"You don't have to do this," Emily says, and Lorelai stops, hand extended to push the door into the kitchen open.
"Do what? Marry Luke?"
Emily's mouth does that sour lemon puckering thing that Lorelai has promised herself she will never, ever do, and not just because it causes unsightly lines around the mouth. "Have Sookie make the wedding cake."
"Do you have a problem with Sookie making the wedding cake?" Lorelai asks before she can stop herself. She knows it's a bad idea, knows she needs to get a better handle on herself before she deals with her mother, but these days she's got more of a hair-trigger than she used to, can't seem to stop all the feelings from living right on the outside of her skin, the words from pouring out of her mouth.
"Not at all," Emily says in that tone that means she totally does. "I just thought you might want to look at some designs from bakeries in Hartford or New York. Mimi Cartwright's granddaughter had her wedding cake made by Margaret Braun, and it was delicious."
"And the Duncans had an amazing raspberry and chocolate cake from Ron Ben-Israel for their fortieth anniversary party."
"Why would I do that, when Sookie can do exactly what I want for half the price?"
"Sookie is a wonderful chef," Emily allows.
Lorelai knows that's the closest thing to agreement or capitulation that she's going to get in this conversation, and pushes her way into the kitchen. There are platters of cake lined up on the table, and Sookie is standing behind them pretending she didn't hear the conversation that just took place in the doorway.
"Are you ready for some cake?" she asks with a cheerfulness that sounds forced even for her.
"Always," Lorelai answers. "I wore my special cake-tasting pants and brought my cake-tasting fork."
Emily's mouth tightens and Sookie's smile gets wider and more frantic, and Lorelai bites back a sigh. She wishes Rory were here to defuse the tension, or that Michel would show up and sweep Emily off for a gossipy cup of tea.
"Let's start with this vanilla genoise with vanilla buttercream frosting," Sookie says in a voice that quavers just a little bit, handing each of them a slice of white cake with white frosting.
After tasting ten different types of cake (plus fifteen different fillings and seven different flavored icings), even Lorelai's cast-iron stomach is protesting.
"Maybe we'll just skip dessert," she says, miming unbuttoning her pants. She counts down, five, four, three--
"Lorelai," Emily sounds scandalized. "You can't skip dessert."
"In all the years you've known me, have I ever skipped dessert?"
Emily's mouth curves up in a reluctant smile. "I suppose not."
"What do you think?" Lorelai asks.
Now Emily looks surprised. "The lemon raspberry was quite good. Or the chocolate infused with Chambord."
"We could layer it with seedless raspberry jam," Sookie says, pulling out a notebook and scribbling down some ideas. "And top it with fresh raspberries and whipped cream roses."
"I think that would be lovely," Emily says. She glances at Lorelai, who can't quite believe how agreeable she's being. There has to be a catch. "Your father and I will pay for the cake," she says.
"Mom, you don't have to--"
"Of course we don't, Lorelai, but you left that Max fellow practically at the altar, and you and Christopher eloped. I'd like to contribute something to the wedding you finally actually have. We may not agree with everything you've chosen," (and it's all Lorelai can do not to snort at that understatement) "but despite whatever you might believe, we do want you to be happy."
Lorelai picks up her fork, takes a small bite of almond dacquoise cake. "I know," she says. And for the moment, she believes it.