-10-  A Teasing Flame

“This… is actually a lot harder than I thought it would be, Mrs. Thalica.”

I thanked whatever god or goddess that my angel may hold faith in that there existed sieves in this world and that she by miraculous chance happened to own one. The oats which were delivered shortly before sup, happened to be whole uncut oats. What that means exactly, is that I don’t know how to do anything with them in that state.

I’m a sheltered young bachelor from Earth, and I’ve always bought steel cut oats packaged in cylindrical cardboard container with an old looking pilgrim settler’s face plastered all over, as it was the brand’s mascot. Steel cut oats are basically instant-oatmeal from that point of processing. Five minutes cooking, on the stove or microwave, tops.

So with a mortar and pestle, or what it really was, some kind of hammer and one of the wooden bowls for actual eating, mine, in this case, I set about the task of smashing and sifting until whatever came of it reminded me of the texture I knew and love.

It wasn’t me who managed to get the texture right after an unreasonable amount of effort, but the angel of mercy, Mrs. Thalica.

“Is this the consistency you wanted, Gar?”

“Yes, finally!” I gave her a hug openly, but as anyone would a friend who just took a heavy load off your back.

Sifting the oats properly, I was now ready to add all the ingredients necessary to make the oatmeal batter. But before doing so, I separated a small amount.

“Are you not going to add the raisins?” She asked me curiously.

“I will, but seeing as we have a number of ingredients, we’re going to make three different types of oatmeal cookies. Four of them plain, four of them with only raisins, and four with some raisins and crushed almonds.”

As could be easily guessed, the almonds had to be shelled before that step was possible. Thankfully the butt of the knife that was handy was more than up for the task.

Inside the oven was a thin flat stone which the breads baked on. There was a singular metal tray that Mrs. Thalica owned, and what I had been using to bake the cookies from before on, so twelve cookies were made and twelve cookies were set to bake at what I imagined was the right temperature of about 350 degrees.

“About ten to fifteen minutes, and they should be done. While they taste alright a little crunchy, the real allure of an oatmeal cookie is for them to be soft and chewy.”

“So, not like the ones you made us before?”

“Those were still experimental. I didn’t have the heat right and they came out crunchy. Still delicious though.”

“Mmmmh, I can already smell the sweetness.”

One of the ingredients I had added during the mixing process along with eggs, sugar, salt and a bit of oil, was cinnamon which I had scraped from the stick with the knife I later used to crack the almond shells.

Yeah, I went all out. It’s for Tally and the children, why wouldn’t I show off a little?

“I couldn’t have done it without you, Mrs… Tally.”

“Oh, just give up already and call me Tally.”

“Mm… I don’t know. It’s tough to choose between Mrs. Thalica and Tally.”

“Is there a difference?”

“Not much of one. It’s subtle, there.”

“And what is this difference you speak of?”

“In my homeland there is a word borrowed from the foreigners who live in the lands far East over the sea. It’s is called, Moe.


“Yes, it’s a certain way a person behaves that elicits attraction.”

“So, through this Moh-eh, you are saying I am attractive?”

“Yes, but that only applies to Mrs. Thalica.”

“And what of Tally, then?”

“She also has a foreign word attributed to her, and that word is ecchi.”


I nodded.

“And what does this etch-ee attribute to me?”

“That is simply the act of creating within me a strong impression.”

She grinned.

“And this impression of me you get from me being etch-ee…”

“Why, it is ever so simple. It makes me want to impress you.”

She shoved me lightly.

“Gar, I thought you were a gentleman.”

“Alas, my gentle nature was stolen by a fair angel of the night.”

She reached out and pinched my chest.

“You tease me so.”

“Alas, the moe has come.”

She attempted to shove me again, and I danced backwards.

“You won’t escape me later, Mister Gardavan!”

“I wouldn’t dare dream of it… later.”

A handful of the almond shells were scooped up by Mrs. Thalica and thrown directly at me. My heart was warm being able to flirt with her in such a way. She has both and embarrassing motherly side to her, and also a needy womanly side to her. Being able to see the contrasts between both, makes me almost giddy at times.

While the cookies baked, I cleaned up the almond shells which bounced off of me and onto the floor. I enjoy a tidy and organized kitchen. It keeps me feeling centered. Even as a bachelor, I always kept a near spotless kitchen thanks to the many industrial cleaning solutions available back on Earth.

Nefetina, her beloved cute daughter, sharing the same sapphire eyes, and copper hair, though the latter of a more vibrant shade of red, had come to me and tugged on my sleeve.

“Gardavan, will you be making the apple pie you mentioned?”

“Most certainly, for the princess of the castle bakery, only the finest and sweetest and tastiest apple pie would ever suit you, so this humble servant shall prepare it with all his heart!”

She giggled.

“You’re silly!”

“Hmm, perhaps I was once a court jester, and was bonked on the head causing me to forget my name? It would explain a lot!”

“Bonked on the head? How?”

“Why, with an apple of course!”

The bushel of apples which was with the rest of the supplies causing a small shortage of prime kitchen real-estate was near to me, so I reached in the bag and pulled forth three apples. I had learned to juggle my mother’s collection of tiny collectible bean-filled plush toy animals which she was rather fond of, and apples being of a similar weight began to dance from hand to hand in a very rusty display of a skill I should have practiced more. Three apples it seems was my limit, but the effect it has was perfect, for after a few seconds of mediocre skill, I was able to successfully launch each apple in the air, and have each one in succession bonk me on the head as gravity fulfilled it’s role.

Nefe was beside herself, holding her tiny tummy in a fit of laughter.

“Were you really a court jester, Gardavan?”

I shook my head.

“I don’t believe so, for I can’t remember any kings I have ever met. Only an angel and a princess come to mind.”

“Who’s the princess you met?” She so innocently believed my fib.

“Why, she’s about your height. Eyes as blue as the ocean, and hair as red as fire. She also loved apples, because they were red like her hair. She liked cookies too, and she was good at counting!”

“I like apples, and have red hair… and I like cookies and I can even count in times by twos without needing my fingers!”

“Can you? Tell me.”

“Two times one is two. Two times two is four. Two times three is six. Two times four is eight. Two times five is ten. Two times six is twelve.”

“Great job, that’s exactly right so far, and it’s also exactly how many cookies there are!”

“Twelve cookies?”

I nodded.

“Yes, now for a test. Don’t be worried it’s an easy question and I believe you’ll answer it correctly. If I don’t eat any cookies, and there are twelve cookies split between you, Trev, and your mother to share, how many cookies will you each be able to evenly share to eat?”

“Evenly, so… that’s a number that can be counted to by twos. If it was all four of us, that would be… three cookies each. But if we take away your three cookies, each of us gets one more cookie… so… four?”

“What a brilliant princess of numbers you are!”

“A princess of numbers?”

“Of course, who do you think the princess I met was?”

“It’s me?”

“That’s correct. The Princess of Bakery Castle, Her Royal Highness, Lady Nefetina!”

I clapped in applause for her. She just giggled cutely, to the point a barely perceptible dimple showed in her cheek.

“Then if I’m a princess, does that make mommy a Queen?”

“Isn’t that obvious? She’s the most grand, beautiful and magnanimous ruler of Bakery Castle!”

“What does mag-man-i-mus mean?”

“It means she’s full of love for her royal subjects, of whom you Princess Nefe, and your Princely brother, Trevorkane are.”

“What about you, Gardavan? You live in the castle here with us! Are you a royal subject too?”

“I, am whatever it is her Majesty wishes me to be. She may give me any name, and with it I will perform any task.”

“So if mommy asks you to teach me more numbers.”

“Then I am the Viscount von Count! Learned noble of numbers!”

She was tittering at the alliteration in my words.

“What if it’s writing letters?”

“Then I shall become Sage Page, the royal court Mage. So don’t scream and holler, my title’s just for show, I’m only a scholar!”

Her smile kept growing.

“How about swordfighting?”

“Swordfighting!? Hmm… Then I will be the Bright Knight Dwight, a sprite short of height, not afright of a fight, with my armor most white and my manners polite!”

“How did you make so many words rhyme?”

“That’s because I once met a kook, his name was Duke Luke, but all he could speak was... gobbledygook!”

I swooped in and began to tickle her sides. Causing her to enter another fit of laughter.

“Ahhh!!” She wiggled and shouted and slipped away quickly.

I collected the three apples which fell on the floor and brushed them off on my shirt, returning to the table, to begin peeling and slicing them. In preparation of the apple pie I promised her.

Nefe had escaped upstairs to her room where Trevorkane was mostly likely playing with his few toys. I found in this moment, Tally looking at me fondly.

“Wishing to learn how to make an apple pie?”

“You… are good with the children, Gar.”

“I told you before, my sister has two around their age.”

“Hm, is that really it?”

I nodded.

“I’ve never carried a strict attitude towards children. I suppose to my niece and nephew I was the fun uncle who came to visit.”

Mrs. Thalica walked over and embraced me from behind as I carefully peeled an apple. Her chest pressed against my back and her cheek rested against the back of my collar.

“But you are here to stay now, Gardavan.”

“For as long as you will permit.”

“You have impressed me enough for tonight.”

“Mmm, I’m far from done trying to impress you, Tally. Every day I wake next to you, I should want to think of how in the day I may impress you so.”

“Curse you, Gar.” She said as her fingers stiffened and scratched my chest over my shirt. “The heat of the oven is leaving me quite unbecoming.”

Her hands slid down my chest, her hand sliding over my banana and to my pouch of almonds.

Quite unbecoming.”

“Tally, tonight will you show me your unbecoming face? I’m afraid if I turn around now, this apple pie will never see the fires of the oven.”

“My own oven is fired, Gar. I can feel the flames licking, and they want you to bake with me.”

She spun me around forcefully, and thrust upon me a passionate kiss, far hotter than the oven we stood near. She ran her hands freely across my body, and her leg lifted to drape over my own. I too, fell under her passionate spell.


“Mmh… Tally.”

God almighty how blue my berries felt right now and how they wanted nothing more than to join with her muffin mix right now here on the floor in this kitchen and bake inside at a high temperature for about fifteen minutes until done.

I had to pry her away almost before it was too late.




“Cookies. Quickly!”

It dawned on her too that we were getting too into it. Quickly using the wooden bread shovel to pull the pan out, I carefully pressed on the top of one of the cookies, and felt it cave in at just the right amount of pressure.



“They’re not burnt!”

She proceeded to lightly hit my shoulder with a half-open palm.

“The cookies were more important?”

“How could a cookie be more important than you. I just didn’t want the children to be sad.” I reached for her cheek and brushed it lightly with my fingers. “If our kiss had gone on even a moment longer, I wouldn’t have been able to stop at all.”

“These cookies need time to cool.”

“How long?”

“Long enough to take care of putting out the fire in another oven.”

She grabbed my hand.

“I keep the other oven upstairs.”

“Right. I should probably come help.”

She looked at me like I was an idiot.

Well, okay. I was an idiot. I have a lot of blood circulating somewhere important right now!

Up the stairs we went, shoved into the room I was, the door locked, and our clothes sent flying. Two bodies intertwining before landing on the bed. We baked together at blazing temperatures, until the cookies we left downstairs, and the both of us, bodies tired from putting out the fires we shared… had cooled.


“What is it, Gar?”

“Thank you for all that you do.”


“For all the hard work you do to take care of your family, for all that you must put up with by letting me stay with you… for all of it. Thank you for being my angel.”

“Gar… stop talking.”

“What did I say?”

She rolled on top of me and covered my mouth with her hand.

“The right thing.”

The fires in her oven had been stoked again, and I was going to be twice baked before she let me return to the world of the consummate gentleman.  It was the walk of shame for us both afterwards, unable to fight whatever instinctual desire we shared from the cookies until the fires in our loins died down.

Both of the children were downstairs, staring at the tray of cookies, which had long since cooled.

As if pre-empting what might be a question fired off by one of her children that I don’t think we were quite ready to answer, she clapped her hand and took her seat at the table.

“Now that the cookies are cool enough, shall we being the judging?

The winner was the oatmeal raisin cookie. Second place belonged to the oatmeal raisin with almonds, and the runner up was the plain oatmeal cookie. (All of them had cinnamon mixed in)

Afterwards I managed to get that apple pie made, and in the process taught Nefe about fractions, all the way down to six eighths. Trevor and Mrs. Thalica took care of the remainders.

The last step was blueberry muffins, the easiest by far of all that I wanted to make today. I wanted her to enjoy them now, and later on tonight, I wanted to taste them again from her lips.

Which I did.

While the children turned in and the fires in the ovens downstairs died down, the fires which set the sheets ablaze in her bedroom instead lasted well into the night. Neither one of us able to quench the blaze anymore. Each of us sampling the real flavors we desired from each other.

I can surely say that my favorite flavor in this world… is Tally.