Harvest Moon - By Robyn Carr


“I need to see you,” Phillip said. “My office.”

Kelly Matlock, sous chef, threw him an incredulous look. She was literally holding apart a big Italian and a big Swede; the Italian line cook had a spatula and the Swedish one was wielding a metal spoon as they fought over stove-top territory. The request that she go to the restaurant manager’s office right now was so absurd, she almost laughed. “Really too busy here, Phillip,” she said. “Not only are we having a brawl in the kitchen, but it’s seven o’clock. Prime dinner rush. Check with me at ten.”

“It’s urgent,” he said. “Otherwise, believe me, I wouldn’t ask.”

“Where’s Durant?” Kelly asked, speaking of the chef de cuisine, the head chef.

“Making his rounds in the front of the house, gloating. Let these two morons kill each other—we’re short on meat anyway.”

That suggestion did far more to separate the line cooks than Kelly had. “I’ll be right there,” she said to Phillip. He liked to be addressed as Philippe, although Kelly had learned he didn’t actually have a French cell in his body. His accent was entirely for show. She went to her locker, removed her apron and exchanged her soiled white jacket for a clean, crisp one and left her senior line cook in charge.

It never crossed her mind that it might be a real emergency; Phillip loved his melodramatic displays. His second favorite thing was making passes at the female staff and his third, screaming matches with Durant.

One day, when Kelly finally became chef de cuisine, there would be no Phillip; she would never tolerate a manager with such annoying, socially unacceptable behaviors.

She gave a couple of taps on Phillip’s office door and then pushed it open. Her heart almost stopped. Seated there, in a chair facing the restaurant manager’s desk, was Olivia Brazzi, wife of the world-famous master chef Luciano Brazzi. Although Kelly crossed her path regularly—at charity events and in this very restaurant—they didn’t know each other at all. Luca owned a controlling interest in this restaurant. Olivia was tight with Durant and her presence here was not unusual. But Olivia had always ignored Kelly, treating her as if she were a mere cook, not worthy of her time.

Olivia smiled at her with such warmth and kindness, Kelly wondered for an insane moment if she were dreaming and Olivia had come to turn Luca over to her.

While Mrs. Brazzi was stunning in her elegant black crepe dress, shiny textured stockings, three-inch heels and strategically placed diamonds, she did not look her fifty years, not by twenty. She looked like a girl. A sophisticated girl with ice-blue eyes.

Kelly’s stomach flipped. What in the world could she want with me? she thought. Could she expect me to cater a special dinner party or event?

Olivia glanced at Phillip. “A moment, Philippe? May I have the room?”

Kelly became light-headed. On her list of most unexpected events, a private meeting with Olivia Brazzi was up there with alien abduction.

“Of course, Olivia,” he said and paused to kiss the back of her hand before leaving. It made Kelly want to gag.

“Ms. Matlock, please,” Olivia purred. “Sit down a moment.” She gestured with a small, delicate hand to the chair beside her.

Kelly said a brief prayer. Whatever this is, please let it be over quickly!

“I’m sorry that our first meeting is so awkward, Ms. Matlock, but I’ve come to ask you to stop sleeping with my husband.”

Kelly’s eyes grew large in spite of her desire to remain poised. “Are you serious?” she asked, mortified.

“Oh, my, yes,” Olivia said.

“Mrs. Brazzi, I’m not sleeping with Luca!”

“Perhaps there’s not that much sleeping… Now, let’s get it sorted out quickly and quietly. Shall we?” And she lifted a brow.

Whew, at least Olivia was quick and to the point. And that sounded suspiciously as if Olivia and Luca were not as separated as Luca claimed.

Of course, Kelly wasn’t sleeping with him! But best to say nothing further, she decided, because her feelings for Luca would probably show all over her face. She swallowed those emotions with an effort.

Kelly was pretty; she knew she was pretty. But Olivia was beautiful. And chic. And seasoned; experienced. Her sophisticated and contained self-assuredness was a bit overpowering. Kelly had been up against the most diabolical chefs in the world, yet the soft spoken Mrs. Brazzi had her completely intimidated.

“Luca told me everything. How you met, how long you’ve been seeing each other, etcetera. It’s a familiar story. Of course you’re not the first,” Olivia said. “I