Note: Over the past three days, I have been publishing excerpts from my upcoming romance novels. Each of these stories is set in a different exotic locale and features themes of romance, love, passion, lust, and amorousness. You can find them in a supermarket or airport book store near you.
Young love is something different to everyone. For some, it’s a dank cave full of ricotta. For others, it’s a rank Roquefort on your Weihnachtstag table. Maybe, young love for you is unpasteurized goat’s milk on your lederhosen. For me, love is a Bavarian milkmaid with cassein in her hair.
Greta was the kind of girl who knew her way around an udder. I first chanced upon her in the lush meadows of the low Alps. My father’s prized steer, Günther, had just bolted from the corral. We were in the kitchen, making spatzel, when we first heard his cowbell dinging down into the valley. I rushed to sound my alpenhorn, but Günther was a stubborn beast. Strong in the grain fields, but stubborn as an ass. Begrudgingly, I put on my galoshes and headed out onto the steppe.
Hoping that a fellow dairyman might have recognized our signature brand on Günther’s fleshy undercarriage, I stopped in at a ramshackle old barn. I yodeled loudly to announce my presence. The old building was made of rotting mountain spruce and sized for a baker’s dozen cows. Seeing a light on in the building, and enticed by the smell of fresh milk, I walked toward the door. A Heifer mooed inside, above the sound of squirting udders. As I leaned my head around the doorframe, I laid eyes upon the most beautiful farmhand I’d ever seen in my years as a cheesemonger.
Her hair glistened under a single antiquated lightbulb like Appenzeller in the sun. Her frame was stocky, plump, and hardy, like the most popular goat at the auction haus. Her skin shone due to frequent and plentiful lactose consumption. Her calloused and graceful hands slid effortlessly over the pink udders of the tired, old cow. Her hazel eyes glimpsed me in the doorway, but with her so focused on the milking and me so content to watch her flawless technique, we remained in a tense silence.
However, I could sense that this aged cow was feeling ornery. The cow began to flare her nostrils and stamp her hooves, wriggling her udders to prevent the girl from gaining a grip. The conflict escalated, with the milkmaid tightening her grip and the cow writhing more and more, until the object of my affection threw her arms up in exasperation. The cow lurched, kicking the bucket and sending milk across the barn floor. As the spill drained through the floorboards, I announced my presence.
“Guten tag, I am searching for a lost steer,” I stareted. My voice trembled with each word. “I have known him since Kindergarten and he disappeared like a poltergeist. He is a döppelganger to that bull there, and I implore you not to find schadenfreude in my misfortune. Is it not the zeitgeist to help a fellow milkman?”
She replied sweetly, “I’m sorry, but I haven’t seen your cow. I would love to help you find him, but I need to get this cow milked.”
She told me her name was Greta and that her father owned this farm. She said that if she didn’t collect enough milk tonight, her father would not allow her to go off and be a nanny for the seven mischievous children of an Austrian navy captain. Taking her hand in mine, I felt the signature abrasions of a forceful milker. I slid behind Greta on her milking stool, wrapped my arms around hers, and whispered, “Mein strudel, allow me.”