Disclaimers: The characters in the following story are of my own creation. Any similarities to anyone living or dead are purely coincidental. This work my not be used or reproduced in any manner, or distributed for profit without the express written permission from me, the author.

I want to thank my beta for the time she spent with this story. Lenore, as always you are the best. I bow to your grammatical knowledge and for your continued dedication and support.

I would like to also take the opportunity to thank all the wonderful people who take the time to read these stories. Thank you for all the great notes you have sent. I appreciate them all.

Any comments can be sent to me at terrali20@yahoo.com.

This is dedicated, as always, to the one woman who holds my heart. I love you and I always will. Happy Valentine's Day, honey.

February 2007

Over Easy

Ali Vali

"You're taking cooking lessons?"

"Every Wednesday night."

Peter Lindsey looked at his friend Yancy Allemond as if she'd grown horns and a tail in the produce section of the grocery store. "You don't cook."

"I know I don't, thus the lessons." He stood stunned for a minute then had to break out into a trot to catch up with her at the cantaloupes. "Did you know that if you smell these right here," she pointed to the top of the melon, "and they smell like cantaloupe, it means it's ripe?"

"Yancy, you're starting to sound domestic and it's scaring the shit out of me."

"Should I tell my sister now that the thought of domesticity scares you?" She picked up four different melons before deciding on one. "The wedding's in a month so you might want to get with the program."

"Domesticity doesn't scare me, and I love Andy. What concerns me is you becoming domestic." He accepted a cantaloupe from her even though Andy hadn't put that on her list, but felt obligated after Yancy had sniffed through the bin in search of the perfect one. "I just want to keep going to work after I get married and have you regale me with stories about all the women you're seeing. Better yet, the women who cook you dinner then insist you sleep with them."

"Have I ever mentioned to you, that you're a pervert?" Yancy was now squeezing tomatoes.

"I'm not a pervert." This was on his list so Peter stood there with an open produce bag waiting for the sudden culinary expert to find the perfect specimens for him to take home and impress Andy with.

"Not a bad sick kind of pervert, but the harmless voyeuristic kind."

"Peeping Toms are not harmless. You know as well as I do they continue to escalate in their behavior more often than not." Once she'd picked three tomatoes he checked that off his list and moved to the cucumbers. "I need three of these too."

"Please don't talk shop and you're on your own when it comes to these."

Peter glanced at the bin full of cucumbers like his fiancée had asked him to buy a box of tampons while he was out with his buddies and then demand a price check. "What? They didn't cover these in class?"

"Last week as a matter of fact."

"So? Let's get going with the picking."

Yancy ignored him and handed him a box of black berries instead. "I happen to hate cucumbers so rather than pay attention to something I'm never going to eat; I decided to study the teacher's ass instead. I exhibited the same behavior sitting in my ninth grade geometry class since I figured I'd never need that in my life again either. As usual I was right. You actually don't need geometry to balance your check book or figure out how much cucumbers are if you buy two pounds of them." She pointed to his basket. "Bring the berries home instead, trust me. Andrea loves black berries enough that she'll forgive you forgetting the cucumbers."

"You were checking out some guy's ass? I don't need to pencil you in for some couch time do I?" This was a constant joke between them from the time they met during their fellowships at LSU Medical School.

The shiver that Yancy suffered after his comment made her prematurely white hair fall into her eye and Peter laugh. "And I should sign you up for sensitivity classes. There are female chefs, MCP."

"I'm not a chauvinist pig, thank you."

"And no matter how many times you ask, I'm not lying on your couch and telling you my problems. After starting my practice and listening to how twisted some people are, I don't have any problems of consequence."

Peter moved to the onions and held open another bag. "The real reason you don't want to put in any couch time is so I won't figure out how crazy you are, admit it." He made a mental note to find out when Yancy did her grocery shopping so he could tag along from then on. The whole process was a heck of lot less painless than it usually was. "Tell me about the female chef in your life."

"She's teaching me to cook--end of story."

"Come on, you were checking out her ass," he whined.

"Because she was talking about cucumbers, not because I was interested. Call it a reflex action on my part," she said making it sound as if he were mentally challenged for not getting that point in the first place. They slowed in the next department to study steaks. "Besides she's with somebody I think."

"That's never stopped you before."

She threw a pack of ribeyes into her basket and started walking again. "That's the old Yancy. My New Year's resolution is to strive for the new and improved Yancy. I say if Tide detergent can make that claim every couple of months it should be fairly easy."

"What's wrong with the old Yancy?"

They headed for the dairy section next and Peter felt comfortable enough to pick out milk and eggs by himself, so Yancy moved down to the butter. "My baby sister's getting married in weeks and it made me think that I don't want to chase nurses around for the rest of my life. You should be proud of yourself--you've made domesticity sound so enticing I'm willing to give it a chance."

"That whole nurse thing is ass backwards and you know it. When have you ever chased any woman who didn't want to get caught?"

She took the list from him and handed him a pack of unsalted butter. "That's not the point."

"What is?"

"The chase, no matter who's doing it, gets tiring after awhile." They started for the register making a run through the bakery. "Now I'm more interested in chasing the same woman and find the thrill in catching her waking up next to me morning after morning."

"Any girl would be lucky to finally settle you down, just don't tell her what you do for a living right away."

Yancy scanned the candy bins and grabbed a Crunch bar and added it to Peter's purchases. "We'll get to your insights in a minute Dr. Freud, but add this to your pile there."

"Are you crazy? You know how nuts Andy gets about junk food."

"You're about to marry the girl so I figure it's safe to tell you that Andy is a freak for these things." She grabbed his hand when it landed on the candy as he went for another one. "The secret to using these to get you out of trouble, i.e. not bringing home cucumbers, is to use them in moderation. Never bring home more than two a month. To keep the mystique alive think the opposite of the Pavlovian dog theory."

Peter slapped her on the back and nodded. "It's nice to know you'll still look out for me even after I got together with Andy."

"Just remember that if you hurt her, I'll kill you by feeding you one of these laced with so much arsenic it would take out a herd of elephants." Peter laughed and stopped when she didn't join in. "Now tell me why I should keep my job a secret."

"It either freaks women out because they feel like you're trying to analyze them, or they're dying to burden you with their problems."

The cashier started laughing when Yancy rolled her eyes. "I'm almost afraid to ask what category Andy fell into. My question to you is how in the hell are you getting married while I'm single with comments like that?"

"I'm cuter than you are, and your sister is a lot smarter than you'll ever think to be."

"Not from where I'm standing," the cashier said as she weighed Yancy's tomatoes. "I'm sorry; did I say that out loud?"

"Are you sure you want to retire?" Peter whispered as the girl continued to smile at Yancy.

"As sure as I am of wanting to learn to make Crème Brule."

"Come by my office tomorrow--you definitely need meds."


"Mel, the produce and seafood is here."

The kitchen of Jacqueline's was already chaotic and it wasn't even four in the afternoon. Melody Brendan, or Mel as her employees referred to her as, was slowly stirring a reduction sauce she'd been working on for two hours. She came from a long line of restaurateurs who had always preached that slow and consistent was the secret to keeping your dining room full.

Jacqueline's was the family's newest endeavor and already they were receiving rave reviews for the creations coming out of Melody's kitchen, which in New Orleans, a city known for food, was a miracle of sorts. To achieve the darling status she had, Melody had put in long hours and a grueling pace that had left her drained but she was starting to feel like she and her staff deserved the praise being heaped on them.

That feeling was sealed when her grandmother, Jacqueline Brendan, who had finally agreed to give her name to an establishment, stopped dropping by every afternoon to look in her pots. Mel figured she had earned her approval the afternoon she tasted everything, nodded and walked out the door. It was like receiving a private blessing from the pope since Jacqueline Brendan, the matriarch of the family and owner of the Brendan restaurant empire wasn't one to dole out praise for no reason.

Mel stepped to the back door as the vendors unloaded boxes from their trucks. Both men sighed and stopped what they were doing as soon as she opened the first box.

"I think these fish belong in a museum, Ricky," Mel said after skimming away the ice covering the chest of red fish.

"Sorry, Mel, I didn't think you'd be here today. I must've mixed your order up with someone else's." He put the chest back and retrieved three new ones.

"Uh huh," the ice came away again only this time it wasn't rows of clouded eyes she was staring down at. "If I'm not here and you try that again, you'll lose more than Jacqueline's business. Just keep in mind how many restaurants this place's namesake owns in the city. That's a lot of sales to lose trying to be sneaky."

He laughed as she handed over the invoice. "Thanks, Mel. You're a lot nicer than the dragon lady."

"Gran's unique in her approach, I'll give you that."

"That's being generous."

"Generous about what?" Jacqueline Brendan asked from the end of the loading dock.

Ricky glanced at Mel in a panic and swallowed visibly hard. "Nothing, Mrs. Brendan, have a great day," he mumbled as he tripped on the way to the driver's side of his van.

"That wasn't very nice." Mel waved her staff to take charge of the deliveries as she moved to help her grandmother up the steps and inside.

"A vendor in a little fear is a vendor who is much more honest, Mel. That's the first lesson you should learn if you don't want to start an epidemic of something in the city, or get stuck with lettuce that's one minute away from turning to liquid." Jacqueline opened her arms and gave Mel a hug when she was close enough. "I missed you, sunshine."

"It's the middle of convention season so we've been a little crazy. You look good though." They made their way into the kitchen arm in arm and the talking came to a sudden halt.

"I'm old, rich and eat well, so I should look good," Jacqueline joked. "But all that doesn't make up for not seeing my favorite granddaughter more often."

"Gran, I'm your only granddaughter, but you're right. I promise I'll make time at least once a week to come by Brendan's and have lunch with you. That is if you can pencil me in."

One of the kitchen workers laid out a set of spoons on a linen napkin near the stoves and went back to tearing lettuce. Systematically Jacqueline went from pot to pot and tasted what was on the night's menu. "Wonderful as always, my love." When she was done and turned around Jacqueline laughed at the way the staff was frozen in place. "Is that your father's recipe for cream of crabmeat soup?"

"He shared his with me, but I tweaked it a little."

Jacqueline picked up a fresh spoon and tried the dish again. "First off there's no crabmeat in it, that is a refreshing tweak, but false advertising don't you think?"

"The tweak is a cup of shrimp broth added to every quart of heavy cream along with a different proportion of the spices to bring out the flavor of the crab more. The crab meat is added as the orders go out to keep the lumps whole and prevents them from getting overdone." She guided Jacqueline to the chef's table she kept in the kitchen and placed a bowl in front of her. "It can't be all bad, Gran. We usually run out before the final seating."

"Always leave them wanting more--you learned your lessons well." The first spoonful garnered those present with a moan of enjoyment from Jacqueline. "We'll have to send the twit we hired for Brendan's over here for lessons. He thinks the spicier something is, the more Creole it makes it. Your Uncle Alexander has started the search for someone new to make up for that colossal mistake. How unfortunate for us that Alexander inherited none of the famous Brendan culinary genes."

"You came to complain about Uncle Alex and Stewart?"

"Stewart will do fine frying chicken at McDonald's since I figure that's where his career will take him next."

"They don't fry chicken at McDonald's, Gran."

"Exactly my point. The only thing the man excelled at cooking up was his resume, but you're right, that's not why I'm here."

"Should I bribe you with tonight's fish dish before you go on?"

Jacqueline's face relaxed completely when she laughed. "I love the way you think. Maybe I should send your uncle over here as well so he can not only learn about good food but learn how to handle the dragon lady as well."

"Uncle Alex is doing great without my help so cut him some slack."

"Stop trying to take up for that boy and let me get to why I'm here." The fish placed in front of her seemed to be too good to pass up so Jacqueline stopped to take a bit. "Where in the world did you find enough red fish to sustain a nightly special?"

"I'm a Brendan and I know people."

The tease made Jacqueline laugh in between bites. "How are you handling all this, sweetheart?"

"I won't lie and tell you it's not hectic, but I love it."

After one last bite Jacqueline pushed away from the table and offered her hand to Mel. "Walk me through your place."

"It's got your name on the door, Gran."

"True, but it's got your soul in the most important place--the kitchen." They stopped in the center of the dining room watching the wait staff set up for the night's business. The room was broken into three sections so they could accommodate private parties if they had to, and also to keep the intimate dining experience intact. There was a bar coming in from the hotel lobby where the restaurant was located. "I remember my mother creating magic in her kitchen when I was a little girl. Everyday she put together the most wonderful meals and it didn't occur to me until she was gone that the most important thing she made everyday was a sense of place. You know, someplace warm and safe that smelled of cinnamon and spice."

"I remember the same things when I sat in your kitchen on Sunday afternoons. You might not have grown up with the Brendan name, but you do the name and the tradition proud. And after going through the old family recipes I think your mom's renditions of some of the dishes are much better, but don't tell Granddad I said so." Mel put her arm around her grandmother and searched her face for anything out of the ordinary. "Is everything all right?"

"Just a little melancholy on my part and it made me want to check on you. I wanted to make sure you aren't spreading yourself too thin."

"I'm okay, Gran. No need to worry."

"Still teaching those classes to the culinary inept?"

"Every Wednesday night."

They kept going until they reached the bar. "Why is it that you do that? I'd think this place would keep you busy enough."

Mel waved to the bartender and nodded when he held up a couple of bottles of Perrier. "It's a good change of pace and it's only a six week course. I did it to help Sheila over at the university so the classes would catch on, but I really like it. It gives the staff some good experience having me gone and I'm helping out the culinary inept as you said."

"Are you dating anyone?"

Mel thought a person could get whiplash her grandmother changed the subject so abruptly in the middle of every conversation. "Maybe some time soon, but I don't really have time for one more thing in my life much less someone."

"There's always room for someone, Melody. If you don't believe me, just check out the hierarchy of needs."

She stayed silent thinking Jacqueline would elaborate but she didn't. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"Our basic needs are more than good food, sweetheart. Sex has to fit in there somewhere." Jacqueline looped their arms together and started for the door. "With the right person it might even be better than your crabmeat soup, but that would take some doing."

"Gran," Mel said stretching out the word. The heat radiating from her ears only got worse the louder Jacqueline laughed.

"Just remember to have fun, that's the main thing I wanted to tell you today. All the reviews in the world don't mean anything in the end if you don't have anyone to share your success with."

"Thanks, Gran."

Jacqueline's car was waiting in the front of the restaurant and Mel walked her to the door and kissed her as the driver opened the door. "You're welcome, and don't forget what I said."

"About sharing?"

"About the sex, don't forget that."

She didn't have to look in a mirror to figure out just how badly she was blushing, and to Mel it was a dead give away to her grandmother that she wasn't having sex. Instead of teasing her about it though, Jacqueline just kissed her cheek again and smiled.

"Mel, the meat delivery is here," one of the staff poked his head out the door and yelled.

It was time to get back to work and put aside the avalanche of thoughts her grandmother had started. To her left clouds were starting to gather over the river, and there was a heaviness to the air that promised rain. "Damn," Mel said as she walked to the back again knowing rainy Wednesdays made people stay home. People staying home meant she'd have a load of red fish and crabmeat to feed her cat when the choice was that or throwing it away.


The rain started at four-thirty as Yancy was with her last patient in the hospital. "I'm telling you they were here again last night. Now you promised no meds if I told you the truth."

"I remember how you feel about medication, don't worry." Yancy took notes as the seventy-year-old woman paced near the bed so she could use it as support. "Did the aliens tell you anything?"

"For the last time, Dr. Yancy, they aren't aliens, they're Martians."

"Sorry about that, what did the Martians tell you last night?"

The patient stopped and just stared out the window acting as if a space craft would come into sight at any minute. "They said not to listen to anything Pat Robertson says."

"Then they are definitely creatures of higher intelligence like they've been portrayed in all the movies."

The look of fear left her and Yancy made another note of just how elated the woman appeared now. "You believe me?"

"I've never personally seen a Martian, but I'm not in a position to say they don't exist."

"My daughter says I'm just crazy."

It was Yancy who frowned now and she put her notebook down and gave the lady her full attention. "You aren't crazy, Charlotte. You might get a little confused at times but in my professional opinion seventy years is a lot to keep track of. So you tell me, do you think the Martians are dangerous to you, or will make you dangerous to other people? Do they tell you to do things besides not listen to Pat Robertson?"

"They steal my thoughts is all, and I don't want to run out of them. If that happens I won't be able to remember Harvey. That would make me sadder than I don't know what."

Yancy stood and guided Charlotte back to the chair she'd been occupying and knelt before her. "Would you like to try an experiment then?"

"Can I leave here if I say yes?"

"How about if we let you check out of the pink ward and move you to the regular hospital until we see how it goes? I don't want to send you home just yet until I know you and your thoughts will be safe."

Charlotte's hand shook and was twisted from arthritis, but it felt warm against Yancy's face. "You're a nice person, Dr. Yancy. I trust you, so what would you like me to do?"

"I want you to take a pill that'll help you relax."

"You said no meds."

She reached out and took hold of Charlotte's hand before she retreated back into her depression. "It's just a little bit of meds that will help keep Harvey alive in your thoughts."

"It'll help me remember Harvey?" She leaned forward as if wanting to hear more. "But what about the Martians?"

From her lab coat Yancy pulled out a bright red knit cap. Of all the ones she had to choose from at the store that morning it was the one she thought would go best with Charlotte's coloring. "From now on if the Martians come back I want you to call me before you call your daughter. Do we have a deal on that?"


"Good, and if you wear this special cap I got from NASA, then your thoughts will be safe. It's made from special thought saving material so you'll be fine, and if you lose it, the man told me to just call and he'd send you another one."

Charlotte took the hat from her like she was accepting the Holy Grail. "So I'm not crazy then?"

"Do you think you're crazy?"

"I never thought I'd see Martians so maybe I am."

"Or maybe they didn't have anything to say until now. But until we know for sure, how about if we try what I'm suggesting and see what happens. Maybe if we try the little bit of medication it will make your thoughts so strong that you won't see the Martians anymore."

"You have a deal," Charlotte said as she stuck out her hand.

"Thanks for trusting me, Charlotte. That means a lot to me," Yancy said meaning it. They had moved from Charlotte not wanting to take anything but her daily regiment of aspirin to trusting Yancy with her mental care and a bit of Paxil. "Now you get some rest and enjoy the rain. I'll send the nurse in and we'll get started on making you feel better."

The nurses just waited as Yancy stood at their station writing notes in the file she had for Charlotte. The silence she was sure was just curiosity on their part to what new treatment options she was willing to try now. From the time Yancy had started her practice she strived to find the best way to get a patient to accept the reality around them with as little medication and treatment as possible. With a patient like Charlotte she was willing to bet that with one little pill and a red hat she would be fine. That wasn't always possible and sometimes the reality of heavy medication that kept the patients almost comatose was the only option, but she'd left that reality behind after her residency.

"I see Charlotte looks happy and is sporting some new fashion," said the blonde nurse leaning toward her and pointing to Charlotte who was now walking the halls with a huge smile instead of resting.

"Her new thought saving hat, so make sure no one takes it away from her. Also start her medications as soon as possible," she handed over the file with her notes. "Once she stabilizes then move her to the regular ward and tell them I want a bed for at least three days before I sit and speak to her daughter again."

"You got it, doc. Are you free later on tonight?"

"Actually no, I'm taking a cooking lesson." Yancy waved over her shoulder and started for the elevator.

She came close to laughing out loud when she overheard the woman comment to the other nurse on duty, "She can turn me down if she wants to, but she doesn't have to lie about it."

There were going to have to be changes in her life if she was going to make people perceive her differently from now on. Maybe like Charlotte it was time to trust a little and hope for big results that were just short of wonderful.

Charlotte popped into her head again as she drove out of the hospital parking lot, and it made her ponder what it would be like to reach that age and worry about losing the memory of someone so special it made your heart hurt. What would hurt more would be to reach that point and not have that worry at all because of never taking a chance on a relationship.

She glanced at her watch and even though the weather was raging she didn't make up any excuses not to keep her New Year's resolutions to try new things. Cooking was just something easy to start with, and she found it more enjoyable than she would have thought.

"And it isn't because I think the instructor is outrageously cute either," she said to the steering wheel of her car as an image of Mel and her blonde hair materialized in her mind.

Mel was someone Yancy would describe as spunky, but she was so energetic that it made you open up to new possibilities. She'd never been that discerning about the things she put in her mouth, but Chef Brendan had such a passion for food it had changed Yancy's outlook on eating after only two weeks of classes. What she needed though, was for that to spillover into other parts of her life.

By the time she reached the University the rain was coming down in torrents and the streets were starting to flood so Yancy doubted they'd be having class, but she was there already and figured she'd ride out the weather inside the building reading cookbooks or something until it blew over.

When she made a run for it the wind picked up and the rain came down even harder soaking her before she was three feet from the car. Yancy was dripping by the time she made it to the classroom, shocked to see Melody sitting in the front staring out the windows.

"I thought I was the only nut out in this tonight," Yancy said as she shook her head trying to get the water out of it.

"I'm glad I'm not and won't have to waste all these ingredients they put out," Mel answered laughing at the puddle Yancy was making as she stripped off her sweater. "You must really be dedicated to learning how to cook."

"Something like that. Up to now it's been easy just eating out and buying TV dinners."

"Sounds serious if you're willing to kill yourself with all the ingredients they put in those things."

"Food that can kill…I've heard it all before and I'm still around to tell the tales of the bad frozen dinner," Yancy joked back. "But after seeing the pile of ingredients you have there it would've been a pity to have them go to waste, so I'm glad you're just as dedicated." Yancy accepted a roll of paper towels and tried to dry off as best she could.

Outside three bolts of lighting struck in succession and in the distance Yancy and Mel saw a brief shower of sparks before the electricity went out. "In hindsight though, maybe this should've been one night when we shouldn't have shown so much dedication after all," Yancy said.

"This is the main classroom of the culinary school and they host dinner every so often, so why don't you go in the storeroom and look for some candles."

"What are you going to do?"

Mel laughed as she grabbed her purse and headed for the hallway. "I need to make a call, but I promise I'll be right back. You aren't afraid of the dark are you?"

"Being in the dark is sometimes the safest place to be."

The answer stopped Mel halfway to the door and made her turn around. "What an interesting thing to say. Like I said, I just need to make a call, so don't run off on me."

"I wouldn't dream of it." Yancy said it in such a way that made Mel feel like she'd asked for her to take her clothes off.

The restaurant still had power so Mel felt better about her deliveries not going to waste. In the room behind her she watched Yancy light the candles she'd found then stand in front of a six burner stove trying to warm up and dry her shirt. Mel listened to her second in command run down what was going on, but her eyes never left Yancy's back.

All she knew about Yancy was her name and that she obviously didn't care for cucumbers since she'd paid more attention to her ass then her explanation in that first class. After that night Mel had formed an opinion of her, and fair or not, it had stuck. To Mel, Yancy was one of those tall, strong, good looking types who knew they were tall, strong and good looking.

In Mel's opinion anyone that arrogant was someone who never looked beyond themselves, and that made them the bad egg in perfectly good batter. Just because she felt that way didn't mean she didn't enjoy sneaking a peek when she could because Yancy had the good looking part sewn up.

"Do you feel better now?" Mel asked as she walked back in.

Yancy turned around and crossed her arms over her chest. Her sweater had actually plopped to the floor when she'd stripped it off, but now that Mel was back she felt warmer.

"Is everything all right?" Yancy asked in return pointing to the hallway Mel had stepped out to.

"Don't tell me you're afraid to answer my question, or to admit you're afraid of the dark?" With a candle in her hand, Mel opened the industrial refrigerator and pulled out a bowl. "I promise not to tease you about it, and if you want, I'll admit my fears first."

"You don't strike me as someone who has too many fears."

Mel continued pulling out ingredients. "Really? I wouldn't think that would be an easy thing to guess about a person. Actually I have two."

"Not bad considering," Yancy said with a lot of humor in her voice. The banter made her inordinately happy that she'd kept to her resolutions.

"Considering what?"

Yancy placed her hands flat on the work station across from Mel. "When you consider all there is in the world to be afraid of. It's not bad if you've narrowed it down to just two things."

"I never thought about it like that."

"And you shouldn't. No one should ever concentrate on the things there are to be afraid of." Yancy picked up the recipe Mel was preparing to make and nodded in apparent approval.

"What should I concentrate on then?"

"That's easy. You should think about all the things that make you happy and the things that bring an abundance of joy into your life. Do that and I promise it'll keep the willies away better than anything else you can do, and it also helps make the things you can't change that much easier to get through. So let's hear them."

"Roaches and salmonella." Mel shrugged when Yancy laughed. "I can't help it, I'm a chef."

"Don't worry it wasn't a test. You didn't get points deducted for not saying something like nuclear holocaust or terrorism." When Mel laughed it made Yancy notice how beautiful her blue eyes looked in candlelight.

"Ooh, I didn't even think of those."

"That's okay too. I'm fairly sure the government pays people to worry about that stuff for you." Yancy enjoyed Mel's laugh again as she held up the recipe. "So special chicken?"

"I promised good and easy."

"You did, and that sounds just like me."

"Does it now?"

When Mel laughed yet again, a little harder this time, Yancy could fee her face get hot. Another stupid comment and she'd be able to dry her clothes without a problem. "Good one, Ms. Brendan."

"I have a feeling that doesn't happen to you often, so you don't have to worry." She combed a strand of hair behind her ear. The action appeared to Yancy to be a self conscious one so she dropped her eyes to the uncooked food not wanting to make Mel feel uncomfortable.

"Ready to cook, Chef."

The question and Yancy's actions made Mel realize that maybe her assumptions had been off base. Reaching that conclusion made her grandmother's visit pop into her mind. Would Yancy be better than a bowl of the cream of crabmeat they were serving at Jacqueline's that night? She pressed her hands to her face as if to hide her thoughts.

"Ms. Brendan are you all right?" Yancy asked.

"I'm fine, and I think we should get started since we're on our own tonight I'm afraid." Mel was right since the rain wasn't letting up. "But that could be fun."

"Private lessons usually are."

Mel's eyes turned back to Yancy from the window at the flirtatious tone in her voice. "It's just that with a group you have to follow these down to the teaspoon," she held up the recipe trying to get their conversation back on track. "If you want I could teach you to adlib."

"I'll be happy to learn anything you want to teach me," Yancy said softly.

"Mel, you made it," Shelia Freeney, the coordinator of the non-credit curriculum, said from the door. "I wanted to make sure you were okay."

If there was any kind of mood building, the interruption brought it to a close as Mel saw Yancy smile and drop her head a little. "We're fine. The electricity went out but the gas is working fine. Want to learn to make an easy chicken dish?"

Yancy turned around and waved. "Hi, Shelia, how are you?"

"Dr. Yancy," Shelia said moving forward quickly. "I didn't know you were in this class. I would've stopped by before now."

"You made it sound so good I thought I'd check it out. So far my future brother-in-law is impressed with my ability to pick out fruits and vegetables."

"If you're going to learn to cook you picked a great teacher."

Yancy looked at Mel and let the corner of her mouth turn up slowly in a smile. "You couldn't be more right." Just because Mel was taken didn't mean she couldn't have a little fun. Because the private call in the hallway, she was sure was to check in with her other half and you didn't do that if you weren't officially in the taken column. The fact that Yancy was still willing to flirt anyway, made her realize it was going to be a long road to change her past behavior.

The three of them spent the rest of the evening leaning to cook by how a dish was suppose to look and taste instead of militarily following the recipe. To Mel, it was the best way to learn because it gave you the freedom to experiment and have fun. The whole while she studied the interaction between Yancy and Shelia as well as how the food was coming together, wondering what history lay between them.

"Now we just have to bake it, then we'll broil it to crunch up the topping we added." Mel slid the pan into the oven then cleaned her hands on the apron she'd put on.

"Let me go make sure we aren't going to float away in the mean time then," Shelia said.

Yancy grabbed a candle and opened the refrigerator again. They'd been preparing the main course for over thirty minutes and the electricity hadn't even flickered again. "I was searching for a bottle of water, but this would go better with chicken don't you think?" She asked holding up a bottle of wine.

"I don't imagine that's included in your tuition, Dr. Yancy." Mel put emphasis on Yancy's name and title.

"Don't tell me, let me guess--you're afraid of shots?" Yancy was opening drawers obviously in search of a cork screw.

"Is that how you know Shelia? Is she a patient of yours?"

"I'm sorry answering that isn't like sharing a recipe." She moved to the next set of drawers.

"Here before you slice your hand open or something," Mel pulled out a waiter corkscrew from her pocket. "And I don't think answering if someone's your patient is a violation of doctor-patient privilege."

"Thanks," Yancy pulled the blade section out first. "I must have missed that day of medical school when they went over the information sharing with friends part. So if you came to see me professionally, you wouldn't mind me sharing that with whoever asks me?"

"If it was a friend asking you, I wouldn't mind." While Yancy finished opening the wine, Mel started another search for glasses.

"If Sheila's a friend of yours then ask her. I'm sure she won't mind."

She put two glasses down in front of Yancy and took a seat on a work stool. "Is that your fear then? Someone asking you to rattle off a list of patients?"

Yancy made no comment that Mel had only taken out two glasses. "What, that doesn't rank up there with insects and food born illnesses?"

The teasing remark drained any tension that had built up in Mel. "Touché," she raised her glass and tapped it against Yancy's. "That reminds me though, you never did tell me what you are afraid of."

"When it comes to fears we have something in common."

"You're afraid of roaches and salmonella too?"

Yancy snorted down a sip of wine when she laughed at the wrong moment. "We have only two fears on our list is what I meant."

"Let's hear them then."

"Alcoholics and silence."

The answer stunned Mel into closing her mouth as she went to make another smart comment. While her answers to the same question had been more of a jest, she had a feeling Yancy's response was the honest truth. Shelia came back in turning the beam of her flashlight on them before Mel could say anything else.

"I don't get any?" Shelia asked turning the beam to the bottle of wine. Yancy went to the cabinet and got another glass and poured her some. "Did I miss anything?"

"Just waiting for the chicken to finish," Mel answered. From the expression on Yancy's face, she was sure Yancy hadn't meant to be so honest.

"This sure beats the sandwich I brought," Shelia said before taking a sip of wine. "And it's kind of romantic with all the candles."

No sooner had she finished than the lights came back on making them all start blinking furiously. "You were saying," Mel said.

"I'm sure that'll taste as good under fluorescents as it would have with candlelight," Yancy said when Mel pulled the pan out and placed it on the counter. "And this time there's enough that I won't go home hungry."

"Mel's letting you go home hungry?" Shelia asked as she accepted her plate. "Not very good marketing, Mel."

Yancy tried to keep her laughter in check when Mel blushed furiously, but failed. Her saving grace was her phone ringing. "Excuse me, ladies, but I'm on call tonight."

As the admit nurse explained the situation Yancy saw the end of a pleasant evening. A young girl being transferred from the emergency room after being treated for shock from watching her father get shot wasn't something to be ignored.

"I hate to say this, but I have to go."

"In this weather?" Mel asked.

"And my shirt just dried too," Yancy joked. "I really would prefer to stay but duty calls. Hopefully though, my chicken will come out looking that good when I make it again at home."

After she left Mel and Shelia ate quietly, both thinking about Yancy. Something about the exchange Mel had with Yancy about Shelia kept her from asking her friend about how she knew Yancy.

"It's a shame Yancy had to leave, she's really great," Shelia said.

"Seems like it," Mel tried to sound nonchalant as she asked. "How do you two know each other?" So much for my resolve thought Mel.

"I realize we went to college together, but a lot happened to me after graduation when we lost touch."

Mel put her fork down and reached across the table for Shelia's hand. "Did you get sick?"

"No, I got engaged," Shelia said, confusing Mel even more.

"Why'd you need a doctor for that?"

"Mel," Shelia said with a laugh, "Yancy's my psychiatrist, not my gynecologist."

"She's a psychiatrist?" Now Yancy's refusal to discuss her patients made sense. "God, what happened? If you want to tell that is."

"Will was in the Marines and was killed in a training exercise. When it happened I thought my life would shatter apart, then I met Dr. Wonderful." Mel poured them a little more wine just to give herself something to do. "Yancy was great to talk to, and encouraged me to build up my other strengths to give my heart time to heal."

"What do you mean?"

"Instead of staying home and crying over a situation I couldn't change like I did for months, I accepted this job and threw myself into making it a success. After a hectic year of working nonstop and talking to Yancy, I started to feel better, or at least not as numb." She laughed and shook her head. "I wanted to curse her for being right, but hell if she wasn't."

That didn't compute to Mel. If you were trying to forget something bad Yancy had gone about it all wrong even if she was a professional. "Wouldn't talking about Will all the time make it worse?"

"That's just it--we hardly ever talked about him. When I'd start she'd change the subject so we spent our session talking about my job and how to handle the new stress I was under." Shelia pushed her plate away and sighed. "She never pushed and just listened to me go on about wine tasting courses, enrollment numbers, and my parents until one afternoon she pinned me to the mat and made me talk about it. It was like all the other stuff she wanted me to do was like a Band-Aid over a bad wound, and when I was ready and wouldn't bleed to death, she ripped it off. The day she forced me to accept that I'd lost Will was painful at first, but it got better faster than I thought. I'll always miss him, but I'm strong enough to pick up the pieces and move on. I'm sure it'll take another ten years of sessions before I'm ready to date, but I am ready to move on."

"I'm glad you found Yancy then."

"Me too. If it wasn't for her I'd still be roaming around my apartment in my pajamas feeling like the despair of losing him was going to swallow me whole. In so many ways Yancy showed me what a wonderful person I am and how much I deserve to be happy, even if that happiness comes on my terms and at my speed. I just love talking to her so I'm still upset she had to leave." The rain outside finally slowed to a drizzle. "Leave this stuff and I'll have the morning cleaning crew take care of it. Let's make a run for it while we can."

"Where does Yancy practice?" Mel asked ignoring Shelia's request to leave just yet.

"Her offices are close to Tulane Hospital, but most of her patients are at Memorial," Shelia said with a knowing smile. "Just let the door close behind you and it'll lock automatically."

"Thanks, and be careful going home."

A quick search garnered her some foil and a disposable plate that Mel filled with the chicken they'd made. On the way out she also found the sweater Yancy had eventually hung on a chair to dry so she folded it and brought it with her.

The only thing she didn't anticipate in trying to see someone in a psychiatric unit of a hospital was that it was a locked ward. After asking for Yancy the nurse eyed her from head to toe and told her to sit and wait because Yancy was talking with a patient.

"What are you still doing here, Mel?" she asked herself an hour later when there was still no sign of Yancy.

"Talking to yourself, Chef Brendan? You know what they say about that," Yancy said as a joke. She put her hands up when her sudden appearance made Mel jump and turn around quickly.

"That I'm crazy?" Mel asked in return once she'd recovered her composure.

Yancy laughed and waved her into one of the chairs in the small waiting room. "You've come to the right place if you are, but talking to yourself isn't a sign of mental illness."

"It's not?"

"Considering I do it all the time, I certainly hope not. If they lock me up in there," she pointed to the double doors she'd come out of, "I'd never finish learning how to cook. Besides, the hospital's chocolate pudding is horrid."

"Chocolate pudding, huh? Maybe I'll have to add that to the list of things we'll learn to make this year."

"Pudding I got covered. You just add milk and stir, even I'm capable of reading the side of the Jell-O box." She took a seat next to Mel and turned slightly so she could look her in the eye. "So did you ask Shelia how she knew me, or did you Google me?"

"Google you?"

Yancy nodded as she laughed. "You must have something to hide, Ms. Brendan." The plate Mel had brought with her was sitting on the next chair so Yancy reached over and picked it up. "You really like me and you don't want me to know."

"Like you?" Mel said trying to sound as indignant as possible. Almost without her permission she handed the fork in her shirt pocket over.

"It must be worse than I thought." The first bite she took made Yancy moan.

"What's worse than you thought?"

"You must really like me." Yancy offered Mel a bite and bit the inside of her lip to keep from laughing at the glare Mel was shooting her way.

"Why in the world would you think that?"

"It's a known fact that people who answer every question with a question have something to hide."

"What?" The question came out almost as a yelp.

"See, that's what I'm talking about."

"I was trying to be nice," Mel stood up but didn't take a step.

Before she could, Yancy stood as well after putting down the plate. "Would it be too late to apologize for being a jerk? It's been a long day and I was just having a little fun with you." Her apology didn't seem to sway Mel so Yancy sat in an effort not to make her feel hemmed in. "Please stay."

"I'll stay, and you don't have to apologize for being a jerk. That seems to be a natural state for you, but it goes with the gigantic ego."

"Guilty as charged. I'm a jerky egotist."

"That was too easy to get you to agree with me on. What's the catch?"

Feeling that Mel wasn't going to bolt, Yancy picked up her plate again and took another bite of chicken. "I'll agree to whatever you want. Any woman who cooks like this would be hard to disagree with."

"Should I remind you that you had a part in making this?"

"Does that mean you'll have a hard time disagreeing with me then?" This time Mel accepted the bite she was offering.

"Is it true answering questions with more questions means you're hiding something?"

"Let me look into my divining crystal ball." Mel laughed when Yancy pulled a clear marble out of her lab coat. "Hmm, all I see is that Shelia told you the whole story of how we know each other, you brought me my sweater, and because you're a nice person--you brought me dinner as well. How'd I do?"

"How'd you guess all that?"

"Shelia's really proud of the progress she made for one, and rightfully so, and my sweater's on the chair next to you."

Mel punched her in the arm and smiled. "And how'd you guess I'm a nice person?"

"No mental analysis needed there, just call it a hunch."

"My grandmother is a huge fan of instinct and hunches."

With a sad expression Yancy put the last piece of chicken in her mouth taking the time to savor the moment. "She must be a huge success then."

"You're kidding right?"

"No, people are usually frightened by their hunches and it stymies their decision making. It's the stuff regrets are made of."

"Not about that, about my grandmother."

"She's not a success? What, she wasn't ambitious? Just one of those stay at home and bake cookies and give really good advice kind of people."

Mel laughed so hard her eyes watered. "Oh my God, Jacqueline would smack you with her cane if she heard you say that about her." The blank look on Yancy's face made her laugh harder. "My grandmother is Jacqueline Brendan and ambitious is too light a word when it comes to describing her."

"I'm sorry again; I have a feeling I should know who you're talking about."

"This is refreshing." Her entire life Mel's last name had been a curse almost, especially when it came to her education and what was expected. When it came to dates, eventually the empire she was poised to inherit became a problem. "Don't you ever eat out?"

"Considering I'm taking cooking lessons, it means I eat out all the time, why?"

"And you've never eaten at a Brendan restaurant? I don't know whether to be insulted or call you a liar."

"Maybe if you hum a few bars I'd know what you're talking about," Yancy joked. "If I did, I don't remember or it wasn't pointed out to me. It's like this," she started then stood up and offered her hand to Mel. "Better yet, why don't I show you."

"Show me what?"

"My theory about food." Without dropping her hand she waited patiently. "I promise I'm not a serial killer if you get in the car with me."

"That makes me feel so much better then," Mel said as she accepted her hand.

They walked to the parking lot without Yancy letting go of her hand. As she treated Mel to her sharp wit, it was as if Yancy didn't realize she was doing it, but Mel did. Yancy's hand was soft, and her fingers were long and warm.

"You drive a Shelby GT 500? Is this the 1967 model?" Mel asked when they reached Yancy's car.

"A girl who knows her cars, now that's refreshing. It belonged to my father and he finally relented and gave it to me after years of begging since all it was doing was rusting in his back yard."

"Relentless are you?" Mel reluctantly let go of her hand when Yancy opened her door for her.

"When something is important enough, yes I am."

"So what's your theory of food?"

The powerful engine came to life and Yancy put it in gear. "Trust me, I won't poison you, but this has to be experienced instead of talked about."

"Lead on then."

It was still raining just not as heavily as they pulled out of the parking garage and Mel turned slightly in her seat so she could watch Yancy as she drove. The driver's seat was pulled all the way back to accommodate Yancy's length, but even in this relaxed setting despite the weather and the layers of clothes Yancy had on, Mel could tell that she was in really good shape. There was only one thing that didn't compute with the whole picture.

"Do you mind me asking how old you are?"

"I'm thirty-seven, and before you ask, since I have a feeling I know what you're going to ask, my hair's been like this since I was twenty." The way she ran her hand through the white hair at the side of her head made Mel feel bad for bringing up the subject.

"It's just that it doesn't fit the image of the rest of you, and I realize how shallow that sounds." To make both of them feel better Mel reached across and combed some of the hair the wind had put in disarray. The completely white locks felt like silk and when she looked closer there were still a few strands of the original black mixed in as well.

"Family trait from my mother's side I guess, only I'm the first one not to run to the first hairdresser in horror. In my line of work it makes me appear wise and philosophical."

"Are you saying you only look the part?" Mel ran her hand down her shoulder next until it came to rest on Yancy's forearm. She would've held her hand but Yancy needed it to shift.

"I guess that depends on who you ask." She started to slow down a block from the light when she saw the signal turn yellow so as not to go into a skid. When she was able Yancy turned and looked at her. "Some of my patients just think it makes me look old."

"Then they really are crazy," Mel said, feeling the heat in her ears as soon as the words left her mouth.

"Thank you," Yancy said with a blush so deep it made her hair stand out even more.

One more turn and they were now headed downtown and when Yancy slowed in the front of the Lowe Hotel, Mel looked at her through slightly closed eyes. "Why exactly are we here?"

"We're here for a lesson in food, don't you remember?" Yancy put her finger up to get the valet to wait.

"And I thought you were serious? If all you've been doing all this time is making fun of me, then I guess I was right about you all along."

Yancy opened her door and waved the doorman away from Mel's. "I could pretend to know what you're talking about, but it's getting late. So our choices are you can get out and join me, or I can bring you back to your car." She stepped away from the door to give Mel some room. "What's it going to be?"

Without any help Mel got out and stepped through the door of the hotel and stopped in the bar of Jacqueline's. The place was full of tourists Mel figured were stuck inside due to the weather, but the dining room was relatively empty as the crew finished up with the last seating.

"Dr. Yancy," said the hostess after waving to Mel. "Need something sweet to chase away the blues?"

"Just something quick, Gail," Yancy said as her phone started ringing again. "Could you set us up, I'll be right back."

"She's kidding right?" Gail asked Mel.

"Does she come here often?" Mel asked ignoring Gail's question.

"At least twice a month for dinner, but a couple of times a week for dessert since we've opened. The staff says she's about the easiest customer to wait on, she's a great tipper, and easy on the eyes."

"Any station you usually put her in?" Mel was starting to sound as miffed as she felt.

"Rose usually begs me, and she's hard to say no to. Why?"

"Same thing for tonight only tell Rose she doesn't know me and to pass the word. Something's off and I want to know what it is."

"Have fun, Dr. Yancy," Gail said when Yancy made it back getting a nod in response.

"The usual, Dr. Yancy?" Rose asked when she sat down. "Your friend ordered the beignets."

"Sounds great," Yancy rested her elbows on the table and just stared at Mel for the longest time. "When I was little I remember going to this bakery with my mother whenever she was up for it that made these great sweet rolls they called chick de fams. No matter what horrible things my little pea brain came up with as being wrong, sitting with one of those things just brightened my day."

"Sounds good," Mel said as their desserts were put down with coffee. In front of Yancy, Rose had their Cane Syrup Crème Brule. "But what does that have to do with tonight?"

"Those rolls were the one happy thing I remember from my childhood aside from my sister, so it's been my quest ever since to duplicate those times walking with my mother to that bakery and the anticipation of getting my hands on one of those treats. I passed by here when this place first opened and I ordered this dessert, and it made me feel like that again. Of all the other things I could've ordered, this one is maybe the simplest they have on the menu, but you can tell whoever thought it up wants you to enjoy it. I tried it and it's what made me want to learn how to cook. "Yancy finished and took a bite.

"You're taking cooking lessons so you can learn to make Crème Brule?"

"That's what I told my future brother-in-law, but I don't ever want to learn to make this."

"That doesn't make sense to me."

"Does it have to, as long as it makes sense to me?" Yancy cut the last piece in two and offered one to Mel. "I'm sure even someone like me who's an idiot in the kitchen could learn to make anything if I tried hard enough, but it'd kill off some of the magic of why I love it. It's sort of like finding out there's no Santa Clause, and why do that if you can avoid it." She put the last piece in her mouth and closed her eyes in obvious enjoyment. "The loss of innocence is something that can't be undone no matter how hard we try to go back."

"You have a unique outlook, I'll give you that. Can I ask you why your childhood was so unhappy?"

"Both my parents were alcoholics so it wasn't exactly a normal household. They didn't beat us or anything but it was like growing up being invisible."

Mel felt bad for asking the question, and worse after hearing just how honest an answer Yancy gave her. "I'm sorry."

"Survival is nothing to be sorry for, Ms. Brendan, especially if you come out the other end relatively unscathed. It's the lesson I try to teach people like Shelia. Can I ask you something now?" Yancy stayed quiet until Mel nodded. "What did you mean you were right about me all along?"

"It's not important now. Just an impression of you I had but I was wrong."

"Remember your grandmother and what she said about hunches. Maybe you should go with yours. First impressions are sometimes our most insightful."

Mel shook her head and kept her eyes on the table. "I just though you were one of those people who realizes how good looking they are and it's gotten you through life. When you brought me here for some reason I thought it was to make fun of what I do."

"Wow my crystal ball and my own intuition must really be off tonight when I said you liked me. Sorry about that." Yancy cursed under her breath when her phone rang again. "And sorry about this too, but I have to take it."

While Yancy paced in the empty section of the restaurant, Mel had Rose pack up another Crème Brule to go as an apology for acting like an ass. Yancy had gone out of her way to make her feel good and she'd repaid that by being as insulting as she could.

"I'm really sorry but I have to go," Yancy peeled off enough money for the check and tip and dropped it on the table. "I hate to rush you, but we have to get going so I can drop you at your car."

"If you have to go it's not a problem, I'll catch a ride later on. I actually don't live far from here." She held out the container, "For later when you're not so rushed."

"You keep it since I'd hate for it to go to waste. I have a feeling I'm going to be tied up for a while." The hostess called over that her car was outside. "Are you sure I'm not stranding you?"

"I'll be fine, I promise. Are you sure you don't want it?" Mel held up the container again.

"Ms. Brendan, you're really passionate about what you do, I've seen that in the classes I've taken from you, so I'm not turning down your gift to make you feel bad. I want you to enjoy it because that's how I feel about that dessert. I don't go into restaurants because of who's in the kitchen or whose name is on the deed. That's not going to make the experience better for me. What does is someone who puts a lot of themselves in what they do to create something this good." Yancy tapped her finger on the box. "Considering what you do I just thought you'd enjoy it. I'm not sure where I went wrong and made you think this was about having a laugh at your expense, so accept the dessert as a token of my apology because that really was the last thing I wanted to do. I really do need to get going."

"Isn't' she great?" Rose asked when Yancy left.

"She seems to be." It didn't escape Mel's notice that both Rose and Shelia felt the same way about Yancy but she had a feeling she'd blown any chance to find that out for herself. "Thanks, Rose."


"How're the cooking lessons coming?" Peter asked a week later. Without any prompting from Yancy he picked up a pack of black berries and put it in his cart.


"I see," he said as he stood next to the tomatoes and held up an empty bag and four fingers. "How's the teacher?"




"Your outlook on the world in general?" he tried again.


"Has snorting cantaloupe softened your brain or something?" The joke finally made her smile and it was then that he noticed Yancy hadn't really done much of that lately. "What's wrong, buddy?"

"Not much, I'm just having trouble with my New Year's resolutions."

"Did you flunk sautéing or something else equally horrific?" He stopped at the bin full of artichokes after noticing it on Andy's list. "How do you pick these out?" The one in his hand was pinched between his fingers as if it would come alive and bite him.

"Go with the general rule that unless it's kiwi, most things in this department should not be brown. Put that back." She took his list away from him and found the number Andy wanted. "Did you share with my sister the fact that I picked out all your stuff for you last week?"

His foot shuffling meant he was thinking of lying. "I wasn't going to at first."

"But?" She waved her hand at him to make him finish.

"Then she started thinking I was talking up girls at the grocery so I had to come clean." He picked up some bananas while Yancy got garlic. "At first when I told her you'd picked it all out, she still accused me of trying to cruise women at the store."

They both took a number at the deli and stood off to the side to wait. "Why's that?"

"Face it, Yancy, you're an idiot about this stuff too, or at least you used to be. That you can suddenly do all this right is like teaching a cat to golf. I had to hurry up and tell her you were taking cooking lessons."

"Did she believe that?"

"Eventually," he stopped to place his order. "Once she figured I wasn't kidding she wanted me to pass on a message to you."

"Get more homeowner's insurance for all the fires I'll be starting?"

"No, she wants you to stop by her office for a physical. If you're learning to cook and it's not a court ordered mandate, then she figured there's something wrong with you."

"You two are made for each other I swear," she said laughing.

"She just said that while you did a great job of juggling school, raising her and keeping up a home for you both--you avoided the kitchen like the plague." He took his ham from the woman behind the counter and added it to his cart. "I didn't tell her anything about the other stuff you said about settling down with one woman."

"Because you didn't want it to be true, or you didn't think it was any of her business?"

"Because you told me that in confidence," he said throwing his hands up.

His tone made her shake her head and laugh again. "I told you that while we were grocery shopping, Dr. Clueless. Thanks for not spilling the truth about that just yet since it might not work out."

"Is it because you've reconsidered what a crimp in my enjoyment of your stories that decision on your part was going to cause?"

"Yes, I'm sure that's what it was," she thumped him on the back of the head. "It's more because I think I can only attract women who are interested in knowing me for about two hours then move on."

"You decided this in a week?" He ducked before she could connect again. "You were more committed to trying to get tickets to the last LSU game."

"Let's just say I tried and leave it at that. I did all the stuff you're supposed to and the girl walked away with the impression I was trying to make fun of her because I'm good looking and have the ego of a successful gigolo."

"She said it in those exact words?" His brows disappeared into his hairline. "If she did you need to run in the opposite direction as fast as you can. She sounds like she has issues."

"She doesn't have issues, she just got that gut feeling about me."

"After dating you how long?" He aimed them in the direction of the frozen foods. "A week, a month--what?"

"It technically wasn't a date. More like dessert and a little conversation."

"So you've based your whole future happiness on something some woman told you over a piece of cake?" He threw a container of Cherry Garcia in then decided on another one.

Yancy laughed and grabbed it out of his hand before he could put it in his cart. "Andy's PMSing isn't she?"

"Don't change the subject, and stop making fun of me. I'm suffering enough already."

"It wasn't a piece of cake, it was Crème Brule."

He grabbed his ice cream back and pointed his finger at her. "Oh well, if she told you that over custard then it must be true. It's a proven fact that when you use a torch to make something it turns that food into a truth serum.

"Yance, you can't tell what a person's like in that short a time even if you're more in tune with someone's upper plumbing like we are. It takes time to figure out if you're full of yourself or crazy as a loon, you know that." He looked at his list again and shivered, which had nothing to do with the giant freezers around them. "Could you please?" He pointed to the paper in his hand.

"Maybe it's you who should be lying on my couch so we could discuss this aversion you have to tampons, you big weenie."

"I'm not a weenie, I'm just--"


"All right, I'm a weenie," Peter said then put up his finger when his phone started vibrating on his belt. "Hi, babe," he paused and took off after Yancy when she tried to escape. "Sure I got it--like I'd forget," he said as she grabbed Yancy by the back of the collar. "Sure, she's right here just dying to talk to you."

"Hey, Andy," Yancy sounded cheerful but she was glaring at Peter. "It's been a busy week and Peter said you were just as swamped." When Peter pretended to play a violin she rolled over his foot with her cart. "I can't tonight, I've got my cooking class."

"Your class lasts until two in the morning?"

"Andy, I don't want you waiting up for me," Yancy said sounding like the whining little sister.

"And I don't want you moping around anymore, and before you go into deny mode, you should resign yourself to the fact that Peter tells me everything. He knows it would be his ass if he didn't come clean so don't cause him any bodily harm."

"Traitor," Yancy said to Peter, who then quickly stuck his tongue out at her. "All right, I'll come over tonight but I'm fine."

"Sure you are. People mope around for no reason all the time."

"Do you remember that I'm a mental health professional?" She followed Peter into the personal hygiene aisle and snorted when he stood next to the tampons and just stared up at the ceiling.

"Oh like that's an argument for sanity. I happen to live with a mental health professional and it doesn't keep you from being crazy. Just come over when you're done, and you should really think about it before you think of canceling on me."

"However could I stay away after that reasoning?"

Peter put his hands up as if to defend himself as soon as Yancy ended the call. "I had no choice, so don't hate me. You know how Andy is."

"Oh I don't hate you…but the tampons," she handed his phone back and flicked the corner of the list. "You're on your own with those."

"Come on, I'd buy condoms for you," he said as he stomped his foot on the ground.

"Like that's ever going to happen." Despite her threats she picked up the pink box and threw it in with her stuff. "I'm getting them, but I'll deliver them myself when I come over tonight."

"That's low, buddy." They moved toward the check out lanes as Yancy just laughed. "But I'm sure a Crunch candy bar will pave the way to forgiveness for me."

"That depends," Yancy smiled at the girl that had checked them out the week before.

"On what?"

"On if these will needed these right away when you get home," she said holding up the pink box. She really started laughing when he turned a few shades darker than the box.

Continued in Part Two

Comments to: terrali20@yahoo.com


Back to the 2007 Valentine Invitational Stories
Back to the Academy