Throughout the restaurant industry, Chef Bastian Aquino is a notorious control freak. For two very long years, Kian Reynolds has worked for Bastian as his special assistant, doing whatever he and his restaurant needs. The toughest part isn’t even all the impossible tasks he expects Kian to complete flawlessly—it’s the hopeless, endless love he feels for his older boss.
Falling for someone so far above him might be agonizing, but at least his feelings aren’t unrequited. Bastian fell in love right alongside him, but at the very beginning, they made the choice to abstain for logical, smart, professional reasons.
But love isn’t logical, it isn’t smart, and it definitely isn’t professional. It defies containment, even by Bastian. While he watches Bastian struggle with their attraction, Kian finally comes to the conclusion that he’s done.
He’s done standing off the side, done not getting any of the credit, done letting Bastian define the boundaries of their relationship. Most of all, he’s done waiting.
“I’m sorry,” Bastian said quietly. “I’m sorry I gave Xander the sous job, not when you deserved it.”
Kian had been dying for this apology for six months, but even the tender, apologetic look Bastian swiftly shot him wasn’t enough.
He wanted Xander’s old job. He wanted more than just the fleeting touch of Bastian’s fingers on his cheek. He wanted another kiss. He wanted even more than that.
It didn’t matter that it was dangerous or that Bastian had said it was impossible. It didn’t even matter that a part of Kian believed he was right, because there was another part of him that was actively rebelling. That part wanted more, and was not going to be placated with less.
“And you’re still going to try to convince him to come back?” Kian said incredulously. He didn’t need Xander back; they both knew it. Bastian could promote Kian and the kitchen would probably run better, not worse.
But Bastian couldn’t have looked more surprised than if Kian had been the one to walk out in the middle of prep.
“I don’t think you understand,” Bastian began, and Kian knew him well enough, knew his mental gymnastics well enough by this point that he knew exactly what he was going to say. I don’t apologize to anyone, and I’m apologizing to you. You’re special, you’re important, and you need to stay exactly where I’ve put you.
Kian had liked that place, but even at the beginning, it hadn’t quite felt like enough, and by now, two years in, Kian was tired of it and bored.
“I understand,” Kian cut him off. “More than you realize.”
Bastian’s hand dropped to his side and he flexed it, like he was trying to forget the way Kian’s skin had felt under his fingertips. Even if he never forgot, it wouldn’t be enough. Kian wanted to weasel his way under his skin, until there was nothing else between them. Until Kian didn’t know where he stopped and Bastian began. He loved him. Why had he ever thought this sort of half-relationship would ever be enough?
“I guess you do,” Bastian said slowly.
“I need to check on the soup,” Kian said and walked away.
He wanted to be shocked and incredulous that in one breath, Bastian would tell him that Kian should have had the job that was Xander’s and in the next, tell him he was getting Xander back. But the truth was, Kian wasn’t, at all.
He’d known the person Bastian was for a long time now, and he’d loved him anyway. Believing that his mother’s advice was solid, he’d loved the good and the bad parts of him, and that wasn’t going to change, at least not anytime soon. But he was done tolerating Bastian’s shit and he was done giving in.
Most of all, Kian was done being jealous of Luc for having things he never would.
A lifelong Oregonian, Beth Bolden has just recently moved to North Carolina with her supportive husband. She still believes in Keeping Portland Weird, and intends to start a chapter of Keeping Durham Weird.
Beth has been writing practically since she learned the alphabet. Unfortunately, her first foray into novel writing, titled Big Bear with Sparkly Earrings, wasn’t a bestseller, but hope springs eternal. She’s published eleven novels and four short stories, with Indulge Me, the last book of the Kitchen Godsseries, releasing in spring 2019.