Book Spotlight—Dinner at Home with Rick R. Reed
ISBN-13: 978-1-62798-836-0 Pages: 214
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
It only takes a few days for Ollie D'Angelo to lose his boyfriend, his job, and his home. Instead of mourning what he doesn’t have, Ollie celebrates what he does: the freedom to pursue his real passion—cooking. He begins Dinner at Home, a home-catering business, and it takes off.
Late one night, Ollie catches Hank Mellinger, a streetwise hood down on his luck, about to rob his car. Ollie soon discovers that appearances aren’t necessarily what they seem. Hank isn’t a criminal caught red-handed, but a hungry young man trying to make a life for himself and the four-year-old niece he’s trying desperately to take care of.
Instead of calling the cops, Ollie offers Hank a job and a way to pull himself up by his bootstraps. Together, they discover they can really cook... and that their shared passion for food just might lead to a passion for each other.
Ollie D’Angelo woke up thinking about breakfast. He was pondering the day’s earliest, and most important, meal for two reasons. One, it was morning, and often the first question on Ollie’s mind in any given situation was “what shall we eat?” Two, today was his anniversary with Walker. The pair of them would celebrate their first blissful year together.
He looked over at Walker, still asleep. Even though Walker was, in every sense of the word, a man, right now he looked like a child. Turned on his side, his mouth was open and a thin line of drool dribbled down to the pale-blue pillowcase below, forming a dark stain. The fact that Ollie could see this as charming rather than repugnant was evidence of his love. Never mind that beneath the navy blue duvet lay one of the hottest, most muscular, and hairiest bodies Ollie had ever had the pleasure of lying next to, Ollie was simply happy that this winter morning, with rain tapping softly on the window outside, he was home with Walker.
They were a family.
Ollie reached out, letting his hand hover above Walker’s porcelain skin and blond hair, feeling the heat radiating off of them. He wanted so much to touch him, to wake him with a kiss (and maybe more), but the kitchen was calling out to him, and he told himself that after he surprised Walker with breakfast, there would be plenty of time to touch, to kiss, to nibble, to suck, to… well, to do everything.
Ollie slipped silently from beneath the covers, rubbing the goose pimples that rose immediately on his arms. He reached for his robe, lying at the foot of the bed, and his shearling-lined slippers beneath it and hurried out of the room, not making a sound.
He wanted Walker to wake not to Ollie’s tread, but to a symphony of mouth-watering aromas wafting in from the kitchen.
They had been living in Walker’s small Craftsman-style bungalow in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood for the past nine months. Sure, even Ollie had thought moving into Walker’s house three months after they had met via the online dating site OpenHeartOpenMind was fast, but love was love. What were you going to do about it?
From the moment Ollie had spied Walker, he had been helpless. They had agreed to meet for the first time, after a week of exchanging e-mails, at a little Korean fusion restaurant called Revel in the Fremont neighborhood. Walker had already been seated when Ollie arrived, and Ollie’s first glimpse of the man who would be his soul mate, his one true love, had told him everything he needed to know.
For one, Walker was gorgeous. His pale brown/blond hair, dark eyes, and his strong form immediately put Ollie in mind of a young Brad Pitt. There was something tough about him, a bit of the bad boy, but that was undercut, or maybe the better word was highlighted, by a sense of vulnerability he kept almost, but not quite, hidden.
Ollie had immediately wanted to kiss him and, even more, wanted to take care of him.
When he sat down and saw that Walker had already ordered a carrot and lemon pancake with currants and crème fraiche on top for them, the deal was sealed.
The man knew his food.
Now, as Walker switched the lights on in their farmhouse-like kitchen, with its bright yellow walls and checked curtains at a window over the sink, he smiled at the thought of how much Walker would enjoy this meal.
First, he pulled the bag of coffee beans he had bought just for this morning from the freezer—Godiva chocolate with a hint of hazelnut—and ground them, hoping the whirring noise would not prematurely wake his man. He set the coffee to brewing and turned back to the refrigerator.
He pulled from its stainless confines a dozen eggs, a carton of half-and-half, a wedge of Seattle’s own Beecher’s Flagship cheese, a bunch of organic scallions, and a thick slice of pancetta which he would chop into chunks. From a drawer, he pulled a loaf of freshly baked sourdough he had picked up on his way home from work last night.
He set to work whisking eggs and half-and-half together. He shredded an impressive mound of the cheese—to hell with fat and calories this morning! They could burn it off later. He sliced four scallions with hand-blurring speed.
He diced the pancetta and threw it into his All-Clad pan, which he had already preheated on the stove. In the pan were just a touch of olive oil and a pat of butter, which had now turned to foam. He tossed the ham to coat it and let it simmer and render its juices. Normally, he’d pour off some of the grease, but today was all about decadence. Then he threw in the green onions, listening to their sizzle and sniffing the air for the almost immediate aroma they imparted. Finally, he turned the heat to very low, almost off, and added the egg and cream mixture. He added about half the cheese, stirred, and then left the eggs to very slowly, and very perfectly, form gentle curds. The eggs would be soft, silky, and packed with flavor.
The aroma of coffee started to permeate the kitchen. While the eggs were transforming into something magical, Ollie went to the window and looked out; it was another gray, rainy day for Seattle, typical for January. The drops on the windowpane obscured the view, but it was still there: Lake Union, and beyond its steel gray waters, the downtown skyline rising up, the iconic Space Needle to the right. If it had been a summer day, Ollie thought, he would have served breakfast outside on the back deck, with a salad of peaches and blueberries, garnished with a little fresh basil.
The coffee finished brewing, and he grabbed a mug from the cupboard and moved toward the pot, stopping first to give the eggs some gentle nudging with a wooden spoon. They would be ready soon, and he hoped the smells of the pancetta and coffee would rouse Walker from sleep and lure him irresistibly into the kitchen.
Ollie poured a cup of coffee, added some of the half-and-half he had left out for the eggs, and added three teaspoons of sugar to his cup and stirred. He knew he should cut down, but it just tasted so damn good, sweet and creamy. He listened to the rain pattering on the roof and thought that, at age thirty-three, he had finally found his way to a kind of happiness, a sense of fulfillment.
He turned to look at the eggs and saw they were almost done. He threw the rest of the cheese on top, covered the pan with a lid, and removed it from the heat. If Walker didn’t get up soon, the eggs would no longer be at their peak.
And Ollie wasn’t about to let that moment of perfection pass. He found his phone on the kitchen counter, behind a stack of Cooks Illustrated magazines, and tapped his Pandora app to bring up the Etta James station. He set it in the dock, and in moments, Miss James was warbling her heartrending version of her classic, signature song, “At Last.”
Beneath the velvet of Etta James’s voice, Ollie paused, coffee mug lifted to his mouth, and closed his eyes almost rapturously at another sound: Walker stirring in the bedroom.
He listened as Walker made his way through the short hallway and the living room. At last, he stood framed in the kitchen doorway, wearing only a pair of boxers. He looked so amazing, mussed hair and all, that Ollie almost wanted to say the hell with the eggs and guide Walker right back from whence he came.
Rick R. Reed Biography
Rick R. Reed is all about exploring the romantic entanglements of gay men in contemporary, realistic settings. While his stories often contain elements of suspense, mystery and the paranormal, his focus ultimately returns to the power of love. He is the author of dozens of published novels, novellas, and short stories. He is a three-time EPIC eBook Award winner (for Caregiver, Orientation and The Blue Moon Cafe). Lambda Literary Review has called him, "a writer that doesn't disappoint." Rick lives in Seattle with his husband and a very spoiled Boston terrier. He is forever "at work on another novel."
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· Legally Wed
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