Teasing the Palate (book - electronic)

Teasing the Palate (book - electronic)

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Theresa Whitley stops at a local winery before the weekend’s shenanigans ensue. There she finds something more intoxicating than crates filled with fermented grapes.


Reid Taylor is captivated by the complex workings of wine until the beautiful woman graces the timber walls of his winery with her golden skin and enchanting brown eyes.


A mutual infatuation with wine turns into a steamy rendezvous in the wine cellar. Soon after, they realize they’ve only just teased their palate.



 Length: ~15,000 words (~1 hour of reading / ~60 pages)

Tropes: Fling / Redemption / Interracial 


Barnes & Noble ____ Amazon
ibooks ____kobo
bibliotheca  __  Baker & Taylor
Overdrive ___ tolino



|1| Private Taste Test |

Theresa turned off the state road when she saw an arrow for a winery. In her haste to leave, she forgot to pick-up wine; her only task for the girls’ holiday weekend. She’d been preoccupied with work and her parents coming to town in a couple weeks, she simply forgot. Playing hostess was always a feat that she loathed. Her father always thought he was a king when he visited, no matter how much Theresa stressed she had work and life to tend to, while he was using up all her hot water and eating all her food.

Theresa smiled when a beautiful two-story cabin came into view peeking behind the canopies of the full trees. The whole ‘Christmas in July’ thing was a compromise her friends made so they could spend the holidays with their families and have girl time too. She was one of the last single women left in their group of friends, and they never let her forget about that fact, while at the same time using her to escape the beautiful confines of their lives, relationships, and parental duties.

Theresa was no fool, though. She knew this particular trip was just a ruse by Gina to get Theresa and Lani talking again. It’d been over a year since they stopped talking to each other all because of some stupid guy. A stupid guy, a vast misunderstanding and refusing to talk, created this gaping void that neither woman was willing to span. Lani was another single in their group, desperate to find Mr. Right. So much so, she was blind to her prospective men’s many faults. Lani was her favorite friend for a long time. The last few years, ever since Lani’s first marriage fell apart, they’d grown distant.

Theresa parked her car, taking in the elegant wooden sign that announced she’d arrived at her destination. The cabin that Gina rented wasn’t too far from the winery that Theresa found on her map application She was relieved she’d be able to snag the loot and be less late than she was already planning to be. She’d been ignoring the calls and texts since she left the city. She knew her friends were just being nags.

She walked into the winery taking a deep breath of the woody smell of crates. Displays of wine on wood-slatted shelves, and cards next to groups of bottled wines explaining their origin and the process to make them, littered the space in a classy ornate fashion. The place was charming and sophisticated. Certainly not what she was expecting for a backwoods establishment. A hidden gem for sure.

Her insides jumped around and spread a pleasant heat through her body, when she laid eyes on a rather handsome, well-built man in a plaid shirt and fine fitting blue jeans. He was talking to a pretty older woman with bright blue eyes.

She didn’t have to ask; she knew the handsome man was the boss. The older woman took the bottle the man put in an elegant black box with gold writing scrawled across the front. The woman was talking passionately about something that Theresa couldn’t make out.

Theresa didn’t realize she’d been walking toward the pair, until their conversation came into earshot.

“My son will love this. He’s a wine snob, you see.”

“It’s a nice French Merlot genuine to the Bordeaux region.” The handsome man said with a nod.

“Yes, you have a vineyard there, don’t you?”

The man nodded and looked up at Theresa. “Good evening Miss. I will be right with you.”

Theresa nodded, annoyed that words weren’t coming to her when they usually did with ease.

He strolled around the counter and walked the old woman to the door with light conversation that Theresa wasn’t interested in committing to memory. She touched the cursive outlined letters on the chocolates displayed near the register.

“I’m sorry to say, you just missed the tasting.”

“Um, I’m not here for the tasting.” Though she wouldn’t mind tasting him. She closed her eyes for a moment to get her thoughts under control when he took his place behind the counter. “I’m looking to purchase a few bottles of wine.” When she opened her eyes, she tried not to stare at those mossy green eyes set in a heart-shaped face, wide, full lips and a dimpled chin.

“Do you know what you’re looking for?”

She snapped her gaze from his eyes. “Uh,” Well, she knew the kind that she liked, but the girls were sweet winos unlike Theresa who liked bitter, red, earthy wines. “Sweet white.”

The corner of his mouth pulled up. “Dessert wine?”

“Mmmm, maybe crisper and more acidic than a dessert wine.”

He nodded and made his way around the counter. “It’s getting dark. Easy to get lost around these parts.”

“I’m not going too far.” She followed him through the space, trying to keep her eyes on his brown hair and not go any lower.

“Really? Where to, if you don’t mind me asking.” He perused the white wines.

“I couldn’t tell you; it’s in my GPS. A cabin, maybe ten or so miles away.”

“Oh, yeah sure. Alright, here we are.” He picked up the bottle of wine and turned it until the label faced up. “Now, of course, you can always go with a Moscato or a Riesling, but if you want a nice crisp, fruit-forward white wine with hints of a flowery aroma, more tart with a subdued hint of sweet, then I’d recommend the Sauvignon Blanc.”

She wasn’t a white wine drinker, but he made it sound amazing. “Well, how could I say no to that description.” She presented a wide smile captured by his earthy green eyes.

“Well, these wines won’t sell themselves.”

She smiled, looking toward the ground for a moment because staring was rude, right? If staring was rude, then what was flirting? “I’ll take… uh… how many come in a crate?”

He raised an eyebrow, his eyes dancing with mischief. “Party or just a long week?”

She laughed. “Maybe a bit of both. Girls’ weekend, and a long one, I dare say.”

“Well, in that case, I will give you a good deal. Four hundred for a case and I’ll throw in one of my nice reds on the house.”

“Reds?” Her mouth started to water. She was the first to admit she had a problem.

He picked up a case of the white wine and set it on the counter.

“Maybe I read you wrong, but you seem like a woman who indulges in red. Full-bodied, earthy, red, rich with a subtle fruit undertone.”

She swallowed. “Guilty.” Theresa knew that he was talking about wine, at least she thought she knew he was talking about wine; but, his eyes were tracing the curves of her face, his body language, and the glint in his green orbs were telling her something else.

He checked his watch. “Perfect timing.” He whispered seeming more to himself. “I’ve been wanting to open this lot for a while,” he said, making his way to the door. He flipped the sign to read closed. “If you don’t mind joining me.” He locked the door.

She frowned. “Uh, you’re not some crazy killer, right?”

His eyebrows lifted in amusement. “If I was, would I admit to it?” He laughed at her startled expression. “I know, not funny at all.” He unlocked the door and opened it. “You are free to leave if you wish; otherwise, I think I have a wine that you will fall deeply in love with. If you’re willing to venture into the cellar with a shifty character like myself.” His charming smile made her knees weak with want, and not for wine.  

She shrugged, trying to mask her lust. “I’m a girl who loves a good intrigue.”

His handsome face broke out into a catching smile exposing a nice set of white teeth. “Good choice,” he mused, closing and locking the door. “Follow me.” He made his way behind the counter, pulled a hatch in the floorboards revealing a set of wooden steps. He clicked on a light switch illuminating the path down. She might be crazy as hell for being this adventurous, but what was life if you didn’t live it?

She made her way behind the counter and followed him down into the cellar.

“Watch your head, this part is quite low, but it opens up further down.”

She giggled when she could stand straight in the small space. “One of those issues us short people don’t have.”

He smiled back at her, bent over for a few more feet before he could stand to his full height. “That was apart of the original construction. This natural cave made way for this part.

Her mouth fell open in awe when the splendor of the cave, illuminated by the lighting, fell into her view. Crystals glistened in the craggy stone walls, giving the dank space an ethereal quality. “Well, this is gorgeous.”

There was a solid stone wall on her left that housed wine stacked in wooden crates. The tops of the bottles faced toward the walkway in diamond-patterned displays. On the right, there was a metal railing that protected anyone from tumbling over the edge to what sounded like an underground river below. The water below had a soft blue glow to it.

“Is the water glowing?”

He paused in front of a wine display. “Uh, yes.” He pulled out a bottle, and turned the bottle so the label faced him. “It’s a, uh, type of fish that lives in the cave. They have what’s called bio-luminescence which helps them navigate the darkness.” He smiled finding her face. “Now,” he began, capturing her full attention. “You have your Pinot Noir, your Cabernet, but this,” he held the bottle, so the label faced her.


“Mmmm.” His eyes closed with satisfaction. She imagined the face might be similar to one he would make if her hand grazed down the front of his pants, or if her lips-- “From Argentina.” He continued. “A rich symphony of blackberry, plum, and black cherry. This particular batch had a long enough oak aging, to feature a sweet tobacco finish.”

She curled her nose up.

“Do not be dis-swayed by the bastardized reputation of tobacco. Come.” He took her hand and led her deeper into the cave to an alcove set up with an elegant glass and metal table. He retrieved two glasses from a lit display full top to bottom with wine glasses.

“Where you host your wine tastings?”

“Only for special guests, investors, corporate sponsors, big money. It has a mood to it, don’t you think?”

She smiled at his amused face. His facial hair was creating that irresistible evening time shadow accentuating the angles of his cheekbones. The lights caught golden highlights in his dark brown hair. He placed the glasses on the table and retrieved a corkscrew from his pocket.

“I just got several cases of this wine in, after ordering from a winery I ran into while traveling in Argentina. I believe I left part of my heart there.” He poured them both a splash. “I’m dying to see if it still tastes as good as I remember.” He smelled it. “We’ll want to let it breathe. Come, I want to show you another bottle I’m quite excited about.”

As bizarre as it all seemed, she felt like, and he treated her like, they’d known each other for ages. She wondered if this was how he made everyone feel with his light, breezy charm and tamed good looks. He walked her over to another display. One bottle was pulled from the others in an alcove of its own with lights highlighting it. She knew this bottle; too well, perhaps.

“Saladini Pilastri Rosso Piceno.”

He smirked. “You know it. And you pronounced it correctly. I’m impressed.”

She presented a charming smile of her own. “Red Blend of Montepulciano and Sangiovese and mellowed in oak barrels. I serve it with my roast at Thanksgiving.”

His eyes lit up with amusement. “A woman that has some skill in the kitchen?”

She met his eyes from the corner of hers. “My father wouldn’t have it any other way. Him and all girls, he had to teach us everything he learned from his grandmother.” She traced the writing on the bottle. Even after her stepmother came into their lives, a woman that she thought of as her own mother, her father insisted they maintain their skills in the kitchen.

“That’s extremely attractive.”

She raised an eyebrow and met him face-on. Someone was getting bold. She found the corner of his wide-set, full lips pulled up in amusement. Like a moth to a flame, that was desperate to scorch him, he closed the space between them, slipping his hand around her waist pulling himself flush to her body.

She placed her fingers on his chest, more for stability than anything. She battled the storm waging in her middle, looked up at him, from under her lashes then her gaze drifted to his mouth. His lips parted. He tipped her chin up and descended on her, pressing their mouths together gently. Painfully soft. It made no sense why her body erupted in all-consuming flames.