Hello friends and Happy Sunday! I hope your end of year is peaceful and you are well. I’m sharing a snip from my recent release, a holiday novella called The Kwanzaa Brunch. Once I got into this story, I had a great time discovering Booker and Sienna and bringing them together with the help of a familiar matchmaker. A note that if you haven’t read Unexpected, you might want to read that one before reading this one, for #reasons. *grin*
Anthony had, as promised, rushed out hours ago to pick up his children. I stayed, camping out in a conference room since I hadn’t been assigned an office yet, reviewing accounts, systems, and the way Precision did business. I was going to really like this job. Essentially, this was a brand new experience and I had every intention of eating it up.
Speaking of eating… damn, I was hungry.
By the time I pushed my way through the revolving glass doors at Precision, the sky had been dark for hours. It had also been hours since lunch and my stomach protested loudly. I walked toward my vehicle, clutching my belly and trying to decide whose drive thru I was about to crash. Behind me, I heard a derisive chuckle.
I turned to find Sienna keeping pace, a messenger bag slung across her body. “Lunch coming back to haunt you? I tried to warn you.”
I knew what she meant. Office lunches weren’t my thing either, but Anthony was my potluck sherpa. I trusted that he steered me away from anything questionable.
“Hey, Sienna.” I greeted her with a nod, slowing down so she could catch up. We walked together toward the corner lot. She probably drove the two door Benz coupe, the only other car parked in that lot, a few spots away from my Range Rover. “I’m not feeling bad. I’m actually hungry.”
“Unh huh. Look alive, though. Some of these folks might put some Mogwai in their dishes. You know, the kind that’ll have your guts all unruly after midnight?”
I laughed, appreciating the teasing tone in her voice. It was… super sexy. “I hear you. So far, so good, though. Do they work you this late all the time?”
“Nah. It’s just the season. Year end is busy for my department. The sooner I finish my reports, the sooner I’m done for the holiday. I’d rather stay and get it done.”
“That’s what I’m talking about.” I nodded, grinning down at her. “Work ethic. I like it.”
“It ain’t no thang. I make a bonus off of those numbers, so don’t get it twisted. I’m highly and personally invested.”
“Anthony tells me you’re going to be turning over some accounts to me, so we’ll be working together a little bit.”
“A little bit. Yeah.”
“Looking forward to that.”
Sienna paused, which made me pause, then turned around to face me. She still wore that hoodie she’d had on at lunch. She shoved her fists in the pockets and then bunched the front of the hoodie together, twisting the fabric from the inside.
“I was just thinking… I know a couple of places in the area where we could grab a bite. Even a few that serve creole dishes. Just as a welcome to the company. Wouldn’t want you to go to sleep with visions of that ugly Kwanzaa cake in your head.”
My mind popped back to my conversation with Anthony, which gave me pause. You’re not ready for her, he had said. What exactly did that mean?
“Hey, no pressure,” said Sienna, a softness in her tone. “I know you’re new to town and there’s a lot of places to eat around here.”
“You got that right,” I agreed. “I have a feeling I’m gonna need to join a gym. And I’m grateful for food recommendations from a picky eater.” I breathed a sigh of relief when she smirked and rolled her eyes. “So, what are we talking? Not Pappadeaux, right? You’re not taking me to a chain, or some fake bougie cajun spot, are you?”
“Did you just— boy, no!” She cackled, tossing her head back. “Come on, now. I’d never take a person from Louisiana to Pappadeaux. Not that it doesn’t hit in a pinch, but we have a few authentic spots around—”
I jumped, startled by the loud ring, then dug into my pocket for the phone. It was Tara calling me back at the most inopportune time, which was her way. I picked up the call, already irritated.
“Tara, hey. Hold on. Don’t hang up.” I glanced at Sienna with what I hoped was an apologetic smile. “I’m sorry, I’ve gotta take this. Raincheck?”
“Uh. Sure, no problem.” She nodded, but her smile and soft tone had disappeared. She whirled around and walked away, moving quickly.
“See you tomorrow?”
I got no response, but she did wave. I braced myself, then brought the phone to my ear as I approached my vehicle.
“Hey, Tara. Thanks for calling me back. So why—”
“Booker, who you talking to? Who are you seeing tomorrow?”