Mulled wine is one of my favorite holiday treats, mostly because…well, wine! Here’s a mulled wine themed excerpt from The Spirit of the Place (Oberon series, book 6). As well as a link to an easy (and delicious) mulled wine recipe. Enjoy!
Blurb:`Tis the season to be jolly…but Jasmine Quinn is far from happy about her mother’s latest folly: her upcoming wedding to former Wall Street financier, Sam Sterling.
Sam’s assistant, Brandon Ablemarle, is also finding it hard to get into the holiday spirit, thanks in part to the fiery redhead with some of the goofiest ideas he’s ever heard of. What else can you expect from the daughter of a self-proclaimed psychic? Marsha Quinn has a lot to answer for. Not only has she encouraged her daughter’s esoteric craziness, she’s also turned one of the most brilliant stock analysts Wall Street had ever seen into a nutcase as well.
Christmas Eve dawned foggy and cool. The heavy air seemed to muffle sound. Long before the silent night could fall, the day had a hushed and breathless feel to it. As if the whole world was holding its breath….
Last minute shoppers thronged The Crone’s Nest all day long, keeping Marsha too busy to ponder the irony. It flew in the face of logic, but every year she sold more of everything on the day before Christmas than she did on the day before Yule.
Business was brisk at Cavanaugh’s nursery, as well. Shortly before noon, Dan packed up most of the unsold trees from the lot and delivered them to a local food bank. There, they would be handed out to the families who came in to pick up boxes of groceries and canned goods that kids in the local elementary schools had spent weeks collecting.
At Lupa e Cervo, goodwill of a slightly different kind was being dispensed. Sinead had set up a table of appetizers in the winery’s tasting room, turning the daily free wine sampling into an impromptu party.
Out of deference to Adam’s feelings on the subject, she’d had a separate table set up on the terrace outside the tasting room—and out of his direct line of sight—where she offered prospective customers a holiday twist on the winery’s usual offerings.
“Mulled wine?” Adam stared at her, appalled when she explained what she was doing. “Hot mulled wine?”
She nodded, lips trembling as she tried not to smile too broadly. In truth, it was all she could do to keep from laughing out loud at his outrage.
“You’re taking my wine and…heating it? In a…in a crock pot? With—?”
“With spices, yes.” She smiled at him, and added, gently, “That’s how it’s done, I’m afraid. It’s what we did last night, too, you know. Out on the back terrace?”
Adam shuddered, his revulsion obvious. “No. I didn’t know. Thank the gods for that.” He eyed her suspiciously, and then asked in a voice filled with dread. “Which vintages?”
But Sinead knew better than to answer a loaded question like that. She was just damn glad Nick could have no idea about Adam’s feelings on the subject. There was no telling how much mileage he’d try to get from it, if he did.
As it was, she was more than a little worried about what kind of surprises the two men might have in store for each other…
It was a subject that was causing Scout some concern, as well. “I can’t believe you won’t tell me what you got Adam for Christmas,” she complained. Perched on the kitchen counter, she watched as Nick pressed fresh dough into the pasta maker, turning it into noodles for tonight’s lasagna. They were celebrating this evening with his daughter Kate, who would be spending the next couple of days with her mother. Tomorrow, they would be going to Lucy’s.
If she were honest, Scout would have to admit that she wasn’t all that disappointed that Adam and Sinead would not be at Lucy’s as well. She’d already spent two days this week playing referee. She deserved a day off.
But, she would have found it a whole lot easier to relax if she hadn’t learned—only last night—that both Nick and Adam had purchased presents for each other. And, how weird was that, anyway?
Nick glanced up from his pasta and smiled. “Tell you now? And spoil the surprise? No way.”
She watched him for a moment longer, but he was focused on his work, and his expression gave away nothing. “It’s not something that’s gonna…oh, I don’t know…blow up in his face, or something. Is it?”
“No, of course not,” Nick said, feeding another sheet of pasta into the machine. “I mean, not unless he’s really careless. If he got distracted, or something, then I guess, theoretically, it might be possible.”
“Oh. Right.” Scout rolled her eyes. “So, I guess, in that case, your plan is to be around when he uses whatever it is. So you can make sure he’s distracted?”
Nick grinned at her, eyes twinkling. “You know, you used to be a lot more trusting of me.”
“You used to be a lot more predictable,” Scout snapped. She thought about that for a moment.
Maybe predictable wasn’t quite the right word. He’d just been…defensive. Like a fighter who had gone too many rounds but was still too stubborn to stay down. Sheer determination might keep bringing him to his feet, but he had nothing left for anything more. He was too beaten up by life to do anything other than put one foot in front of the other and, over and over again, walk right into the next punch it threw him.
Scout thought back over the last year. He was so much more relaxed now. So much more lighthearted and carefree than he’d been, even last Christmas. She’d like to think she could take some of the credit for that. Maybe, after a year and a half, he’d finally begun to trust that, this time around, the happiness that had eluded them for so long would not be snatched away again.
She slid from the counter. Nick turned his head to smile at her as she came up behind him and put her arms around his waist.
“Is there anything I can do to help?” she asked.
Nick nodded. “There sure is. Just stay right where you are. That’s all I need, you know.”
“Good,” Scout murmured happily, resting her head against his back. “Me, too.”
She’d been running for such a long, long time. Right now, staying put was all she ever wanted to do.