Shannon here: Linda Wood Rondeau shares her recipe for romance plus winner’s choice of four of her books, print copy of It Really Is a Wonderful Life or The Other Side of Darkness or free ebook of I Prayed for Patience God Gave Me Children or her latest romantic suspense, Days of Vines and Roses. Comment on any post dated March 25 – 29 to get your name in the drawing. Deadline: April 6th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Linda:
A romance writer and her publisher husband, separated for fifteen years, spend a summer together in Sylvia’s Connecticut home. When reconciliation seems possible, malignant forces within the home threaten to keep them apart. The paranormal activity is not the only challenge facing them. Sylvia’s housekeeper is disabled following an automobile accident and Sylvia is on a deadline for her next suspense series, Johnny Gallant. Henry volunteers to take over the cooking, though the only thing he has ever cooked in his life are pancakes. In this scene, Henry, after rearranging the kitchen for a man’s convenience, attempts to prepare a special meal for Sylvia using her former housekeeper’s recipe. He has high hopes for the night beyond dinner.
Excerpt from Days of Vines and Roses by Linda Wood Rondeau:
The timer’s ding meant the meatloaf was done. Rosalie’s recipe suggested a cool-down of ten minutes before serving. Henry lifted the lid on the boiled potatoes, reciting the new housekeeper’s instructions on how to mash them. “Pour in a little milk and drop in some butter,” measurements as precise as a dollop of whip cream.
He tipped the pot over, using the lid to drain the liquid. The hot steam burned his hands causing him to drop the lid. He gasped as the potatoes tumbled into the dirty dishwater. Now what could he do? He couldn’t, wouldn’t confess this fiasco to Sylvia. How to cover up his mistake? He’d have to settle for tasteless instant. When the water boiled, he followed the instructions on the package then placed the pot to one side.
He looked into the refrigerator. As he studied the contents, the idea sprang at him like a plucked rubber band. Why not enhance the instant with sour cream? He measured a quarter cup into the hot mixture. “Even looks creamier.” He filled the kitchen with praise unto himself for his culinary craftiness.
Now for a side dish.
He remembered spotting a few oranges and kiwi fruit on the bottom shelf of the fridge. He’d forgotten where he’d moved the cutting boards. He searched cupboards with frenzied urgency then remembered to check the blueprint he’d made. Ah. Yes. The narrow cupboard next to the built-in dishwasher. He sliced a banana in two then put each piece into a goblet, filling the goblets up with the sliced fruit. For good measure, he splashed the contents with grenadine.
He found a kitchen ruler on top of Rosalie’s desk and sliced the meatloaf into uniform pieces, arranging them into a circular pattern, garnishing the array with a sprig of parsley.
He puffed a self-satisfied, “Good job, Henry.” His hopes for the evening depended upon a happy wife. He scooped the potatoes into a glass serving bowl and indented the mount of fluff with the backside of a wooden spoon then filled the valley with melted butter.
“Henry, you’ve outdone yourself. That’s what she’ll say.” Now, what should he use for dishware? His genius deserved Sylvia’s best. He danced a two-step into the pantry and selected what he assumed was her best china. At least, the service she used for her soirees.
He stacked a wooden tray with food, dishes, salt and pepper, linen napkins and any other useful item he could think of. Then he placed a purple rose bud on top of the heap. Not as precise as Rosalie’s but close enough. He ascended the spiral staircase. He held his breath until he reached the top. Would Sylvia invite him in or would Lana send him back down the steps?
Sylvia squealed when he entered the loft. “Henry, you remembered how much I love meatloaf.”
He stifled a relieved whistle.
No. He’d forgotten. However, confession would only spoil the mood. “I’m glad you’re pleased.”
He set the tray on the side table near the window. “How’s the book coming along? I’m sorry for all the interruptions. It should be quieter tomorrow.”
“I managed to get quite a bit done today, all things considered. I planned on quitting for the night when you brought supper. Will you join me? No need for you to eat alone, and there’s a spectacular sunset tonight.”
“I hoped you’d ask me to stay. See?” He pointed to the extra place settings. Drawing up two chairs, he motioned for Sylvia to sit. “After you, Mi’ Lady,” He waited for her to take a bite. “Well?”
He filled his fork and ventured a taste. It was good. Perhaps miracles happened after all, even for heathens like him. “Thank you, Lord,” he whispered.
“What did you say, Henry?”
“Nice afternoon, wasn’t it? Especially after the crazy morning we had.”
“I enjoyed it, too. Brought back a lot of memories.”
Red streaks dispelled the clouds, painting a scarlet sunset. “Sure is a beautiful sky. Tomorrow promises to be just as pleasant, weather-wise.”
When the room thickened with the night, Sylvia lit a candle. They talked beyond the moon’s descent, careful to avoid the touchy subjects, like Evan North and the garden project. He explained why The French Connection was his favorite movie. How he liked Popeye Doyle’s character because he was as clever as he was forceful.
Sylvia confessed the temporary mental paralysis she experienced each time she started a new book. How she feared a flop more than a python. Every revelation given and received stoked dying embers to life.
For Henry, this woman with whom he dined, with whom he shared intimate secrets bloomed before him like a rose at maturity. His desire begged to be satisfied. If he didn’t leave this instant, he’d behave like a Neanderthal and force himself on her.
He stood and extinguished the candle. “I suppose I should clear these dishes. Let you get your rest.”
She clutched his hand. “Don’t go, Henry.” Not since his honeymoon had her eyes glimmered with a desire that matched his own. “Stay with me tonight?”
Meatloaf Surprise Recipe
1.5 lb ground beef (lean or ground round is best)
1 cup Italian bread crumbs
1 15 oz can of spaghetti sauce
1 envelope French Onion Soup Mix
Season to taste with your choice of seasoned salt, hot pepper, tabasco sauce, oregano, Italian seasonings, onion salt
Mix together, using 1/3 of spaghetti sauce and form into a boat. Pour the remaining spaghetti sauce into the cradle. Cover and cook one hour at 350 degrees or until done.
Winner of the 2012 Selah Award for best first novel The Other Side of Darkness/Harbourlight, LINDA WOOD RONDEAU, writes stories of God’s mercies. Walk with her unforgettable characters as they journey paths not unlike our own. After a long career in human services, Linda now resides in Jacksonville, Florida.
Linda’s best-selling Adirondack Romance, It Really IS a Wonderful Life, is published by Lighthouse of the Carolinas and is available wherever books are sold.
These books are also available in ebook format along with her other ebooks by Helping Hands Press: I Prayed for Patience/God Gave Me Children and Days of Vines and Roses. Songs in the Valley is scheduled for release this fall by Helping Hands Press.
Readers may visit her web site at www.lindarondeau.com or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or find her on Facebook, Twitter, PInterest, Goodreads, or blogs: This Daily Grind, Geezer Guys and Gals, Writing Across Generations.
About the book – Days of Vines and Roses: When a romance writer and her estranged publisher husband attempt to reconcile, malignant forces and a pending lawsuit seem bent on keeping them apart. After fifteen years of marital disarray, Henry and Sylvia Fitzgibbons (aka Lana Longstreet) independently contemplate divorce, their relationship relegated to Henry’s infrequent visits to the Connecticut estate and their once a week meeting at Chez Phillipe’s in Manhattan. But, not yet. There is the matter of the decaying rose gardens and the thirtieth anniversary party the children are planning. Reluctantly, Henry moves in for the summer, steeled against the hauntings that torment only him. As reconciliation seems possible, the evil forces within begin to target Sylvia as well. Like the strangling vines within the rose beds, Henry and Sylvia have become victims of spiritual neglect. Their only hope remains in surrender to a power greater than the evil determined to destroy them.
Come back March 29th for Tanya Eavenson!