Mike closed the comm smiling and looked up to find Dee standing by his table. “Good, you are here. Now if you can come with me I think everything should be set.”
“Where are we going? I thought you invited me to dinner.” Dee asked looking about the restaurant.
“Yup, did.” Mike grinned impishly and took her by the hand leading her out of their normal restaurant. “I am cooking, tonight.”
She stopped dead in her tracks and stared at him. “In whose kitchen?”
“Mine. I took out a lease on a place this morning. Made some calls and I hope everything is in place. I have had some other business to attend to but this is slightly more important.”
She stepped to catch up to him still wide-eyed. “A lease?”
“I spend so much time here that I might as well anchor a few roots. For . . . well . . .you and me, we . . . ” He spluttered off and then sighed as they turned a corner. “Up here.” his voice held relief for the change of subject. The apartment was in one of high end towers normally occupied by the larger corporate executives with the bottom three floors dedicated to their offices. He keyed a small card into the lift controls and they felt slightly heavier as the lift took them to his . . . level. She had heard that some of the upper apartments had their own levels so you did not share a hall with anyone. Mike smiled as he walked in and went straight to the open kitchen where he started rummaging through the ‘fridge and pulling out ingredients.
She turned around slowly, taking in the apartment and its view of the main hanger bay. With a start she realized that his apartment was right on a level with her work area across the hanger overlooking the main approach to the station. She doubted that this was a coincidence. The sounds of cutting and something starting to sizzle broke her reverie and she looked back to see Mike slicing vegetables while keeping a wary eye on the two types of meat sizzling in separate pans.
“Gate camps” he muttered as he poked the lighter meat and returned to slicing.
“What?” She peered into the pan dubiously.
“Watching the meat ’till it be juss riiight’ as my uncle Thibideau used to say.” His voice took on a strange drawl for a moment then he shook his head and smiled. “I haven’t tought of Onc T in a long time. But he was the gourmand in our family. He’d tell me ‘Boy, yo iz sho to be eatin in yo life. Bess you knows how ta cook fo yo foo self. It don hurt none wit da ladies needa.'” Mike blushed. “Not that I ever . . . ”
“Until now?” She leaned across and stole a slice of some greenery and gasped as the spice burned her lips. She gladly took the wine he passed her with a grin. “I hear you have been seeing another woman on the station, lately.”
“Well ya, I was going to tell you about Ms Dom.” He rubbed the back of his neck and focussed on the chopping. “She has a job she would like me to do.”
Dee let him sweat for a moment before she set the wine down and smiled. “I know. And you knew that I would when you started making plans and including Ev and Scotty in them. Is anything you do an accident?”
He sighed. “Only the really good things and the really bad things. But when it comes to managing aggro, no accidents are allowed. I fly with Mar now and again and he flies paper thin hulls. If the pirates shoot at him he is dead so I am very good at making sure that attention is where it should be. That is what we call managing aggro. He just answered this afternoon, he is going to be a key part in this little operation.”
“Is he going to be shot at?”
“Not if I can help it. There should be lots of confusion and yelling and when the shooting starts, it will be me in the crosshairs.” He reached over and rolled some of the meat to sear the other side. “Ev says that everything should be fine if all goes according to plan.”
“No, Ev says you are taking huge risks in a ship you have never flown before and Scotty thinks you are going to divide hisec into ‘places he can be, and places he can be blown up on sight’. They are worried about you, and so am I.”
Mike looked her in the eye for a moment then returned to focussing on the cooking, the ingredients were beginning to be added to one large cassarole dish. “Part of the reason I got this place, to let you know I plan on coming back. It doesn’t matter about places I can’t be, as long as I can be here.” He slid the dish into the oven. “It has to meld.” He lead her over to a couch looking out into the hanger.
She sat close to him, but not touching, watching his face as he looked out at the view. He would squint to identify ships as they lifted and his hands would twitch when certain ones showed. With a sigh she snuggled in next to him and they watched the evening traffic come and go. A timer chimed softly and he jumped up to pull the concoction from the over. “It don bein workin now we lets it ress a mo befo we be cuttin inta it.” Mike drawled with a smile. He refilled their glasses and set a small table as the room filled with the aromas of meats, peppers, and sauces all mixing in one dish.
When she tried the first bite she gasped.
“Too strong?” Mike asked with a worried look on his face.
“Yes, no, hot, spicy hot and peppers and onions and . . ” She grabbed her wine and finished the glass before trying to form a more coherent sentence. “No, not strong, loud!”
“Most food is a solo, one instrument, one melody. A meal is a string quartet or a duet of voices. You cooked up a jazz band in full swing with a choir singing along with the chorus. So yes, loud is the right term for it. What do you call it?”
Mike smiled and then started laughing “I think I call it Loud from now on. Yes, Onc T wouldn’t mind if I called it Loud.” He took a big spoonfull and grinned. “Oowee this here Loud be sometin special, you betcha. Layta on I play a lil music an we dance da way my folks be learnin me back when I was knee hi ta da gater.” And then he started to laugh until tears came down his face and he almost choked on the food.
It wasn’t until after the food was finished that he brought up the mission once more. “I will be gone for a week or so. We will have to set things up on the far end ad make sure all the pieces are in place.” He pulled her a bit closer on the couch and looked out, rather than at her. “Last time I went out on a mission for Ms Dom I joked about taking a token . . . ”
“I remember.” she whispered.
“Do I have any hope of getting one this time I go?” He looked down to see her wide eyes looking back up at him.
Her smile started in the eyes and spread across her face like the sun coming up over a spring meadow. “Ask me over breakfast . . . you do know how to make breakfast don’t you?”
His answering smile grew much much quicker.
No Lessons, just me writing, sorry.
Building up to a mission, slowly
This song was in my head the whole time I was writing.