Seeing as how I've never done a blog hop before, I hop you'll all bear with me. As I understand it, this is the point at which I'm supposed to talk about something literary and then something culinary. So, I've decided to post an excerpt from my soon to be released novel, BloodFlow, (due out November 24th) and then give you a recipe for Walnut Graham Bundt Cake with Candied Walnut Glaze (which I'm sure my main character would make if she had time to bake.)
“Looks like you finally got your wish, Kruz.”
Agent Miranda Kruz looked up from the reams of data spread across her desk to see Supervisory Agent Jim Klein leaning against the edge of her cubicle.
Her brain was still locked in the process of comparing the paper copies to a different set of electronic numbers, looking for disparities that might point toward a lead. Of course, she’d been at the task for better than a week and hadn’t found a single thing with the odor of domestic terrorism. It was a never-ending list of dates and numbers with no correlation to anything. No one promised her work on the Terrorism Task Force would be fun. Then again, no one told her it would consist of this much drudgery either.
“You hate this paperwork shit. Well, Tweeg wants you working in the field again. Starting…” He tapped the clock on her desk. “Geez, is that the time? Kirsten is going to kill me.”
“What?” He stared at her like she had a third eye on the end of her nose. Apparently she wasn’t the only one whose mind happened to be elsewhere. Problem was, Jim’s mind spent more time at home that at work these days. “Right. Tweeg sent orders down from on high. You’re on the Reynolds ‘murder’.” He actually bothered to make air quotes. “Effective immediately. Of course, as late as it is, he probably didn’t mean tonight.”
She wasn’t so sure. If Deputy Director Anton Tweeg had anything to say about it, she’d work until the bats went to bed. Still…
Tweeg wants me on an active case.
“Wait. The Reynolds murder? You’re talking about the senator’s wife who had a close encounter with a Detroit Diesel, right?” And suddenly she knew exactly why Tweeg wanted her on this case. Being unofficially demoted from field agent to paper jockey had been bad enough. This case was worse.
Only that morning, she’d watched the husband’s press conference. If she had to guess, she’d say that the man, distraught over his wife’s senseless death, cooked up a huge terrorist plot in his mind to avoid facing the fact that his wife drove in front of a tractor trailer, which he then spewed to the media. Senator Reynolds had just been assigned to some subcommittee overseeing Randi’s own department, but still, no clues existed to point to anything other than a tragic mistake.
Unless she was drugged.
“I’ll leave the particulars up to you and Vic Hammond.” Jim nodded toward her computer. “The files have been encrypted and sent to you.”
She typed the password to bypass her screen saver and reawaken her system. Sure enough, a new email from Jim waited.
“Tweeg said to make sure you understand he wants this case closed as quickly and as quietly as possible.”
“And under no circumstances are you to bother the senator with this.”
Son of a…
“How exactly am I supposed to conduct an investigation without interviewing the spouse?”
Jim shrugged. “Maybe you should ask your friend, Payton.” His words drifted back to her as he walked away.
Her friendship with the Director Landis definitely hadn’t made life easier for her. At least not in the way her co-workers assumed, hinted, and gossiped about. He’d definitely filled the hole left by growing up without a father. Still, whatever she’d gotten in life, she’d earned. Including her spot on this task force. The cases assigned to her weren’t any easier than her co-workers’; she just solved them faster. No one gave her kudos she didn’t deserve. No pats on the back for doing busy work. Randi Kruz busted her ass like she always had.
Eating Sunday dinner with Payton and Evelyn didn’t mean she came in late on Monday. In fact, to prove how little her friendship with Payton meant to her work, she came in early every day and stayed late. That didn’t help. They still assumed she had her nose pressed firmly against Landis’ ass. Or worse.
The rumor she was banging the boss started circulating a couple months into her assignment to the TTF. They kept going until the day Evelyn had been attacked. Payton was so inconsolable no one could think he’d ever cheat on her.
Back then, Randi still visited him. She tried to help in any way she could—fixing dinners, watering plants, tidying up after a distracted husband whose wife was, for all intents and purposes, gone. Instead of accepting her help like the father he’d become to her, he slowly backed away.
The final blow came when she got to the hospice center where Evelyn now lived and they told her that her name had been removed from the list of approved visitors. She tried asking him why, but he ignored her. He wouldn’t return any calls that weren’t work related. He wouldn’t answer any questions via email. When he ordered her to stop wasting company time, through Tweeg no less, she ate an entire carton of Haagen Dazs. She’d lost one father before she was old enough to meet the man. Losing Payton had been a crueler torment.
The biggest blow came when the Deputy Director started assigning her crap tasks. And Landis did nothing. Her co-workers never told her to her face that she deserved this treatment, but they made it clear they felt that way.
“Oh, how the mighty have fallen.”
She shook away the snide phrase she’d heard too often over the past year and resolved to keep doing her job as best she could. It might not mean much to anyone else, but she could help a man find closure. That had to count for something. Right?
Walnut Graham Cake with Candied Walnut Glaze
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup orange juice
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup walnut halves (or chopped walnuts as desired)
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon walnut extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour one 10” bundt pan. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar. Beat in eggs until light and fluffy. Beat in orange juice until well combined. In a separate bowl, soft together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Beat dry mixture into wet mixture by thirds until well combined. Stir in chopped walnuts. Pour evenly into prepared bundt pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Let cake sit for approximately 20 minutes and invert pan over cake plate, dropping cake gently onto plate. Let cool for another 20 minutes. While cooling, combine all glaze ingredients into small saucepan (adding extra water if mixture is too dry). Heat gently over low heat until ingredients are smooth around walnuts. Increase heat to medium high and bring mixture to boil. Boil for 45 seconds (do not over boil). Remove from heat and stir until boiling ends and remaining froth is incorporated into mixture. Gently drizzle by spoonfuls over cake, arranging candied walnuts halves along the top of the cake as you go until entire glaze mixture is over cake. (Be careful, mixture is extremely hot.) Cool and serve.I hope I did this right, I hope you enjoyed what was on the plate today, and I hope you'll visit the other blogs in the hop: