In less than a week, A Serving of Love will be released by Dreamspinner Press. I thougth I'd give you an excerpt and I hope you like it.
Sebastian Franklin has waited a long time to prove himself as front of the house manager at Cafe Belgie, but his first night in charge while Darryl, his boss, is on vacation is less than a success. The restaurant is robbed at closing time, and the Good Samaritan who foiled the robber comes with his own complications.
Robert Fortier is the county’s newest judge, and a reluctant one at that. He is well aware that a public life is not always easy, especially when your personal life makes you the target of a media frenzy. Still, Robert enjoys Sebastian’s company, and Sebastian is never without a serving of happiness and flair for his favorite public figure. But Sebastian is not without his issues either—family chaos and an ex in trouble will put the pressure on as they struggle for even footing in this new romance.
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The afternoon was quiet as they got the dining room ready for the dinner service. Customers trickled in all afternoon, keeping them reasonably busy, but by the time the dinner service was ready to start, the restaurant was clean and ready. They were nearly booked solid, and the customers kept Sebastian and the servers busy for hours. Sebastian was never so happy as when he checked his watch and saw it was already nine o’clock. He felt sweaty and exhausted.
Walking to the front to lock the doors, the last customers lingering, servers already cleaning up, he saw a man in a hooded sweatshirt hurrying in, and Sebastian approached him to see if he wanted a table. Instead, the man pulled a knife, and Sebastian backed away. “Where’s the cash?”
Sebastian felt his legs shake. “In the server’s station,” he answered, taking a deep breath, looking around the nearly empty dining room.
“Don’t move,” the man growled, grabbing Sebastian’s arm, nails digging into his skin, dragging him toward the register. Sebastian opened the drawer and backed away while the man grabbed the larger bills from the drawer. “Is that all?” the man asked, voice rushed and throaty. Sebastian nodded slowly, and the man let him go, hurrying back toward the restaurant door. Sebastian didn’t move, hoping no one else did, either. Darryl had told everyone if they were ever robbed to let them have the money. Watching the man go, Sebastian tried to memorize any details he could.
As the thief reached the front door, it seemed to open for him, and then he seemed to fly through the air, and Sebastian heard a loud thunk. “Call the police,” Sebastian told the nearest server, not even stopping to see who it was before hurrying to the door. Sebastian saw the sweatshirted man lying on the sidewalk with another man kneeling near him.
“I’m sorry,” the kneeling man was saying. “Are you okay? I didn’t see you coming.”
“That man robbed us,” Sebastian said, pointing, and the other man immediately backed away. “We’ve called the police,” Sebastian explained as sirens could already be heard, getting louder and louder. The thief started to move, and as Sebastian backed away further, the other man scrambled to his feet, and Sebastian’s eyes widened as the man towered over him. The sirens got closer, and Sebastian backed further away as the man on the ground began to move, groaning more loudly. Police officers hurried up the sidewalk, and Sebastian backed up even further.
“No one move!” the first officer commanded.
Sebastian froze and began explaining. “That man robbed the restaurant,” Sebastian exclaimed as the man on the ground actually tried to get on his feet. One of the officers forced him back onto the ground and cuffed him while the other walked to where Sebastian and the other man stood watching.
“He pulled a knife and made me give him the money from the register,” Sebastian said in a rush of words as he started to shake.
“It’s okay, sir, just take your time. He’s not going anywhere,” the police officer said before turning to the other officer. “Did you find a knife?”
“Yeah, already secured it, and I found the money as well. Backup’s on the way too,” he added before tugging the guy to his feet, helping him into the back of the police car, none too gently. Another car arrived, as did a third.
“If you gentlemen could step inside, I’ll be with you in a few minutes,” the police officer told them, and Sebastian nodded, now feeling the cold. Opening the door, he held it for the other man, who walked inside. Sebastian noticed that he had to duck slightly so he wouldn’t hit his head on the overhead door closer.
The dining room still had a few customers lingering at their tables, watching the happenings outside. “Would you like anything?” Sebastian asked when the man had settled at a table.
“I was coming in to get some dinner, but it looks like you’re closing,” he said, looking around.
Sebastian handed him a menu. “Order what you like. Dinner’s on the house.”
The tall man smiled, his face changing instantly from ordinary to incredible in a second. “That’s not necessary,” he answered, looking over the menu. “Can I have the steak frites, medium, and a cup of coffee?”
“No problem. I’ll be right back.” Sebastian hurried to Jane, who was clearing a table. “Bring a cup of coffee to the gentleman near the door.” She nodded, and Sebastian hurried to the kitchen. “Kelly, I need a steak frites, medium.”
She paused in her cleaning. “What the hell happened?”
“We were robbed,” he answered, heaving a deep breath to try to calm himself. “The police have the guy, thanks to a customer.” Sebastian forced himself to slow down. “That’s his order, by the way, and could I get one of the special salads too? Oh, and set aside one of Maureen’s mousses for him.” Excitement coursed through him, and he tamped it down, regulating his breathing.
“One thing at a time.” Kelly started going to work with practiced ease. “We were robbed?”
“Yeah.” He gave Kelly the abbreviated version as she finished the salad. “He tripped the guy or something, and the robber hit his head on a parked car. There was a dent this big in it,” Sebastian said, demonstrating with his hands before picking up the salad. “I’ll probably need to meet with the police because I saw the guy.”
“Then take the salad out and meet with the police. I’ll bring out the order when it’s ready.”
“Thanks, Kelly, you’re the best.” Leaving the kitchen, he carried the salad to the table, where a police officer was seated along with the tall man. Sebastian set the salad in front of the man before asking the police officer if he’d like anything.
He declined and motioned Sebastian to a seat. “I’m Officer Cloud. I’d like you to tell me what happened.”
Sebastian told the officer what happened, doing his best to keep his voice level and remain calm, but his heart still pounded in his chest. “It happened so fast,” he added at the end, “I barely had time to think.”
“You did the right thing, sir,” the officer said. “Just give them the money and call the police. Your life isn’t worth a few dollars.” The officer consulted his notes. “We’ve had a few of these snatch-and-grab-type robberies in the last few weeks, and I’m hoping we’ve got our culprit,” the officer said before asking for Sebastian’s name, phone number, and address, as well as the address and phone number of the restaurant. Kelly joined them at the table with the steak frites, placing the plate on the table, along with the mousse, and thanking the man for his help before returning to the kitchen. “Thank you both,” the officer said, pushing his chair back. “I’ll be in touch in the next few days. We’ve got the money he stole and should be able to get it back to you in the next few days. I’ll drop by a receipt for it tomorrow.”
Sebastian stood up as well, shaking the officer’s hand. “Thank you for all your help,” Sebastian said, walking the officer to the door, then closing and locking it behind him before returning to the table. “Is everything okay?”
The tall man swallowed before answering. “It’s perfect, thank you. You really didn’t need to do all this,” he said again, setting his utensils on the plate before taking a sip of his coffee.
“It’s the least we could do after all your help.”
“I really didn’t do anything except trip over my own feet and manage to unbalance him as well. The car he hit his head against did the rest.” The man smiled again, chuckling lightly. “There are some things in this world that were definitely not designed for someone as tall as me. Like doorways,” he added, his smile brightening.
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