'Fresh From The Sea' by Fabian Black
A Great Summer Read!
'Fresh from the Sea' introduces David Jordan and his temperamental partner Linval Larkin, a culinary writer and ex-celebrity chef.
David and Lin own a bed and breakfast establishment called Sandstones, formerly a seventeenth century smugglers inn, from which they also run The Transit of Venus, the smallest seafood restaurant in England.
In this first story Lin is having a stressful day. He encounters prophetic bees, a mysterious sea mist, an irksome guest, and an irate partner. Worse - when the main ingredient for several of his planned and advertised dishes turns against him, he becomes distraught because it looks like the restaurant will have to remain closed. He fears being dishonoured as a chef.
“God, that bloody man can rattle on. I thought I was never going to get away.” Lin stumped back into the kitchen, slamming the tray onto the kitchen table.
“Put the tray back where it belongs without banging it. I hope you were pleasant in there? People don’t pay good money to have you be rude to them. This isn’t Fawlty Towers.”
Linval blew out his cheeks. “Fear not, Sybil, I was courtesy itself. I stood there smiling and nodding like a rear window car ornament, as he stuffed toast into one half of his gob and prattled out of the other. Did you notice he's wearing socks with his flip-flops? Bad enough with bloody sandals, but flip-flops! He's cut holes in them where the toe post fits. He's a fucking disgrace. I don't know how she can bear to be seen with him. I mean she's hardly haut couture, but at least she's presentable.”
“What he wears is none of your business. He comes here to relax not take part in a fashion show. Stanes is hardly the French Riviera. Socks with sandals are standard around here, so leave the man alone.”
David turned his attention to packing up the lunch he’d prepared. He slipped neat triangles of wholemeal bread filled with seasoned fresh crabmeat into a sandwich box, garnishing them with yellow and red cherry tomatoes picked from the greenhouse.
“We need more scones,” he carefully packed Stilton and salmon tartlets into another box. “Do you want me to knock up a batch or would you prefer to do it?”
“You do it. I know you want to.” Lin flicked strands of sand gold hair out of his eyes, watching sullenly as David split and buttered the last two scones, filling them with homemade gooseberry preserve before parcelling them into yet another box, along with a pot of thick clotted cream. “I’m not in a baking mood. Just make sure you don’t over knead the dough, or they’ll be dry and tough. You don’t have to pummel it into submission, be gentle, remember you’re baking scones not casting clay pots.”
“Thank you, you made your point.” David put the boxed repast into a backpack. “There’s no need to labour it and I don’t want you hovering over me when I’m making them.”
"If you did it right I wouldn't have to hover."
Ignoring the slight on his scone making ability David made a flask of milky coffee and added some fruit to complete the requested packed lunch. “Do you think it’s enough?”
“Enough for normal people yes.” Lin walked to the open door. Folding his arms he leaned against the doorjamb, viewing the garden. “Porky Prescott might disagree.” He glanced over his shoulder, “know what, I don’t believe they’re a childless couple at all. The big greedy bugger probably ate the kids when the poor cow wasn’t looking. If he continues to patronise our establishment we’ll be running at a loss.”
“Behave, Lin. I'm sick of hearing you gripe and bitch, put a lid on it. I won’t tell you again.”
“Good, suits me.”
Unfolding his arms Lin stormed across to the windowsill where the CD player stood, savagely stabbing a finger on the off button. “I hate singing fucking fish. There’s not one of them can do a decent cover of a Lady Gaga single.”
“Thank heavens for small mercies and whales are mammals, not fish. I was listening to it, so it was rude of you to turn it off.”
"It was getting on my nerves. You only listen to it because the bloke who gave you it fancied you."
"He did nothing of the sort, and he gave it to both of us not just me. I listen to it because I like it and you should have asked before turning it off."
Grasping Lin's arm David towed him over to the kitchen table. Pulling out a chair he thrust him down onto its seat. “You're still sulking about this morning and you have no right, none at all.”
Placing one hand on the table and the other on the back of the chair he leaned towards Lin, his navy eyes glittering with a dangerous light. "I told you not to go near the beach. It wasn’t an open-ended suggestion. It was a straight instruction, which you ignored. You got exactly what you deserved."
Available from All Romance