And being the chief cook and bottle washer in a family of six, having someone else cook a delicious dinner for me is such a treat - it's more than a meal, it's a gift.
Roxie, the heroine in my May US release FIRST TIME LUCKY?, has been the chief cook and bottle washer for years. For her food has been medicinal more than pleasurable as she tried to help her Grandfather through his illness. And she didn't just cook the food - she grew it. It became a lifestyle and a part of her identity. But now she's about to embark on a new phase in her life - she has a six point checklist and and airplane ticket... But first, there's something she wants from her new neighbour. Only he, Gabe, wants a few things himself... and one night he pushes to make Roxie see that he's more than just another item for her 'to do'.
Roxie eats veggie, so she knows that for Gabe to have made her a meal from scratch has taken real time and effort. It's the kind of effort that thrills her, but also scares her...
“Wow,’ she said, taking in the laden plates on the outdoor dining table. “Not sure the Bolly is good enough for this.”
“Don’t get too effusive, it’s only burger and chips.”
“Not your average burger and chips.” They were home-made bean patties, ripped-from-the-plant salad and freshly dug new potatoes cooked then crisped up something yummy. Her mouth watered, her appetite suddenly screaming. “You cooked all this?”
“I’m a single man, living alone,” he drawled. “You didn’t think I could cook?”
“Veggie, I know. Not bad for a beef farm boy, huh?” He popped the cork and poured the champagne into two glasses – frowning when that was enough to empty the bottle.
She picked up her fork and took a bite of the patty poking out from the toasted roll. Oh, wow. “You really made this from scratch?”
“Your amazement is insulting.”
She chuckled, a trickle of warmth flowing back into her chilled body. “I’ve never met anyone who makes veggie burgers like these. From scratch. Not even me.”
He pulled his phone from his pocket and swiped the screen a few times. “Okay, I got the recipe online. Here.”
She angled her head to read the page he’d pulled up. “The Heganator?” She didn’t just giggle, she squealed. “Hegan?”
“Yeah, cool recipes for the hot vegan male,” he turned the phone back to study it oh, so intently. Then he peered over the top of the phone, eyes twinkling. “I think it’s really written by a woman. Apparently hegans like burgers and barbecues.”
“You’re hot but you’re not a hegan,” she said, almost all her old flirt tone back.
“But I can cook like one on occasion.”
“It is amazing. I mean that in a good way,” she looked at him and her teasing smile died. “Thank you.”
Her heart was beating too hard. She couldn’t remember when someone else had cooked dinner for her. When someone had gone to so much trouble and thought. Someone who bothered to understand what she preferred to eat and not eat. Certainly not her lame ex-boyfriend. The joke died from his eyes too – leaving them warm and gentle and so deep...
She dropped her knife so she had the excuse to break away from that acute, wordless communication. Surely she was reading the wrong messages. It wasn’t caring she was supposed to see in him, it was supposed to be all carnal. But for a weird second there everything had gone upside down and inside out.
If you had a handsome hero on hand to prepare a lavish feast just for you, what would you have him make?!