It's My Birthday!

...and I've decided to celebrate--witness the confetti. Too much?  Anyway, as I was saying, I've decided a party is in order. So I'm going to give away a download of one book from my backlist (HERE) to the commenter who comes up with the best idea for a birthday present or how I should be spending my birthday.

Not that there's anything wrong with the way I'm spending this birthday, but it is somewhat quiet and lacking in an abundance of festivity. Although there were mimosas and homemade (not by me) cinnamon rolls.  Mmm. Brunch. Gotta love it.

And, in the meantime, I'm going to post a brief excerpt from Dream Under the Hill. This is the first scene of Nick's birthday. It ends up being quite an eventful day for the poor dear, but in this scene everything is perfectly halcyon, just like a birthday should be. Enjoy!


The Spring Equinox falls in the month that nearly all Native Traditions recognize as being one of Big Winds—big changes. And big changes have certainly come to Oberon this spring… along with an ancient evil that must finally be laid to rest.

In a month marked by birth, death and marriage, the inhabitants of Oberon must all come to terms with what’s really important to each of them—important enough to die for.

Only one thing is certain. When the winds of change finally stop blowing nothing—and no one—will be the same.

Today was Palm Sunday, and if he’d still been a good Catholic, Nick knew he’d probably be getting ready to attend Mass. But the Church was something he’d long since fallen away from, and, Good Catholic was a category from which he’d been definitively barred, not just for his divorce and subsequent re-marriage, but for a whole host of supposed sins that, according to canon, had irreparably stained his soul. And while he would have liked to once again experience the feelings of Absolution and Grace, that he used to receive from the sacraments, all things considered, he didn’t miss it very much.

What he would miss, however, were mornings like these, cooking breakfast for his family, and sharing some quality time with his son, Cole.

“You having fun there, buddy?” Nick asked the little boy, smiling at the two year old’s attempts to stir the batter for this morning’s waffles. “You’ve been at that a while. Think it’s almost ready?”

Cole shook his head. “Noooo,” he replied, still gamely slapping the big wooden spoon around in the bowl; clearly intending to beat the batter into complete submission.

“All right, we’ll give it a little longer then,” Nick told him, chuckling to himself as he went back to tending to the orange hollandaise sauce he was making for the eggs Benedict.

Sunday breakfast was Nick’s new sacrament. It was also his favorite meal to cook these days, which was odd, considering the one item he’d always considered his signature dish—meatballs––wasn’t usually thought of as a breakfast staple. However, since his family was, once again, eating Sunday dinner at Lucy’s house, more often than not, breakfast had become his one chance to really cut loose.

Not that his breakfasts were always as elaborate as this morning’s meal, but today was special. It was his forty-fifth birthday, and he felt like celebrating.

He also felt like staying home, drawing the day out, enjoying the time with his family and friends. Which was partly why, when Sinead had invited them all to the inn for breakfast, he’d declined. Much as he loved his friend and appreciated her cooking, he didn’t want to go anywhere today.

The impulse surprised him. He’d realized only recently that he’d finally begun to think of this house as home.

After almost three years, it was long overdue. It was high time he learned to relax into his new life, to accept that fate had handed him a second chance, to stop worrying that it might all be taken away again.

He took the hollandaise off the heat, checked on the home fries warming in the oven, and then took a minute to stir the tomato sauce simmering on the back of the stove.

The aroma, when he lifted the cover off the pot, wafted him back to his own childhood, and made him happier than ever to be spending this time in the kitchen with his own son. “Does that smell good, Cole?” he asked.

The little boy nodded and mumbled, “Yeshh,” but absently, as he continued to concentrate on his work.

At this rate those waffles might end up being part of Monday’s breakfast. “You know you can stop that now, if you want,” Nick suggested, but as he half expected, Cole shook his head stubbornly. “All right, well, let me know if you get tired.”

The rest of breakfast was either warming in the oven or chilling in the fridge––less the eggs, of course, which he’d poach while the waffles cooked––leaving Nick with nothing to do but contemplate dinner.

After breakfast, he’d put the lemon-garlic chicken in the oven, make the meatballs, and stuff the manicotti. Once all of that was accomplished, there was only kale to saut√©, eggplant to fry and a huge antipasto salad platter to assemble, with olives, artichokes and marinated mushrooms, roasted peppers and zucchini, a variety of cheeses, smoked meats, capers, anchovies, tuna––and anything else he could think of.

Lucy had offered to make the antipasto as part of her contribution to the meal, but again he’d declined. It was the first dish he’d been allowed to ‘cook’ as a boy helping his parents in the kitchen, and he’d retained a special fondness for it.

Maybe Cole would like to help him with that, too, he thought, smiling as he turned to his son again. “Okay, why don’t you give me that, now, Cole,” he said, attempting to gently pry the bowl of batter away from him.

Cole’s eyes narrowed. From the angry set of his chin and the way he was scowling, Nick was pretty sure he was getting ready to pitch a tantrum.

Quickly, he took the pan of home fries from the oven and spooned a few of them onto a plate. “Here, try these potatoes. Tell me if they’re good.”

For an instant, Cole’s eyes narrowed even more, but then he smiled, reaching eagerly for the plate in Nick’s hand. Nick smiled, too. Despite his own mother’s insistence that Cole was the image of Nick as a baby, Nick didn’t think it was an easy call to make. It was hard to determine which of his parents Cole most resembled. Until he smiled, and then it was no contest. He was Scout all over, when he smiled.

“Happy birthday, Dad,” his daughter, Kate, murmured, drifting into the kitchen to give him a hug.

Nick hugged her back. “Thanks, sweetie. Are you ready for breakfast? I was just about to start the waffles.”

“Okay,” Kate replied agreeably. She smiled at her brother. “Are those good, Cole? Can I have one?”

Cole stopped chewing and looked at her. It was hard to know what he was thinking, but no was his favorite new word, and Nick would have been not at all surprised if he used it now. Instead, Cole extended his hand, and the very soggy looking potato he’d been clutching, toward his sister.

“Mmm. Yum, yum,” Kate said, only pretending to eat it.

Nick smiled at his children. He didn’t have a lot of personal experience with sibling relationships, but he was surprised and gratified by how well his kids seemed to get along. Probably the age difference helped with that, he thought. Still, a toddler and a teenager? He must have been out of his mind starting a second family when he was already in his forties. But, crazy or not, it was what Scout wanted, and he knew he wouldn’t have done a single thing differently.

However, given how strained things had become between them; how moody and short tempered he’d been of late, he wondered if she realized that was still true? Maybe, it was time he made sure she did.

“I tell you what, Kate,” he said, as he poured some coffee into a mug. “Keep an eye on Cole for a couple of minutes, while I go upstairs and wake Scout. Then we can all have breakfast together.”


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For more information on the Oberon series, visit the website at www.OberonCalifornia.us


Elena Gray said...

Happy Birthday! How about a weekend getaway with your closest friends? Thinking I may do that for my 40th.

Erin said...

An ideal birthday would involve a free day, a good book and a silent room. --- Some might think boring but for me it sounds divine. --- Happy birthday PG.

PG Forte said...

Thank you both for commenting! And since I can't decide which idea I like best--you both won! Please contact me at pgforte@pgforte.com