For Belle French Christmas had been about work for a long time. Hazard of the job. Things were always busy for gastronomy during holidays and she was okay with it. Tomorrow it would be again, but tonight it would be about love. At least for her it would be. Bloody tomato, Belle was more nervous now than she had been during her exams to become a chef.

She could gain the love of her life. Or she could lose her job over this.

It was Christmas Eve. Belle French took off her kitchen jacket and revealed a black dress with a high neckline and a pencil skirt that ended mid-thigh. She already wore black hold-ups and black, lacy undergarments beneath it.

Rumford Gold, the owner of The Spinning Wheel, had placed his reservation two weeks ago. As always, he wanted the whole restaurant for himself the whole day, though he would only come in in the evening.

The Spinning Wheel was the best restaurant in Storybrooke, due to Belle's cooking. She loved preparing tasty and visual pleasing dishes for their customers. Though she had had no experience as a head chef, Gold had trusted her in that area ever since he had hired her two years ago.

The staff hadn't come in today, but she had arrived ten minutes ago to make some preparations for Mister Gold's arrival.

The door bell at the entrance of the restaurant rang. He was here! On time as always. without running, Belle rushed towards him as quickly as she could. The packaged condom in her bra scratched against her skin. It was terribly presumptuous to have it on her, but better safe than sorry, right? And a woman could hope …

He was about to hang up his coat when she arrived.

"Welcome, Mister Gold," she said, her heart was already racing. Sweet strawberry cheesecake, she hoped she was right about him and that it wasn't all wishful thinking.

He turned away from the hat stand and his eyes widened. She hoped he liked what he saw. He wore a black suit with a purple shirt and purple tie. As always he looked very accurate and elegant. And as always she wished to run her hands through his perfectly styled hair and kiss him.

"Chef French," he said and swallowed. "What are you doing here?"

She managed to smirk. "I'm greeting you."

"But why?" That really seemed to startle him. She decided to take it in good humor.

"I thought it to be polite."

He stopped for a moment, then sighed. "You're teasing me."

"A little bit, yes." She smiled again. "Don't you like being greeted by me?"

He tilted his head and raised a brow. "Why aren't you scared of me?"

Whenever he asked something like that, her heart turned heavy. "Because I know you," she said softly. Times like this it seemed like he didn't know himself. Like he didn't realize how good he had been to her. To lighten the mood, she put on a big smirk.

"Do you always have to throw everybody out?" she asked.

"I'm not a people's person, dearie," he said, smiling just like she'd hoped he would.

Belle huffed. "Noticed that. Still, you should know that closing your own restaurant every other day just you can 'enjoy your meal' isn't good for business."

"I'm rich and this isn't about money."

Gotcha! Belle thought and smirked. "Then what is it about?" she asked.

Gold swallowed. "About your fantastic food, of course."

A good answer! Gosh, she wished that wasn't all he was after. Otherwise she would be in big trouble later … But for now she'd do the brave thing …

"I hoped you'd say that," she said, "Follow me."

"Excuse me?" He looked confused, but she had expected that.

"Since you sent everybody else away, you'll have to make yourself useful in the kitchen."

He frowned. "I didn't send the staff away!"

"Sure you did!" Belle grinned. "You're a kind man."

"Since when?"

"I told them the good news last week." It had taken her some days to come up with her plan and then find the guts to set it in motion. "They were happy you allowed them to spent this day with their families. You know, since you'll be our only customer today and I can manage to serve on person by my own."

"If you think that "serving somebody" includes forcing them to cook, you need a better dictionary."

"I'm quite happy with the one you gave me to my birthday."

He blushed. "That was a bad present, wasn't it?"

"It's a great dictionary." She smiled. She always loved when he turned shy and awkward like this. "Now come, before you starve." She started walking towards the kitchen.

He followed her, she could hear the clicking of his cane against the wooden floor and the tapping of his elegant black shoes behind her.

"What will we cook?" he asked.

"Chicken Risotto with tomatoes."

"My favorite," he said, sounding a little surprised.

"I know," she said. That was why she chose it over a traditional Christmas dish. "I thought you might learn how to cook it yourself?"

"It'll be my Christmas gift."

"So you don't mind? Because I could still cook and you could just sit and be …"

"… a regular customer?" He chuckled and caught up with her just in time to open the swing door to the kitchen. "I don't mind, Chef French, not the slightest." He gestured her to enter before him. He seemed indeed very pleased with the situation.

Her heart skipped a beat and she smiled again. Seemed like she couldn't stop. "I'm relieved."

"Relieved?" He frowned. "Why?"

"I was scared you might fire me," she said lighthearted.

He chuckled. "Firing you would be even worse for business than closing the restaurant for a whole day." He raised a brow and placed both hands on the knob of his cane. "As I see it," he said slyly, "it was very smart of me to give them the day off. And you seem perfectly capable of handling me, Chef."

He was definitely flirting with her. This was going way better than she had hoped.

"How do we start?" he asked.

Belle looked him up and down. He looked good enough to skip dinner all together, but unfortunately they weren't at that state of a relationship. Yet.

"First we have to get you out of that suit," she said.

His eyes widened.

Sweet strawberry cheesecake! Freudian slip anyone? Why couldn't her sexually frustrated subconscious stick to subtle subtext? She blushed. "I mean, I wouldn't want your jacket to get stained while we cook …"

"But you are wearing," he gestured at her dress, "this!"

"Because I'm a professional."

"And wearing a black dress is always the professional thing to do?" He hung up the cane on the wall hook to his left and slipped out of his jacket.

"Are you complaining?"

"No, no … You look very beautiful." He rolled up his left sleeve.

"Thank you." She blushed again. He had lovely forearms. And wonderful hands. Mesmerized she watched as he tried to roll of the right sleeve as well. And failed.

"Let me," she said, her hands already busy with the fabric.

"Oh." He swallowed, she could see his adam's apple move. She wanted to kiss his throat. Her fingertips brushed against his skin and it took great self control not to run her hands all over him.

When she was done, she looked up to find him staring at her, his eyes widened. She really, really wanted to kiss him. Just once. It would be her Christmas gift … She had been so good this year. His lips, they looked so soft. She bet he'd be a great kisser. Gentle at first, but also passionate. She wanted to –

He cleared his throat and turned his head.

Her stomach clenched and she took a step back. No kiss for her. Was it pathetic that she wished there'd be Mistletoe hanging all over the kitchen so she could get at least a hint of what it felt like to kiss him? - Probably. And probably better to focus on the cooking now, since it was the reason he was with her.

Belle pressed her lips together and turned around to adjust the pot on the oven, which was utterly ridiculous because she already had placed it perfectly before. Just like the nutmeg, the nutmeg rasp, the sliced tomatoes and the rasped parmesan as well chicken stock she had cooked this morning. Everything was arranged around the stove in the way it needed to go into the pot.

"We start by turning up the heat to eight," she said, her back to him.

Gold came up to the stove. "What should I do?"

Either stand further away or get even closer. Gosh, she wanted that man. "Hand me the oil, please?" she asked, her voice a little shaky.

Their fingers brushed, when he obliged.

"What's next?" he asked.

Time to be a professional. "As soon as the oil is hot enough," she said, "we will sear the chicken, before we add the risotto rice." She nodded at the bowl filled with chopped pieces of chicken breast.

"Is there anything I can do?" He sounded so eager. She loved that. And for once, he wasn't putting up that mask of distance. His face was relaxed and open. It made her want to kiss him even more. She swallowed.

"Would you dare spicing the chicken?" she asked.

"I shall be so bold." He smiled at her, looking giddy. "What do I do?"

"Put some pepper and salt on it and mix it up."

"Sounds easy enough." He poured in the spices.

Belle chuckled. "That was a lot of pepper."

He looked at her, his eyes widened. "Is that bad?"

"Not if you like it hot."

"In fact I do." He smiled. No, not smiled. That was a sexy half grin. There was a sparkle in his eyes and Belle's heart skipped a beat.

He was flirting with her, wasn't he? Holy fries, please let him be flirting with her! She better not blew it again by going too fast!

unable to resist, she bushed her hand over his arm. "If you'd like you could measure of the white wine," she said.

"Should I also pour us a glass?"

"That would be lovely."

"Where are the glasses?"

On the counter top next to the first fridge to your right. There's also a measuring glass."

"You're well prepared." Gold hobbled over to the fridge and leaned his cane against the counter. "Trying to get your boss drunk?"

"I'd settle on loosing him up a little." Belle put the chicken into the pot. It sizzled.

He chuckled. "Is that your subtle way of saying I'm uptight?"

"You closed a whole restaurant just so you could eat alone."

"I don't eat alone. Usually you join me for dinner."

"Yes." She looked at him and stirred the chicken with a wooden spoon. "Do you mind when I do that?"

"Not at all."

She loved that answer. Her hope rose again, as did her courage.

He opened the fridge and pulled out the white wine. "That's a 2010 Wild Horse Unbridled Chardonnay," he said, sounding startled.

"Yes. We need 80 ml of it."

"And we'll use it to cook?" He looked shocked at that thought.

Grinning, Belle added the rice to the chicken and gave everything a good stir. "Only the best ingredients produce the best dish."

Gold inhaled while he poured the wine into the glasses, then he put the bottle back into the fridge. "It already smells great."

"I need the wine now."

"Of course." After he grabbed his cane and the measuring glass, he returned with the wine. She poured a little on the rice then added some of the stock, until the chicken and the rice were covered, before she stirred it.

"You'll need to deglaze it with 20 ml of the wine and about 60 ml of the stock," she explained.

"But you just poured it in!?"

"It's all in the wrist." She cooked this dish every day at least three times.

"I like watching you cook."

"Thank you." Her heart skipped another beat. "I like having you here."

"It smells even better now." He stepped closer and placed a hand on her back. "What's next?" he asked.

She turned her head and he was right next to her. If she'd be braver, she'd kiss him. Instead she said, "I could use some wine."

"I get it."

"No," she took his arm and smiled. "I get it. You need to stir the risotto." Belle poured the rest of the wine into the glass jug with the stock and handed it to him. "Pour some of it on it, whenever the fluids vaporized. But not too much!"

"Okay …" He swallowed and took the wooden spoon from her.

"Don't worry, you can do this." She brushed her hand over his arm and he smiled before she went to get the two glasses of wine.

When she returned with them in hand, he just added some more of the stock.

"Am I doing this right?" he asked without taking his gaze from the risotto.

He looked so focused, it was adorable. She put down his glass and ran her now free hand over his shoulder. "You're doing it perfectly."

He was so concentrated on the risotto, he didn't even stop to sip on his wine. When she told him, he could drink something, he just shook his head. It had her laughing. Good thing she had made so many preparations, before he had come, so she could just stand next to him and touch him and watch him. It was perfect, though it got harder and harder to control the urge to kiss him. When he poured in the last of the stock, he looked at her again but without stopping to stir.

"What do I do now?" he asked.

"Now you add some nutmeg." She handed the nutmeg and the rest. He rasped some into the pot until she told him enough.

"Now it's time for a taste." Belle took a fork from a drawer right to her left and spiked a tiny piece of chicken. She offered it to him. "Try it."

He took the chicken from the spoon. As he chewed, his eyes closed in delight. "It's delicious," he said when he opened his eyes again.

Then her lips were on his and she heard how the spoon dropped to the floor. She nibbled on his bottom lip before she pulled away. He stared at her. What the hell did she do? He dropped the wooden spoon. When he cradled her face with both hands, she pulled in a sharp breath. It felt like time stopped when he tilted his head. Her eyes fell shut when his lips touched hers. Such tenderness …

She moaned wrapped her arms around his waist. His tongue traced the seam of her lips and she keened.

The risotto sizzled. And Belle could smell it burn.

Damn it!

She pulled away from Gold. "Crap," she said and pulled the pot from the hot stove and turned it off.

Gold stepped away from her, his hands held up. "I'm so sorry."

She entwined her hands with his. "Do you want to stop?" she asked softly.

He shook his head. So she kissed him again and again. And again. His arms wrapped around her waist and she played with his hair. Gosh, kissing him was wonderful. The way he tasted, the way he smelled and felt. The way he touched her. His strong, warm hands caressed her back. She couldn't get enough of him. Eagerly, she pulled of his tie. as soon as it fell to the ground, she sighed happily and pressed her upper body against his. He chuckled. For that she kissed him again. She was already wet for him.

They both fumbled at each others clothes. For him it was easier, he just needed to pull down the zipper on the back of her dress. Belle had to fight with the stupid buttons of his shirt. After she slipped out of the arms of her dress and it dropped to the floor, he took pity on her and pulled the half opened shirt over his chest. So of course she attacked his belt. Though she got distracted and allowed herself to caress his erection once or twice, she handled that task much better. His groans were a good incentive.

Then they rid her of her bra and his eyes widened, when the condom fell out. She blushed. "I kinda planned on seducing you tonight. I hope you don't mind."

He kissed her gently. "Not at all."

She moaned when his hands covered both her breasts. His thumbs brushed over her hardened nipples and she keened. He kissed her again.

When they both were completely naked, she pulled him to the ground and straddled his thighs. With her hands pressed against his chest, she made him lie down for her. Smiling, she trailed his throat and his chest with kisses. He was making the most wonderful sounds. She kissed his ribs, his stomach, his belly button. His hands in her hair stopped her from going lower.

"Belle, please," he groaned, his voice was heavy with desire. That alone would've been enough to arouse her.

She sat back up and took the condom from the ground. Her hands were shaking when she tried to open the condom package. He covered her hands with his and made her look at him.

"Are you sure?" he asked, lifting his head from the ground.

She lifted their hands and kissed his knuckles. "I'm sure, love."

He smiled and took the condom from her. His hands were shaking too, but he managed to open the package and put on the condom.

They looked into each others eyes while she guided him into her. He felt fucking fantastic inside her! She leaned forward and kissed him, her hips rocking gently against his. he groaned into her mouth and his hands went to her waist, to her ass, to her hips. She fastened the pace until they both came undone.

Afterwards they lay in each others arms. The floor was cold, but she didn't care. Her hand caressed his chest, while one of his played with her hair. Though this felt wonderful, she hadn't done the one most important thing yet.

"I kinda lied to you earlier …"

He rubbed his hand over her back. "About what?"

"Tonight wasn't so much about seducing you, it was so I could tell you I love you," she said quickly before she lost the courage again. "Because I do love you."

He pulled in a sharp breath.

"You don't have to say anything," she added. She didn't feel just naked, she felt exposed. "I don't expect you to feel the same, I just wanted you to know."

"I love you too," he said. "I love you so, so much." he kissed the top of her hair. She lifted her head and they shared the sweetest kiss.

"Merry Christmas," he said.

She laughed and kissed his nose. "Merry Christmas to you too." The position was uncomfortable for her neck, but she didn't cared. She kissed him again.

"I'm sorry the food got burned."

"I can start again, no problem." She lifted her head and looked at him. "You hungry?"

He blushed. "Very."

"I've prepared a tiramisu if you're willing to start with dessert."

"I love tiramisu!"

"I know." She kissed him once more before she got up to get the dessert out of the fridge. This Christmas Eve would be all about making love, she thought grinning.