Books, Writing

Pancakes & Romance

An exclusive excerpt from Pride & Pancakes when the cabin-trapped Tristan & Beth realize their main source of sustenance is pancakes.

Excerpt from Pride & Pancakes

Beth swung up onto the bar stool perched in front of the kitchen. There wasn’t much on the counter—a few brochures, the proof that he really had dug through the kitchen cabinets, and a small basket wrapped in cellophane.

Curious, she began to tug on the ribbon around the cellophane. It crinkled with an ungodly noise as she tugged the wrapping down.

“I thought it was only Twinkies that’d last through the apocalypse,” Tristan said, seemingly enthralled with her flaunting the rules of the welcome basket meant for another couple.

“Common misconception. Twinkies won’t survive much more than a year or two, but ramen…that’s timeless.” She smiled while finishing her excavation of whatever was meant for the happy newlyweds who sequestered in this cabin next.

Two mugs stamped with the lodge’s logo rested inside a pile of shredded paper. Tristan picked up the first, pulling out a foil bag crammed inside the mug. “Hm.” He spun the bag around to reveal it to be pancake mix. “I guess breakfast is handled.”

Beth fished into the second. “And we don’t have to eat them dry.” The tiny handle for the plastic jug of maple syrup barely fit around her pinkie.

It was Tristan Harty, famous songwriter and musician, who turned to the array of cabinets and pulled down a bowl. “Real maple syrup seems a shame to waste on pancakes.”

After fishing out a whisk as if he lived there, he dumped the powdered would-be pancakes into the bowl. The water was easy enough to add, but to her surprise, he began to crack open an unending stream of coffee creamers to fill in for the missing milk. Beth watched, her legs crossed tightly as the fussy man whisked the dry powder into a pourable batter without a second thought.

“What else is there to do with maple syrup?” she asked while watching a grown man make pancakes as if she was observing a bird of paradise’s mating dance. It wasn’t even from scratch, but she’d never seen such a feat performed in the wild, so to speak.

Placing a skillet upon the micro-stove and lighting the gas, Tristan shrugged. “Desserts mostly.”

“Wait, you bake?” she gasped in shock.

In an instant, the easy air of two strangers trapped in an odd situation snapped away. They were once again combatants staring across a battleground as a storm raged around them. He snapped his shoulders up tight around his head, like a turtle trying to retreat into his shell. Long gone was the easy manner from when he’d stirred the batter.

Cold, harsh movements dumped a pat of butter into the skillet and he watched it melt. That man was the prickliest creature she’d ever met, and Beth had once had a porcupine sleep on her lap. With only the hiss of butterfat bubbling in the pan for sound, the creation of pancakes passed in silence. The stack piled up with Tristan’s back turned to her.

She tried to follow suit, keeping her gaze on the living room, or the snow shifting in the winds. But movement drew her to look back and watch as the man shivered the skillet in his hand, gave it a toss and sent a pancake flying into the air. Without any fanfare, he caught it dead center and returned it to the fire. Beth stared in surprise at the perfect flipped pancake while Tristan snatched up the full plate.

“Here.” Cold indifference punctuated a plate of surprisingly fluffy golden pancakes being dropped in front of her.

She darted her gaze from the breakfast that her stomach demanded she eat to the man returning to the stove. “Aren’t these yours?”

The shoulder slouch vanished, his neck extending as he leveled a frozen glare on her. “Concerned I poisoned them?”

“No,” she insisted even while shoving the plate away. After dropping to her bare feet, Beth dashed into the kitchen. It wasn’t until she stood trapped between stove and counter that she realized how tiny it was. Tristan had to shift to keep from knocking his elbow into her chest as she moved to pick up the skillet.

“I can make my own breakfast,” she said, already spooning a clump of batter onto the pan.

Even as she watched the ivory-tan liquid ooze over the hot silver surface, he remained in place. There was so little room that when Beth tried to shift the skillet to keep the pancake from sticking, she accidentally nudged into his side with her elbow. When her elbow barely sank into his rock-hard hip, the man who seemed to think he needed to do everything finally threw up his hands and left.