Friday Snippet: Zombie Category Romance!

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I haven’t shared a Friday Snippet in a long time.  Since I’m on a roll with my new project, the Zombie Category Romance (ZCR), I thought I’d share a little of it with you.  I hope you find it as fun as I do!

(First draft, subject to heavy revision later)

Yiorgos Michelopoulos strode into the steamy kitchen of his most recently acquired restaurant and everyone began disappearing.  Wait staff scurried out the swinging doors, presumably to attend to Remy’s guests, but since the dining room was empty—and had been every night for months—they had no cause for haste.

Other than escape. 

The sous-chef backed away, finding a hiding place in the large refrigerator.  Yiorgos hoped the man froze to death.

The only employees brave enough to remain in his presence were Paul, the acclaimed executive chef he’d sent here two weeks ago to turn things around, and Dmitri, the manager of the restaurant and one of his closest friends.  Dmitri had left his prestigious job at a premiere New York hotel and moved his wife and kids to Missouri in order to help him.

Despite its remote location, Remy’s was proving to be the most formidable nightmare they’d ever faced.

Without saying a word to either of them, Yiorgos picked up a spoon and sampled the sauce bubbling on the immaculate stove.  The rich béchamel curdled on his tongue like spoiled cream.  Furious, he threw the spoon into the stainless steel sink.  “Disgusting.”

“I know.”  Paul moaned, wringing his hands in his stained apron.  “I don’t understand it, Mr. Michelopoulos.  I cook my most treasured dishes and everything turns out bad, very bad.  This whole place is cursed.”

Grimly, Yiorgos twisted the signet ring digging into the pinky finger on his right hand.  The restaurant isn’t the only thing cursed.

If only he hadn’t put the ring on his finger.  He’d forgotten the damned thing even existed after winning it from Emile Remy nearly two years ago, along with his restaurant he’d stubbornly refused to sell.  Yiorgos had possessed everything he could possibly want, including the five-star status he and Remy had battled over for years.  When his luxury hotel casino in Kansas City had won again last year, he’d put the ring on for spite, to celebrate his ultimate victory.

Which had triggered a curse the likes of which he’d never known possible.

“We have to shut it down.” 

Dmitri’s words made him whirl around with a snarl twisting his face.  “I’ve never closed a restaurant in my entire life, let alone this…this…” 

Frustrated, he waved his hand at the small kitchen.  On the surface, Remy’s wasn’t worth his time and effort.  Even at full capacity, the dining room would barely seat one hundred guests.  At the height of its success, the restaurant had been lucky to pull in a few grand a night.  A drop in the bucket to a man with enough money to buy every restaurant in this entire one-horse Midwestern town.

Yet for nearly a decade, Remy’s had claimed exclusive five-star status, despite Yiorgos’s efforts to wrest the prize for his own hotel’s restaurant.  Only after he’d put on this accursed ring had Yiorgos learned the secret to Remy’s seemingly impossible success.

Now Yiorgos owned hundreds of hotels and restaurants across the globe, yet he couldn’t keep one lousy ma-and-pa diner open.  Fury made him grate his teeth.  Barely holding his curses in check, he stalked into the manager’s office. 

Dmitri followed him and quietly shut the door.  “How are you holding up?”

In the privacy of the small office, Yiorgos allowed his shoulders to slump.  Weary of hiding and worrying and plotting to save his life and this pitiful restaurant, he ran a hand through his hair.  “Nothing’s fallen off yet, if that’s what you mean.”

His friend blanched, which made a small twinge of regret tighten his chest.

“It’s that bad?”  Dmitri asked in a choked voice.

Without turning completely around to face his friend, Yiorgos slipped the signet ring off his pinky.  He looked back over his shoulder, allowing Dmitri to see the decay eating away his face.  It might only be an illusion, a spell the late Emile Remy had managed to throw upon him before the man lost everything, but without the ring, he would soon look like a walking corpse.

“Dear God.  What are you going to do?”

Slipping the ring back on, Yiorgos allowed a small smile to curve his lips, but neither his face nor his resolved softened.  “The Wizard Council claims only someone of Remy’s blood can lift the curse.  Since he’s dead, the only person left of use to me is his daughter.”

“Wizard Council.”  Dmitri let out an uneasy laugh.  “I never knew such a thing existed.  If you hadn’t shown me what happens when you take the ring off, then I never would have believed you.  Do you think Remy’s daughter can help you?”

“She will.” Yiorgos promised in the silky menace voice he used for the hardest negotiations.  “Regardless of what I must do to learn the witch’s secrets, she can and will help me.”

 

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