"What is this?" Cassie said, using her fork to poke at the red, drippy item on her plate
Pritkin and Rhea exchanged a glance across the kitchen table.
"It's lasagna," Pritkin explained. "Just eat it."
"I'm sorry, guys, but I think you forgot the noodles," Cassie said, forehead creasing, as she peeled back a layer.
"It's made with zoodles," Rhea replied, helpfully.
"Instead of pasta, we used sliced zucchini!" Rhea chirped. Pritkin shot her a fierce glare and shook his head. She noticed and wilted ever-so-slightly.
"What? What did I say?"
"You weren't supposed to tell her until after she ate it," he grumbled.
"But it's so clever!" Rhea insisted. "There's the zucchini instead of noodles, low fat ricotta, tofu crumbles…"
Cassie's face was a study in horror. She pushed back from the table and turned towards the sink, where Rico was silently washing the dishes.
"Were you part of this?" Cassie asked him incredulously. He just hunched his shoulders.
"Rico! Are you Italian or not?"
"Mai insultare la cucina di una donna," he muttered. Never insult a woman's cooking. Then he nodded toward Pritkin's increasingly red face. "Neanche quella del tuo uomo." Or your man's.
"This objectively cannot be lasagne without lasagne," Cassie insisted. "It's a casserole. A healthy vegetarian zucchini casserole."
"Eat your damn zucchini casserole," Pritkin growled.
Cassie had long ago become immune to her partner's constant glowering. But Rhea was looking at her pleadingly and Rico was holding back laughter. In the doghouse, the vampire mouthed at her.
"I mean, I'm sure it's a great casserole," she said hastily.
The glare did not waver. She picked up her fork again and cut into the lasagna.
"Mmmm," she said around the food in her mouth. "Delicious."
Rhea was mollified, but the mage was still radiating skepticism.
"It's so nice of you two to make dinner," Cassie added, smiling winningly. She kept shoveling zucchini into her mouth and making appreciative noises. Underneath the table, she slid her foot forward and found her partner's muscled calf. She stroked it slowly and watched his face relax and pupils enlarge.
Over the past months, she had discovered that it was very easy to distract incubi. And that they became surprisingly sleepy after said distraction. And after incubi fell asleep, it was very easy to creep downstairs and eat fried mozzarella sticks with the boys.
Because, really, weren't all good relationships about compromise?
Later that night, Cassie listened until Pritkin's breathing became slow and regular. She carefully lifted the sheets and began to scoot sideways across the mattress. Then a hand closed hard around her wrist. She froze and found a pair of bright green eyes squinting at her. Busted.
"Going to the bathroom!" she squeaked.
"There's a tiramisu hidden in the back of the fridge," he murmured. "Homemade, organic, no preservatives."
Her guilty expression transformed into awe.
"I love you," she whispered fervently.
"Remember that when we go running tomorrow," he said. Then he rolled over and pulled the covers up around his neck.
Because all good relationships were about compromise.