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Ororo stretched her legs and pushed herself away from her desk, rotating her neck to work out a kink. Grading mid-term papers for Charles was a bear, and she craved a cup of Lemon Zinger with no interruptions. Of course, in a school of roughly one hundred-fifty students and a dozen faculty members, she had a better chance of finding a unicorn on the front lawn. A purple one.

All right. Hallucinations. One could assume it would be a good idea to take a break, now. Ororo was grateful to find the corridor empty, and her sneakered feet moved quietly, barely stirring the Persian rugs.

Almost there… She wasn’t in the mood to answer questions, solve problems, soothe hurt feelings or break up arguments, particularly the meta-powered variety. The food fight at breakfast had been interesting, to say the least. Before grounding Sam and Sofia, Ororo ordered them both to scrub the food off the twenty-foot ceiling. Kitty grumbled under her breath when Ororo sentenced her to help them, making her phase her way up with a bucket of soapy water. Her ears were still blistering with Ororo’s lecture that she was old enough to know better.

“I’m gonna ask ‘Roro if I can borrow that green necklace ta go with mah new outfit.”

Nonononono…drat. Ororo ducked behind a large potted ficus and back around the corner, evading Rogue and Tabitha’s eyes. They chatted a mile a minute as they headed toward the east wing.

“It looks expensive.”

“Ah got it on sale.”

“I mean the necklace. Isn’t it, like, jade? She won’t wanna part with it.”

“Pfft. We share stuff all the time.”

Not that stuff. Braggart. Ororo rolled her blue eyes heavenward. The nerve of some people. Ororo always had a tolerant, nurturing friendship with Rogue, but she didn’t appreciate it when people close to her took liberties. The school already had her at their disposal twenty-four-seven, and Ororo was mother hen, confidant, shoelace tyer, homework helper and resident good listener, so that made her everyone’s favorite person to unload on. The problem was, Ororo’s shoulders were getting tired. She just wanted time to herself, personal space, peace of mind, and people’s fingers out of her stuff for a change.

The holiday season made it difficult. The Black Friday sales were looming and everyone expected her on point for the drive to the stores at the crack of dawn. Ororo was an early riser, so that left little room for her to object. But the best of intentions usually gave way to a day of absolute hell. Trips to the local galleria usually meant wrangling the kids into the minivan and nagging them until she was hoarse, making sure everyone had their pin money or had made one last pit stop, giving everyone a quick snack before they left, and listening to myriad voices arguing which store’s line to stand in first for the best deals, as well as which radio station to listen to. Ororo usually ended up with a headache all the way to her hairline from clenching her jaw and barking at everyone to stay in sight.

 

*

 

Christmas brought Ororo mixed feelings. She didn’t have a birth family to spend it with, and only remembered vague impressions from two of them spent with her parents before their death. The tribespeople of Ororo’s homeland didn’t celebrate Christmas, so the first exposure she’d had to the holiday was when she met Jean as an adult.

It was amusing to witness that brand of insanity up close and personal in one of the people she loved most. Jean was a chronic, compulsive planner, anal to the last detail until the last mistletoe sprig hung in the doorframe and the last bow was glued into place. She began her Christmas shopping and greeting card list in September and finished all of by Halloween. Ororo had a hard time reconciling how “peace on earth and good will toward all men” was translated into being run over by people’s shopping carts and fighting with other customers over who got the last available turkey in the meat aisle of the supermarket. Yet Ororo indulged Jean, whose eyes lit up whenever they drove into town to witness the tree lighting in Central Park or to see the Macy’s parade. Her excitement was charming and infectious, and they shared long, intimate talks in the kitchen over egg nog after the children went to bed while they finished wrapping the gifts and making the gingerbread.

Until Jean died. Ororo wasn’t there, but Logan’s eyes told the tale and made her blood run cold the day she returned to the school and found a great deal of it in rubble. The mansion’s reconstruction brought extensive changes, some of which left her cold. Scott and Emma moved into one of the master suites together, Kitty left the school in the wake of her father’s death in Genosha, Lorna and Alex’s engagement dissolved to disastrous effect, and Charles once again lost the use of his legs. Every way Ororo turned, horrible things were happening to her surrogate family, and she felt helpless to do anything about it.

In the wake of Jean’s death, however, the most painful thing to witness was Logan slipping away from them a sliver at a time, retreating into himself or into a bottle of Jack Daniels. Logan’s days were darker without Jean’s ray of joy shining in the house, despite the unresolved feelings that always lay between them. He spent his time in the Danger Room alone and his trips to Harry’s with Kurt were less frequent as he often chose to drink alone. His features were hard as granite and everyone bristled at the hard set of his shoulders and jaw; conversations frequently lowered in volume as he entered the room now. He wasn’t gruff with the children, but he lost his mischievous twinkle.

 

*

Ororo grew moody with the memories as she continued toward the kitchen, but she didn’t have time to drift into full melancholy. The back door of the kitchen burst open, and Kitty and Jubilee hurried out in a dither, somehow managing to look fearful and amused. Ororo raised an eyebrow as they hurried toward her.

“Where’s the fire?”

“Omigod,” Jubilee began, peering back over her shoulder furtively, then leaning in as though she were sharing a juicy secret. “Ororo, you don’t wanna go in there!”

“Why on earth not?”

“It’s a danger zone,” Kitty warned her, brown eyes wide. “We’re talking Defcon Four.” Ororo sighed, teeth set on edge.

“All right. I probably don’t want to know, but I’ll bite. What’s going on in the kitchen?”

“Logan’s COOKING!” Jubilee blurted, grabbing Ororo’s wrist. Ororo snorted, and the corner of her lips twitched. “I swear to God! You don’t wanna go in there!”

“He’s doing things with sharp objects and food that civilized humans shouldn’t witness,” Kitty added. “I thought I got over thinking Wolvie was scary when I was a kid, ‘Roro, but I think I just changed my mind a few minutes ago.”

“Amen to that,” Jubilee chimed in.

“It’s not that bad,” Ororo insisted. “Logan’s a capable adult with different qualities and talents, girls. We should give him the benefit of the doubt.” Ororo’s headache was still building in her nape, and she kneaded it absently, wincing.

“What’s the matter, Ororo?” Kitty inquired, looking concerned. “You look tired.”

“Nothing that some tea won’t fix. I need a break.”

“Want to go to Mickie Dee’s? I’ll drive,” Jubilee offered.

“NO! Um…no, that’s fine, sweetie,” Ororo amended, remembering the last trip she’d made with the young firecracker to the movie theater, digging her nails into the door handle and flooring an imaginary brake with her foot every time Jubilee stopped short at a red light.

“We didn’t feel like pizza. Everybody already ate, Ororo. You missed it.”

“I had to finish some work,” Ororo explained to Kitty.

“What else is new?” she groused. “Take a break. Have some fun. But avoid the kitchen if you love life.”

Ororo’s curiosity was piqued. She gave Kitty’s arm an affectionate pat. “Duly noted, but I’ll take my chances.”

“If you don’t make it back alive, we love you, Ororo!” Jubilee trilled as they took their leave. Ororo chuckled as she opened the kitchen door.

A string of grunted curses that steadily rose in volume greeted her, rooting her to the spot. The kitchen really did look like a war zone. Jean’s old Better Homes and Garden’s red and white cookbook was face-up on the butcher block table, and all she saw was a male rump and booted feet sticking out from one of the lower cabinets beside the sink. Ororo jumped at the clatter of pots and pans being shifted and tumbling out from the cramped storage space and there was a loud clank as a large skillet hit the tile floor.

“Fuck…why the hell did some fuckin’ genius need ta move the one friggin’ dish I need ta the back of the flamin’ cabinet? Someone knew I needed in here, that’s why,” the rusty voice confirmed with its familiar burrs. Ororo rocked back on her heels and bit back a laugh. On the stove, a large pot was bubbling ominously, making its lid clatter and hiss. Flour and sugar were sprayed over every flat surface, and one side of the sink was slowly filling up with dirty dishes and utensils. An enormous turkey occupied the other half, sweating as it thawed. The counter beside the stove was lined up with bags of vegetables and packages of cheese. What had been a brand new box of butter cubes was ripped open, and the last pitiful stub stuck out of it, looking half melted and the worse for wear. On the opposite counter, various tempting, fattening ingredients were lined up, their purpose something she could only guess.

“Who’s a guy gotta fuck ta find one stinkin’ cake pan?” Logan demanded under his breath. His words degenerated into annoyed gibberish as he banged more pots and pans, and Ororo danced out of the way as he threw a casserole dish over his shoulder that was in the way of the large stainless steel mixing bowl he needed. A strange string of syllables ranging from “rassem frazzit” to “Jiminy flamin’ Christmas” composed his running monologue, and Ororo leaned against the refrigerator, arms and ankles crossed, shaking her head. Goddess bless Logan, she marveled silently. Her heart went out to him as she it dawned on her what he was up to.

The dear, deranged feral was preparing Thanksgiving dinner. Or at any rate, something that strongly resembled it.

“Fuck!” Logan hissed.

“Oh, dear,” Ororo tutted. Logan was so absorbed in his task that he’d ignored his senses, paying no attention to the familiar scent and footsteps that entered the kitchen. He startled at the smooth sound of her voice, and he jerked his head up out of the cabinet too fast, bashing its crown against the frown.

“OW!” He turned and glared up at her, rubbing the offending wound. His dark, unruly waves were already sticking up in peaks and horns from his struggles. As he lumbered to her feet, holding a frying pan in an almost threatening grip, she raised an eyebrow at his appearance. Logan wore one of his customary flannels, this one a deep hunter green and black plaid, and his battered black jeans were so faded and worn that the denim was soft as a baby’s blanket. He still had his Ropers on his feet, telling Ororo he had been out of the house recently, but the best accessory to his outfit was the long, dark blue chef’s apron Scott usually wore outside when he manned the grill. On Logan it looked strangely domestic and definitely out of character, making him a veritable wolf in sheep’s clothing.

“I’ll hate myself for asking, but what on earth are you up to, Logan?”

“Why do ya wanna know, Miss Nosy Britches? What’s it look like? I’m cookin’.”

“I see that. Are you ever.” Ororo nodded over to the stove, where his concoction was boiling over and drowning the range top. “You might want to get that.”

“SHIT!” he hissed, hurrying over and grasping the long metal handle. “GAH!” He whipped his hand away and jerked it futilely, fanning it to cool the scald. Ororo flanked him instantly, grabbing a potholder from the wall peg and moving the pot to a cold burner while she turned down the knob.

“Oh, Logan,” she cooed, “are you all right?”

“Like hell, ‘Ro. I’m just peachy, whaddya think?” he hissed indignantly, sucking the pad of his palm with a grunt. “Mmph…stings.” She led him to the sink and ran the water until it was frigid.

“Give it to me,” she clucked, launching into protective mode.

“I’ll take care of it,” he insisted, but she gently took his hand, tugging it and gently holding it under the cold spray. It gave him momentary relief, but her close proximity felt…awkward. She was standing slightly behind him, and one of her large, soft breasts was pressed against the back of his upper arm as she leaned over him.

“That must have hurt,” she soothed. “You need to be more careful.”

“I’ll take that under advisement. Didn’t tickle,” he muttered, but heat rose up his neck as she rubbed his back soothingly. Geez… Logan wondered if she was aware of what she was doing. Ororo could be solicitous and concerned, sure, he’d seen that side of her often enough during their acquaintance, but it wasn’t usually so…intimate. Her thumb stroked the injury absently, sending an uncharacteristic flutter into his gut. If that wasn’t bad enough, the light fragrance of her hair was making it difficult to think straight. It hung down in long waves past the slope of her breasts.

Logan’s hands were nice, she realized, liking the feel of his firm and supple skin and sturdy, large-knuckled fingers. Ororo waited a few seconds before turning off the faucet, and she reached for a dishtowel. She blotted his skin with the towel, turning his palm over and tsking over the shiny red skin.

“I’ll heal. Ya don’t hafta bother, ya know.” But his voice lacked the objection he was aiming for. Ororo snorted.

“You need supervision. I don’t want to explain to Charles how his kitchen was burned down to cinders.”

“Hey!” he argued indignantly, shooting her a sour look. She chuckled at the way his thick brows beetled together, and Ororo pursed her full lips and blew on the burn to further cool it.

Logan swallowed roughly, averting his eyes. The sensation of her breath misting over his skin raised the hairs on the back of his neck. Her fingertip stroked the thick pad of his thumb. “All better?” Ororo didn’t wait for an answer, and she blew on it again, bringing his palm closer to her lips. Logan itched with the sudden urge to feel their pillowy looking softness pressed against his skin…

…which was completely, highly inappropriate. He shook himself free and pried his hand loose from her grip. “G’wan, get outta the way, ‘Ro. I’ve got ten million things goin’ here.” He tried to ignore the seemingly disappointed expression she gave him as he moved away.

“Like what? When did you get all of this?” she accused. “I didn’t even hear you leave.”

“Ya were up ta yer neck in whatever ya were doin’ on yer computer, darlin’. I didn’t wanna disturb ya.”

“I could’ve helped you,” she added, peeved. Logan had bought an indecent amount of groceries, some of which still weren’t put away. She grabbed a can of Redi-Whip and tub of Cool Whip and carried them toward the refrigerator.

“I can handle it. Get outta the way, ‘Ro. I’ll put that shit away later.”

“You’ll have an easier time of it if all this stuff isn’t just laying out, Logan. And some of it needs to go into the freezer,” she nagged, ignoring his gripes. Logan blew out an exasperated breath. She was just going to do what she wanted, no matter what he said, so he shrugged and went back to his chore at the sink. Logan stripped off the plastic wrapper from the turkey in the sink, which was roughly the size of a juvenile beagle.

“That’s fine. But gimme room.”

“I’m not taking up that much space,” she countered. “You’re certainly in a fussy mood.”

“What’re ya doin’ down here now, anyway? The kids already ate. Why didn’t ya come out fer some pizza?”

“Because it was pizza,” she sniffed. “Ugh…I can stand it so often, and it’s all they’ve wanted lately. I need something out of one of the other food groups.” It was only then that she remembered that she originally came down for tea.

“You an’ me both, darlin’,” he agreed, grunting as he struggled with the bird. Its skin was slippery and it was difficult to maneuver as he tried to free the ends of the drumsticks from the metal prong. The monster gobbler was giving him a run for his money.

“Are you sure you know what you’re doing over there?” she asked skeptically, lifting the lid from his previously overflowing saucepan. She made a thoughtful sound as she tasted one of the macaroni noodles, which, to his credit, were al dente.

“Don’t’cha have anywhere ya have ta be?”

“Not at the moment. I was going to have some tea.”

“I ain’t stoppin’ ya.”

“It can wait.”

“Naw. Go take a load off, ‘Ro.”

“I’m fine here.” She watched him reaching into the cavity of the bird, wincing as he twisted his hand, trying to maneuver and cajole something out of it. “Are you okay?”

“Quit…askin’…me…that,” he growled, scowling as he swatted the turkey. “C’mon, ya sonofabitch, let it loose!” he demanded of the bird. “Give it UP, fer fuck’s sake!”

“Poor bird,” Ororo tsked. Logan growled over his shoulder at her, and she chuckled.

“I’m just tryin’ ta get it ta give up the goods.”

“Spoken like a true man,” she sniffed as she put away a gallon of milk. Logan made an unintelligible noise, then resumed his struggle. He gave one last heave, turning slightly red in the face, and his hand suddenly popped free from the cavity. He grinned, brandishing a gruesome, not quite cylindrical, dark pink thing at her. Ororo grimaced.

“What…IS that?”

“Neckbone,” he informed her, pleased. “Sucker was frozen up in there. Now I just need the gizzards.” Ororo wrinkled her nose.

“Whyever for?”

“Gravy,” he shrugged. “Whatsamatter? Ya never made gravy before?”

“Jean just used the chicken kind from the store, the one in the jar,” she explained to him matter-of-factly. “She never used whatever that is that you’re…playing with.” Logan slapped the neck onto a nearby cutting board and cavalierly flipped the bird on its end, this time so the back and wings were pointing up from the sink. To Ororo’s horror, he violated the poor bird again, wriggling his fingers inside.

“Always wondered why the fuck the folks that truss these suckers up tuck the gizzards in the back. Can’t just get all the goodies from one end,” he complained.

“You’re getting entirely too familiar with that turkey.” He grunted again, huffing in annoyance. “Entirely too familiar.”

“Whaddya want me ta do, darlin’, buy her dinner first?” Ororo’s face went blank, and when Logan turned back to his task, a noodle pelted him in the back of the head. “What?” he muttered.

“Disgusting,” she scolded him. “You’re demented, did you know that?”

“Ya love me anyway,” he quipped.

That silenced her. He didn’t notice as he went back to the bird. The innards were still annoyingly frozen as he tried to scrape them loose from the clammy cavity. Behind him, Ororo’s cheeks burned and fuzzy goosebumps ran down her back and over her scalp.

Drat that man… Ororo approached the other side of the sink and managed to reach for the dishsoap without edging him out of his space. She ran the hot water and soaped a sponge, starting on the dirty dishes despite his earlier objections of her being in the way. Logan suddenly tugged his hand free, triumphantly brandishing the grisly red bag of…something.

“Eeeeccchhh…” Ororo was glad she hadn’t eaten as Logan scooped out the deep red organs, laying them beside the neck.

“Gonna get some good stock outta these babies,” he assured her confidently.

“Sure you will.” She couldn’t imagine how anything made from such putrid looking morsels could taste good. “So why are you doing all this right now?”

“I’m makin’ some of this stuff ahead of time. Gonna hafta roast the meat tomorrow. I’m tossing one of these babies in the oven, and I’m deep frying the other one.”

“Frying a turkey seems so unorthodox. Jean didn’t do it that way.” Logan sighed.

“I ain’t Jean, darlin’.” His voice was slightly sad, and Ororo bit her tongue. Embarrassment pricked her.

“Sorry,” she murmured as she washed a used spatula and the colander, setting it on the stove. He acknowledged her with a brief “eh” and went back to rinsing the turkey. Once she had enough of the dishes out of the way, she strained the noodles and rinsed them with cold water when he turned the faucet head her way. “What are you going to do with these?”

“Mac and cheese casserole?”

“You know how to make it?”

“Actually…nah. I don’t. That’s where you come in. I might need a little help with that.”

“How much help are we talking?”

“Like…making all of it.” He nodded to the recipe book. “It’s already on the right page.”

“You’re a prince among men,” she muttered. Logan grinned.

“I know how ta treat a girl.” The next hour was an exercise in trying not to get in each other’s way, with mixed and amusing results. They brushed against each other as they squeezed around the corners of the table and between it and the stove. Ororo found herself on cheese grating duty while Logan did strange things to both birds. He wasn’t through performing surgery on the one, she decided, as he began injecting one with a syringe of brownish fluid. She took his explanation that it was marinade for the one he was going to fry with a shrug, deciding not to question it any further.

Logan turned on the radio a few minutes later, deciding they needed a little entertainment, and she didn’t even try to stifle a smile as Logan hummed along to the oldies station he found, occasionally singing a few bars loudly and off-key. “Okay,” he announced, “gimme that big tub in the laundry room.”

“Why?”

“Don’t ask ‘why’; just bring it here, darlin’,” he nagged, shooing her out the door with his hand. She grumbled under her breath and almost tripped over the huge Rubbermaid tub in the center of the floor. She carried it over and cleared the table to set it down.

“Get ready ta grab some more stuff for me.”

“Such as?”

“Lemons.” She obeyed and cut each one in half. “Onions. Garlic cloves. That bag of herbs right there.” She followed his instructions while he set the second turkey inside the tub and covered it with cup after cup of cold water.

“Why are you soaking it?”

“Somethin’ I saw on Emeril. I’m makin’ a brine.”

“That’s for pickles,” she insisted.

“And fer turkey. I mentioned it ta Heather a while back and she said she’s been doin’ that with her bird for a few years, now. Makes it turn out nice an’ juicy.” He proceeded to pour in obscene amounts of salt, making her fear for the students’ blood pressure, since the rest of them didn’t have his healing factor, but she didn’t voice her concerns. He followed the salt with an equal amount of sugar. He added vinegar and the vegetables she prepped. Logan upended the turkey again and crammed half an onion in the cavity.

“BAM!” he exclaimed smugly.

“Good grief,” Ororo muttered, wondering if he’d taken leave of his senses. Logan tucked in a long stem of rosemary.

“WHOOP!” he added, giving her a blank look. “Whatsamatter? Ain’t ya ever watched Emeril?”

“He’s the loud one?”

“C’mon, now, the guy knows his shit. Seems like someone ya could drink beer with,” Logan pointed out. “He ain’t afraid of a little pork fat or good old-fashioned butter, either. None of that wussy, diet crap. My man likes real food.”

“I watch Martha Stewart, once in a while.”

“That explains a lot,” he said disparagingly. Ororo swiveled her head around on her neck and set her hand on her hip, pinning him with an icy blue gaze.

“Explains a lot about what?”

“Fussy dames like fussy food. Her show’s too…girly an’ uptight. She always does shit the hard way. And it’s always weird shit, too, like how ta carve animals outta fruit, and all the shit she sells at Kmart is either that pastel plaid or covered in flowery shit. Plaid ain’t supposed ta come in pink.”

“Well, my watching her show doesn’t make me ‘uptight.’” He snorted. “Oh, don’t even go there. I am NOT uptight.”

“If ya say so, darlin’.” The warm flush was back, but this time Ororo was piqued.

“That sounded like you don’t believe me.”

“Naw. What’s not ta believe? I mean, it ain’t like ya eat all yer food in nice neat little piles without anything touching each other on the plate, or like ya never replace a toilet paper roll without turning it so the new sheet faces up, or V-tip it like they do in the hotels…”

“What’s wrong with making things look neat?”

“Well, there’s neat, and then there’s ‘Oh, my friggin’ God, Ororo’s been in a cleanin’ snit again.’” Ororo was in the middle of rinsing some caked on food from a ceramic bowl with the nozzle, but the need to take umbrage superseded finishing her chore. Logan yelped as a jet of water sprayed his nape, and she crammed the nozzle down the back of his collar. He stared at her incredulously as he swatted it away, watching her look entirely too pleased with himself. “BRAT!”

“What?” she said, holding up her hands innocently.

“I’ll show ya ‘what!’” He grinned ferally, his dark brown eyes taking on a dangerous gleam. Her blue ones sparked with electricity and her chin raised up a notch, defying him.

Things deteriorated and grew ugly. Quickly.

Ororo shrieked as Logan sprayed her directly in the face with cold water, which wouldn’t have bothered her if it hadn’t shot straight up her nose. She swatted the air reflexively, wiping her eyes with her free hand and sputtering. Each time she would recover, he would zap her again. She darted away, getting the butcher block table between them, and she managed to nail him between the eyes with a stray piece of chopped carrot. “Shit!” he hissed. He aimed with the nozzle again, but this time her eyes glowed white as she whipped her damp hair back from her face. “Uh-oh,” he muttered…

A sharp gust of wind blew the spray from the nozzle back at him, pelting him in the face. Logan changed tactics and tossed the sprayer back in the sink. He gave her a wicked smile.

“Hungry, ‘Ro?” He held up a handful of the offending giblets, jiggling them in his hand.

“Oh, no, you don’t!” She shrank back as he advanced, an evil grin twisting his lips.

“Gonna get it on yooouuuu,” he intoned in his best scary zombie voice, taking a page from an Eddie Murphy monologue he remembered. Dead birrrrddd…” She darted around one side of the table, then the other as he kept cutting her off. Logan backed her up against the refrigerator and slapped his palm against it to keep her from getting away from him. “C’mon, kiddo, open up, don’t knock it til ya try it!” She was breathing hard and giggling, and his addictive warmth closed in on her, his chest grazing hers. But Ororo’s hand darted out and she punched two fingers into his side, nailing him in the deltoid. The way his eyes bulged at the sharp tickle-slash-pain was her reward, and she ducked out from beneath his restraining arm.

“C’mon, baby, taste it! Ya know ya want to! I know ya like meat!”

“Not THAT meat!” She realized that he was trapping her in one of his double entendres again and cursed his sharp tongue.

“Not this one, huh?” he crowed. Ororo ran for the paper towel rack and ripped off a sheet. She waved it like a surrender flag.

“Truce,” she huffed.

“Yer gonna concede defeat that easily?” He didn’t believe her for a minute.

“I wouldn’t harm a hair on your head, Logan. We’re such good friends.”

“We are, huh?” he smirked.

“Of course we are. Here. I’ll prove it. I want to give my good friend Logan a big hug.” She gave him her patented, picture perfect smile that put Carol Brady to shame and held out her arms. Logan shrugged and set down the gizzards, then walked into her embrace, wrapping his arms around her and avoiding laying his juice-covered palm against her back.

Big mistake. Ororo’s intoxicating, warm scent wrapped around him, and he breathed it into his lungs, letting it expand his chest. Ororo’s mischievous smile faltered as she felt his hard, generously muscled body press itself against hers. Her palms explored his broad, hard back as she absorbed his heat and the masculine scent of his flesh. His wiry, soft hair tickled the side of her neck and she shivered. Ororo’s breath hitched and her body reacted traitorously at the feel of the rugged, solid man in her arms, feeling hot little prickles wash over her at his hand tightening at the small of her back, blunt fingernails grazing her through her thin sweater as he bunched the hem up in his hand.

His mounting arousal made coherent thought go bye-bye, and she gasped at the feel of something hot and solid pushing insistently against the apex of her thighs. Two sets of eyes widened in apprehension.

“Logan?” she whimpered, panicked.

“Ro?” he croaked. She couldn’t let go of him, and his body wasn’t obeying his mind’s commands to step the hell back from her.

She had to act quickly. Her eyes darted around the kitchen, landing on the butcher block table behind him. The pristine pile of grated, sharp cheddar cheese sat innocently on the paper plate, inspiring her exit strategy. She oh-so-carefully let one of her hands slide down his back in an intimate caress and drift away from him…

“GAH! WHAT! YOU!?!?” Cold, clammy cheese shreds showered down the back of his shirt, and she backpedaled neatly away from him as his arms flew into interesting contortions in an attempt to get rid of the creepy sensation against his skin. “You HUSSY! Aw, that’s it, yer DEAD!”

“Now, Logan…don’t be hasty,” she pleaded as he grabbed the refrigerator door handle and jerked it open ominously. She looked on horrified as his eyes flitted from shelf to shelf, and his hand darted inside. “Uh-oh.” He whipped out the can of Redi-Whip, deftly popping off the cap. Her adrenaline level spiked again and her heart pounded in her ribcage as he methodically shook it firmly, letting the ball rattle and the pressure build up. “For all that’s good and merciful, Logan, I beg you, don’t, DON’T-! BRIGHT LADY!” She held out her hands to protect herself, but Logan advanced and launched gobs of sticky, frothy whip at her, sending streamers of it into her hair and face, painting her sweater and jeans in jagged white streaks. She screeched in a completely unladylike, unOroro-like fashion and darted away. She got a hold of the cheese again and tossed a handful at him, pelting him in the mouth. He spat out stray shreds in surprise, sputtering. “ACK!” Ororo made it back to the sink, brandishing the spray nozzle.

“Oh, no, you don’t!”

“Oh, yes I do!”

Water flew with abandon across the kitchen and the floor grew slick with its spray and random globs and spurts of whipped cream. Ororo added the noodles to her arsenal, and Logan answered her call to battle, retrieving the fallen turkey neck. “EAT IT! EAT IT!”

“LIKE BLAZES! OOH! YOU’LL PAY FOR THAT!” She shrieked as the unsavory, clammy thing was chucked down the front of her sweater, finding purchase in her bra. “EW! EEW!! BASTARD!”

“Language, darlin’!” He roared with laughter at her frantic little dance as she tried to free herself of the offending bit of turkey carcass without actually touching it. She untucked her shirt hem and shook it until the neck fell loose and hit the floor. Logan was just closing in her with the whipped cream again but didn’t notice it in his path until he brought his booted foot down on it. He went sliding across the tile toward her, and he couldn’t find purchase on the counter’s edge with his slippery fingers. “ACK!”

“Oh, sh-“ Her words were abruptly cut off as his legs swept out from under him, and he landed flat on his back. His foot shot out and tripped her as she tried to dance out of his way, and she went sprawling forward, hands failing to catch herself. “WHOULFFFF!”

“Ow.”

“*tchh…* Broke a nail. Darn it.” She sucked her finger into her mouth, then bit off the remaining snag and spit it across the room.

“That was ladylike,” he muttered.

“Shut up,” she replied sweetly. She sighed. “Look at you.” She eyed him from her vantage point against him…on top of him, and she leaned up onto her elbows. Impatiently she blew a tendril of sticky hair out of her eyes, but it flopped back down into her face. She felt his chest shake beneath her and to her annoyance, he was silently laughing at her. His cheeks were reddening with the effort not to give it full rein. “Shut…up.”

Logan’s fingertips reached up and gently stroked the strands back, grazing her soft skin. He flicked away a blob of whipped cream there, tasting it. She huffed and settled against him, cradling her cheek against her propped fist as she comtemplated him.

“There’s honestly something wrong with you.”

“So says the woman who dumped cheese down my back.”

“I could’ve aimed lower.”

“Sounds like dates I’ve had. Shit, it sounds better than some dates I’ve had.”

“They involved cheese down your pants.”

“And worse. I’ll try anything once.”

“Too much information, my friend.” She tried to get up, but his hands stopped her, ringing her upper arms and holding her fast.

“Whoa, whoa, where are you going? Don’t rush off.”

“You still have the gleam in your eye, and the whipped cream isn’t empty yet. I don’t trust you.”

“I’m harmless.”

“Said the spider to the fly.” Her breath steamed his lips, and her palms weren’t pushing against his chest now; instead they explored the softness of his shirt and the crisp hairs that peeked above the open collar.

She felt so pliant stretched out against him, every curve of her body fitting flush against his hollows, and the logical part of his brain said she was supposed to be struggling to get free, and why wasn’t she struggling to get free? His smug grin slowly shifted to a look of quiet wonder. “Yer a mess, ‘Ro.”

“Thanks.”

“Ya still look hungry. Here, let me feed ya some more.”

“No, thanks. I’ve had enough.” Her eyes gave a warning spike, the irises just beginning to shift to their ominous white, and Logan heard the sky outside give a telltale rumble.

“Truce,” he insisted. Her eyes swirled back to their characteristic crystal blue. Her breasts were mashed against his chest and her nipples stiffened in response to his heat and hardness, the way his warm breath felt fanning over her lips, and the slight roll of his hips beneath hers as he shifted to get comfortable on the unyielding tile.

“Truce,” she whispered as her face lowered by degrees until the tip of her nose grazed his, light as a butterfly. His eyes were lazy with unrestrained desire and lust and stared at her soft, plump mouth.

“God, ‘Ro,” he groaned as he met her halfway, craning his neck up and capturing her astonished cry in a rough, molten kiss that made her bare toes curl. Ororo moaned as his hand crept around the back of her head and tangled in her waves of long, damp hair. His fingers kneaded her scalp and traced the long line of her lower back. He rumbled in appreciation at the way her pelvis ground up against his, at how she moved against him like a needy cat. He caught her hips and slid her up his body so that she rode the knob between his legs, and her cool palms cradled his face as she drank endless kisses from his mouth. She opened for him, letting his tongue sweep inside and explore her textures and flavors.

They came up for air, and his eyes held confusion in their depths. “Are ya okay with this, darlin’?”

“I shouldn’t be. Goddess, you taste good…” She leaned down and brushed another kiss over that firm, addictive mouth. He “mmphed” in approval but drew back, tugging her hair to get her attention.

“So d’you, but ‘Ro…c’mon…”

“What’s the matter?”

“This ain’t typical.”

“Never mind that. Don’t overthink it.” His lips compressed themselves in a thin line as he fought for control. His palm cradled her cheek and his thumb stroked her lips; she gently sucked the edge of it between them and tasted him, and he groaned outright.

“I want this, but-“ She closed in on him and Logan gave up the struggle. She was kissing him, rippling against him and making all those sexy little mewing sounds, and Logan’s reserve crumbled like a gingersnap. He tugged her back again for a moment, but he was panting, licking the taste of her from his lips.

“Ro…”

“What’s the matter?”

“Not here.”

*

A quick check of the oven burners to make sure they were all turned off was the last thing either of them heeded as they practically ran upstairs the two flights of stairs to the loft.

They burst through the door and Logan kicked it shut with a slam behind him as she attacked him, groaning at how good he tasted. She hungrily suckled his lips and explored his throat while busy fingers undid his shirt buttons. He ground her against his hips and jerked open her zipper, exposing her perfect, flat belly.

I hate when restaurants…they just season one side of the meat. If a restaurant serves you a chicken breast, and they only season half of it, they should only charge you “half” price… Emeril’s advice to his audience jumped into his mind as he laved the sensitive curve of her slender neck, then spun her around to sweep her long fall of hair off of her nape, which he lapped at possessively. Ororo shivered deliciously at his hot, velvety tongue rasping over her skin.

And that’s it, ladies and gents. A little salt…WHOOP! And some pepper…BAM! Time to kick it up a notch… He closed in on her, urging her toward her king-sized bed. He was grateful that she was claustrophobic for a change and that Ororo couldn’t tolerate a small sleeping space; the wide mattress beckoned them, and they collapsed onto it with a groan. The height difference between them became a non-issue once they were horizontal, and their hands roamed over each other, freeing needy flesh from confining clothes. Their bodies strained against other, hair-dusted, olive flesh caressing smooth brown as he covered her. Pleasure coiled in her womb as his member butted against her sex, and the feel of those second, sultry lips kissing his flesh with each flex of his hips was undoing him. Her hum of pleasure worked its way up from her throat and her fingernails scraped a light trail down his back as he nipped a path down her throat.

He rolled them so she topped him, sprawled against his hard contours while her long white hair tented their faces. His hands gripped her hips, savoring their supple, generous slope and her nails scratched his scalp as she plowed her fingers through his satisfyingly thick waves, clutching it. His sex was sentient, pushing and throbbing against her, searching out her heat. She caught it between their slick bellies and slide up and down against him, making it impossibly swollen and stiff. He swore at the mixture of pleasure and torment she wrought and pushed her further up his body until her breasts dangled over his mouth. Logan groaned as he drew her left nipple into his mouth, and it strained and distended with each lap of his raspy tongue.

“God, Logan,” she whispered hoarsely. “Oh, God…” He didn’t question why she wasn’t beseeching her Bright Lady for mercy from the liberties he took; Logan just hungered for her. Ororo’s head was thrown back and her blue eyes shuttered in pleasure as he lolled her sweet flesh over his tongue, then alternated between breasts, cradling and caressing whichever one that wasn’t in his mouth.

He rolled her back onto the mattress and stroked the tiny, straining bud of flesh nestled between her slick folds, so close to pushing her over the edge, and her bucking hips and moans of arousal almost made him come. He wanted her, unable to hold back any longer. He wanted inside, to sheathe himself in her satiny heat. Ororo’s eyes flew open when he pulled back and knelt between her splayed, bent knees. He looped them over his shoulders, letting her heels slap his back, and Logan fumbled with his throbbing member, teasing her with its plump head before entering her in one hard, clean thrust. His eyes rolled back in his head at the feel of her coddling and squeezing him, and his hips reacted on instinct, drawing back and pushing in, over and over. His rhythm was slow at first, allowing him to watch her face contort in bliss and hear her lips moan his name. Her hips rose to meet him, and her muscles flexed around him, making her walls clench and suck at him with each stroke. His hands clamped around her narrow ribs as he sped up, and his nerve endings went up in flames at the sensuous drag of her fingernails down the slope of his thighs.

He was filling her with his solid thickness, slipping in and out as smooth as silk. His thrusts were hard and fast, hitting her tender G spot every time, and Logan’s pace was driving and even, just the way she liked it. He was a sexy sight, body pistoning and flexing, every muscle drawn taut and working together like a machine. Sweat glistened on his skin and his face was suffused with desire that shook her.

Logan was similarly affected by the sight of her, flushed and dewy, head thrown back and breasts jiggling with the impact from each slam of his hips. She took it all and her body craved more, needing to silence that voice in her conscious that called out to Logan, beckoning to him as soon as she set foot in the kitchen. She was so close, but Ororo didn’t want it to end. They moved together in perfect sync.

She’d always craved him, always known he claimed a piece of her that she didn’t know was missing. He changed the angle of his body, leaning in and flicking his hips in faster, sharper shunts, and her hands roamed over every inch of him that she could reach, feathering over his drum-tight abdomen, grazing his turgid nipples, combing through the coarse hair framing his cock. She enflamed him, speeding him toward his peak.

“God, darlin’…” he groaned. “So good…aw, man!” His hips bucked and spasmed as pleasure claimed him. He felt the contractions ripple and pulse within him, making him impossibly hard. His dick cramped and he gave a choked cry as his seed flowed freely from his cock, spurting hot and thick, coating her insides. His hips shunted uncontrollably and his face contorted in bliss. The aftershocks of Logan’s climax pushed Ororo those last few steps to her own high, just the right frequency, just hard enough…

“Oh…oh…” Her strangled cry rose and fell in pitch, and Ororo dug her nails into his thighs as she fell over the edge. Her walls squeezed him, milking him of one last, tingling ripple before they both went limp.

Logan could barely move, both from exhaustion and shock. Gently he lowered her legs from his shoulders, and they were shaking as she relaxed them. Logan stretched out beside her and gathered her into his arms. Their limbs were a languorous tangle as they listened to each other’s breathing slow and even out. Logan’s caresses made Ororo drowsy. She plied the hollow of his collarbones with light kisses, just faint brushes of her lips, and his sigh stirred her hair.

Stick around! Emeril was still giving him advice. Logan chuckled.

“What?” He met her amused gaze.

“The kitchen,” he reminded her. She winced.

“Oooh.”

“Shit.”

“I’ll help you clean up.”

“Not yet, ya won’t.” He wasn’t in the mood to let her go; she felt too right snuggled against him.

That’s it, ladies and gents.