Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Happy Pi Day

Since my blog day falls on the 14th of each month, every year I get to blog on Pi Day. For you math people, PI is the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle. For the rest of us it might be a good day to bake a pie or just eat pie. Here's a blueberry pie that I made one year on pie day.

In my book, A Baby to Call Ours, a marriage of convenience story, my heroine doesn't know how to cook, but she wants to make her new husband's favorite meal, which includes an apple pie. Here's an excerpt from the story. 

      Kelsey pulled her car into the parking lot of the local grocery store. She sat there for a few minutes and tried to settle her heart and mind. Jimmy’s support had gotten her through that horrible experience. He had made sure she was okay before he left for work every morning. That first morning after it had happened and she had spent the night in his arms, he’d offered not to go to work, but she wouldn’t let him jeopardize his job. She knew what a taskmaster Graham Cunningham was.
      Jimmy never talked about his work, but she had a feeling he was trying too hard to please his uncle. But what reason did Jimmy have to rush home at night other than his workshop? Certainly he didn’t rush home to see her. She wasn’t sure why that made her sad.
     Now everything was different. She had no baby on the way. Did Jimmy feel trapped in this marriage? She wanted to talk to him about it, but she didn’t know how to bring it up or what to say. He still needed a wife. A divorce wouldn’t look good to his uncle. She wished she knew what Jimmy wanted. She wished she knew what she wanted. Her emotions floundered in a sea of confusion.
Shaking away all the troubling thoughts, Kelsey got out of the car. Jimmy would be home tonight after another out-of-town trip. She wanted to buy some groceries to make him a special supper to celebrate his return. She had surprised herself at how much she enjoyed cooking. Besides fried chicken, Mary had told Kelsey that he loved steak and baked potatoes. That should be easy to fix, if she could figure out how to light the grill.
     Kelsey grabbed a shopping cart and pushed it into the store. She headed for the produce department in search of the perfect baking potatoes. After she selected two, one large and one small, she spied the apples. Did she dare try to make an apple pie, another one of Jimmy’s favorites? She would try.
     After she selected the apples, she moved on to the large display of cheeses. Jimmy loved cheese in the sandwiches he often took in his lunch, and she wanted to get him something special. While she perused the cheeses, she heard two women talking as they stood on the opposite side of the display. The mention of Jimmy’s name caught her attention.
     “Do you know who’s back in town?” asked one woman, not waiting for the other woman to respond. “Whitney Hamilton.”
     “She hasn’t been back in years, even to visit. Why is she back?”
     “Her dad’s health has really declined in the last six months. I think her mom begged her to come home to help.”
     “I wonder what she thinks about both Mitch and Jimmy being married.”
     “I don’t think she cares that much about Mitch. She always had her sights set on Jimmy. He was the one she was in love with, even when she dumped him for Mitch.” The woman sighed. “Jimmy Cunningham can sure turn some heads with those good looks of his.”
     “Yeah, but then he runs off and marries some young thing that he barely knew.”
      “Someone told me they thought she was pregnant, a one-night stand that resulted in a rush to get married.”
     “I heard they don’t even live together. Is that true?”
     “I don’t know, but it wouldn’t surprise me, if Whitney has her way, that Jimmy won’t be married for long. Those two couldn’t stay away from each other even when she was engaged to Mitch.”
      Kelsey wanted to run out of the store. If those women saw her, would they know who she was, or were they just talking about some nameless, faceless woman who was part of the small town’s rumor mill? She would forget the cheese, grab the steaks, and get out of this store.
     Hoping the women couldn’t see her, Kelsey kept her face turned away as she found her way to the meat department. Hurriedly she looked over the steaks and grabbed a couple of packages and threw them into her cart and barreled down the aisle toward the checkout lane.
     When Kelsey finally reached her car, she tossed the plastic bags containing her purchase on the passenger seat as she slid behind the wheel. While she drove home, she let those women’s comments replay in her mind. Had people guessed about her pregnancy? Well, now there was no baby.
Kelsey’s heart twisted, and the tears flowed. She wasn’t even sure she knew why she was crying. The loss of her baby. All the pretending. The thought of losing Jimmy. Maybe all of it pressed down on her spirit. What had happened to the cheerful college student she’d been last fall when she’d first met Jimmy?
     In the last three months she’d cried more than she’d probably cried in her whole life. Her mind replayed the conversation from the grocery store again and again as she drove into the garage. She kept hearing what the one woman had said. Those two couldn’t stay away from each other. Did Jimmy still love Whitney? Did she still love Jimmy and intend to go after him even though he was married, as those women had surmised?
     That conversation was all speculation and rumor, wasn’t it? That was what happened with gossip. It turned into half-truths. The women didn’t even have all the details right. She and Jimmy did live together now. At least they shared the same house. And beyond that, he was a good husband, sharing her secret and her pain.
     With an overwhelming sense of loss, Kelsey took the groceries into the kitchen and put the steaks in the refrigerator. She glanced at the clock on the microwave. Three thirty. Jimmy would be home from the airport around six. She had time to make the apple pie and figure out how to light the grill.
By five o’clock she had managed with great difficulty to bake a pie. It looked good as it sat cooling on the counter, but she could only hope it tasted good. She put the potatoes in the oven, then searched through the kitchen until she found one of those long lighters to use on the grill. She wandered out to the back deck and looked at the grill. She turned the knob and held the lighter on the place where she thought the flame would start. Nothing happened. She tried again. Still nothing.
     With a sigh, she went back into the house. The steaks would have to wait until Jimmy got home and turned on the grill. She made a salad. While she cut up the radishes from her garden, she thought about the time he’d teased her about planting radishes when she was a kid. Jimmy hadn’t done much teasing lately. He didn’t seem like the man she’d first married. Maybe he was unhappy being married to her. The only thing that kept them together was his stupid job, the job that kept him away from home too much.
     Even when he was home, he was either studying for work or some class or out in the shop. He avoided her at every turn. With the news she’d learned today, she wondered about that trip to Atlanta. Had he seen Whitney there? Is that why the woman had suddenly showed up in town?
     Even if Jimmy had seen Whitney, he wouldn’t cheat on his wife. He wasn’t that kind of man. But then he’d had no trouble messing around with Whitney when she’d been Mitch’s fiancée. No. No. Kelsey shook her head. That was not who Jimmy was anymore. But then why was he so unhappy?
Forcing herself not to think about those gossipy women, Kelsey headed for her room to change into something special for Jimmy. On the way, she went by the nursery. The door was closed, and it had been closed since Jimmy had put the crib and changing table in there. He had said it would stay closed until she decided to announce her pregnancy. Thankfully, she had never done so.
     Maybe it was time to face her loss in a concrete way.

What is your favorite kind of pie?

Merrillee Whren is the winner of the 2003 Golden Heart Award presented by Romance Writers of American. She is married to her own personal hero, her husband of forty-plus years, and has two grown daughters. Connect with her on her Facebook page and sign up for her newsletter.


No comments:

Post a Comment