Words and Food: Love at First Read with Monica La Porta
Thank you for having me, Lynn! Let me introduce myself to your fantastic readers: Hi, my name is Monica La Porta, I write love stories, and I like to build worlds with my pen (or more precisely, with my too big fingers on a battered keyboard) and cook (because I love food.) So, it won’t come as a surprise that I am always trying to shed some pounds and that my heroes and heroines are often eating or preparing their meals. Once or twice, a recipe might have found its way into a story, especially if I was attempting to follow a diet while writing. While I was working on The Immortal Greek (The Immortals, Book 2), I must have gone through a serious withdrawal phase, because Alexander and Ravenna keep eating throughout the whole story; she even cooks for him her favorite dish in a heated scene I had so much fun writing. So, without further ado, have a taste of immortal cooking…
Ravenna’s Greek Chicken
“What about Greek chicken?” Ravenna asked.
Alexander stood by the counter, arms on the marble surface, a grin on his face. “Is that an insult?”
She raised an eyebrow. “Please. Give me some credit. If I wanted to insult you, you would have known.”
“Well, you are sharp.”
“You’ve never had chicken à la Greek?” She opened the frozen compartment and took out a plastic bag with a pound of chicken thighs. Once every two or three months—depending on her job—she drove to a farm in Umbria, two hours north of Rome, and bought organic meat she then separated and refrigerated at home.
He laughed. “Never even heard of it before now.”
“Then you’re lucky because it’s my favorite dish and one I can make blindfolded.” She regretted the analogy as soon as it came out of her mouth, and hoped he couldn’t see her fingers were fumbling with the resealable strip on the bag.
“Really? Would you wear one for me?” He leaned on the counter and put his chin on his fisted hands. “It sounds fascinating.”
She turned her back to him and opened the plastic bag by puncturing it with a knife, then set it in a plate she placed inside the microwave. “Don’t get yourself too comfortable. Help me with the onions.”
Alexander strode to the sink and washed his hands. She handed him a dishcloth while checking on the meat defrosting in the microwave. He dried his hands, then reached over the knife block to her right. His arm brushed her shirt over her chest, and her legs became jelly. Instinctively, she felt the need to cover her flimsy blouse and grabbed the kitchen apron she kept on a hook by the fridge.
“Let me.” He laid the knife on the counter, then stepped back and helped her tie the apron’s strings around her waist.
“I can do it—” Somehow, her hands weren’t able to muster such a simple act on their own and they had kept stumbling against each other.
“You smell so good.”
She felt his breath on her neck and a set of shivers ran through her. Her body reacted to his nearness with an enthusiasm that left her looking for support. Where her first reaction would have been to lean back against him, she dropped her hands over the counter beside the sink instead. She tried to maintain as much distance as she could between their bodies, but it felt wrong.
“Like jasmine and sage.” His knuckles trailed the side of her throat from her ear to the hollow on her shoulder. Then his fingers traveled down her side and found their way under the apron, and he traced circles over the shirt and above the swell of her breast.
She wanted more than anything to press his hand lower and recline her head back for her mouth to meet his, but she was terrified whatever happened next would mean so much to her and nothing to him. Aching with need she had never experienced before, she steadied her resolve. “Stop.”
He flashed to her side before she had even finished uttering the command. She noticed his right hand shook as he sliced the onions she had put on the cutting board for him. The tension between them intensified as the cooking preparations proceeded, but he didn’t attempt to touch her again. Despite he was complying with what she had asked of him, it hurt.
“Can you take care of sautéing the onions and the garlic?” She passed him a head of garlic and small pan. “The oil is there.” She pointed at the green bottle on the windowsill over the sink.
He worked as instructed with a certainty in his actions revealing that not only he knew how to cook, but that he also enjoyed doing it. She caught herself staring at him maneuvering the pan over the stove. “Be careful not to burn the onions and remove the golden-brown garlic.”
He laughed. “As you command, Enforcer.”
She rolled her eyes, but her lips turned up in a smile. “My kitchen, my rules.”
He stopped tinkering with the pan, and satisfied by the coloring of the onions, he set it aside. Then he leaned with his back to the counter to face her. “You’re the domineering type, aren’t you?”
Unable to bear the intensity in his gaze, she turned her back to him, and focused on her cooking once again. “I’m glad you finally realized it.” She rolled the chicken she had cut into cubes in the flour, then heated a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a second pan and cooked the meat.
“Sometimes, giving up power makes you free to feel.” He had walked the few steps separating the counter from the stove and was now towering behind her. “Enhances your senses.” He leaned closer. “Opens your mind to possibilities you would’ve never considered.” He breathed behind her ear, sending shivers up and down her body. “Experiences that transcend pleasure and transport you to a different plane of existence.” Without touching her, he kept whispering so close to her throat his words caressed her skin. “A plane where time and space don’t matter, but only kisses and touches, and hands exploring bodies, and need so raw it kills being separated from her, from him.”
Suddenly, he moved away. Where there had been warmth only a moment before, there was now cold. She gasped and had to steady herself against the counter, her entire body pulsing with energy, her heart galloping inside her chest, her legs melting under her.
“What’s next?” He stood next to her, close, but again not touching.
“What?” She wouldn’t dare look at him, not wanting to expose herself, her thoughts so loud he would read them in her eyes.
He laid his hands palm down on the counter, leaned forward, and tilted his head toward her. “What do you want me to do next?”
She felt his silent call and couldn’t find the strength to fight him. She had tried, but it was futile to deny the attraction she felt for him. The moment her eyes met his, Ravenna was lost in them and decided she must have him. She inched closer.
“Do you want me to cut more vegetables?” Alexander asked.
He smiled. “More onions? What else can I do? I’m so hungry.”
The Immortal Greek blurb:
Alexander Drako: handsome, famous, rich, and on the cover of every tabloid in Europe. He has done it all and seen it all. Born a Greek in the times of the Roman Empire, he was chosen by a capricious goddess as one of her immortal followers. With his surfer good looks and a playboy disposition, Alexander has been living the life every man dreams of, at least for the last two thousand years.
Tall, elegant, and unapproachable, Ravenna Del Sarto is the perfect example of a modern career woman. An enforcer for the Immortal Council, she brings the bad guys of the paranormal world to justice. She doesn’t have time for fun and has zero tolerance for playboys.
During the highly anticipated End of Summer party, a young immortal commits suicide by jumping from Alexander’s balcony and Ravenna is called to investigate the death. Alexander quickly learns that not only Ravenna’s walls are impenetrable to his easy smile, but she is also bringing him up on charges.
Will she detain him?
Or will his legendary charms help him out of this one?
A few more words about me: Several years ago I landed in Washington State and never left, because I find the mist and the rain fascinating. I write in several genres, from stark dystopian and sweet futuristic romance, to paranormal with an Italian twist. Below are the links to a few freebies if you’d like a taste of my stories. Each title is the first in its series. I hope you will enjoy them as much as I’ve had fun writing them! And don’t hesitate to contact me on my Facebook page if you have any question. I love hearing from my readers! Or sign to my newsletter if you want to keep up with sales and new releases.