Today I am so pleased to welcome Rick R. Reed to Joyfully Jay. Rick has come to talk to us about his latest release, Dinner at Fiorello’s. He has also brought along a copy to give away. Please join me in giving Rick a big welcome!
When it comes to love, I’m all about that moment when two people first lay eyes on one another. If the relationship is going to become something special, there’s usually a little magic involved in that moment. Or awkwardness. In Henry’s case, it was the latter. Read on to see how Henry and Vito first saw one another in Dinner at Fiorello’s…
Maybe one day they’ll look back on the moment and laugh.
“Just One Look Is All it Took”
Carmela came back just a few minutes later. Henry looked down, expecting to see a printed application form in her hand and maybe a pen, but there was nothing. His immediate thought was that whomever she talked to in the back had told her they weren’t looking anymore, or that Carmela had said he was completely wrong for the job.
“Got somebody already lined up?”
“What? Oh! For the job? No.” Carmela scratched her head. “Rosalie wants to talk to you.”
“Oh. Okay.” Henry’s nerves ratcheted up a notch. “Why?” He mentally kicked himself under the table for asking such a dumbass question.
“Oh, I don’t know. She thinks you’re hot. We got kind of a casting couch situation for new hires here.” She winked. “Rosalie digs all kinds—boys, girls, you name it.”
Henry shuddered. “Really?”
“No, of course not, you twit.” She reached out and grabbed Henry’s wrist, digging her fingernails into it hard enough to make him wince. He snatched his arm away, rubbing at the red marks she’d left. Carmela said, in a low voice, “Don’t you dare mention I said that. Not even joking!”
Henry stood up from the table, and Carmela moved back to let him pass. As he went by her, she said, “Just so you know, she wants to talk to you about the job.” Carmela said the words slowly, enunciating each word with exaggerated precision. Henry didn’t know whether he should love or hate this girl. Right about now, he was leaning toward the latter.
He headed into the kitchen and paused once he passed through the swinging doors. It was like stepping into another world. Where the light was muted and warm in the dining room, here the illumination was harsh from overhead fluorescents. In the dining room, there was the murmur of people talking and cutlery clinking on plates, all underscored by a muted backdrop of Frank Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney, and a bunch of others Henry was much too young to know the names of. Out there, dishes came out perfectly plated, garnished with fresh herbs and slices of lemon. But in the kitchen, it was organized chaos. A very tall, husky man Henry took to be the chef, clad all in black, stood at the stove, flipping ingredients expertly in two different sauté pans. He had a mop of curly black hair, and Henry was amazed at his dexterity and concentration. Down from him a bit, a short guy, probably only a little older than Henry himself, chopped vegetables and herbs at a cutting board. His hands were a blur with the chef’s knife, and Henry checked quickly to see if the guy had all his fingers.
The man at the stove turned for an instant, presumably to see who had entered his domain.
And Henry’s heart just about stopped. While Antonio in the front of the house was good-looking in a slick, player sort of way, the chef was—how could Henry put it? Rough-edged? His eyes, the color of whisky, were fierce and penetrated into Henry’s core with the simplest of glances. He had a heavy shadow of beard across his face and strong jawline, too heavy to be called five-o’clock shadow. Maybe nine o’clock or even ten. This brute probably needed to shave three times a day.
But he was gorgeous. There was something brooding, dark, and exotic about him. Henry wondered what the chef would look like clad in, oh, maybe just an apron. Shame on you! Get your mind out of the gutter!
Henry smiled weakly at him and he nodded, lifting his chin only once. If Henry hadn’t been staring so intently at him, he might have missed it. But he couldn’t take his eyes off the man. He suddenly understood what the term “awestruck” was all about. And that was maybe why he didn’t see the fifty-pound bag of yellow onions on the floor as he moved toward the chef, hoping to at least shake his hand. Henry tripped and went down hard on one knee. He grabbed for the counter as he fell and knocked off a ceramic mixing bowl, which shattered.
Henry stood, hands shaking, and then bent over to reach for the broken pieces of bowl at his feet.
“Leave it,” Carmela hissed.
Henry stood up straight again, wiping his hands on his pants. He knew his face must be cherry red because his cheeks were burning with a kind of four-alarm intensity. He looked to the chef, to give him a sheepish grin and, he hoped, get a little sympathy.
The guy had paused, but only to stare at Henry as if he were some specimen in a zoo. A chimp, maybe. He rolled his eyes, and his lips turned up in a smirk. The chef returned to his pans, and Henry felt dismissed.
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Henry Appleby has an appetite for life. As a recent high school graduate and the son of a wealthy family in one of Chicago’s affluent North Shore suburbs, his life is laid out for him. Unfortunately, though, he’s being forced to follow in the footsteps of his successful attorney father instead of living his dream of being a chef. When an opportunity comes his way to work in a real kitchen the summer after graduation, at a little Italian joint called Fiorello’s, Henry jumps at the chance, putting his future in jeopardy.
Years ago, life was a plentiful buffet for Vito Carelli. But a tragic turn of events now keeps the young chef at Fiorello’s quiet and secretive, preferring to let his amazing Italian peasant cuisine do his talking. When the two cooks meet over an open flame, sparks fly. Both need a taste of something more—something real, something true—to separate the good from the bad and find the love—and the hope—that just might be their salvation.
Rick R. Reed Biography
Rick R. Reed is all about exploring the romantic entanglements of gay men in contemporary, realistic settings. While his stories often contain elements of suspense, mystery and the paranormal, his focus ultimately returns to the power of love. He is the author of dozens of published novels, novellas, and short stories. He is a three-time EPIC eBook Award winner (for Caregiver, Orientation and The Blue Moon Cafe). Raining Men and Caregiver have both won the Rainbow Award for gay fiction. Lambda Literary Review has called him, “a writer that doesn’t disappoint.” Rick lives in Seattle with his husband and a very spoiled Boston terrier. He is forever “at work on another novel.”
- Web: http://www.rickrreed.com
- Blog: http://rickrreedreality.blogspot.com/
- Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/rickrreedbooks
- Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/rickrreed
- E-mail: email@example.com
Will has brought an electronic copy of Dinner at Fiorello’s to give away to one lucky reader. Just follow the Rafflectoper link below to enter.
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