Home > The Billionaire’s Bun In Her Oven

The Billionaire’s Bun In Her Oven
Author: Ellie Rowe

One

 

 

Cynthia

 

 

My crew stands around me as I eye the place settings, every one of them holding their breaths. It’s my opening night and everything has to be perfect. I stand up dramatically and Paulie gasps to my right. That’s not strange, by the way, Paulie gasping. He does it often.

I turn to my server and look her dead in the eye.

“It’s perfect!” I shout. She squeals and slaps me playfully in the arm. Everyone heaves a sigh of relief and laughs. I love this group, and they’ve been behind me from day one.

It’s been five long years of hard work and scraping together enough capital to get the long-term lease on this place. I’ve always loved this location — a sweet, shuttered restaurant in a cornerstone of my very own neighborhood. The East Village won’t know what hit ‘em.

“And will I have the honor of meeting Ms. Cynthia’s mom tonight?” Paulie asks, and I roll my eyes as I pull my long blonde hair back into a sleek ponytail. He’s being a brat deliberately. My parents have never approved of my decision to open my own restaurant and can’t imagine why I’d forgo a life of luxury to work (heaven forbid).

“If that woman sets foot in this restaurant, like ever? I’ll die from shock.”

Paulie makes a face and I slap him in the butt to make him hurry back to the kitchen. He’s my sous chef and the best (self-proclaimed) queen a gal could ask for.

He keeps me sane when it feels like the world is crushing down on me. In fact, he’s the only man who’s ever really been there for me, certainly, the only man I ever communicate with. We currently have plans for a sham wedding together if I end up a spinster.

“Okay, everyone! Big night tonight, and I have so many of you to thank for it. We’ve gone over the menu a thousand times, and everyone is well aware of their stations. We’ve got this!”

My servers whoop and squeeze each other’s shoulders excitedly.

“Nothing can shake us up! Not even a visit from a celebrity, right?”

They start to murmur amongst each other, and I laugh and put my hand up. “Some of you already heard the rumor — thanks, Paulie…but Stephen Longvale is coming tonight to review the place for his TV show.”

“Wait,” comes a voice from one of my bussers. “He’s, like, a millionaire, right?”

“Billionaire, actually.” I manage to keep my face stoic, even though my stomach flutters at the thought. What does someone do with that much money.

Some of my servers squeal, and there’s a general cacophony of excitement and nerves.

“Hey, we’ve handled critics before! Some of you from my last place remember, right? I know he’s an ass, but I’m way meaner, right?” They all shake their heads ‘no’, but I continue. “Keep your cool. The Pope can walk through that door and we’ll serve him just the same!”

“I believe in you, all of you. So, don’t let me down!”

They cheer and give me a playful salute before hustling to their stations. I try to pause and soak it all in. This feels… amazing considering, there are a lot of people who didn’t think I’d get to where I am today.

I’m reminded of my ex, and all his kind words about my decision to leave and make it on my own with a scowl. Well, fuck you, Kyle! I rouse myself as I head for the kitchen. I’ve done it!

My good mood is short-lived as Paulie calls me over with a bend of his finger.

“A word, darling,” he whispers and I follow him to the walk-in refrigerator. It’s where he always takes me when he’s got a hot tip about something. Generally, I don’t care to hear it, but he has a special glint in his eye that makes me nervous.

“Alright, what’s this all about?” I frown as I cross my arms around me. If we stay here too long, my nipples are going to pop through my chef’s coat. “Why do we have to meet by the meat?” Paulie makes a lewd gesture to answer my question.

“Okay, so get this. I heard from Joseph who heard from Emma P. who heard from Emma B. that Nadia is planning to attend your little soirée this evening.”

My stomach drops to the floor. Not Nadia!

“Wait a minute, is this Joseph from the club or Joseph from the chiropractor’s office?”

Paulie looks offended. “And why should it matter?”

I raise my eyebrow at him, and he concedes. “Okay, it’s Joseph from the club, but this is reliable information! When have I steered you wrong?” He has a point, which only makes me feel worse.

“Hang on, I didn’t see her name on the reservation list at all —”

Paulie shakes his head. “She’s got an alias. Mark my words, she’ll be here tonight.”

Nadia Quint is a major pain in my ass. She’s an excellent chef, to her credit, but she’s the biggest bitch I’ve ever met. And she’s always had it in for me. It’s not my fault I always come out on top; I work hard, too!

Even through school, she was one step behind. If you ask me, it’s because of her shit attitude. You can’t be that much of a hateful asshole and make good food. It gets soaked into the ingredients or something. Of course, she doesn’t agree.

In fact, she blames me for not catching a break of her own. There was an incident at my last place where she tried to tear me down, and she’s been after me ever since.

“Just keep your periscope up, okay? I don’t want her fucking this up for me.”

“Aye, aye!” Paulie gives me a periscope routine with his hand that ends in a limp wrist joke. Cute. “Although I have to say, my periscope will be up a little higher for our bad boy celebrity chef if you know what I mean.”

I push him and he laughs. “What! He’s beyond hot, don’t you think?”

“He could look like a lump of potatoes; I don’t really care. What I do care about is whether or not he likes my food, so... best behavior! Besides, he’s not on your team.”

Paulie clicks his tongue at me and strolls back to the kitchen to take his post and holler at the rest of the crew.

I said I didn’t care, but Paulie’s got good taste. Stephen Longvale is exceptionally handsome. One of those made-for-TV types. Gorgeous black hair, bright eyes and one of those physiques that’s so toned, you can hardly believe he deals with food at all.

I wave my hands in front of my face as if to clear him from my mind.

I’ve got to focus.

I stride through the kitchen, beaming at my chefs before I head to the front doors. Taking a deep breath, I fling them wide open to the growing line of customers.

I can’t wait to see what this night will bring.

 

 

Two

 

 

Stephen

 

 

“Ugh. Oh my – yech!”

I try to get my tongue away from the foul flavors assaulting it. Unfortunately, I’ve taken a big bite. There is nowhere for my tastebuds to take refuge.

I spit the offensive food into my napkin. Which, to add insult to injury, isn’t even a real cloth napkin - just some shitty polyester blend.

Some more noises of disgust leak out of me as I try to spit out every last, little piece of the so-called ‘stuffed crab’ I’ve just sampled. Finally, with one last blech, I purge my mouth completely.

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