Snow & Winter series -
Dream a Little Dream Coda
Dream a little dream of me….
Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong came to life on the record player. I hummed along under my breath while walking across the living room, down the hall, and into the kitchen. The music reached at just the perfect volume.
Calvin had cleared the limited counterspace of all appliances and taken over in preparation of Thanksgiving. He was handling the important dishes. Roast duck, stuffed sweet potatoes, red curry squash soup, fresh dinner rolls, and pie.
In fact, the pie had been made first thing that morning, before I’d even stumbled out of the shower and put on a pair of pants. The mixed berry delight had since been taunting me from the crowded table beside the fridge.
Of course, Calvin wasn’t doing all the work. I’d been regulated to cranberry sauce and salad. And nothing from a can or bag, per his kitchen regulations. Which was fine. It’s not like I couldn’t cook. I just hated it so much I was on a first name basis with take-out delivery guys. But anyway— sauce and salad was hardly cooking. They were more like… stirring and chopping and voila.
Plus, I had wine.
So I was in a much more reasonable state.
Calvin had nixed my offer to prepare one or two of the side dishes that actually required work. Again, not because he didn’t trust me to manage stuffed potatoes, but because since we’d moved in together a year and a half ago and he’d gotten an actual kitchen, cooking had become a real positive hobby and stress reliever. I wasn’t about to take that away. I’d conceded to picking up so when Pop joined us in a few hours, the apartment resembled a home belonging to two full grown men and not college roommates.
I joined Calvin at the counter, reached out, and rubbed his back absently. “How’s it coming in here, Martha?”
He smiled while chopping an onion and a few cloves of garlic. “Not bad, Rachel.” Calvin scooped up the aromatic veggies and not so gently stuffed them into the backside of the duck.
“I sure hope you took him out for a night on the town first,” I stated. I picked up my glass and sipped the white wine.
“We had a romantic walk through Union Square Greenmarket,” he confirmed. “Bought goat cheese together, the local wine my husband has already cracked open—”
“You said I could.”
Calvin was still smiling as he collected some twine and secured the duck’s legs. “I was going to pass on the flowers for said husband, but the duck thought it was a wise investment of fifteen bucks.”
“The duck is smart. Your husband likes flowers.”
Calvin leaned down and kissed me. “I know you do.”
“Don’t tell anyone.”
I moved aside so he could put the duck in the oven. I started on the cranberry sauce while Calvin scooped the roasted squash flesh from the rind and dumped it into a blender.
It was fascinating to watch him work in this new element of his. Calvin threw himself into cooking like he did everything else in life—one hundred percent and unwilling to settle for less than perfect. But I’ll say, a duck was easier on his psyche than dismembered body parts found in half a dozen different trash bags around Midtown. Here, he lost the stern exhausted lines around his eyes and mouth, his jaw unclenched, and his posture relaxed enough that when I massaged his shoulders it wasn’t like trying to dig my fingers into cinderblocks.
He sincerely enjoyed himself while in the kitchen.
And smiled without any inhibitions.
Calvin poured himself some of the wine I’d already been taking advantage of, and took a few sips. He didn’t really drink wine—only sometimes on holidays. Calvin said one glass was enough to make his face pink.
And of course that meant little to me, but if it was anything like the darker complexion he had during sex—a flush—I’d be happy to top his glass off.
Calvin checked his watch, glanced at me, then asked, “What?”
He touched between his own eyes. “You’ve got your thinking crease.”
“I wish you guys wouldn’t call it that.” I added some water to the cranberries and sugar.
Calvin chuckled under his breath.
“Ever notice that most people’s middle names don’t suit them?”
Calvin looked at me, took another drink of wine, and said, “That wasn’t what you were thinking, but go on.”
Jesus, did he know me.
I shrugged and turned the heat on low. “I don’t look like an Andrew.”
“Like, not even close. I don’t think I look like anything but a Sebastian.”
Calvin nodded and began adding a few more liquid ingredients to his pulped squash. “I’m partial to Sebastian too.”
“Andrew was Pop’s uncle’s name. He passed away during the Korean War.” I looked at Calvin. “But Liam suits you.”
“Hm-mm. Something about it. I mean, you look like a Calvin, but Liam has a pleasant ring. Matches your freckles or something.”
Calvin turned on the blender and soon the kitchen had a pleasant aroma of curry, squash, and lime, combined with the sweet and tart cranberries, and duck on its slow path to perfection. After turning off the blender, Calvin picked up his wine glass and held it out.
I raised my eyebrows but mimicked the motion.
“Happy Thanksgiving, baby.” He tapped his glass against mine, but then kissed me instead of taking a drink. “Do you know what I’m thankful for?”
“You’re a real charmer.”
“What about you?”
I hemmed and hawed a moment, pointed at Calvin’s waist, and said, “I’m thankful for these ass-and-thigh hugging, low-rise jeans of yours.”
Calvin laughed, wrapped a strong arm around my shoulders, and pulled me into a hug.