Exclusive excerpt: The Opposite of You by Rachel Higginson - Vilma Iris | Lifestyle Blogger

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Exclusive excerpt: The Opposite of You by Rachel Higginson

Coming March 30th is a new contemporary romance from Rachel Higginson! I’m so thrilled to be able to give you guys a sneak peek at The Opposite of You, which sounds amazing!

Pre-order now ✦

About The Opposite of You

I’ve sworn off men.

All men.

Famous last words, right? You’re expecting some epic tale of reluctant love and my dramatic change of heart? Well, you’re not going to get it.

I’m stubborn. And headstrong. And I’ve just survived the worst three years of my life. After escaping an abusive fiancé to live in hostels and cheap hotels while I worked my way across Europe, I’ve come to two conclusions.

The first? Now that I’m back home, I’m going to squander my expensive culinary degree on a food truck that caters to the late night drunk crowd.

The second? I’m going to prove to the bastard across the plaza that my street food is better than his fussy five course monstrosities.

Killian Quinn might be Food and Wine’s Chef to Watch Out For. He might have a Michelin Star. He might have every food critic in the city wrapped around his too-large fingers. But he’s also pretentious and unbearably arrogant and the very opposite of me.

So he can keep his unsolicited advice and his late night visits and his cocky smiles. I want none of it. Or him.

I want the opposite.

Excerpt

Ignoring Wyatt and Molly, I opened Killian’s note. Congratulations on the least original food truck idea ever. If you’re hard up for inspiration, you can always ask me for help. Just when I thought he’d leave the salt out of it, he added a quickly scrawled, Be real, is salt holding you at gunpoint right now?

I lifted my head, “Huh.”

Wyatt cringed. “What does it say?”

Molly gaped at him. “You mean you don’t read their notes?”

He stared back at her. “He trusts me. At least with this.”

“You’re a better person than me,” she told him. “I’m too nosey.”

Wyatt turned back to me, apparently just as meddlesome as Molly after all. “Care to share?”

“I feel weird saying this, but I think he actually liked it tonight.” I read the note again, waiting for the missing soul-crushing putdown, but I couldn’t find it. I mean, it wasn’t like the nicest thing I’d ever read, but it lacked Killian’s flare for sending me to therapy. Actually, he’d even offered to help me.

Wyatt snorted. “He likes everything you make.”

I tore my eyes from the note and gave Wyatt a look that questioned his sanity. “Obviously he loves everything I make. Which is why he’s always insulting me. I’m sure it’s just how his tiny, cold heart shows affection.”

“Vera, seriously. Last month he fired a dishwasher because they turned the kitchen radio station to country during clean-up. He doesn’t tolerate bullshit.”

“He didn’t really fire someone for liking country music.”

Wyatt’s lips twitched. “Okay true. The kid was constantly late and had three no-shows. He might have had it coming. But the country station thing was the last straw.”

I considered my revenge for a long time before settling with something as equally anticlimactic as Killian’s had been. Turning the paper over, I scrawled back a response. It would have been better if I could have written it in magazine cutouts, but there was no time for theatrics.

Salt wants me to say that I’m not being held against my will.

I mean, I love being held against my will.

I mean, I love salt.

I think it’s Stockholm Syndrome.

Send help.

I passed the note back to Wyatt and capped my pen before sticking it somewhere in the dangerous abyss of my hair.

He looked at the note, then at me. “That’s it?”

“That’s it.”

“No diabolical present? No maniacal threat? No trip to the feed store?”

“Go away, Wyatt.”

He touched the corner of the folded note to his temple and meandered back across the street to his side of the fence.

Molly and I watched Wyatt disappear through the side door of Lilou in silence. As soon as the door slammed shut behind him, Molly asked, “Really, what did the note say?”

I turned around to stir my chili. “He called me unoriginal and made a lame joke about salt.”

“Huh.”

“My thoughts exactly.”

“So do you think he’ll stop by later?” she asked quietly since a few customers had stepped up to the menu board.

“Yeah.”

Her feet hit the ground emphatically. “You do?”

“He’s stopped by before,” I reminded her.

“You sound super sure tonight though. Did you invite him over?”

“Don’t be ridiculous.”

She couldn’t let it go. “Then how do you know?”

I shrugged. Because he offered help and I had kind of accepted it. But I didn’t tell her that. For some reason, it felt like an inside joke between Killian and me and I was reluctant to share it with anyone else. “Gut feeling.”

She let it go, but couldn’t help herself. “He’s so into you, Vera.”

I started laughing- because honestly that was hilarious. “He’s so into food. And I think he’s really bored with his life.”

“Why do you think that?”

“Because he lives at Lilou. Seriously, he works every single day. His life consists of that square building and the troll bridge he sleeps under. I feel bad for him.”

Molly fell quiet again, probably trying to figure out the logistics of Killian’s life. She could join the club. In the time that I’d opened my food truck, he’d only been absent for dinner service a handful of times.

He started his morning early at Lilou with deliveries, of which he was always present. Probably to ensure the food being delivered was up to his standards. Then sometimes he disappeared during the middle of the day and sometimes he worked straight through lunch. But even if he took a break, he was almost always back in time to prep for the night.

Not that I was stalking him or anything.

Besides, that was the price you paid for running a kitchen like Lilou. That was the life we lived for. We were all workaholics. Even chefs who didn’t work every single night, like me, still couldn’t let the job go. It didn’t end. We never really left.

Just like I predicted, Killian showed up an hour later after a late night rush. He walked right up to the window and said hi to Molly. I pretended not to notice him. I had chili to stir. And other stuff.

Eventually he couldn’t stand not having all the attention. “I didn’t realize you were getting your best ideas from concession stands.”

Do not engage. Do not engage. Do not engage.

I spun around, totally engaging. “The chili dogs have been a huge hit, so…”

I had no willpower. I would have made a terrible ninja.

“So, you’re catering to the masses now? How revolutionary,” he scoffed.

Leaning forward, unable to restrain the raging bitch he brought out in me, I said, “Hey, they masses pay the bills. I’ll leave the food revolution to you. If only you could combat climate change by taking away everyone’s table salt.”

His lips twitched and I could have sworn he wanted to smile. But he didn’t. “It wasn’t overly salted tonight. I’m impressed, Vera.”

“It’s never overly salty,” I returned. “You have an overly sensitive palate.”

He stared at me, those green eyes glittering with something he wanted to say, but for some reason he held back. Which wasn’t fair. I wanted to know what it was. And I wanted to know why he held back. And I wanted to know a hundred other things I shouldn’t want to know.

Another minute passed before I realized we were just standing there, staring each other, locked in some kind of weird hate spell. Eventually people moved to stand in line behind him and we were simultaneously released from the enchantment.

“Did you come over here for another one of my underwhelming chili dogs? Or was there something else?”

His voice dropped low, sending a tingle of something through my belly. A single butterfly leapt inside me, flapping unwelcomed wings and sending uninvited shivers down my stiff spine. He ran a hand through his hair, pushing it back from his face. “I just stopped by to see if you needed help. That’s all.”

My breath caught. He was so sweet in this moment. Gentle. Reserved. Open.

Fear curled inside me, fueled by his gesture of kindness and the way his hair fell in tousled waves. I wanted to run my fingers through it, like he had. And that terrified me.

I didn’t have time for him. Or this unwanted attraction. I’d sworn off men. All men. Including, no wait, especially, arrogant, pigheaded, pushy chefs like Killian Quinn.

“I’m good.” I cleared my throat and gestured at Foodie. “We’re good.”

He took a step back, withdrawing physically and emotionally. Not that he was emotionally involved or anything. But it was like something shuttered behind his eyes, closed up and retreated from our innocuous conversation. “Of course you are.”

“See you later, chef.”

He bobbed his head, seeming to decide something. “Lay off the salt, Delane.”

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