Eliza and Lily bake the perfect bloke
“Once upon a time, two Escape Artists, Eliza Redgold and Lily Malone were sitting in… hold on, Eliza. Where were we sitting again?”
“Sitting beneath your verandah, Lily,” Eliza said, taking another fat green olive from a glazed pottery dish and popping it in her mouth.
“Do you think that’s exotic enough? My verandah?”
Eliza spat the pip delicately into her palm and swallowed. Lime and chilli-marinated olive scorched a salt aftertaste down the back of her throat. “You have to write what you know.”
“Good point. Where was I? Eliza and Lily were sitting under the verandah, co-authoring a blog post about what inspires them to write romance chock-full of food and wine.” Lily’s fingers clattered across the keyboard. She looked up at Eliza expectantly: “Then what happens?”
Eliza reached for another olive. “God, those are good. Did you try one?”
Lily glanced at the growing mountain of pips surrounding the olive dish, like an army of climbers planning an Everest summit. “Yeah. I had one. Now focus, Eliza. What else can we say? Our pacing is off. Our plot is crap. Kate Cuthbert will reject it for sure.” She reached for her wine. Times like these, Eliza noticed, Lily always reached for her wine.
“I’ve got it!” Eliza slapped the table, hard enough to make Lily jump. There was a shallow bowl of extra virgin olive oil near the prosciutto-wrapped melon balls, and it vibrated deliciously. Oil ripples.
“Shit. I got wine up my nose,” Lily grumbled, wiping her face with the back of her hand.
“You’ve got what?”
“I’ve got the answer to our plot problem. We bring in a man!”
Lily almost choked on her Chardonnay. “A man? Now? It’s the first bloody paragraph. What happened to structure?” Lily put her wineglass back on the table, fiddling slightly so it covered an already-existing wet circle. “How exactly, Eliza, do we get a man into our blog post?”
Eliza swiped a cracker into Lily’s home-made hummus. The cracker broke mid-serve, leaving a spike of jagged edge.
“Hey. No double-dipping,” Lily muttered, one eye on the wreck Eliza had made of the dip, the other on the screen. “It’s not fair. I’m doing all the work. You’re eating all the good stuff. Here. It’s your turn. Pass the prosciutto.”
Eliza leaned across the table and swapped the proscuitto platter for the laptop.
Lily topped-up her chardonnay and took a long, slow, sip. The wine tasted lightly of oak, and something else. Peaches. Or maybe that was the melon on her tongue. She lifted the glass up to the afternoon light.
“Here’s what we’re missing, Lily. You’re being too obvious. What we need is subtlety, nuance, hint, suggestion, a little … je ne sais quoi…”
Lily took a swig of wine. When Eliza started speaking French, she knew she was in for a long afternoon.
“Like truffles,” Eliza continued, fingers flying over the keyboard. “They’re for connoisseurs, for gourmets. They’re about mystery and luxury.” As she spoke she gave each key an extra click. When she stopped, she reached for the olives.
If there was one thing Lily couldn’t stand it was sticky fingers on her keyboard. Just in time she offered Eliza the crackers instead. “So what does mystery and luxury mean, exactly?”
Eliza crunched the cracker and grinned. “Let’s cook Kate Cuthbert a recipe for the perfect man.”
“Genius, sweetie,” Lily squealed, reclaiming the laptop. It was only a matter of time before Eliza smeared it in hummus. “You talk, I’ll type.”
“We-ll,” Eliza spun out the word like soft toffee on a spoon. “He’d have a chest like that guy on that hot cover. You know? The June release. That soldier guy…”
“You mean Jason in The Virginity Mission?”
Eliza snapped her fingers. “That’s the one.”
“Mmm.” Lily typed Jason’s chest and then sat watching the cursor blink. It blinked and blinked and in the end she had to prompt her co-writer. “And?”
Eliza shook her head. “Sorry. I was thinking about that cover.”
“Easy enough to do,” Lily conceded, crossing her legs under the table. “What about the perfect eyes?”
“That would be Xavier Antoine in my book, Black Diamonds. He has eyes like truffles: the darkest, deepest, blackest ones… the ones that are hardest to find.”
Lily typed Xavier’s eyes and prayed Eliza would shut up about truffles. To distract her, she asked a new question: “What about his buns?”
“Buns?” Eliza gave her a blank look. “Baguettes? Flat bread? Sourdough? Rye?”
“Buns. Butt. Arse. Backside.”
“Oh. Who’s got the perfect butt?” Eliza asked.
“Scott in Under The Hood was pretty hot in that department, from memory,” Lily said, fanning her face with one hand as she thought about it.
“Whack him in.”
Eliza reached for a chorizo stick and Lily typed, Scott’s butt.
“It’s not just looks that make the man, Eliza. He should have a soft side too. Be good with kids, for example.”
“A Man Like Mike.”
Lily typed, then added: “And nice to elderly people and animals.”
Eliza barely drew breath. “Ethan in House on Burra Burra Lane. He’s a vet.”
“He needs a way with words,” Lily mused.
“The guy in your book, Tate in His Brand Of Beautiful. He’s great with words.”
Lily typed: Tate’s tongue, and recrossed her legs, trying not to blush.
“He should have a talent, too,” said Eliza. “Nick Gordon, that sculptor in Drawing Closer. He’s good with his hands.”
Talented hands. Lily typed it in.
“So read me what we’ve got so far.” Eliza had her university lecturer’s face on.
Dutifully, Lily read out the list and when she’d finished, Eliza said: “All we need now is his face.”
They both stared at the food spread on the table. Plump olives. Salty proscuitto. Thick, creamy hummus. Sweet balls of melon.
“Brad Pitt,” announced Lily, at the same time as Eliza squealed: “Ryan Gosling.”
They both laughed and reached for their wines.
Eliza clinked her glass playfully with Lily’s. “Let Kate Cuthbert choose.”
What are the essential ingredients for the perfect man? Let us know at Escape. And watch for Kate’s follow-up post, coming soon.
Black Diamonds – Eliza Redgold
A small Australian farmer battles an enigmatic French magnate in a world of exotic locations, luxurious tastes, and the most expensive flavour in the world.
Earth’s black diamonds…
Truffles are known as one the most powerful aphrodisiacs on the planet, but when Australian truffle farmer Jacaranda Riley meets Xavier Antoine, owner of a French truffle empire, she gets more on her plate than desire.
But does the man who has taken her heart secretly plan to take her home and business too?
His Brand of Beautiful – Lily Malone
Christina Clay only wants the best when it comes to her family’s iconic Australian wine company, and Tate Newell has the best marketing brain in the business. But there are some people in the world Tate doesn’t want to work for and Clay Wines’ eccentric chief executive is high on his list.
Sometimes, to get a woman out of your head, you have to let her in.
Christina has another project of her own in mind when it comes to Tate. She wants a baby and a brand. And in Tate, she’s found the one man who can give her both.