The Ides of Matt:
A free short story,
every month from the 14th-20th.
GAS GRILLED CHEF!
by M.L. Buchman
-a Dead Chef thriller story-
Grill-chef Penelope Boudreaux headed out to her Fire Dragon Ultimate Platinum Grill perched in the two-story glass pavilion at the end of the dock. Lake Pontchartrain glittered, the waves dancing before the warm morning breeze.
This was her domain. The world could peek in through the glass walls and admire, but none dared enter without express invitation. It was where she entertained her friends, posh parties that sent glittering light out over the lake’s waters far into the night.
Upstairs, in a discretely curtained bedroom, is where she entertained her lovers.
But most of all, the glass pavilion was where she filmed her weekly cooking show for the local network.
She wanted one more round of practice before her next time appearance on camera. It wouldn’t be the local cable network, nor the local affiliate of the national network like it should be. This time it would be national. The Cooks Network invitation—signed by Kate Stark herself—to a Belles of the Hot Grill Cook-off had placed the future within easy grasp of her perfectly manicured nails and she wasn’t about to bungle it through lack of preparation.
The prize was a typical ten thousand dollars-on-an-oversized-check reward which would barely pay her expenses for the trip and definitely wouldn’t pay for her beautiful grill, but that was only the stated prize. Penelope lusted after the unstated prize—a shot at her own show on the biggest cooking television network of them all—the same way the new garden-boy lusted after Penelope.
Just this morning he’d proven that his desire was backed up with acceptable technique and exceptional heft. When he’d finally unveiled that impressive supply of raw material, any concerns she’d had regarding skill had gone out the window. She’d let him take her right in her private boudoir in the big house where even her husband Walter didn’t dare tread. The boy didn’t have much imagination, but she had plenty of ideas of what to do with all that equipment the next time.
But now she had to cook.
She tossed a scoop of wood chips into the dedicated smoker and turned it on. Then she dug into the refrigerator built into the grill and pulled out the ingredients she needed. In moments, she had a strawberry daiquiri blending in the built-in attachment. She was going to win this hands down with a grilled shrimp and gator jambalaya, Creole-style. Hot, hot, hot!
Penelope ran her hands over her satin blouse as she smoothed on her apron. For just a moment she imagined they were the gardener’s. Walter’s were all dandified Southern lawyer. It had been ages since he had cared about her breasts one way or another, even if they were Penelope’s best feature. She’d paid a lot of money—or rather Walter had without knowing—to make sure they were.
But the boy had been fascinated by them with those strong, calloused hands and his overeager mouth. A little training and he would be most satisfactory for a while.
Penelope resisted the sudden urge to go find him again right now and tied off the apron with a sharp pull around her trim waist to remind herself of what was truly important.
She held open the safety and pressed the sparker to light off the one-hundred-and-fifteen thousand BTU main burner and the sixty-thousand BTU side burner of her nine-foot long, eight hundred pound, stainless steel beauty.
It was the last thing she ever did.
The cut hose inside the sealed grill had filled the interior spaces with five gallons of compressed propane gas. The small spark she ignited lit it off. The explosion, assisted by some small charges of TNT, ripped open the remaining internal tanks. Fifty gallons of propane were involved in the next stage of the flashover.
The explosion shredded the grill, the sitting area, the tastefully curtained upstairs bedroom, and then blew the glass pavilion outward in a vast cloud that would have been a disaster for several neighbors except that the glass had been mostly reduced to the size of sand by the scale of the blast.
The outer fifty feet of the dock simply disappeared, the light chop on the Lake soon extinguished then buried the stubs of the shredded pilings.
Penelope wasn’t vaporized, not quite. But she was burned to a crisp except for her breasts, which melted. As she had pressed the switch, she’d been thinking about the boy slipping into her as nicely as a slab of gator into her jambalaya.
Penelope never quite completed that thought.
Four weeks earlier
The Top 10 Ladies of Chowder Cook-off had flowed seamlessly. Kate Stark had rented a ballroom at The Lenox Hotel located in the heart of Boston’s historic Back Bay. She’d made sure there was a good supply of champagne and light canapés and they’d had a wonderful time which made for great film.
On the back of that success, Kate had put her head together with her program director Mac Olson.
“Oh, honey,” he’d flapped a hand at her to make sure he had her attention even though they were the only two passengers on her private plane back to New York. “Oh, I’ve got it. The Ten Belles of the Hot Grill Cook-off. Can’t you just see it? We find a simply gorgeous Southern estate, line up ten grills, and ten Southern women. They always make such great theater. They’ll dress for it in proper Southern style.”
“None dressed so finely as you though, Mac,” she’d teased him.
“Well, of course not, honey. They don’t stand a chance. But these Boston women today, such understated elegance that it was almost invisible. Why if I hadn’t been there to help them out…” his deep sigh clearly stated what a mortal disaster that would have been. “Oh, I can’t wait. Make sure there’s a lake and a broad stretch of lawn for the ten grills. Just imagine the visual contrast between today’s formality of The Lenox and the Southern sunshine.”
Mac had painted such a picture in broad gestures that she’d bought in. By the end of the flight home they even had a list of names; one per state from Virginia to Florida to Texas. Texas made it up to thirteen which was just too many. They dropped the unlucky contestant thirteen and made tentative plans for Ten Women Who Bring the Beef Cook-off to cover Texas and up through the Midwest.
“Twelve, we can manage twelve.”
Kate’s location scout had a site in mind the moment he saw the list of chef’s names. There was a reason she hired the best in the business.
The selected estate belonged to Chef Dee Dee DeRue—what kind of a name was that? Though she was certainly 3D, barraging Kate in every way imaginable: phone, e-mail, and social media. She called Kate hourly to check on everything from the plantings in her garden to the best shade of highlights for her hair.
Kate had a network to run and had finally palmed the woman off on Rikka, her top freelance camera operator. Whether the “direct access to the source of knowledge” had calmed Dee Dee down, or Rikka had threatened the woman’s perfect facial construction until she shut up, didn’t matter. The problem was off Kate’s desk.
Dee Dee’s estate was perfect. Kate, with Rikka at her side, wandered about wondering if she’d stepped into some fantasy kingdom. Mac was going to be so sorry that he missed this shoot but his schedule hadn’t allowed it.
The requisite pond—“heavily stocked with trout for Daddy James (who turned out to be Dee Dee’s husband) and his friends”—was gorgeous, a shimmering mirror of blue South Carolina sky. It also included a fishing boat that might have been better placed in a body of water a few thousand times the size of the pond. But it was decidedly picturesque.
The landscaping was so suited to her needs that Kate finally decided it had to have been freshly planted by Dee Dee for the occasion. On the perfect green lawn at the shore of the pond stood a semicircle of a dozen evenly-spaced Georgia Pines, each exactly the same twenty feet tall. At the base of each tree were planted identical clusters of wildly blooming bushes of pink and red azaleas and blue hydrangea.
A grill had been parked in front of eleven of the twelve pine tree-and-blooming bush plantings, each on its own red-brick pad.
“So we can wear our heels while we cook, sweetie,” Dee Dee explained to Kate, showing off her Jimmy Choos. “A girl always needs to look her best.”
The plantings of only one grill position, Dee Dee’s, also sported yellow and purple azaleas—which had caused quite the furor among the other women. It was only partly mitigated by the fact that her dearest friend Priscilla Danz’s was set up next to hers and sported a few purple blooms in addition to the normal landscaping. “Friendly competition and all, honey pie.”
Kate was going to “honey pie” her in the nose quite soon.
The twelfth pine-and-azalea setting had no grill on it’s red brick pad. The tragedy of Penelope Boudreaux’ death yesterday had shocked everyone. In place of the missing grill Dee Dee had set a tasteful wreath, spray painted black, and a small vase of the yellow and purple azaleas cut from Dee Dee’s own backdrop.
The eleven grills that the contestants had brought were even more of a spectacle than the landscaping.
In Boston, the chowder cooks had brought a favorite pot, knife, and cutting board; all the worse for wear.
Spread across Dee Dee’s lawn were eleven of the most ostentatious grills Kate had ever seen. They all shone as if never used, though all of these women present had at least state fair-winner level credentials. Three had their own local TV shows and two had managed to tap regional networks.
Kate wasn’t above finding a new Southern cooking grill show if she found the right host.
One grill had side-mounted warmer plates, a wok burner, an auxiliary hibachi-sized grill, and so many other attachments that it looked more like a rock-and-roll drum set than a cook’s station. Several sported an array of spatulas, forks, and brushes sufficient to stock a restaurant supply store. Dee Dee’s own grill was gold-colored with that burnished brass look—at least Kate hoped it was brass. It was blinding to look at in direct sunlight and would be almost impossible to film well. Thankfully that was Rikka’s problem.
The one from Georgia, Priscilla Danz’s, was a monster that could cook a whole side of beef. It sported four propane bottles, all tastefully tucked out of sight behind burled redwood paneling.
In an odd fit of consideration, Dee Dee confessed to Kate, “Let Priscilla start first. She’s so famous, you’ll want to get your best film of her.”
Priscilla’s Red Hot Grill show was undeniably popular—her Atlanta show had been picked up by three stations already. Mac had found a tape of one of her shows for Kate to watch. The woman was a fine presenter. She also sported a long flow of bleach-blond hair and a cleavage just as long and nearly as well-exposed.
“Is she selling a side of food with that sex?” Rikka had whispered merrily.
The pre-filming dinner overshadowed everything else. North Carolina still hadn’t showed up. She’d sent her grill by truck yesterday but was supposed to drive down today. They decided not to wait.
What had been a charming affair in Boston turned into the “Dinner Before the Battle.”
Rikka hung in the background as the ten chefs graced the long cherrywood table beneath a line of crystal chandeliers. The room itself had all the ostentation of Tara, the Gone with the Wind mansion—marble floors, white dining chairs, damask wallpaper, and gold-framed oil paintings of vistas of the estate grounds.
Any spouses who had tagged along had been relegated to Daddy James’ boathouse, an air-conditioned man cave that included pool and poker tables, a massive television tuned permanently to ESPN, and a full wet bar.
By the time the ever-so-polite passive-aggressive sniping kicked in—somewhere between sitting down and picking up their napkins—Kate decided she’d have been better off joining the men.
Afterward in the shared suite in the East Wing—everyone else except best friend Priscilla had been shooed of to the Hilton in town—Rikka had suggested that they skip out before the debacle of tomorrow’s cook-off. “I have plenty of film to launch a catfight soap opera.”
“We’re in the cooking show business.”
“You always were stubborn, Kate. They’re going to shred you tomorrow.”
Kate looked down at Rikka who was most of a foot shorter. “They wouldn’t dare; they all want their show on my network too much.”
“If you say so,” Rikka shrugged from where she dropped down to slouch on a divan covered in brocaded roses. She was wearing her typical black jeans and t-shirt. She propped her black sneakers on an oak coffee table that might have been fake Edwardian, or perhaps fake Grecian. With her straight, jet-black hair, her narrow Asian face was the only part of her that really showed. That and her white hands dipping into a bag of Fritos, that she’d scrounged from who knew where, and her electric blue socks.
“Disaster, you think?” she’d learned to trust Rikka’s instincts in such matters.
“Duh!” Rikka found a remote control and flicked around the channels until she found something with women’s screams and 1950’s giant rubber monsters. “I love cable.”
Kate considered, then picked up the phone and began placing calls.
The Day Of
Paul Stark rolled into the compound shortly after dawn. His twin sister had called for help, which he knew was hard for Kate. She’d done it perhaps a half dozen times in his whole life. Whereas he was always…
At the airport he’d debated over the rentals. A Mazda Miata was an amusing sports car and about as good as airport agencies ever got. He considered the high-end rental guy in town, had used a Ferrari when he’d been seeing the Governor’s daughter a few years back. She’d definitely thought of some fine ways to thank him for showing her a little style.
But this crowd sounded like a problem seeking a different solution. He called in a few favors and rolled up under the estate’s Greek-pillared porte-cochere in a cherry-red Cadillac XLR convertible.
The ladies were having morning tea out on the sun porch and every eye had tracked his arrival. He pulled off his caramel sports jacket, tossed the Oliver Spencer negligently back onto the car seat, and moved up the broad, white marble steps to join them.
He walked by without acknowledging a one of them, not that he hadn’t learned to peg most women on first glance.
There were ten of them, all very well tended. Twenty-six or so, up to mid-fifties—most of the latter had purchased the figures of their younger counterparts. Three clearly authentic, pure-to-the-core bitches—they were the ones who owned the money rather than their husbands and wielded it ruthlessly. Two more that fit the same bill, but without the wedding band—I’m just temporarily between men, dearie. Care to fill some of my lonely hours? He knew that line well enough and was usually plenty glad to oblige. Have to see how today turned out.
The last five looked more sane if no less well tended: two decent spouses, two inherited estates, and one he couldn’t quite read—which made her the only interesting one in the crowd.
Money did strange things to women, except for his sister.
Kate had been the same woman since they’d come out of the womb together. She was now one of the wealthiest women on the planet and managed the most successful television network out there, cooking was only one of their many channels in their “family business.” And her dry comment of, “Rikka says I need a pro to handle these women,” had been absolutely right. Kate was way too trusting. After all, she kept trusting him and he knew just how bad a bet that was.
So, he walked right up to the most beautiful woman in the crowd and kissed her on both cheeks, “Hey, Sis! Thought I’d drop in and see what you do for a living when you’re not busy making us disgustingly wealthy.”
The atmosphere on the porch shifted abruptly.
Moments before, they’d all been carefully poised and positioned looking for the inside track with the owner of Cooks Network. His little speech had deflected most of the attention toward him. He flashed one of those casual smiles he’d tested on every girl since kindergarten. Except he aimed it at Rikka instead of the other women, which should make most of them even crazier.
The only woman on the planet consistently resistant to his charm offered back a sneer.
Yep! Everything was in place.
He clapped his hands together and rubbed them happily. “So when do the games begin?”
A sleek, and very well-muscled, very male personal assistant came hustling up to one of the first-category women, rich-bitch-in-control-of-the-purse-strings, and whispered something in her ear.
She went sheet white.
“What is it, Dee Dee?” Kate was moving forward rather than watching the crowd.
Three in the crowd looked unconcerned, one of whom had been looking away, so she had an excuse. There was also that one woman he couldn’t get a read on.
And then “Dee Dee” apparently unable to speak, waved a hand at the man-servant.
He cleared his throat, “Chef Tessie Cummings of North Carolina won’t be joining us. While on her way here yesterday, her car was in a very bad crash when her brakes and steering failed. She died this morning on the operating table.”
Kate suggested shutting the competition down, but the ten remaining chefs inundated her with their pleas.
“No, Tessie and Penelope would have wanted us to soldier on.”
It was ghoulish, not helped in the least by the male secretary/boy toy’s next question which had been to ask if he should order a second wreath to set on Ms. Cumming’s grill.
“In its place, dear boy,” Dee Dee purred. “Have her grill packed for return shipment.”
Kate had been about to shut the contest down despite their protests, when Paul pinched her arm.
“Let it run,” Paul dragged her away from the crowd and led her down to the screened gazebo that overlooked the pond.
She inspected him closely. “This isn’t another one of your games, Paul.”
“But it’s such great theater,” he waved grandly.
“Which in this case sucks for television.” She pretended to sound like an announcer, “Tonight we feature a cooking competition in which two contestants died before they even arrived at the show. Look at these totally tasteless black wreaths we’ve put on the set of our merry cooking show to commemorate the event.”
“You mean memorialize.”
“I chose my word carefully.”
“C’mon Katydid, don’t you want to know who did the deed?”
“What deed?” Why were all conversations with Paul like this?
“The dirty one.”
“Why, how many of them are you planning to have sex with?”
“None. Well maybe…but that’s not the point. I’m talking about the other dirty deed.”
“This,” Rikka said from close beside her elbow, scaring the crap out of Kate. She could sneak up on anyone, anywhere, and was always doing it to Kate just to make her completely crazy. “This is why I had you call Paul.”
Kate looked from Rikka to Paul and back. “Why? What am I still not getting?”
“You’re way too nice, Sis. Not a foul thought about anyone.”
“I have a couple about you at the moment.”
Paul sighed. “Don’t you want to know which of those women killed the other two chefs?”
Kate stopped at that and considered the statement. It wasn’t…wholly irrational, just mostly. But what if it was the case? “You think one of those women is a murderer?”
“Yes—” Paul started.
“No!” Rikka cut him off. “Not a murderer. A well-tended murderess in Armani slacks.”
“See, you’re too nice for this, Sis. Brakes and steering failed? Not too likely. Gas grills are incredibly safe, yet Ms. Louisiana blows herself off the face of the map. C’mon!”
“From what the other ladies are saying,” Rikka picked up, “the two that are gone were top contenders. Possibly the only ones to take on Priscilla and Dee Dee.”
“Right. You need an underhanded sneak like me to find out what’s happening.” Paul furrowed his brow in concentration. “I need to find a way to get in close with these ladies.”
“He’s good at that,” Rikka commented with a dry tone of disgust. “So, what order are you going to take them out joyriding in your car?”
“Eww!” Paul gave a fake shudder. “I prefer to make sure a woman isn’t looking to kill me before I invite her into my bed. Doesn’t always work out, but I try.”
“Up close and personal?” Kate could feel an idea forming. An idea that Paul and Rikka were going hate, but she actually was feeling pretty good about.
Since their parents’ death, Paul had left the network completely up to her to run. She’d made them both wealthy, while he’d gone gallivanting off in every direction. Which didn’t bother her, much.
“I know that look, Katydid.”
“What look?” Rikka circled around to look up at Kate’s face. “Ooo, the evil plan look. I love that look.”
Paul had surprised her. He’d done well during both the fiasco with the North Koreans and that thorny mess with the G-8 meeting in Scotland. Maybe…
“I think, brother mine,” she said it with all of the managerial authority she’d learned from imposing her vision on an entire television network, “that it’s time you started earning your keep.”
Paul looked at her in confusion.
Rikka narrowed her eyes to even finer slits than they normally were, then they shot wide and she started cursing.
“I have to work with that?” she jabbed her finger so sharply at Paul that she almost skewered his nose with a chewed-short fingernail.
Rikka had always been smart.
“Hi, ladies. I’m sorry we weren’t able to announce this sooner,” Paul scanned the ten chefs tastefully arrayed on sofas and settees. The living room, like the rest of the place, had been designed to entertain, not live in. The white marble flooring had large throw rugs scattered across it. On each rug, a circle of seating and small tables were gathered. From a tasteful area for six to lounge comfortably in a wood-paneled corner, to the main area that could hold twice their present number with equal ease.
You could also hold a rumba competition down the center.
Wet bar, bad paintings, and an impressive array of glass cases filled with Dee Dee’s artfully-lit cooking competition trophies.
“I was unsure if I’d be able to make it down here in time from a prior commitment,” Paul continued. It had been a rather sultry redhead who he’d met at a fundraiser when Katie called. “But I’m thrilled that I was able to get here. I’ll be the host of this competition.”
There was a little round of applause. Some looked eager, some avaricious, some neutral, and Tennessee still ranked as enigmatic. She had neither foofed hair nor excessive makeup. Her brunette hair hung straight to her shoulders, her nails were unpainted and her lips barely so. Soft brown eyes that simply followed him and the events in the room.
He also knew from what Katie said that she was one of the best cooks in the room and a solid performer on air, just not the flashiest.
“The best light for filming out at the grills won’t be until after lunch. So what we’d like to do is a series of personalized interviews this morning. You, me, the camera,” he waved toward Rikka without giving her the finger. What was so wrong about having to work with him anyway?
“Dee Dee has offered to let us set up in her kitchen. Each interview will only be a few minutes. A chance to get some good shots. Because we only have the one camera, we’ll sometimes stop to take some video of me asking the questions. Things like that.”
Everyone was nodding and smiling.
Two hours later, he’d been propositioned three times on camera. Had a woman’s foot run up his leg under the table thrice more, once by one of the women he’d read as a “good girl.” And neither from one of the five that he’d tagged as pure-to-the-core bitch on his first arrival, Priscilla Danz. He still wasn’t willing to change his assessment on her, no matter how much he admired the extent of cleavage the Red Hot Grill host chose to display. Dangerous woman even by his standards.
And he had learned absolutely nothing new except their names; though it was still easier to think of them by state. Though when he’d found out that the enigmatic Tennessean’s real name was Wilma.
“There’s a reason I go by my middle name of Annie.”
He liked Annie, rather hoped she wasn’t the killer, but her thoughts were as elusive as the others were blatant.
“I don’t know what else to say, Katydid.” He, Kate, and Rikka had moved off to the side to confer. No one had picked up any real clues.
“Let the cooking begin,” Rikka suggested.
Katydid shrugged her acceptance.
“Fine,” Rikka picked up her camera. “But you aren’t going to find me doing any taste testing.”
“What are you doing here, James?” Dee Dee sounded surprised.
“Come to watch my little gal win, of course.” Kate watched as he pulled his wife against him in a side-hug and kissed her on the temple. “No offense to you other fine ladies, of course,” the tall, handsome man offered a charming smile around the gathered circle before retreating to a chair in the shade and an afternoon Wild Turkey on the rocks.
And they were off.
Kate scooted Paul ahead.
Rikka had him and each of the chefs wired for sound. There were also a couple of general ambiance mikes to fill in background noises so the air didn’t sound too dead.
Kate’s job was to follow along wearing headphones as if she was doing something with the sound for Rikka’s filming.
What she was actually doing was listening to all of the open microphones. They were each recorded and stored separately for later use in final sound mixing, but it allowed her to have a far wider view of what was happening around them than the camera or even a set of eyes offered.
Florida and Arkansas were trading recipes. And it sounded as if Kentucky and Virginia might be trading men, but most of it seemed innocuous enough.
Unable to settle on the contest’s cooking order, Kate had finally forced them to draw names from a hat. West Virginia led off and did a credible job with her opening of grilled-game Burgoo stew and griddle-baked Johnny Cakes. No television star, but the recipe sounded good.
Arkansas’ presentation was much sharper, but her grilled catfish spice rub sounded awful. She’d been a Mary Kay cosmetics saleswoman only recently moved to the kitchen. Her makeup, however, was awesome.
Priscilla Danz of the Red Hot Grill did a great job. Her presentation was sharp and funny. She made she-crab soup and grilled Vidalia onions sound both simple—once you knew her secret tricks that she was going to demonstrate later—and delicious.
She was actually a little terrifying though and Kate didn’t know if she’d be able to sell the woman. Every gesture and move was calculated to place her chest front and center. Her side comments about her competitors moved her to the top of Kate’s suspect list. She was one of the seven deadly sins incarnate: avarice lived and breathed inside that plus-sized chest.
Dee Dee was hard pressed to follow Priscilla’s act and she knew it, but she put on a brave show. Her Frogmore Stew of grilled sausage, corn, crab, and shrimp did sound delicious.
Then, as each had done, at the end of the introduction moment with Paul, she bent down to light her grill. It clicked loudly as had the others, but there was no answering soft thump as the gas caught fire.
She tried again and it didn’t work.
“I can’t get my grill started,” then she looked up at the camera aghast. “You can cut this out, can’t you, dear?”
Rikka nodded and mumbled something reassuring.
Kate was so glad that she’d palmed the woman off on Rikka.
“Is your gas on?” Paul asked. Like he’d have a clue about anything mechanical. He could barely work the television that he’d insisted on buying for their shared condo.
“Let me help,” Priscilla Danz moved over beside Dee Dee, tossed her hair, and squatted down, making her cleavage even more dramatic.
“Prissy! No!” The call hadn’t been very loud, but it had been alarmed.
In an urging tone rather than a panicked one, “Prissy, move away!” sounded in her ears.
In Kate’s ears.
It was over one of the open microphones and she was the only one listening to them all.
A man’s voice.
The only men here were Paul and…
Kate shouted for them to back away from the unlit grill.
Daddy James ran.
Rikka tripped him.
Paul sat on him.
And when Kate informed Dee Dee that her husband had intended to blow her up so that he could have all her money and keep sleeping with her best friend Priscilla, Dee Dee kicked her still prone husband in the balls. Very hard. With the pointed toe of her Jimmy Choo.
They had to wait for him to stop screaming before they could work out the rest of it.
The deaths of Penelope and Tessie had been to set a pattern, so that no one would suspect him when his wife was toasted by her malfunctioning grill.
“And he knew Priscilla, as Dee Dee’s best friend, would be above suspicion,” Rikka added to the discussion.
“It was just a summer fling, James,” Priscilla practically shouted down at the man. She planted the point of her Chanel right where Dee Dee had landed her Jimmy Choo. Apparently James had misread Priscilla’s intentions. “I’m between husbands is all, Dee Dee. I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
In moments the two women were bonding over the troll of a man they were both done with.
Kate really didn’t want to know these people.
And by the time the police were done taking statements, none of them wanted to know her either.
There had been four other counts of adultery on the recorded sound track, three more of trading tips about how to cheat on taxes, and innumerable discussions of random lovers.
A couple of them went home with their husbands and their grills. A couple remained wholly unapologetic.
And Annie from Tennessee had spent the long afternoon and evening beside Paul.
“I’ve invited her to come cook for us, Sis,” Paul informed her.
Kate slumped back in her steel patio chair as the last of the police left with the complete set of recordings and James DeRue in tow.
She looked up at Annie from Tennessee. She was one of the three who had done nothing offensive in the last twenty-four hours.
The woman was very presentable and would film well. Her long form and nice figure would play well to the camera without counters chopping her off at the waist and making her look too short. Rachel Ray’s counters were decidedly lower than the norm because the woman was only five-three. But the lowered counters often made her guests look gawkily tall.
“Are you a good cook?” Her reputation was still small but very good.
“You’ll let me know after you taste my food.”
“Fine,” Kate like the simple statement in place of any bragging. She started gathering her belongings. “When’s that?”
“Well, Ms. Stark,” she reached out and took Paul’s hand. “Your brother invited me to come stay in your New York condo for a while. I’d be glad to make you breakfast tomorrow morning.”
Rikka snorted as she passed by Paul with her camera case and “accidentally” smacked it into his knee.
As Paul began hopping about in pain and sending curses to follow Rikka across the lawn, Kate looked back at Annie.
She looked straight back, perfectly poised despite the sudden distraction of a man hanging onto her shoulder as he hopped up and down on one foot, using her as a balance point.
“Well, Annie. If you can survive my brother, you certainly have the poise to be on their air. It will be a pleasure.”
They shook hands on it.
Gas Grilled Chef!
-a Dead Chef thriller story-
Belles of the Hot Grill Cook-off sounded like such a good idea at the time. Now Kate Stark, head of Cooks Network, must uncover who keeps annihilating her chefs.
• Dee Dee DeRue – the perfect Southern hostess
• Priscilla Danz – her best friend, the sexy star of the local TV show Red Hot Grill
• Eight other Southern chefs – all eager to impress Kate and bag their own show on her network
In desperation, Kate calls in her twin brother—the ultimate jet-setting ladies man. Now the race is on before another contestant becomes the next GAS GRILLED CHEF!
Copyright © 2015 by M.L. Buchman
Published by Buchman Bookworks, Inc.
Cover and Layout copyright © 2015 by Buchman Bookworks, Inc.
Cover art copyright Knife and Apple © Pvf101 | Dreamstime.com
Abstract female fire © Clearviewstock | Dreamstime.com
Image 2792 © g0d4ather | Flickr (cc)
This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. All characters and events portrayed in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely coincidental. This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.