USA Today Bestselling Author
There are some lines friends should never cross…
Status quo might as well be Dashiell Cabot’s middle name. He has a job he loves, a billion dollars in the bank, and a best friend named Iris who keeps his personal life running smoothly. Why would he ever want to change any of that? But when Iris Jacobs tells him she’s quitting and returning to culinary school, Dash’s beloved status quo is thrown into chaos. Even worse? The thought of her departure is forcing him to realize his feelings for her might extend beyond the friend zone.
Iris wants more out of life than taking care of Dash. She always has. And even though she could never repay him for everything he’s done for her, she can no longer afford to protect his precious status quo at the expense of her own dreams. She has no choice but to leave…unless he can give her a compelling—and possibly romantic—reason to stay.
They’ve always been just friends. That was their deal. But when all is said and done, something will be broken—either their deal…or their hearts.
Dashiell aka Dash and Iris had always been best friends, but over the last few years Iris has noticed they haven’t done much together anymore. She’s his housekeeper and cook but she also takes that to a whole other level. A level I’m not sure even a wife would master. When her mother died and her father kicked her out the two of them had been inseparable. Now that Dash has his own very successful business and is a billionaire, it’s like she doesn’t exist. Dash even forgot her at Christmas this year as he traveled east with his girlfriend Raina for the holiday, not even a small gift. It’s time for her to follow her dreams, she’s put them off long enough.
On New Year’s Eve, Henry tried to wake Dash up by kissing Iris, Now Henry is going to visit with Iris after the guys poker game, hosted by Dash. This leads Dash to decide to confront Iris about her relationship with Henry even though he technically has no right to know anything.
He is in for quite the surprise as Iris delivers quite the blow.
This is a favorite scene.
Iris took a breath and then exhaled slowly. A corner of Dash’s mouth curved upward. “I can hear the gears in your brain from here.”
“They’re cranking,” she joked, hoping to put herself at ease.
He set his glass on the table. “What’s going on?”
Might as well get this over with. “I’ve enrolled in culinary school.”
Dash’s jaw relaxed. His eyes brightened. “Another weekend workshop?”
Iris had taken those in the past with his full support, though she’d turned down his offer to pay for the classes. “No, I’ll be a full-time student.”
He opened his mouth and then closed it. A range of emotions crossed his face— confusion, surprise, anger.
“That’s not possible.” His voice was tight as if he were trying to rein himself in. “You work for me full-time.”
She angled toward him. “You’ve done so much for me, Dash. I’ll never be able to thank you for taking me in when I had nowhere else to go and giving me a job. I’ve enjoyed working for you, but my dream has always been to be a chef. That got put on hold when my mom needed me, but now…”
“Now what?” Deep lines formed on his forehead and around his mouth. “Are you leaving me?”
His words came out raw and harsh.
Her breath hitched. A band appeared to wrap around her chest, squeezing tightly.
Dash had never sounded that way before. Not even during the worst times with his parents. But she needed to continue. “Yes. I’m resigning as your housekeeper.”
He jumped to his feet. Mumbled to himself. Paced in front of the coffee table.
“You’re more than a housekeeper.” The words flew out. “You cook and run errands. You shop for my clothes and tell me what to wear. You keep my personal life on track.”
If he’d been sitting next to her, she would have reached out to him. But maybe it was better this way. He would need to learn to settle himself without her help. “Others will do those things for you.”
“No.” He stopped pacing. His hands balled before he flexed his fingers. “I want you to do them. The way you always have. You can’t leave. We’ll find a way for you to go to school and stay with me.”
Normally, she gave in to him. That tendency had her wanting to do just that. Not this time. She couldn’t.
Iris pressed her shoulders back. “This isn’t what you expected, and I’m sorry for upsetting you, but you’ll get used to the change sooner than you think. I hired people. I’ve been training them this past week.”
He shook his head. “That explains the pantry.”
“Nothing.” Dash stared at her, a muscle ticking at his jaw. “I had no idea you weren’t happy. Name your salary. Whatever it is you want, I’ll pay it.”
Of course he would because he had enough money to last a hundred lifetimes. He wouldn’t miss a million or even ten million dollars.
“I don’t want your money. You pay me way more than you should.”
“Then tell me what will make you happier.”
“I’m not unhappy, Dash.” She wanted him to see this from her side, not his. “My plan was always to finish the culinary school program. I didn’t have the money to do that after my mom died, so I’ve been saving since then. Thanks to your Christmas bonus, I no longer have to wait.”
“Christmas bonus, huh?” Dash’s nostrils flared. “When do classes start?”
“A week from Thursday. I’m sorry for not telling you sooner. That’s on me for not giving two weeks’ notice.”
Mumbling again, he glanced up at the ceiling. “I don’t care about that. I don’t want you to leave.”
“The new staff are skilled. They’re super nice. You won’t know I’m gone.”
His face reddened. “How can you say that? You’ve been taking care of me, my apartment, and then this house for six years. You’re irreplaceable. And not only for what you do. You belong here. We’re friends.”
“We don’t see much of each other these days.” And even less now that he was dating Raina.
“But I like knowing you’re around.” He paced again, moving his arms in front of him as if he were having a conversation in his head. “Tell me what I can do to change your mind.”
“Nothing.” She didn’t hesitate answering. “This isn’t about you or the job. It’s about me. My mom’s illness derailed my plans when I was nineteen. Then my dad’s midlife crisis three years later made me put off what I wanted to do again. I’m twenty-eight. It’s time to go back. Thank you for giving me this opportunity.”
“It’ll all work out.”
Melissa McClone. The Deal Breaker (Kindle Locations 727-775). Cardinal Press, LLC.
Dash really hasn’t grown up in spite of his success. It’s so obvious in every word out of his mouth. Iris has done the right thing.
I truly enjoyed watching Dash dump Raina, she really deserved it. The interactions with Iris become more and more complicated as well.
I loved this book, there’s plenty going on and I just adore the character growth.
5 Contented Purrs for Melissa!
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USA Today bestselling author, Melissa McClone has published over forty novels with Harlequin and Tule Publishing Group.
With a degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University, Melissa worked for a major airline where she traveled the globe and met her husband. But analyzing jet engine performance couldn’t compete with her love of writing happily ever afters.
Her first full-time writing endeavor was her first sale when she was pregnant with her first child! When she isn’t writing, you can usually find her driving her minivan to/from her children’s swim practices and other activities.
Melissa lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, three children, two spoiled Norwegian Elkhounds, and cats who think they rule the house. They do!