“We could get you a gig easily,” Paul said. “You have a natural ability and your talents are amazing. What do you think?”
Flynn held his breath, waiting for Amelia to say no.
“I’m so flattered you think so highly of me. Could we step inside the office here?” Amelia asked. “I’d like some privacy to talk to you.”
They all went into Ken’s office and shut the door.
Flynn’s stomach tightened. What the hell had just happened? He’d waited for Amelia to turn them down. Instead, she asked for privacy to talk to them?
That could only mean one thing. They’d offered the bait of her own TV cooking show, and she was going to say yes.
Of course she’d say yes. Her own television show? What chef would turn that down? No one would. She wouldn’t. And she wasn’t going to, which was why she’d asked to speak to them in private. One, so none of the staff could overhear her, and most important, so he wouldn’t see her talking to the producer, host and director of the show.
He felt sick to his stomach. Betrayed. He’d been so blind and stupid to think that she felt the same about him as he felt about her.
He was in love with her, while all these months she’d been biding her time, waiting for the perfect opening. And now she’d found it and she’d pounced on an opportunity.
Sonofabitch. He felt like the biggest sucker ever.
* * *
Amelia took a deep breath as she faced Paul, Blaine and Ray. The last thing she wanted to do was insult any of them. Flynn’s reputation was on the line and she had to make sure this all went well for him. They’d just offered her the opportunity of a lifetime, so she had to make sure to be gracious about this.
“I am so flattered by your offer. But honestly, I’m very happy here at Ninety-Two.”
Blaine gave her a look of disbelief. “You realize what we’re offering you here.”
She nodded. “I do, and I’m extremely grateful. But I love it here. I’ve established a home and a career that I’m very happy with.”
“Happy enough to give up the opportunity to have your own television show?” Ray asked. “Because that kind of opportunity might not come around again.”
She nodded. “I realize that. And I’m not discounting this tremendous opportunity you’re offering me. I’m so flattered. But I’m going to have to decline with my thanks. I’m honored you think so highly of my cooking and my skills. I’m happy where I am though.”
Blaine nodded. “We think you have talent, Amelia. If you change your mind in the next twenty-four hours, you call me.” He took out his card and handed it to her.
“Thank you so much.”
She hoped she’d been kind and professional and she hoped her refusal wouldn’t shed Ninety-Two in a bad light.
After they exited the office, the crew packed up and left. She tucked Blaine’s card in her pocket and went back to finish up in the kitchen.
She had been honest with them when she had told him she was flattered. She had gone into this with the expectation that tonight would be all about Flynn, and certainly not all about her. She had showcased his signature dish and had made sure to mention—on camera—that Flynn had been the one to create the dish she’d made tonight. She wasn’t sure where they had gotten the idea that she should be on TV. What a ridiculous notion.
Either way, she’d been honest when she’d told them she was happy right where she was. Here at Ninety-Two. In San Francisco. With Flynn.
Speaking of Flynn, she really wanted to find him to tell him about Blaine’s offer. He’d probably laugh. Her on television? She couldn’t even imagine it.
She found Ken, who was closing out for the night.
Ken turned to her and grinned. “Great night, right?”
She smiled back at him. “It did turn out well. Have you seen Flynn?”
“Oh, he left. Said he had something he needed to do.”
She frowned. “He left?”
“Yeah, about twenty minutes ago. But he was really happy about tonight. He said it went well.”
“I see. Okay. Great. Thanks, Ken.”
She went back into the kitchen and finished cleanup with her crew, then grabbed her keys and went to her car. When she slid in, she rubbed her stomach.
Flynn wouldn’t have left unless something was wrong. Now she was worried about him, and there was no way she’d go home without checking on him. She pulled out her phone and texted him.
Where are you?
She waited, hoping she’d get a response right away. She got nothing, which only made the panic rising up within her worse. She drove off and headed the few miles to his house. His SUV was parked in the driveway so she got out and went to the front door and rang the bell.
He answered within a minute.
“I texted you.”
His expression was flat, emotionless. “Yeah, I got that.”
He got that? She walked in and he closed the door behind her. She turned to face him. “Why didn’t you answer me? I was so worried about you. It’s not like you to leave the restaurant without seeing me.”
He shrugged. “Seemed to me you were plenty busy.”
“Busy? I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“With Paul and Blaine, planning your new future.”
“With . . . what?” She laid her purse and keys on the nearby table and walked over to him. “Flynn, I have no idea what you’re talking about.”