Liza’s restaurant opened on the shore of Cayuga Lake, in a prime spot she’d gotten by luck and networking.
She opened on the first day of Spring, an unseasonably warm day with the sun shining brightly off the deep blue water and a few daffodils already in bloom. Her tables were dressed with crocuses and spring greens, and she garnished her plates with little bouquets of the first chives of spring.
And with every dinner that first day came a free glass of her prize wine, served by a sommelier who was grinning from ear to ear, pouring with perfect grace and managing to chat up the diners through that face-stretching smile.
The restaurant’s first night was a smashing success for both of them. Lindon went home pleased. If he could manage to keep the Downside Up Vineyard at the forefront of people’s attentions, all of the money they’d begged, borrowed, or flat-out stolen could be repaid with interest, and their father’s dream would finally be realized.
If he could make the Sunny Side Restaurant succeed, he could keep Downside Up in people’s view long enough to reach their goals. So Sunny Side – and Liza – had to succeed. He could do that.
He made some phone calls. He didn’t really have any favors left to call in, but he could probably borrow from the interest a bit…
Sunny Side’s first week was amazingly successful, almost too much so. Liza found herself running constantly, on the phone constantly, in the kitchen constantly. “I need a clone,” she complained, three hours after closing Friday night, flopped against the deck railing. “Or an extra set of hands. I never imagined that it would be this busy our first week.”
The sommelier winced. “Is there anything I can do to help?”
“You’re doing a great job with the wine. I don’t suppose you know a back-up sous-chef, do you? Or someone who could clone me? Or another greens vendor?”
“God, if you know someone who can clone me, I’ll kiss you.”
The sommelier froze. He hadn’t thought about it before, but the idea of a kiss from Liza suddenly seemed like a very nice idea. “Unfortunately, that’s the one I don’t know. But I can get you a back-up greens vendor, and, if you’ll trust me in your kitchen, I’m a pretty good sous-chef myself. I’ll call my brother in to pour wine for you.”
She blinked at him. “You’d do that for me?”
“I would do more than that for you, Liza. I want Sunny Side to succeed as much as you do.” Maybe more. They were already beginning to get the orders they needed to pay back their debts. If this kept up, they’d actually get what they wanted.
And if Liza was happy… The sommelier blinked at the idea. Liza was blinking at him, too.
“You know,” she murmured, her words a little slurred from wine and exhaustion, “you have beautiful eyes.”
Now was not the time. He picked her up, lifting her easily. “You need some sleep… boss. We can talk about when I start cooking for you tomorrow.”
“And maybe that kiss.”
“And maybe that kiss.” And maybe something, one thing in his life not about their father’s dreams.
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