Scott awakes to the sounds of bells and the warmth of the sunshine coming through the shutters. They were two weeks into their European honeymoon and had spent the previous day exploring Florence. They took in the never-ending exhibitions of artwork in the Uffizi and climbed up to Piazzale Michelangelo to watch the sunset. After a wonderful dinner surrounded by locals at the most unassuming and tiny restaurant around the corner from the Duomo, they had staggered back to their Airbnb in Piazza di Santa Croce.
Scott had insisted they use Airbnb for this trip. He had spent so many nights in random hotel rooms over the years that they were no longer relaxing or romantic. It wasn’t hard to sell Tessa the fantasy of living like a local at each of their stops; being able to visit the local markets for fresh produce, and explore the less touristy areas of towns. Plus, they could do laundry and therefore not have to lug around quite so many suitcases.
He smiled as he turned over in bed to face her, but then frowned when he realised she wasn’t there. He propped himself up, stretched and took a deep breath. It was at that moment that he realised he could smell burning. Putting two and two together he leapt out of bed and dashed off down the hall of the small apartment and into the kitchen.
He ground to a halt in the doorway, taking in the scene before him. She was scraping ashes from a frying pan into the compost bin. He burst out laughing at the sight of her. Not only had Tessa made the potentially risky decision to cook, but she was doing so in nothing but the novelty ‘David’ statue apron she had bought him as a joke from one of the touristy stalls in the market yesterday.
She looked up at him when she heard his laughter. “I was going to surprise you with breakfast in bed,” she sighs, clearly disappointed by her latest kitchen failure, “but the pancetta I bought was so thin it burned in the time it took me to crack the eggs! I wanted to replicate that delicious ham and mushroom scramble we had in Vienna.” She pouts, turning to drop the frying pan into the sink with a clatter.
Suddenly Scott is right behind her, undoing the knot in the back of the apron.
“Never mind” he whispered seductively, pausing to let his tongue trace her ear, “we’ll go out for pastries…”
“Later” they say in unison as he picks her up, lifts the apron over her head and carries her back to bed.
I definitely wrote this by hand at work instead of drafting invoices!
If anyone wants visual aids for some of the things in this fic let me know. Also, if you want restaurant suggestions in Florence I can give you that too!
It had been Patrick and Alice’s idea. When they were on their honeymoon in the UK they had caught a few episodes of a British TV show called ‘Come Dine with Me’, in which strangers each host a dinner party, which is scored by their guests, with the winner receiving a cash prize. Alice had heard from her cousin who lives in Bristol that a lot of people do similar things with groups of friends, as an alternative to going out for expensive meals. Patrick and Alice thought it would be a fun way for their group (themselves, Tessa & Scott, Kaitlyn & Andrew, and Jeffrey & Justin) to spend time together, and give them an excuse to meet up more often. Patrick secretly thought they ought to do it now, before the inevitable kids start coming along (and to be honest, with Tess and Scott’s permanent glow, and Kaitlyn and Andrew’s inability to go five seconds without touching one another, he decided he was going to keep a close eye on the ladies’ wine glasses this evening).
It was Tessa and Scott’s turn this weekend. Jeff and Justin had already blown it out of the park the previous weekend, and now the remaining competitive couples were fighting it out for second place. A slightly red-faced and flustered looking Scott opened the door to them at 7pm sharp. Patrick looked down at Scott’s apron (imported from Florence) and burst out laughing.
“Alice!” Scott exclaims, ignoring Patrick and instead pulling his wife in for a big hug, “Welcome, do come in, make yourself comfortable and take a seat in the living room, there’s a bottle of prosecco in the ice bucket in there. Now, if you’ll excuse me…” he turns on his heel just as the crash of metal onto a stone floor and a curse from Tessa are heard coming from the kitchen. Patrick and Alice look at each other and start laughing quietly. They have a $10 bet on Tessa burning something tonight.
Much to Tessa’s annoyance, the group had collectively decided that both members of the couple had to contribute to the cooking of the meal. Never one to avoid a challenge, she has insisted to Scott that she would and could make the lasagne for the main course (she’d downloaded Jamie Oliver’s recipe, it seems straightforward enough), whilst Scott would make tomato and basil bruschetta for starters and a boozy tiramisu for dessert. She was very proud of herself. She’d made the ragu and the béchamel sauces from scratch, and had layered them beautifully in the casserole dish ready for the oven. Her once pure white apron is splattered with tomato sauce, and there was a singe near her hip from when she reached up over the gas stove to get the pepper from the cupboard, but she didn’t care, they were battle scars!
They manage to get dinner on the table on time, all tucking in to Scott’s delicious starter, though Tessa has to admit that tomatoes just don’t taste the same anywhere outside of Italy. They chat together about all sorts of things, Jeff tells them about his choreography ideas for the next Stars on Ice Tour, and Scott and Patrick share their gossip from the coaches meeting at the last World Championships. Kaitlyn and Andrew mention that they’re thinking of spending a few months down in Texas this summer, rather than returning to training.
The buzzer on the oven sounds and Tessa goes to turn it off. The guests at the table exchange glances as she leaves, and Scott shuts his eyes and hopes that the dish has turned out alright. She returns with a triumphant smile on her face and a large dish in her oven-gloved hands. Her husband and friends clap for her as she makes her way over to the table.
“I hope everyone likes a crispy top” she says happily, plonking the dish down in front of Scott, who has agreed to serve it up. The top is a bit crispy, but definitely not burned. She’s very proud of herself.
As Scott picks up the spoon to serve his hand brushes the side of the dish. It doesn’t feel remotely hot.
“Uh, Tess?” he doesn’t want to embarrass his wife, but he equally doesn’t want to give everyone here food poisoning either. “Babe, did you put the oven or the grill on to cook this?”
“The oven, I thought. Why, what’s wrong?”
“Sorry babe, this isn’t quite hot enough. I’ll just go put it back in for a few more minutes, shall I? I’m sure it doesn’t need much longer.” Scott gets up to put it back in the oven, which Tessa has failed to turn off, but this at least lets him know that she put the lasagne under a medium grill rather than a hot oven like she was meant to. He returns and offers Tessa a reassuring smile, and informs their guests it’ll probably be about 30 minutes. Patrick is chuckling quietly as his wife hands him $10 under the table.
“Bollocks” says Tessa as she reaches over, fills her wine glass to the brim and takes a large gulp. Out of the corner of his eye, Patrick sees Kaitlyn surreptitiously pouring the contents of her wine glass into Andrew’s. He sighs and hands the $10 bill back to his wife.
I would recommend the TV show, just for the commentary alone. There are some great clips on YouTube!
Chapter 3: Cravings
Scott smells it as soon as he pushes the front door open. A strange mix between charred toast, burnt sugar and frying meat. Great. Poor Tessa, who is so sensitive to smells at the best of times is probably in their en-suite puking her guts up like she has been for the past 5 months, just when they thought it might have passed.
He sighs, putting his skate bag down and setting his coaching notebooks on the side table near the front door. He takes his shoes off, opens the living room window to try and clear the smell, and turns toward the kitchen, ready to be confronted with another ruined ‘non-stick’ (never for Tessa Virtue) pan.
He stops in his tracks when he enters the kitchen. His wife, looking almost as big as she did when she was full term with Emily, was standing at the breakfast bar, devouring a large, slightly blackened grilled sandwich. She smiled broadly when she sees him, eyes lighting up, her mouth still full. She looks gorgeous; hair shining in its new, shorter cut around her shoulders, eyes sparkling, and skin glowing from head to toe. She’s wearing the new apron that Hello Fresh had sent her to congratulate them on their latest family announcement. He has to admit it was very cute; pink and blue striped (good guess there Hello Fresh) and ‘eating for three’ embroidered on it.
“Hi babe” greets Scott, smiling fondly at her. He is pleased to see her up and about, rather than curled on the couch with a bucket or on the bathroom floor as she has been most days when he’s come home since the twins were conceived.
“Hi!” she mumbles around her mouthful.
“Where’s Emily” he asks as he pulls her into his arms. He had noticed her shoes were by the front door when he came in. Kate must not have come over this morning to take her to the park like she has been doing recently, to give Tessa some time to rest and let the morning sickness pass for the day.
Tessa swallows her mouthful. “She’s napping in her crib,” she explains, “tired herself out dancing along to one of those cartoons on Netflix.”
She leans into Scott’s embrace, reaches up to kiss his lips.
Scott recoils slightly as he catches the smell of her breath. “Woah! Good God Tess what have you been eating?” He looks down at her plate to inspect the sandwich he had assumed was grilled cheese.
“Oh… uh, well, it’s grilled cheese with peanut butter and maple bacon.” She shrugs at him, “sounded good to me, and this one is happy” she points to the right-hand side of her bump “has been doing a little jig since I put the bacon in the pan.” Scott chuckles and shakes his head, bringing his hand to rest on her stomach. “Sounds like a Moir to me” he says, “the thought of bacon regularly makes me want to dance.”
Tessa laughs at him, reaches down to undo the apron from where it’s tied under her bump, and hangs it up on one the cabinet’s handles.
“Do you mind if I go and take a shower? I think my hair smells like burnt bacon.” He nods, thinking he might like to join her, but suspects they might no longer fit in the cubicle together. She wanders off down the hallway to their bedroom and his eyes don’t leave her until she shuts the door. Then he turns back around and notices the state of the kitchen for the first time. There are two frying pans in the sink, plus another one and the griddle pan sitting on the stove. One of the gas burners is still on, the cheese is unwrapped on the surface, and the crunchy peanut butter is dripping onto the floor off the knife that is precariously sitting on the edge of the counter.
He sighs, rolls up his sleeves, smiles to himself, and begins to tidy up after his wife. When he’s done, he hangs up her new apron next to the Superman one she got for him for his Birthday.
“Tess, I’m in the ER….”
“What?!” Tessa gasped to Scott down the phone, heart hammering in her chest, leaping out of her seat on the couch, ready to pull on her shoes and dash out the front door.
“No wait, wait. I’m here with Chloe and Henry; they fell in training today, the Doctor thinks Henry’s broken his collarbone” he reaslises that he probably should have started with that instead of worrying his wife by announcing he was in the hospital.
“Oh no, Scott, that’s awful. Is he going to be ok?” she asked, her heartbeat gradually returning to normal.
“Yeah, he should be fine, especially now they’ve given him some painkillers. We’re just waiting for them to take him to X-Ray before they can put him in a sling and send him home. I’m sorry babe, I have no idea how long that’ll take, you better cancel our reservations and the babysitter this evening.”
“But Scott, it’s your Birthday.”
“It’s fine Tess. Henry’s parents live in Vancouver, so someone needs to stay with him and make sure he makes it home alright. To be honest I’m not exactly excited about turning 40, though I was certainly looking forward to dessert later.” Tessa could practically hear his eyebrows wiggling. “We’ll do something next date night?”
Tessa chuckles, “As long as you’re sure Scott? I’ve got to go and get the kids from school, let me know when you're on your way back, ok?”
“Sure, no problem. I need to call Henry’s parents with an update anyway. Love you.”
“Love you.” She hangs up the phone, clutching it to her chest momentarily, giving herself another few minutes to recover from the initial shock of the phone call. She feels so bad for Chloe and Henry, injuries are the worst, and they have improved so much the past two seasons with Scott as their coach. She’s so proud of them all, and she knows that they will come back better than ever.
She checks her watch and sees that she’s now running late. She grabs her bag and the key for the minivan (which they had purchased last year when Emily announced that she wanted to learn how to play the cello and the instrument wouldn’t fit in the car they used to own). After picking up the children she stops at the store to get something for dinner tonight. As they walk past the bakery section Emily goes dashing off towards the cakes, Thomas and Claire automatically start wriggling in their seats in the cart, wanting to follow their sister to look at the yummy treats.
“Mum, Mum, can we get a cake for Daddy?” asks Emily, reaching to pick up a very pink and sparkly creation. Tessa doesn’t know why she says it, but the words come out of her mouth before she can stop herself, “Why don’t we make a cake for Daddy?”
“YAAAY” chorus the twins from the cart. Emily looks sceptically at her mother, she is barely seven years old but she is well aware that her mother’s gifts do not lie in the kitchen. They reach the checkout with a box of cake mix and a tub of ready-made frosting, plus an amusing assortment of decorations she allowed the children to pick out.
When they get home, Tessa turns the oven onto the correct setting (she learnt that the hard way a few years ago) and collects their aprons off the hook in the pantry. Emily’s is a delightful flowery one that Scott bought her from a British shop called Cath Kidston when he had a layover at Heathrow airport on the way home from World’s last year. Claire and Thomas’ were a gift from her brother; bright red with ‘Thing One’ and ‘Thing Two’ on the front. Tessa’s was one she had bought for herself whilst out shopping in Toronto. It had a picture of a woman, like in those old ads from the 50s, with the slogan ‘I like to cook with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food.’ Scott had laughed so hard when he saw it, and he’d insisted on taking a picture and sending it to Patrick and Alice.
The children wash their hands in the sink, and Tessa ties all their hair back into ponytails (the twins still haven’t had their first haircut). Making the cake goes a lot smoother than she expects, Emily counts the stirs everyone gets so it’s fair and no one puts any licked fingers in the bowl. Tessa puts it in the oven and sets the timer, hovering around the oven door as she watches it count down. She really doesn’t want the cake to burn, especially as the kids were so excited and so helpful.
After 10 minutes, she decides to open the oven door and take a peek. Nope, not burnt, and looks like it’s cooking nicely. She shuts the door and finishes packing the dishwasher as the kids open the frosting and tip the decorations into bowls. When the timer goes off and Tessa opens the oven door she sighs in relief that the cake is still not burnt. It’s dipped a little in the middle, but she thinks she’ll just fill it up with M&Ms so it ends up like one of those surprise cakes with candy falling out the middle when you cut into it.
When it is cool enough the kids descend on it with frosting and sprinkles, Emily getting agitated when Claire’s decorations encroach into her assigned quarter. They’re nearly done when they hear Scott’s key in the lock.
“Daddy’s home” sings Claire and she hops down from the stool to run and greet her father, her hands covered in chocolate frosting and silver balls.
“Wait,’ yelps Thomas, “I haven’t finished yet” and in his haste to be done before his father comes into the kitchen he dumps his bowl of blue glitter and white chocolate chips on top of the cake. Emily’s eyes widen and she opens her mouth to snap at her brother, but Tessa’s hands are on her shoulders and she is whispering in her ear to remind her that her brother is only young and it’s not the end of the world.
“Daddy, we have a surprise for you” shouts Thomas as Scott comes into the kitchen.
“It’s a cake” shrieks Claire, too young and too excited to really grasp the concept of surprises and secrets.
“Wow! Did you guys make this for me?” Scott is touched, staring with wonder and delight at the frankly atrocious looking cake sitting on the kitchen counter. There are crumbs in the frosting and an ungodly quantity of multi-coloured sprinkles, silver balls and blue glitter on top; but it is perfect in every way.
“Can we eat it now?” chorus the twins.
“No, he needs to blow out the candles and make a wish first” insists Emily. Tessa shoots a glance at Scott - she forgot the candles.
“I don’t need to make any wishes. I’ve got all I could ever wish for right in this kitchen” he ruffles all their hair and kisses Tessa’s cheek. “Besides, I’m starving. Where’s the knife?”
Scott cuts the cake and they all go and sit around the coffee table to eat it. It does not taste good. It’s all heavy and stodgy, not light and fluffy, and it’s definitely not cooked properly in the middle. He sees Tessa grimace and put her plate down on the table, the whole slice untouched apart from the first bite. He does the same, and takes her hand in his, smiling at her kindly. Emily only eats the icing; the twins polish theirs off without a care in the world.
Emily’s sugar high that evening results in a small tantrum, an accidentally ripped book, too many tears, and a crash so hard she's unconscious at 11pm on Tessa’s side of the bed. By 3am Claire and Thomas are in bed with them too, both with stomach aches.
“So, about that dessert,” Scott says, turning his head to look at his wife with an ironic smile. Thomas whimpers in Tessa’s arms, and she holds him tighter, lighting stroking his stomach and kissing his head. Claire drools onto his nightshirt as his fingers brush her hair off her face. Emily is starfished in the middle of the bed between them, snoring like a freight train.
Scott’s still glad Tessa forgot the candles.
I've now added dates to this and the previous chapters. I wrote out a little timeline for myself today so that I could keep track of what was happening and thought it would be helpful to publish!
Baking fact: With most standard sponge cakes, you shouldn't open the oven door until at least 15-20 minutes into the cooking time. Otherwise the cake will sink and will be the wrong texture. Plus you risk under-cooking them.
Cath Kidston is a real British brand, and does the cutest stuff - you should check it out (I own far too much of their stuff!)
Another fun fact: my parents bought a 7 seater car when I was 8 because I started playing the cello. In hindsight it was a really kind thing for them to do! I kind of feel bad that I quit after 2 years...
This took me forever to write today. It was really annoying me because I have the final 2 chapters ready to go. How this has ended up being the longest I have no clue?!
Don't forget to brush your teeth tonight, all this sweetness and fluff could cause damage!
It had become a Moir family tradition to watch the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games. No matter what time of day it was on, or where in the world it was coming from, the Moir’s sit together on the couch eating chips, candy and popcorn, and celebrate the start of a new Olympiad.
“Can you believe it’s been eight years since Calgary?” Tessa asks, shaking her head at the unfathomable speed at which time has passed. The message of the Olympics in 2026 had been all about legacy and a hope for the future, and Canada’s sporting First Family had been the easy choice to take the Olympic Flame on its final leg of the journey. Tessa remembers kneeling down (Thomas on her hip and Claire on Scott’s) next to their eldest daughter and holding the torch together, Emily’s green eyes lighting up as the Olympic cauldron did. She could still hear the roar of the flames and of the crowd, could still feel the immense pride as all their professional and personal accomplishments merged in that one perfect moment in time.
“Crazy how time passes, eh?” Scott looks affectionately at his children between them on the couch, “That was the fifth best moment of my life!”
“Really, Dad?” asks Thomas. “What are the other four?”
“Well,” begins Scott, “Calgary 2026 is number five as I said. Number four would be when your Mum and I won gold in Vancouver. Number three is when we won gold in Pyeongchang. Number two was our wedding day. And number one, well number one is a tie. It’s the days you three were born. Best damn days of my life!”
“Aw, Dad. That’s so sweet.” Emily said with fondness. Scott smiles and raises his eyebrows slightly at his wife; that was quite a declaration from a recently very teenaged Emily.
“Err, Mum?” pipes up Claire, her nose wrinkling, “is something burning?”
“Shit!” cries Tessa as she makes a dash into the kitchen to rescue the bag of microwave popcorn.
“This doesn’t count!” she calls into the living room from the kitchen. “You know what these microwave bags are like, they always burn or… vaguely catch fire,” they hear her smacking the bag with the tea towel and all of them giggle on the couch.
“It definitely counts Tess, put it on!” Scott calls back to her.
Tessa mock stomps back into the living room five minutes later, carrying a bowl of chips and two bards of Lindt chocolate. She puts them on the table and stands to pose in her newest apron, an anniversary present from Scott and the kids. It reads:
Famously Burning Everything
FYI if Calgary gets the 2026 games this is the dream!
Emily yawns as she steps out of the taxi outside her parents’ house. She adjusts the overnight bag on her shoulder and holds tightly to the shiny gold gift bag in her hand. Simon was supposed to come on this trip home with her, but he had been called into emergency surgery back in Toronto. As he’d dashed out the door he’d picked up the gift bag and pressed it into her hands, kissing her on the forehead, fingers brushing over the rings on her left hand. Emily sighs, she misses him already, but she is so pleased to be home. She sees her Dad waiting in the doorway for her, arms open ready to hug his now 28-year-old baby girl.
“Hi Daddy,” she sighs, relieved and she leans into his embrace.
“You ok sweetheart?” He asks, kissing the top of her head, “you look exhausted.”
“It’s been a busy week at work and my train was delayed, same old story” she shrugs. “Is it ok if I go and have a shower and change?”
“Of course,” says Scott, “get yourself sorted and we’ll fix you something to eat, you must be starving. How does breakfast for dinner sound?”
Emily thought about her Dad’s chocolate chip pancakes and felt her stomach rumble with hunger for the first time in weeks. Her eyes light up, “sounds great, Dad, thanks.”
Tessa greets her on her way to her old bedroom, pulling her into a tight embrace. When she lets go she looks her daughter up and down and shares a worried glance with Scott. Emily looks thin, tired, and pale, with dark circles under her eyes and tightness in her shoulders. Her concerned eyes follow her elder daughter as she walks down the hall to the bathroom.
“Breakfast for dinner is the request, I’ll make the pancakes” says Scott as he reaches into the cupboard for the flour and sugar.
“Scott, she needs a real meal!” Scott raises his eyebrows as Tessa sets about making poached eggs on toast with smoked salmon. Scott has never understood how his wife, who herself admits she is a disaster in the kitchen (and has 30 years’ worth of amusing novelty aprons to prove it) could make this one thing so perfectly? He also still finds it hilarious that poached eggs on toast is a ‘real meal’ in her eyes. He watches her flit about the kitchen, ready to be the sous chef and clean up after her. But no mess is made; Tessa’s actions are purposeful and confident, the egg shells go straight into the compost, the spoon and the pan go directly into the dishwasher when she is done. He watches her, slightly perplexed, guessing that she must be so focussed on providing their daughter with a nutritious meal that she doesn’t have a chance to get flustered and spill or burn something.
Emily appears at his shoulder in the doorway, wet hair flowing down her back, wearing pyjamas and her old bathrobe that has been hanging in her room since she went away to university 10 years ago. Tessa calls her over to the breakfast bar, placing the plate of Instagram-worthy eggs in front of her with a flourish. She leans forward to kiss her head, but Emily recoils from her and the plate on the counter. Emily swallows roughly, stands up and steps a short distance away from Tessa, who looks alarmed. Emily takes a deep breath through her nose, keeping one hand on the chair. She looks like she’s going to vomit or pass out.
“Em?” Scott starts towards her, but halts as he sees his daughter begin to laugh and cry at the same time, suddenly the complete clone of her mother 30 years ago on Olympic ice.
“Emily?” Tessa whispers as she brings her arms around her daughter. “Is everything ok? You’re starting to worry us a bit here kiddo.”
“Oh. No, sorry” Emily hiccups, smiling. She sniffs, clears her throat. “It’s just, I’m not actually allowed to eat that at the moment” she gestures towards her plate, “sorry Mum.”
They look at her, confused. Then back at each other, then back at her again. Nope, it hadn’t clicked. Emily chuckles and goes back to the hallway to collect the gift bag from the floor. “Here,” she says, passing the bag over to them. They open it, perplexed, pulling out two aprons, which they automatically hold up against themselves. They both look down, frown, and raise their eyes to read each other’s.
Scott’s navy one reads:
Grandad’s in the Kitchen!
Tessa’s scarlet one reads:
Grandma’s in the Kitchen!
Their eyes meet, heads turning in unison to stare wide-eyed at Emily, and then they both burst into tears.
I had fun writing this, and it all came very quickly and naturally (apart from chapter 4)
Thanks to everyone who has left kind and encouraging comments. I had a bit of a lapse in confidence after posting some of the chapters, because I thought that from the outside it seemed such a random idea?!
If anyone's interested in knowing what some of the aprons look like I will post them on my twitter account, same username :)