At the beach with Leo and Quinn

Every year, as part of the build-up to Coastal Magic, I participate in a blog series on Literary Escapism called At the Beach. I write a short scene set (where else?) at the beach, featuring two or more of my existing characters. 

I asked the Temptresses for input about who should have the starring roles this year. The response was varied . . . but I did choose one couple. I’ll share that when the post goes live on Literary Escapism. 

But there was so much interest in some of the others . . . and because this year I have time for this kind of writing . . . so I decided to share some other At the Beach posts here, featuring different couples. 

Today it’s Leo and Quinn, from the Keeping Score series. Enjoy! 

PS: The photo above was taken at the beach where I’m writing this, during a family vacation. 🙂 Talk about the perfect inspiration! 

***~~~***

“How many weekends out of the year are not in football season?”

On the blanket next to me, Leo turned his head and blinked. “What?”

I pushed to sit up, wrapping my arms around my bent legs. “How many weekends are you not playing football, or on a bye week, or in pre-season or post-season?”

My husband—and didn’t it still give me a thrill to think of Leo as my husband, a year after our wedding—sat up, too, sliding his dark sunglasses into place over those gray eyes that could make me melt or smolder at any given moment. “Uhhhh . . . I don’t know that number off the top of my head, babe.”

I lifted my shoulder. “Take a guess.”

“Okay. Four weeks of preseason, seventeen weeks of regular games . . . then you’ve got wild card, divisional

My husband and kids playing football in the surf

round if you’re lucky, conference championship if you’re really lucky . . . Pro Bowl if your team isn’t playing in the big game . . . and then the big one. The super one. I guess that’s . . . what, about 25 weeks if your team is having the kind of year we all want it to have?” He reached over to tuck a strand of my hair behind my ear. “Why do you ask? Are you thinking of renegotiating our contract?”

Leo’s voice was light, but I felt the undercurrent of worry beneath his words. In our past, football and the demands of the game had taken a toll on our relationship. But not now.

“Of course not.” I rose onto my knees, framed his face with my hands and kissed his lips. Instantly, his arms were around my waist, pulling me hard against his body, and I felt my pulse skitter into overdrive.

But now wasn’t the time—or more importantly, the place. This Florida beach was mostly private, but there were still more than a few curious onlookers, and I knew from experience that it would be all too easy for someone to capture a few frames of Leo Taylor, rising star of the Richmond Rebels, and his wife getting busy on the beach. We didn’t want or need those kinds of headlines.

So with great reluctance, I dropped back to our blanket, lacing my fingers through Leo’s as I did. “I was just thinking. We have potentially twenty-five weeks out of the year when you’ll be committed to football. Add in organized team activities, mini-camp and training camp, and we’re talking another ten weeks. More than half of our year.”

“Uh huh.” Leo nodded. “That’s true.”

“It seems to me, then, that the other weekends out of the year should be spent on the beach. I think it’s only fair.”

It took Leo a minute to process what I’d said. “Oh, really? That’s what you think? Hate to break it to you, babe, but some of those weekends could be pretty damn frigid. A good part of my off-season is in February, March and April . . . not exactly peak season for beach weather.”

“It doesn’t have to be this beach.” I grinned at him. “There are plenty of others we can explore. Think . . . Hawaii. Think the Caribbean. The Mediterranean. Go big, baby.”

“Hmmmm.” He frowned, but I knew that he was just playing with me. “Let’s think about this. If I agree to spend all my non-football time on a beach with you, does that mean you’ll wear sexy little bathing suits like this one all the time?” One of his talented fingers skimmed the edge of my bikini top, making my nipples pucker. Leo noticed that, of course, and one eyebrow quirked with interest.

“I think that can be arranged,” I whispered, linking my hands together behind his neck and pressing myself into his solid warmth. “Just imagine the savings in my clothing budget, if I only have to worry about beachwear during the off-season.”

“I’m thinking about it right now.” His lips were next to my ear. “I’m also thinking about that project we’ve been talking about starting . . . project Taylor, the next generation? How do you feel about telling our daughter or son that she or he was conceived on the beach?”

I giggled. “I believe having a story that embarrasses your offspring is a requirement for parents. Our parents have that one down, for sure.”

“True.” Leo’s hands inched lower until they covered my ass, griping me tight. “Mia? All this talk about the offseason has made me . . . uhhh, intrigued. Let’s go inside and talk about it some more. You know . . . in private?”

I kissed my husband’s neck. “I’m all over that plan, baby. Let’s go inside and . . . explore all the possibilities . . . deeply. Again and again and again . . .”

Leo groaned. “Killing me, babe.”

“But you love me.” I didn’t have any doubts on that front.

“Even more every single day.” His kiss was full of promise, full of the future. “Let me show you how much.”

And he did.

You can read all of Leo and Quinn’s story right here in the Keeping Score series, available at all retailers.

What’s Cooking? Chicken Espagnole (Hanging By A Moment)

Various herbs and spices on black stone plate

By her own admission, Quinn Russell isn’t much of a cook–or at least she’s not very interested in the kitchen. (Will that change in Days of You and Me? Hmmm . . . stay tuned . . .) But her friend and college roommate Zelda Porter does love to cook and is something of an amateur chef. In this scene from Hanging By A MomentQuinn catches her friend making a special occasion meal . . .

“What’re you doing?” I closed the dryer and started it up, stepping away from it so I could hear Zelda.
“Uh, I’m cooking.” Her voice held a faint tinge of . . . I couldn’t read it. Embarrassment?
“Cooking? For you and Gia? Well, aren’t you a good roommate?” I flopped onto the sofa. “You never cooked for me.”
“No, doll, I’m not cooking for Gia. I have a . . . date. I guess. Sort of.”
If she had told me that she was a spy who was cooking for the head of the CIA, I wouldn’t have been more surprised. Zelda was predictable only in her cynicism about romance and relationships. She had regular sex with an abundance of men, and she liked men, but she didn’t trust them.
“Uh . . . okay. Can I ask the name of this date?”
“You can ask, but I’m not going to tell. This is way outside my comfort zone, Quinn. It’s probably not going to amount to anything. If I’m wrong and it does . . . then you and I can talk. I’ll tell you all the down and dirties. But until then—if there is a then—I’m going to play it close to my chest.”
When I didn’t respond right away, she hurried to continue. “It’s not that I don’t trust you, Quinn. I just don’t trust me. I’m going out on a limb here, and I’m actually scared shitless.”
“Zelda.” I crossed my legs at the knee and kicked one foot in the air. “I’m not insulted that you want to be, um, discreet. It’s your business. But don’t be scared, okay? You are the most incredible woman I know. You’re beautiful, you’re funny and you’re smart. Any guy would be lucky to date you. So don’t mess this up just because you think you’re not the relationship type, okay?”
Something sizzled on Zelda’s side of the phone. “I appreciate everything you said, Quinn. I don’t necessarily agree with you, but still, I’m grateful. I can only promise to do my best.”
“Good. Have fun, and don’t think I’m going to forget this. When I get home next month, you are so cooking for me.”
She laughed. “You got it, doll. We’ll be in our new apartment with a real kitchen, not this lame ass kitchenette. So I’ll make you something special to celebrate moving in, okay?”
“It’s a date.” I giggled at my own joke.

So who was Zelda cooking for, and what did she make? Well, no spoilers here–though you may have guessed the who–but I can tell you that for her mystery date, the enigmatic Ms. Porter prepared Chicken Espagnole, a dish that tastes fabulous and looks elegant but is actually fairly simple to prepare. This recipe was adapted from one served at The Gumbo Shop in New Orleans, where I’ve enjoyed all their food on multiple occasions.

If you want to know more about Zelda’s secret lover, preorder Days of You and Me–and then get ready for her spin-off standalone book, Wildest Dreams, coming in 2017.

Zelda’s Chicken Espagnole

2 small chickens, backs removed, cut in half

CHICKEN SEASONING:

3 tsp Italian seasoning

2 tsp cayenne pepper

4 tsp black pepper

4 tsp white pepper

5 tsp onion powder

5 tsp garlic powder

2 Tbs paprika

4 Tbs salt

***

3/4 cup butter

3/4 flour

VEGGIES:

2 medium  onions, roughly cut

2 ribs of celery, chopped

1 medium green pepper, chopped

SAUCE SEASONING:

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tsp Italian seasoning

1/2 tsp sage

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp white pepper

1 tsp salt

***

4 cups chicken stock

6-7 baby bella mushrooms, sliced

5 green onions, diced

Directions:

Place chicken halves in roasting pan with sides at least 3 inches. Sprinkle CHICKEN SEASONING over chicken and roast in 400 degree oven for 40 minutes. Remove and set aside.

While chicken roasts, in a large pot melt butter and add flour to make a medium roux. Add VEGGIES and stir until coated. Cook about 20 minutes, then add SAUCE SEASONING. Cook until combined, then add chicken stock slowly, stirring well. Bring to a boil and cook on low for about 20 minutes. Add mushrooms and green onions, mix well and remove from heat.

Spoon sauce over chicken in roasting pans and return to the oven, roasting at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes or until chicken is tender. Serve over rice.

HANGING BY A MOMENT Release Day!

BannerHBAMrelease

If you read

WHEN WE WERE US

then you’ve been waiting to read the next chapter

in Leo, Quinn and Nate’s story . . . and today, you can.

When life shatters, it helps to have friends. I don’t know what I’d have done without Leo and Nate to comfort me, to hold me up and to keep me sane in face of sudden and terrible loss.

And if one of those friends happens to be the love of my life, the one guy I thought I’d never be close to again . . . I’m not going to complain. After all, in a vast sea of things that aren’t fair, being with Leo again feels like the only shining beam of hope.

I know there aren’t any guarantees for us. Leo’s heading south to play football, rocking a full-ride at one of the top colleges in the nation. Meanwhile, all of my plans have fallen apart, and I have to figure out what comes next. Having Nate by my side is more important than I could have imagined.

The next four years were supposed to be the most exciting time of my life. Instead, they turn into a rollercoaster of uncertainty, complete with breathtaking highs and lows that threaten to break my heart.

In the end, the decisions we make now could change everything for the three of us, forever.

~~~***~~~

Buy your copy of HANGING BY A MOMENT right here!

 Amazon/iBooks/Google/Nook/Kobo

Read an exclusive sample right here.

And join me today at our Happy Hour Release Party!

The Keeping Score Trilogy is a New Adult contemporary romance. The first two books may notHanging by Moment give you complete closure, but hang in there for Book 3; I promise the pay-off is worth it.

The release dates, all in 2016, are:

When We Were Us April 7th

Hanging By A Moment May 24th

Days of You and Me September 27th

 

 

If you haven’t read WHEN WE WERE US yet, grab it now!

iBooks/Amazon/Nook/Kobo/Google Play/Goodreads

 

2015AuthorPhoto (1539x1800)Tawdra Kandle writes romance, in just about all its forms. She loves unlikely pairings, strong women, sexy guys, hot love scenes and just enough conflict to make it interesting. Her books include YA paranormal romance,  NA paranormal and contemporary romance, and adult contemporary and paramystery romance. She lives in central Florida with a husband, kids, sweet pup and too many cats. And yeah, she rocks purple hair.

 

 

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