I’ve brought you an exclusive excerpt from “Family Dinners with the Billionaire” by author Amberlee Day. I hope you enjoy it and if you’d like to just jump into the book, you can click here.
Julie’s pulse hadn’t returned to normal since the troops stormed the kitchen. Now that it appeared she’d be allowed to stay through dinner, four pairs of eyes focused on her, each showcasing a different emotion: hopeful Olive, hungry Des, bored Ingrid, and…well, she wasn’t sure how to read Mr. Bolt’s expression, but she’d say determined to maintain control, mixed with equal parts dangerous and skeptical.
“Okay, Julie,” sweet Olive’s little-girl voice encouraged, “tell us about dinner.”
“Right.” Julie pulled her eyes away from theirs. Thankfully, when she spotted the food on the cabinet, she came to her senses. “Tonight we’re going to make chicken stir fry.”
“Sounds, great,” Des said, moving farther into the kitchen. Julie guessed the boy was around ten or eleven. He definitely took after his father, with a powerful build and already wide shoulders. “Where do we start?”
“I always like to start with washing hands,” Julie said, still tentative but trying to be cheerful. While the kids queued up at the sink, their father stepped toward her, his eyes still shooting darts. When his brow furrowed and he looked like he was about to yell again, she braced herself. But it wasn’t her he was barking at this time.
“Ingrid. Change first,” he said, his eyes remaining on Julie. “Nine-and-a-half minutes.”
“Fine,” the older girl huffed, leaving the way she’d come.
“Teenagers,” Julie said with a smile and a slight shrug, hoping to soften the mood. It didn’t work.
“Do you always start off a job by interrupting overseas calls and causing widespread panic?”
Julie had already begun opening a jar of cornstarch and got some on her hands. She wiped it on a towel before extending her hand. Someone needed to start being civil here, even if this job wouldn’t continue past tonight.
“No, I normally introduce myself. Julie Kiyama.”
He scowled at her hand a moment before taking it in his own. Surprisingly, a zinging sensation jolted through her at the connection, suddenly making her self-conscious that this impossible-to-ignore man was touching her hand, which was attached to the rest of her. When his eyes widened, she thought she read a new awareness in them. Did he feel that too?
“Jetton Bolt,” he said, releasing her hand after a succinct pump.
Julie couldn’t quite suppress the nervous giggle that bubbled up. “Jett-n? Because you like to go fast?” Before she could think better of it, she pumped her arms in slow motion, like she was imitating a toddler trying really hard to run.
“If that makes you feel better to think so.” His dismissive tone made her want to hit him in the head with a frying pan, but she stopped the running motion. “It’s actually derived from a family name. My maternal grandmother’s maiden name was Jett.”
“I imagine a little boy named Jett-n would be pretty adorable,” she said, still emphasizing the cute pronunciation. “What’s your middle name?”
Yes, he could see the indication that he might consider going by that instead—though, seriously, it was a great name. She couldn’t admit that, however. Even if she did commit the cardinal mistake of using the intercom, he was just a bit too uppity for his own good. She’d be willing to bet he was used to people bowing and scraping to get his approval. Of course, those people probably didn’t get pretty much fired before they started working.
Jetton Bolt’s features remained unchanged. Note to self: don’t play poker with this man.
When the water turned off at the sink, Julie turned her attention to the remaining two children, her back on Jetton.
“All right, Olive and Des. You two look ready. Step right up to a workstation. We’ll get you started while we wait for Ingrid to come back and for your father to wash his hands.”
She didn’t look to see Jetton’s reaction, but satisfaction relaxed her shoulders when she heard the water running in the sink again. Maybe he really was going to cooperate with her, at least for tonight. She explained a few of the tasks to the children, just as she would if they had come to her restaurant to cook. While Des cut broccoli into flowerets and Olive carefully measured garlic and spooned it onto the pre-cut raw chicken pieces, Julie turned to light the stove—and ran right into Jetton.
“Whoops! Sorry.” Her hands landed right on his exceptionally muscular chest. She drew back as quickly as she could manage—curiosity tempted her to let her hands stay where they were and think about that firm physique a moment longer, but she held them up in surrender and sidestepped to go around him. A teensy glance at his steely eyes confirmed that he was not amused.
“Let’s get this pan fired up. Jetton, you can measure two tablespoons of oil so we can cook the chicken.” A thought stopped her, and she scrutinized his chest again, this time for long enough that he said something.
“See what you need, or do you require another examination?” he asked, making heat rush up to her cheeks.
“What I see—and yes, felt—is a silk shirt. You may want to wear an apron to avoid grease spots.”
His eyes narrowed in contempt and he snorted—or was it a laugh? “I don’t wear aprons.”
“No?” Julie almost wanted to laugh herself at how childish he looked, but his arrogance was too off-putting. She couldn’t laugh at it. Shrugging, she said, “Fine. Ruin a perfectly nice shirt. That pan will heat up quickly, so if you could put the oil in now, I’ll have…” Ingrid returned just then, her hair piled in a bun that put her a good five inches taller than Julie. And yes, she wore a modest t-shirt and some flowy lounge pants. “Ingrid, glad to have you back. If you could wash your hands…?”
The girl waved her fingers with a bored look. “Just did.”
“Great. Then if you want to grab that bowl Olive has with the chicken and bring it over to the stove, we’ll get cooking.”
That earned her another cold look from Jetton, and Julie’s nervous giggle threatened to emerge again. Yes, her let’s get cooking proclamation over the intercom would not be forgiven. Even though she’d be leaving tonight with instructions to never return, she had to hand it to herself; she knew how to make a lasting first impression.
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