Delicious Desires

By: Jackie Williams

Chapter One

Caroline’s hands shook violently as she shoved the thick glass panel, trying to open the heavy door as quickly as possible. She couldn’t wait to see the back of the stifling building.

A light breeze cooled the thin layer of perspiration on her forehead. At last she could breathe again as she stepped out into the bright sunlight.

She slipped a trembling hand into her jacket pocket and fumbled for her sunglasses. She shoved them awkwardly onto her face to hide her tear laden eyes and then rummaged in her bag for her car keys.

Walking slowly, all too aware of her own pounding heart and almost too angry and upset to concentrate. She wondered where she had parked her car as she cast her eyes over the sea of vehicles that had materialized since she had arrived earlier that morning. Relief swept over her as she spotted her beloved old Mini at last.

The aging vehicle that she had saved from a scrap heap in a moment of sheer nostalgia a few years before was almost hidden between two huge four by fours. She sighed deeply, thinking that her car looked a bit like how she felt; a tiny thing squeezed between two giant, immovable monsters.

Officialdom and Progress. How she hated those words and what they represented.

She pushed her long dark hair back from her face, winding it into a tight swirl and fastening it with a clip over her shoulder. She needed the breeze to touch and cool her overheated neck. Her hands still shook as she opened the car door.

A sleek black car with a bear of a man driving slowed and pulled across the space in front of her Mini. She stared at the man’s massive outline through the car’s tinted windows. His huge hands were visibly clenching on the steering wheel. He stared back at her, dark eyes narrowed while he moved slowly past and then off around the car park.

Her dream was about to end. It had been such a gamble at the start; using every last penny she had saved, and some of the bank’s too, but it had started to work. The knowledge she had gained at catering college at the same time as catering for children’s tea parties had paid off. The queue outside the door every day proved that. To lose it all now when it was clearly successful was gut-wrenching.

Two minutes. That’s all it had taken the council to hear her side and dismiss all her objections. She felt sick.

How had everything gone so badly?

At first she couldn’t believe that nobody had backed her up but after seeing the plans submitted by the development firm and the compensation package for the shop owners, there hadn’t been a hope.

It was all so glamorous and shiny. They had even produced tiny but beautiful scale models of the new seafront apartments, bars, trendy shops and restaurants.

Who in their right mind wouldn’t want it all to go ahead? The whole of the esplanade was being demolished and then upgraded. She had little hope of continuing her business as it was. The councilors had decided that for her. Her shop was far too old and small and was therefore earmarked for destruction along with several others.

The meeting following hers would settle it finally. The developers were coming in that morning to finalize and sign contracts.

The black car with the big driver was passing her again. He may have turned his head but at that moment she was in no state to really see. She couldn’t help salty tears from squeezing between her lashes and blinding her vision.

She had held herself together while in front of the council members but now she wiped a tear from the corner of her eye as she sat slumped in the driving seat. She rested her head on the steering wheel of her Mini trying to control her breathing as she fought off the waves of despair. She swallowed miserably, knowing that there was nothing she could do.

Breaking the news in the shop was going to be heartrending. Her friends would be devastated to lose their jobs. Part time though they were, money was tight everywhere and she knew that the loss of even the small amount she paid her staff would be a blow.

With a resigned sigh she pushed her sunglasses to the top of her head and turned the key in the ignition, trying to make sense of everything.

Loud tapping on the window next to her caused her to jump in shock. Her head shot up and her sunglasses fell back onto her nose at the jolt. She pushed them back up again, catching her hair where it had fallen forwards. She scooped it back quickly, plucking at the strands that had stuck to her tear-stained face.

She turned to see glowering but beautiful charcoal grey eyes looking right back into her green ones. A straight black brow creased into a tight line was just above them. She wound down the window, dabbing furiously under her eyes with a crumpled tissue, desperately hoping her mascara hadn’t run.

“Can I help you?” Her voice was slightly sharp in response to his steel-cold look. She breathed in deeply as his expensive, spicy scent wafted through the open window and enveloped her just before he spoke.

“Only if you’re moving your car.” He replied just as sharply, pushing back his dark shoulder length hair from his face where it had fallen due to bending so far. His long fingers twisted it behind his ear. “You’ve been sat there for ages and I have to be in a meeting. I was hoping that you were leaving as there are no other spaces.” He sounded agitated and in a hurry. A muscle was flexing hard in his jaw and she caught a whiff of delicious peppermint breath just before he clamped his mouth shut.