.”
He stopped a snort that wanted to come out. Sandy's persistence in wanting to get back with him was commendable and flattering. But frankly, he was tired of it.
A brilliant plan crystallised in his head. “No. I'm dropping you off first. I'm stopping by at Sam's,” he answered, glancing at Sam who looked surprised.
“Are you? Why?” Sandy asked suspiciously.
“Why? I want to,” he answered, hoping Sam wouldn't clarify to Sandy that she was only on a short visit from Melbourne and was staying with Kris and Trey.
Sandy was like a dog with a bone when it came to him. Telling her they were over—over and over again—didn't seem to work. Until Sandy saw with her own eyes that he'd moved on, he doubted she would let go.
Fortuitously, just yesterday, he had agreed to be Sam's pretend boyfriend for the sake of her parents. She wanted to resign from her father's accounting practice—which she was supposed to head when her dad retired in a few years—to follow her dream of going into the food industry. But Sam was afraid she'd break her parents' hearts if she did that.
Apparently, though, both her mum and dad had been keen for her to find a life partner. When Kris had jokingly suggested that she should give the excuse that she'd met a man in Sydney, and that was why she wanted to quit the practice and leave Melbourne, Sam grabbed at the idea.
As a helpful guy happy to assist a friend in need, he was more than happy to play Sam's boyfriend if her parents insisted on meeting one. But he could also take advantage of this charade, couldn't he?
He reached over and grabbed Sam's hand, giving it a warning squeeze. “You're not too tired, are you, sweetheart? I thought we could continue talking about the plan we started discussing yesterday—the one involving me meeting your folks.”
Sandy's gasp from the back was audible while he noticed Sam swallow a smile.
“Of course not, honey,” Sam answered, playing along with him. “It'll be great to finalise that plan.”
He grinned at her and caught the twinkling in her beautiful brown eyes.
“So when did you two start going out?” Sandy asked coldly.
“A month ago,” Adam responded, making it up on the spot. “Although we'd known each other for much longer than that. Sam is Kris's cousin.”
He hoped Sandy wouldn't ask any more questions. The last time Sam had been in Sydney was three months ago.
“But you and I went out on a date just two weeks ago,” Sandy said pointedly.
“That wasn't a date,” he contended. “You asked me to have lunch with you and, as a friend, I turned up. Sam knows about it. I told her.”
“Yes,” Sam said, backing him up. “Adam explained everything to me. He promised not to do it again.”
Adam almost laughed out loud at Sam's comment. It was great.
End of Chapter One.
Hope you enjoyed that. I'll post Chapter Two tomorrow.