Laura Chapman shares a recipe plus an extract from her latest book, Going for Two.
Harper Duquaine – the fun, (sometimes) fearless, and fabulous heroine of my Queen of the League series – has a knack for baking. In Going for Two, the second book in the series, she develops a penchant for mug cakes. When it comes to food in books, I take my research seriously, and I tried my hand out at making a variety of mug cakes for myself. Here’s one of my favorite recipes from the experiment.
Vanilla Mug Cake
2 tbsp flour
1.5 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
2 tbsp almond milk
3/4 tbsp oil
1/4 tsp vanilla
Coat mug with no-stick spray. Mix ingredients. Microwave 1 minute.
And now I hope you’ll enjoy an excerpt from Going for Two, book two in the Queen of the League series.
The quarterback claps his hands once, then twice. He takes the snap and steps back. He pitches the ball left to the running back and runs toward the end zone. The defense descends on the running back, who has only taken a few steps forward. He can’t go any farther. If he does, he’ll be tackled behind the line of scrimmage, and the clock will run out. I cover my face, but peek through my fingers. I can’t watch, yet I have to see what happens.
With a hulking player lunging at him, the running back throws the ball straight to his right into the waiting arms of a wide receiver. The game clock ticks down to zero as the wide receiver pulls back and throws the ball into the waiting arms of the wide open quarterback. Oh. My. God. That was one of the most ridiculous trick plays I’ve ever seen. It’s like something from one of the epic football movies or TV shows Brook made me binge-watch with him over the summer. And it worked.
While the crowd around me roars, I set my sights on the sidelines once more. Brook jumps in the air and rushes out onto the field with the rest of the players and coaches. One of the offensive linemen pulls him into a hug that lifts his more than six-foot frame off the ground for a moment. The quarterback, who has finished his celebration in the end zone, turns on his heel and makes a run for the celebrating crowd. Brook never has a chance to prepare for the impact when the QB throws him to the ground. A bunch of the other players join in the pileup.
I wince through my laughter. “He’s going to hurt in the morning.”
Major MacLaughlin’s lip twitches. “Probably so, but he’ll say it was worth it.”
“I wish they’d be a little more careful with him.” Mrs. MacLaughlin darts a worried glance at the field. “He’s not wearing any pads, and he’s not as young as he used to be.”
“He’s practically geriatric.” Amelia winks at me. “I’m surprised the AARP even lets him out on the field.”
“I’m not saying he’s old—”
“You don’t have to.” Amelia’s face sobers, but her eyes sparkle. “I’m pretty sure I heard him complain about an ache in his hip that bothers him whenever the weather turns cold.”
Mrs. MacLaughlin’s face grows concerned, and her husband intervenes — sending a warning look at Amelia — assuring her that Brook is fine.
One by one the players roll out of the dog pile and spring to their feet to greet the waiting parents and fans. The quarterback is last to stumble up. He offers Brook a hand to help him stand. Limping up, Brook’s face is flushed but beaming. Leaning his forehead against the player’s helmet, he says something and pats the top of the player’s head. A lump lodges in mythroat, and my eyes sting.
What is it about a great football comeback story that always makes me cry? The ruckus on the field cools to handshakes and hugs. Brook glances up at the stands. Amelia’s daughters, Marley and Ellery, jump around waving their arms and screaming his name. A grin spreads across his face, and he waves back.
I’m making a resolution right now. Every time I feel the slightest ebb of jealousy or annoyance about how much time he spends on his job, I’m bringing myself back here, to this moment. I’ll remember the pure joy on his face, the joy swelling in my heart. And I’ll understand why he puts in the early mornings and late nights.
His eyes scan past the girls and Amelia, past her boyfriend, Wade, and his parents until they land on me. The grin turns up a watt just for me. He covers his heart then points at me. My breath catches, but I manage to mouth “I love you, too” back. For a few seconds, it’s just us. Him and me. Like we’re in a bubble, and everything around us fades away. Yeah, I’m definitely saving this memory for later.
Harper Duquaine is back for another season of fantasy football! This time she’s a year wiser and prepared to dominate the league. But while she finally seems to have her fantasy life in order, reality proves more challenging.
Her plans to peacefully play house with her boyfriend come to a halt when the high school suddenly names Brook its head football coach. The promotion comes with more responsibility on the field and less time at home. It also unexpectedly means more work for Harper, who already has her hands full helping a friend pull off the perfect proposal (while dodging questions about when she and Brook are going to get hitched already). Plus, a new development at work could leave her — and half of the fantasy league — jobless.
With the complications of her career and being “Mrs. Coach” adding up, Harper wonders if she’s committed to the life she’s already building or if there is something else out there.
Laura Chapman is the author of The Marrying Type, Hard Hats and Doormats and the Autumn and Tuck series, which appear in Merry & Bright and A Kind of Mad Courage. A native Nebraskan, she loves football, Netflix marathons, and her cats, Jane and Bingley. Until she fulfils her dream of landing a British husband or becoming a Disney princess, you can find her in a bar penning her next novel.