Meet Phineas from THE RHUBARB PATCH

THE RHUBARB PATCH is the first book in my planned series The Men of Gilead. The stand alone romances all take place in my fictional town of Gilead, Ohio and are centered around family and the theme of coming home.

THE RHUBARB PATCH is coming in the summer of 2017 from Dreamspinner Press.

Enjoy this excerpt:

 

“So what can I do for you?” Scott asked.

The big man blushed all the way across his bald head. “I was wondering if you’d like to come over for dinner tonight.”

“Like a date?”

Phin blushed deeper. “Well, um no… maybe?” He cleared his throat. “I’m getting low on chicken broth so I need to roast a chicken and it seems a waste not to share.”

While that made little sense to Scott—he could barely cook stuff from a box—he smiled. “I’d love to come over for dinner. What time?”

*****

Absurdly nervous, Phin surveyed his kitchen counter, all his ingredients and tools laid out mise en place, the French culinary term for everything in its place. He’d chosen a simple flavor palate: thyme, rosemary and some of the fresh summer savory growing in his greenhouse window by the dining table. Prepping like this made cooking a joy, rather than the stressful running back and forth for things he needed.

Today not even mise en place could keep him calm.

Why had he said no it wasn’t a date when Scott asked? Was it a date? He barely knew the guy, but then again wasn’t that the point of a date? Getting to know someone?

Am I really doing this?

Phin had a lot of sex after losing Tom but he’d never dated. He and Tom had become a couple so quickly and so easily, as nineteen years olds are wont to do, that there hadn’t really been a dating process back then either. He’d never had the unsure feeling gnawing at his insides now.

Did that mean he shouldn’t be doing this?

He glanced at Katie, right under his feet next to the cupboard, waiting in the wings for scraps. She’d be happy when she spied the potato peeler. She loved the potato and carrot peels that didn’t go into his scrap bag in the freezer for making broths.

Between the two of them, very little went to waste in his kitchen.

“You think Scott likes peas?” he asked her. He had a freezer bag left of last year’s peas and always liked to have something green on the table. Scott didn’t sound very experimental with his food, but peas were a generic veggie most people ate.

She didn’t answer, per her usual. Instead, she stared intently at the ground in front of his feet, waiting for scraps to fall.

He gently pushed her back with his foot so he didn’t trip over her as he peeled the potatoes. Peeling away from himself, he put most of the scraps in the bowl, shifting every now and again so he could flick one to Katie. One landed on her head. Chuckling he brushed them off and she gobbled it up.

Soon he and his dog fell into an easy rhythm, her under his feet and completely in his way, while he cleaned and prepped the root veggies. The chicken dried in the fridge, uncovered so the skin would be crispy when roasted.

“Onions!” he declared, putting the peeler down.

How did you forget the onions?

Drying his hands, he hurried into the pantry—a little room off the kitchen where all his canned goods lined the shelves, bright and colorful trophies of bountiful harvest he never tired of admiring. Just inside, a door led into the basement where he stored his onions and root veggies. It also served as a safe haven during storms. He grabbed an onion, took two steps up the stairs, then did a one-eighty and retrieved the peas from one of his two freezers. Hoping he had everything, he hurried back upstairs.

So much for his mise en place.

When everything was in the oven—an hour before he’d told Scott to come over—he hastily cleaned the dishes. It took him longer than he would’ve liked clearing the empty Mason jars and newspapers off the kitchen table. He hadn’t had a guest in a long time, so empty jars he’d been too lazy to return to the pantry and newspapers covered the surface. He enjoyed the feel and smell of a newspaper every morning as much as he savored his coffee and fresh bread with jam. Both habits his father had passed on. After a quick wipe of the table’s surface, he set two place settings then retrieved the wine glasses.

As he placed them on the table, he hesitated.

Tom had purchased these glasses in California.

His hand shook.

Though it had been ten years since the car accident and he’d used the glasses often, he’d never set Tom’s glasses out for a date.

Hell, he hadn’t even entertained the notion of a date in ten years. He’d resigned himself to being a widower. His lot in life had been cast both by Fate and his own choices. Phin wasn’t interested in starting over again.

He was content, wasn’t he?

Then Scott moved in with that cute smile.

Now Phin was questioning everything.

 

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