Friday, November 23, 2007

One Good Man: Thanksgiving

Here's a never-before-posted Thanksgiving excerpt from One Good Man by Lacey Thorn and Cindy Spencer Pape, available NOW at In this excerpt, Grant is still struggling to deal with witnessing the death of his younger brother in Iraq. Casey is fleeing a murderer, and has been led to Grant's remote cabin by a hitchiker who then vanished.

When she returned a few minutes later, she was dressed in jeans and a tight little sweater that made Grant’s mouth water and his jeans uncomfortably tight. Her long damp hair hung in thick glossy strands down her back.

“Something smells wonderful.”

“Turkey.” It came out as little more than a grunt, so he tried again. “I put some potatoes in to bake too.”

“Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings, huh?” She gave him a lopsided grin. “Anything I can do to help? I’ll warn you I’m not much use in the kitchen.”

Oh Grant could think of plenty of things to do with her in the kitchen but none of them involved getting dinner on the table. He pointed at the big cardboard box from his mother.

“There are probably more goodies in that, if you want to check.” Yesterday he’d been too depressed about the whole holiday to even open the care package.

“You want me to open your mail?”

Grant shrugged and handed her a small paring knife. “It’s from my mom, so it’s not like there are going to be any dirty pictures or anything. But she usually sends cookies and we could use dessert.”

“Ooookay.” She took the knife and slit the tape on the box. While Grant pulled the potatoes out of the oven and put them on a plate, he watched her remove a layer of newspaper, then the rest of the contents, cans first.

“Cranberry sauce. A can of turkey gravy. Green beans. A bottle of white wine. A loaf of some kind of bread.” She pulled out a small foil-wrapped package.

“Oh yum, that will be her homemade banana bread. Seriously good stuff. Anything else?”

“A can of mixed nuts, a big tub of cookies and something else. Looks like a framed picture.”

Grant watched as she dug into the bottom of the box. She pulled the flat rectangular object out and handed it to Grant. He could tell it had bothered her. She was trying not to look at it. He noticed when he took it that her fingers were shaking almost as much as his were.

“Mom, what did you do this time?” He recognized the frame, though, didn’t need to see the photo to know every line and shadow. It was a blown-up snapshot of his first Thanksgiving after his ranger training. He was home, in his dress greens, with his arm around his nine-year old brother, who wore Grant’s beret and a mile-wide grin.

“You have a non-electric can opener?” Casey turned away, the can of beans in her hand. “I can manage to heat up a can of veggies, I think.” He heard the quaver in her voice and wanted to believe that the emotion was real, that she wasn’t here out of some ulterior motive.

“Yeah. Second drawer.” His own voice came out as a croak. He put the photo back in the box and turned to the cupboard to dig out a saucepan and another for the gravy. Trust his mom to remember that Grant had never mastered the art of making gravy.

He finished up the meal while Casey set the table, awkward silence stretching between them. The cracking fire and the oil lamps cast a glow that was almost too intimate and romantic for the talk they needed to have. When Grant finally took his place Casey raised her wineglass to him.

“Well, here’s to Thanksgiving. At least we’re inside with food and a fireplace.”

Grant nodded and clinked his glass to hers. He still wasn’t sure today was anything to be thankful for but at least it was a whole lot more interesting than he’d had any right to expect.


Brynn Paulin said...

I bet it will get a whole lot more interesting than he expected too. Yummy excerpt! Thanks!

Anny Cook said...

Wonderful excerpt!

Sandra Cox said...

Sounds like a great read!