Emerald Valley: Decadence

Riley Shane

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One secret… Anaya Levi loves her life. She's the innkeeper and co-owner of Emerald Valley Bed & Breakfast, she has a successful side job as a photographer, and best of all, she's married to her soul mate, sexy celebrity chef...
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One secret…

Anaya Levi loves her life. She's the innkeeper and co-owner of Emerald Valley Bed & Breakfast, she has a successful side job as a photographer, and best of all, she's married to her soul mate, sexy celebrity chef Devlin Levi. Then Naya's orderly world is turned upside down with the news that she's pregnant.

One night…

Though she wants a child desperately, having one this soon wasn't in her plans and it's making her panic. To make matters worse, she hasn't told her husband yet. Before she does, Naya needs to connect with her husband in a way their workaholic schedules just haven't allowed.

One decadent surprise.

Sex, chocolate, and a favorite pair of handcuffs ensure that this is a night neither Naya nor Devlin will ever forget. But how will Devlin react to the news that their lives are about to change forever?

I moaned, my eyelids fluttering shut of their own volition as I savored the dark, velvety-rich textures coating my tongue. Warmth trickled down my throat, bringing with it an unexpected shot of arousal. This…this was pure decadence. I licked my lips, wanting another taste.

“Anaya.” The laughter in the man’s husky voice broke my reverie. “Come back to me, Naya.”

Opening my eyes, I stared into the sparkling hazel-green gaze of the man across the kitchen island from me.

“You cut me off midfoodgasm,” I accused.

Devereaux Cavanaugh leaned back in his chair, stretched out, and laced his fingers behind his head. Only a dead woman wouldn’t have stopped to admire the way his muscled arms strained the fabric of his black T-shirt, or the flat stomach that made one want to check and see if he actually had a six-pack. He was alarmingly beautiful, in a bad-boy kind of way.

“Apologies, chère.” The faintest hint of New Orleans flavored his words. “I didn’t want you to forget you had an audience. Although that was the reaction I was hoping for.”

I looked down at the plate in front of me and sighed. Warm, melted hazelnut fudge filling trickled out from the small dark chocolate cake, tempting me to take another bite. Raw sex appeal aside, the man had a way with desserts that could make anyone with a sweet tooth swoon. How someone hadn’t dragged him off caveman-style yet was beyond me.

Were I not happily married to my soul mate, I might have bemoaned the fact that Devereaux often treated me like a little sister. Before Devlin had come back to me and Emerald Valley, he and Devereaux had been roommates—two young chefs who’d struggled to make it big in Los Angeles and had been incredibly successful. Their good looks and complementing skills—not to mention the extreme catchiness of their paired names—had made them an excellent bet for the cooking shows. Devlin turning his back on the celebrity-chef lifestyle to open a restaurant in his hometown was only a surprise to those who hadn’t known him or seen him burning out. That he’d managed to coax Devereaux into becoming the pastry chef for his restaurant, Decadence, had shocked everyone; even Devlin hadn’t thought his friend would do it.

I took another bite of cake, tried to control my response, and failed. “Dev, this is too good to be true. If my husband doesn’t add this to Decadence’s menu, I’m dumping him.”

That earned me a faint smile. “Devlin hasn’t tasted it, but if his reaction is half as visceral as yours, I think this one’s a go.”

“Please tell me it’s not going to be a seasonal option.”

“No. With rhubarb now in season, I’m switching out the truffle tarts for a chocolate-rhubarb pot de crème. The cake is something I wanted to add to the regular menu. I’ve been playing around with it for a while, going back and forth on what I’m mixing into the fudge. The hazelnut was my favorite option, but you’re my first taste tester. Are you sure you don’t want to try it with the wine I brought? They make a good pairing.”

I forced myself to push the plate away; it was already late afternoon, and I had a lot to get done before my husband came home. Not to mention there was another minicake ready to be baked later tonight. As it was, I was already going to have to put in a considerable amount of time on the running trails to make up for this calorie explosion.

“I’m always happy to be of service, but I’ll pass on the wine for now. Thanks again for making this and the extra minicake. I know how long a day you’ve had already. I wanted something special for tonight, and well, you know how I am in the kitchen.”

“Just be careful when you put the cake in the oven, chère. You don’t want to burn your house down before you fully move in.”

Given that even I had to admit bad things happened when I tried to cook, I didn’t take offense. My cell phone rang, and I glanced down at the readout. “It’s Devlin. Mind if I take this real quick?”

“Not at all. I’ll write down baking instructions for you.”

“Thanks.” I stepped out of the kitchen as I answered the phone. “This is unexpected,” I said by way of greeting.

“I was thinking of you.” The sound of my husband’s voice drifted over the line, shooting sensation through me much like the chocolate had earlier. “You’ve been teasing me all week with your plans for tonight. I’ve been looking at my watch constantly today.”

“Really?” I grinned, secretly pleased I was able to distract my normally undistractable husband. When Devlin got to work, he tended to block out everything and everyone.

“Mmm. Is there any hope for a repeat of Valentine’s Day?”

The mention of Valentine’s Day made my heart leap into my throat. We’d just gotten the keys to our home a few days before, and Devlin had surprised me by taking a rare night off from the restaurant and talking Leah into covering for me at the Emerald.

Wine, chocolate, and sex with a warm fire crackling beside us… God, I could feel my panties dampening at the memory of what we’d done. It had been an utterly decadent night with an unexpected result. My hand drifted to my stomach, a mixture of joy and fear threatening to overwhelm me when I thought of the life growing inside.

“Naya?” The concern in Devlin’s voice registered, and I realized I’d been quiet for too long.

I tried to sound casual. “I’m not telling you what’s in store for you. You’ll have to wait and see.”

Devlin started to reply, but I could hear someone calling for him in the background. That had been the story of our lives lately.

“Listen, I have to go. I love you, and I’ll be home as soon as possible.”

“See you tonight. Love you too.”

The hurried good-byes were also the norm; had been since not long after our wedding. Devlin spent almost all his time at Decadence, either cooking, charming patrons, or using his and Devereaux’s celebrity to generate more business. As wrapped up as I was in expanding the Emerald and my photography business, I hadn’t minded, though I often yearned for a time when we could step back and just enjoy being married. It was why we’d decided to put off having kids for at least another year. We wanted to get our businesses in order so our schedules would be somewhat more regulated and we’d be financially stable. It was a logical plan.

At least, it had been until Mother Nature had overpowered my birth control. I’d been to the doctor and confirmed what I’d thought was true: I was pregnant.

Part of me was elated. The other part was in pure, utter panic mode. My life was changing at a speed I hadn’t expected. We wanted kids, but if Devlin wasn’t on board with our family expanding in the near future…

I was suddenly nauseated and knew it was nerves rather than morning sickness.

“Anaya?” Devereaux called my name from the kitchen. I forced myself to pull it together. I had a plan for tonight, and it had to go well. I needed this to be a special night, needed to connect with my husband in a way our hectic lives just hadn’t allowed for recently. And if my conscience told me it was slightly underhanded of me to use that connection to soften up Devlin before telling him my news, well, my conscience could shove it for once.

I walked back into the kitchen, a smile plastered on my face. “Sorry about that.” I took the piece of paper Devereaux handed me. “I’ll follow your instructions to the letter, I promise.” I looked at the clock and winced. “I hate to rush you out the door, but I’ve got to clean up and then get back to the Emerald. I’ve been so busy packing to move into this place that I’ve dumped almost all the paperwork on Leah. If I know her, she’s thisclose to turning it into origami.”

“Having as much affection for paperwork as she does, I can’t say I blame her. I’ll leave you to your day. Congratulations on…whatever it is you’re surprising Devlin with tonight.”

Devereaux wasn’t the kind of guy to pry, and at the moment, I was grateful for his unobtrusive nature. Lord knew I wouldn’t get the same consideration at my next stop.

Copyright © Riley Shane


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