I write hero-fathers for a lot of reasons. I like being able to explore different facets of my characters' personalities. I like watching how they juggle their various relationships and responsibilities. And, let's face it, there's something sexy and endearing about watching a tough, badass hero showing his softer side.
After much deliberation I decided to go with this scene from Dream Under the Hill. I chose it in part because it reminds me of cooking with my own father. He also loved to cook and that was one of the last things I got to do with him.
Today was Palm Sunday, and if he’d still been a good Catholic, Nick knew he’d probably be getting ready to attend Mass. But the Church was something he’d long since fallen away from, and, Good Catholic was a category from which he’d been definitively barred, not just for his divorce and subsequent re-marriage, but for a whole host of supposed sins that, according to canon, had irreparably stained his soul. And while he would have liked to once again experience the feelings of Absolution and Grace, that he used to receive from the sacraments, all things considered, he didn’t miss it very much.
What he would miss, however, were mornings like these, cooking breakfast for his family, and sharing some quality time with his son, Cole.
“You having fun there, buddy?” Nick asked the little boy, smiling at the two year old’s attempts to stir the batter for this morning’s waffles. “You’ve been at that a while. Think it’s almost ready?”
Cole shook his head. “Noooo,” he replied, still gamely slapping the big wooden spoon around in the bowl; clearly intending to beat the batter into complete submission.
“All right, we’ll give it a little longer then,” Nick told him, chuckling to himself as he went back to tending to the orange hollandaise sauce he was making for the eggs Benedict.
Sunday breakfast was Nick’s new sacrament. It was also his favorite meal to cook these days, which was odd, considering the one item he’d always considered his signature dish—meatballs––wasn’t usually thought of as a breakfast staple. However, since his family was, once again, eating Sunday dinner at Lucy’s house, more often than not, breakfast had become his one chance to really cut loose.
Not that his breakfasts were always as elaborate as this morning’s meal, but today was special. It was his forty-fifth birthday, and he felt like celebrating.
He also felt like staying home, drawing the day out, enjoying the time with his family and friends. Which was partly why, when Sinead had invited them all to the inn for breakfast, he’d declined. Much as he loved his friend and appreciated her cooking, he didn’t want to go anywhere today.
The impulse surprised him. He’d realized only recently that he’d finally begun to think of this house as home.
After almost three years, it was long overdue. It was high time he learned to relax into his new life, to accept that fate had handed him a second chance, to stop worrying that it might all be taken away again.
He took the hollandaise off the heat, checked on the home fries warming in the oven, and then took a minute to stir the tomato sauce simmering on the back of the stove.
The aroma, when he lifted the cover off the pot, wafted him back to his own childhood, and made him happier than ever to be spending this time in the kitchen with his own son. “Does that smell good, Cole?” he asked.
The little boy nodded and mumbled, “Yeshh,” but absently, as he continued to concentrate on his work.
At this rate those waffles might end up being part of Monday’s breakfast. “You know you can stop that now, if you want,” Nick suggested, but as he half expected, Cole shook his head stubbornly. “All right, well, let me know if you get tired.”
The rest of breakfast was either warming in the oven or chilling in the fridge––less the eggs, of course, which he’d poach while the waffles cooked––leaving Nick with nothing to do but contemplate dinner.
After breakfast, he’d put the lemon-garlic chicken in the oven, make the meatballs, and stuff the manicotti. Once all of that was accomplished, there was only kale to sauté, eggplant to fry and a huge antipasto salad platter to assemble, with olives, artichokes and marinated mushrooms, roasted peppers and zucchini, a variety of cheeses, smoked meats, capers, anchovies, tuna––and anything else he could think of.
Lucy had offered to make the antipasto as part of her contribution to the meal, but again he’d declined. It was the first dish he’d been allowed to ‘cook’ as a boy helping his parents in the kitchen, and he’d retained a special fondness for it.
Maybe Cole would like to help him with that, too, he thought, smiling as he turned to his son again. “Okay, why don’t you give me that, now, Cole,” he said, attempting to gently pry the bowl of batter away from him.
Cole’s eyes narrowed. From the angry set of his chin and the way he was scowling, Nick was pretty sure he was getting ready to pitch a tantrum.
Quickly, he took the pan of home fries from the oven and spooned a few of them onto a plate. “Here, try these potatoes. Tell me if they’re good.”
For an instant, Cole’s eyes narrowed even more, but then he smiled, reaching eagerly for the plate in Nick’s hand. Nick smiled, too. Despite his own mother’s insistence that Cole was the image of Nick as a baby, Nick didn’t think it was an easy call to make. It was hard to determine which of his parents Cole most resembled. Until he smiled, and then it was no contest. He was Scout all over, when he smiled.
You can read more about the Oberon series HERE