Spicing Things Up comes out March 21!

This week has been a mixed bag.  My grandson came home on a 10-day leave from marine basic training.  Our family was all excited about seeing him.  The poor kid came home with “recruit crud.” He said it’s common.  Luckily, his first night home, I had a family welcome home supper for him, including steaks, macaroni ‘n cheese, and chocolate chip bar cookies–his favorites.  We all thought he had a bad cold until two days later, his temperature spiked to 104, and his mom took him to the health clinic.  He had “community pneumonia.”  Also common, I guess.  After a super shot and antibiotics, he started to feel better–and that’s when his mom, my husband, and I all started coughing and feeling crappy.

We’re taking meds now, and we’ve watched lots of movies together.  Nate’s feeling almost up to par, so his brother drove from Indy on Friday to drink green beer with him on St. Pat’s day, but it hasn’t been the warm homecoming we expected.  Still, we got to see him.  He leaves tomorrow to go back to Indy to catch his airplane early Monday morning.  He’s going to be gone a while this time.  He says he’s going to try to come home healthy next time.

I had page proofs to finish while he was here, but did those around his schedule. Everything got done on time.  Nate leaves on Monday, and then my book comes out on Tuesday.  I hope that lifts my spirits.  Anyway, I thought I’d include a snippet from the book.  I hope you like it:


Autumn rain didn’t have the joy of its spring counterpoint.  It served as a foreboding for worse weather to come.  When they walked inside the bar, warmth greeted them.  There were more empty tables than usual, and Daphne saw Paula sitting at a table by herself.  She waved them over.

Mom tried to hide a grimace.  She didn’t approve of Paula’s small eyebrow ring and the stud in her cheek.  She glanced away from her tattoos.

But Paula was all smiles and cheerfulness.  “Hi!  I hear there’s a trip in your near future.”

Mom’s eyebrows shot up, surprised.  “Where did you hear that?”

“Tyne told us.  He said you’re going to Carolina.”

The eyebrows furrowed into a frown.  “Really?”  She shot a dirty look at Daphne.

Daphne hung her raincoat on a nearby peg and held up her hands in surrender.  “He asked me about meeting him for supper next week, and I said I could, because you’d be out of town.”

Her mother didn’t look happy.  Her dad looked downright nervous.

Daphne shrugged.  “I didn’t know your trip was a secret.”

“It’s not.”  Mom left it at that.

Paula looked back and forth between them, confused.  “What’s wrong with having Tyne feed your daughter?  He’s one hell of a cook.”

“We’ve heard.”  Mom’s tone could form glaciers.

Louise Draper came to take their orders.  Paula already had a hamburger, and they each ordered one, too.  Of course, Mom and Dad ordered theirs plain, no bun.

When Louise left, Daphne decided it was a good time to change the subject.  She turned to Paula.  “Tyne’s brother is a chef, too, isn’t he?”

Paula’s lips twitched.  She recognized a dodge tactic when she heard one, but Daphne had to give her credit.  She answered quickly, “Holden’s won lots of awards.  Of course, that’s what his parents expected.  They always thought Holden would do well.  He was a straight-A student and excelled at culinary school.  They never expected much out of Tyne.”

Daphne could feel heat rush through her veins.  “Why not?  It’s hard to miss his talent.”  Her voice held more of an edge than she expected.  Her mother narrowed her eyes.

Paula glanced at the bar where Chase was taking someone’s order.  “Tyne does things his own way, like Chase.  Neither of them care if they impress anyone or not, and that didn’t impress Tyne’s parents.  They’re big into status.”

Daphne fiddled with the paper napkin on her lap.  What was wrong with Tyne’s parents?  How could they miss how wonderful he was?  She’d have never guessed Tyne had any challenges in his life.  He seemed so sure of himself, so successful.  She’d assumed everyone encouraged him, like her parents encouraged her.

When no one said anything, Paula went on.  “Tyne came to Mill Pond to get experience, so that he can open his own restaurant someday.”

Mom breathed a sigh of relief.  “So he doesn’t plan on staying here?”

Louise returned with their drinks—water with lemon for Mom and Dad, wine for Daphne.

Daphne gulped down disappointment.  Most people moved to Mill Pond and never left.  They fell in love with the area.  But Tyne wasn’t like most people.  Her heart lurched, surprising her.  She didn’t want Tyne to leave.  She realized she’d liked him from the moment they met, when he wanted to rent the apartment above her shop.  It was an instant click.  She often found herself watching for him on the nature trail that wound behind her cabin.  Not because she had a crush on him or anything.  He was just fun to be around.  He was a good person.  A friend.



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