A Brewing Passions Novella
July 18, 2017
When Ross and Elisa open their new business in Detroit, they believe they’ve embarked on a dream life, complete with their beloved, precocious daughter. But owning and running a restaurant is not for the faint of heart, and Elle quickly becomes laser-focused and obsessed, while Ross spends his days consulting, or concocting new beers on his pilot system—and wondering why she won’t agree to set a date for their wedding. When their restaurant—named “Komfort” for its focus on the comfort foods of various cultures—is featured on a nationally televised tour of hot new eateries, its popularity shoots into the stratosphere, and Elle’s stress level reaches a breaking point.
Faced with a mutual inability to communicate beyond their robust sex life, Ross issues an ill-considered ultimatum: the restaurant or him. Stunned when she refuses to consider such a ridiculous demand, he’s forced to come to terms with his own selfish tendencies. Hoping to repair the damage he’s done, he concocts a new beer inspired by her, using a recipe for a classic German-style Kölch. He crafts the final product using a special ingredient designed to catch Elle’s attention. It does. But not necessarily the way he’d planned.
“Adjunct Lovers” fills in the story begun in LIGHTSTRUCK, and provides a closer look at Ross’s and Elle’s complex personalities as they make their sexy way toward happily ever after—with the help of a very special brew.
The job was a hell of a lot more than she’d bargained for—although to be fair, she had been warned by plenty of people familiar with its daily grind. The mornings were her favorite time here. The kitchen sparkling from the night’s cleaning, the tables bare, the chairs flipped over on top of them. The place still held a bit of mustiness from its many years sitting empty but they were overwhelming that with nearly three years’ worth of their own odors—drywall, paint, floor refinishing, which were all subsumed by the daily fact of food being prepared, served and eaten.
She and Ross had built this. It was theirs. And yet, now it was more ‘hers’ and a lot less ‘his’. She understood his need to get back to brewing and supported it but she missed his daily presence, supporting her, in ways she’d never thought she would.
She moved over to the secondhand couch, used by her and countless others for cat naps during down times, and closed her burning eyes, marveling at what a relief it was not to be looking at lists, recipes and spreadsheets.
Just for a minute. Just a quick rest.
She fell into a light sleep within seconds, dropping into an odd half dream-state, where she could still hear the prep staff talking, laughing, slamming things around. Music suffused her drifting brain, matching whatever had been dialed up on the streaming service behind her.
She felt Ross’ arms around her, cradling her, his lips at her ear, crooning to her in his country-boy German accent. As she relaxed in his embrace, he kissed her, sending a sharp spike of lust down her spine. Dream-Ross undressed her gently, stroking every inch of skin he exposed, following that with his lips, tongue and teeth. She shivered and reached for him, wanting more of him. Wanting all of him.
But now he was frowning at her, withdrawing. His mouth moved but she couldn’t hear his words. He was making that crazy-ass ultimatum again. They were fighting. Anger swirled around and between them, poisoning the pleasant eroticism of the moment before. It wasn’t as if they’d never fought. It was more like these arguments held an edge of real frustration as opposed to brief or imagined aggravation. She hated it. She hated herself for being so short, so tired all the time, so obsessed, as he liked to put it, by the damn restaurant.
“But it was your god damned idea, Hoffman,” she reminded him in her dream. “What do you think? I’d just open it and waltz away from the thing, letting it run itself?”
“No,” he said, his voice low, tight with unhappiness. “That’s not what I think.”
“Then what do you suggest? I mean, I’m sorry if you’re feeling neglected. But I can’t take my eyes off this. I can’t. You understood, once upon a time, but all of a sudden you’re being a total child about it.”
Dream-Ross reached for her, tugged her close, their naked skin warm as they wrapped themselves around each other and fell into their bed. “I want to get married, Elisa,” he demanded when she straddled his hips and eased herself down his long, thick shaft with a sigh. “I want that one simple thing. Why won’t you give that to me?” His deep blue eyes were wide, his breathing shallow. She rolled her hips in silence, giving them the friction they both sought. “God damn it.” He yanked her down. The ropey strands of her dreadlocks curtained them when he jammed his tongue into her mouth, before rolling them so he was on top, the way he preferred to come, buried deep inside her.
She reached back and grasped the headboard, lifting her lower body up, wanting him deeper, groaning as she came in a glorious burst of energy at the same moment she felt him join her, releasing into her with a hoarse cry of pleasure. This was her man, her Ross, her life. It was all she wanted, nothing more. She opened her eyes and pressed her hand to the tight, red curls of his beard. “I love you,” she said in a whisper.
He frowned. “Then marry me. Today. Tomorrow. This weekend. I’m sick of waiting.” She opened her mouth to say “yes, anything you want. Just please never leave me.”
Someone was shaking her shoulder, yanking her out of the half-dream, half-memory. She hadn’t been able to say “yes” that night, either. She’d been so overwhelmed at the thought of planning a wedding she’d started crying, so he’d held her until they’d both fallen asleep, still skin-to-skin, sweaty and sticky. The next morning they’d had their first massive, ugly fight. And that had been, what, a month ago now? It felt like a million years, but also just yesterday.
Amazon best-selling author, mom of three, Realtor, beer blogger, brewery marketing expert, and soccer fan, Liz Crowe is a Kentucky native and graduate of the University of Louisville currently living in Ann Arbor. She has decades of experience in sales and fund raising, plus an eight-year stint as a three-continent, ex-pat trailing spouse
Her early forays into the publishing world led to a groundbreaking fiction subgenre, “Romance for Real Life,” which has gained thousands of fans and followers interested less in the “HEA” and more in the “WHA” (“What Happens After?”).
With stories set in the not-so-common worlds of breweries, on the soccer pitch, in successful real estate offices and at times in exotic locales like Istanbul, Turkey, her books are unique and told with a fresh voice. The Liz Crowe backlist has something for any reader seeking complex storylines with humor and complete casts of characters that will delight, frustrate and linger in the imagination long after the book is finished.
Don’t ever ask her for anything “like a Budweiser” or risk bodily injury.