Artichoke, Lettuce and Mayo

 

“I can’t do this anymore.” I let my carving knife fall to the floor. “Do you know how exhausting this is?”

“What is?” Your eyes, beautiful. Like two deep bowls of gravy.

“Pretending that I’m not in love with you.”

 

I don’t even know how we arrived at this point, you and I. I have always needed so much. Attention. Care. Smiles. Answers. Answers more than anything. And food.

 

I found carrots. I found steak and worcester sauce and mushrooms. I found different types of pasta. I learned that potatoes never float and that different oils have different boiling points and that, for the love of god, don’t be scared of salt. I found double heavy cream and real butter. I found non-stick pans and the best recipe for pizza dough. I learned how to crack an egg with one hand and which season produced the nicest onions. I found food.

 

And I found you. When I bought my own restaurant you came with it. That first year, beloved, I hated you. You seemed to bring me the best produce at the worst of times. I couldn’t cook everything. There was never enough time. And people? People are cruel. It doesn’t matter if I did my best. People would never like my carrot and strawberry stew. People would never enjoy my pizza with artichokes, mayo and lettuce. Of course I knew this. You didn’t have to tell me.

 

I wanted to invent something new, I wanted to find that revolutionary spark and run with it. But maybe I shouldn’t have done trial and error with several thousand dollars in the balance. I didn’t care. I wanted to figure it out. Taste, smell, sight, touch. Stomachs.

 

You, a simple food runner, decided to teach me, the chef. I hated it. Your most resistant student. More Darth Vader than dutiful padawan.

 

You taught me to roast garlic. To grill the perfect medium rare burger. When I wanted to serve fries with risotto, you wouldn’t let me. You wouldn’t even let me eat it myself. You didn’t care that I thought that herring completes any lasagne or that liquorice smoothie should be on every menu. You didn’t care that every fermented snail I wanted to boil was organic.

 

And I’m the weird one.

 

At times I likened you to leprosy. You bound my arms, my mind. You made me blind in the kitchen.

 

And then you made me blind in other places. It was probably instinct. We’re human after all. We need food and air. We developed a nose to breathe and to smell. Taste buds to taste. Sweet, sour, bitter, umami. But humans have other needs to. I had known about that, in theory. But I had been too obsessed with finding the perfect sweet potato I hadn’t cared for anything else.

 

But then you kissed me. Beautiful idiot you called me. Crazy, crazy woman. And “What have you done to me?”

 

To you, I wondered. I didn’t know I had done anything to you. It had never even occurred to me that two women could share a kiss like that one. I thought you were the one who had changed everything. You had kissed me. Not the other way around. I was innocent as a summer potato. Small. Fresh. You were more like a devilled egg, maybe innocent on the outside, but strangely spicy and aromatic inside. A stable on any buffet table. You had taught me that.

 

The first time you took me to bed, I felt like I had gone out of the frying pan and into the fire. My skin bubbled and cracked, like pork belly in the oven, every time you touched me. But instead of cooking, it felt like every time you nipped at my skin, the more raw I got. Not just my skin but on the inside. My lungs and my brain and my heart. I had thought my organs ran on glucose and fat. I was wrong. My fuel consisted on one stubborn and patient food runner.

 

That led us to this day. I had been wrong, I realised that now. Carrots works best in carrot cake, not chocolate cake and you can’t make meringue out of whipped barracuda. You were right, I was wrong. I’m ready to admit that now.

 

I shed off my apron and my big white puffy hat that I had once thought I was entitled to. I had nothing left. If you wanted me to sell my restaurant, I would. Everything I am… is and was yours.

 

“I don’t want to talk anymore.” The words are out of my mouth before I can stop them. It doesn’t matter. Not anymore. All words are said. I don’t have any left. “I don’t want to be alone anymore either.” I let my carving knife fall to the floor. There is nothing left of me. “Do you know how exhausting this is?”

“What is?” Your eyes are empty, like the sky.

“Pretending that I’m not in love with you.”


Author note: Don’t ask. 😛

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Before the Emergency

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Author note:

The story you’re about to read is not a story like my usual stories. It’s possible to read it as a standalone story, but otherwise it’s about the main protagonists that you will meet in my first novel “State of Emergency” which is to be published later this week. It contains snippets on how Mercedes and Idun fell in love. 

Cover is by the talented Deniz Pekin.

Beta read by my dear friends K and Narcosynthesis.

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Bubble and Squeak (short lesfic, romance)

Beta read by my lovely friend K.

 Hannah glanced at the tall figure next to her. Seeing Jane on her feet, smiling and alive was more than fantastic. If it wasn’t for the scrapes on her cheek, the black eye and the left arm resting in a sling, Hannah could almost pretend that everything was normal and that the past couple of weeks hadn’t happened.

 She reached for another potato to peel and in the same moment Jane reached for another egg. Their fingers brushed over the counter.

“Oh, sorry.” Hannah blushed as their eyes met briefly and she hurried to focus on the potato in front of her.

No. Nothing was normal. Nothing would ever be normal again. Everything was new and exciting and terrifying, all at the same time.

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What Have You Done To Me? (short lesfic, erotic romance)

Or The Queen of Fire and the Empress of Ice

“I knew you would come.” Rafaela, queen of the Reattlen, couldn’t keep the smirk of her face as she looked at the intruder in her chamber.

Talanamar, the leader of the Eibmoz – a people made up of only mercenaries – walked towards her on visibly stiff legs. Rafaela hated the way Tala walked, it reminded her of old injuries, and yet it was something she wouldn’t change. It was part of Tala, part of her past and her present. Probably her future too.

 Not that Rafaela would know of Tala’s future. Their time together was over now. Rafaela had called for help across the five domains and Tala had answered. She had, together with over five thousand soldiers, come to the Reattlen’s aid. The threat was gone. The Eibmoz had to return to the Frozen Lower Islands now.

“Yeah well… You made it clear, my queen.” Tala sounded pained. “You made it clear that you wanted me to come to you. I couldn’t find it in myself to refuse.”

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Never Break a Leg Before Christmas part 5

 Nonnie closed the door after paying the babysitter and sending her through it. She sucked in a shaky breath as she returned to the living room where Nicole was waiting for her.

 The doctor was sitting casually on the sofa with a lazy look in her face. She had never looked better, managing to somehow look cocky and hopeful in the same time. The top buttons of her shirt were undone, revealing her olive skin. Nonnie wanted to press her lips to that exposed triangle of skin.

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I remember you (short lesfic)

At the beginning of time she had waited. There, at the birth of the sun and the stars, she had sat and stared. She had watched them explode before her eyes, she had felt the heat on her skin despite the cold at the back of her skull. The frozen earth hadn’t bothered her.

She had watched the beginning of history. How many days had she waited? How many weeks? Months? Years? She had waited for centuries, decades, lifetimes. She had thawed and frozen with the ebb and flow of time, watched the earth die and rise again. She had bided her time, waiting for the kiss that would thaw her self-imposed ice age.

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Can You Teach Me Something? (short lesfic, romance)

 

Olivia. Four syllables that turned Imogen’s insides to a thousand humming birds and threatened to pour the most idiotic words through her being and out of her mouth. She walked around the small table that was surrounded by twelve children of various ages, she should really be focusing on them and not on how Olivia’s dark hair contrasted against the seeming softness of her cheek or how her crooked smile occasionally turned in her direction.

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Jules’s Midwrite Crisis (short lesfic)

 

Dear Ms Pearson,

Thank you for the opportunity to review your manuscript, however we will not…

Jules’s vision blurred as she stared at the little words on the screen. How many rejections was that in the past six months alone? She pushed her chair from the desk and got up. She didn’t want to think about it. Not anymore. She looked at her laptop and the stack of notebooks and pencils next to it. She didn’t want to write either. What was the point if nobody would ever read it?

You could write just for the sake of writing, a little voice in her head said. You know, like you used to? She sighed. It was true. She didn’t write to publish. She wrote because she was a writer, it was just who she was.

 The constant setbacks didn’t help her though. She wanted writing to be her job. She wanted her life to revolve around books, not rejection letters and the impending end of her sabbatical which was creeping closer and closer. And with not even one book published she just couldn’t justify not going back to work.

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Never Break a Leg Before Christmas Part 4 (lesfic)

“Is everything ready?” Leila was standing in the doorway. Her fair hair was placed high on the top of her head in a messy yet somehow elegant bun, Nonnie wondered how she did it.

“You look nice.” She smiled. “Quite the birthday girl.”

“Want me to fix your hair?” Leila came into the kitchen and walked towards Nonnie with her hands reaching out. “You’ve done so much, I feel like I need to repay you somehow.”

Nonnie stepped out of Leila’s reach with a laugh. She looked at the hallway mirror that she could see all the way from the kitchen. She looked like she did usually, her unruly blonde hair framing her face. She hadn’t done anything other than wash and brush. But she was happy with it. Maybe it wasn’t the most dignified look, but it suited her.

“No. Thanks, but I’m happy with how I look today.” And she was.

She was out of her crutches for tonight, and even though she wasn’t ready for high heels just yet, she wore pretty black ballerinas that went very well with her dark purple dress. She felt pretty. I hope Nicole thinks so too.

“What are you smiling about?” Leila was staring at her with a teasing look in her eyes. “You’ve met someone!”

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Never break a leg before christmas part 3 (lesfic)

*Beep*

“Hello?”

“Hi, Nonnie, it’s Nicole. Listen, I’ve…” Nicole fell silent as she searched for the right words. Saying yes to an extra shift had been so easy, but now she felt sick at the thought of disappointing Nonnie.

“You’re calling to cancel.” Nonnie sounded like she couldn’t believe it and Nicole wondered what she had done to make Nonnie believe in her so much.

“I’ll be stuck at the hospital until 8 tonight. I was asked to cover the shift of a colleague.”

“Was it necessary?”

Nicole didn’t even have to think about it.

“Yes,” she said without a moment’s hesitation. “We can’t be without a surgeon at the hospital, not even for a few hours.”

“Okay.” Nonnie sounded determined. “Have you slept?”

“Yes.” Nicole felt warmth spread through her chest at Nonnie’s concern. “I just woke up and have been sleeping since two this morning. I would have called sooner but I got home in the middle of the night and -”

“Don’t worry, there is no need to explain.” Nonnie chucked. “If there’s something I understand it’s your dedication to your job.”

“How is the leg?”

“Aching and keeping me from work.” Nonnie sighed. “The understudy is taking over my role for the next three weeks and then we’ll see.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be. Anthony is deliriously happy to have his mom home during the evenings. But I do miss it.” Nonnie was quiet for a moment. “Listen, I still have a baby-sitter for the night. Want to grab a bite to eat when you get off from work? I could grab some take-away and head to your place around nine?”

“I’m going to be tired.” Nicole didn’t mean to sound negative; the thought of seeing Nonnie after her shift was tantalizing but there was the risk that she would be tired. And grumpy.

“I want to make sure you eat.” Nonnie laughed. “That sounds stupid. But it’s true. Sorry.” She might have apologized but there was nothing apologetic about her tone. Her sincerity was a breath of fresh air and Nicole felt herself clutching the phone harder.

“Do you now?” Nicole wondered if Nonnie could hear the smile in her voice.

“Yes, doctor. So what do you say? Chinese?”

“I’ll be home around ten to nine.”

“I’ll be there.”

 

* * *

 

 Some days everything that could go wrong, went wrong, and Nicole arrived home at five to nine feeling slightly tired but still looking forward to seeing Nonnie something immensely. Despite leaving the hospital later than she had planned, she cycled home fast and threw herself into the shower.

 She walked through her living room, barefoot in jeans and towelling her wet hair when the doorbell rang. Her heart pounded wildly in her chest and she couldn’t stop the smile that came to her lips.

 She opened the door and her smile grew even wider.

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