“Thalica, my sweet! Gardavan, my friend! Come, come!”
Visiting the large store called Zedron’s Wares, we were able to meet with the master merchant quickly enough. Following him into what was something of an office-space, there was seating, and a fancy desk made of some kind of deep red wood where he sat.
Tally had brought a few of the loaves of banana bread, some with walnuts, and some without. I had taken the liberty to pre-slice them, and they were transported here in a makeshift knapsack which my new wife happened to have on hand.
“This is the thing you were talking about, made with the bananas?” He asked as the knapsack was opened an a large number of slices lay within easy reach of his hand.
“Yes. There are two kinds there. A plain banana bread, and one with walnuts added.”
He plucked one from the pile, a slice of the plain one first, giving it an immediate tasting.
“Oh ho! This… is quite delicious, Gardavan!”
“Thank you.” I replied politely.
He tried the other slice next, and seemed to enjoy it just as much.
“I daresay, both are delicious. The first is certainly easier to eat, but the crunchiness of the walnut is also most enjoyable of the second. Is this all there is to spare?”
“There… are a few extra loaves at home.” Tally answered, knowing more about the actual amount remaining than I would, having been busy roasting almonds and making blueberry jam.
“No doubt in my mind they are all the kind with walnuts.” He laughed.
She only nodded meekly.
“And what of the card game?”
“I haven’t yet begun. The bakery was busier than anticipated today, and some other things needed to be dealt with. But I will endeavor to find some time to get started soon.”
“Very well. I thank you for bringing me this delicious bread as agreed upon, and you should be pleased to know that I will be importing plenty more bananas. I will be sending a ship, so it will be about a month hence until there will be more.”
“We’ll make sure to buy plenty at that time. And to speak of buying, there are a few things extra that we need more of immediately...”
Tally had brought along her coin purse, swollen to a much larger size than the last time we were here. After arranging our resupply, I had one item I was thinking of acquiring, strictly for the sake of the family’s enjoyment.
“Cheese, you say?”
“Yes, but not the kind which molds for taste. The soft kind instead, wet, made from milk curds.”
“Ah yes. I know of it. But, to say I have any…” He frowned.
It was a longshot. Not every culture is invested in cheese production.
“However, I do remember a town not too far away that makes something that I believe matches your description.” He offered hope.
“Just to be sure, it’s the kind which stretches and not crumbles?”
“I do believe they produce many kinds there, a wet one which crumbles as well I have surely seen as well, but most certainly there was a kind which pulls apart like string.”
“Is there also a dry crumbling kind? Most likely white in color or with the lightest shading of yellow?”
“Ah! There is something like that in my stores right now, would you perhaps like to see it?”
We followed Zedron to a small room, it felt somewhat temperature controlled. Not cold, but cool and dry. There were many kinds of cheeses I was not familiar with. I didn’t enjoy eating the smelly, moldy kinds of cheese that was the heart and soul of a certain country across the sea from where I lived back on Earth, but if it was a moist cheese like Cheddar, or Mozzarella, which is what I was after, I knew how to use them to great effect.
He did have one of the types of cheese I was looking for, though it had a different name. But after being allowed to break off the smallest of pieces and giving it a taste, there was no doubt it was Parmesan.
I felt a bit of an ache in my head.
“May I purchase a small amount of this, Zedron?”
There was nothing else that caught my eye, sadly, but when we returned and settled the purchases, I discovered something interesting.
“Isn’t that quite a lot of coins, Tally?”
While there were copper coins mixed in, there were just as many silver as well in the pile she emptied onto the table in Zedron’s office.
“I had thought to bring it up with you earlier, but you had kept busy all day. Most of this is coin from the sale of banana bread and the oatmeal raisin cookies alone. We sold the cinnamon raisin bread at the same price as the regular loaves, but to compare the two in sales… even though the banana bread was one copper, you had made all that bread yesterday and having sold out in one day, there’s about five days worth of sales and profit in here. Actually, it’s not all in here. There’s more back home in the drawer under the counter.”
It was that successful?
I let out an impressed whistled.
It gave me a crazy idea though.
“Is there any kind of labor force in Avondale?” I asked the both of them.
“What kind of labor are you asking for?” Zedron returned with a question seeking clarity.
“I want to hire someone to refine oats. Or if it’s possible, to just purchase refined oats outright. Trying to make the oatmeal cookies from whole oats is very intensive and time consuming. To be perfectly honest, only Mrs. Thalica here can really get them to the right consistency I need in order to be used properly.”
“Is that all it is? Hoh, I can make an arrangement to have them refined further, if you can bring me a sample of the consistency you desire that is. I can take easily take care of that trouble for you, minus a small service fee, of course.”
“Of course.” I nodded my understanding. There is no such thing as free labor. At least, I think…
I really should learn more about this world. I really have spent almost all my time in the bakery, and aside from my two trips here, and to the public bathhouse, I rarely even go outside.
Maybe it’s because I was a bit of a homebody as well back on Earth? It’s not like I have car here to lessen the length of a trip, and as far as I’ve seen there is nothing like a gym that I could apply for membership to.
Well, between all the dough making and warming Mrs. Thalica’s bed at night, I’m getting plenty of exercise.
Having come to gather new ingredients, mainly a few fruits that had to be passed on last time that I planned to convert into jams, and Tally picking up some things she also thought needed replenishing, we returned home.
The children were waiting patiently for our arrival, and once we had entered, they both ran outside together to play with their friends using the last hour or so of sunlight that remained.
With Zedron having scheduled the delivery of our supplies first thing in the morning, and the only thing remaining to do being either to bake more cookies or help Tally get started making the next meal before it became late, I decided upon the third option.
Flirting with my wife.
My hands slid around her waist as I kissed and lightly nibbled on her neck. “While the children are out having fun, we could have some fun of our own, you know?”
“And what kind of fun do you have in mind, my husband?”
One hand slid upwards and the other one between her thighs.
“I wonder? What is it that adults find fun to do when the children are gone?" I tease.
"Mmh, I can think of a few things…”
“Can you now? I’m afraid my imagination is lacking right now, Mrs. Thalica.”
“Shall I paint you a picture, Mister Gardavan?”
“By all means, do enlighten me, my lovely.”
One hand caressed inwards between her legs and the other kneaded the ample softness found on her chest. She let out a seductive breath as she painted a picture of us in her room. In this fantasy I am carrying her upstairs, kicking open the door and hurriedly depositing her in our bed. We each undress each other, removing our clothes in between kisses we can barely stand to separate from. Unable to contain our desires for each other, she is ready to use her mouth. I am naked and prepared, in my hands are delicious cookies and I feed them slowly to her one by one, crumbs spilling all over her chest. I lick them up slowly, and she kisses me again, stealing even the crumbs from my lips. It end with her laying back, spent.
“You were amazing, Gar. I’ve never felt so satisfied before.”
I… have conquered her. But at what cost?
There are no more cookies left!
She smiles at me sweetly, and tells me there is a way. I have the eggs and flour, she the bowl and water. We must mix. I am unaware of the trap she has set for me.
Through intense mixing, and thorough kneading of her body, the fire within her oven is ablaze. She tells me I must endure. If I do not keep the fire going for at least fifteen minutes, the cookies will not fully bake. They will be… inedible. It would be a travesty! An affront to her need for my sweet injections into her mouth.
Alas, I am but a baker’s apprentice.
I am not as experienced in baking as she is. She encourages me to bear with it, that it is almost enough. The flames are hot, I am sweating, panting. The baking is almost at an end.
“It’s time!” She screams aloud, and I can no longer restrain the urge. I begin creating an obscene amount of the so-called frosting I have told her about. With the tray pulled out of the oven, I pour my frosting all over her cookies.
I can no longer continue. I am beyond exhausted, and must rest. The baking has ended and the cookies must cool. In the interim, she takes her finger and scoops up some of the frosting which has spilled all over the cookies. Looking at me with a devious smile, she expertly licks her fingers clean with a long and winding tongue, beckoning me to rise again.
I do. She has given me strength.
I carefully extract the glazed confection from the tray, and feed it to her. It is warm and fills her mouth completely. She can never hope to love another man, so long as I keep her well fed with cookies.
“Can’t you just say you want a frosted cookie?”
She grabs hold of my cheeks and kisses me on the nose.
“I was serious about using my mouth.”
The fantasy she has described will have to wait. Instead there is still much to do, many things to prepare, and much to clean if we will retire to the bedroom early. The children return home in time to eat, their bodies covered in dirt. How can a child attract so much dirt? I wonder. We eat together as a family, and the young princess ever so innocently asks at the dining table, the following words which have cause countless conflicts between parent and child throughout all the generations of mankind:
“Mommy, Daddy, can I sleep with you tonight?”
“Not tonight, sweetie.”
The princess has been put in check by the queen. The jester is avoiding eye contact with the princess, and the prince is picking his nose. Ah! He has consumed the royal booger.
Was it delicious, young prince?
“We’re going to the bathhouse tomorrow young man, look how filthy you are! Now that Gardavan is your daddy, he can take you to bathe with the other men.”
“Yay! No smelly little brother in the woman’s side!”
“I’m not smelly, you’re smelly, pee-pee-tina!”
“Don’t call me that… Trevorlame!”
Ah, the children bickering. The sweet sound which fills this warm home, and my new life now as a husband and father.
“Children, when you are done eating, go upstairs and change into your pajamas. I don’t mind if you stay up a little later tonight, but try not bother us. Gar and I are very tired and need plenty of sleep tonight, since it’s going to be busy again tomorrow.”
“Can I have an apple before bed?”
“Yeah, can I have a cookie?”
These questions asked to neither of us specifically, though perhaps done so as the measured test, to see which of us parents would answer favorably.
“Yes Nefe, you may have an apple. No, Trevor, there are no cookies left. You can have an apple instead, like your sister.”
As I watched this beautiful woman sort her children out with patience that only a mother possesses, I help clear the table as the children head upstairs to change. Nefetina staying behind only a moment longer, in order to steal another hug from me.
“Good night, daddy!”
“Good night, my lovely princess.”
With the children escaped to their room, I find my way to my wife, Tally, and lightly embrace her so.
“And what of you, my queen, my angel?”
She begins to laugh.
“Shall we retire for the evening, my handsome husband? I should like to have you fill my mouth with your…” she says, revealing a folded cloth containing the last remaining confections of oatmeal and raisins which she denied to her own son, the existence of, “…then, once I am satisfied, you may fill your mouth with…” She took my hand and with a wickedly delightful smile, placed it in a very warm and inviting place, "...me."
I... have been masterfully bamboozled!