As You Like It

an excerpt

Chapter One

Noah drove through the lanes of maniacal traffic. He loved his job as an IT specialist, and working in the city, but he still hated the hour, or usually more, that it took to get home. But the city was where his business flourished. The small town where the rest of his family remained settled just didn't have the demand of the big city for an IT troubleshooter and program designer.

Of course, his father still wasn't happy with either Noah's career choice, or his working in the city. He'd expected his only son to become a doctor like him.

He took a deep breath as he finally got out of the busy lanes, and headed out into the suburbs. He finally turned off into his road and pulled up on his drive. He activated the garage doors, and sighed with relief as the doors closed behind him.

He went into his house, locking the door that led from the garage into the kitchen behind him. Almost on autopilot, he topped up the water in the electric kettle, and flicked the switch. He grabbed a mug, and dropped a teabag inside it.

He groaned as the doorbell rang. He really didn't want visitors, but went to check who his caller was. He stared at the slender, elfin-faced young man who stood there. He shook his head, as attractive as the dark-haired stranger was, he really wasn't interested in double glazing or whatever else might be on offer.

"Good evening, Mr. Rawlings. My name's Jacob. I'm from As You Like It Catering and Planning. You want a traditional American Thanksgiving meal cooking, and some decor updating for your guests?"

Noah opened his mouth, but nothing came out. No way. A gorgeous guy like you? He coughed, and tried again. "Yes. Yes I did. Sorry, I completely forgot. Please come in, and call me Noah."

He led the way through to his lounge, and indicated the settee. While his work life was structured and organised, his home life was anything but. He thought he'd programmed a reminder about this appointment on his iPhone, but clearly he hadn't.

"Don't worry. It happens to the best of us."

Jacob smiled, and Noah's stomach flipped. He sat carefully next to Jacob, not wanting to get too close. He looked at the album and mini laptop that Jacob set before him. "So you're a chef?" he asked as he watched Jacob's long, delicate fingers fly deftly over the keypad.

"That's right." Jacob grinned. "My sister runs the company and she has a couple of other employees. We can do anything from a gift of a cake or cupcakes, to a full dinner for a corporate event. We can also set your table for a party or anniversary, and offer suggestions on decor, which we can even do for you. As the name of our company says, it's as you like it."

"Well, I need a full Thanksgiving dinner for four adults and two children." He glanced around at his somewhat spartan room. "I work away a lot. I never really got round to making the place, well, home-like."

Jacob glanced around. "You have a really nice fireplace. If we were in the States, it would be autumn, so perhaps we can pick up on autumnal colours. A nice painting in red and gold would look good over the fire and perhaps a mirror on the wall over there with a gold border. We can get some scatter cushions for the suite. A burnt orange would look good on the brown leather. Where else?"

"The dining room, and the bedrooms--" Noah blushed scarlet as his stomach protested its hunger with a loud rumble. "Sorry. Just got home. Haven't even showered, much less eaten."

"Look, you have your shower, and while I'm checking the dining room and kitchen I'll throw you something together for dinner. That way you get firsthand experience of my cooking skills."

The thought of a meal appealed greatly, as did the pleasure of Jacob's company. Noah only hesitated briefly before nodding enthusiastically. "Sounds fantastic. Kitchen's this way."

His dining room opened off the far side of the lounge and a black marble breakfast bar separated the dining room from the large open-plan kitchen. "Um, well, help yourself. I'll only be a few minutes." Noah gestured towards the kitchen, before heading through the door into his hallway and running up the stairs.