Once she was sure Dallu was gone, Bella slipped out of bed. She grabbed a pair of black work pants, a shiny red silk shirt and a comfortable pair of rubber soled shoes she had custom made for standing long hours on her feet. The last thing she grabbed was her covered dish she had bespelled by a Tyrne wizard. It was worth its weight in silver and was fresh for a new imprinting. She left her special ingredients alone. She wouldn’t dive into her stock until she saw what was available in the kitchen.
Within minutes she was opening the door.
“Oh.” Dallu looked her over. “You’re so pretty. What’s with the dish?”
“Thanks. This is what the king will receive his food on.”
Dallu looked it over with appreciation as she examined the runes stamped all around the shiny dome.
Without another word Dallu led her down the hall. Bella tried to look for things to remember her path by, but it was one rich furnishing after another and they all blended together in the end.
A flock of brown-clad servers were going in and out a double doorway.
“That’s the kitchen,” Dallu said, unnecessarily.
“I’ll introduce you to head chef Brillon.”
“Dallu, if the king has a head chef why does he need a personal chef?”
The blond shrugged. “It’s tradition.”
“Hmmm.” Strange things had been done in the name of tradition, she wasn’t going to question it since it gave her an opportunity. If she could please the difficult king her career was set.
Dallu marched ahead of Bella carving a path for her through the busy, but organized crowd. Since it was still early Bella was surprised at the number of people rushing in and out of the door, but then she’d never been in a castle before, maybe it had hot and cold running food day and night.
The wisdom of having a private chef was starting to sink in.
A slim, grey-haired man shouted orders in a curt tone as he directed the stream of servers and cooks.
“Chef Brillon,” Dallu shouted to be heard.
The grey-haired man had piercing blue eyes that hadn’t dimmed with age. “What are you doing in here?” he demanded.
“I brought Chef Tiazza.” She waved a hand at Bella.
She waited for some sarcastic comment on her presence but the chef skimmed her and looked at her platter.
“Nice platter, Chef.”
“Thank you, Chef.”
She let out a breath she hadn’t known she was holding. It looked like the formidable man was going to be professionally courteous.
Bella could live with that.
“That is your station over there,” Chef Brillon said, waving to a corner. With that he turned back to overseeing his troops.
Bella looked to where he pointed and was pleasantly surprised. A gleaming work surface with a doublewide stovetop, a large refrigerator and two rows of ovens sat in the corner, all of the highest quality. Pots and pans were stacked neatly and at first glance Bella could see everything she’d need to prepare whatever her heart desired.
“The king eats in two hours,” Chef Brillon declared. “Let’s see what you can do.”
Hmm, maybe not completely friendly, but a glance proved he wasn’t looking at her with animosity, just interest. The chef wanted to test her mettle.
She gave a nod indicating she understood.
Opening the refrigerator was a happy surprise. Stocked from top to bottom with ingredients, the appliance had deep shelves and plenty to choose from. She could make just about anything from this fridge.
Closing it she noticed a list attached the front, it was a list of the king’s likes and dislikes. Pleased that someone was so thoughtful Bella smiled. Looking over she got a nod from Chef Brillon.
She gave him a friendly smile.
With a game plan in mind she started making a breakfast fit for a king.
Bella was nervous as she was escorted to the king with a pair of armed guards. She couldn’t help it. This first time she needed to see him personally in order to imprint the platter.
The guards eyed her warily as they escorted her to the king’s private quarters.
Damn, she had hoped he dined with the masses but she guessed even a king needed his privacy when he first woke up.
The king’s suite was done in dark colors and brilliant fabrics. She’d learned from her research that he was widowed with three young sons ages ten, six and fourteen.
“Your chef is here, your majesty.”
The man sitting behind the desk didn’t look up. The guard started trying to herd her outside.
“Your majesty,” Bella said, trying to catch his attention.
The king looked up sucking the air out of Bella’s lung. None of her research told her the king was so gorgeous in person. Dark hair, graying on the sides with brilliant green eyes pinned her with their fierceness.
“I need you to help me imprint the platter than I’ll get out of your way.”
“And you would be?”