A man’s voice carried in through the open top of the Dutch
door. Cady could hear his boot heels thud on the lobby floor with
each step. Not one of the staff. It didn’t sound like one
of the guests she’d packed off to shopping in Freeport or
Kennebunkport, either, which probably meant that it was the day’s
arrival. Perfect. The fact that check-in was clearly listed as three
pm never stopped guests from showing up an hour or two early and
blithely expecting to be shown to their rooms, whether the maids
had finished their cleaning rounds or not.
a minute.” Suppressing the urge to snap, Cady walked to the
opening. “What do you --”
her voice died in her throat.
was the face of an sixteenth century libertine. Lean and angular,
with razor sharp cheekbones, it was a face that knew pleasure. She
could imagine him dueling at dawn or seducing high-born ladies.
She could imagine him slashing paint over canvas in an artist’s
garret or bending over a keyboard, pounding out impassioned blues
in a smoky, late-night club.
dark, straight brows matched the hair that flowed thick and undisciplined
to his shoulders. He hadn’t bothered to shave that morning
and the shadow of beard ran along the bottom of his face like the
artful shading of a charcoal sketch, drawing attention to the line
of jaw, the strong chin, framing his mouth.
and mischief, fascination and promise. It was the kind of mouth
that offered laughter, the kind of mouth that offered an invitation
delicious, lingering kisses.
color flooded her cheeks. Look at her, standing there staring at
him like an idiot.
it together, Cady.
cleared her throat. “Welcome to the Compass Rose. Are you
here to check in?”
of. I’m looking for Amanda or Ian McBain.”
not around just now, I’m afraid. I’d be happy to help
corner of his mouth curved up a bit. "My good luck.”
was said with the casual ease of guy who turned every woman he met
into putty, the kind of guy who charmed as second nature. Her eyes
narrowed. She wasn’t big on good-looking guys in general,
and she was in no mood to be charmed, not after the morning she’d
had. “Your room’s probably not ready this early but
I’ll check with housekeeping.” When she got around to
it. “Here's your paperwork, anyway. It’s Donnelly, right?
he corrected. “Damon Hurst.”
to the Compass Rose Guest Quarters Mr.-- “ Cady stopped. Stared
at him blankly. “Damon Hurst?” she repeated. “The
saw it now, the famous cheekbones, the Renaissance hair, the face
that had launched a hundred magazine covers.
a thousand tabloid stories over his half decade of infamy.
Hurst, the enfant terrible of the Cooking Channel, the charismatic
star who’d sent the upstart network soaring against its entrenched
rival before he’d flamed out the year before. Known more for
his baroque personal life and volatile kitchen persona than for
his undeniably brilliant cuisine, he’d been the subject of
speculation, rumors, spite and stories too outrageous to be believed.
that they were true.
cleared her throat. “Yes, well, welcome to the Compass Rose,
Mr. Hurst,” she said. “It’ll take a little time
to get a room put together for you but we do have a vacancy. If
you’ll just fill out the registration form, please?”
She put the paper on the little counter that topped the lower half
of the door.
not checking in.”
frowned. “I’m not sure I understand.”
I see.” She hadn’t realized that the Sextant, the Compass
Rose’s restaurant, had a reputation that stretched all the
way to Manhattan. Then again, with his shows very publicly cancelled
and his restaurant doors shuttered, maybe Damon Hurst had little
else to do than run around obscure eateries in Maine. She dredged
up a faint smile. “The Sextant is just across the parking
lot. I believe they’re still serving lunch.”
not here for lunch, either,” he said. He was laughing at her,
she realized, and felt her face flame.
you’re hoping for a tour of the restaurant, I think you’re
out of luck.” Even she could hear the tartness in her voice.
“We’re shorthanded and I doubt our chef has any interest
in letting you go traipsing around his kitchen.”
kitchen, now,” Hurst corrected. “I guess you haven’t
heard. I’m the new chef.”