It was then he touched me for the first time that night.

He did this by putting a warm hand on the small of my back, the heat of it melting into my flesh, traveling up my spine and down over my bottom.

“Christ, Iz, this is the best guac I’ve ever had,” he stated.

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“Okay, you tussled in the snow with Midnight, let’s get you warmed up. You want some hot cider? Or cocoa? Or are you hungry? A little snack before dinner?”

“Do you have butterly pie?” Janie asked.

Cady stared down at her.

Shannon bumped Kath with her shoulder.

The dust was again rising.

“I…no, honey. I don’t have any of that,” Cady answered.

“You made us butterly pie and it was yummy. Mommy and I loved it. Mommy said to be sure to say thanks, so thanks!”

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“Nice cupcakes, buddy,” I heard from behind me half an hour later, and I saw in front of me, Feb, who I was talking to, lift her gaze to some high point over my shoulder.

Joe obviously was there.

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“Dad’s Mom,” I blathered on. “She was Polish and she could cook. I mean she could cook. She made these cookies, like crescent rolls but in cookie form with lots of cinnamon and sugar and butter and the dough was made with sour cream so they were rich and she sifted powdered sugar on them. She made them every Christmas and I always went over to help. She let me brush the melted butter on the rolled out dough and sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar on and she let me sift the powdered sugar on top.”

Finally, Tate spoke.

“All your memories come with food?” he asked.

“Dad makes the best cocktail sauce for shrimp you ever tasted. Carrie concocted this homemade macaroni and cheese that’s out of this world. And Mom got all the good of Grams and Gramma and put her own spin on it. Everything she makes will knock your socks off but her chocolate pecan pie is unbelievable.”

“I’ll take that as a yes,” Tate mumbled.

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Brand and I were sitting at Creed’s island with Brand talking a mile a minute, while Kara and Creed were making what they told me was called a “pizzookie.” The pizzookie, as described, was a phenomenon whose existence I was shocked I’d not only never heard of before, but also had never partaken of, copiously. Apparently, you took store bought cookie dough, sprayed a cake tin, scrunched a bunch of dough in the bottom, baked it until it was just cooked but mostly gooey, plopped a shitload of ice cream on top and ate it out of the pan. If you were feeling saucy, Kara further explained, you could do this with brownie dough.

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I rolled my eyes to the ceiling then brought them back to him. “I’m going to have coffee, make you French toast for breakfast and you’re going to take me back to Tex’s. Then I’m going to get my car, find Annette and go.”

“French toast sounds good.” He obviously felt like ignoring the rest of what I said.


“Do you have bread, eggs, maple syrup?” I asked.

His head dipped and went to my neck. With his lips there, he said, “Probably.”

“Powdered sugar, cream cheese?” I went on.

“Probably not,” he answered, mouth still at my neck.

Oh well, I’d make do. “Move back, I’m going to get started.”

His head came up and he was grinning at me.

I rolled my eyes at him and heard him laugh softly.

He let me go and stepped away.

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