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Wednesday, June 30, 2021
RELEASE BLITZ: Angel's Promise by Aleatha Romig
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BOOK BLITZ: Back Home To You by Maggie Wild
“You’ve given me an idea,” Jamie said, as Harry scraped the last of the stroganoff from the bowl. “After the salmon incident, I started wondering if my recipe cards weren’t clear. It got me thinking that maybe you’d be a good tester. Maybe you could cook some of my kits and I can watch how you interpret what I have in my head.”
“You mean, if I can manage not to screw it up, anyone could cook it?”
“It’s okay,” Harry said. “I know where my talents lie and it’s not in the kitchen.”
Jamie raised an eyebrow, then lowered it again quickly. He could always turn a comment into a sexual innuendo, but that had been when he was a teenager.
Still, Harry laughed. “I’ll be your guinea pig as long as you don’t make me eat my burnt offerings.”
“Then Greek,” Harry said.
“All right,” said Jamie. “Roll up your sleeves.” He took a meal kit from the fridge and placed it in front of Harry. “I want you to make the meal as if I’m not here. Just follow the instructions so I can see exactly how you interpret them.”
Harry looked skeptical, but he gave her an encouraging nod. She put on an apron and got to work.
Jamie watched Harry tear open the packets of herbs and tip them into the bowl of yogurt. She seemed nervous, and he smiled to himself at the idea of having a reputation as a hard-nosed chef. He wished she hadn’t asked about the restaurant. Even now, it was still a sore spot for him. The failed business partnership had damaged his trust in others, and himself, and Jamie knew he needed to rebuild both if he was going to grow Local Goodness.
“Okay,” said Harry. She squinted at the card and placed a cucumber on the board.
Jamie handed her a sharp knife, one he knew could turn the cucumbers into paper thin slivers. Harry gripped the knife in one hand and stretched her fingers down the length of the fruit. She lifted the knife.
“Wait!” he yelled. “Fingers definitely aren’t in the recipe.”
“I’m not planning to chop them off but I have to hold this thing or it will roll away.”
“Can I show you?” he asked.
When Harry shrugged, he took her left hand and curled her fingers under so the tips of her nails rested on the cucumber’s skin. “This way, if you slip, you won’t lose a fingertip.” He showed her how to hold the knife, encouraging her to relax her wrist.
Holding Harry’s hand again after all these years sent a jolt of longing up his arm. Her slender fingers and delicate wrists were just as he remembered them. Her skin was as smooth as it had been back then, but it was a pampered smoothness now, softened with creams and lotions. She still kept her nails short and neat, but now manicured and painted with clean white tips instead of the purple glitter polish she’d worn the first time he had held her hand.
That day, they’d taken the train into town to see a movie about a boy from a mining town who dreamed of being a dancer. As they’d walked back to the station that evening, Harry talking about gender roles and old-fashioned beliefs, and how they had to be careful not to turn into their parents, Jamie had taken Harry’s hand. The evening air had chilled her fingers, but heat radiated from her palm. He loved the feeling of their skin touching, of being connected to her at one simple point. In an easy, fluid motion, she had slipped each of her fingers in between his and squeezed, knitting the pair of them together. Forever, Jamie had thought in his boyish fantasy.
“Show me again,” Harry said, pulling him back into the kitchen, back to the dangerously sharp knife that now hovered over her tender fingers.
Jamie blinked at the woman in his kitchen. He recalled the end of that date at the movies and, for a second, he pictured leaning in and kissing Harry again, tasting her lips, wondering how she might feel different from the Harry he had kissed back then, and how she might feel exactly the same.
He snapped back to reality.
Harry peered at him, a worried look on her face. “Are you okay?”
He stared at her for a moment, then laughed. “I was just thinking about the two of us together.”
“We were pretty cute back then, weren’t we?”
He straightened himself. Get your act together, Forrest. “Yes, we were. But that won’t get you out of learning some knife skills. So…” He positioned Harry’s hand on the knife. “Just relax. Don’t force it. Let the motion be fluid and let the knife take the lead. Focus on the knife and the vegetable will do its thing.”
Harry straightened her shoulders and closed her eyes. She took a breath, and Jamie thought she was going to say something more. Was she thinking about that first kiss, too? But then she shook out her wrist, gripped the knife, and sliced the cucumber into delicate slivers.