I’m considering starting a new blog–one where I combine two of my favorite loves–books and food. My characters are often sitting down to a great meal! (Maybe this is because I love them and I want them to be well-nourished?) My thought is to provide a recipe for some of the food my characters eat and an excerpt from the book. And, if it’s successful, I’d open it up to my writer friends and see if they’d also like to post their recipes and book excerpts. Here’s an example of what such a post would look like.
This is an excerpt from my novella, Stuck With You, which, by the way, is free for a few days. Get Your’s Here
At Grammy’s insistence, they had stopped at McDonalds on their way to Newport so that they wouldn’t be shamefully hungry at Kayla’s bridal shower. Andie climbed from the car and followed her mom and grandmother past the Mercedes and BMWs lining the street. She hung back when her mom pushed open the gate leading to a three story Colonial. Roses in every shape and color bordered the brick walk-way. She inhaled the warm ocean air laced with the smell citrus trees.
Andie reminded herself of the missionaries and the devastated homes in the Philippines. She imagined the grinding poverty of most of the world and compared it to the Dodd’s grandiose opulence. She decided that she hated the warm cranberry double doors with the brass lion-head knockers and, therefore, she must also hate all of the Dodd’s: Mrs. Dodd, Mr. Dodd and especially Grayson Dodd.
The bell chimed when Grammy Dean pushed it, and seconds later, Kayla, dressed in a green silk sheath, flung open the door. In her typical over-the-top exuberance, Kayla screamed when she saw them. She threw her arms around first her grandmother, then her aunt and finally Andie.
“I’m so glad you could come,” Kayla said, taking her grandmother’s hand and pulling her into the house. “I know it’s so far for you.”
She made it sound as if they lived in Kansas instead of the canyon twenty miles away.
“This is a really beautiful home,” Carol said.
Kayla flipped her long blonde hair over her shoulder and smiled at her aunt. “And the people that live here are just as beautiful on the inside as their house is on the outside.”
Andie frowned at the tapestry rugs on the wide planked wooden floors, the grand piano near the massive stone fireplace and the family portrait hanging above the mantle. She stopped in the hall, rooted to the carpet while her cousin, grandmother and mom passed through the dining room and a pair of open French doors.
Laughter floated from the conservatory. The smell of grilled shrimp mingled with fresh baked rolls hung in the air, beckoning her to the party, but Andie stood frozen in the hall, staring at the painting.
A beautiful woman with her blonde hair tucked into chignon and dressed in a lace dress sat in a chair. A man that looked like a young George Clooney in a dark suit with a maroon tie stood behind her, his hand on her shoulder. Two little blond, blue-eyed boys dressed in gray three-piece suits stood on either side of their mother. One wore glasses.
“Would you like to meet my family?” asked a familiar voice. “Or are you okay just studying them?”
Andie put out a hand to brace herself against the wall. She closed her eyes, took a steadying breath and turned to face the voice and face she thought she knew. She blinked at Grayson Dodd, or the Grayson Dodd clone.
“Are you Grayson?” she asked.
He shook his head and held out his hand. “I’m Whit.”
Andie swallowed and placed her hand in his. Warmth tingled up her arm, and she dropped his hand as if it were poisonous. “Did I break your glasses?”
“Desperate times call for desperate measures.”
High heels clicked into the room, and Andie tore her gaze away from Whit’s blue eyes to watch his mother hurry toward them. Although at least fifteen years must have passed since the portraiture was taken, Mrs. Dodd hadn’t changed at all, other than trading the lace dress for a silk blue tunic that perfectly matched her eyes.
“Are you bushwhacking the guests?” Mrs. Dodd scolded her son. “You do know that boys are not welcome here, right?”
Whit gave his mom a tight smile. “Mom, this is Andie Hart. She’s Kayla’s cousin.”
Andie tried not to flinch under Mrs. Dodd’s scrutiny as she considered the fact that Whit Dodd knew not only her name, but also her parentage.
“Aside from your coloring, you look very much like her,” Mrs. Dodd said, after running her gaze up and down Andie, probably taking note of Andie’s Payless shoes and designer knock-off skirt and blouse. “Are you a model as well?”
“Andie is a photographer,” Whit said. “A very talented one.” He casually dropped his arm around Andie’s shoulders and pulled her against him, bumping his hip with hers. He leaned as if to nuzzle her ear and whispered, “Play along with me.”
She blinked up at him, puzzled by not only him but also the buzzing in her blood. Her stomach felt jumpy. Could she blame it on the McDonald’s snack-wrap?
“I have your camera.” His eyes locked with hers.
Sudden tears sprung in Andie’s eyes. “You do?”
“How do you two know each other?” Whit’s mom wagged her finger between the two of them.
Whit smiled a slow, shy grin. Andie couldn’t read his expression at all, but his mother seemed to.
More clicking high heels. “Is this where the real party starts?”
The woman had long, jet black hair and an Angelina Jolie figure draped in a silver, sparkly dress. Her red lips turned pouty when she took note of Whit’s arm around Andie’s shoulders. Andie tried to shrug him off, but he pulled her close.
“Nessa, this is Whit’s friend, Andie Hart,” Mrs. Dodd said.
Somehow she had graduated from Kayla’s cousin to Whit’s friend. The thought made her head feel light.
Vanessa turned to Andie with large, violet colored eyes that held a lot of questions and something else…something Andie didn’t know how to define. Andie took a deep breath, deciding that she couldn’t understand any of these people. There was an undercurrent of communication that was passing her by. And that was just as well.
“It’s nice to meet you, Andie. How did you and Whit meet?” Vanessa cocked her head and showed her teeth. Was that supposed to be a smile?
Andie touched her necklace as a bizarre image of Vanessa ripping into her throat crossed her mind.
“She’s Kayla’s cousin.” Whit tucked Andie a little tighter to his side.
He was warm. And he smelled really good.
She did not want to play along. She wanted to leave, but how? She couldn’t very well ditch her mom and grandmother, and she really needed her camera. She had spent a frantic evening searching and making phone calls… thinking it was lost. She had even called Grayson Dodd. He had told her he hadn’t seen it, but now that she thought about it, he had sounded…off. Like he was trying not to laugh. Andie narrowed her eyes, determined not to play along…as soon as she got her camera. She turned to Whit. “You have my camera?”
He smiled at her, and his eyes said he was glad that she was beginning to catch on. He touched her lips with his finger. Andie staggered from surprise, but Whit kept her upright. Not liking the way her knees sagged, she straightened her spine and resisted the temptation to bite him.
“You’re a photographer?” Vanessa asked.
“More of a photo journalist,” Whit said, removing his finger. “You should visit her blog.” He looked at his mom. “She’s very charitable. Like Mother Teresa with a camera.”
Whit Dodd had looked at her blog. Very few people looked at her blog. At least in the United States. For some reason she had a healthy readership from Russia. She was constantly getting comments from Omars and Vlads. Which she had always thought the weirdest thing…until now. This was definitely getting weirder.
Vanessa took Andie’s arm and pulled her away from Whit. “Come on, sweetie. The party has started, and if we don’t get in there, we’re going to miss all the chocolate.” She wrapped her arm around Andie’s waist and steered her away from Whit’s laughing eyes.
Andie glanced back at him, and he grinned. “I’ll bring your camera by tonight.”
“Tonight?” Mrs. Dodd raised her voice so Andie could still hear. “Why not just give it to her now?”
Good question. Andie wanted to stay and hear the answer, but Vanessa pulled her through the French doors and into the thick of the bridal shower.
The conservatory was probably the most beautiful room that Andie had ever seen. Beveled windows let in the early afternoon light. Ceiling fans gently blew a warm breeze around the women seated on the wrought iron chairs with cushions almost as colorful as the flowers growing in pots scattered throughout the room. Andie instinctively headed toward her mom and grandmother, both seated at a table slightly set apart from where Kayla and her friends sat. Carol had a phony smile stamped on her face, and Grammy Dean looked tired. Both of their face lit up when Andie entered the room. Vanessa tried to lead Andie to Kayla’s table, but Andie took the chair closest to her grandmother. Vanessa dropped into the chair beside her.
“Where have you been, sweetie?” Carol asked. “You missed the soup.”
“Bisque, mother,” Carol corrected. “It was lobster bisque.”
“Whatever it was, it had champagne in it!” Grammy ran a tongue over her upper lip. “It was so yummy. I can’t wait to see what they bring out next.”
Vanessa studied Carol and Grammy through narrowed eyes, measuring them against a standard Andie knew nothing about. Andie reached out and clasped Grammy’s hand. “Kayla looks happy, doesn’t she?”
“She always looks happy,” Grammy said. “That’s why she got those acting bits when she was so young.” Grammy turned her big, watery eyes to Andie. “You could have been an actress too if you had just smiled more.” Grammy sighed. “Old sober-sides, your grandfather always called you.”
Andie gave her grandmother a sober-sides smile and looked out the window at a cluster of citrus trees. White blossoms fluttered through the air while Andie tried to think of ways to escape. There had to be a hundred, if not a thousand, excuses she could offer for ditching Kayla’s shower, but she could think of only one surefire way of getting back her camera.
She had to talk to Whit. Again. And since talking to Whit was worse than eating a shrimp salad covered in a mint julep dressing and watching Kayla coo over her pile of ridiculously expensive and impractical gifts, suffering through the lunch with a smile seemed like the right thing to do. She would find Whit after the dessert, which, if she were lucky, would include raspberries.
“So, tell me how you and Whit met again,” Vanessa said, bracing her elbows on the table and leaning in.
Andie speared a spinach leaf and considered an appropriate answer that didn’t include the words “none of your beeswax.” What was there about Vanessa that made her belly twist? Was it fair to dislike someone just because she was beautiful, rich and wore too much perfume? The money and beauty were probably gifts she was born with—just like someone else was born with a gimpy leg or a speech impediment—and maybe the perfume was trying to compensate for something. Maybe she had halitosis or athletes foot. “Not long.” She chewed and swallowed a forkful of salad before she wiped her lips on a napkin and asked, “How about you? How long have you known Whit and Grayson?”
“Forever. Our daddies met at Harvard.” Vanessa paused and flashed Andie a bright smile. “I adore their family. Sophie is my girl crush.”
Andie nodded, guessing that Sophie had to be Mrs. Dodd since the family portrait didn’t have any other females.
Carol slipped back into her chair, her cheeks red and her eyes unusually bright—even her blond curls looked bouncier.
“Where did you go?” Grammy Dean demanded in a voice that shushed the babbling Kayla.
All the women at the bridal shower turned to hear the answer. Carol’s cheeks turned a deeper pink. “Just to the ladies room,” she said in a stage whisper. She nodded an apology to Kayla, who flashed her aunt a smile and picked up another present to unwrap.
“Well, you missed the bird costume,” Grammy huffed.
“The bird costume?” Carol and Andie asked at the same time.
Vanessa put down her fork. “It was a Fredericka negligee.”
“Looked more like a flamingo suit to me.” Grammy laughed and pointed her fork at Carol. “And you missed it. Which is a shame. You could use a little warbling and chirping.”
“Oh, mother. How many times do I have to tell you?” Carol rolled her eyes. “I don’t have any time or interest in warbling or chirping.”
“Warbling or chirping?” a male voice echoed.
Andie twisted in her chair to watch Whit saunter into the room with her camera case in his hand. Her stomach did a flippy-twist thing, because she was relieved to see her camera, and because it always did that when he was around.
“Weatherford!” his mother scolded. “You know this is no man territory.”
“Oh, he’s so cute,” Vanessa crowed, “let him stay.” She patted the empty chair beside her.
Andie’s heart did another somersault while she waited for his response.
“I can’t.” Whit smiled and came to Andie’s table. “I had to return this.” He put the camera case on the table, placed his finger under Andie’s chin and kissed her. “I’ll see you tonight.”
After he winked at Carol, he strolled out of the room.
Wait. What just happened? Andie jumped to her feet.
“Oh honey, never chase after a man,” Grammy Dean said.
Carol’s fingers wrapped around Andie’s wrist. “She’s right, sweetie. Let him go.”
“B-but—” Andie stuttered.
“You’ll see him tonight.” Carol tugged on her wrist.
Andie glanced into her mother’s eyes and settled back into her chair.
Dessert arrived while Andie fumed and tried to sort out all of her questions. The chocolate soufflé with raspberry sauce helped her mood. Some. But the tingling on her lips just wouldn’t go away.
Unsalted butter, room temperature, for baking dish
1/4 cup sugar, plus more for baking dish
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped, or semisweet chocolate chips (1 cup)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 large egg yolks, lightly beaten, plus 4 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 1 1/2-quart tall-sided baking dish. Coat with sugar, tapping out excess. Set dish on a rimmed baking sheet.
- In a large heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, combine chocolate, vanilla, and 1/4 cup water. Stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, 20 minutes.
- Stir egg yolks into cooled chocolate mixture until well combined. Set souffle base aside.
- In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat egg whites and cream of tartar on medium-high until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Gradually add sugar and beat until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 5 minutes (do not overbeat).
- In two additions, fold egg-white mixture into souffle base: With a rubber spatula, gently cut down through center and lift up some base from bottom of bowl. Turning bowl, steadily continue to cut down and lift up base until just combined.
- Transfer mixture to dish, taking care not to get batter on top edge of dish; smooth top. Bake souffle until puffed and set, 30 to 35 minutes. (Do not open oven during first 25 minutes of baking.) Serve immediately.
As a reader and a writer, would this blog be interesting to you? Anybody else love chocolate and raspberries?