Home > Spooning Leads to Forking (Hot in the Kitchen #2)

Spooning Leads to Forking (Hot in the Kitchen #2)
Author: Kilby Blades

Part I



The Hot Grocer






The House




God, this air is clean.

Shea had been hit with the same blunt thought that first morning when she’d pushed open the patio doors, two ribless panes of glass that refused to interrupt the view. The wide, green valley below and distant mountains that really were majestically purple still failed to trump her enjoyment of the air.

This never gets old, she thought as she took a deep inhale, cool forest aromas and just a hint of the coffee in her hand filling her senses. In the six weeks since she’d arrived, reality about all the other things she was missing had set in. But did she mourn the smells of the streets of New York? That was a big “hell, no.”

Shea had tried to stop comparing—tried to quit making New York her measuring stick—tried to love everything about Sapling, Colorado. And if “love” was too strong a word, to at least be grateful for a place to lay low. Things could be a lot worse. Things had been a lot worse. And most women in her situation didn’t have friends in high places.

Speaking of Kendrick…

Still in socked feet and pajama pants, Shea strode from the doors to the edge of the partially covered deck, no short distance since the deck had enough square footage to contain a full living space. Outdoor sofas with canvas cushions and inbuilt frames of reclaimed wood formed a U-shape around a grand fireplace. Stonework matched the ashen color of the wood. A different wood had been used for an outdoor table that was as much for dining as it was for a nice space to work.

Fishing in the pocket of the bathrobe that had become more of a staple in her wardrobe than she cared to admit, she pulled out her ever-present phone. Even without all the texting and the phone calls and the constant stream of social media alerts, going anywhere without it still seemed wrong.

“Call Kendrick,” she commanded Siri, quite a bit louder than necessary. Loud-voicing her commands was another habit that had proven hard to kick. This, from being accustomed to so much noise. It freaked her out—how quiet everything was out here. Her first week there, she’d shouted into the sprawling wilderness and descending valley. The echo of her own voice had shouted back.

“Hey, gorgeous.” She could hear the smile in Kendrick’s voice when he picked up. He was one of her go-tos when her mood needed a lift. She’d gotten in the habit of calling a different friend every other morning to stave off loneliness. Only, few friends knew where she was.

“Hey, hot stuff,” she returned.

She and Kendrick had dated for about five minutes before realizing they were better off as friends. He was one of the first people she’d met when she’d arrived in Manhattan. He’d taught her some street-smarts, shown her the city and helped her find a better job when the one she’d moved there for hadn’t panned out. He was also one of the smartest people she’d ever met.

“Still liking the cabin? You need anything?” Kendrick wanted to know.

“Only you would call it a cabin. What is this place, like, 6,000 square feet?”

“Something like that…” he replied.

If it were less, he would have defended its modesty. Kendrick had that freakish kind of recall some people had for numbers. His vague response proved that the house was larger than she’d guessed.

“It’s amazing—seriously. I can’t thank you enough for offering it to me, let alone for a whole year.”

“Longer if you need it,” he cut in. “And stop thanking me—I’m getting embarrassed. Just name a character in your movie after me.”

At the mention of the screenplay Shea was supposed to be writing, she glanced to her right toward the set glass walls that delineated the spacious office in the corner of the house. The screenplay wasn’t exactly a fake cover. She was writing it, and selling said script got her closer to claiming her rightful career as a filmmaker. It just also happened to be her alibi.

The small handful of friends who knew she’d gone away knew she’d retreated to an undisclosed location to write her opus. Everyone knew she had a film degree from Tisch. What would come out soon enough was that her abrupt departure was caught up in the tangled web of her unannounced divorce.

“And what sort of character would fictional Kendrick be?” Shea quipped, wanting to revel in the only contact she was likely to have with a real friend all day. The people in town were neighborly. But she was still new, and they were still strangers. Living under a false identity meant she needed to lay low.

“Handsome, rich, benevolent…” Kendrick began.

Shea smiled even as she rolled her eyes. “Obviously.”

“But with a dark side, you know—maybe like a modern-day Robin Hood or a superhero assassin?”

Shea blinked. “Wow. I didn’t see that coming.”

He chuckled. “They never do.”

Kendrick was handsome and rich, not so much a badass as he was a bleeding-heart humanitarian type. Her best friend, Carrie, who always forgot names, called him the “hot computer geek.” Kendrick wouldn’t hurt a fly.

After picking up her coffee mug from where she’d set it on the wooden railing, Shea took a long, creamy sip before walking left. Where she’d first stood had given the head-on view of the mountains but her favorite place to stand was at the corner of the deck, where the aspen trees began. She was kind of in love with their spade leaves and their silver bark.

“Seriously, though ... how do you like the town? I know there’s not a whole lot there, but—I don’t know. There’s something about it.”

She didn’t want to complain. There was nothing wrong with Sapling. Sapling was exactly what it was supposed to be. It was she who was out of place; she who was used to a different cadence of life; she who had thought it a brilliant idea to fall off the map; she who hadn’t thought through what it would mean for a hot-shit food critic to move to a tiny town in the mountains with absolutely nothing to eat.

“It’s really clean,” she said, a positive note lifting her voice. “And the hiking is amazing. For the first time in a long time, I can breathe.”

She’d been thinking about that—about how, once you got used to a dirty place, it didn’t seem so dirty. Just like once you got used to a bad marriage, it didn’t seem so bad. Her marriage to Keenan had been bad enough for her to leave like she did. Attempting a normal existence over the last six weeks proved that her marriage had been worse than she thought.

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