Lagniappe: An Iron Lace Story
MM Erotic Romance
Sequel to Behind Iron Lace
Caleb Mitchell, bad boy extraordinaire, is ready to give up his jet-set ways to settle down with the love of his life. The restaurant is ahead of schedule, and everything is perfect.
Darcy Butler has everything he ever wanted. Home, family, career, a man who loves him, and everything is perfect.
The restaurant opening brings friends and family together from all over the country to celebrate the season and their love.
Everything should be perfect.
Unless it’s all too good to be real.
Will their perfect life together survive a visit from the ghosts of their pasts?
30,000-word Iron Lace story. Previously published with the current edition of Behind Iron Lace. Now a stand-alone.Should be read in order.
Darcy Butler sat at the booth he’d claimed in Lasseigne’s far corner, well away from the ragin’ Cajuns shouting in the kitchen. He smiled as the younger man seated across from him winced yet again.
“Is it always like this?” the young man asked, his face gone stark white when something crashed and more guttural swearing followed.
“Only every five minutes. You get used to it,” Darcy assured him as he looked over his resume. “You’re a student?”
“Yes, sir. Part time right now. I’m hoping to go full-time next year, but…” he continued to watch the swinging door across the littered room as if waiting for a fire-breathing alligator to come walking out. Considering Caleb’s temper the last couple of days, Darcy wouldn’t be surprised if something fire-breathing did come racing out of there. Most likely Teela, Caleb’s cousin from back home.
“But…will there be any time restrictions I need to worry about between now and then?” Darcy directed the young man’s attention back to him and the interview. If the kid could keep it together for five more minutes and not freak out if and when Caleb and D’wayne, Teela’s very large, very Cajun, husband finally got around to mopping the floor with each other, Darcy would have the staff all set.
“No…I mean no, sir.” The kid stumbled over his own tongue, but he resisted the urge to watch the kitchen, especially after a pot flew through the swinging doors. “Money. It’s not about time. It’s about college being so expensive and not qualifying for aid. I have plenty of time and I’m a hard worker.”
“And you’ve waited tables before?” Darcy could see his list of employers dating back about five years. Starting in fast food and working up to a popular chain restaurant.
“Yes, sir. Nothing like this, but a full-service table place, yes.” He looked around as the deep baritone that was not Darcy’s lover shouted for Caleb to stick his head up his ass. In Cajun. “Is that real? I mean I thought this was just a…theme, you know…but that’s real, isn’t it?”
“If by real you mean, the crude, rude, screaming at the top of their lungs as if they were running barefoot in the bayou?” Darcy managed to smile when Caleb, looking as if he’d stepped off the cover of Bad Boys Weekly, finally walked through the still swinging set of doors. He smiled over to Darcy and retrieved the pot his cousin-in-law had thrown at him. “You get used to it.” Darcy sighed, wondering when he’d gotten used to it. “But yes, they’re the real deal. Mr Lasseigne and his family are from New Orleans. They’ve been in the restaurant business for more years than either of us combined have been on the planet.”
“Oh, good. I was hoping…” The kid turned a bright shade of red when Caleb winked their way before heading back into the fray. “I mean, I want to go to culinary school. Working at a chain place, it’s more about reheating pre-cooked food or just hustling steaks. I was hoping to get a chance to see how a real kitchen with, you know…real chefs work.”
Darcy watched Caleb’s fine ass disappear into the back of the house before answering. Mostly because Caleb’s ass was always a massive distraction. And the wink had been so full of promise, Darcy just wanted to get this kid signed up before Caleb could scare the hell out of him, and close the front up, and go upstairs. “Oddly, I am not sure if any of them are certified chefs. But Caleb’s head man knows food better than he knows most anything else. They’ve been around it their whole life. All of them. From the cooks to the sommelier.”
Another ejaculation, this time of true French, came from the back followed by Teela’s more dulcet yet oh so scathing rebuttal, and Darcy just shrugged. It had been like that for most of the last month. He was used to it. “And there’s live music and a full bar? This isn’t like most of the restaurants around here. This is going to be nice, isn’t it?”
“That’s what Caleb is hoping for.” Darcy scrolled through the kid’s papers again. “Everything seems to be good here. I think we can use you, if you’re willing to start next week. We’re not opening until after the first of the year, but we’re going to begin training. Caleb will be hosting a large Christmas party on the twenty-third. Holiday pay, plus bonus. No tips. If this is something you think you’re interested in…”
Darcy didn’t even get the offer out of his mouth before the kid…Mark, grabbed the pen and signed the paperwork. “Yes, sir, Mr Butler. I am seriously, seriously interested. This might be my dream job.”
“I guess that wraps that up then. You’ve met Ms. Burdeshaw, she’ll be in contact with your schedule in the next day or two.” Darcy rose from the booth and waited for Mark to follow. “So, nice meeting you, Mark.”
“Nice to meet you too, Mr B. My friend, Jewel, sent me. I’m so happy she did.” Mark gave him a huge smile and shook Darcy’s hand. He twittered a bit at the touch before pulling his hand from Darcy’s and waving a quick goodbye. Darcy saw him out into the chilled evening air, and with a tired sigh, he closed the door behind the kid and locked it before leaning on it tiredly.
“That the last of them then?” Caleb’s warm breath washed over his neck, and two strong arms wrapped around him from behind. Caleb sounded as tired as Darcy felt. “We at full staff now?”
“Unless someone changes their minds.” Darcy turned in his lover’s arms and nuzzled Caleb’s neck. “You should sell tickets to that little show, the kid was a captive audience.” Darcy chuckled at the look on the kid’s face the first time D’wayne had thrown a pot from the kitchen. “Should I put in an order for more pots…or is D’wayne just breaking those in?”
“You mean Bubba Wayne?” Caleb laughed softly and nipped at Darcy’s neck when he huffed.
“Bubba Wayne. D’wayne. Wayne. Who the hell ever. I can’t keep everything straight right now.” Darcy realized they were pressed tightly together, swaying to the music that was now blasting from the kitchen. Savory smells of something good wafted out with each swing of the door. “And that door needs to be fixed before you open. I think it’s off the hinge.”
“Bubba Wayne will get to it tonight before he leaves. He didn’t mean to break it, cher. He doesn’t know his own strength sometimes.” Caleb pushed Darcy back against the door and trailed his lips up the side of Darcy’s neck. “You tired, bebe?”
“Exhausted. Last day of finals and office hours and…shit. I still have to grade essays and get grades posted, but I’m so happy that this semester is over.” He’d been pulling double duty for most of the last two weeks to help Caleb get the local hiring done. His job there was finished and he was officially on break. “I just really want to go upstairs and fill up the big ass soaking tub you had put in and sleep in it for about a week.”
“Before or after dinner?” Caleb gripped the other side of his neck and massaged the trouble spot Darcy couldn’t seem to ever relax. “The gumbo is almost ready. We going to eat and then I’m going to kick all these people out to go do something else with their weekend. I think they deserve the time off.”
“Did D’way…Bubba Wayne…fuck…just Bubba, has to be, because I’m not keeping all your kin straight in my head, Caleb. Did Bubba settle on a recipe then?” Darcy knew that they’d had to change out the recipe to fit local fish instead of what they were used to using in Louisiana. It had been one of the main sources of contention that crawfish wasn’t available locally, and shipping them out this time of year from New Orleans just wasn’t happening. So many small details.
“We decided to skip the fishy stuff right now. But shrimp we got, beb, just not tonight. Sausage gumbo. And yeah, I think we got most everything settled. For now. The opening menu at least. I have to get the liquor license pushed through and then there’s the renovation that seems to be falling behind schedule. Might have to find a new contractor if the fella’, Blane, don’t show his ass up on Monday.”
“I’ll see what I can do there.” Darcy leaned into Caleb’s strong hand and let him soothe away the stress in his neck. “I’m out for the next few weeks. I can do what needs to be done… oh, that feels good.”
“I know it does because you making pretty noises.” Caleb’s soft laugh caressed his neck, the steady hand on Darcy’s neck made his knees weak. “Darcy?”
The hesitance in Caleb’s voice brought Darcy to full wakefulness. He met Caleb’s troubled green eyes and had to catch his breath at the heat he saw there. “Yes?” He steeled himself for the bad news he was sure Caleb was about to drop on him.
“I love you.” The distress didn’t leave his eyes when he said the words. “I’m just…really happy you’re here right now.”
Darcy nodded. “I’m happy I’m here right now too. Though I’m wishing we were upstairs so you can put those wicked hands of yours to better use.” He pretended that Caleb wasn’t homesick or that he half expected him to give up on this half-formed plan and head back to Louisiana with the rest of his people. “I love you too. So much.”
“I just needed to hear you say that, bebe,” Caleb huffed out a half laugh, half sigh. “It’s been a bad day. Not going to lie to you. After food, I just want to…that bath, that, can you wait for me? And I’ll rub whatever parts that need rubbing.”
Darcy grinned. “Of course…but if you keep on rubbing things now, more things are going to need rubbing and soon…because…” Darcy wrapped his arms around Caleb’s neck and dragged him in for a kiss. “I love you. And I want you. And if you don’t stop right now I’m going to come in my pants.”
Caleb’s eyes cleared; he laughed, the sound almost happy. “Dinner isn’t for another half hour. I’ll have them send it up that piece of shit dumbwaiter we got. Be naked on the bed when I get up there, cher. That’s all I ask.”
Darcy kissed him again before letting Caleb go back to the kitchen. He knew from experience that Caleb wouldn’t be up before the crew left, but he gathered his things and went through the office area to their private elevator and up to their apartment on the penthouse level. He left his briefcase and jacket in his office and stripped on his way through the sparsely furnished space to their bedroom. He laid down face first on the bed and waited.