When someone showed up at her apartment with a Devil’s Food cake in a glass dome George’s first thought was What kind of Betty Crocker bullshit is this. Her girlfriend, meanwhile, just thanked the newcomer and told her to put the cake on the kitchen table. She explained offhandedly to George that Suzanne was in her Statistics lecture, and a fan of figure skating.
The cake was a hit, in a low-key way. Everyone in the apartment was pretty focused on the television and the Olympic Games. The cake, in the midst of bowls of potato chips and pretzels, shrimp rings and packaged dips, was uniquely homemade and good-tasting; the first person to come back to the couch with cake on their paper plate caused two others to ask where it had come from and go get their own slices, which extrapolated into a general stampede to polish off the tray before there was none left.
It was good cake. Suzanne Phelps kept her eyes on the TV through it all and disclaimed praise very primly, but something about her mouth struck George as a little smug.
“Package from Suzie,” Lynnette said confusedly, then dumped her bag in the hallway and went off to shower.
George eked past Lynnette’s bag to dump her own gear in the living room, then stripped down to sweatpants and bra and said hello to the dog before picking up the box sitting on top of their accumulated mail.
God, she hoped it wasn’t a late good-luck package. She liked Suzie just fine, and in a couple of days she’d be less raw about losing the World Championship–again–but right now she’d cheerfully throw a Fabergé egg onto pavement if it had Go for Gold! on it.
Better luck next time, Suzie Bittle’s note said, and beneath it slid a freezer bag full of double-chocolate macadamia cookies. The smiley face on the note somehow managed to convey disappointment and reluctance, like it was a little hard for it to smile right then, and George mirrored it as she opened the bag of her favourite cookies.
“Nope nope nope nope,” George muttered, finally closing her arms around a sprinting toddler and plucking him off the ground. “You are not bugging your mom.” She hugged Eric to her chest and was about to take him back to the bedroom when Suzanne called, “What’s he doing, then?”
Rearranging Eric on her hip, George went back to the kitchen doorway. “I turn my back for one minute,” she said, “and he decides he’s gonna bust in on your Zen time.”
“Oh, he’s fine,” Suzanne said, smiling. The kitchen was transformed from an hour and a half ago; the dishes were gone, the countertops shining, and something delicious-smelling was at work in the oven. The remnants of a glass of white wine stood next to Suzanne’s current project, which looked… involved. Her hands never stopped moving.
“What’s this?” George asked, coming closer but making sure not even an extreme lunge on Eric’s part could put him in range of the hot stovetop.
“Dessert crêpes,” Suzanne said, ladling batter into a skillet and then tilting it to make sure it covered the entire surface. “Gonna be berries and peaches in a kind of beurre Suzette, with chocolate sauce to garnish.” Each of these needed its own separate stir, before she starting poking under the crêpe’s edges and prepare for it to flip.
“Crêpe Suzanne,” George said, and her lover smiled at her.
With great care not to disrupt Suzanne’s system, George took a teaspoon out of the cutlery drawer one-handed, and then positioned herself so that Eric was as far from the stove as possible while she stole some of the chocolate sauce. Suzanne made a show of protest, but didn’t intervene. George kept the spoon out of Eric’s reach while she blew on it, then tasted; considered that it didn’t seem to have too much liqueur, sucked the spoon clean, and dipped it in the sauce a careful fraction before blowing on it and handing it over to the baby.
“Geo-gia,” Suzanne said, fondly exasperated. Then, because she’d just put a finished crêpe on the pile and hadn’t poured a new one on the skillet, George took her opportunity to lean down for a kiss. Because it was still so wonderful and so new that it was more thrilling than anything else put together, just to be able to kiss Suzanne because she wanted to.
Suzanne kissed her, but also put her hand flat on George’s chest to warn here that there was kitchen business going on that shouldn’t be forgotten about.
“Tastes great,” George said brightly, and looked down at Eric, who had a trail of chocolate on his face and the spoon in his mouth. “We love it. Call us when dinner is ready?”
“Yes,” Suzanne said, and, “Scat,” and George resettled the baby on her hip and left the kitchen, humming.