Shortly after the husband left this morning to log his third oil well of the week, I started thinking about Easter food, and how our family historically has eaten barbecue. Which got me to thinking about the Easter scene in THE SECOND CHANCE CAFÉ. I made sure to time the book around it’s actual release date (I do that a lot) so Kaylie and Ten (and Luna and Mitch and Will) are all in the Easter barbecue scene at Meadows Land, the Meadows’ family sheep farm near Hope Springs. Here’s a snippet from that scene! Enjoy!
Shaking off the strangeness of the moment, she saw Ten walking toward her, a sugar cookie frosted with thick yellow icing in his hand. Flutters of unexpected delight tickled her as she breathed in, then worked their way lower to coil in her belly and burn. They made the next breaths she took a struggle, yet she held on to them anyway, digging her nails into her palms, letting the flutters fill her.
Ten said nothing as he stopped beside her, watching with her as the kids lined up at Luna’s command. She raised one hand overhead until all eyes were on her. Then with a flourishing sweep of a scarf, she brought her arm down to signal the race was on, jumping and clapping as the kids nearly mowed her down.
Kaylie was pretty sure the other woman was having more fun than the children. She bumped her elbow against Ten’s. Accidentally, she told herself, though she wasn’t sure that was the case. “Did you ever hunt Easter eggs when you were a boy? You and your brother and sister?”
He grunted. “Is this your way of getting me to talk about them? Or to find out why I don’t talk about them? Except, it seems, to you.”
“Either. Both.” It had actually been neither. She’d only been asking about eggs. But to know that he felt free to talk of them to her… Her heart tumbled at that, the honor, the privilege. She felt flushed with a satisfaction almost too intimate to bear.
Ten popped the rest of the cookie into his mouth, talked around it. “How ’bout I just say yes? My brother and sister and I hunted Easter eggs as kids.”
“That’s it?” she asked, looking up.
Brows furrowed, he looked down. “What more do you need?”
She was hungry for everything about him. His hair in the sun. His eyes on hers. His tongue flicking out to catch cookie crumbs. His Adam’s apple bobbing as he swallowed. “Did you hunt them at home? After Sunday school? With the other children in the neighborhood?”
“Again. All of the above,” he said, and turned back to watch the kids as if having changed his mind about sharing things about his family with her.
Fine, but he was the one who’d opened the door. “If you don’t talk to your sister, why did you ask her to come by?”
“Because you wanted to put in a garden,” he said, shrugging as if it were obvious. “And no one knows gardens like Indy.”
He’d done it for her. Put what she needed for her café above his desire for the separation from his family even Indy wasn’t clear on—a thought that had her returning to Winton and May and the way each looked to the other’s needs first.
“Thank you,” she said, asking, “What?” when he responded with a weighty sigh.
“Nothing,” he said, pinching the bridge of his nose. “You’re welcome.”
She reached for his arm, tugged him to face her. “No, it’s not nothing. What’s wrong?”
“Nothing’s wrong.” He puffed out his cheeks, then puffed out a gust of air. “I just don’t want you to think it was a tit for tat thing. I’m not expecting anything in return.”
“Anything?” Oh. “Like another kiss?”
“I’m not expecting another kiss, no.”
But the way he said it… “Do you want to kiss me again?”
She raised her chin, looked up at him, shading her eyes from the sun when it got in the way of her drinking him in…the way he ground his jaw, the stubble of beard he hadn’t bothered to shave, the curl of hair that cupped his ear because it wasn’t as long as the rest hanging over his collar.
She remembered the feel of it in her hands, the strands coarser than corn silk, and textured, like raffia, or hemp. She remembered his scent, and caught hints of it now, spicy and fresh and of the woods. His mouth had been fresh, too, wet and warm and sure. And the discoveries she’d made of his body…
She used the hand at her eyes to push her hair from her face, catching back strands stuck on her lips where she’d slicked them with her tongue. “I want you to kiss me again,” she said into the moment bubbled around them, close and fragile. “I want to kiss you.”
He said nothing as he lifted one hand, hooking a flyaway lock of her hair behind her ear. She leaned into his touch, the bubble tightening, the holiday crowd and noise and watercolor eggs fading into the watercolor distance.
She nuzzled her cheek to his hand, and he swallowed hard, his throat working around the words caught there. “You’re making it hard to say no.”
“Then don’t say it,” she said, wondering what he had done to her, because she was not herself at all.
“Time and place, sweetheart,” he finally said, as if it had taken him longer than he’d expected to find a response. “Do you think either is right?”
“No.” But that didn’t change any of what she was feeling.
“Later,” he said softly, leaning closer to whisper, “Promise,” against the shell of her ear. “You and me. No distractions.”