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, CASEY LEA, and her favorite recipe for SILK SMOOTHY!
The Arena Book One
BY CASEY LEA
One Arena. One Love. ONE DAY.
Happy-ever-after is never guaranteed but that’s the gladiator’s mission. It wasn’t his plan to fight to the death, but plans change. When Harvesters steal his wife, he tracks them down. The hunt takes all of his money and most of his self-control, but she’s worth it. He joins her as a slave forced to fight for his life without hesitation.
His wife is a deadly warrior, so it’s too bad she doesn’t know him. Memory stripped and struggling to survive she has no interest in the fool claiming to be her husband. He’s just another target standing between her and freedom, but not for long. She’ll take down anything and anyone in her way.
Can the gladiator live long enough to win his wife’s love? Unlikely. It’s the end of the season and the final day of fighting. They’re about to enter the Carnival of Death which leaves only a single survivor.
One of them must die.
A line of letters curving across her left hip stood out just as clearly and were just as familiar to Haze. He’d been present when they were inked into place and had the same tattoo on his right hip.
Semper amare. His lips shaped a promise, “always loved.”
It was Silk certain-sure and the sight of her was enough to make his chest feel raw. A year of marriage had only deepened his desire for her. The year spent apart since then had made him frantic. It was hard not to sprint forward and seize her. She pulled her fingers through those dark waves of hair, tugging impatiently at a last tangle and the pain in his chest sliced deeper. The attitude was just as familiar as the rest of her. Impatience had always been Silk’s default mode.
He opened his mouth to call to her, but she looked up, straight at him and he was silenced.
Their eyes met, but only briefly before she looked away. Her teeth caught her lower lip, and she glanced back, but then her gaze strayed past Haze once more.
She didn’t know him.
That hurt but he stepped forward, into the challenge of her indifference and she finally looked at him. Really looked. She hoisted the flexible strip of chainmail in her hands and watched him approach. She frowned, but he grinned back like a fool, even when her gazed dropped while twisting the chainmail into place around her hips. She crossed it over her breasts before fastening it behind her neck and sauntered to meet him.
Drops of water slid down her tan skin, while a sweet fragrance wafted ahead of her. Her lips parted like a rose in the sun. She was real and this was better, so much better, than any dream. Silk stopped while still out of reach, and it took all of Haze’s self-control to halt too. He could feel the heat from her body, but her expression was cold enough to freeze him in place.
“Silk,” he croaked, while she glared in response.
“Keep staring at me like that, Blondie, and you’ll be fighting as a eunuch.”
Haze clenched his fists in response to a sudden urge to hit something, preferably a guard. Instead, he locked his arms in place, reminding himself that Silk was a memory-wiped prisoner and this was exactly what he’d feared. Still, it was hard to believe she didn’t recognize him and even harder to accept.
“You don’t know me,” he said—to himself as much as his wife.
Silk’s lips curved, but not in the dazzling, delighted-to-see-him grin he’d imagined. Instead, they stopped at something smaller and tighter, a mocking smile. “I truly don’t. Now piss off.”
“I can’t do that. Not until we talk.”
“Talk? Really? Because you look like a sleaze who wants more than conversation.”
“A lot more actually.” It took an effort to soften his manic grin, but he managed to dial it down. “Hi, my name is Haze. I’ll be your husband today. And tomorrow and for the past two years. The Harvesters snatched you while we were working on a case. They stole your past then filled your head with lies. That’s why you can’t remember me.”
The chamber was unexpectedly still, and Silk seemed just as frozen. Haze looked into her eyes while she stared back, unblinking. His heart was beating out of control, so he paused to make sure his voice was steady. “I swear to you Silk, we belong together.”
His wife finally blinked. She drew a shaky breath, but her dark brows clenched, and she threw the guard a glare. “It’s your job to keep the weird ones out, Trilleon.”
The Harvester shrugged. “He’s not weird. He’s just a lawyer. Roving Barrister First-Class Hazeon farNikareon. Says he’s your husband.”
“That part I heard. I just wasn’t fool enough to listen. You actually fell for it? Get him out of here.”
“It’s true,” Haze said, while his fronds sent all the conviction they could. His wife wasn’t an empath, but it might help. Somewhere in there she had to remember him. Had to feel the connection that made him lean so far forward he almost fell. He kept tipping toward her anyway, until his face was close to hers. Their eyes met again, and she drew in a sharp breath.
Silk’s hand swung to crack across his cheek, and she backed up two quick paces. Out of reach again. “Stay away,” she hissed.
The pain in Haze’s chest was far worse than the ache spreading across his face.
He grinned anyway and shrugged. “Can’t do that. Think about it, please. You must know me because I surely know you. I know what you feel when we stand this close. I know what you want to feel too. My lips on yours for that perfect-”
“Idiot.” Silk’s mouth snapped shut on the insult, while a ribbon of darkness rippled from her fingertips up over her knuckles. It was the first hint of her skin’s natural armor, and his heart lifted. If she was becoming defensive it meant he was getting to her.
“Yes,” Haze said urgently. “you can’t ignore me, and you don’t want to. We belong together. We’ve shared so much …” He paused as inspiration struck. “I can prove it. We’ve got the same tattoo.” He grabbed his chainmail loin cloth and started dragging it down over his hip.
“Gross.” Silk closed the space between them in an instant while her hand stabbed out even faster, her dark fingers stiff and straight, to slam into Haze’s gut.
His words morphed into a wheeze as he doubled over. Her elbow came down on the back of his neck, driving him to the floor. He collapsed on his face, and she stepped on him as she walked away.
Nice. His wife still had a gift for adding injury to insult. He grimaced at the floor, gasping and unable to call after her.
Finding Silk wasn’t what he’d imagined.
In hindsight, looking like he was about to flash her had not been an act of genius. “I’m … Haze,” he wheezed to the damp ground, “and today … I’ll be … your idiot.”
He closed his eyes, still panting while reminding himself that at least it was a start. How much more it could be in a single day he didn’t know, but he pressed his fingers into his palm until the last nub of the crystal carrying Silk’s image was driven deeper under his skin. The microscopic flecks now hidden in most of his cells responded and his fingers tingled when their combined power sent a distress call to the nearest star.
His mind shaped a terse message with all the information their rescuers needed.
Contact made. Target amnesiac. Expect hostile extraction. Clock is running. Countdown one day only, from base-line Vertigo dawn. [schematics and security]
The last thing Haze sent was the packet of information his flecks had gathered since arrival on Vertigo. His plan was still far from complete, but the first steps were taken, and he had faith in his team. They’d analyse his brief and leave their hiding place behind Vertigo’s sun at the optimal time. They were the best defence team on Blizzard, so they’d come in hard and fast. Rescue was on its way. He just had to keep Silk alive for a few more hours, which he could do.
The real challenge would be to keep her from killing him.
“I can do that too,” Haze said to the floor. “She survived this long ‘cos she’s been waiting. Even if she doesn’t know it. Waiting for me.”
Metal boots the size of inter-planetary barges stopped next to him. A strip of hanging chainmail pooled on the ground when another gladiator squatted at his side.
Haze closed his eyes against the intrusion, focusing on Silk for one more moment. “She’s been waiting for me.”
“Sure don’t look like it,” the stranger crouched beside him observed.
“I’m Choke. Been told to take you back to the boys. C’mon.”
Choke straightened and Haze scrambled up too. He rose to offer a smile to the man’s … waist? That couldn’t be right. He stood straighter and his eyes managed to reach the barrel masquerading as Choke’s chest. Haze looked up, past hard curves of dark skin and then had to look further still, to finally find a pair of brown eyes.
“Hi,” Haze offered.
The ebony slabs of Choke’s face moved minutely, like tectonic plates stirring, but the result couldn’t be called a smile. “Hi.”
“Yes, you are. Do you come with a guidebook?”
“Follow me, boy.” The monolith turned away and Haze trotted at his heels, which certainly made parting the crowd easy. He was aware of people clustering close behind once they passed and looked back to see a group of guards milling aimlessly. They swung in different directions at his glance, and he shrugged then forgot them. It was time to meet the opposition.
Casey Lea is a mother/daughter creative combo dedicated to sharing their passion for all things sci-fi and fantastical.
A doting grandmother with too much time (and too many felines) on her hands took the opportunity to put pen to paper. The resulting scribblings were kindly placed in one of those new-fangled so-called “computing machines” by her older daughter and a writing partnership was born. The Lea (pronounced Lee) half of Casey Lea now spends her days wrestling with words and her memory while reading aloud to cats. Daughter Casey edits the results, while wrangling her adorable offspring.
Neither will take any responsibility for unexpected reactions when you consume their books.
However, both are very grateful. Thank you, Gentle Readers.
Links to Casey’s website, blog, books, #ad etc.:
I hope you enjoy the recipe Casey is sharing today on Karen’s Killer Fixin’s. Happy Eating!
My favorite recipe … Five Steps to Perfect Love.
This recipe is a little different but one that keeps me coming back for more.
1. Make a memorable first impression.
But no flashing. Keep your loin cloth locked.
2. Don’t trip over your feet in front of her.
This one could be tricky if she punches you, but if she makes the first move to get you on your back, just go with it. You didn’t need all those teeth anyway.
3. Say something romantic.
However, “I love you,” should not be included in your first date. Neither should a level of intimate knowledge that hints at stalking.
4. Do something romantic.
Saving her life is guaranteed to make a good impression … you’d think.
5. There are worse fates than death.
Losing your love is a harsh trip to hell. Do everything you can to avoid it.
6. Turn up the heat until your relationship sizzles.
If you want this dish to last … add some spice, then bake it hotter than arena sand.
Note from Casey: If you survive life as a gladiator, you’ll need something sweet that restores your energy and possibly some limbs … so try a Silk Smoothie.
This recipe is a variation on Yummly.com’s Clean Eating With Kids Immune Smoothie and is super refreshing after a hot day in the arena. It’s a tasty way to recharge any vitamins destroyed by heat stroke or blood loss.
Prep Time 5 mins
Total Time 5 mins
Servings: 2 people
2 Bananas peeled
1 cup Frozen mixed berries
½ tsp Fresh ginger
½ Cup Ice
1 Kiwi fruit Peeled
1/2 Cup Water Almond milk if you want a creamier smoothie
Honey to sweeten [if desired]
Whizz all ingredients together in a blender sharper than a gladiator’s glaive.
Once smooth, serve immediately or freeze in Popsicle molds.
Enjoy the fresh taste of freedom!
Thanks, Casey, for sharing your book and recipe with us!
Don’t miss the chance to read this book!