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A Taste for Love: Chapter 10

What was that?

My eyes pop open. I sit straight up in bed and listen for the sound that startled me awake. For a moment, there’s only silence, but then I catch a faint rustling noise. I slip out of bed and pad softly down the hallway. With one eye on the now jiggling lock, I grab hold of the only thing in the kitchen that might inflict damage—a meat tenderizer. I sneak over to the door just as it swings open.

I jump out and swing the meat tenderizer blindly. “Take that!”

“Hey, watch it!”

My first strike met air, so I cock my arm for a second blow. The man puts his hands up and backs out of reach.

“Wait! Jeannie, it’s me! It’s me!”

I freeze. He knows Jeannie? My hands start to sweat as he peers through his fingers at me.

I level my most menacing glare. “Who are you?”

“My name’s Nathan,” he says, hands still in the air.

“How do you know Jeannie?”

“She’s my friend. Call her if you want. I swear I’m not lying.”

I pat my pocket with my free hand. Damn it. It’s on the nightstand.

I jut my chin out. “Jeannie said she doesn’t have a spare key.”

“That’s because she lent it to me,” Nathan answers slowly. “I was bringing it back to her. And what about you? How do I know you’re not the intruder?”

“Because I’m her sister.”

“Her sister?” His hazel eyes skim across my features. “Oh! Liza, right? Jeannie talks about you all the time. I hear you’re an amazing baker.”

He flashes me a brilliant smile and points at my makeshift weapon.

“Any chance you’d be willing to put that down?”

I reluctantly put the tenderizer down and step aside to let him in.

“Sorry about that. I guess I’ve seen one too many crime shows.”

“Actually, it was good thinking on your part. If I were a real intruder, I’d be running with my tail between my legs.”

He plucks the tenderizer off the table and replaces it in the drawer I pulled it out of. He pulls a pitcher out of the fridge and pours himself a glass of water. I sneak a closer look at him as he drops down onto the sofa. Nathan is exactly the kind of guy Jeannie always goes for—great hair, gorgeous face, tall, and confident. With his thick jet-black hair and hazel eyes, Nathan would get Mom’s approval, even from two thousand miles away. I’m surprised they’re not already dating. They must be close if Jeannie’s lending him her keys. I sit in the armchair across from him and fold my legs onto the seat.

“So how do you know Jeannie?” I finally ask.

He runs a hand through his hair. “We met at a fashion show.”

“You’re a model too?”

“I am, but don’t judge me for it,” he replies with a wink.

For a minute, my mind goes blank. I clear my throat.

“So are you from New York originally?”

“I’ve been all over the place. My dad works in international business, so we moved every few years when I was a kid.” He plays with the stitching on one of the cushions. “When my parents got divorced a few years back, my mom and I stayed here.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to pry.”

“It’s okay. He’s not a bad guy. He just wasn’t very good at being loyal to my mom. I still see him when he’s in town.”

“Are you close with your mom?” I ask.

Nathan shrugs. “Usually, but things are kinda tense right now. She wants me to take college more seriously, but I don’t see why I can’t do whatever I want as long as I take a class here and there.” He straightens, the playful glint back in his eyes. “FYI, some colleges offer credit in wine appreciation.”

I giggle. Nathan looks me over then, and I clasp my hands in my lap so I don’t fidget. He grins.

“Were you asleep before I came in?”

I bite back a groan. “That obvious, huh?”

“I’ve done some marathon sleeping in my time,” he answers, leaning against the back of the couch. “I recognize the signs. I’m sorry I scared you like that.”

He props his feet up on the coffee table but immediately removes them when he sees the look on my face.

“Sorry,” Nathan says with a sheepish grin. “That was rude of me. Please don’t tell Jeannie.”

I see why she likes him. He’s charming almost to a fault. As I stare at him, something clicks.

“Were you really just wanting to return her key? Because you could have just texted her.”

Nathan flushes and rubs the back of his neck. “Ah . . . well, I came by to see if she wanted to grab some dinner. But obviously she’ll be busy hanging out with you.”

I suppress a smile. “I’ll tell her you came by.”

And interrogate her about why she hasn’t locked you down yet.

“Thanks. I guess I should head out.”

He takes the glass to the sink and rinses it out. I walk him over to the door.

“It’s nice to meet you, Liza Yang,” Nathan says, sticking his hand out. “Hopefully, when we see each other again, you won’t feel compelled to attack me.”

I give his hand a firm shake. “Well, next time, announce yourself first.”


He steps out into the hallway. When he reaches the elevator, I hear myself calling out to him.

“I’ll ask Jeannie what she’s got planned for tomorrow. Maybe we can all have dinner then.”

Nathan smiles crookedly. “Promise you’ll leave the tenderizer at home?”

“It’s a deal.”

I tell Jeannie what happened as soon as she gets home. We’re sitting together on the couch, and emotions flit across her face as she listens to the story. When I get to the part about attacking Nathan with the meat tenderizer, she gapes at me.

“You did what?!”

“Well, I thought he was an intruder, so I swung and—” I pause, and our eyes lock. “I missed.”

We burst into laughter at the same time, and Jeannie giggles until she cries.

“I can’t believe you seriously tried to hit him!”

I put on my sternest face. “At least now he knows not to mess with us Yang girls.”

“I hope you don’t plan on tenderizing all my friends.”

“Only the rude ones.”

“I can live with that,” she agrees, bopping me on the nose. “And since you already roughed him up, I won’t punish him for barging into my apartment like that.”

I swat her hand away. “Seriously, though, he seems nice. And he’s really ridiculously good-looking.”

“All models are good-looking,” she answers pertly.

“I beg to disagree. Some of them are only worth looking at from the neck down.”


Jeannie clutches at her chest. I roll my eyes.

“Don’t look so shocked. I’m not as innocent as you think.”

She gasps. “Does Mom know?”

It takes a second for her question to sink in. Heat floods my body as I backtrack.

“No, no! That’s not what I meant! I just meant I read a lot of romance novels. Plus, you know, movies and TV and stuff.”

She slumps against the couch. “Oh, good. You’re too young for that, okay?”

“Now who sounds like Mom?”

“I’m just saying . . .”

I squint at her. “Don’t tell me you’re still—”

“No!” Jeannie yelps. “I mean, obviously, I’ve had boyfriends before, so . . . you know.”

“I’ve had boyfriends too, but none as hot as Nathan,” I can’t help teasing.

I barely have time to duck as she aims a throw pillow at my head. I dodge it and tackle her to the ground, tickling her until she cries uncle. I poke her in the ribs one more time before relenting.

“Call your boyfriend and invite him to dinner.”

“First of all, he’s just my friend,” she corrects. “Second of all, this is our weekend together. No boys allowed.”

“Okay, but you gave him your spare key.”

Jeannie sighs. “If I invite him to dinner, will you get off my back?”


She narrows her eyes at me, and I heave a dramatic sigh.

“Okay, fine. I promise.”

Jeannie shakes her head and gives Nathan a call. They talk briefly, and I don’t miss the color in her cheeks as she hangs up. She wags a finger at me before I can say anything.

“He’ll be here soon. Go get changed.”

“Am I going to have to dress up?”

She peers at me. “If by dress up, you mean wear clothes that don’t smell or have holes, then yes.”

“If only that’s how Mom defined dressed up,” I complain.

“I’m guessing she’s still after you to wear dresses.”

“You guess correctly.”

Back in my room, Jeannie searches through what I brought. Her eyes widen at the endless collection of T-shirts in my bag. She settles on a black Deathly Hallows shirt and tosses it into my arms.

“This’ll work. Do a front tuck with your jeans and it’s perfect.”

“Isn’t that what Tan’s always doing to the shirts on Queer Eye?”

“It is.” She grins. “I told you the Fab Five could teach you real life skills. Now show me your best tuck.”

Jeannie waits patiently for me to put on the T-shirt, then tucks in the section just above the zipper of my jeans. A tug here and a yank there, and I meet her approval. While she gets ready in her room, I hear a knock on the door.

I open it and smile. “Hey, Nathan.”

“Hi, Liza.”

He eyeballs my hands. I hold them up for him to inspect.

“No weapon. I promise.”

“Good to know.” He pretends to wipe his brow. “One near beating is enough for me.”

Jeannie walks out then, dressed in a blush-colored silk blouse with bow detailing. She’s paired it with vegan leather black leggings and topped everything off with a black Chanel tweed jacket and ankle boots. He whistles.

“You look great, Jeannie.”

She smiles shyly. “Thank you.”

Nathan leans over to hug her, and it lasts a few seconds longer than is friendly. I resist the temptation to make kissy faces at Jeannie.

“So, where are we going for dinner?”

Nathan purses his lips. “Are you craving anything in particular?”

“Well, my friend Grace told me I had to try New York pizza.”

“That’s a must. In fact, we’ll take you to Joe’s.”

My brows stitch together in concentration. “Wait. Is that the place Spider-Man works at?”

“I knew I liked you for a reason,” he replies with a grin. “You’re exactly right, but I’m taking you to the OG Joe’s on Carmine.”

“Aren’t they pretty much the same?”

Jeannie laughs as Nathan balks at me. “I wouldn’t say that too loud if I were you. New Yorkers are majorly divided on that one. But I swear the OG is better.”

“Then what are we waiting for?”


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