Turning Up the Heat: Chapter Five

I woke up in the early blue light of dawn and stared at the woman sleeping in my bed. Kelsey Rankin snored a little. I didn’t care. It was cute.

Cute like Kelsey.

No, Kelsey wasn’t cute. Kelsey was… phenomenal.

It was an instant connection that happens like a flash of gold in a stream. I’d never had that kind of connection with a lover. Ever.

And it was probably stupid, because if she had any ethics at all, she’d never cover my restaurant in the Journal. I’d just fucked myself out of a very important review in California’s premier food-and-wine magazine, but I couldn’t find it in my heart to care.

Added to that, I knew I wanted more. The thought of the night before being a casual or onetime thing was impossible to me.

You’ve been alone for a long time, Oskar.

Such strong feelings scared me, but not enough to back away.

Part of me felt like I knew Kelsey from spending so much time with her brother, but I knew I didn’t. Not really.

I wanted to. I really wanted to.

We’d fooled around a little more when we got back to my place last night, finally falling asleep around two in the morning. But I couldn’t sleep long. I was keyed up, and it wasn’t from dinner service.

I kissed the tip of her nose before I left the bed and walked to my small kitchen to make some coffee.

The house I’d bought the year before was a Craftsman cottage set on a small lot and surrounded by trees. It was in town but felt private, which I liked. It had a tiny kitchen, which I didn’t like. Eventually I wanted a larger house on the mesa with a view of the ocean and the dunes, but it wasn’t in the cards right now.

I’d been working nonstop for the past three years, trying to get the restaurant going and build its reputation. Now that we were more secure, Mesa was starting a new partnership with Whispering Oak Winery. It was going to benefit Josh and me both.

I really hope I hadn’t just fucked it up.

I’d met Josh at a restaurant opening in San Luis Obispo, but I’d heard of him and recognized the name when a mutual friend introduced us. He was an easy person to like, and we’d gotten to know each other mostly because his open personality was so different from my own.

As the water came to a boil for the coffee, I went to peek in on Kelsey again.

Hopefully she didn’t have any morning-after regrets, but I figured even if she did, I’d be able to convince her to stick around for breakfast. I made great eggs. And french toast. I could make her crepes. Or a frittata.

Get a grip, Oskar.

The kettle started to whistle, so I took out my French press, poured in the ground coffee, and filled it to the top with steaming water. I grabbed a pastry I’d brought from Mesa to munch on with my coffee.

When the coffee was fully steeped, I pushed down the plunger to separate the grounds and then grabbed a cup and my bread and sat down at my kitchen table to look over some sugar readings on the grapes that Josh had emailed over the day before. Long rows of numbers quickly swam together as my mind drifted to the woman sleeping in my bed.

I really was going to have a hard time—pun intended—cooking in my kitchen without seeing her naked curves laid out like a three-course dinner on my prep table. I might have to bring that table home and get a completely new one.

So fucking hot.

I was distracted as hell and bordering on obsessed.

I tried to examine the sugar readings again. “Oskar, do not fuck this up.”

Sadly, the probability of me fucking it up was high.

I didn’t do relationships. I’d spent too much of my twenties working crazy nights in Copenhagen and London, screwing around with any number of women. When I was younger, I never thought about a relationship with one woman when so many were interested in me for the first time in my life. I’d been the awkward, skinny, tall kid in a country of tall kids. Finding out that women thought a chef’s jacket was sexy was a revelation I took advantage of.

It was easy, probably too easy, but I was focused on school, then apprenticeship, then everywhere and anywhere, trying to learn and get better. I thought it would be ten years before I could gather the funds to start my own place and try to have a normal life.

When my parents died in a car crash, it had completely rocked my sister and me. She’d left for New York shortly afterward, but I’d stayed in Copenhagen. It felt like my life was on hold until I moved to California.

I didn’t realize how long I’d been staring out the back window until I went to take a drink of my coffee and it was stone-cold. As I went back to the kitchen to warm it up, I heard Kelsey stirring in the bedroom. I set my coffee down and walked in. She was restless, her eyes darting back and forth behind her lids as she dreamed.

“Mmm… Chef,” she mumbled.

I smiled, liking the direction her dreams were going, and then slid in behind her, cuddling up and framing her curves with my body. She was a lot shorter than me, but I liked how she fit into my chest and hips. I was already hard and tried to lean away from her so I didn’t drive myself crazy. Unfortunately, Kelsey had no mercy and she snuggled back into me, rubbing her ass against my groin and sighing in satisfaction.

Torture. Brilliant, delicious torture.

I leaned in and ran my nose along her ear, nuzzling in as she squirmed in my arms. She reached up to rub her eyes, and I slipped my arm around her waist and pulled her closer.

“Wha—?” She straightened a little and turned, which made my lips land on her jaw.


“You’re here.” She laughed a little. “I’m here.”

“Good morning.” I decided to go with the flow and continued trailing kisses up to her mouth.

Her voice was rough and sleepy when she spoke. “I thought for a second that it was just a dream, but I guess you’re real after all.”

“If I got my phone, could you repeat that? I can set it as your ringtone.”

She snorted. “No. Your ego is healthy enough as it is. If I were more awake, I wouldn’t have even said that. You’re slipping behind my defenses, Chef.”

“That’s not all I’m behind.” I ran my hand over her hip and down her thigh. I loved having long arms. They covered a lot of territory. “Have I told you what a great ass you have?”

She blushed down her neck and chest. “No, it must have slipped your mind.”

“You do. It’s all round and full. Makes me want to grab it.” With that, I clutched her hip and pressed against her.

She moaned a little and arched back into me. “Oh fuck.”

I got even harder and began to kiss the back of her neck and stroke along the underside of her thigh.

I wanted to feed her and fuck her, in no particular order.

I continued kissing her neck and throat as she rolled on her back. Her hands ran up my arms and chest and tangled themselves in my hair as I leaned into her. I kissed down to her breasts and ran my tongue in circles around perky pink nipples.


“My boobs?”

“All of you, but yes.” I lifted my head. “Especially your breasts.”

My hands trailed down her body to the soft curls at the juncture of her thighs and my fingers stroked.

She was already wet. I bit her, just a little. She arched against my mouth, and a shuddering breath escaped her. My fingers curled into her, and I continued lapping at her breasts, sucking and stroking them with my tongue as my thumb began to circle and tease her clit. I could feel her temperature rising and I sped up.

She was panting and moaning underneath my hands and mouth. As she started to come, I bit down lightly on her nipple again, just enough to send her over the edge and elicit a breathy cry of satisfaction.

My fingers slowed after a few moments as she rode out her climax; I kissed her lightly on the mouth. “Did you like that?”

She shoved me back with a smile. “You’re so cocky.”

I arched my hips up. “Yes, I am.”

She leaned on her elbow as her fingers trailed down my body. Oh, thank you, God. She smiled as she played with the trail of hair on my stomach, and her fingers lingered, tickling just below my navel before they reached down and cupped my balls in her warm hand.

“Fuuuuck.” I breathed out at the sensation. I tried to relax a little so I wouldn’t embarrass myself. I had a feeling I knew where she was going, and I really wanted to enjoy it for a while.

“Is this for me, Oskar?”

“No, coffee just really turns me on.”

Luckily, she laughed. “Asshole.”

“Yep, a really horny asshole at the moment. Watching you come makes me so hard it practically hurts. Your lips get all red.”

She’d started trailing her fingers up my erection, and her hot little hand encircled me and squeezed lightly.

Please, please, please.

“My lips, huh? You’re thinking about my lips?”

“Fuck yes.”

“I’m thinking about them too.”

And with that she leaned down and put her mouth right where I wanted it. Fuuuuuck. It was so good. She was warm and wet, and I had to calm the fuck down before I exploded like a fifteen-year-old kid. I could tell she was working with more length than she was used to, but she was sure as hell a quick learner.

A really quick learner.

I wasn’t going to last long. She lifted her mouth off me for a second and said in a husky voice, “I want to taste you.”

Fuck, that did it.

I came almost as soon as she put her mouth back on me. I shouted, thrusting into her mouth as she sucked me dry.

I leaned back. “That is the hottest thing I’ve ever seen.”

She reached for a T-shirt crumpled on the bed and wiped her mouth. “What was that?”

I blinked. “What was what?” Remembering the image of her mouth on me was going to get me hard for the rest of my life. My brain was gone.

“You said something in Danish, I think.”

“I have no clue.” I pulled her up and kissed her neck over and over. “Probably thank you very much.”

She giggled a little and cuddled into me. Then she let out a happy sigh, and I considered trying to fall asleep again.


Sleep was good.


Kelsey was also good. “Yes?”

“Please tell me you have an extra toothbrush.”

Kelsey took a turn in the bathroom—with a fresh toothbrush—and I went to make more coffee. After she was done, I handed her a cup and we exchanged places, dancing through the tiny cottage with surprising ease.

This was good. I stared at my face in the mirror, talking myself into being optimistic, which was not my natural state of mind.

This was good. Kelsey was good. She didn’t live here, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t see her again.

I cleaned myself up in a hurry, then went out to make a quick breakfast. Kelsey said she was hungry, so I made omelets with pepper jack and some leftover carne asada. I cut the last of my garden tomatoes and put them on the side for her.

It wasn’t anything fancy, but her eyes lit up.

I sat across from her and stole her fork a couple of times. “When do you have to head back up north?”

She took a swallow of coffee, which she’d laced liberally with milk. “I should get going by one or so. What time is it now?”

“I think it’s around ten already.”

She wrinkled her nose. “I’ve still got to go back to Talia and Kurt’s. And help you clean up the kitchen at the restaurant.”

I loved that she had thought about that, but I didn’t really want to waste time with her cleaning. “Don’t worry about that—I’ll take care of it. I’d rather just hang out with you a little longer until you have to go.”

Her eyes had turned into cartoon-princess eyes when I looked up. Wide and sweet and soft. “You’re pretty great.”

“Because I know how to clean a kitchen?”

“I mean, that’s a definite plus.”

I tried not to feel like a whiny girl. “So Josh says you’re not down all that much. Any plans to be back in the area anytime soon?”

“I don’t know.” She stared at her coffee cup. “Honestly? I’m a little bit at a loss here. I don’t usually…” She pointed at me, then at herself.

“Same.” I jumped in to reassure her. “I don’t either. Having sex in the kitchen was a first, by the way. That’s why I’m asking.”

“Because we had sex in your kitchen?”

My laugh came out a little strained. “Because I can’t just call you up and ask to meet you for lunch tomorrow.” I glanced at the table, then back up. “Which I would if you lived here. I’d claim the first night you had free. And the one after that too.”

She was silent.

Fuck. Was this a onetime thing to her?

Okay. That was fine. It had to be fine.

It was not fine.

But that was her right, and I had no claim on her. I was going to look like an asshole if she didn’t—

“I really like you,” she blurted out.

Oh, thank God.

“Me too.” I let out a slow breath, hoping my relief wasn’t too obvious.

“I feel like I know you already, which is so weird ’cause I’m usually supercautious with men. You’re already friends with my brother, and we know a lot of the same people, and I’ve been hearing about you from Josh for a couple of months, so maybe that’s why?”

I smiled. She was rambling. I made her ramble.

She muttered, “You better not be laughing at me.”

“I’m sorry, but it’s so fucking cute.” I tried to play it cool. “Would it be weird if I told you I felt the same way?”

“No, it would be a huge relief.”

We stared at each other for a few minutes, lost in whatever strange kismet had fallen over us. It was bizarre. And wonderful.

Kelsey finally spoke. “So what do we do? Just call each other? I’m pretty busy this season, and I’m assuming you can’t just leave the restaurant and come up to the city.”

“We have phones and video calling,” I said. “That doesn’t help with the kitchen-distraction situation, but that’s my own fault.”

She covered her mouth, but her eyes danced with laughter. “Sorry. I know it’s not funny.”

“No, it isn’t, Miss Rankin. How would you like it if I came up and fucked you on your desk so you thought about it every time you sat down to work?”

Oh God. I really wanted to do that.

Kelsey’s mouth was hanging open, and it didn’t look like she was opposed to the idea.

Mental note, Oskar.

I moved on quickly before we got distracted again. “We’ll figure something out. We’re adults. I want to get to know you better.”

“And I want to get to know you better.”

I nodded. “So we’ll figure it out.”

“Okay.” She nodded.


We could be amazing. I knew it. I wanted it.

As I walked Kelsey to her car later that morning, I held her hand. It was Monday and no one would be at the restaurant. And I didn’t really care what anyone thought.

Kelsey turned to me. “Did you know that Mesa means table in Spanish?”


“Good name for a restaurant.”

“Thanks.” I didn’t want to say goodbye to her.

We were at her car.

“I better get going.”

“Yeah, you better. Drive safely.”

I drew her against me in a long, lingering kiss. Who knew when I was going to see her again? I wanted her to remember it. And me. I finally let her go and opened the car door, holding it for her before shutting it and stepping back.

As she drove out of the parking lot, I kicked the gravel, feeling like someone just stole my favorite toy.

This was going to kick the shit out of me.