Faking it with my Frenemy | Melissa Schroeder

Faking it with my Frenemy

Book 3 in the Faking It Series

Part of the Melissa Schroeder Instalove Collection

Part of the Melissa Schroeder Instalove Collection: Same World. Any Order. Individual Love.

Dealing with Theo Darling is possibly the worse job I’ve ever had in my life.

I get it. He’s a genius in the kitchen–and out of it from what I hear. The problem is, he knows it. He knows that he is an amazing chef. He knows that while I am the food and beverage manager, his family owns the resort. He has an ego bigger than any man I have ever met, and that includes my four older brothers. We’re opposites in every way.

I need order and he lives in chaos. I like to adhere to a strict schedule. Theo…does not. In any way. It’s amazing that we haven’t killed each other yet.

Except when those annoying brothers I mentioned blow into town with a friend they want me to date and Theo rescues me. Sure, we can pretend to be attached for just a couple days. And sure, pretending to kiss him feels a whole lot like real kisses.

And when he whispers my name against my skin…let’s just not go there.

Because, while my brothers will be out of my hair soon enough, I’m not sure I will never forget what it felt like pretending to be Theo’s, even for just a few days.

Author Note: This tough as nails military brat heroine is about to have her world turned upside down. There’s inappropriate behavior at work, a chef who knows how to use his hands, bickering, and four older brothers who will irritate our heroine to no end. As always, there is a happily ever after for our hero and heroine. I just make them suffer a little to get it 😉


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Faking it with my Frenemy

Faking it with my Frenemy

Book 3 in the Faking It Series
Part of the Melissa Schroeder Instalove Collection

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Faking it with my Frenemy

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Prologue

Theo

I am on a mission. A mission to kill our food and beverage manager Allegra Sullivan. 

The woman is always telling me what to do, and yes, I get it. She’s technically my supervisor. A sexy, curvy manager. 

Even as my body reacts, I forge ahead, stomping all the way to her office. Since she arrived late last year, this is a regular thing. I don’t have any issues with a good manager, but I do have an issue with someone who thinks she can tell me what to do. 

Me! Head chef. One of the youngest chefs to earn his Michelin rating. I do own the place. Partially. Whatever. 

I get to her office, rap on the door twice before pushing it open. Did I wait for her invitation? No. 

“Please do come in, Theo.”

And that’s another thing. She calls me by my first name. And I normally don’t care one way or another, but when she says my name, it makes me irrationally angry. Don’t ask me to explain it because I just told you it was irrational. 

This isn’t me. Women love me. I can charm just about any woman from babies to ladies in their nineties. Not Allegra. This woman is constantly busting my balls. She gets under my skin, and I will be the first to admit she drives me more than a little insane. 

She looks up from her work and smiles at me. Not a nice smile. Not the one I see her giving other people, where her eyes dance with humor. This smile is cool and the one she reserves for bad customers. The worst thing about it is that she’s still stunning. 

Long dark hair, with threads of gold, dark eyes, and that curvy body…

Dammit. Every time I’m around her, I can’t keep my head screwed on straight. And I really shouldn’t use the word screw, because…well, you know.

“You scheduled something during the monthly garden club meeting?”

She shakes her head. “I did not. It was pressed upon me. I got stuck with it, which means, you got stuck with it.”

“That weekend is going to be bad enough.”

“You don’t have to tell me. I’ve dealt with the BFH who also has a GFH.”

Allegra is a military BRAT, and she likes to use acronyms. Bride from hell and groom from hell.  I hate to admit that I like using them because it allows the staff to let loose their frustrations without offending clients.

“You should have told them no.”

“I talked to your brother and Reggie about it.”

My brother Milo is CEO of the entire company and Reggie is the resort manager. And I hate that she talked to them and not me. 

“You should have talked to me.”

She sighs. “It just happened. I was going to talk to you after the dinner rush. I know not to bother you during that time.”

“Of course, both of those jerks are okay with making me suffer.”

One sculpted eyebrow rises. “But you have a Michelin rating. I thought you could handle a little extra.”

Dammit. When she uses that tone, it makes my cock twitch and my palms tingle with the need to deliver a spanking. One thing about Allegra is that she has a world class ass. Heart-shaped with enough there to hold onto as I drive myself into…

Fuck. I cannot have these thoughts. I screw around. A lot. But not at work. I don’t think mixing work and play is a good idea. Plus, the sex might be good, but we would probably end up killing each other. 

“Fine, but don’t do it again.”

She laughs. ACTUALLY LAUGHS. That laugh sends a rush of need racing along my nerve endings and that angers me. 

“Come on, Theodore. You can handle it.”

What really ticks me off? The fact that she’s right. I can handle it.  I really despise the fact that when she says my entire name—which I hate—it turns me on. Fuck, everything she does turns me on. 

We say nothing else but keep staring at each other. She crosses her arms beneath her tits, and I can’t help it. My eyes dip for a second—only a second. When I raise my gaze back up, she’s blushing. And one thing I thought I would never see Allegra do? Blush. It’s…damn, it’s sweet and arousing at the same time. 

My cock starts to harden and I’m thankful for my apron. Although, there is a good chance it won’t hide my need for her much longer. 

I know better than to say anything else to her because I want to grab her up out of that chair and spank her. Oh, fuck. Nope, I need not to think about those kinds of things. But now that I have, my palms are sweaty, need pulsing through me. 

I turn on my heel and stomp out of her office. Something has to give before I commit the ultimate sin and take that infuriating woman to bed.


Chapter One

Allegra

It’s lunchtime, and I’m ready to kill someone. Just anyone will do. I don’t care if I know them, but if I don’t let go of some of this tension, there’s a good chance that I’ll explode. You know, like the guy at the beginning of that Monty Python movie where the guy just keeps eating, only my source is stress instead of gorging myself on food.  Also, I forgot breakfast and now it looks like I’m not going to get lunch.

“I need you to explain it to me like I’m five years old.”

Our pastry chef gulps, and I feel a little guilty. I’m not irritated with her. Nancy has been working here for years, and she’s brilliant. About a decade older than me, she’s plump, with fair hair, pretty blue eyes, and usually with a sweet smile. Today, it is nowhere to be found. The BFH running roughshod over my staff is to blame. 

“She said that she wanted to know just how big Milo’s cake was and then insisted I double hers. I don’t have time to do that and, let’s be honest, going off the numbers, that will mean a lot of left-over cake.”

I close my eyes and count down from ten. I have a horrible temper that I learned to control. I rarely lose it at work. Family, I let it loose, but work, I keep it under wraps. For the first time, I am dangerously close to losing it. 

I open my eyes and see Nancy staring at me like I’ve lost my mind.

“Give me a few minutes with her, and she’ll decide not to be such a monster.”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea, Allegra,” Nancy says. “I can handle it.”

“No. Your job is to create the most delicious baked goods.” And she does. My ass can attest to that. I’ve gained ten pounds since I was hired as the food and beverage manager. 

“Maybe cool off before talking to her. They’re having a wedding shower now.”

Yeah, I forgot about how she backed us into a corner on that one. She had the invitations sent out for the shower before making sure it was okay to book a room during the monthly Garden Club meeting.

“I don’t get it,” I say, plopping down in my chair. “Why is this important to her?”

Nancy looks around, then leans closer. “She thought she would bag Milo or his best friend. As it is, this GFH is kind of a skank. I guess they fit.” She shrugs.

I don’t tend to gossip with the staff. It’s not good form, but this skank gets no respect from me.

“Yeah, I’ve dealt with him. He’s not someone I would marry.”

The first meeting I had with him, he came on to me. His bride-to-be was in the room next to us, and he was asking if I lived on the property. Oh, and did I like the idea of nooners. I played dumb, then went to my apartment and took a very long shower. I felt so dirty. From that moment, I have made sure that all the female staff that had to deal with him have other people around. 

When I took on Rachel Burton, I knew the wedding would be a problem, but being the youngest of five Marine BRATs, I enjoyed a good challenge. And that’s what I thought this would be. A good challenge.

I was wrong. Burton lives to make people miserable. I know my mother would tell me to look at the world from her point of view and figure out why she is the way she is. Mom is a helper. Perfect military wife. 

I always wanted to be one of the boys, and I just want to punch her right in the fake nose she has. I’ve seen her elementary school pics. It is most definitely not the nose she was born with.

“This is her just being petty?”

She nods. 

I scrub a hand over my face, not caring if it screws up my makeup. 

“I’ll deal with her. And don’t take her calls from now on. I’m going to talk to Beatrice about this. She should have taken care of it, to begin with.”

Our wedding planner is usually better at handling things like this, so I’m surprised it even got this far.  I don’t blame her. Dealing with Rachel Burton isn’t something I would wish on my worst enemy.

“Sure thing, Allegra. I’ll be happy when this weekend is done.”

I smile at her and send her on her way. I draw in a few deep breaths, trying to calm my irritation, then grab my phone and head off to find Beatrice. I’ve gotta find out just what the Bridezilla from the outer reaches of hell has been doing behind my back. 

I step out of my office and run right into Milo Darling. He’s the CEO of Darling resorts and brother to my nemesis, aka the head chef, Theo Darling. 

“Oh, Mr. Darling. I’m sorry.”

He’s a tall man, just like his brother, with an easy smile, but unlike my temperamental chef, he’s sweet. The way he dotes on his wife makes my heart sigh.

“I told you to call me Milo and don’t ever apologize for doing your job.

He’s only told me about a hundred times, but I know he took a chance on me. I just turned twenty-five, and I’m running the food and beverage department. 

“Is there something I should know about?”

“Excuse me?” I ask. 

“You look stressed.”

My phone buzzes again, and I ignore it. My brothers are notorious for long group text messages. And with one of them coming here this weekend, it will only get worse. Not even in the mood to deal with Raine. 

“Just the normal stuff. And the big wedding this weekend.”

He rolls his eyes. “I wish I had known that woman wanted to book here. If I had, I would have made sure that she didn’t get a spot. I’m very sorry about whatever she is doing.”

I offer him a bright smile. “I can handle her.”

“I have no doubt, but you don’t have to. I don’t mind if you kick her ass to the curb.”

“No worries. Was there something you needed from me?”

“I wanted to check in with you about Theo.”

Ugh, why me? So, maybe you don’t know Theo Darling, but the man lives up to his name. He’s sex on a stick, a man who knows his way around a woman’s body, and he has these sleepy eyes…GAWD. To top it off, he’s a master chef, a man who can create amazing things out of food, and he does it with very large hands. Even a virgin like me knows what that means. 

Of course, that all ends when he opens his stupid mouth. He’s arrogant and autocratic, which might make him a good chef, but he makes my job more difficult. The fact that I would like to climb him and take a ride—that is just an annoyance. 

“Did he complain about me again?”

He rolls his eyes and smiles at me. “Not that much.”

I laugh, but it’s because I know that’s a lie.  I know for a fact Theo called Milo while he was on his honeymoon a couple of months ago. Just to complain about me. 

“I just want you to understand—”

“He’s a genius and temperamental. I get it. I’ve dealt with chefs before, and all the good ones act like him.”

He nods. “Either way, I wanted to make sure he hasn’t stepped over the line. You will come to me if he takes his complaints too far.”

“I grew up with four brothers who all became Marines—not to mention the Marine father who inspected our rooms weekly.” When he was home. There were a lot of times he wasn’t home.

“Even so. I won’t put up with that crap from anyone, especially not my brother.”

“You got it, boss. Is there anything else you need?”

He shakes his head.

“Then I am off to talk to Bea about the BFH.”

“BFH?”

My face flushes at the acronym I give the brides who give me hell. 

“Bride From Hell.”

He barks out a laugh. “That fits her.”

My phone buzzes again. His eyebrow rises. 

“Family and I’m ignoring them. They’re being annoying. Anything else?”

He shakes his head.

“Well, I’m off to see Bea.”

“You know, you do get vacation time.”

“And I plan on using it in three months, promise. One thing military families learn is to take time out every now and then. My family has plans for a two-week vacation.”

“Good.”

“I gotta get going and deal with the newest issue unless there was something else.”

He shakes his head, and I hurry off to hunt Bea down. 

I’ll worry about lunch when I get a break, probably around seven tonight.

End of Excerpt

Faking it with my Frenemy

is available digitally exclusively from Amazon

Harmless Publishing

Jul 22, 2021