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One More Helping (MM)

JMS Books LLC

Heat Rating: SIZZLING
Word Count: 13,074
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Pizza has been part of Dante’s world since his childhood. He lives and works at the Italian restaurant founded by his grandparents, Pizza 3.14.

Things in the kitchen heat up when Dante’s father hires Isaiah “Izz” Byrne, a new busser with a shady past who just happens to make pretty good pancakes. Izz is determined to not let his past ruin his future with Dante, but when old “friends” show up, it’s Dante to the rescue.

Will that be enough to keep danger at bay? Or will Dante and Izz lose more than they bargained for?

Excerpt

Dante looked up, the halo of early morning sunlight in the guy's blond waves ... must be what angels look like. The stranger was dressed in a white shirt and tie, khaki pants, and a pair of chucks. He had the slightest bit of stubble at the bottom of his chin, like he'd missed a spot shaving. Dante couldn't decide if that was intentional, but it made him look young, no older than twenty-five, maybe. The stranger held Dante's gaze; hazel eyes -- more green and gold than brown -- endless. "I'm real good." Dante took the man's hand.

"Good," said the stranger. He helped Dante off the ground and picked the empty cups up. He looked down at his cellphone. "Shit. I'm late." The guy rummaged around in his pocket and pulled out his wallet and a pen. "Here. Buy yourself another coffee." He held a ten out for Dante.

"Thanks, but you don't need to do that," said Dante, brushing dirt from the front of his pants.

"But I want to." The guy said.

"Got a piece of paper?" What the fuck are you doing?

"What for?"

"Give me your number. If you really want to get me a cuppa, let's make a date out of it," said Dante.

The guy looked at the ground around him, as though he could make a piece of paper materialize from thin air. His face lit up when he remember he was holding ten bucks. He scrawled something across the top of the bill with the pen. "I'm late," he said again, thrusting the ten in Dante's hand. "Call me." The stranger turned and bolted down the block.

Dante looked at the money. At the top was written Izz and a phone number. He shoved the bill into his pocket and went back into the bakery. "Hey Cynthia, had a little mishap with the coffee and cookies."

"I saw. Who was that guy?" Cyn asked from behind the counter.

"My future husband," said Dante, fingering the ten in his pocket. "Can I get another coffee and some of those madeleines." He pointed to the tray of cookies in the glass case.

"Sure thing."

Dante groaned. "Shit. All I got is this ten." He showed Cyn the bill with Izz's telephone number written on it. "Never mind." Dante turned to go.

"It's okay. Refills are on the house," said Cyn as she filled two disposable cups with fresh coffee and tossed half a dozen madeleines into a crisp paper bag.

Dante walked back to Pizza 3.14, careful not to run into anyone else. He used his foot to open the door and put the coffee and cookies on the counter long enough to retrieve the empty deposit bags from his backpack and put them on the shelf under the cash register before heading upstairs to Pop's office. A quick check of the pizza kitchen as he passed it on the way to the stairs made him sigh in frustration. Georgina hadn't put a single boule in the fridge and the first few he'd made had risen enough that the edges were hanging over the bowls. Dante veered away from the staircase and set the coffee down on the closest empty table.

He was muttering curses to himself and cutting away excess dough, storing it in lidded containers when Georgina came down the stairs.

"Mmm, coffee," she said, picking them up off the table.

"One of those is mine," said Dante, glaring at his sister.

"Nope." Georgina took a sip from one cup and took the other one and the bag of madeleines upstairs.

"Thanks for refrigerating the pizza dough." Dante called after her. He kicked himself for not taking care of it before he left.

Dante spent the next half hour checking in deliveries from the truck and doing other menial tasks before Georgina and Pop came back downstairs from the office.

"This is my son, Dante. He's the assistant manager and the best pizza chef in the world," said Pop.

Dante's back was turned to the dining room and he leaned over the sink basin, washing bell peppers so he could slice them up.

"This is our new busser," said Pop.

Dante turned around and stared at the stranger.

"Hi. Name's Isaiah, but everybody calls me Izz."

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