Dell glanced at Mia’s booth. She was smiling at some guy in a chef’s coat. A chef’s coat. Where did the guy think he was, on one of those cooking-competition shows?
“Yeah. Yeah, I’m ready. Whenever she is.” He didn’t care for the jealousy burning in his gut, but that didn’t make it go away. Maybe he’d channel it and kick her nice little ass in this stupid battle.
“You’re so screwed,” Charlie said with a chuckle. “Whatever you do, don’t beat her too badly. You’ll never have another female customer again.”
“Whatever. Watch the booth.” He followed Val to a truck full of hay bales.
“Help me up, honey?”
Dell helped Val up into the bed of the truck, where she pulled out a megaphone and began announcing the battle-of-the-sexes competition.
“Last week we had a push-up tie. This week, we wanted to see these two flex their farm muscles. They each have ten bales of hay. Whoever loads their ten bales into the appropriate truck in the parking lot first wins this week’s battle of the sexes.”
Mia pulled a pair of gloves out of her back pocket. “You know this isn’t fair, right?” Though she didn’t seem too bent out of shape about it. He liked that about her, and he tried to smile back, but the chef guy was standing by the Pruitt stand…watching.
“Don’t you think men and women are equals, sugar?”
Her eyes narrowed. “If you recall, I told you not to call me that.”
This time Dell grinned. Val stepped between them before he could offer another comment to get her back up. Val told them which truck to put their bales in, then made a big show about placing them on opposite sides of the full truck bed.
A crowd had indeed gathered, but Dell couldn’t take his focus off the stupid white chef coat. Asshole. Surely Mia was smarter than to be impressed by that, except the whole no-experience thing and the awkward-high-school-reputation thing.
Dell bit back a curse.
Val announced the event one more time into the bullhorn and then gave them an “On your marks, get set, go!”
Dell focused on the task at hand. It was no easy feat moving the bales. It didn’t just require strength, but dexterity in maneuvering an awkward square of hay around cars and people.
His muscles were screaming and his breath coming in quick spurts when he hefted the last bale into the truck bed. He looked around for Mia. She was scowling a few yards behind him.
He’d won. Ha. Of course, that might not equal customers. Shit. Dell trudged back to the start of the race and sank onto the ground, wiping his forehead with his arm. Jesus, he was spent.
A few minutes later, Mia collapsed next to him and Val declared him the winner.
“I’m going to kick your ass next week,” she huffed. The guy in the chef coat waved as he walked to his hybrid car.
Mia waved in return, and the jealous burn was back. “Bet your chef friend can’t do that, sweetheart.”
Mia’s eyebrows drew together, but after a few seconds she laughed between huffed breaths. “He’s the chef at Edibles. I’m a supplier. He was on his way to work and wanted to make sure his produce was going to be okay after the storm.” She stood and bent over, giving him an ample peek down her shirt. She patted his cheek. “But you don’t know what a confidence booster a little jealousy is.”
Then Mia sauntered back to the Pruitt booth as if she was something special.
Damn it, he was beginning to think she really was.