When we were playing Rookery last night, Evangelina offered me a bit of advice on reaching out to my wife:
"Make her a meal," she said. "Something nice. Something that shows her you care. Haunting her shadow and pestering her all day won't do. You have to woo the woman to get her attention, and the stomach's a good place to start."
"Really? Have guys wooed you like that?"
"Pfft, no. I'm not a peasant. I have more refined needs."
"Yesterday you'n I had a burping contest after chugging down root beer. That wasn't very refined."
"Shut up, Dragomir."
So that's what I did. Not the burping contest, we already proved I'm the king of that, but the meal. The nice, steaming, delicious meal, all prepped and ready to WOO Libby and win myself some attention, even if it only lasted for twenty minutes in a crowded room of noisy people.
… but first, I had to learn how to cook.
I've prepared food before. I had to cook for myself the whole time I was wandering to Goblinoster. Granted, I often ate already-prepared stuff straight from my pack or snagged grass right off the ground, but I have COOKED. It has been DONE, and it will be done again. I just… don't know how to cook terribly WELL.
If he was still, y'know, around, Robert would've taught me the basics. Hell, for a couple gold I could've convinced him to make a meal for us but have it look like I made it. Lacking his master chefery, I had to turn to the present owner of the Beefiary: Bora.
Bora took Robert's death hard for a couple days. Wouldn't talk much, just languished behind the counter and served people their meals. She's recovered admirably, though, and she manages to both prepare and serve the food most nights. Robert's former staff live in Pubton, but most of 'em have other, more important duties these days, and none of 'em are as good at cooking as Bora anyway. Second only to Robert, she is.
Unfortunately, a master is only as good as their student. "Let me get this straight. You want to make Libby a meal."
"And you want it to be romantic."
"But you don't know what to make her."
"And you haven't put ANY thought into it."
"And you pretty much want me t'do everything."
"And make it look like you did it."
"Grab a damned spoon, ya oaf."
We cooked. Knowing a basic meal wouldn't cut it, Bora quickly settled on dipping into Robert's private stocks, usually maintained for cooking experiments, to whip up a delicious meat soufflé and steamed vegetables combination. She worked with me most of the day, correcting me when I went wrong (which was most of the time) but letting me do all of the work. She showed me how to stir, how to mince, how to set the stove and, most important, how to sit back and wait.
Her touch still sends tingles up 'n down my whole body. Gods, and that smell! Mostly Bora smells like a kitchen, which is good enough on its own, but under that! Ah! Some kinda heaven.
Err, uh, forget I said all this. Still need that damned button that erases words. Get to work on it, diary.)
We timed the meal so it would be ready for dinner, 'n Bora helped me set up a table in one of the private rooms upstairs. Had candles, two glasses of wine, forks, the whole shebang. I waited downstairs for Libby to come in for her meal -
- and she did. Early, in fact, ahead of the workers. She had a voracious eye, keen to track down and target any food it found for consumption. I smiled and waved her over, trying (and failing) to extend the smile to Grayson, who tagged happily along behind his mother.
"Got a special meal," I said, pointing upstairs. "Made it 'n everything."
She cocked an eyebrow. "Oh yeah? Since when do you cook?"
"Yeah! C'mon, I'll show ya." I peered around her shoulder. "You stay here, Grayson."
He pouted. Smilingly. Freaky little bastard almost never stops smiling. "Why? I'm hungry, too. Didn't you make me any food, dad?"
Biting my lip, I stabbed at civility. "It's, uh, a special night, kiddo. Go see Bora, she'll fix you up. I wanna spend time with mommy alone for a bit, 'kay?"
"But why?" Grayson batted his eyelashes innocently.
"Lay off, kid! 'cause!" I didn't quite shout it, but I was rather irate.
"Oh." Grayson beamed. "S'okay. Mom should have the best food, after all. And look! She's got it!"
He pointed. Libby was tromping down the stairs, gobbling more soufflé with each step. She favoured me with a single look and grunted "S'okay. Could use more squid" as she passed.
I flailed, trying to stop her. "Hey! Wait! We're supposed ta have a fine meal! Togetherness! Things! STUFF! And there's no squid in - "
"No veggies next time." Libby dropped the soufflé cup on the ground, spitting a bone out as she opened the door and left. "Y'know I hate veggies. I'm goin' to June's."
"She does hate veggies," Grayson agreed, following his mother. "You might know that if you spent less time with other women."
The door clicked shut. I gaped, staring first out the window at my wife as she headed to the forest, then at the wobbling soufflé cup, then at the bone. Window, cup, bone, window, cup, bone, around and around.
Flabbergasted, largely ignored by the slow stream of incoming, famished workers, I went back upstairs.
My first stop was to Grayson's room, which I systematically rearranged so everything would be asymmetrical. He's already balanced everything out again, but damn did it feel good at the time.
My second stop was to the dining area. I snuffed the candles, grabbed the table, and slowly yanked it out of the room.
My third stop was to Evangelina's room. I parked the table in front of the bars, put my soufflé and veggies closest to her, and beckoned her over from the bed.
"… and what's this?" she asked, eying the wine. "I've never been propositioned quite so boldly."
"I dunno what that means." I grabbed a fork and stabbed at Libby's vegetables. "Eat up. I want a dinner partner."
So we ate. Gradually, with enough conversation, she made me laugh.
But I'm still mad.
Dragomir the Snubbed