Read an Excerpt
The phone rang just as Morgan was taking a tray of brownies from the oven. Whenever she was nervous, she took her mind off the situation by cooking, and a situation like this demanded a special recipe. If the rich, squidgy brownies, studded with dried cranberries and chopped macadamia nuts, were as delicious as she hoped, she’d feature them in her next collection of recipes. With her editor expecting her to deliver the completed manuscript at the end of the month, the bulk of the book was already written. This latest recipe was simply the icing on the cake.
Smiling at her little pun, looking forward to taking her first bite of her latest creation, Morgan almost dropped the cast iron baking tray, startled by the sound of her phone bursting into the opening bars of Food Glorious Food. Carefully setting down the brownies and peeling off her oven gloves, she answered the call.
‘Morgan, it’s Lucinda here,’ said a perky voice on the other end of the line. ‘How are you?’
Lucinda Leeson was the producer of Cook’s Treats, the successful Saturday morning cookery show currently on its summer break. The programme’s long-standing presenter, Graham O’Neill, had announced he wouldn’t be returning when the new series started in the autumn, prompting an immediate avalanche of speculation in the press and on social networks about who’d be taking his place. Morgan had applied to attend the auditions to find O’Neill’s replacement. Her own show, Blissful Baking, which had originally started as a segment on the local TV news programme in her native Cardiff, earned decent ratings for the small cable channel that broadcast it. Fronting Cook’s Treats would bring her to the attention of a mainstream audience. She couldn’t pass up such a chance – but nor, it seemed, could the dozens of others who’d also made it through to the final stage of the audition process.
Morgan walked away from the studio where the audition had taken place believing she’d done a good job and the production team had liked her. It was foolish to think she was the only one who’d had that feeling. Lucinda had promised to get in touch with her within the week to let her know the team’s decision. Now, after four long, nail-biting days when she’d considered all the ways they could politely reject her, Morgan almost didn’t want to hear what the producer had to say.
‘Hi, Lucinda. I’m fine,’ she replied, as breezily as she could under the circumstances. ‘I’ve just been making some cranberry and nut brownies.’
‘Mmm, they sound wonderful.’ Lucinda paused for just long enough to let the sick feeling in Morgan’s stomach intensify. ‘And I hope you’ll be showing the viewers of Cook’s Treats how to make them when the new series starts. Congratulations, Morgan, you got the job.’
‘That’s wonderful,’ Morgan managed to stammer out, hardly able to believe she’d beaten all the other highly talented candidates she’d mingled with at the audition. ‘Thank you so much.’
‘Well, it was an easy decision for us to make. You’ve got a natural warmth and a way of explaining your recipes in simple terms that are just perfect for the show. And we think you’ll make the perfect foil for Scott Harley.’
At first, Morgan thought she’d misheard Lucinda. Had she really mentioned Scott Harley, the man she despised more than just about anyone else in the world? ‘I’m sorry?’
‘Oh, yes. We didn’t mention it at the audition for fear of it leaking out before we were ready to make the announcement. We’re changing the format of the show. Graham’s departure has provided us with the perfect opportunity to freshen a few things up, and we’ve decided to have two presenters working alongside each other. You and Scott are going to make a great team, I just know it.’
Something gnawed at Morgan. ‘I don’t remember seeing him at the audition.’
‘Oh, darling.’ Lucinda laughed, the sound high and tinkling. ‘Scott Harley’s the hottest chef in Londonright now. He doesn’t need to audition.’
In that moment, Morgan came very close to telling Lucinda she was awfully sorry but she simply wasn’t able to take the job if Harley was involved. But opportunities like this came round so rarely, she’d be committing career suicide if she passed it up. Still, as she thanked Lucinda once again and took down the details of the production meeting where she’d be meeting Scott for the first time, she couldn’t help wishing her new co-star was anyone but him.