Prologue  
   
  Paris, France

"Shit. I ask for your best, and you've brought me shit."

The ruddy faced restaurant equipment salesman flinched at her caustic tone. "I beg your pardon," he said haughtily. "These knives are top of the line, the finest we have in our warehouse."

Heather Kelly looked over the assortment of chef's cutlery and picked up a boning knife, wiggling it a bit to test the resilience of the steel. The moment it seated itself comfortably in her hand, her "gift" as Grandmother had called it roared to life and the mental images began of a small kitchen in a seaside bistro. The rough hands holding it worked deftly as they filleted fat chunks of rascasse to toss into the iron pot of bouillabaisse steaming nearby. She dropped the boning knife and turning a calculated withering glare on her adversary, the one that made more than one sous chef reconsider his career choice. "And used shit at that."

His eyes widened comically at the accusation. "But mademoiselle," he simpered, turning the blades from side to side so that the light caught their razor edges. "These knives are of marvelous quality - certainly you with your discerning eye can recognize the craftsmanship. See for yourself - look how splendidly they are balanced..."

Heather narrowed her eyes in undisguised suspicion. "Don't you mademoiselle me," she mimicked. "You think that because I'm a woman I won't know the difference. I graduated top of my class from Le Cordon -"

"Bleu. Yes, yes, I know who you are…you are the l'enfant terrible that…"

Before he could blink, she snatched up a large chef's knife and threw it expertly at his head. It stuck in the wooden wall about a half inch from his ear, wobbled to and fro for a moment, then clattered noisily to the floor. "Had that been splendidly balanced, it would have stuck," she remarked matter of factly.

"Mon Dieu," the salesman shrieked, "you are a crazy woman!"

Heather rolled her eyes. "Well, that's debatable in polite circles. Doesn't change the fact that you were trying to cheat…"

The rest of her words fell on deaf ears. The salesman grabbed his suitcase and began shoving his wares back into it, keeping Heather in his sights and the large stainless steel table safely between them. "You are insane," he muttered under his breath, "it's no wonder how they speak of you, the crazy Irishwoman that swears like a man but cooks to make the very angels weep for joy… you are fortunate, mademoiselle, that I do not think to call the police…I have friends on the force, you know…"

Heather batted her eyelashes coyly. "Yes, do call them. Be sure to tell them all about how big bad me threw a knife at poor wee you. And while you're at it, you can tell them I did so in self defense. Let 'em think what they will…" Her cell phone vibrating noisily against the metal table drowned out her next words. A quick glance down at caller ID and she snatched the phone up. "Sorry, I'll need to take this. Can you see yourself out, dear?"

Her words hung in the empty air, the salesman obviously haven taken advantage of her distraction to flee. Heather shrugged and answered the international call. "Good evening, Meg - what's up?"

"So here's me sitting and thinking," her elder sister began without preamble, "and I've come to a decision."

Heather's blood froze. Meghan Kelly Wilde sitting and thinking never boded well for the subject of her thoughts. "So…what exactly is it you've decided?"

"It's time for you to come to America. Pack your bags."
 
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