What many of you have been waiting for…teasers for Fierce- Aiden!! Isn’t he just smoking hot?!
The alarm clock buzzed loudly throughout the room, sounding like a bullhorn going off, though the volume was only set at two.
Aiden Fierce pried his tired eyes open, slapped around until he found the right button, then looked at the flashing red numbers lighting up the room: 3:00 a.m.
He was driven.
He was determined.
He was nuts.
None of his other classmates were getting up at the crack of butt-ugly dawn. And he’d bet none of his professors were either.
But he was in Long Island at the Culinary Institute of America and he was taking advantage of this opportunity.
It didn’t matter that it was demoralizing he wasn’t the head of his class like he felt he should be. That he wasn’t a standout here like back home. Or that he had so much more to learn than he’d ever imagined.
All that mattered was that he was going to prove himself. He wasn’t going to be looked at like the Southern boy whose parents owned and operated a pub. A guy who’d never make more of himself than frying up burgers and wings.
Nope. He and his siblings—the Fierce Five as they were dubbed—were going to transform the pub their parents had started into the hot spot of Charlotte. They were going to put Fierce on the map. And it was going to start with him. The food.
Just because things weren’t going as smoothly as he’d thought—hoped—didn’t mean he was going to let his family down. Just meant he had to work harder.
The five of them had made this plan. They all picked a path that suited their skill levels and personalities, and they were ready to do their part. They were going to give their parents the retirement they deserved.
Did he miss his three brothers and his sister? Absolutely. Like his soul was ripped from his body. In some ways, it felt exactly like that.
Quintuplets. Never separated at all. Now they were all on their own, though he was the farthest away. They talked when their schedules allowed, but it wasn’t enough. It never could be. It was as if his heart was missing a few beats almost daily.
But it’d only been a few months and it would get better, his mother assured him. She’d never been wrong before and he hoped she wasn’t this time.
He pushed the thoughts of family aside and crawled out of bed, then made his way to the shower. Time to get to work.
He didn’t need the money. He needed the experience. He felt he was behind the eight ball and he wasn’t going to continue to let that happen. Instead, he’d sought out the best he could find in New York and bartered free labor for mentoring. So far he was on his second place. A local bakery. They started baking at three every morning, but told him to be in at four. Lucky him for the extra hour of sleep.
At the end of his three-hour shift, he went back to his room and crashed face down on the bed, thrilled his classes wouldn’t start for another two hours.
When he finally made it to class—fifteen minutes early and not even the first one there, but at least not the last—he took his seat and waited for the instructor to arrive. Finals were being handed back early. Last day of class and then they were on their way for the holiday break.
He’d prepared and recreated his dish so many times he could do it in his sleep. Since he’d been dreaming of it for weeks, he practically had. He was banking on an A.
He had this.
He was going to move into that top spot before his first full year was over. He knew it!
When his paper was placed in front of him on the desk, all he saw was a note to go to the back page. He looked around the room and saw everyone’s grades were on the front.
Flipping to the back he didn’t see a grade but another note. One that said, “Forged/Copy, see me after class.”
He started to sweat. No way this was happening. His recipe was original. Everything was. No one had access to it. No one.
Now what? He couldn’t fail this class. He couldn’t fail period. But worse yet, with the strict rules on cheating, he could be expelled.
What would he tell his family? He couldn’t let them down.
He couldn’t be the one to crush the dreams of making Fierce what it was destined to be.