Eat, drink and live well! That’s my motto. Really. It’s on the family crest. Or it would be, if I had one.
I’m pretty sure I starved to death in a previous life. That’s the only explanation I can come up with for my obsession with food. In this life, I’ve never wanted for food. My dad called me the human garbage disposal, because I’d clean my plate and the rest of the table’s, too. My husband and kids will tell you that I’m always worrying about the next meal…what we’ll eat, when we’ll eat, where we’ll eat. One of my friends (a writer) complained that whenever she came to my house I insisted on feeding her. Didn’t matter if it was meal time or not. She probably wouldn’t have said a word, except she was trying to lose weight.
So of course, food plays an important role in my books. All of them. It’s one way my characters show love or at least interest. It’s a case of art imitating life. And it’s not just the heroines who cook. In fact, my heroes are more likely to feed the women than vice versa. Because the way to my—uh—my heroines’ hearts is their stomachs. A butter knife tender, prime steak, grilled rare; a baked potato, loaded (Did you know that carbs and butter are aphrodisiacs?); a glass of red wine; a dessert that I/they don’t have room for.
In Sharing Hailey, breakfast is truly the most important meal of the day. It’s where Hailey’s brother learns that Hailey is dating his two best friends…at the same time. In Tempting Meredith, Charlie woos Meredith with Tex-Mex, and Blaine eases her fears during a no-pressure picnic in the woods. In Waiting for Ty, pizza and beer lead to a lip lock that leads to…well, it leads to more than garlic breath.
Thanks to the beer, Landon had a great buzz going. He was keeping up with the game better. It was close. Texas and Colorado exchanged leads several times. When the final horn sounded, Texas had the win by only two points.
Landon and Ty shouted, “Yeah!”
Jumping to his feet, Landon high-tenned Ty. As soon as their palms touched, Landon curled his fingers around his best friend’s. He didn’t think about it, didn’t plan it. He just did it.
Hands clasped above their heads, callused palm to callused palm, their gazes locked. Landon didn’t move, didn’t breathe, afraid to break the contact. The crowd’s cheers and the Longhorn band’s brass-heavy fight song merged to create distant white noise.
His heart pounded as he searched Ty’s expression for some indication of what he was thinking, what he wanted…or didn’t want. His eyes were dark and glittering. Anger? His lips were parted slightly, his breath coming in shallow puffs. Excitement?
Damn it. Why couldn’t he read him?
His skin stretched tight, hypersensitive, desperate for Ty’s touch. His lips drew closer, an intangible, invisible force playing tug of war with his better intentions.
Closer. His lids drifted to half-mast.
Closer. Ty’s scent, musky and masculine, overwhelmed his own.
Closer. Ty’s breath whispered against his lips.
Closer. Five beers and four years of longing conspired against him. Their lips touched, gently at first, as if by accident, an almost imperceptible summer breeze skipping over bare skin.
Meals are for sharing not only food but also the day’s ups and downs. They’re about creating tenuous bonds or strengthening existing ones. As many of the Café’s authors have revealed, meals are for seducing. You don’t even need the beer/liquor/wine. In fact, sometimes it’s best to avoid alcohol, as in this scene from Tempting Meredith where Meredith has sipped a little too much Don Julio 1942.
…she grabbed Charlie’s arms to steady herself. “Uh-oh. I think I drank too much. The room’s twirling. Twirling,” she said in a singsong voice as she followed the motion with her head, hoping to counteract the constant spiraling. Didn’t help. “Oh, yeah. It’s definitely twirling.” She tightened her grip on him.
“Are you gonna throw up?” he asked.
“I don’t throw up,” she said, offended at the suggestion. “Not when I’m drunk.”
“That’s good news.” He scooped her up, sending a fresh surge to the merry-go-round in her head.
He jostled her as he walked, but she didn’t mind. She liked being carried by Charlie. He was warm and safe, and he smelled good, like…like…well, like something good. She supposed he just smelled like Charlie, and that was good enough. Even with the world spinning, it was nice. He laid her on a cushy bed. She curled up on her side and closed her eyes. She’d just sleep for a few minutes until the world stopped spinning. Except it twirled faster when she closed her eyes, so she opened them and stared at a beige wall. Then the light went out and the wall darkened.
She struggled to sit up. “What are y’all doing?”
Blaine pointed the remote at the TV. “We’re gonna catch the end of the Rangers game.”
She crawled to the head of the bed and leaned against the headboard. “Then can we please have sex?”
“If you haven’t gone to sleep by then,” Blaine answered.
“I won’t,” she said happily.
Blaine and Charlie bounced on the bed, bumping her shoulders then settling against her like earmuffs. They spoke in low tones to each other, the drone of the game in the background. Following their conversation took too much effort. But it was nice simply sitting here alone with them. No one else around. Just the three of them like before. She’d been waiting weeks for this. She snuggled down between them and sighed. No, longer than weeks. Years, maybe. Or her whole life, except that was rather dramatic.
Their voices soothed. She slipped further down, and her eyelids drooped. The world stopped spinning.
Food, wine, and romance…where hearts meet (or not), secrets are revealed (or not), life slows to a more sensuous pace (or not), and characters eat, drink and live well (hopefully).
Do you have a food motto?