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Cooking with Stew
© Copyright Shannon Rouchelle
All Rights Reserved, Devine Destinies
“Yes, boss lady.” Stewart watched her move to the far side of the kitchen. She pushed a chair toward a high shelf and climbed up to reach something. He studied her slender, sexy form. The red apron, covered in flour, made her even more appealing. He managed to pry his gaze away from the female distraction. Grabbing the ball of dough, he placed it inside the mixing bowl to let it rise. He followed Gloria to the tables and assisted with the preparation.
“Help me with the tablecloths. I want them to go this way.” She motioned with her hands.
“How do you like running the soup kitchen?”
There was a long, lengthy silence before she replied. “I love it. It’s good to know people are going to bed with a full stomach. I see the appreciation on their faces. It makes it worth the effort.”
“I can see that.”
Gloria used her hands to smooth out the creases on the cloth. “I guess next week you will be leaving?”
Stewart didn’t know how to respond. He enjoyed working in the kitchen and the many perks that went along with it. “I guess so.”
“You deserve much better than this. You’re use to the glamorous life, not slaving away over a hot stove. You really are out of your element. No pun intended,” she added.
Stewart couldn’t believe she made a joke. He knew deep down there was a fun side to her. “They replaced my post with a new bodyguard.”
He heard the sincerity in her tone.
“I’m sure something else will come along.”
Stewart wasn’t interested in something else. He wanted what he had right in front of him.
“Do you mind grabbing a wet rag from the kitchen? I want to wipe these tablecloths.”
He saluted her and headed straight for the other room. “Where are they?” he shouted.
“They are underneath the sink!”
Stewart pulled open every drawer beneath the sink. He located the clean rags in the very last cupboard. He grabbed one and soaked it under the faucet. While he was completing this task, he glanced across at the mixing bowl. His eyes widened. “Oh shit!”
“Is something wrong?”
Stewart panicked. He forgot to cover the dough. He heard her footsteps approach. “No, everything is fine!” He placed his hand in the sticky dough and pulled out a rat. He cursed his bad luck. “How the hell did you get up here?” His gaze followed the dishtowel that hung over the rack and dangled near the floor.
Gloria came around the corner. “How does the dough look?”
Stewart held the squirming rodent behind his back. “It’s fur-tastic,” he stuttered.
“What?” Her brow creased.
“It’s fantastic,” he corrected. Using his other hand, he threw her the dishcloth. “I’ll be with you in a second.”
She had a curious look on her face. “Are you sure you’re okay?”
“Yes, everything is fine. I need to step outside for a moment.” Happy that she didn’t pursue the questions, he watched her turn and head toward a table. Stewart grimaced at the large rat in his hand. He unlocked the back door and threw the dough-covered rodent outside. “Don’t come back,” he whispered. Relieved that he got rid of the evidence, he picked up the dough and tossed it in a pan. He quickly molded it to the shape of the container and placed it inside the oven. “What temperature should we bake it?”
Gloria immediately entered. “Did it rise?”
Sweat trickled down his forehead. “It was the best damn thing I’ve ever seen.” He hated to lie to her, but if she discovered what he did, the shit would hit the fan.
She instructed him on the temperature. “You’re sure working up a sweat.”
“I’m not use to the heat.” Stewart turned the dial on the oven. “I’ll help you with the tablecloths.” He brushed past and tried to act casual. “Why are we baking bread anyway? I thought this was a soup kitchen.”
She assisted him with the last table. “It is a soup kitchen, but I thought it might be nice to add a few other items to the menu. There’s nothing like warm bread to go with hot soup, especially on a cold day like today.”
Stewart tried not to think about the rat in the dough. He couldn’t imagine anyone eating it. “Can I help with anything else?”
“There is something I would like to try.”
He noticed she eyed him like forbidden fruit. Maybe I’m imagining things, but I think the cologne is getting to her.
She sniffed the air and blushed. “I want to make a stew.”
He didn’t know if he heard correctly. “What did you say?”
“I want stew for lunch.”
Stewart thought this was too good to be true . The woman finally wanted him. He placed a hand in her hair and gently stroked it. “I thought you would never ask. I knew you felt it, too.”
Gloria stared up at him wide-eyed. She reached up and slapped his arm. “I said I want to make a stew. I didn’t say I wanted to make out with you!”
He retaliated. “That’s an easy mistake to make. There’s been a sexual attraction between us since I started working here. Admit it, you feel it, too.”
Gloria didn’t say a word. She silently entered the kitchen.
Stewart followed. “You’re not as hard as nails, I know it.”
She pulled down a huge stockpot and proceeded to gather the ingredients she needed. “I don’t want to talk about it!”
“Boy, you must have been hurt in the past.”
She spun around and struck back. “For your information, I have been hurt before. And it wasn’t only one boyfriend. It was a whole bunch of them!”