I'm thrilled to announce that "Foodies Rush In" is now available as an ebook! The paperback version will be ready soon. Look for it on Amazon, Smashwords, and soon on Barnes & Noble. Click on links below. The price is only $2.99.
You can't even get a latte for $2.99!
Here's the first chapter of the book to get you started. It's a quick summer read featuring awkward characters, food, and some sauciness. Apparently I cuss in it a lot, but I didn't even notice that.
Even before Dana set her bags on the wooden floor of her 1950s era cookie cutter house, she could hear her kids calling her name and running over themselves to get to her.
“Mommy! Mommy!” they cried. Were there two more beautiful words in the English language? Maybe “Eat Chocolate” but “Mommy! Mommy!” came a close second.
She set her bags down, kneeled, opened her arms and was promptly tackled by her four-year-old daughter dressed in layers of pink tulle, and her six-year-old son dressed as a zombie. “I thought Halloween was over. It’s supposed to be Thanksgiving in a week!” she said amidst the kisses and elbows and general head butting that represented the love-fest greeting from her kids.
“Don’t you know?” she heard her sister Valerie say. “They’re not dressed up. This is how they are, like all the time.”
Dana peeled her daughter Ruby from her neck, and lifted her son Zach off her stomach and sat up. “Should I have warned you before I left?” she asked.
Her sister smiled. “To tell you the truth, I sorta already knew. Come on kiddos, give your mom some space to settle in before you maul her to death. You’d think she’d been gone for a year and not just five days.”
“Hey! Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom? Mom,” Ruby chanted. “Ma? Mommy. Mom. Hey. Mom.”
Dana shook her head and smiled. “What, sweetie?”
“You bring me something?” Ruby shot her that smile that melted icebergs.
Her son stared at her intently. For a brief moment Dana thought he was going to ask her for brains—it must’ve been the makeup. Instead, he said, “What I’d really like is some more Clone Troopers. They have any Clone Troopers in Vegas?”
“Not exactly. But they did have these.” Dana pulled two plastic jars of M&Ms from her bag. She’d had them printed with the kids’ names on them. She had tons of swag from the conference, but most of it related to her new canning venture and was being shipped to her. The t-shirts, mugs, necklaces, and small velvet painting of Elvis for her sister, waited in her bag.
The kids grabbed the M&Ms and scampered off to sort colors and devour the candy mercilessly.
Valerie stared at her, arms crossed over her gigantic boobs—thanks to lactating for twins. Dana gave her sister some credit. She at least waited until the kids were out of earshot before she said, “Okay, dish. Who’s the guy and are you pregnant?”
“No, I’m not pregnant! Don’t be ridiculous! We didn’t even…” Dana lowered her voice to a whisper, “sleep together.”
“You’re not supposed to sleep. That’s not how I got pregnant. I sure as heck wasn’t sleeping.”
“It was nothing,” Dana said, trying to sound as if it really was nothing. She scooped up her bag, opened it and handed her sister the 5x7 portrait of Elvis. When you put him on the wall and walked back and forth in front of him, his eyes seemed to follow you everywhere. It was creepy, yet comforting at the same time.
“Oh, no,” Valerie said. “You are not distracting me with artistic genius. I want his name, his height, his income level, and when are you seeing him again.”
“Theodore Drimmel.” Dana waited to see her sister’s reaction. It took Valerie a moment to think it over and then her nose crinkled as if she smelled something bad.
“I like the Theodore part,” she said, “but that Drimmel has got to go. Maybe he can take your name when you get married.”
“Valerie! Don’t be ridiculous. It was a fling. I’m not going to…” Suddenly, Dana saw herself standing next to a punked-out Theo and both of them giggling, right after they’d said “I do” and “Oy”.
Dana continued, “Look, do you want the vital statistics or not? I can give you age, height, and income level, but not much else. And…is there any coffee? I’m in need of a serious jolt of caffeine. I know it was only five days, but there’s a three hour time difference.”
Valerie nodded and walked into Dana’s kitchen. Dana loved her kitchen. Sure, it could be a little bigger, but it had all the earth tones she loved. Green cabinets, creamy brown counters flecked with golds and greens, easy-to-clean linoleum. It hardly sounded romantic, but when her then-husband Paul had said she could do anything she wanted to the kitchen—within a budget—she’d thought she’d won a trip to France. Of course, she realized he’d given her free reign of the kitchen around the same time he’d started seeing his new wife. Best not to think about that.
Valerie grabbed two mugs, poured equal amounts of cream into both and topped it off with hazelnut coffee. “Yes,” she said before Dana could question her. “I’m back to drinking caffeine. The twins aren’t sleeping through the night yet, so that means I’m pretty much constantly wired. His name is Theodore,” she transitioned from one thought to the next so quickly that Dana had trouble noticing they were on two different subjects.
“Yes. And he’s opening a gourmet food store somewhere in the Midwest, so he’s employed and gets some kind of paycheck. He paid for things for me without hesitation, and I haven’t experienced that since…well, never. He’s a few inches taller than me, so I can still wear heels. He’s nice. Funny. Cute in a TV CSI scientist kind of way. What else? He’s a great kisser. But that’s all I know. Nothing else.”
“You forgot to say when you’re seeing each other again.”
“We’re not. Ever.” Dana sipped her coffee, reveling the warmth it gave her, and then became aware that the warmth was actually from the glare her sister was giving her. “Don’t give me that look, Val. It’s not a big deal. It’s a small deal. A good deal actually. It’s ridiculous to even think that I’d see him again. I’m a mom. I’m busy. I haven’t dated since The Culture Club was considered edgy. And everyone says what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.”
“Yeah…well, everyone is stupid. Are stupid. Everyone are stupid.” Valerie looked confused. “Seriously. I have baby momma brain. Don’t listen to everyone is what I’m trying to say.”
“I’m not ready to date.”
“Yes, you are.”
“No, I’m not.”
Valerie set her mug down on the countertop. They listened to the kids shouting out random colors. Zach was trying to trade Ruby one blue for four purple and Ruby wasn’t allowing it. Smart girl, Dana thought.
Valerie yelled at the top of her lungs “Knock it off, kiddos, or you’ll wake the twins!” then immediately said, “Paul’s been gone a year. You’ve been divorced since June. The holidays are breathing down your neck. You. Are. Ready. To. Date.” Then she sipped her coffee in an “enough said” sort of way.
Dana felt the familiar plum rise in her throat any time she thought of her ex. It was true that she’d been devastated when he left, but honestly, she wasn’t shocked. They weren’t right for each other. They liked each other, married each other because they’d thought the other one was “good enough”. Truthfully, they’d both had biological clocks that were not only ticking, but booming. And they’d had five years together. Five years of coexisting together, but not really living. Not fully. So when he’d met and fallen in love with someone else—Dana had been devastated and hurt, but not at all surprised. And she’d never seen Paul happier.
That might’ve been what hurt the most. That and Paul seemed content to see the kids only occasionally, especially now that Alyssa was expecting.
Dana had tried to imagine herself going out on dates again. How did one do that? Dating was a horrible experience in her twenties. She couldn’t imagine doing it now in her late thirties, with two kids. And what would she do? How would she even approach the topic of who she was and what she offered now? She could just imagine walking up to an attractive man and saying, “Hey, I’m Dana! I’m a single mom with two kids. Do you want to be an instant dad? Do you want to have frenzied sex when the kids are at their dad’s and secret sex once every month while the kids are sleeping? Because that’s probably what we’ll do. Oh! And are you willing to go through a police check and probably an anal probe just to make sure you’re not hiding anything, because I’ve watched a lot of America’s Most Wanted over the years, and I am not letting any freaks near my children.”
Dana had a few issues.
“I’m not ready to date, Val,” she said, this time using her End of Discussion tone. “Besides,” she finished, “he’s already married.” She just didn’t say that technically, if you didn’t think of paperwork, he was married to her.