Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: DELICIOUS (02/04/16)
TITLE: The Valentine's Day Surprise
By Nicki Jeffery
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There wasn’t much time left. Hours of “MasterChef” episodes hadn’t turned Bec into a kitchen whiz. Teenage years obsessed with image meant learning to cook was on the back burner. And her mother wasn’t blessed in the arena of culinary arts.
The French manicures and stunning make-up had gotten somewhere though. She now had a steady boyfriend. Shaun was tall, athletic and confident. He had a big appetite. And so far, no clue that his girlfriend could burn water.
Their first Valentine’s Day as a couple was 24 hours away.
“What am I going to do?” Bec cried, grimacing as she drummed the kitchen bench with her long fingernails.
“I don’t understand.” Steph said matter-of-factly. “Shouldn’t Shaun be taking you out to dinner? Since when is it up to the girl to make a three course meal for her man on Valentine’s Day, of all days?”
“I know. I know.” Bec shook her head, dark waves cascading over her shoulder. “Shaun’s always exhausted Friday nights and for some dumb reason, I offered. Part of me wants to prove that I can be a domestic goddess.”
Steph rolled her eyes. “Just promise me you are not going to bake anything. Stick to something simple.”
Bec nodded, knowing full well she couldn’t keep that promise.
Bec pushed the wonky-wheeled trolley down the aisle. So this is what it felt like to be a homemaker. Carrying a shopping list, dodging tantrum-throwing toddlers and eyeing the best deals. Squeezing pieces of fruit for freshness, taking a number and waiting at the deli counter, and dreaming of her boyfriend’s delight at her meal.
It was weird doing a big shop. Images of her Mum dragging her around the supermarket sporting a basket and a scowl came to mind. And the drive-through meals that filled her belly with fast food.
Bec brushed her thoughts aside as she lifted items onto the checkout belt. A couple of hours later, her bench was strewn with spilled flour, egg shells, sugar and cooking utensils.
How hard could it be? Cocktail meatballs for entrée, mango chicken for main and chocolate hazelnut self-saucing pudding for dessert. Who couldn’t follow a recipe?
The clock read 7:20 when Bec lurched for the shower. Feeling fresher, she pulled on her red dress and sprayed perfume on her neck and wrists. A quick lipstick application and the doorbell sounded.
Pinching her cheeks, the brunette walked to the front door.
Shaun stood in black pants and button-up shirt. He grinned above a bunch of red roses.
“Something smells … um …” he stumbled, holding out the bouquet and kissing his girlfriend on her flushed cheek. “Happy Valentine’s Day, babe.”
“Happy Valentine’s Day, Shaun.” Bec took the flowers and led the way to her kitchen table. “You can say it. Something smells burnt.”
After cuddles and chitchat, Shaun said Grace to begin the meal. The cocktail meatballs fell apart and made a mushy mess on their plates. The mango chicken was dry. And the burnt smell was the chocolate hazelnut self-saucing pudding.
With every course, Bec shrunk further down in her seat. So far Shaun hadn’t made a single comment about the food. Bec could hold back no longer. She burst into tears.
Shaun jumped up and touched her arm. “What’s wrong, Bec?”
Bec raised her chin, revealing her mascara-streaked face.
“What is it?”
She swallowed and wailed, “I wanted to make you a delicious meal. I wanted to show you I can keep house. Do what women are supposed to be able to do …”
Shaun scooped Bec up and carried her to the lounge. When her tears lessened and she could breathe normally again, he cleared his throat. “Do you know what I was doing before I became a builder?”
Bec shook her head.
“I was an apprentice chef.” Shaun smiled at her surprised expression. “So don’t worry, babe. I’ve got it covered.”
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