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“… there was a knock at the door.
Padding over to answer it, she found Anders on the other side. He was beaming and sweating and looked like a little boy.
“Hi,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting you.”
“No, you weren’t,” the sun was just finished setting and it lit up his black hair with a wild orange. “Can I come in?” he asked, stepping by her as she made room for him in the doorway. “Wow, it smells good in here,” he paused a moment to inhale.
“I’m just making brownies,” Jane replied, motioning for him to follow her to the kitchen.
“Wait,” he said. She turned. She looked at him, questioningly. She looked just like the day he’d met her, determined, and beautiful. The fading light filtered in through the front window of the house and ignited her hair like autumn leaves. He swallowed hard and took a deep breath. “The project is a go,” he said, exposing a mouth full of gleaming white teeth.
“What?” Jane couldn’t believe what she was hearing.
“The inn, the restaurant, the renovation, it’s a go,” he smiled, waiting for her to take it in.
“Really!” She clapped her hands and whooped. Then clapped her hand over her mouth. “Ellie’s sleeping,” they laughed.
“And there’s more,” he took a couple steps toward her, taking her arms in his hands. “I was thinking about it on the way over and I want you to use my house as a test kitchen, to develop the menu for the restaurant. I don’t want you to worry about money. I’ll pay you, and I’ll pay for the ingredients. It’s the least I can do for your help with this project.” He watched her face, hoping to see something there, but he wasn’t sure what it was exactly.
Jane looked at him, stunned, “I can’t accept that,” she said.
“Yes, you can,” he argued.
“But, I’m going to be an investor in the business, and it’s already costing three million dollars. Where are you getting the money for that, never mind for allowing me to experiment in the kitchen,” she broke away from him, starting to pace nervously.
“Where did you find out how much it is going to cost?” he asked, a bit stung that the information was so easily gained.
“Oh, from Ellie,” she said, wiping her hands on her apron. “Everyone forgets she’s in the room,” she raised her eyebrows in a way that suggested he was one of those people. He thought back to the dinner party, the last time he’d seen her, and Ellie. He’d known Ellie was there, but Jane was right. He paused a moment, then went on awkwardly,
“Right,” he cleared his throat. “Look,” he took hold of her again, stopping her pacing. “Don’t worry about the money. You can invest your portion in the business, my father has agreed to invest two million, and I will worry about the rest. That’s my job. You have enough to worry about without worrying about that. I want you to have creative freedom to build the menu however you want. You need more space than this kitchen can give you to do that.” …
“Really?” Jane said, with too much enthusiasm. The idea that Anders might leave had been weighing on her, she realized just then. But he was staying, and he was helping her, which she had to admit was a huge change, for what appeared to be the better. He was helping her by letting her do what she wanted, which was amazing. She hugged him and a thrilling rush of adrenaline flew through her veins. As she pulled away, she went to kiss his cheek, but her lips landed on his mouth. It was warm, and soft, and they both lingered a little too long.”
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