Laughter. Hot guys. Gobs of friendship. Tasty vittles.
And a dash of suspense. All tucked inside my pages.
I’m Meika Macrae. Welcome!
+ award-nominated writer
+ author of fun, light-hearted women’s fiction and romance
+ lover of any kitchen (though can’t say they always love me back)
+ fan of adventure so long as imminent death is not likely
+ die-hard reader (any genre), student of history and language, boater when I get the chance and 80’s movie-goer (sorry in advance!)
THE T-BONE TALES, the first book in the fun, feel-good Pecan Bay Series about friendship, motherhood, love and a few boating mishaps…
Teenage crush turned present day competitor, it’s T-Bones vs. Bobby’s Brisket…and who’s going to win?
A two-day long teenage romance that Beaz tries to forget, thank you very much. After all, it was Bobby who broke up with her. When her generous great uncle leaves her T-Bones steakhouse, that’s sweet and all, except one tiny detail. She doesn’t eat meat! Besides, she’s a romance novelist, not a restauranteur, and the business is failing. Even if it’s not what her great uncle would have wanted, there’s no choice but to sell it immediately because she could go bankrupt…not just the restaurant but herself.
The trouble is, Beaz feels guilty. But she can’t help it! She doesn’t want to cozy up to those poor cows all day long, dead on her account. But when Bobby at Bobby’s Brisket sticks steak on his menu before Beaz can sell and then her latest novel’s success gets accidentally intertwined in murky steakhouse business, she’s got no choice but turn profits around. It’s game on, Bobby. Game on.
Misunderstandings turn their childhood crushes into fierce competitors. Now it’s T-Bones vs. Bobby’s Brisket, and no one wants to back down, even if they both can’t forget that little kiss, all those years ago…Can their friends, Sophie, a detective with a secret past and, Mary Anne, the local marina owner, save them from each other? Maybe Beaz’s college-aged twins’s devious plan can, boys who consider Bobby a father figure. But the odds are against anyone who wants to help when it comes to two stubborn personalities, passionate about their work and loved ones.
The T-Bone Tales is Book One in the Pecan Bay Series, all set in a friendly Texas lakeside town. Well, usually friendly, that is, when they aren’t dodging fake gossip, creepy letters, and bomb threats from Beaz’s bitter enemies, old and new.
It’s a fun-filled adventure sprinkled with romance, action, mystery, camaraderie…and there’s always a boat chase and plenty to eat. Come on over for a neighborhood barbeque. We’ve got an extra seat!
READ AN EXCERPT OF THE T-BONE TALES
Chapter One: The Dilemma
It was only a little family steakhouse that was suffering financially, Beaz reminded herself. Her inheritance wasn’t the obliteration of humankind. Creepy letter or not.
After digging through a counter strewn with ingredients and spices, she found a wooden spoon buried under a bag of flour. As she stirred the shredded potatoes and smoked cheddar into Campbell’s cream of chicken (America’s unglamorous secret weapon of many a casserole), she glanced at the stove clock. Friggin’ fantastic. Her neighbors were due any moment for their Friday night barbeque, and her side dish wasn’t even in the oven yet. She’d like to say this was a unique occurrence…
Tonight, it was her turn to host, and she wanted to make sure everything was just right. As in, no raw casserole this time. Even if she’d been powerless to an unfriendly storm that knocked out her electricity last time, she’d still served nothing but a little lump of tragedy. And Bobby wouldn’t stop joking about it!
The oven buzzed and she set a bubbling mass of queso onto a tray as an appetizer. As she doled out a fan of warm tortilla chips, she tried not to think about her great uncle. Not the darn will. And not that piece of paper folded inside the blank envelope she’d found under her door this morning, red type that read:
You know you can’t keep the steakhouse.
Of course she knew she couldn’t. She didn’t need some anonymous nutbar telling her that. But who would write something like that, she wondered.
No matter, Beaz thought, popping the hashbrown casserole into the oven, feeling excited to show everyone this new oven dish she’d found online. The daisy chain print was one of the cutest she’d ever seen. These things mattered in some scheme of things to some people somewhere and her girlfriends were that somewhere.
Oven on, check. Timer set, check. The end of Bobby’s remarks, check.
She bent down and stared inside, as if she were expecting to witness gastronomic fireworks. Her thoughts needed to stay right here. Focusing on averting a culinary calamity was an easy enough distraction. Only think about casserole, Beaz. Casserole.
But her mind wouldn’t stop. It kept dragging her back into a muddy family ditch. How could an inheritance not be a good thing? I mean, was she the first person ever to not actually want one? She felt like her sanity must be slipping even more than it already probably was. More than anything, she wondered how her cousin Mary Anne might handle the news about the commercial real estate agent she’d just hired. She felt as disrespectful as a cow marching through a pansy patch and hoped Mary Anne would understand. She’d hired the agent two days ago, before the letter, and that letter had almost changed her mind. No one had the right to tell her what to do. Especially delivered in some sleazy blank envelope. Alas, there was no overlord more brutal than an unglamorous balance of one’s checking account. She couldn’t afford to keep it. Period.
Her cell phone buzzed. “Diana!”
“How’s my favorite writer?”
“Oooo. Favorite? Even after those homemade caramels I sent last holiday turned out like bricks?”
“Don’t worry, you warned me. I simply regifted them to a cantankerous book critic who was too hard on you, darling.”
Beaz laughed. “You’re terrible, he’s going to need serious dental surgery!”
“Don’t we all? Look, where we’ve got a problem is your sales. You need to churn out more than just one novel this year. It’s growing vital.”
Beaz bit her lip. Diana was saying comments like that more and more lately.
“Okay. I hear you. I’ll aim for three.” Beaz didn’t confess that she always aimed for three, it just never panned out. Being a single parent to twin boys had always been her Get Out of Jail Free card from her own conscience. Problem was, they’d been away at college for 14 whole days now. What to blame next? Somehow spending three hours trying to catch a spider and send him on his cheery way to the backyard didn’t have the same moral justification.
“Good girl. So, how are things?”
“Things are good. I’ve got guests coming over in a few minutes and I wish you lived closer so you could join us talking a whole lot of nothing and having nothing but fun while we’re at it.”
“Ah, yes, your Friday night barbeques. That block you live on sounds like quite the block.”
“Best block in the whole of Texas.”
“I really ought to see that state ‘where everything is bigger,’ once and for all. Well, I won’t keep you, but I’ve got to ask, when will your outline be finished for your next Francesca novel?”
Beaz kept chewing on her lip. Between her great uncle’s death, the breakdown of the ancient pool out back, and the leaky roof in her living room, she hadn’t had time to come up with a single idea yet. Not to mention the fact she’d felt sheer terror when she dropped her twins off at college.
Well, fine, not terrorized. That feeling had been reserved for the day they got their driving licenses. No, college was more of like a slow burn of accumulated panic. It was the natural evolution of life, yes, yes, of course, she could sound rational if she had to. But the bottom line was, she couldn’t sneak spring salad mix into their egg salad sandwiches anymore!
Egg salad didn’t do UPS well. There was no way round it. None. All she could possibly do was cope and keeping feigning acceptance. Actually being rational, well, one hoped that time might fix that monster.
At any rate, when it came to this phone call, she felt like a royal slacker. There’d been a court jester, hadn’t there? Surely, they had a court slacker in at least one Renaissance household. Important role, one every procrastinator might support.
“Er, well, I’ll send it along in a few weeks…”
Diana sighed. “I need it tomorrow, darling. You know how publishers can be.”
Beaz felt her gut stir uneasily as she hung up the phone. Francesca, Francesca, what to do with you this time? The poor girl had already survived fires, cheating men, devious secret agents, and deranged stalkers. What was left? Getting stranded with a hot guy and two vicious pit bulls in an avalanche?
Beaz shivered. No to the pit bulls, too many human fatalities sprung to mind. And NOT the avalanche idea. It made her cold just thinking about it. Besides, Francesca lived in North Central Texas. Avalanches weren’t exactly a common occurrence. She got to bask in the splendors of hail and tornados instead.
“Knock, knock!” Sophie called.
Beaz’s heart warmed at the sound of her friend’s melodic voice. A tall and willowy strawberry-blonde, Sophie clicked into the kitchen in heels and a silk suit. That meant she’d come directly from work. They kissed each other’s cheeks and Sophie emptied her paper bag.
“I spent all day baking this.” Sophie shrugged, setting out a chilled bottle of rosé and a cardboard dessert box with a price tag on the outside. Though her homemade banana cream pie was fantastic, she hadn’t been able to make one for the barbeque in months.
“I don’t know how you do it, balancing the oven and the job. Speaking of which, who’s robbing who these days?”
With a perfect pink manicure, Sophie tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear. Sophie’s long hair was swept up in her usual loose bun. Not once in her life had she gotten her hair colored and, as the years passed, her hair simply turned blonder, with flecks of white scattered throughout. Even if her housekeeping and hosting skills suffered, Sophie’s physical appearance never did. What would be better, Beaz wondered. Having the perfect style like Sophie or the perfectly decorated house like her cousin Mary Anne? Beaz had neither. In the end, it was just herself and her own abundant array of imperfect things.
“Come on, Beaz. You know I can’t tell you ‘til the case is closed. Even then, not all of it.”
“Just a tiny smidgeon of a hint. I’m dying to know which squeaky clean CEO will be in the clinker eating instant mashed potatoes this month.”
“No.” Sophie popped a chip in her mouth with the hammer of finality about the matter.
Beaz pouted. “It’s not fair! I always dream of being secretive, but it never works out. And here you are. You get to be mysterious all day long and even get paid for it!” She opened her eyes wide, puppy-dog style. “Let me at least pretend to have a day in your life. Come on, pretty please?”
Sophie laughed. “Well, this latest case I’m working on, they’ve got me flying all over the country for it. And…” Her brows mushed together in frustration. “Anyhow, I’m just busy is all.”
Beaz was used to Sophie’s cryptic sentences. Her life was like a real-life spy novel, way more exciting than drinking a vat of coffee in a sweat suit next to a computer all day.
Meanwhile, Beaz felt a little frumpy. She always felt a little frumpy around Sophie. Her long, milk chocolate brown hair was flecked with grey and thrust up absently in a barrette. The sundress she was wearing was some short olive-green thing, a faded t-shirt dress she’d bought years ago, and her polish was chipped. She did have to admit to wishing she looked as put together as her friend.
Sometimes Beaz could fight against her curiosity, sometimes she couldn’t. Right now, she was distracted, making sure the casserole was coming along as it should be, so Sophie got lucky.
“Hey ladies!” Bobby announced, his arms lugging a massive tray of meat. “You remember to turn the oven on this time, Bee’s Knees?”
“Ha ha,” Beaz said crossly. “It was an—”
“Electrical storm!” Sophie sang through a chuckle.
Bobby grinned. There was little in life better than badgering Beaz. “That’s the story and you sure are sticking to it. Like glue.”
Even if she was just the tiniest bit put off, whenever Beaz saw Bobby, she felt a little flutter in her heart. Tall, broad-shouldered, dimples on both cheeks, and always smelling of barbeque. Despite a brief kiss in middle school, they’d never dated as adults. In fact, they’d both married other people, but still, that flutter was there. Beaz was used to it by now. Over the years she’d become an expert at ignoring it. Bliss wasn’t just ignorance. Denial had the market cornered, too.
Felix bobbed behind carrying their beer. With calculating eyes nestled under glasses, his attractive, angled face had cheekbones so sharp, they could slice a single chord better than a cello bow. In a crisp t-shirt bearing the LA Philharmonic Orchestra logo, he looked every bit the math professor and hobby classical musician he was.
Beaz and Sophie blinked in the shock of Bobby’s outfit. He was color blind and, ever since his wife left him six months ago, he’d had to resort to picking outfits out himself. Beaz wanted to come over and lay out color combinations, but she wasn’t sure how to broach the subject. She didn’t want to hurt his feelings. Then again, she didn’t want people to make fun of him, either. How could she tell someone she didn’t live with that she was blinded by color-blindness?
What surprised her even more was the obvious smile plastered on Bobby’s face. It seemed like it had been a half-year since they’d seen even a spark of anything other than that good-natured, lopsided grin he always wore. His wife’s exit to Corpus Christi with the dashing Whataburger corporate executive was predicted by all but poor Bobby. He’d been flabbergasted. The block was currently boycotting their favorite fast-food chain because of it, and Beaz had only broken down for their onion rings once (Felix had twice for patty melts, Mary Anne, five times, and Sophie refused to confess).
When Bobby disappeared into the garage to tuck the meat into the spare fridge, Sophie said grimly, “It looks like he’s still dressing himself.”
Beaz turned to Felix. “Maybe you could say something.”
Felix shrugged. “I told him the colors didn’t go. He just doesn’t listen to me, is all I can say.”
Sophie’s pale green eyes seemed to linger on Felix. She was a divorcée, and everyone knew she had chemistry with Felix, even though he was ten years younger. “Well,” she said, “looks like the usual suspects are all here, except—”
“We’re here!” Mary Anne called, emerging from the front door with a tray of jalapeño cornbread. Her nose was sunburnt, her tiny, tanned shoulders were flecked with freckles, and her dark hair dotted with bits of silver was wrapped up in an adorable, playful ponytail Beaz had never seen her wear.
They exchanged little kisses and Mary Anne beamed a broad smile.
“John will be here in a minute. Got tied up with a business call.” Her voice took on a slight edge. “Again.”
“Why, Mary Anne, you look positively radiant!” Beaz exclaimed to her cousin as she uncorked Sophie’s wine.
“I haven’t been this happy since Taye was born,” Mary Anne confided. At the mention of her daughter’s name, her eyes flickered with a trace of worry.
Something was going on with Taye, but Mary Anne hadn’t said anything. Beaz figured, her cousin might tell someone about it when she was good and ready, and that suited her just fine. She certainly hoped Taye’s year off from college wasn’t upsetting Mary Anne too much. Sometimes kids needed a little break. Of course, if her sons wanted to quit before graduation, she would not handle the news half as gracefully as Mary Anne had, Beaz suspected. In the darkest, worst part of her heart, she wanted them to be independent thinkers, only so long as they thought exactly what she did about important matters like education and who to root for come Superbowl Sunday.
Through a giggle, Mary Anne scanned the untidy kitchen. No matter how Beaz puttered around with a sponge, she was never an organized cook like her cousin.
“I can tell you’ve been busy.”
Beaz leaned against the oven door. “They say most brainiacs function best in chaos, you know.”
Mary Anne patted Beaz’s arm. “Then you’ve got the highest IQ in the county.”