The calming poignant tones of Simeric Mincen echoed throughout the kitchen at the Bagley residence as Gage prepared a delicious dinner for his love. He mixed the vegetables in double-time to the song, enjoying the delightful little trips down the piano in Mincen’s Op. 9, No.2. It was about time he invited her to his home since he had spent so many evenings at the Cherry Moon Collective. He wanted to repay Lè’s generosity.
He spent the afternoon at the farmer’s market carefully selecting his vegetables – deep purple eggplant, grilled zucchini, sunny yellow bell peppers, thinly sliced red onions, sweet, but tart piccolo tomatoes, tender baby salad greens, and a handful of savory herbs – cilantro, parsley, and chives. The salad was caressed with olive oil, wholegrain mustard, golden honey, and white wine vinegar to finish. It was perfect. Lè would love it.
As he tossed the dinner ingredients together, he rehearsed the evening in his mind. Lè would arrive and he would introduce her to his aunt Missy and his cousins, Sam and Rhoda. Gage would artfully avoid “labeling” his relationship by pointing out commonalities between his relatives and his girl.
“Aunt Missy would love those pumpkin cookies you baked the other day…” he practiced in his head. “She enjoys cookies… oh and Sam! He gives back and volunteers at the soup kitchen… Have you two met before?… Lè makes a fabulous vegetable stew. You should try it sometime.”
He even had a comment for the venomous Rhoda. My cousin Rhoda would very much enjoy Damon’s wild snake rangling. She’s a daredevil herself.
Forty minutes later, Gage and Lè were settled in the dining room with large plates of his autumn salad and a crusty bread with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. They were still waiting for the family members to trickle in, but Gage encouraged her to take a bite. She delicately lifted her fork, and Gage resisted the urge to sigh. He enjoyed everything about Lè. She was beautiful and elegant, even with her use of utensils.
“This is delicious, Gage Briody,” she murmured.
“Thanks,” he grinned, enjoying the way she said his full name.
“Shouldn’t we wait for your aunt and cousins?” she set her fork down.
“I don’t know where they could be,” he frowned, fidgeting in his seat. “I’ll go check the kitchen. You enjoy the bread.” He kissed her forehead before leaving.
Gage walked all over the house and even walked out to the barn, but couldn’t find anyone. Finally, he decided to eat, feeling disappointed, but he didn’t want Lè to be hungry. His own stomach was warbling.
When he went into the kitchen to wash dishes, he left Lè alone in the dining room, insisting he clean and she should relax. He suggested she “retire” to the living room and read one of the many books in his aunt Missy’s collection. Lè was about to follow his recommendation when Mississippi Bagley strolled into the dining room.
“You must be the lovely Solèy…” the elderly woman eyed the young girl closely before sticking out her hand. “…you’ve quite captured the heart of my nephew I think.”
Hints of pink popped into Lè’s cheeks. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Bagley.”
“Please, call me Aunt Missy. I prefer it,” Missy remarked. “I see you’ve already eaten dinner.”
“I’m sorry,” Lè replied. “Gage said to go ahead.”
“Of course,” Missy shook her head. “You didn’t need to wait for us. I got caught up at the seniors center. I took that awful Kurt Shallow for his money. We were playing cards. The man has the worst poker face. Looks like he’s constipated.”
Lè laughed politely, and Missy joined in.
“How much did you win?” she inquired.
“Depends if you count my cheatin’.”
“And… well, I swiped Bennie Dean’s silver watch when he wasn’t looking. I still have the magic touch.”
Lè’s eyes widened. She had heard about the infamous Bagleys and their supposed connections to crime, but she didn’t expect Missy Bagley to blatantly admit to cheating or stealing.
“I’m glad you had a good time,” she said, steering away from the subject. “Gage says you enjoy cookies. I baked a batch of pumpkin ones and I brought them. They are in the kitchen.”
“Ah… bribery… you are cute,” Missy wrinkled her nose as she smiled. “You don’t need to win me over, girl. Anyone my nephew loves is welcome here.”
Did she just say love? Lè blinked rapidly. Could it be true? Lè’s heart swelled, and she pleasantly let her mind descend into dreamland as Missy left her alone in the dining room. She heard Gage through the kitchen door, humming to the strains of classical music as he washed the dishes. She found herself humming along too as she walked into the kitchen, and wrapped her arms around her man’s waist. He stopped, lifting his hands out of the bubbles momentarily as he leaned his head against her cheek. Am I blind? Of course, Gage loves me. He’s humming.
Author Note: Simeric Mincen is a play on Frederic Chopin. I was listening to this video while writing this chapter. The salad recipe Gage made actually exists. I found this website called Gourmet Gaming and this recipe for the Sims autumn salad. Mmm… now I’m craving tomatoes and onions and peppers.
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