Corinne Weathers, Cori to her friends and family—but not
to her very proper cooking class teacher, Micah DePalma—gave
a squeak of fear at the flames creeping up her apron. She
slapped at them with her potholder, but it didn’t help. Her
throat was so tight with panic, she couldn’t cry out for
help. With one last futile whack at the growing fire, and
desperately trying to remain calm, Cori reached behind her
neck to untie the apron straps. Her trembling fingers
fumbled with the bow and pulled it into a good, solid knot.
brief hissing sound was the only warning she got before
clouds of whatever white stuff lurked inside a fire
extinguisher smacked into her gut like a fist and drifted in
a halo around her head.
coughed and waved a hand in the air in an attempt to clear
“You’re welcome.” A familiar male voice threaded through the
grimaced. Ack. Saved by Micah DePalma, her
handsome-but-cranky cooking teacher. Why couldn’t it have
been someone—anyone—else? She closed her eyes for a moment
and prayed for something to rescue her from his wrath. She
knew a lecture was on its way, knew she deserved one for
setting herself on fire, but she really didn’t want to hear
you okay?” Micah’s low voice rumbled over her, as did one
firm hand as he checked for injuries. “No burns?”
ignored the warmth of his skin on hers and cracked open one
watering eye to look at him. He really seemed genuinely
worried. Not angry. How had that happened? She’d done
nothing but annoy him since this course had started.
okay. Thanks to you.” She shrugged off his hand.
no thanks to you,” he replied, tossing the small fire
extinguisher back and forth and giving her a lopsided smile
only slightly tinged with irritation.
oh. Here it came. She scrunched up her face, prepared for
the worst. Maybe if she apologized before he yelled, it
would help. “I’m sorry.”
imagine you are.” He set down the small red metal tube and
stared at the disaster area that was her stove. “However,
I’d say you failed this lesson. You may spend the rest of
class cleaning up this mess.”
Without a backward glance to make certain Cori obeyed his
royal decree, Micah turned and walked away. She took a quick
look at the horrified faces of her classmates. Her face
burned as hot as the flames had on her apron, but she
refused to give in to the tears that threatened. Instead she
snatched up a wet rag and rubbed at the spilled oil and
other goop on the stovetop.
class was finally over, she put away the cleaning supplies
and tossed her dirty rags into the laundry. By the time
she’d finished and grabbed her leather jacket, most of the
class had already left. She dipped her head and tiptoed
toward the door, wanting to sneak out before she did
anything else wrong.
Weathers,” Micah called.
heart jumped at the sound of her name on his lips. Now what?
Cori hated that he had the ability to both arouse and annoy
her, so she opted to grab hold of the annoyance with both
hands. She turned and glared, tapping her foot while she
waited for him to speak.
bad he was such a jerk to her, because he really was kind of
a hottie, if a bit too slick and tidy. He had “high class”
written all over him, in the way he dressed and the way he
talked. That was enough to take him right off her list of
potential dates, despite the way her body reacted when he
got too close. She didn’t have a good history with
remembered the night his mother—a slim, brittle-looking
woman—joined them in class. One look at her perfectly
manicured fingers and precisely coiffed hair, and Cori felt
certain the woman hadn’t cooked a day in her life. She
probably had some fancy French chef who lived in her mansion
cooking up perfectly balanced and attractive meals for her.
Still, Mrs. DePalma made all the right noises over the
masterpiece Micah had created, taking the smallest bites
Cori had ever seen someone eat. No wonder the woman was so
thin she’d disappear if she turned sideways. She oozed class
and money, just like her son.
yeah. Micah was so far off the list it wasn’t funny.
too busy to walk you out,” he said without looking up from
the papers in front of him. “Please let Jimmy do so.”
rolled her eyes at his suggestion. Sure it was late. Sure it
was dark. And, yeah, the parking lot was pretty well
deserted. Despite all that, she could take care of herself.
She’d been doing so ever since she turned sixteen and began
to work nights at the garage.
had to admit, though, she really didn’t mind letting Micah
walk her to her car. It was a strange sensation, being
looked after and she thought it rather nice to have him
nearby. For safety, she hedged. She also didn’t stop herself
from thinking that, maybe one day, he might try to kiss her
goodnight. Her heart pounded just a little harder at the
thought. Gah. She had a crush on her teacher. She gave a
small shake of her head, disgusted. She was a cliché.