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Devour Me, Baby

By´╝ÜFiona Davenport

1

Owen



“Hey, Owen. What are you doing here?” The manager of Saphyre greeted me with surprise as I entered the restaurant. “I didn’t expect you back for another couple of weeks.” He lifted his chin at the young man standing at the host podium, then strolled over to me.

I smiled as I shook his hand. “We wrapped early, and I was anxious to get home.” I’d made a name for myself as a television chef and normally spent half the year in Los Angeles while my show was filmed. But, this restaurant was my true baby, my pride and joy. And, it was in my home town of Atlanta, Georgia. Over the last couple of years, I’d been becoming more and more weary of the travel and the upheaval in my life, never quite being settled.

“Well, welcome back, man. It’s great to see you.”

“Thanks, James. I wanted to see how the renovations are going. By the way, I appreciate all the pictures you sent.” Shortly before I’d left for California, we’d started construction on an expansion to the restaurant. Adding two more offices in the back, a private dining room, and more square footage in the kitchen. I was a hands-on kind of guy and not being around for the project drove me nuts. But, James and I had been friends since I opened the place and knowing me well, he’d kept me updated with emails and photos.

James laughed and slapped me on the back before turning and heading towards the back offices. “Not a problem”—he glanced back with a regretful smile—“I wish I had time to show you around right now, but I have an interview with a potential waitress. The contractor is here though, or you can wait until after my appointment and we can look over the space together.”

My eyes swept over the mostly empty restaurant. It was late morning and the staff was just beginning to set up for the lunch crowd. The ambiance was plush, sultry, with dark woods and rich blues, burgundies, and golds. I was proud of what I’d built. And I was happy as fuck to be home for good.

“Owen?”

I looked up to find James a few steps ahead, looking at me curiously. Chuckling, I closed the gap. “Sorry, lost in my own little world. I’ve got a few things to catch up on in my office, so I’ll wait until you’re done.” We’d resumed walking but at my words, he hesitated.

“Damn. I’m sorry, Owen, but my office is being painted. I’ve got Sienna waiting in yours”—he grinned suddenly—“Andy is here if you want to go harass her.”

I laughed, shaking my head. Andy was my head chef and also happened to be James’s wife. He thought it was absolutely hysterical when Andy and I butted heads. We could both be a little territorial and she hated it when I reminded her that her kitchen was, in fact, my kitchen and she couldn’t kick me out. I trusted her completely, or I wouldn’t have hired her for the job. That didn’t mean I didn’t have suggestions and opinions. I may have owned the place, but I was a chef first and foremost. Sometimes though, I just liked to get her riled up.

“Sure,” I agreed. “Just let me drop my bag in my office.” I followed behind him, my mind and heart settling, finding comfort in a place I considered home. It had been a rough year, and I was ready for the permanent change.

I’d been considering retiring from my TV show for the last couple of seasons, but it wasn’t like I had a wife and kids to come home to, so I kept vacillating in my decision. Being home was bittersweet sometimes. I had a reputation for being a lady’s man but the truth was, I wasn’t a player. I preferred to be in a relationship. And lately, I’d watched almost all my friends meet their soulmates, fall in love, get married, and start a family.

I was over the moon for them, but it brought my solo situation into glaring perspective. However, meeting the right kind of girl in Hollywood was a bit like finding the one clam with the pearl.

Then I’d met Hilary. She was a friend of a friend who had finally worn me down until I agreed to be set up. She was beautiful, tall and willowy. Blonde hair, blue eyes, and a curvy figure. The problem was, there was no chemistry. Still, we got along and she seemed to want the same things I did. Home, family, stability. So, I kept seeing her in hopes that something would develop and bring the chemistry along with it.

I’d just about convinced myself that I could live without that part (although, I’d never been able to bring myself to sleep with her) and I told her about my plans to cancel my show and return to Atlanta permanently. I was going to ask her to come with me but to my shock, she flew off the fucking handle. She seemed to think a life with me guaranteed fame and fortune, and she was pissed as hell that I was willing to walk away from it.

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