The strawberry. Could there be a more perfect food for lovers? It is as red and heart-shaped as a Valentine and also a symbol of the goddess of love herself, Venus. According to folklore, if a double strawberry is halved and shared with the target of your affection, you will fall in love with each other.
Here is a wickedly delicious recipe that even Sophie, my sixteen year-old witch protagonist from my debut fantasy romance, Disenchanted, would make for her true love using fresh strawberries picked from her aunt’s enchanted garden. Please enjoy the excerpt that follows.
2 pints strawberries, with stems if possible
1½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (or milk chocolate chips)
2 tbsp. corn syrup
6 tbsp. butter
Wash strawberries and pat dry. Place on paper towels until they reach room temperature.
Melt chocolate chips, corn syrup, and butter in a double boiler, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat and dip each strawberry into chocolate, coating ⅔ of berry. Allow excess chocolate to drip off into pan.
Place stem side down on waxed paper covered baking pan or cookie sheet. Refrigerate until set, about 15-20 minutes.
Yields approximately 28 strawberries.
Recipe courtesy of Food.com
Here's the excerpt to enjoy while your strawberries are chilling.
“I’m curious about you.”
My heart pleaded with my head to ignore the doubts and questions, to be in the moment and believe it was possible. “I love my garden, but this is what I like the most about Wethersfield. Right here. Where the star-crossed lovers are buried. Their story...well, it’s an interesting one.”
His lips pursed. He drew back, dejected. “Their story? Their story is a tragedy. One of many in the Mather family history.”
“The end is tragic, but it’s still a love story and this tree...” I raised my hand, admiring its lushness. “It’s a symbol of their forbidden love. Centuries with no berries and now look at it.” The mulberry swayed with the breeze as if it were dancing. The branches flaunted multitudes of pale, red berry clusters that had begun to ripen for the first time. I liked to think the tree was finally done mourning, but I had no idea why it picked this year of all its three hundred plus years.
“You sound like you believe in happy endings.”
“I want to. Don’t you?” He was kind of young to be tainted, I thought. My mind drifted to the possibility he had been jilted by a beautiful duchess during his time in London.
“Like I said, I come from a long line of tragedy in my family.”
I bit my lip for a second. He was right about that. For as long as we knew his family, they had been dropping dead, and usually in the prime of their lives, except for the really mean ones like the reverend, and his father and Zeke. “You know you have to fight for your own happy ending. You have to will it to happen.”
His eyes held mine, leaving me breathless again. I struggled to think straight.
“I’d bet you’re good at willing things to happen.”
A tendril of sable hair tickled my cheek. I brushed it away. “I’m good at making mistakes. Lots of mistakes.”
His eyebrows furrowed with disbelief. “You make it rain flower petals, yet you wallow in self-pity?”
He was aware I created the storm of blossoms. Crud. Of course, he was. There was no good explanation for it. My stomach sank. “I...uh...uh.”
He grinned, not fazed at all by what I could do. “How would you feel about having me as a friend, Sophie?”
My heart fluttered when he said my name, but I glanced at him curiously, not understanding what he was offering. “I choose my friends carefully.” I thought back to my dream last night. I wasn’t afraid of him, but how could I trust him?
He grimaced from my pause. His threw his hands out in front of him. “Look, I know you hate my family. And we haven’t exactly gotten along swimmingly, but I was thinking, it might be easier for both of us if we could find some middle ground.”
Incredulity colored my tone. “You want to be friends?”
“Why not?” he replied.
I shook my head. “Surprisingly weird.”
“It’s not weird at all.” He extended his hand to me as if he were serious. “Shake on it.”
My heart yearned for his touch, but it wrestled against the logic from my head. “I can’t.” I glanced around, knowing that since the Wethersfield Witch Trials, minus the rare exceptions, witches were forbidden to enter into any kind of a relationship with ordinaries, especially the Mathers. “This is crazy. Our families are enemies and...and I hate you.” My lips tingled from the devil’s bit, confirming what I already felt. It was a lie. I didn’t hate him at all. In fact, I feared it was the opposite. “Tell me what you really want from me.” I subtly pointed my finger in his direction. “Verum,” I whispered in a hushed voice, attempting to cast a truth spell on him. The magic trickled out. I watched for a change in his focus, but as I watched him, a heart shape carved into the bark of the mulberry’s tree trunk behind him. My eyes popped. I closed my mouth, still staring at the engraving. “Wha?” I uttered in disbelief. Mishaps were guaranteed when I was near him.
“What do I want from you?” he repeated back to me, unaware of my fail.
I averted my eyes, feeling ridiculous.
“I want you to be you. You’ve got everyone thinking you’re thoroughly
ordinary when you’re the farthest thing from it.”
I peered up at his beautiful face from beneath my lashes. Did he see
through me? Did he really know what I was? “What would your father think about you wanting to be my friend?”
“It’s no one’s business but ours.”
“Ours? Like you and me together?” My brow crinkled. “A secret friendship?” I tried to ignore my quickening pulse. Everything in me wanted to believe him. My head railed against the idea. I would be breaking rules and there would be consequences.
He stepped closer. “I think we’re both good at keeping secrets. Why not one more?”
I swallowed hard. “You seem to have everything, including a terror for a brother who’s got your back. Why do you need a friend?”
“Everyone needs a friend.”
He held his hand out, wanting me to shake it while his eyes held me tight. In that moment, dizziness crept in and an overwhelming feeling of falling from a cliff followed. The intensity of it scared me. I put my hand up in a stop motion and pressed my other hand to my stomach, hoping the plummeting sensation would pass. I backed away. My head and heart tore away at each other. “I can’t do this.”
His face bore a forlorn expression. “You’re right. I’m playing with fire, a bad habit of mine. This was stupid of me. I’m sorry.”
Curiosity creased in my brow. “What do you mean ‘playing with fire’?”
His eyes, holding tight to his secret, burned through me. “I mean you. I’m pretending I can control something that’s out of my control. I can’t be around you without getting burned, yet I’m completely drawn to you.” He parted his soft lips. “Like a moth to the flame.”
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Leigh Goff loves writing young adult fiction with elements of magic and romance because it's also what she liked to read. Born and raised on the East Coast, she now lives in Maryland where she enjoys the area's great history and culture.
Leigh is a graduate of the University of Maryland, University College and a member of the Maryland Writers' Association and Romance Writers of America. She is also an approved artist with the Maryland State Arts Council. Her debut novel, Disenchanted, was inspired by the Wethersfield witches of Connecticut and was released by Mirror World Publishing. Leigh is currently working on her next novel, The Witch's Ring which is set in Annapolis.
Learn more about Leigh Goff on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads.