Summer time and I think barbeques and picnics. My choice is hamburgers on the grill. There are all different types of hamburgers made with all types of meat. While beef is the most obvious, there are turkey burgers and tofu burgers. Hamburgers were first thought to appear in the 19th or early 20th century, the result of industrialization and need for quick meals. But similar foods already existed. A Roman cookbook, Apicius dated back to 4th century, notes a beef, isicia omentata, served as a baked patty of beef mixed with pine kernels, black and green peppercorns and white wine.
In my story, The Game’s A’Foot from the novella collection, Welcome to Havenport, the heroine’s sister is a chef who makes dynamite Kobe beef burgers with truffles. The Ultimate Wagyu, Foie Gras & Truffle Burger from D’Artagnan was my inspiration.
Here is the excerpt from The Game’s A’Foot. I hope you enjoy it.
“I miss you, too.” His words melted the one hundred seventy-five miles between them. For now, the phone would do. Beth Holmes, the real name of romance author Beth Alexander, sat in the sun porch of her childhood home in Havenport, Rhode Island. Family pictures and years of mementos from past holidays artfully filled the walls and tables.
Delicate white curtains danced as a warm summer breeze filtered through several open windows. The fresh smell of the salt air and rhythmic pounding of the surf provided a soothing backdrop. Bittersweet Jack, the last book in the Jack Daniel series, rested in her lap. Her hand traced the familiar face on the back of the dust cover. Author JD Watson. The JD Watson. Her JD Watson.
“I’m glad this class is over. I’m eager to write our own story.” Jarred’s warm whiskey voice set loose butterflies that fluttered in her stomach. Did he mean their collaboration on the new mystery series or their own blooming romance? She put the book aside on a stack of papers, sank back into the overstuffed club chair, and picked up a glass of sweet iced lemonade from the side table.
A candid picture of the family and Jarred taken last Christmas caught her attention. Her sudden fall off the best-seller list in December, and the cancellation of the next book in her Jo Dee series, had flushed her career down the toilet. How easily she’d blamed everyone, even top-selling author JD Watson. That was until Jarred stepped into her life, but that’s another story.
“How soon will you be here?” No reason to hide her eagerness. They were past playing games.
“I’m on my way to meet Matt Lyons for a quick cup of coffee before I leave. I should be in Havenport in time to take you to dinner.”
“Take me,” she half teased in a soft and seductive voice. “Afterward we’ll have a quiet meal here.”
“Sounds inviting.” The voice on the other end was soft, male, and mellow. “I may sign up to teach another master’s class in New York City if I can expect this type of welcome home.”
“Not an option.”
Jarred’s soft chuckle, the one that drove her crazy from the roots of her hair to her girlie parts, washed over her in a rush of heat.
She shared him with his students and suffered through the past three weeks without him. Now she wanted him to herself. Dinner on the patio with soft music and a glass of wine by the fire pit sounded heavenly. She could be the appetizer or dessert. Perhaps both. The playful idea, along with the expectation of his tender touch, made her melt into the soft cushions. She tried to remember which store displayed the cute peach silk chemise that revealed enough skin to drive him crazy. It would come to her. “Say hello to Agent Matt for me.” Beth abandoned the chair for the window.
She looked at the wind sock in the yard, the wisp of the clouds in the July sky, and the full sails of the boats as they tacked offshore. Everything reinforced why she loved Havenport. The town was perfect. The house was perfect. Jarred was perfect.
“When will Matt be back to Havenport? I want to introduce him to Bernice. She’ll be here tomorrow. It’s time my sister catered more than other people’s weddings.” Mrs. Bernice Lyons. That would be perfect.
“Your sister is awesome and not only because she concocts the best hamburger I ever ate, but let’s not have them marching down the aisle before they meet.”
“I’ll try to contain myself.” Hamburger. For pity’s sake. The Kobe beef burger topped with exotic truffles on a brioche bun sold for one hundred fifty dollars at one of Boston’s top restaurants.
“Contain yourself. You? I’ll believe that when I see it,” Jarred muttered. “What’s on your agenda today, besides writing?”
“I don’t know why I let the town council talk me into co-chairing the July Fourth celebration.” Her biting tone wasn’t meant to deceive him. She was very aware why she agreed. The offer at Christmas played to her wounded ego.
“They convinced you Beth Alexander would draw more people than last year’s co-chair. Even Jean agreed.”
“Yeah, easy for Jean to say. She’s my agent with no idea what it takes to run an event like this. More to the point, she’s not in Havenport herding cats. So why am I doing this?”
“Because you love it. You whip up people with your passion. That’s how you convinced me to do the book signing with you at the fair tomorrow.”
“If I remember correctly, I ‘whipped you up with my passion’ quite nicely before you left. You didn’t complain.” Images of their last night together flashed in her mind. They’d spent the day at the beach.
He wore his diving brief, which left nothing to the imagination. His broad shoulders, well-defined abs, and trim waist were romance-cover worthy. Dark wavy hair set off hazel eyes, which held a look of warmth and desire. Their lovemaking was more than heart-stopping strokes and touches. Much more. She leaned her forehead against the cool glass of the porch window to counter the heat threatening to burn her to a crisp.
“You still there, or did I hit a dead zone?”
“I’m here. Lost in the vision of ‘whipping you up.’” She stepped to the side table, breaking the conjured spell, and took a long drink of lemonade. The tartness quenched her thirst, but didn’t satisfy her other craving. That had to wait until Jarred got home.
“Yeah, me, too.” His voice rumbled with a soft, teasing laugh that he usually combined with a smart-ass Bruce Willis smirk.