Okay I don’t have a name for this story yet but here is part 1 a little early.
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Bella glared at the security chief as he displayed her precious knives on the table.
“Is there a reason you are armed to the teeth?” The arrogant bastard said as he looked down at her like she was dirt beneath his feet.
“I’m a chef. If you call King Paien’s administrator he will vouch for me.”
Bella had a happy vision of filleting the man where he stood but she knew now was not time to free her famous temper. She couldn’t lose this job after working so hard to get here. Being the personal chef for a king was a coveted position and she knew it was a combination of talent and family contacts that got her here. She couldn’t ruin it all by stabbing the bastard before her through the eye with a paring knife.
Instinct told her that it was probably bad form and would result in her being deported back to her home world.
Too bad. It would probably improve his demeanor.
It took her a moment to notice he was staring at her and holding out her knives. “You’re clear.”
She really needed to stop daydreaming. One day she was going to miss something important.
The soldier pointed behind her. “I believe your driver is here.”
She turned to see a man holding a sign that said: Chef Tiazza
“Thank you.” She said with as much dignity as she could muster as she snatched up her knives and turned her back on the guard.
She walked over to the man in the black leather coat with about twenty weapons strapped to various parts of his body.
“I’m Chef Tiazza.”
He looked her up and down his gaze examining rather than seductive. “I was expecting a man.”
“Well that’s your mistake isn’t it?” Bella was tired from travel, cranky from inspections and really close to screaming. She’d run out of nice about three hours ago. “May we go now?”
“The king won’t be happy about that.”
“Too bad. I have a binding contract.” She might look like a dainty blond, but Bella was the youngest of five children. With four older brothers, all warriors, she knew how to stand up for herself. “Now if you can take me to the castle so I can get settled in I’d like to take a little nap and then see where I’m going to be working.”
The soldier gave a short bow. “As you wish, chef.”
Pleased he gave in, she let him take her bags and followed him to a floating vehicle that looked more like a long black rectangle than a way to get from place to place. Shrugging she let him seat her in the back seat. He settled in the driver’s side and they sped off.
Bella tried to take in the sights as they flew through the crowded city but travel caught up with her and before they’d travelled more than a mile she was sound asleep.
“We are here, Chef Tiazza.” A soft, deep voice whispered the words seeping into Bella’s subconscious.
Blinking she looked into the amused dark brown eyes of the driver.
“Oh thanks. I guess I dozed off. I really hate space travel.”
“Understandable.” She could tell he was laughing at her but she didn’t mind, at least he wasn’t hostile.
He easily hefted the bags holding her clothes and a few precious ingredients she brought with her and led her down a bewildering corridor through the castle. Now was probably not the time to mention she didn’t have a good sense of direction. It felt like forever before he stopped at a nondescript door that looked like all the other nondescript doors. “We initially had you sharing your room with another chef but since you turned out to be a female we thought it would be better to put you in the ladies in waiting wing.”
She was as far away from girly as possible and still be a female. “I appreciate that.” She choked out.
She hoped the other ladies weren’t hoping to exchange make up tips.
“No problem. We want you to be comfortable here while you last.”
Bella frowned. “What do you mean by that?”
“I mean the king has had fifteen chefs in the past two months. None of them have stayed more than a few days.”
“Well I’m going to. I didn’t work so damned hard to let some monarch kick me off the planet. So he’s going to eat what I make him and like it.”
The guard smiled at her. “Well see, little one, we’ll see.”
“Yes we will.” She gave him what her brothers called her predatory smile and marched past him, inside the room.
Pink. Everything was pink. Overwhelmingly, overpoweringly pink.
“Isn’t it pretty?”
Bella checked to see if the guy was kidding.
The guard was looking around with a pleased expression.
“Yeah, um it’s lovely.”
It was one thing to argue the king was going to like her cooking it was another to criticize their interior decorating.
“Why don’t you take your nap and I’ll have a page wake you in two hours so you can prepare the king’s morning meal.”
“It’s the middle of the night but I thought you’d like to familiarize yourself with the kitchen.”
Bella smiled at the guard. “Thanks, that’s very considerate of you.”
The guard smiled back, his eyes flirtatious. “I’m just that kind of guy. My name’s Trellon but my friends call me Trell.”
Holding out her hand, Bella shook hands with the guard. “Everyone calls me Bella, short for Arabella.”
“And it suits you.” Trell cleared his throat. “I’ll leave you to rest. If you need anything pull that rope.” He nodded towards a gold rope hanging near the bed. “A servant will be sent to assist you.”
Bella was certain the servant wouldn’t be so eager to serve a female chef who had no ranking in court rather than a lady-in-waiting, whatever the hell they did. She just nodded and walked him out of the pink hell wishing she could beg him for a place in the barracks. Surely they had a female quadrant or something. After bidding him a cordial good night, Bella closed the door and started stripping. She liked to sleep naked. Clothes were so confining in the best of situations, she couldn’t tolerate them while she slept.
“Father would say keep a straight back today and tomorrow will take care of itself.”
Smiling at memories of her autocratic but loving father, Bella fell asleep.
“Excuse me, chef.” The soft voice had Bella blinking. Looking up was a petite blond with friendly blue eyes.
“Morning, chef. I’m Dallu You are the chef, right?”
Bella nodded trying to shake the sleep out of her head.
“Because I didn’t expect you to be so pretty. Usually chefs are old men who come and work for a little while before the king throws them out.”
“Well I’m different.” If she kept insisting that maybe they would all start believing it, Bella included.
“I’ve brought you your uniform. We adjusted it to fit you.”
The blond brought forth a nondescript brown shirt with brown pants.
“I’m not wearing that.” Bella said firmly. “My contract clearly states that I can wear my own clothing.”
“Oh,” Dallu blushed. “I didn’t know.”
Great she ostracized the first woman she met. Typical.
She tried a gentler tone. “I doubt most people know. If you just step out I’ll get dressed quickly and you can show me where I need to go.”
“I can help you dress,” Dallu offered.
“That’s sweet but I’ve been dressing myself for a while. I’ll be right with you.”
After a long moment where Bella thought she was going to insist the servant nodded. “All right. I’ll be in the corridor.”
“I’ll be there in just a moment.”