MIXED UP by Emma Hart
Release Day: April 18
Hiring my brother’s best friend was not on my to-do list.
Neither was he.
Expanding my dirty cocktail bar into food was supposed to be easy, except finding a chef in my little town of Whiskey Key is anything but.
Until Parker Hamilton comes home—bringing his Michelin starred chef’s hat with him.
He has no work. I need someone like him in my new kitchen.
There’s just one problem: I hate his cocky, filthy-mouthed, sexy-as-hell guts.
Even if I might want him. Just a little…
Working for my best friend’s sister? Not on my to-do list.
She’s another story.
Whiskey Key was supposed to be a relaxing vacation, except I haven’t reached the heights I have by lying in a hammock drinking cocktails. So when Raven Archer is desperate for a chef, I offer up my skills.
I’m bored. She needs what I can give her.
Except there’s a problem: I’ve always hated her.
Her and her big, blue eyes, sassy mouth, and killer curves.
If only I didn’t want her.
The sound of my phone buzzing on the nightstand was loud, jarring, and very, very annoying.
It wasn’t the most pleasant sound in the world to wake up to.
Groaning, I rolled over and batted my hand around on the top of the nightstand. Then, I realized the bed was vibrating. It was a mammoth effort to open my eyes, but somehow I managed it so I could look down the gap between the cupboard and my bed. Just like I assumed it was, my phone was wedged between the leg of the bed and the wooden side of my nightstand.
I fished it out with my finger. The moment it was free, it stopped ringing.
Of course it did.
I picked it up and looked at the screen. Ryan. I frowned—it was early for him to be calling…wait, no it wasn’t. It was seven-thirty. I’d overslept.
No sooner had I finished the thought than my phone buzzed again. It was Ryan.
“What do you want?” I demanded, answering the phone.
“Did you oversleep?” came his response.
“Maybe. I was tired. What do you want?”
He laughed. “Have you seen Parker?”
“You just woke me up. Do you think I’ve seen Parker?”
“Shall I call back when you’ve had coffee?”
“Can you get to the point of this irritating conversation?” I shoved the covers to the side and swung my legs out of the bed. I hadn’t bothered to throw any clothes on before I’d fallen asleep last night.
Ryan sighed. “Ilsa said Parker didn’t go home last night. She came over this morning when his car wasn’t in the drive and asked me if I knew where he was. I don’t, and you’re the last person I know who would’ve seen him, so I’m calling you.”
I jerked around and looked at the other side of the bed. Messy and unkept, but no Parker.
“No idea.” I swallowed and glanced at the floor. His clothes were gone, too. Only mine remained. “Hold on.” I put my phone down and checked the notification bar. There were no messages from him, so if he wasn’t here and hadn’t gone home, maybe he was downstairs?
I threw an oversized shirt on over my head and quickly pulled some panties up my legs before grabbing my phone again.
“I don’t have any messages from him,” I said, opening my bedroom door. “I can’t hel—” I finished on a scream, because the missing man was standing shirtless in my kitchen.
“Raven?” Ryan said into my ear right as Parker glanced over his shoulder at me. “Are you all right?”
“Ssshhh—shit!” I held my finger in front of my mouth. “Spider!” I said to Ryan. “I walked into the bathroom and there’s a big spider in my tub.”
Parker rubbed his hand down his face and shook his head.
“You’re screaming at a spider?” Ryan’s amusement was evident in his restrained tone.
“It’s a big one. It scared me.” I slammed my bedroom door behind me. “I just locked it in there.”
“It’s a spider.”
“You’re not helping.” This was the worst lie ever. “I need to get rid of it, so I have to go. If I haven’t heard from you by the time Parker starts work, I’ll tell him to call his mom. Bye!” I hung up and threw my phone on the sofa like it was on fire.
“What the hell was that about?” Parker asked, spatula-flipper thingy in hand.
“You’re still here!” It came out as more of a squeak than anything.
He stared at me for a moment. “Yeah, but I’m kind of stuck on the fact I’ve been both a stubbed toe and a spider this week.”
I sunk my fingers into my hair. It was messy, and my fingers got caught on some small knots as they threaded through the locks. “Ryan called and woke me up.” I summarized the phone call. “And I panicked when I saw you, because I didn’t know you were still here.”
“Why wouldn’t I be here?”
“I fell asleep and thought you left!”
He shook his head, turning back to my cooker. “I fell asleep, too. I didn’t wake up until your alarm went off this morning.”
“Why didn’t you wake me up? I’m late and I have to put orders through today.”
“You didn’t move,” he said. “So I shut it off, took a shower, and came to make breakfast.”
Now that he’d mentioned it, I could see his dark hair was wet. “Okay, well, you need to call your mom and tell her you aren’t dead or anything.”
“I’ll text her soon. I can’t do it right after Ryan’s called you, can I? That won’t look suspicious at all.”
“Half an hour. Say I left you a voicemail to see if you were coming into work because you were MIA and you realized you forgot to tell her you weren’t coming home.”
“The fact I have to tell her I’m not coming home is, in itself, ridiculous.”
“And that’s why I live alone.” I smiled and pulled a bottle of water out of the fridge. “What are you making?”
“Omelets. Yia-Yia left me omelet seasoning so I thought I’d try it.”
I peered over his arm at the pan. “Where did you get the the ingredients?” I knew for a fact I didn’t have eggs in my fridge.
“Downstairs.” He glanced at me as if the answer was obvious. Which it was, honestly. “Your fridge is both impressively empty and sadly understocked.”
I shrugged and leaned against the counter. “I don’t eat breakfast unless I’m forced to.”
Parker slid the omelet out of the pan and onto a plate in one smooth movement. Then, he picked up the plate, and held it out to me. “Well, I’m forcing you to eat.”
I might not have been a big breakfast eater, but I wasn’t going to turn down food.
“I can deal with that.” I smiled and reached for the plate, but before I could take it, he swung his arm out wide where I couldn’t reach it. “Hey!”
He grabbed the front of my shirt, yanking me toward him. I’d barely righted my footing when he dropped his mouth to mine and planted a slow, easy kiss on my lips. Releasing me like he’d done nothing out of the ordinary, he put the plate back between us and also handed me a knife and fork. “Morning.”
I snatched the plate and cutlery before he could take it away again. “Thanks. I think?”
He laughed as I sat at the table. “Your good morning was screaming at me. The least you could do was kiss me.”
I rolled my eyes and stabbed my fork into the cheesy, melty, eggy goodness. “You should have announced yourself. Left your pants on the floor or something.”
“I’ll remember that for next time.”
“Next time? This is going to happen again?” I was teasing him, because let’s be honest. There were worse things in life than having sex with a hot guy, then waking up to find said hot guy making you breakfast while half-naked.
“Yep. I’ll just remember to call my mom first.”
I laughed, then moaned as I finally put the first forkful of breakfast into my mouth.
Parker side-eyed me. “If you want to finish your breakfast in peace, don’t do that again.”
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