Hi sweetie. How are you?
I'm just checking in to say hello an share a mid-week teaser from Secrets, Book 2 of The Ben & Selina Trilogy.
This is a precursor to another of my favourite scenes from this book.
Selina's and Ben's regular Saturday Playday has been disrupted, first because Ben had to go to work. Then his sister Beatrice arrives unexpectedly and things look like they are going to degenerate. Then Ben finally comes home.
Glad to be alone in the kitchen, Selina shook out her shoulders, easing some of the tension there and focused on preparing the meal. Luckily she'd had her groceries delivered from their local supermarket on Thursday, so she didn't have to scramble around looking for ingredients to cook with.
Still, her hands shook as she poured the fresh pasta into the pan, some falling onto the worktop. This had special significance for her. It was the first time she was cooking food for a family guest in over ten years. She wanted to take her time and prepare it well. It used to be a thing of pride for her to entertain guests. She had loved hosting family and friends. But that inherent value had been robbed from her.
Now panic ate into her mind, and she hurried with chopping the vegetables. Benjamin would be home soon, and she wanted to get this right. For Beatrice's sake.
She poured some oil into the pan and turned the heat on the hob on. She returned to crushing the garlic and chopping the peppers.
When she looked up, the oil was hot and smoking. In a panic to avoid the smoke alarm from going off, she pulled the pan off the fire in a jerky movement. It sloshed over, and some of it splashed her arm.
She yelped as her skin burned. Gripping her arm with her left hand, she rushed over to the sink. Cold water cascaded over her burnt flesh, taking away some of the stinging.
The pain ricocheted around her body, her heart pounding loudly in her ears. She gritted her teeth as she fought back the tears that misted her eyes.
"What are you doing?"
Benjamin's gravelly voice made her look up. He stood by on the threshold, his body filling the doorway, his lips pursed in a stern line. Her heart jumped in surprise and relief at his presence. She hadn't heard his return.
"Ben!" She couldn’t hide her breathy voice with the realization that she'd messed up the dinner and he was there to witness it. Her earlier wish for him to come home reversed. She coughed to clear the lump in her throat and didn't meet his searching gaze.
"I'm just cooking dinner," she said in a much too cheery tone and turned off the tap. "Go and welcome your sister. I'll let you know when it's ready."
Please, let him not notice the burn.
His eyebrows pulled together in a frown as he strode across the kitchen towards her.
Feigning a calm exterior, though her heart pounded in panic, she pulled a sheet of paper towel out and dabbed it over her arm as if she was merely drying it.
Ben's long fingers wrapped around her upper right arm, his grip tight but not painful.
"Take the towel off." Something wasn't right with the calmness in his voice.
Compelled to obey, she reluctantly lifted her left hand with the wet sheet in it, nausea churning in her belly, her gaze fixated on the grey floor tiles.
"What happened?" There was thunder in his voice. She lifted her head and stared at his face. His grey eyes darkened to stormy clouds, the groove of creases on his face deepening with his frown.
"The hot oil splashed on my arm," she said in a weak voice as she fought back the tears. There was no point attempting to hide the truth anymore.
He glanced back at the cooker and saw the still burning hob. Releasing his grip on her arm, he leaned across and switched it off before turning back to her.
"Let me see that," he said in a surprisingly gentle voice. She had been expecting anger.
She lifted her right arm so he could see it better in the overhead spotlight. A patch of skin the size of a ten pence coin was already darkening.
The sound of his growl vibrated throughout the kitchen. Tingles travelled down her spine to her core. A soft gasp escaping her lips as her insides contracted. There was something about the intensity of his response that was so damned erotic she wanted to wrap her legs around his hips.
Out everywhere else on November 30th