AND THE WINNER IS…
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Hiya, peeps! Some of you might know that I’m kind of an amateur foodie and that fellow Women and Wordster R.G. Emanuelle is, like, super foodie (psst…she’s a culinary school graduate AND a former personal chef…SRSLY).
So we thought we’d take our luuuuv of food and put it to work in an anthology with a few of our awesome author colleagues. The only stipulation? The story had to have food as a main component.
And all of our ministrations became the Rainbow runner-up All You Can Eat: A Buffet of Lesbian Romance and Erotica, published by Ylva.
Those colleagues are: Ashley Bartlett, Historia, Jae, Rebekah Weatherspoon, Cheyenne Blue, Karis Walsh, Victoria Oldham, Cheri Crystal, Andi Marquette, Jove Belle, R.G. Emanuelle, Sacchi Green, and Yvonne Heidt. From appetizers to entrees to full-blown dessert platters, we’re pretty sure you’ll find something on the menu you’ll like.
So how about a little taste? AND A CHANCE TO WIN A COPY???? See below for that.
In the meantime, here’s an excerpt from my story, “Sugar and ‘Shine,” which appears in the anthology and features Sunny Caldwell, who’s come back to her home town, to the family house for a spell so she and her brother can get it fixed up for sale. She’s just finished up some painting for the day and now she’s taking a break. But Sunny didn’t count on a surprise visitor bearing gifts…
Daddy could make anything and fix anything. Moonshine was one of this talents, and he’d gotten the recipe from his daddy, who got it from his daddy before that. All the way back to the boat, he’d liked to joke, but Sunny figured it probably wasn’t a joke. And now Jimmy continued the family tradition, right down to keeping it chilled. She closed the fridge and ate two pieces of pizza cold and chugged the rest of the Coke. On a whim, she searched the brand new kitchen cabinets that Jimmy had installed, and smiled when she found it. An empty Mason jar, probably left over from Daddy’s last batch. He probably knew she and Jimmy pilfered ‘shine for fun back in high school, but he never said anything, only told them that if they ever got in trouble to call him.
She took the jug out and poured the Mason jar half-full, kicked her flip-flops off, and went out onto the front porch, where Jimmy had replaced the swing with a newer model. She sat down and stared past the big magnolia that shaded the front of the house to the street, and she remembered all the summers she’d spent tearing around the block with some of the neighbor kids. Wasn’t a yard that could keep them out, and bedtimes didn’t matter because they’d sneak out anyway and play baseball in the warm humid night air until teen hormones kicked in and instead of baseball, they’d meet friends at the Sonic, where they pretended they were bigger and badder than any of them actually were, and they’d sneak peeks at classmates they thought were cute.
Sunny thought about the crushes she’d had on her female classmates and how she had buried those deep, until the night she and Antoinette Robinson shared a jar of Daddy’s moonshine after a football game on the edge of town, where the tang of the Gulf Coast air mixed with the heavy, rich smell of Alabama cropland. And as harsh as that moonshine tasted in her own mouth, it was honey on Antoinette’s lips and it was spicy on her tongue, and Sunny decided that was the shit, there in her daddy’s beat-up panel truck, making out with Antoinette Robinson like they were starving for each other’s mouths.
But like that moonshine, once it was gone, so was Antoinette, unless she was looking to get past one of her many boyfriend dramas. Sunny obliged, for the most part, because she liked how it felt to hold and taste a woman, and she liked how Antoinette’s brown skin contrasted with hers when they fooled around, and how Antoinette would joke that they were a chocolate-vanilla swirl ice cream cone. And then she’d go back to her parents’ big house on the rich side of town and make up with her boyfriend a few days later. Sometimes it hurt, but most times Sunny shrugged it off. Money, culture, and color were intractable lines here, and after high school, everything would change, anyway.
She took her first sip, ready for the familiar taste of Daddy’s ‘shine, but as it rolled across her tongue, she realized right away that it wasn’t Daddy’s. It had hints of his recipe, but this was all Jimmy, who liked to add a little bit of fruit to his mixes. This one had peach in it, which softened it to almost a vodka smoothness, and she thought of Antoinette’s cousin Alexia, who proved herself to be a confidante and sometime crush-girl for Sunny, back in high school. Where Daddy’s moonshine made her think of the harsh edges of Antoinette, the smooth, sweet notes of Jimmy’s made her think about Alexia, and made her wonder what could have happened.
The heavy late evening air coated her skin and raised a layer of sweat, and it made her think about high school summers, and sleeping on the porch when it was too hot in the house, Gulf breezes offering a little relief. She took a sip, and savored it as it flowed down her throat.
A dark sedan pulled up in front of the house. Sunny stopped the swing’s motion with her feet and watched as the driver’s door opened and a woman emerged, wearing a tight black evening dress that accentuated her shoulders and chest. As she approached, the dress moved with her athletic frame in ways that took Sunny’s imagination to places she probably shouldn’t go.
“I’ll be damned,” Sunny said, loud enough for Alexia to hear. She set her drink on the floor and stood. “All dressed up and nowhere to go?”
Alexia laughed as she took the three steps onto the porch. “Give me a damn hug, Caldwell.”
“Well, all right.” She laughed as Alexia grabbed her and held her close for a few moments, and it felt way better than it should have.
“Mmm, girl.” Alexia stood back and held Sunny at arm’s length. “Military life has been good to you.” She smiled. “And the real thing looks much better than a photo on Facebook.”
“Well, clearly lawyering has been good to you. And your pictures do not do you justice at all.” She was wearing her hair short these days. Shorter than Sunny had ever seen it, and it drew attention to her face, and her warm dark eyes and her inviting, full lips.
“Flattery will get you everywhere,” Alexia said with a little purr. “Feel like some company? Or were you going to work until dawn, as Jimmy said he expected?”
Sunny laughed. “In his dreams. And I’d love your company. When did you get to town?”
“Last weekend. And you were supposed to let me know when you got in.”
She gave her a sheepish shrug. “Guess I needed a couple of days to process.” She motioned toward the house with her head.
“Oh, girl.” She shook her head. “Sorry I got up in your business.”
“Nah, it’s okay. I was going to call you tomorrow.”
Alexia’s expression was pure skepticism and Sunny grinned.
“Really. I was. I always liked hanging out with you. That hasn’t changed. Unless you’re an asshole lawyer instead of a cool one and you’ve got me fooled.”
“There are those who would say that I am the former.”
“But I knew you when, so I can knock you right off that pedestal. Anyway, I’d offer you something to eat, but — ”
“Oh, shit. I’ve got something. Hold on.” She kicked her shoes off and jogged out to her car, leaving Sunny to wonder which was more incongruous. A woman who looked as elegant as Alexia cursing or running down the walk in an evening dress. It was kind of surprising, since she’d been so quiet in high school. But it was also kind of sexy.
Alexia returned, carrying a pie tin in one hand and her phone in the other.
“Oh, sweet Jesus. Is that your Aunt Mae’s chess pie?” Sunny took the pie tin from her.
“She told me to bring what was left when I told her I was going to swing by. She said she’d make you another one, but you have to come by for a visit.”
Sunny made a noncommittal noise. “You want to see the house?”
“I already have. Stopped by after I got in. Jimmy’s doing an excellent job. Go get a couple of forks.” She took a seat on the swing and put her phone on the floor. She gestured for Sunny to give her the pie tin back and Sunny handed it over.
“Be right back.” Sunny went inside and pulled two plastic forks from the ir packet on the kitchen counter and took a Coke out of the fridge for Alexia. A few moments later she was seated next to her and she took the first bite.
“Oh, God, that’s good.” Chocolate. Alexia’s aunt made it just right. Some chess pie was so sweet you could only eat a couple of bites before it overwhelmed you. But Aunt Mae’s recipe ensured that you weren’t sugar-highed until you had at least one whole piece. “Your aunt wins in chess pie, hands down.”
Alexia laughed. “It is the best. My mama’s is good, but Aunt Mae’s always beats hers. They have throw-downs about it sometimes, but it’s all in fun.” She opened the bottle of Coke and took a swig then positioned the bottle between them. “So.” She looked at her. “Jimmy said you’re thinking about ditching the reunion.” Sunny didn’t answer and instead took another bite, thinking that whatever cologne Alexia was wearing smelled good on her.
“You already said you’d go, Caldwell.”
“Yeah, well, guess you don’t remember high school all that well. I never really fit in.”
“Oh, and I did,” Alexia said with extra snark as she took a huge scoop of pie with her fork.
“A lot better than I did. You and Toni ran with the popular crowd. I’m from the wrong side of the tracks,” she teased. “Cracker girl trying to hang out with the black debs.”
“Like that’s never happened here.”
She gave her a look. “Please. Like my cousin even gave me the time of day unless it was convenient for her.” Alexia looked at her. “She’s not coming, by the way.”
“Saw that on her Facebook page. Hope it’s not ’cause I said I was.”
“You know she’d show up if she could to see if she could talk you into bed again.”
Sunny laughed. “You think?” She balanced a bit of pie on her fork. “It’s been ten years.”
Alexia took the pie tin back so she could take another bite. “I don’t think. I know.”
“Well, it wouldn’t work this time.”
“Oh? Why not?”
“Older, wiser, and I don’t feel that way about her anymore.”
Alexia coughed and it sounded like “bullshit.”
“Really? My incredibly gorgeous cousin wouldn’t be able to talk you into bed again?”
“That was then, this is now. And you’re just as gorgeous.” More, actually, Sunny thought.
“Now. Maybe not then.” Alexia scraped some of the pie off the side of the tin and Sunny remembered her in high school, a gawky, serious teen with braces who nevertheless could always make her laugh. She remembered one night halfway through their senior year at the Sonic with a group of friends. Alexia was telling a story about a date gone bad and she was laughing, but Sunny could tell it hurt, and she wanted to hug her, say it would be all right, and for some other reason she couldn’t name at the time, she wanted to kiss her, too. She had that same feeling now, sitting there in the warmth of a summer night with the smell of magnolia and Alexia’s cologne in the air.
So. Appetite whetted? There are plenty more stories to check out in the anthology. And to prove it, I’m putting a copy up for grabs! WOOOOOOO! Print (U.S.) or ebook.
Leave a comment below. Drawing closes at 9 PM EST Monday January 26, U.S. time. Make sure you include your email address in the comment fill-out form (but NOT in the comment body cuz we’re trying to save you from spambots).
Have fun and happy Friday!