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This Thing Called Love
"…What is this thing called love?
This funny thing called love?…"
"What is This Thing Called Love"
by Cole Porter
Daniel grinned as he held the phone with one hand and hastily scratched out a list with the other. "Got it. Anything else?…You’re sure?…I’m not trying to be a wiseass, babe. Just trying to make sure I don’t have to go out again later…no, it won’t kill me if I do…Case, calm down …I was only teasing…Angel, your dinners are always perfect… yep…Love you too. Okay…bye."
Duncan was snickering. "Now I understand why you wanted to work today!"
"She does this every time. She gets herself worked up, tries to cook way too damned much, has to make it all perfect," he shook his head. "Sometimes I wish somebody else would do the dinner thing. But, if anybody offers, she takes it as a personal affront on her abilities as a hostess. I swear, there are times I’d like to wring her neck. Usually at Thanksgiving and Christmas. She’ll be a bitch until everything is ready."
"I can’t see Casey being a bitch," Duncan argued. In the two years that Casey had been his lover, she had never so much as raised her voice.
Daniel snorted. "Did she ever cook a holiday meal when you were together?"
The Highlander shook his head. He had made sure that they were out of the country during Thanksgiving, and Christmas was spent with Methos and Joe at one of Seattle’s finest restaurants. Anything to keep her from mourning for the man she loved more than him during the holiday season.
"Trust me, that sweet, beautiful woman I’m married to becomes this…bitch…for about twenty-four hours every holiday." He sighed. "And if I don’t get to the store and get this home immediately, I’ll hear about it all night."
The dark haired man stood. "Good luck. I almost feel as if I should be sending you to the armory first!"
Daniel laughed. "A Kevlar vest just might come in handy!" He shook his head. "She’s really not that bad."
"I know, Daniel. But I do know how…intense…she can get over things. Guess it’s that artist thing in her. Tessa says that the way she wraps gifts, and the way she cooks, are signs of a latent artist trying to get out." He stood and walked into the corridor with his young friend.
"I always wondered about that. For years I never knew that she wrote poetry. Then I found a notebook filled with it. She was embarrassed by it, but it was good, really good. Not that I’m any judge of poetry." Daniel said.
"Well, maybe she’ll write more," Duncan said.
"I hope she does. I’d like to see some of it published. Well, I really gotta go now. See you tomorrow."
"Yep, we’ll be there."
With waves, the men parted ways. Duncan went back to his office, and Daniel took the elevator to the surface. He sighed when he realized the list was on his desk, went back to get it, and then raced to the grocery store.
A A A A A A
"Hey, Doctor Jackson!" called Ed Murphy, the owner of the store, walking up to him with a slip of paper in his hand.
"Don’t tell me, she called here and gave you a list," Daniel said, rolling his eyes. "I talked to her not more than fifteen minutes ago, and she swore that she didn’t need anything else."
Ed laughed. "Let’s compare and make sure she didn’t forget what she told you."
The lists were distinctly different. Daniel shook his head, and grabbed a cart. He searched carefully, it was not permissible to get a similar product. Better to go home without something than with a substitute, he had learned. He cell phone rang just as he was on his way to the check stand. "Hello? At the store, babe, on my way to check out…Yep…no, babe, you’re not. Love you Angel. Okay, see you in a few." He looked over at Diane, Ed’s wife. "Quick, get me out of here before she calls again and wonders where I am or tells me she forgot something!"
Diane laughed. "Be very careful, Doctor Jackson. I happen to be quite fond of your wife."
"So am I," Daniel grinned.
"Happy Thanksgiving, Doctor Jackson," Diane said as he was pushing the cart out the door.
"You, too, Diane."
He loaded the bags into the jeep. Sam pulled into the parking stall next to him. "Hey, Sam."
"Hi, Daniel. Last minute grocery run?"
"One of them. I’m sure to be back at least once more," he said, grinning.
"Well, tell Case that I’m bringing an apple salad and a pumpkin chiffon pie," Sam said.
"I will. I have to go before…shit!" he swore, reaching for his cell phone. "Hel…I’m on my way, babe…Yep, got ‘em. Yep. Casey…hang up. I’m on m…Damn it!" He flipped the phone closed.
Sam giggled, knowing just how 'intense' her best friend could get. "You’re down to about seven hours, Daniel. You’ll survive."
"I always do. She always makes it up to me, too." He grinned and winked.
"Dog!" Sam teased. "Go on, my friend. See you tomorrow."
Daniel grinned and gave his friend a quick hug. "See you."
A A A A A A
Case was slamming pots around on the counter when he came into the kitchen, his arms loaded with grocery bags. "Where do you want these?" he asked.
"Up your ass comes to mind," she snapped. "Just put them on the table." She took a deep breath, shook her head. "I’m sorry, Daniel. I burned the first batch of cookies, scorched one batch of green beans…it has not been a good day."
Daniel frowned. He had never known her to burn anything. "Angel, is something wrong?"
"Besides trying to do too much at once?" She shook her head again. "I thought it would save time if I tried to do more than a couple of things at a time. But it didn’t. Your daughter decided that this was going to be a clingy day…plus we had two accidents, not to mention a barely diverted disaster that resulted in one dripping wet and now tossed ratty dragon, and the tantrum that followed."
He walked into the kitchen and pulled her into his embrace. "What can I do to help? And where is Emily?"
"Emily is with her Meemaw and Peepaw. They took her to Dairy Queen for dinner. I called Mom in desperation. They came and picked Emmie up, said they’d take her out. Mom said I was busy enough without having to cook dinner…oh, no! Oh, Daniel, what about your dinner?" She practically ran to the freezer.
He walked up behind her, closed the freezer door and turned her to face him. "I can make a PB&J."
"You’ve been working all day. You deserve a hot dinner."
"You’ve been cooking all day. You deserve a break. I happen to like peanut butter sandwiches. Now, what can I do to help?"
She wrapped her arms around his neck, kissed his chin. "Would you mind peeling the sweet potatoes?"
"Don’t mind at all." He found the bag of large, orange potatoes and dumped them into the sink. He folded the bag down so that he could get the peelings into it. He looked over his shoulder. Casey was unloading the bags, checking the contents against the list in her hand. She was pulling her lip between her teeth. Uh oh. Either he’d gotten the wrong thing, or he was about to be sent back out again. "Oh, I saw Sam at the store. She’s bringing an apple salad and a pumpkin chiffon pie."
"She’s bringing a pie?"
Was that a wail of displeasure, or relief? "That’s what she said."
"Thank god! I have one pumpkin custard pie baked, and the cookies, but I just don’t think I’m going to have time to bake an apple pie. Besides, you didn’t get any apples."
"You didn’t ask for any."
"Daniel, I always bake an apple pie for Thanksgiving. You know we don’t have any apples in the house."
Well, if he didn’t know those two ‘facts’ before, he did now. "Yes, dear."
"Don’t you dare start that shit!" she warned, her eyes flashing.
"Hey, all I said was ‘yes, dear’," he protested.
"You know I hate that…it makes you sound…whipped!"
"I know it now," he replied. Less than seven hours, he reminded himself, shaking his head mentally.
She glared at him, finished putting the groceries away, keeping out the items she needed. "Daniel, why did you get walnuts? I needed almonds!"
"You said walnuts."
"I did not! I most specifically asked for almonds!" She tossed the bag into the pantry. "I’ll be back, if you think you’re capable of watching the bread cubes that are browning in the oven."
"I’ll go," he sighed, rinsing his hands off and drying them. He grabbed his keys, was almost out the door before he changed his mind, went back, grabbed her and kissed her. He didn’t let go of her until they were both breathless. "Bread needs to come out of the oven," he said quietly when he let her go. He was out the door before she could form a reply. He wasn’t even to the first stop sign when he felt her. He grinned.
‘I’m sorry, My Heart.’
‘It’s okay, babe. Take a deep breath. I’ll get the almonds, and then we’ll get everything taken care of.’
‘Love you, too, Angel.’
A A A A A A
Diane was still at the check stand when he tossed the bag of almonds onto the conveyor belt. "I see you forgot something."
Daniel grinned. "Not exactly. But at least it’s just a bag of almonds…wait…can I run and grab a bag of apples?"
He jogged to the produce section and grabbed a bag of granny smith apples. He knew that she always used these little green ones for pie. If she didn’t make a pie, he’d eat them, apples were a favorite of his.
"I’m home," he called as he opened the door a few minutes later.
"Daddee! Daddee!" Emily came racing toward him.
He squatted down and caught her in a hug. "Hey, Princess! How’s my girl?"
"Go to Da’ry Kween with Meemaw and Peepaw!"
"You did? Did you have a good time?"
The little blonde head nodded up and down. "Meemaw buyed me a dotdog an’ ice cweam!"
"She did? Was it good?" He kissed her satiny smooth cheek.
Emily nodded again. "It ‘as good."
He walked into the kitchen, the grocery bag in one hand, his daughter in the other arm. "I picked up some apples, babe. Just case you want to bake a pie."
She looked up at him. "You think I should bake an apple pie?"
"Casey, it’s up to you. I love your apple pie. You’re cooking so much now, I don’t think we’ll need it." He put the bag on the table, put Emily down and watched her run into the living room and the toy covered coffee table.
"Now I’m cooking too much?" she asked, one eyebrow raised, her hands on her hips. It never failed. Every year, when she tried to get Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners cooked, Daniel turned into a class ‘A’ jerk! She sighed. Okay, maybe, just maybe, she got a little…harried.
He rolled his eyes. "I give up. Do whatever you want. You will anyway."
"You can be such an ass!"
"You can be such a bitch!"
They stood glaring at each other. Within seconds Casey was biting her lip. Daniel’s cheek was twitching. It was a battle of wills now. She snickered. He snorted. He reached for her, she went into his arms, and they began to laugh.
"I am so sorry, Sweetheart. I guess…I try so hard not to get so…intense…I just want everything to be perfect…"
He pulled her close, ran his hand up and down her back. "Shh…let it go babe. Let me finish those sweet potatoes. You want them cooked tonight?"
She nodded her head. "Be sure to slice them."
"Okay." He let her go, went back to finish the job he had started before his trip back to the store. He had just finished slicing the potatoes, and was filling the pan with water when Casey called for him.
He followed the sound of her voice. Found her in Emily’s bathroom, staring at the toilet, which had water running over the top and onto the floor. He grabbed the lid off the tank pulled up the float to shut off the water. He glanced over his shoulder, about to ask her why she hadn’t done that, and saw the look of weary defeat in her eyes. "I’ll get this, Angel," he said gently.
She shook her head, leaned against the bathroom counter. "It’s my fault. I wasn’t watching her close enough."
"Babe, I should have checked on her, too. Any idea what she flushed?"
"The almonds. I had opened the package, and sat it on the counter…too close to the edge I guess." She held up the empty bag, which was dripping wet. It had apparently floated out of the toilet.
He couldn’t help it. He shook with laughter. He dropped down on the edge of the bathtub, his arms on his legs, head hanging down, shaking it from side to side. It was just too damned funny.
Casey watched her husband laughing. She smiled, then began to giggle. "You know, I think we’re going to have green bean casserole with walnuts this year."
"Sounds good to me." He opened the cabinet door and grabbed the plunger. "I’ll get this cleaned up. You go take care of whatever it was you were doing. And send Emily in here."
A few minutes later he heard his name again. This time her voice was tinged with panic. "Daniel!"
She was standing in the kitchen, her eyes wide with fear. She grabbed his arms, held tightly. He could feel her trembling. "I can’t find her, Daniel! I’ve checked all the doors, they’re locked, but I can’t find her!"
He hugged her. "She’s here somewhere, Case. Check her closet, I’ll check ours."
Ten minutes later they found the tot, wedged between the washing machine and the wall, finger in her mouth, tears streaming down her little cheeks.
"Oh, Emily Rose, don’t you ever scare me like this again!" Casey sighed as she grabbed her daughter and hugged her, pressing kisses against the tearstained cheeks. "Baby, why did you hide from us?"
"Fwushed, Mommee," Emily said, her little voice quavering.
"I know. You shouldn’t have done that. You help Daddy clean that mess up, okay?"
Daniel took her and hugged her. "You never have to hide from us, Emily. Do you understand? Mommy and Daddy always love you. There isn’t anything you can do that will make us not love you. Okay?"
"‘Kay. Wuv you, Daddee."
"Love you, too, Emmie. Now, let’s go get that mess all cleaned up for Mommy?"
The little head nodded. Thirty minutes later there was no way to tell that the bathroom had been flooded. Emily had received yet another lecture on the fact that the toilet was not a toy for her to play with. And the toilet flushed properly once again as well.
A A A A A A
Casey dropped onto the bed. Everything that could be finished for the family Thanksgiving dinner was ready. It was almost midnight, and she needed to be up by seven a.m. to get the twenty-pound turkey ready and stuffed, and then into the oven. She was grateful that Daniel always helped her with that particular task.
"C’mere, you," he said softly. He pulled her close, kissed her forehead as she snuggled against him. "Alarm is set for seven."
"Thanks. I love you, you know that."
"Yep. But I like hearing it. I love you, too, by the way."
She kissed his shoulder. "I know. But I like hearing it."
He grinned into the darkness. "Sleep, Angel."
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