One of the many changes to The Arrangement that I am making in addition to thirty THOUSAND more words and professional edits before releasing in time for the 4th of July weekend is that each chapter begins with one of Jill’s (Simone’s or even Daniel’s) special recipes. So today as a sneak (or is that snack) peak I am sharing with you an excerpt from Chapter Two…and the recipe for mancakes, which will be featured on the cover…
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Dash of salt
1 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons melted butter
Dash of pure almond extract (5 to 7 drops)
Pre-cooked and crumbled bacon and sausage
Another egg…two or three for hungry SEALs
In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using a whisk or large fork, mix in the buttermilk and egg until well combined and smooth. Stir in the melted butter and almond extract. Heat a skillet, adding a touch of butter. Using a 1/4 cup, measure out the batter and pour into pan. When firm and golden brown on one side, sprinkle pre-cooked and crumbled meat mixture on the uncooked side and flip it. In a separate pan, fry an egg …or two (over-easy or sunny side up work best) while the pancake cooks on the other side. Top with maple syrup. Best served warm, wearing nothing but an apron, garter belt, stockings, heels and a naughty smile. But not if’n the kids are around!
Jill flipped another of the sweet breakfast treats in the small pan. This morning she had opted for the thicker American style batter that rose in the pan, a golden delight visually as well as its smell and taste.
Her brows creased in thought. It was amazing that two countries, which shared the same language and were in fact close relations, could have so many differences. She had barely been back in the United States for twelve hours and already she had run across at least a dozen different words or customs. Pancakes that were so thin you could see right through them seemed inconsequential in the grander scheme of things, especially in the bright morning light.
The mess that she had made of her life by hopping on the first available plane and coming three thousand miles to marry a stranger – that was consequential.
“Bel, you ready for another?” She asked the little girl playing quietly at the table with a Barbie doll. Turning around with another pancake poised on the spatula, she almost dropped the frying pan. The sight that greeted her gaze sent her heart into overdrive and pushed the air from her lungs.
Six foot plus of lean, muscular male filled the doorway between the kitchen and living room. His soft chocolate hair looked as if someone had just run their fingers through it. His matching beard was in disarray. His blue eyes held a sleepy, dream-like look that invited her mind to go places it should not. Most disconcerting of all, he wore nothing more than a pair of basic military issue white boxer shorts. Jill’s throat tightened further at the sight.
The man was beautiful. She knew that was not the correct word to describe this tough, macho-type man, but no other word fit. She thought of the Greek gods that she had read about in high school. Ares, the god of war. The man before her was the modern day reincarnation of Ares.
She tried to ignore the rush of heat that coursed through her blood and pooled distinctly between her thighs, a wetness that begged to be relieved. She was a woman after all. Any woman would feel the same, she assured herself. She almost jumped from her skin at the girlish giggles which echoed off the kitchen walls.
“Daddy,” Bel squealed. The twins, seated in matching Winnie the Pooh high chairs, simply hit their messy hands against the white plastic trays that surrounded them.
“I hope the girls didn’t wake you,” he said in a deep husky voice that caressed her skin and sent electric shock waves skittering along her spine.
“I hope you don’t mind,” she fumbled waving her hands towards the counter top where eggs, flour, sugar and milk sat among drippings of yellowish batter and white powder. “I suppose my body clock is still a bit off,” she smiled nervously by way of explanation.
“Mind? Lady, I woke to the smell of pancakes. Why the hell would I mind?” He paused and with a conspiratorial wink to Bel added, “As long as there are some for me.”
“Yes, Daddy. Jill saved you some, but she said not to wake you up,” the child explained through the gap where her front teeth had once been.
“I’ll put some more on while you get dressed,” Jill hinted as she turned back towards the low flame on the stove. The idea of sharing an intimate breakfast with him wearing nothing more than boxers might be appealing, but it was also more than a bit daunting given the misunderstanding that had resulted in her current uncertain future.
Still she doubted that the sight of this man in his bare feet and boxer shorts would quickly fade from her mind, if ever. More than likely her brain would file it away and bring it forth to haunt her erotic dreams in an empty bed for months and years to come.
“If you’re sure the girls aren’t bothering you,” he questioned once more.
Jill giggled under her breath as she thought, ‘It’s not the girls that are bothering me, commander.’ Over the years, British politeness had taught her to keep such thoughts to herself. “We have everything under control, commander,” she assured him, careful to keep her back towards him and her eyes straight ahead. “You should go get dressed. Your pancakes will be ready in a couple of minutes.” She would need that time to try and wipe his mostly naked form from her mind if she were to continue with polite indifference.
Just as she noticed that the pancake in the pan was almost brown on one side, an old idea popped into her head. She reached for the bacon and sausage that she had cooked earlier. She crumbled them onto the uncooked side of the pancake before flipping it. She grabbed another frying pan out of the cabinet and put it to heat on another burner. She broke an egg into it…then another.
It had been years since she had made man-catching pancakes as David had called them. She did not think she had made them since… But that was the past and considering how uncertain her future was she had no time to be contemplating her dead husband and the life they had once shared. And while Daniel made it plain that he had no interest in being caught, she figured that the least she could do to repay his hospitality in this awkward situation was a couple of special pancakes.