Excerpt from Unspoken
By Liz McMullen
When they entered the apartment, their cheeks were flushed with cold. The living room was not much warmer than the air outside. “We turn down the heat when we’re out. I’ll start a fire and the place will warm up pretty fast.” Rowan set about turning on some lights, then gestured to the couch where they had shared kisses. “Feel free to brave the marshmallow or curl up in the chair by the fireplace.”
Desiree read between the lines. Rowan was letting her set the level of intimacy between them. She brushed her hand lightly on Rowan’s back, then sat on the couch and was sucked into the plush cushions. “Wow, I never figured Jodeci for the soft furniture type.”
“Yep, but she’s a big softy all around.” Rowan stood and brushed some of the wood shavings off her thighs. Desiree liked that Rowan used kindling rather than those chemical logs to start the fire. She liked a lot of things about Rowan.
Rowan caught her looking, but this time, instead of looking away, she smiled. “Can I get you something to drink? Hot chocolate, cider, maybe a beer?”
“Oh, hot cider would make this place smell even more amazing.” Desiree thought back to earlier in the day when the apartment was fogged with a delicious combination of Rowan and Jodeci’s butch beauty products. The place was heating up now with the sweet scent of real wood burning in the fire. Hot cider would make this moment picture postcard perfect.
“I have an even better idea. Join me in the kitchen.” Rowan gestured to the worn yet homey table in the breakfast nook. She put two pans on the stove. In one, she added cider from Atkins Farm, aka the good stuff, along with a handful of short cinnamon sticks. The second one had a similar base, but a few aromatic additions: fresh cranberries, a shake of cloves, and freshly grated lemon and orange zest.
The combined aromas made her mouth water. “That’s amazing, but will it taste good?”
Rowan plunked a few orange slices and sprinkled brown sugar on the slow-boiling liquid. “Actually, this is what we call old-school air freshener. Mom used to boil this when we opened the cabin for the fall. Gets the musty smell out.”
“I’ll say.” Desiree walked over and bent close to smell the savory sweet fragrance up close. She was glad her hair was up in a bun or it would have taken a dunk. Though that wouldn’t have mattered too much since they wouldn’t be drinking the brew from this pan and she didn’t care if her hair took on the mouthwatering scent.
Rowan poured raw sugar onto a plate, dunked the mugs in the pure cinnamon and cider mix, and sugared the glasses. She ladled the spicy cider into the mugs, added a long cinnamon stick to each, and handed Desiree her drink with a flourish.
“Thank you so much. You’re quite the bartender,” Desiree complimented her, then moaned as she enjoyed the tart beverage and sugary rim.
Rowan’s dark blue eyes grew smoky at her reaction. Making sure both burners were off, she took Desiree’s nearly empty mug, set it next to her own on the counter, and pulled her in for a kiss.