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Spark (Heat #2)
Author:Deborah Bladon

"I don't think that." My jaw tightens. "No one knows what happened yet."

"Someone knows." She narrows her eyes. "Brendon went there to meet Tyler and an hour later the restaurant is burning to the ground."

"Darrell was there," I point out.

"Has anyone asked him how the fire started?" She raises both brows at me. "He must know exactly what happened."

I sit on the edge of my bed. I assume someone asked Darrell that. I've tried to call him twice during the last three days. My motivation is mainly about wanting to make sure he's okay although I admit there's a small part of me that wants to know if he has any clue about how the fire started.

"I think the investigators would have taken his statement by now."

That's pure conjecture on my part. I'm basing that completely on the reruns of the crime dramas I watch on the weekends. It has nothing to do with actual knowledge. I'm as out of the loop as Sophia is.

Her gaze cuts to the three chef jackets I've washed and pressed. They're now hanging in full view in my closet. "What if Brendon torched Nova to force you to work with him at Axel again?"

"Torched Nova?" I physically wince when I say the words. "You need to stop binge watching television with me on Saturday nights."

The corners of her mouth dart up into a smile. "Don't you dare tell me that you haven't considered the idea, Den. You're the one who told me that Brendon was capable of just about anything."

I did say that. I can't remember exactly when since Brendon annoyed the hell out of me so often when we were together. Sophia had been my sounding board whenever I was pissed off at my then boyfriend. I knew it would come back to bite me in the ass at some point in a subtle, or not so subtle, 'I told you so' moment.

"He's not capable of setting a fire, Soph."

"I think he is." She nods toward my closet. "It's not a coincidence that he said he was going to Nova that morning and then it was on fire. He hated that you worked for Tyler. He wants you back at Axel and since Nova is no more, he thinks you'll run back to him."

"That's quite the conspiracy theory." I close my eyes briefly wishing that I'd gone to bed when I had the chance. Sophia worked late today. I used the extra time to finish the last of the phone calls to my co-workers. I thought about sending out a group text to tell them about the meeting at Tyler's apartment tomorrow afternoon but I wanted to hear their voices to assure them that Tyler was fine and to encourage them to come to the meeting. Some agreed to show up, others told me they'd try and make it and a few were too distraught to say much at all. I ended up leaving voicemails for six people, including Darrell and Maribel.

"Love can make people do crazy things." Her gaze narrows. "Have you talked to Brendon since the fire? He's asked you to work with him again, hasn't he? He wants you back at Axel."

I avoid answering directly. "He wanted me back before the fire. I told you that. He came into Nova for lunch and offered me a job."

"He's going to ask again." She sighs as she walks toward the doorway. "He'll push for you to go back now that Nova is done. I'm surprised he hasn't already told you that he has a job waiting for you."

I'm surprised that she has so much insight into a man she can't stand. Brendon has called. He's called at least six times since the morning of the fire. I haven't answered. Each and every message he's left has been a repeat of the one before.

He wants me back at Axel working alongside him and as soon as I give him the word, the job of senior chef is mine.

"I'll never work with him again." I fiddle with the hem of the tank top I'm wearing, tugging on a loose thread. "I don't need to go work at Axel. I can wait until Nova is rebuilt."

"Tyler is rebuilding the restaurant? I didn't realize he was planning on doing that."

He's not. Technically, I don't know if he is or not. I'm assuming he is based on my own desire to keep working with him. I haven't told Sophia that I'm tied up in knots inside. I'm worried that if I go work at another restaurant that my relationship with Tyler will fade into nothingness.

It's not a stretch to think that things will change, especially since we haven't spent any time alone together the past three days other than the few minutes on the sidewalk this morning.

I know that I was the one who fell asleep and missed going to his place last night but he didn't track me down. He wasn't looking for me when I didn't show up.

His attention is focused on picking up the pieces of his life, not on what's going to happen between the two of us. It's so seriously fucked up that I'm worrying about whether he'll still be interested in me when he's trying to deal with losing his entire business.

I need to haul my ass out of the pool of pity I'm wading in and help him in any way I can.