Welcome to my Friday bonus feature called Karen’s Killer Fixin’s **Author Special**!! Today, in lieu of one of my own recipes, I’m going to introduce you to a new author who will share one of her favorite recipes. Not only will you and I occasionally learn how to make something new and delicious, but we’ll get a chance to check out some wonderful authors. Introducing author, Karalee Long, and her favorite recipe for SIMPLE PANCAKES!
LOVE AND MURDER IN RED SATIN
BY KARALEE LONG
Allie Blair, a divorced marriage counselor accused of murdering her ex-husband, tries to prove her innocence but unwittingly accepts the help of the one man who wants to prove her guilt.
Greg Weston, a Denver homicide detective, vows to bring his cousin’s accused murderer, Allie Blair, to justice. To win her trust, he signs up for a class she’s teaching, “What Women Want.”
When Allie becomes the target of the actual killer, her sizzling chemistry with Greg ignites a passion too hot to ignore. But Greg knows even if they survive, he’ll lose Allie when she learns he’s a cop.
LOVE AND MURDER IN RED SATIN
BY KARALEE LONG
“What exactly did Greg Weston say to make you invite him to breakfast?” Allie asked Uncle Jake.
He gave her a questioning look. Crap, she should’ve masked her irritation. She put ham slices in a skillet on the stove and got out measuring cups and a flour sifter.
“He said he wanted to talk to you about the troublemaker in the diner last night.”
“It was just teenage I’m-tougher-than-you stuff,” she said, taking the electric griddle from the top of the fridge to the counter and opening the canister of flour. She’d actually forgotten about that bully, but he’d said he’d catch her later.
Maybe he hadn’t been posturing in front of the other kids, after all. Someone had been at the cabin this morning, watching her, and a pop had made her think someone was shooting at her. She’d run, tripped over a log, fallen, scrambled to her feet, and run home. Once she was safe, she assumed that after finding Ian’s body, her imagination had misinterpreted the sound. Besides, if someone had really shot at her, wouldn’t he have shot more than once?
Or had she been so frightened that maybe she didn’t hear more pops? Had Snake tried to shoot her?
Scooping flour from the canister to dump into the sifter, she bumped its side. Flour billowed upward before settling on the countertop.
“I’ll see if Hazel wants some breakfast,” Uncle Jake said. “She had a bad night.”
Hadn’t they all? “How about Deidre?”
“I doubt she’s up yet, but I’ll check.”
Uncle Jake left the kitchen, and Allie stared at her flour-covered hands. They were shaking. Whatever Greg wanted to tell her about that kid, she didn’t want Uncle Jake to know. Especially, if that kid was the person watching her at the cabin. Shooting at her? That had to be just stress, and she couldn’t let it make her paranoid.
She thought about cleaning up the mess on the counter and making scrambled eggs, but Uncle Jake loved pancakes. Pushing her bangs to the side with the back of her hand, she resumed adding flour to the sifter. The doorbell rang, startling her, and flour plopped onto the counter again, sending up another cloud.
Hurrying to the living room, she parted the drapes enough to see if it was Greg on the porch. Relieved the media wasn’t out there, she opened the door and stepped back to let him enter.
“That was fast,” she said, not bothering to keep the irritation from her voice. Closing the door, she stepped in front of him.
“I was in the neighborhood,” he said. “But if …”
“I do not want my uncle upset about that bully in Iris’s Diner. He has enough on his mind, and nothing happened.”
Greg nodded. “I understand, and I know my timing is bad. Should I leave?”
She shook her head. “My uncle invited you, but you may be sorry. I’m making pancakes and just spilled the flour and don’t know how much went in the bowl.”
“I like pancakes.”
“They’ll be without blueberries.” She headed to the kitchen. “Deidre doesn’t like them.”
“Pancakes with or without blueberries are good,” Greg said, following.
In the kitchen, she returned to the counter and again dug the scoop into the flour canister.
“Uncle Jake will be down in a minute.”
Greg didn’t need to be a detective to know Allie was uptight. Her words were clipped. Her back was stiff, her motions jerky as she sifted flour. He was glad he’d left the Tiller’s newspaper lying on the porch. She didn’t need to see what her uncle’s wife had told the reporter.
When Allie had let him in, she had flour on her nose and on the front of her blue T-shirt. The part that stuck out. Under different circumstances, he would’ve thought she looked sexy. But she was strung so tight, he hoped she didn’t snap.
“Want some help?” he asked.
“Can you bring me the milk and eggs from the fridge?”
He took that as her acceptance of his being there and got the requested items. Allie took the carton of eggs from him and dropped it.
She swore. He grabbed the carton. At knee level. Both knees had Band-Aids that didn’t cover all the scrapes. They weren’t there last night at the diner.
“You’re good with your hands,” she said when he stood up.
You have no idea.
“Fast reflexes too,” she said. “Thanks. Oh, oh.”
She was frowning at his hand on the egg carton. He glanced at it and saw and felt the problem at the same time. His thumb on the top of the carton was gooey. So were his fingers underneath. He’d gripped too hard when he’d caught the carton.
“The sink.” She pointed with a floured finger that had a Band-Aid on it.
So did the one next to it.
“Here, I’ll take the milk.” Her hand left a trail of flour on his as she took the milk from him.
“What happened to your fingers?” He set the carton of eggs in the sink.
“Cut them on a broken glass,” she said, measuring and pouring the milk into the flour-encrusted bowl. “I need two eggs.”
He wanted to ask about her injuries, but her tone indicated she wasn’t in a talking mood. Prying open the egg carton took the tops of three eggs with it.
“You can buy pancake mix, you know,” he said as he searched among the casualties for two intact eggs.
“Made from scratch are better.”
He gently liberated an egg and offered it to her.
She snatched it from him and smacked it against the bowl, held the shell up high to drain, and tossed it in the sink. After the second egg suffered the same fate, she stirred with a vengeance. Then she sprinkled a little water on the griddle and watched it skitter across the surface. He backed out of the danger zone.
“Hello, Greg.” Jake Tiller entered the kitchen and went directly to the coffeepot. “This is just ordinary coffee, not the high-test stuff. Would you like some?”
Allie cast him a dark look but went back to pouring batter on the griddle.
“Please, have a seat.” Jake motioned to the table. “Sugar? Milk?”
“Just black.” Greg sat at the oak table that was set for four, feeling out of place despite being invited. Jake set a cup of coffee in front of him and sat down with the other cup. The man looked like he’d been through hell.
“So, I take it someone was causing trouble at Iris’s last night, and I suspect you helped out.”
“Uncle Jake, it wasn’t a big deal,“ Allie said, turning a pancake that landed half on the griddle and half on the countertop. “Oh, crap.”
Greg watched her scoop the casualty into the sink and figured he’d better not remind her to check the ham sizzling in a skillet. “There was a …” remembering Allie’s directive, he finished, “… punk teasing the other kids.”
Allie stopped in the middle of flipping pancakes to glare at him. “Iris shut off the music, and told them all to go home. Which they did.” Allie’s eyes targeting him were blue frost.
“Yes, everyone left. Your stepdaughter and Matt Zooker said they didn’t know who he was. He’s around nineteen or twenty, six feet tall, about 180 pounds with long brown hair and a snake tattooed on his right arm. Does he sound familiar to you?”
Jake frowned and shook his head. “Sure doesn’t.”
He glanced at Allie who gave him another warning look, but he was getting very worried about the ham. The pancakes’ future was already in jeopardy, and smelling that ham made him ravenous. Unfortunately, looking at her in those shorts and blue T-shirt that formed perfectly to her curves made him hungry for something else.
Excusing himself, he got up and went to the stove. Adjusting the heat to low under the skillet, he picked up the fork lying on the counter and turned the slices of ham.
Allie finished flipping the pancakes and frowned at him. “I was about to do that.”
He gave her his best apologetic smile. “Sorry. I’m starved.” He grinned, glanced at the sink of discarded eggs and pancake, then looked back at her. “What else can I do to help?”
For a second he thought she’d throw the spatula at him, but then her shoulders slumped, and the anger left her eyes. Now, the dark circles under those baby blues accentuated her pale, drawn face. He ditched his grin.
The look she gave him squeezed his chest. Her expression was a mixture of gratitude and apology. This was not the Allie made of cold steel he’d seen yesterday.
“There’s butter, trans-fat free margarine, and maple syrup in the fridge,” she said. “Could you warm the syrup in the microwave, please?”
He nodded and went to the fridge.
“Is either Hazel or Deirdre coming down?” she asked her uncle.
Glancing at Jake, Greg caught the pain reflected in the man’s blue eyes.
“Doubtful,” Jake said.
Greg saw Allie tense but didn’t know if it was because he’d had to get close to her to use the microwave mounted above the stove or the fact her uncle’s wife and stepdaughter weren’t joining them.
“I’m glad you were at Iris’s last night,” Uncle Jake said to him.
Greg was glad, too. When the microwave beeped, he took the syrup to the table, and sat down. He thanked Allie as she set a platter of pancakes on the table and returned to the stove. Taking two, he poured syrup on them, figuring that would cover up the dark brown. He smelled the ham coming and was ready with a smile.
“Matt’s father called me first thing this morning,” Jake said.
Allie froze with the skillet over Greg’s head.
“I can’t believe RG called you so early.”
The skillet started to shake in her hand. Greg slowly scooted his chair back and stood up.
“What did he want?” Allie asked.
“He wants me to keep Deidre away from Matt.”
Greg reached for the skillet as it tilted precariously toward where his head had been.
Hazel’s voice boomed from the doorway to the kitchen.
“That pompous ox needs to keep his spoiled kid away from Deidre.”
Allie dropped the skillet. Greg tried to grab the handle, but the angle was wrong, and it landed upside down on his chair. Ham flew, some hitting his hand on its way to the floor. The ham was hot enough to make an impression.
“Oh, no. Did I burn you?” Allie turned stricken eyes on him, grabbing his forearm to examine his hand.
“No, it’s …”
“Look at the mess you’ve made in my kitchen,” Hazel shouted as she started for Allie.
Greg pulled free of Allie’s grip, ready to deflect Hazel’s attack, but Jake was out of his chair faster than Greg thought him capable of moving and intercepted his wife.
“Cold water,” Allie said to Greg, pointing at the sink. She glanced at her uncle as he herded Hazel back down the hall. “I’m sorry,” she called after them. “I’ll clean it all up.”
She grabbed Greg’s arm again, and he let her lead him to the sink. “Oh, God, did the skillet hit you?” She turned the faucet on, and cold water sluiced over his hand, wrist, and forearm. “How bad is it?”
With his free hand, he turned the water off. “It’s fine. No harm done,” he said.
But instead of letting go of his forearm, she turned it, inspecting the slightly reddish skin of his hand. She stopped and stared when she saw the white scar. He’d acquired it when he was a rookie cop stupidly trying to break up a knife fight. It was a wonder he hadn’t gotten himself sliced and diced.
She looked at him with more concern than he deserved. “I was a slow learner when it came to sharp objects,” he said, removing his arm from the sink and from her grasp. “I’m fine, really, but I could use a towel.”
She snatched the towel hanging by the sink, handed it to him, and retrieved the skillet.
“We’re out of eggs, but I can fix more ham. There’s plenty of bread for toast, and …”
“Why don’t I take you out to breakfast after we clean up the kitchen?”
She stared at him. “I don’t want to date you, and please, don’t say it would just be having breakfast together. Actually, I’d really prefer you to leave and not upset my uncle with any more talk about what happened at the diner last night.”
Greg folded the towel, placed it on the counter, and left. When he reached Iris’s Diner, he remembered he hadn’t warned Allie about Snake.
Karalee Long has been writing stories since second grade. Reading comic books taught her story structure while her imagination conjured characters to talk with and adventures to plot. She now writes romantic suspense and paranormal romantic suspense novels.
She lives at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains with her husband, an alpha male cockatiel who owns the family room, and Bad Boy Bones who came to visit at Halloween and now resides in the living room — and doesn’t pay rent. She and her husband are blessed with a wonderful son, amazing daughter-in-law, and lovable grandson.
She loves to hear from readers at www.karaleelong.com.
Links to Karalee’s website, blog, books, etc.
I hope you enjoy the recipe Karalee is sharing with us today on Karen’s Killer Fixin’s. Happy eating!
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[Recipe is from Better Homes and Gardens new Cookbook]
1 ¼ cup sifted flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1 T. sugar
½ tsp. salt
1 cup milk
2 T. salad oil or melted shortening
1 beaten egg
Sift together flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Combine milk, salad oil, and beaten egg and add to dry ingredients. Stir just until flour is moistened. (Batter will be lumpy.)
**SPECIAL GIVEAWAY**: Karalee is giving away a copy of LOVE AND MURDER IN RED SATIN, to one lucky reader who comments on her Karen’s Killer Fixin’s blog. Don’t miss the chance to read this great story! Thanks, Karalee, for sharing your story with us!