First off, a big shout-out to Sharon, Jessa and the rest of the Silk and Shadowers … thanks so much for inviting me to hang out with you guys today!
I don’t know what the weather’s like where you are, but up here in New England, we’re sweltering through our first official heat wave of the summer. We’re staying as cool as we can get, laying low midday and getting our physical stuff done early in the morning and late at night. Yesterday it was even almost (but not quite) too hot for me to face firing up the BBQ for dinner!
When Sharon pinged me to say that this week was “Summer Pleasures” week at Silk and Shadows, the first thing that came to my mind was the summer tradition of cooking (or, as often occurs in my case when I get caught up in something else and lose track, burning) food over an open fire. We’re old school- we’ve got an open kettle grill that requires charcoal, lots of lighter fluid, a lit match, and the occasional whoop of surprise (and singed eyebrows) when we get the timing wrong. And pretty much whatever we might cook inside during the rest of the year, we find a way to cook it outdoors now!
Interestingly, my new release, SKYKEEPERS, has a strong foodie thread running through it. The heroine and reluctant mage, Sasha, is a chef who (whether she likes it or not) gravitates toward the Mayan flavors that remind her of her father. She’s highly sensual, and experiences the world through its textures and flavors. The hero, Michael, is also very sensual, albeit in a hotter, earthier way. The two of them together … can you say HAWT???
Well, how about I show you what I’m talking about?
Here’s the blurb, so we’re all on the same page:
Ancient prophecy holds that 12/21/2012 will bring a global cataclysm. Mankind’s only hope lies with the Nightkeepers, modern magic-wielding warriors who must find their destined mates and fulfill the legends to defeat the rise of terrible Mayan demons. Now, check out this short excerpt:
In Skykeepers, Michael Stone is a man with a dark secret that has skewed his magical abilities dangerously toward the underworld. Seeking redemption, he sets out on a perilous mission to save the daughter of Ambrose Ledbetter, a renowned Mayanist who died before he could reveal the location of a hidden library. The Nightkeepers must find the library before their enemies gain access to its valuable cache of spells and prophecies.
Sasha Ledbetter grew up hearing heroic tales of an ancient group of powerful magi who were destined to save the world from destruction. She never expected that her bedtime stories would come to life in the form of Nightkeeper Michael Stone, or that she’d hold the key to the warrior’s survival. As Sasha and Michael join forces to prevent the imminent battle, sparks of attraction ignite between them, and they’re forced to confront the unexpected passion that brings them together … and also tears them apart.
Michael thought he’d steeled himself for the familiar kick of attraction, the lust that hadn’t faded with their becoming lovers. But need hit him hard the moment he saw her stretched on her tiptoes to return a bowl to a high shelf, her midriff-cropped tee riding up, yoga pants riding down, the two exposing a strip of her taut, strong abdomen, with the soft lines of muscle on either side of her navel, where a trio of freckles drew his eye.***
She turned slowly, and when she met his eyes, he saw a reflection of the burning heat that churned in his gut. “Well?” she said softly.
His body moved almost without conscious volition around the pass-through and into the kitchen, where he stopped close enough to catch her light scent over the cooking smells, close enough to distinguish the heat of her body from that of the stove. “What’s cooking?”
She handed over the mug she’d been sipping from. “It’s something I’ve been playing with.”
He knew she had magic in the kitchen, knew she wielded flavors with the deftness of a trained chef and the inspiration of a mage, but still he was unprepared for what hit his taste buds the moment he took a sip. Sensations exploded across his neurons in a blaze of heat, texture, and taste that had him sucking in a breath. There was chocolate, yes, but it was more savory than sweet, taken away from the realm of dessert by a mix of peppers and salt, and things he wouldn’t even begin to match with chocolate, but that somehow matched perfectly. He sucked in a breath. “Holy crap.” Took another sip and rolled it around in his mouth, closing his eyes briefly as the flavors changed subtly, the peppers mellowing to something else. “Nice,” he said, and this time his tone was one of reverence. “Very nice.”
“That,” she said with evident satisfaction, “was exactly what I was going for.”
Eyes still closed, he felt her trying to take the mug back, and tightened his fingers on it. “Leave it,” he said. “I’m at your mercy. Anything you want. Just ask.”
He’d said it partly in play, but also because he remembered what she’d told him back in the beginning, on her first day at Skywatch. I cook when I’m happy or sad, when I’m celebrating with friends or all alone with my thoughts. Which of those things applied now?
He felt the air shift, felt her indrawn breath as his own, but instead of “we need to talk” or any of the female warning signs experience had taught him to expect, she surprised him by leaning in and touching her lips to his.
The kiss was as unexpected as the hint of pepper and spice he tasted amidst the chocolate on her lips, in her mouth. Setting aside his mug, he deepened the kiss, relieved to let it be easy even though a small part of him said it shouldn’t be so easy, that he was skimming the surface of something he needed to be diving into. But then she shifted her hands, sliding them up his chest to link behind his neck and tug him closer, pressing her body to his, and the vibe went true, singing inside his skull with the warm sparkle of red-gold magic.
“Come back to bed,” he said against her mouth. “We’ve got a few more hours to burn.”
(Smiles.) Can you tell I love these two together?? For other excerpts, more info on the books, and some really cool animation, please check out www.JessicaAndersen.com. To check out the video trailer for Skykeepers, go to: www.youtube.com/user/DocJess1!
Anyway, back to barbecuing … What do you say we have a virtual cookout here today? All commenters will be eligible to win a copy of either Nightkeepers or Dawnkeepers (the first two books in the series). To enter, tell us what you’re going to bring and/or barbecue today! Extra (imaginary and intangible) points for managing to relate it back to the Maya, Nightkeepers, or end of the world!
To get us started, I’ll start pouring the drinks. Who else wants a Virgin Sacrifice??