From Juniper Bell
The heroine of my latest release, Dana Arthur of The Receptionist series, isn’t much of a cook. But she’s a whiz with a takeout menu. In fact, the first scene of Book 3, UNLEASHING THE RECEPTIONIST, involves a very interesting delivery from a neighborhood Chinese restaurant. Since I’m a big fan of Chinese food, here’s one of my favorite recipes, along with a snippet from that infamous scene. Enjoy!
Ingredients for peanut dressing
• 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
• 1/4 cup soy sauce
• 1/3 cup warm water
• 2 tablespoons chopped peeled fresh ginger
• 1 medium garlic clove, chopped
• 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
• 1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
• 2 teaspoons honey
• 1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
Ingredients for noodle salad
• 3/4 lb dried linguine or spaghetti
• 4 scallions, thinly sliced
• 1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
• 1 zucchini, cut into slivers
• 3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
Make the dressing:
Purée all ingredients in a blender for about 2 minutes, then transfer to a large bowl.
Make the salad:
Cook pasta in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water until tender. Drain in a colander, then rinse well under cold water.
Add pasta, scallions, bell peppers, zucchini and sesame seeds to the dressing and toss to combine. Serve immediately.
Someone knocked on the door. Simon quickly put me behind him. “Who is it,” called Ethan, warily.
“Great Wok delivery.” It was a girl. It must be Belinda, the tall, cute waitress with the nose ring. We’d gotten to know her a little, the Great Wok of China being our favorite neighborhood hole in the wall. She worked nights so she could go to auditions in Manhattan during the day.
“Just leave it on the desk out there.” She didn’t answer.
“Did she leave?” Simon whispered. Another knock.
“Mr. Cowell? Can I come in? Please, sir?”
I peered from behind Simon’s back as Ethan’s ice-blue gaze flew to meet Simon’s. We all knew the meaning of that pleading little “sir”. She was on to us. And she wanted in. Silently, we tossed the question around between us. Simon nodded. I nodded, curious as always to see what they would do, and trusting them completely.
Finally, Ethan, always the Senior Partner, answered. “You may enter. Leave the food outside for now.”
“Yes, sir.” We heard bustling, then the door opened and Belinda walked in, her eyes huge and bright. I’d always liked her—we’d bonded over the nose ring her mean boss detested but she refused to remove. I kept expecting her to be fired, but I guess wannabe actresses moonlighting as hot delivery girls are hard to come by.
“Thanks for letting me come in,” she said in a rush. “You won’t regret it. I promise to be good and do whatever you want.”
“Don’t you have to get back to work?” Simon asked. Trust him to worry about her work obligations.
“This is my last delivery. I already clocked out. Everyone will figure I went home after this. Please. I think about you guys all the time. All of you.”
All of us? Was she including me in that statement? Still lurking behind Simon, I eyed her. She had the kind of tall, boyish figure you see in department- store catalogues, but her look was pure punk goddess, with purple streaks in her hair and a silver ribbon choker with a skull medallion at her throat.
“Why?” Ethan asked instantly. “Nothing happens here without Dana.”
“That’s why I asked. Dana rocks.”
“Glad you think so.” Ethan cast me an amused look. “She’s hiding behind
Simon. She’s not usually one to be shy, but you caught us in the middle of something.”
I made a little face at him. He wasn’t the one with a belt tied around his nipples and his blouse flopping open.
“I did?” Belinda’s voice vibrated with a furtive kind of thrill that made me wonder how many nights she’d lain awake wondering about us. Simon, Ethan
and I have a special bond that’s hard to explain to other people. “What sort of something? Can I play too?”