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Duke had wanted to let everyone know they were dating and she’d said no. Not at work. It was going to be hard enough getting this position and if they found out she was sleeping with the boss that would be too much.

He agreed with her but then said some of his family knew and it was making the rounds. He wasn’t one to hide something like that.

Since her parents knew too and she didn’t want Duke to think she was embarrassed to be with him, she said it was fine.

She was at his house a few nights a week anyway. She’d waited for him at the bar at Duke’s twice. Someone was bound to put it together and she had to let it go.

They weren’t doing anything wrong. They were two single consenting adults in a committed relationship.

Sure, it was only about three months of dating, but it just felt so much longer to her. Maybe because the emotions were deeper than she’d felt with other men.

“There was that too,” Karen said.

“Heather will be with you in a few,” she said and moved back to the hostess table where two more people had walked in.

She was seating some and then telling others it’d be a few minutes’ wait when a blonde walked in looking very much like Duke.

“Hi. I’m Kelsey.”

“I figured as much,” she said. Her hand went out. “So nice to meet you.”

“No,” Kelsey said, winking. “Much nicer to meet you. My mother texted there was an extra chair at their table and I rushed right over.”

She grinned. “Glad you could come in. My parents have a lot of nice things to say about you. I wanted to thank you for taking such good care of them.”

“My pleasure,” Kelsey said. “There are things I’d like to thank you for but, you know, not the right place.”

“No,” she said. She knew it had to do with Duke and since no one in the building was aware they were dating other than the Raymonds—and she’d like to keep it that way—she walked Kelsey to the table where her parents were seated.

Thirty minutes later, a table for five was leaving and stopped at the counter where she was standing and wiping clean the board to place people when they sat. “Hi, we were told you’re the manager.”

“I am,” she said. “Is there something I can help you with?”

She’d been moving around as much as she could when she had a chance. Checking on the meals and making sure everyone had what they wanted. But when it was slammed like this, she had to stay up front to make sure no one was waiting as they walked in.

“The food was wonderful,” the woman said. “It really was. But it was kind of slow. We waited over forty-five minutes for our burgers to come out. I know it’s busy in here, but we’ve been here before when it’s been as busy and never waited as long.”

“I’m so sorry for that. I wish I’d known. I would have comped you some of your meal.”

“No, no,” the man said. “The food was wonderful. It always is. It’s just the pace seemed off. Others were talking too. I know not that many would voice anything and we’ve been going to Duke’s for years. It’s nice to have this place also but just wanted you to know. The server was wonderful, coming out and explaining there was something going on in the kitchen, but the food finally came out.”

Hadley frowned, not sure what could be going on and had to get to the bottom of it.

She pulled a gift card out for twenty-five dollars. “Here. I’m so sorry you had to wait. I’m thrilled the food was wonderful as always and Heather kept you up to date on what was going on. We appreciate your patronage.”

“We’ll be back. No worries,” the woman said. “We just wanted to let you know.”

“Thank you for telling me.”

She moved out to go back on the floor. She noticed that there weren’t dinner plates in front of Duke’s parents and by now there easily should have been. It’d been almost forty-minutes since Kelsey had shown up. She could see Duke’s parents waiting to order until then, so she was going by their daughter’s arrival.

She moved closer to Karen and Kyle, then squatted down to be quiet. “How are things going? I noticed you don’t have your food.”

“Heather has been over a few times to let us know it’s on the way. They are busy is all. It’s fine. We are just enjoying a night out.”

“But it’s not fine,” she said. His parents must think she couldn’t manage the place and it was the last impression she wanted to give. That they’d think she got the job for dating Duke.

“I’ll admit we are used to things moving faster,” Kyle said.

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