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The storm that was expected blew in worse than anticipated but the staff at the hotel was prepared for that. Many were already tucked away into their rooms for the evening as dinner and turn down service finished for the night.

The hotel had a maximum occupancy of 30 rooms, a small restaurant, and an elaborate bar that most guests visited daily. And as the snow came pouring down most of the guests who were not tucked away in their beds sat in the lounge around the fire that the manager and the barkeeper kept burning throughout the evening and night. It wouldn’t be until daybreak that the fire was allowed to die. Every morning when guests came down for breakfast the scent of firewood still clung to the air.

It was heading towards midnight, I had just finished my shift in the kitchen, being one of two staff that stayed at the hotel in anticipation of the coming storm. I was tired from my fourteen hour day, my feet were aching and I was looking forward to a hot tea by the fire and then my borrowed bed for the rest of the night. The lounge was empty except for a few guests who were not ready for their room. Marvin, the barkeeper, had just finished closing out everyone’s tab, closing up the bar for the night. He sat out the complimentary tea and the electric kettles, cups, saucers, spoons, and sugar. Bidding the guests a good night he headed to his room for the night. He handed me a mug on his way out. It smelled of hot whiskey.

I sat in the large blue chair by the main window, sipping my Irish tea. I could still see and feel the fire but I was closer to the outside as much as I could be, waiting for the snow to stop in the moonless sky. I sat there with my tea, warm and cozy, scanning the room to see which guests were sharing the coziness of the fire with me. The young couple that had to check in unexpectedly called it a night headed up to their room; the older gentleman that had been staying with us for the last two weeks followed behind to his. It was just one more guest and me left in the room.

The other guest, a man about my age, taller by at least a foot and a half sat on the opposite side of the fire, staring into the flames. He had dark brown eyes that would have appeared black in the dim light of midnight had the fire not burned so hot. His hair was just as dark, with little flecks of gold illuminating off the light cast by the flames. His hair even this late in the night was brushed back and kept tidy. His long-sleeved shirt was pushed up to his elbows, exposing tattoos that while they fit the curves of his muscles well, were still unexpected on someone as “tidy” as he looked. He wore slacks; held delicate China in his large hands. He must have been someone comfortable on both sides of the working world: the side that gave the orders and the side that took them.

After catching myself staring at him for far too long I looked back to the window and the ever-falling snow. The flakes were large, clumping together easily as they drifted straight down. It was twenty degrees outside and our always on site ground crew took turns using the hotel’s plows and snow blowers. While the parking lot was mostly a lost cause, all the walkways were kept clear so that when snow eventually stopped guests and staff could easily navigate outside to get fresh air and feel the light of day after the long days and nights kept inside. The parking lot would be a priority after the snow stopped and the ground crew had a long rest.

I finished my tea and got up to rest my cup on the tray for Marvin to gather in the morning. I headed to the elevator and to my room. The hot shower I took that night emptied my muscles of all the aches and pains it could, relaxing me to sleep as soon as I placed my head on my pillow.

That night I dreamed of the man by the fire. I could feel him on top of me, feel his body pinning me to my bed. I could smell him and the scent of the fire still on his skin, a woodsy but clean scent that in my dreams drove me wild. My hands were wrapped around him, one on his shoulder, my nails digging into his flesh, and the other gripping the strands of his hair. In the dark of my room, in my dream at least, his eyes and hair were black; like the moon in real life, the light had left. In its place, the devil played. And as he drove himself into me, my legs spread apart to welcome him in, a wicked smile shown on his face. I could feel that I was trapped.

I woke the next morning refreshed. I could remember my dream clearly as the panties I wore to bed were still soaked through.

*

Marco and I were the only two in the kitchen to volunteer to stay at the hotel the duration of the storm. To be fair to everyone else in the kitchen we didn’t have children or older parents to take care of during the expected weather. If he could run off to bed earlier in the evening he agreed to be the first one in the kitchen in the morning to start the breakfast shift. And even if I didn’t have that sex dream about the Devil last night, I would still have slept as late illegal bahis as I did. I haven’t had a day off in two weeks due to the hotel being at full capacity in the last few weeks. We had call outs from the cold that was going around all month long. It was winter and we were on reduced staff, and we were wearing thin. I took extra shifts to make certain we ran smoother, which often meant I didn’t have a day off.

I pulled my brunette hair back braiding it as I walked to the elevator. The hotel only had four levels. Two were set aside for the rooms, the ground floor for the bar, restaurant, and the front desk, and the basement for service work within the hotel. I was the last employee assigned a room and they put me on the top floor in one of their smaller rooms. There was only one other room occupied on that floor. I figured out who it was as he approached the elevator from behind me. It was the man of my dream last night, and I could still smell the fire that burned in the grate. I am not certain if I am just associating that scent with him now, or if maybe he bathed in the ashes that morning. But as we entered the elevator together and the doors shut all I could think about was the feeling of his body pressed against mine, the taste of his lips and his skin. I kept my hands busy with my braid a bit longer, staring at my own reflection in the mirror inside the elevator, refusing to talk as I was not certain I would form appropriate words. I felt as if my mouth would betray me. The man beside me kept busy with his cell phone, thankfully paying no attention to me.

On the ground floor, when the doors opened, he waited for me to exit first before he followed behind me. I adjusted my skull cap on my head as I walked into the restaurant with him following behind.

“Good morning Chef.” Pierre winked at me as I walked by.

I smiled, laughing as I walked by and into the side door to the kitchen. He always called me Chef even though that was not my title. To be fair, our actual chef Bryan is a pain and no one likes to deal with him. He managed to have the last few weeks off for a nice sunny vacation in Bora Bora. And with the snow storm that came in he got another few days off as there isn’t any way any person is getting in or out of the hotel just yet. Everyone liked me more, and they were hoping that Bryan would take the job at the private resort in Bora Bora that was rumored to be the whole reason for his vacation. Secretly I was hoping for that too so that I could get the promotion to chef that I had been training religiously for.

As I went into the kitchen I heard Pierre say good morning to Dominic. I could only assume that was the name of the guest I had taken to bed with me in my dream last night. Though, to think back on it, I am not certain I invited him to my bed with me, even in my dream. No, it feels more like he invited himself and I just allowed it with no other choice.

Marco was behind the station frying sausage and stirring a large pot of whole eggs. I was watching him as I washed my hands in the sink. He was a morning person, always happy and peppy. He looked up as I finished rinsing off my hands and said good morning in his ever-present good tone. If I didn’t rely on him so much, his positive attitude might have caused me to kill him already.

“You look fresh this morning. Sleeping in these beds definitely put some color back on your face.” Marco placed a pan of sausage in a chafing dish next to the bacon as our first ticket came in.

“Yeah, that bed was relaxing. Also could have been that whiskey Marvin slipped me last night.”

“Marvin never slips me whiskey,” Marco actually looked offended.

“That’s because Marvin wants to take you to bed and wants you sober when you make the decision.” I looked at Marco a second longer and began to mix the ingredients together to make the omelet that had been ordered. “I don’t know why you haven’t gone up with him yet. We’ve been stuck here for two days now, and you two keep making sexy eyes at each other all the time. Y’all are going to burn this place down with this sexual tension.”

Marco chuckles to himself.

For the rest of the morning, we worked in the relative quiet, only the sound of the ticket machine going off as our guests come down for breakfast. As we were heading into the lunch service our hotel manager Cristine comes in exasperated and frustrated: Bryan had called to quit. He never left the resort in Bora Bora at the end of his three-week vacation, he was still there. He decided to take the job offer immediately, only sending word to his wife to call the movers to get the house packed up and sent across the sea.

“THAT BASTARD,” Cristine yelled as she exited the back door to the back rooms where she smoked by the back door.

“Well, I suppose you really are in charge now. I just don’t understand why she was mad. She didn’t even like him. She stated that right after she hired him one year ago.” Marco topped a BLT with the final slice of bread, cutting it illegal bahis siteleri long ways and then shoving half of it in his mouth in one go. Over a mouth full of food, “It’s like she is actually upset when she should be rejoicing.”

“She is mad because she knew something like this was going to happen. He would just leave without proper notice. She knows he never cared. And she knows she wasted money on him. He was paid so much to do so little. And it was just a waste. She’s really just mad at herself.”

Later that day when Cristine finally settled down, she brought out a bottle of Prosecco for the staff to enjoy a toast to the memory of “that jerk.” She also informed us she invited all the hotel guests personally to a family-style meal with the staff to commemorate the snow storm that was still raging outside, that evening at six.

Marco and I got to work on the preparations for the meal. There would thirty of us dinning that night together. Pierre and Cristine got the restaurant rearranged to host that many people. One long table was set up with bottles of red wines, chilled white wines, soft drinks, and water, glasses and canapes to munch on prior to dinner. The second table set aside to create a buffet line to make it easier for everyone to grab their meal. And in the middle of it all, the final table for dining was set up with the hotel’s best China. The dishes Cristine only used for private events.

Marco and I elected to skip the pre-dinner mingling to better finish off the final meal without rushing. We sliced prime rib and chicken breast, covered each in their own Au jus. Mashed freshly boiled potatoes with butter, garlic, and chive. Plated freshly steamed vegetables. Marco made his mother’s secret recipe for apple and blackberry cobbler. As we finished setting the buffet, Cristine brought us wine and told us to settle down, that she and Pierre would clean up and we would have the night off.

Marco took his wine, bowed his head to Cristine, smiled and went to sit beside Marvin who was doing a subtle job at saving the seat to the right of him. I guess Marco finally decided to do something about the fire that was burning between the two of them.

As Cristine led me to a seat beside her, Dominic took a seat directly across from me, his cellphone nowhere in sight and his eyes pinned to mine, a quiet smile on his lips. I felt trapped again, but I was panicked.

Cristine made a toast to our guests and to us, thanking everyone for their patience during the weather, and relayed her hopes that the weather would let up finally tomorrow night as promised by the national weather service. After we saluted, we drank. And I finished off my first glass of wine in one go. Maybe I was a little panicked.

We allowed our guests to take to the buffet first, Pierre motioned for staff to follow next and then last Cristine and he filled their own plates. I sat down right after I forgot I already drank all of my wine, but as I noticed my glass was gone it was replaced. Dominic had refilled it for me.

Barely able to reach his eyes for long, I gave him my thanks quietly, looking down to my plate as a good distraction. I was hoping Cristine would interrupt but her and Pierre were discussing the weather and the canceled vacation they would have.

I felt trapped again. I was going to have to mingle with Dominic and just the thought of it made me anxious. It would have been fine if I never had that dream last night because now that was all I could think about. And just the thought of it had me feeling warmer. Or was that the wine kicking in already.

“So you’re the Chef here?” Dominic held my eyes for a moment while he spoke. His voice low, it seemed he spoke quietly by nature. He had a smile on his face, his eyes were alight.

After swallowing a small bite of food, “No I am not. I am the lead cook. We, unfortunately,” I glanced towards Cristine quickly, she was still busy talking with her husband, “just lost our Chef while he was on vacation. He was presented with an opportunity elsewhere.”

“That’s unfortunate. Do you have plans to try to take over his former position?”

“I don’t know for sure. Maybe. I don’t know what I really want right now. I’m still very new to the hotel and I don’t want to rush anything.”

“Makes sense. But dinner tonight is delicious. For an American hotel and restaurant, it can’t get much better than this. The Italian menu from the restaurant seems a bit forced and doesn’t fit the hotel. It was delicious too; it just didn’t seem to fit into the concept of the building.”

“That’s Bryan. He liked to do the opposite of what is expected. ‘Give them a surprise!’ He would say that all the time. It never made much sense to us.” The conversation was beginning to get easier. It was easier to look him in the eyes too, considering he was talking to me about my work. As long as we kept it at that, I think I’ll get through the meal.

“No, this is an American home. It should be what is expected.” A silence canlı bahis siteleri fell then. But only for a short moment. “Will you get extra time off after the snow storm passes? I feel as if everyone will leave as soon as they can once the parking lot and roads are clear.”

“I’m hoping to have extra time, but that’s dependent. I will probably still be here for a while longer after everyone leaves.”

Everyone finished their meal, ate dessert and drank some after dinner brandy that Marvin passed out to everyone, including Marco. And by the look on his face, had made his decision about whose bed he would be sleeping in tonight.

Cristine and Pierre ushered everyone away at the end of the night. I stayed just as long to help clear some plates and silverware while our hotel guests left to the elevators. When she pushed me out to go to bed I didn’t argue. I was still tired from all the extra shifts. I knew tomorrow I would have to call Rosie to see if she could be ready to work as soon as the storm stopped and she could actually get in. Thinking about all the things I had to do tomorrow to prepare for the future of the kitchen was already exhausting me.

It was enough of a distraction that I didn’t notice Dominic stand beside me at the elevator at first.

“Miss, you know I never got your name.”

“Oh, I am Cassie,” I answered back to him quickly.

“Short for Cassandra I assume.” He looked oddly hopeful and smiled.

The elevator opened on the ground floor and we stepped in, the gentleman always, Dominic after me.

“Yes. My mom and Dad named me after my ten times great grandmother who was rumored to be a witch.” After I said that, Dominic’s eyes looked as if they flared golden in the dark depths of their brown.

A mischievous smile crossed his lips then, reaching to his eyes, he said to me, “I wonder if her powers transferred to you with her name.”

“Probably not. Witches aren’t real and neither is magic, at least if you’re a sane adult.” I laughed because it seemed as if he believed that I could be a witch. Or I didn’t want to believe. I couldn’t tell.

“You’d be surprised what is real and what is not,” he said as we walked down the hall to our rooms. “Tell me, Cassandra, did you dream about me too last night? Did you dream of me taking you to your bed?”

My eyes nearly bulged from their sockets, my jaw went slack. I forced myself to blink. “What?” I asked in disbelief. How did he know?

“When I saw you last night in the lounge I was transfixed. I saw you look at me too, but only for a short time before you looked back out into the storm. I tried to give my attention to the fire, to think of other things. But my mind stayed focused on you. I left after you. I wanted to make sure you got into your room before I got into the hallway.”

“Why?”

“Because it’s not good that you and I are in this hallway together right now. I’ve lost my patience searching for you.”

I felt a slight lick of panic on why that was as we arrived at my door, just one door away from Dominic’s. I felt trapped. There was nowhere I could go to avoid this situation. I swallowed deep, bit on my bottom lip, closed my eyes. And before I could open them, I could feel his hands on my waist, gripping gently. My mouth went slack, I opened my eyes, and then he kissed me long and slow, increasing his grip on my hips, holding my body against his. My arms found their place around him. My left hand nestled into his hair just like in my dream, gripping the strands of that rich brown. My other hand pressed against his back. I could feel the hard muscles underneath his sweater. He was tense as if he was holding himself back, only kissing me at low capacity.

When we broke apart, or I should say, as he stopped kissing me, his hands came to my face. He brushed his lips against mine gently, licked his own, grimaced like he was hurt, and then he told me to send him away before it was too late.

But I couldn’t do that, I wanted more of him. It was already too late as my body answered for me. I pulled him closer to me and he pressed the length of his body against mine against the door to my room. With one hand he had jerked open the front of my chef’s jacket, exposing the camisole and bra underneath. He grasped one of my breasts in his hand, sending pleasure through my body as sometimes dreams do come true. I could feel his erect member in his slacks as he pressed it into me. He rubbed his thumb across my hard nipple, I bit my lips again.

“Cassandra, open your door.” He commanded quietly.

I pulled the key from my pocket and slid it against the sensor without even turning around or breaking from his grasp. He walked me backward to my bed, letting the door slam shut behind us. He took off my jacket and the camisole before pushing me onto the bed, where he then took off my shoes and my kitchen pants.

He unbuckled his pants with one hand, discarding them around his ankles and pulled his sweater and the white undershirt off with the other hand in one motion. I could see the outline of his muscles in his arms, the slight distinction in his abdomen, the fire reflected from the night before in his eyes. He was right it was dangerous for him and me to be in the hallway together alone.

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