Reading between the lines of the comments I get the feeling a few want a faster pace. Maybe a couple more chapters and then a fast forward. Will see. This one stems from getting ahead of myself. Just kept going forgetting to stop somewhere and post. 27 pages typed. Hope this one is good for those of you liking the story. As always constructive criticism is welcome.
There was no one waiting when they went into the Deans outer office. Her assistant just told them to have a seat since they didn’t have a scheduled meeting. Daniel tried to tell her that the dean had called them, but the young woman wasn’t hearing it. Twenty minutes later the dean came out and set some recorders on the desk.
“Cynthia, Daniel I didn’t know your were here,” she looked at her assistant coldly. “Please come inside.” Daniel smiled at the assistant. He whispered, “No worries,” as he walked by her. It seemed to make her feel better.
“Please have a seat. I figured you be celebrating still. It’s not too often students are exempted from all their finals. Even Professor Crème had considered letting you off the hook. Her choice of course, and forgive me this, I told her it would be nice to see what you could do with what you actually raised. No one recalls any student of either field learning anything in the other field. Chefs don’t seem to care where the food comes from and growers don’t seem to care where it goes once it’s sold.”
Daniel shifted in the chair a little uncomfortable. “I only wanted to learn to cook. I really didn’t give it much thought beyond that.” Cynthia nodded in agreement. “I figured it was a class to get some ideas on how to make sure I could eat and not go broke eating out all the time.”
Dean Stassen looked at him and then Cynthia. Cynthia again nodded. “Nothing has gone as planned,” she told the dean, who grinned.
“That seems that is a repeating story for you this session. I believe your project was supposed to be simple collection of projects for each of your classes. I think it turned into something bigger. In fact that is why I wanted to see you.” She looked at her cup. “I’m sorry I should have offered you something to drink. You didn’t leave much time in between classes to grab anything. It took a great deal to get through the session and still be top of your class. You have impressed a lot of people. The agriculture committee is also impressed. They are so impressed that they have asked me to see if you would consider keeping it going. They will help with credits and other resources. I have already taken the liberty of expanding the section for you. The room is now one thousand by one thousand square feet, not including storage space. You can use it as needed. There will be a few conditions but they won’t change anything you do.”
Daniel shook his head but Cynthia smiled and put her hand behind him rubbing his back. “We will consider it. We still have to plan the next session. As you said it has been a long session with all the things, we have going. We are also obligated to the shuttle service and need to make sure we can do our part there as well. How long do we have to think about it?”
“They would like an answer by the end of the week. I am sorry that it’s not a lot of time.”
“It’s fine Dean Stassen. We will talk about it and get back to you.” Cynthia stood up and urged Daniel to stand as well. The dean came around and shook their hands.
“I will send you the details. I think once you read them you will find a way to fit it in.”
Daniel wasn’t saying much. He did thank the dean for her efforts. Neither of them talked about it until they got back to Daniel’s room. Since no one needed their help, they had some time to kill before going to culinary class. They sat at the kitchen table and looked over the information that the Dean sent.
“It will be a lot of work,” Daniel said as he set the tablet down. “Every section will need to be expanded and changed constantly.”
“Yes, but it’s not impossible. We could find a way to do it,” Cynthia offered as she looked over the notes again. “It will be a little easier now that I don’t have to run home every night.”
“Perhaps it would be perhaps not. I don’t know,” Daniel shrugged and stood up. “I don’t know what they expect.”
“We’ll think about it,” she said shutting off everything . “We have a few days and we can come back to the matter latter. For now we need to get to class.”
Everyone was preparing and sorting through last minute details. No one wanted to have a major problem during the event. Some were making dishes to tweak their methods. Others were working on plating and displaying. Cynthia was checking supplies while Daniel just stared at the empty counter. He was lost in his thoughts when Cynthia came behind him.
“Daniel what’s wrong?”
“I’m just thinking. I was thinking that maybe we should trim the menu selection down a bit. Everyone is doing a few choice selections. I have ten.”
Cynthia turned his head and ran her fingers over his cheek and neck before kissing him on the lips. He couldn’t help but draw her in and hold her.
“We have ten, not just you. Am I that forgettable?” she asked kissing his cheek. “We have a bunch of people coming that helped us along the way this session, remember. We,” she gave the word a bit more emphasis, “created the menu to use what we have and hopefully ensure that we have something each of them will like. We are doing this partially for them. I also remind you that we have mystery guests. Who knows what they will like. Professor Crème just wants a show of what we learned in this class. We don’t have to do things like everyone else. Professor Crème told everyone to do what they felt they could do and have fun. This isn’t a competition with anyone Daniel so relax. If you want to do something, see what you can do with the bass. We have used everything else but that. We have three days left.”
“How about bass flavored ice cream,” he smiled at her as she nearly gagged.
“Don’t be gross. Have fun but at least be serious about it too.” She kissed him again getting closer to him nearly sitting on his lap.
They heard a giggle and a throat being cleared as they looked over to the kitchen entrance. Michael and Jenna were there looking at them grinning.
“Hope we aren’t interrupting anything,” Jenna said as she slipped in and sat at the counter. “Looks like we are in the same situation. We haven’t got anything left to do. We will get everything prepped the night before.”
“The professor will make sure everyone’s refrigerator is stocked with the basics,” Michael added. “I don’t know if she told you yet but she said the university is bringing in some extras and she will have it given out to everyone. It’s a surprise, so it will be a test to see if we can do something with it without any prep work. She said everyone has to be here three hours early to ensure we have the time to make whatever dish or dishes we wanted from whatever it is they are bring in. Everyone’s talking about it and trying to figure it out.”
“This is the first we are hearing of it,” Cynthia walked over and pulled out some drinks. “We should have guessed that they would throw in a test somehow. What’s everyone thinking?” she passed out the drinks and sat down.
“Everything from some rare spice to something we haven’t heard of. She didn’t even give a hint as to what it could be. Just that we have everything we need to use it. Some were thinking maybe it had something to do with you two.”
Daniel and Cynthia both started laughing. “So you come over to see if it was true and if we would tell,” Cynthia said between giggles.
Michael and Jenna looked at each other and smiled as they blushed. “Yes and no. We thought we would bring it up and see if you knew anything but that wasn’t our primary reason for stopping in. We wanted to ask you a question unrelated to class.” Michael said as he started laughing with them.
“Can’t hurt to ask, can’t say we will have the answer,” Daniel replied as he calmed down.
“Well it’s umm..” Michael hesitated.
“Men,” Jenna said pushing her hand into the side of Michaels face and shoving playfully. “Everyone knows about the two of you being together. You haven’t tried to hide it. We heard that you are sharing a single bedroom here at the university. We wanted to ask you what it is that you did or said to the school that they allowed you to do that. They usually only allow partners of the same sex to do that and then it’s a joint two bedroom. After all, they are not encouraging partners to couple up. It interferes with studying so they tell us.” Daniel couldn’t stifle a slight chuckle.
“Come on you have to tell us. They put us on opposite sides of the station and it’s not easy to make time to study and do anything else for that matter.” Jenna sat closer to Michael and laid her hand on his.
Cynthia got all happy and giggled as she went on about how she knew they would hook up.
“Yeah, seems you’re not the only one. Some of the others had the same feeling. He was aggressive from the start but I wasn’t so sure about him, he can be annoying and a pain. He is persistent though. I have to admit that there are moments that I miss having him around. So come on spill. How did you do it?”
Neither of them spoke at first. They hadn’t really considered they were sharing Daniel’s apartment.
“Well the truth is we never told them. It just seemed to happen.” Cynthia offered.
Both Jenna and Michael looked at them. “That against the rules. You can get in big trouble for that,” Jenna said as the idea stuck in her head.
“No, it’s not,” Daniel said flatly.
Jenna looked at him and then Cynthia. She shrugged and pointed at Daniel. “He’s more the expert on that one. I honestly didn’t look at the student handbook. Him on the other hand? Well knowing Daniel here he probably read it two weeks before school started.” She reached over and rubbed the back of his head. “Explain and don’t be so technical and dry. They are friends and not here to cause you or me any trouble so they don’t need a lecture.”
“Well we are not breaking any rules because the college has opted for the partner education system. Since part of our grades rely on our partners they can’t prohibit partners from getting together anywhere, even in the university housing. They can intervene if there is a report of something that will affect the school or other students, but mainly students are adults and can make those choices. That and technically to be considered living there Cynthia would have to stay at least two weeks straight. Cynthia didn’t take university housing this session so she usually goes home. At most, she has spent a few nights. Now that she is going to take on housing here, we will need to discuss our next step. We could get one of the two bedrooms or two one bedrooms next door to each other if there is any available once students leave.”
“I guess we have to talk about it too. Sounds easy enough but what direction do we go?” Jenna sounded a little worried as she tightened her grip on Michael’s hand. “I hate moving. Twenty weeks is a long time to get use to a place. I wish they just gave them to us for the entire time we were here.”
“Not sure,” Daniel admitted. “Whatever the reason is, they do it. Still you don’t have to move. You could just stay until you’re finished.”
“Everyone has to leave. It gives them the chance to repair things and general maintenance without tripping over students and their belongings,” Michal jumped in.
Daniel sighed. “You’re partially right. It’s all in the handbook.”
Cynthia slapped him in the back of the head. “Daniel I told you not everyone reads everything like you. Some people actually find it tedious to read that dry stuff.”
“Yeah I know, but if they did it would make things so much easier. ” Daniel sighed. “Not everyone has to leave. Some students take on special accelerated classes, they try to get more help in ones they failed or just want to get ahead of things. On the other hand, you could sign up to work for the school for the interim. They allow you to stay and will give a little stipend on top of letting you stay in housing. They are not always glamorous jobs but they aren’t horrible. They will consider what you’re here for and how they can use you to benefit the school.”
Jenna looked at Michael. “I’m not sure about taking any accelerated classes. I’m already having nightmares about next session.”
“Then I would suggest that you put your request in with the dean before to many others do. That way you will be at the top of the list and maybe get one of the better jobs.”
“I do like that idea better,” Jenna looked back at Cynthia. “Is that what the two of you will be doing? Maybe we’ll be able work together.”
“We have to discuss it. I am with you and don’t like the idea of doing more class work.”
They talked a little more and decided to leave early since they really had no more prepping to do. They went around the class and found who had some leftovers. It was late and the Deans office was closed so Jenna and Michael went off. From the sounds of things, they were going to spend the night at Jenna’s apartment.
“Jenna and Michael have hit it off pretty well. Jenna told me they are the top of their class. They have the highest marks in everything but culinary. We got in the way of them taking that one.” Cynthia was saying as they walked into the apartment.
“To be honest I didn’t expect to make very high on the grades.” Daniel dropped his bag on the sofa before flopping down next to it. “They are welcome to the spot. We can let the Dean and Professor Crème know we are dropping out of the class tomorrow.”
“Don’t be silly, you know we can’t drop out now. The professor has already sent out the invites to the dinner and that would be unfair to the others who would have to take on additional guests.”
“Yeah well we know a few of them, we could tell them not to bother. At most they have to deal with one couple extras.”
Cynthia crawled up into her usual spot next to him and slapped his chest as she handed him the bag that was in her way. “Stop, we are not dropping out. Like it or not you and I managed to get high marks in a class that we went into knowing little or nothing about. We will finish it.”
Daniel called up the movie list and started scrolling through them.
They were about to select one when they got a call.
“Lieutenant Miller, sorry for the late call,” the flight operations director said as soon as they had a connection. “Good I see Lieutenant Prieto is there with you. We have a small situation and need you to come in and takeover for a flight crew. There are only three flights left to the shift. I know it’s late but you are the only pilots we have on station one.”
Daniel nodded and waited for Cynthia to answer. She hesitated a moment and then nodded. “I suppose it’s better than sitting around watching movies all night again. We really need to get some things to do around here.”
“The shuttle is already there and waiting. I will log you in with the flight operations. Go directly to the shuttle. You may need to accelerate your speed to stay on schedule. I am giving you discretion to increase speed as needed. Have a safe flight.”
“We could have gone to one of the university events. However, tonight was a dance and I don’t dance.” Daniel said as they ran out the door. They would have loved to get a shower but then they would really be behind.
When they got to the shuttle launch Dawn at the counter told them that the Henderson’s were piloting before. They were the services only pilots that were married to each other and expecting a baby. Mrs. Henderson went into labor just as they got into the docking station.
The flights went fine. The only thing was instead of three they had five. The crew taking over the next shift was friends of the Henderson’s and went off to see them at the med center. When they finally got back to the apartment Daniel laid on the sofa.
“It’s been a while since we did that and it’s made it into a long day.” Daniel said as he laid face down in the sofa cushions.
Cynthia laughed and headed to the bedroom. “Yeah but it feels good. I’m going to shower. I’ll let you know when I finish.”
Daniel groaned and sat up just in time to see her disappear into the room. He turned on the entertainment station and looked for something simple to watch. He found some old cartoons. He left them on for the sound and went about cleaning and putting their uneaten dinner in the refrigerator. Thirty minutes later Cynthia still hadn’t come back out. A little concerned he called out to her. When he didn’t get an answer, he went to the bedroom to check on her. She had crawled on the bed and was asleep face down. She was half-naked. Daniel went in covered her and went back out closing the door behind him. That was the first time he had seen her in such a state. There was to much temptation there.
He decided to open up the sofa and lay down himself. He was reading when Cynthia walked over. “It’s late Daniel, don’t you ever sleep?”
“Yes, but some nights more than others. Usually a few hours if I am really tired,” he answered her as he looked up at her. She had dressed.
“Well if you put down the reader and shut off the light then close your eyes you might get more than a few,” She said as she crawled on the pullout and laid next to him pulling the blanket over her as she laid against him.
“Yeah tried it a few times and ended up tossing and turning. I just can’t seem to sleep unless I’m sick or extremely exhausted, even then I manage only a few hours. It is something I have learned to live with.”
“We’ll work on it. For now, can you please just turn out the light and try to sleep. I’m still tired and the light keeps me up.”
“You could just..”
“Daniel please, the light. You can at least try to sleep. Whatever it is your reading can wait. Just lay with me and hold me.”
Daniel set the reader down and turned the light control to near dark. He was about to pick the reader up when she moved around and pressed right against his side.
“Daniel I promise not to bite, just lie down and relax,” she said moving around wiggling closer.
Daniel shook his head. He slid down and turned so his back was to hers. He heard her sigh a few minutes later. It was the last thing he heard as his mind raced tuning out everything else around thinking of everything and anything. Most of it was on what had happened in the day. Somehow he was so caught up he forgot she was there with him and rolled over and draped his arm around her. He was fully aware then and was moving when she reached and grabbed his hand. She pulled it tight around her sliding backwards she pressed right against his body. “Much better,” she said not letting his hand go.
He laid there with his arm over her, feeling her breathing as she held his hand on her chest. It took some time but somehow he started to drift off to sleep.
The morning came fast. The alarm went off and Daniel groaned.
“I don’t like this.”
Cynthia giggled as she moved against him. “I’ll try not to take that the wrong way. Judging by the way you were holding on last night I am certain you didn’t mind it then.”
He groaned again and kissed the back of her head. “Not that. That was very likable. Just actually sleeping this long isn’t something I usually do. Usually if I sleep that much it’s an indicator that I could be getting sick. Worse it makes my head hurt.”
“Well maybe if you slept more it wouldn’t be so much of a headache. You’ll just have to sleep more,” She said turning around and putting her arm around him as they laid face to face.
“That is easier said than done. For now, I think it’s your turn to make breakfast. We have to go early to setup in the lab. Tommy and Jason were interested in redoing an experiment they didn’t do so well on.”
“Or we could just stay here all day.” She cuddled in close and nuzzled her head right under his chin.
Daniel just laid there in silence resting he chin on her head ad rubbing her back. She cooed a little and then pushed back and looked into his face.
“You’re not going to argue with that?”
He shook his head. “I’m comfortable for the moment. I’m sure no one will notice if we don’t show.” He pulled her back in and hugged her. “Yeah, very comfortable.”
“How can you just lay here knowing we agreed to help our friends?” She pushed back and sat up. “You of all people I would expect to keep…” her eyes went wide and she dove back smacking him in the chest. “You do not intend to stay here all day. You just wanted me to be the bad one and say we can’t.”
Daniel laughed. “I have no idea what you mean. Do you see me moving? You had a great idea and I’m just being supportive of it.”
“Yeah sure you are. You know as well as I do that one of us would eventually give in. Usually it’s you. You’re just stacking the deck this time.”
“Maybe, just a little bit. Even I get tired of being the spoilsport all the time.”
She jumped on top of him and started grabbing and tickling. “Just for that you’re helping with breakfast.”
Breakfast was quick hash browns and eggs with toast. Daniel groaned, as the only bread they had was the mass produced kind. He wanted to get a fresh loaf but Cynthia told him it was bad enough he spent the credits to buy it when they ate at one of their parents.
Daniel went and gathered up all the tablets as Cynthia went and showered and changed. He was at the table when she came back out.
He set the one tablet he was working on down and pushed another toward her. “I pulled up the university request for housing. You should get it in before your parents have a change of mind.”
“That didn’t take long, figured it take a week into the intermission before you got tired of having me here.” Daniel frowned as he got up and looked at her as she pressed her lips tightly trying not to laugh.
“Tired of you? Not at all. Just tired of you using all the hot water,” he said and ran off as she lunged at him.
“You’re the one that insists I go first.”
“Well it’s a safe bet that it will take you longer than I take. So it’s better that way.” She heard the door close, cutting off any comment she might make.
She grabbed a cup off the counter and poured another cup of coffee as she picked up the tablet he had been using when she came out. She read a letter to the dean:
After reading the outline that you provided from the agriculture committee, I regret that I must inform you that I do not wish to continue the project. Although some of the terms of the request from the agriculture committee are very generous, I did not find them all acceptable. I can modify the agreement to a more acceptable terms but I also believe the time constraint would be an issue. I wouldn’t be able to do it alone and I cannot ask Cynthia to extend her time here. In order to do the project properly we would have to reduce the number of classes we take per session and that would extend the time we are here at the university by a minimum of one year. The cost of extending would not be covered by the system. Although I am willing to put the credits we earn from the project aside, I don’t believe we can save enough for both of us. I thank you again for the effort you put into this. I will continue to think on it and see if I can find a way to make it work. I will contact you if I do.
She shook her head and went to press the delete button but though the better of it. She set it down and grabbed the other one with the housing request. She read the first paragraph of the terms of using housing and then paged down to the request form. She stopped her coffee midair as she read that it was for a single unit. She was glaring at the bedroom door when he came out.
“What did I do now?” he asked the grin instantly off his face when he saw they look on hers.
“First the letter to the Dean, that we will get to later. However, this can’t wait. You filled out the request for single bedroom housing. And you checked status as single, not involved.”
“I am aware of what it is I filled it out,” he said as he went in the kitchen and grabbed a sealable cup. “What’s the problem?”
“Daniel, I am getting some mixed signals here. If this is a joke, please stop it I’m not laughing.”
“I’m not joking. I thought you wanted a place.”
“Yes but I thought we would get one together, one of the two bedrooms.”
“Why would we do that?” he asked as he filled the cup and prepared it the way he liked it.
“Daniel I.. I” she stammered and Daniel saw the tears forming.
“Ohh no you don’t, no tears.” He said moving quickly to her as she moved away from him.
“What did you expect Daniel? That I would be all giggles and tee hees?”
“No but I didn’t think it would upset you either.”
“You didn’t think that it would upset me that you don’t want to share an apartment with me? And relationship status check mark? Daniel you checked single. Is that your way of hinting?” she asked sobbing.
“Hinting at what? You can’t check off that you are involved if you’re filing for a single unit. It goes into a whole slew of questions if you tell them you’re involved. They want to know who it is if they are as student or not a student will they be on campus or just visiting and how often. They also ask if it’s your partner and then they get personal. I just figured it was easier this way. If you want to get the two bedrooms just change the settings. They are bigger and more room to move around in them. Would make it easier to do what I was going to talk to you about anyway. Wouldn’t be as much room as I was thinking but it should still work. I just thought you might want a place to escape to whenever the need came. You never had a place to yourself. I thought maybe that you would want that chance. What it came to is I wasn’t sure if you wanted to share a place. I am willing to share weather it is a one bedroom or a two is all the same as long as it is what you want.”
Cynthia looked at him in disbelief. He walked over and she jumped away not wanting to be touched at the current moment. He sighed and went to the counter for another tablet. He picked one up another tablet and scrolled through a few sections before handing it to her. “A one bedroom would have more room. It would be easier and probably a little better in a two bedroom. It would not be as much space but it would be less we would have to walk and it would be closer for monitoring and processing. Depending on when we get moved in we could have a collection, maybe three or four varieties, done in time for her birthday.”
“And just to be sure, where would I be staying if we did get two singles?” she asked as she put the one tablet down.
Daniel frowned and looked confused at the same time. “Well that is your decision. Since this idea could take the entire bedroom or more, it might be cramped in rest of the apartment with all your stuff. I’m sure you could manage it if you wanted to. Mostly I figured you would just move some things in wherever they put me next session. That seems to working up to now.”
Cynthia looked at the request form and then down at the table where she had put the tablet with Daniels letter to the dean. She reached over and hit send. “We need to work on your big picture views Daniel.” She clicked the form and changed it to a two bedroom. “I for one want everyone to know that you and are partners in everything.”
It took ten minutes for her to finish with all the questions. She entered her signature and then handed it to Daniel. “Now it’s all on you. Last chance Smart Boy.” She was still a little upset and worried. She hid it well but it was the way she spoke that gave it away. Daniel took the tablet and looked at it then walked around and stood behind her. He put the tablet in her hand and then signed the section he needed to. He started kissing her neck as he took her other hand and put his on top as she moved her thumb with his on the send, then he pressed down. “As much as I would like to stay here, we really need to hurry now. We will have to get Tommy and Jason to help set up the experiment. It could help them in the long run. You should go wash up your face is all puffy.”
“Whose fault is that,” she sniffled as she rushed into the bathroom.
“I thought it was a good thing,” Daniel grumbled.
“It was Daniel. The idea was a good thing. Your delivery just needs some work. Especially on things that can be interpreted the wrong way. We will just need to get you interacting with more people. You’ll see what I mean eventually, even if I have to remind you every day about it. Let’s go.”
They were barely there with enough time to get the equipment out of storage. Tommy and Jason were talking all through the setup. They had to look at the instructions and it had a deion of what each part of the setup did. Daniel was in the middle of going over the pH indicators when Professor Kingston came in. He wanted them to know that there wouldn’t be a need for them the next day. Most students either had tested already or were going to test in the next day. They had figured the other professors would be similar. Some did have some students wanting to study but none asked for help. They suggested they just rest up and relax. They were sure that they could use the time to prepare. The event would be on them soon enough.
Much like the previous night, Daniel sat up reading when Cynthia went to bed. She came out a few hours later and crawled in next to him. “You could at least try to sleep,” she whispered as she crawled up under his arm and started drifting off.
“I tried, tossed and turned for an hour. I must have been exhausted last night. You sleep.” He reached and dimed the lights and went back to reading. He managed ten minutes before he lost focus and was listening to Cynthia’s gentle breathing. Even in the dim light, he could see her chest moving as it rose and fell with each breath. He tried shifting her off and on to a pillow beside him but she just rolled back over and got back in the same spot. He didn’t mind it, it just made it harder to read. He gave up shutting everything off and then settling down to relax into his meditation state. Cynthia moved a little breaking his concentration. She was getting more comfortable he guessed. He just laid still listening to her.
Since they didn’t need to be anywhere that morning neither of them set the alarm. They woke up around the usual time. They turned on the entertainment system and laid there relaxing as they watched the news and then some daily shows they barely had time to see. Daniel got up to get them coffee other than that they barely moved.
The day was half over when they did get up. They had a few things to work on for the event night. They even had things to attend to in the project room. They would spend a day after the end of the session doing the final shutdown as they were using the room for preparing for the culinary event. They had to prepare some of the items they were going to use. They left the contact number with all the professors just in case they were needed.
The days went by fast. The two nights went a little differently. Daniel managed to get Cynthia back into the bedroom as she slept. He hoped she would stay there and enjoy the night’s sleep. She didn’t make it through the entire night. She came out and crawled in next to him even if it was only a couple hours before they were getting up. Every time she did, he stopped what he was doing turned out the lights and just laid there. Eventually sleep found him.
The day of the event finally came. They reviewed all the notes they made and the lists of ingredients available. They finally stopped a few hours before they were supposed to arrive at the class. They agreed to try and relax some. They spent the final hours on the emporium level. They didn’t buy anything, just went window shopping. Time went by fast before they knew it they were walking into the classroom.
They were just getting their kitchen set up when Professor Crème called everyone to the floor. She had a few carts loaded with baskets in the front.
“It seems that word has got out among the universities suppliers that we have some promising young chefs in our mix,” she started. “They have donated some more beef and pork. We also had a generous contribution of some rabbit and crayfish. There is not enough to go around so I have made a basket for each kitchen. As these are donated items, I expect each kitchen to make at least one dish from each ingredient in their basket. You have three hours until we open the door to the guests. You have twenty minutes to decide what you will make so it can be added to your menus.”
There was a scramble for the baskets. Cynthia stood. A couple students ran past her pushing her out of the way to get to their basket. Daniel managed to catch her before she fell.
“Yeah, I am fine, but why are they all rushing? They have three hours. It’s not as if it’s a first come first serve.”
“Who knows. Sometimes people don’t think straight when they feel under pressure. Cooking beef and pork can take time and they still don’t know what they are making with it. None of us has had rabbit to cook. We’ll spend the next hour trying to figure it out if we have it.”
“Then let’s go find out if we have some research to do.” Cynthia slipped her hand in his as they walked up to where the baskets were. Several kitchens had looked in the baskets before moving them to the kitchen. A few had split up and run off to the main pantry for other ingredients.
“I rather think we had an empty basket. We already have ten dishes. We make anything else we could end up wasting the food because no one will eat it.”
“There are enough students here, I’m sure after everything ends they will be hungry. Nothing will go to waste.”
They took the basket together. It must have weighed at least sixty pounds. Daniel took a deep breath as Cynthia opened it.
“Looks like some steaks, roasts, loins, even a couple hams. And we have the crayfish, ugly little creatures.”
“Well I hope you have some ideas, I’m fresh out,” Daniel said as he looked at everything.
“Well the ham is a problem, we don’t have a lot of time. We are short by at least an hour. We can just get the beef in. Maybe use the rotisserie and serve it with roasted vegetables. We can marinade the steaks in something and serve that sliced with broccoli or a squash medley.”
“Okay, and maybe we could make some sausage with the pork loin. Then make some pasta and serve it with the broccoli rabe. We could also slice some of the loin into portions sear them on both sides and then finish in the oven. Make a creamy onion sauce and maybe give it a little kick with some hot spice. We can use some rice we can make it in chicken broth and add some peas, corn and carrots for color.”
“I thought you were out of idea,” Cynthia nudged him a little.
“Well we have less than ten minutes left to figure it all out and we have to cook and prep it all ourselves and time is not in our favor.”
“Not entirely accurate Daniel,” Professor Crème said from the door. “We have volunteers to help out.” She had two students with her as the moved in and stood there waiting. “You two are the cooks, you need to instruct them.” She left with a small group following her.
“Mmm help yes. They can get the pantry items while we figure out what to do with the rest of the stuff,” Cynthia was excited.
Daniel grabbed a reader and made some entries as Cynthia looked over and reminded him of things.
“We can still bake the hams but we need to break them down. Cut it in chunks and it will cook faster. Then I like to add some chopped bits of it to the pea soup and we can make a vegetable and ham quiche,” Daniel said as their help went off to get the list.
“That sounds good. That leaves the crawfish. All I can think of is to boil them.”
“I was thinking of a pot pie,” Daniel replied and sighed. “That’s seven more dishes. What do you want to start with?”
“I’ll get the beef started. Why don’t you work on the hams and the loin,” Cynthia smiled and stepped up to him and kissed him. “We can do this. Don’t forget to send the menu to Professor Crème.”
They had been working for a short time. They gave instructions to their help but also answered their questions. Then one of them asked what they were specializing in. When they asked what aspect of husbandry, it made Daniel stop to think. Husbandry was a broad topic he really hadn’t considered what branch of it he would be going on. Like cooking, husbandry had a lot of avenues to take. He heard Cynthia telling them about the different things they grew in the project room and how they were using the things to make some of the meals. A commotion in the dining area brought Daniel back. They looked out the door and saw a bunch of students just outside another kitchen. Professor Crème came rushing through the crowd and straight to them.
“Daniel we need any food that you have left yet prepared. Jenna and Michael lost everything and we don’t have much left in the storage. I’m also thinking you need to move out to the instructor’s kitchen so they can use this one.”
“Daniel there’s not much time left. They need food and a working kitchen.”
It was then that his brain finally figured it out and his reaction got some gasps, as he said “No, professor,” just in time for Jenna and Michael to hear him.
“Daniel what are you saying? I know it’s not fair to ask but I don’t have much option.”
“I’m sorry professor, my mind was in another place. A couple people that I have come to be very close to said I needed to see the bigger picture in some things and one recently mentioned working on my delivery. I wasn’t referring to the food. What I was referring to is the kitchen. It would take to long for us to move. I think you should put Jenna and Michael in the instructor’s kitchen. They are your top culinary students. You have people coming to see what students can do, taste the food and judge it. Your top students should be in that kitchen showing off what they can do cooking in front of them.” He walked over to the refrigerator and opened it. “You need students that want to be in the field of cooking out there and they are the best we have in the class. They are and they are the top of the class.” He started pulling platter and containers. “Cynthia and I are just the suppliers.” He started handing the dishes to whoever was closer. “If I may professor?”
Professor Crème just stared and nodded not sure what he was indicating.
“Jenna, Michael the instructor’s kitchen is yours. We’ll get everything to you. Joslyn and Mason take the bass, chickens and whatever else you can carry here and go with them. We are nearly done in here and they need the help more. Cynthia please finish giving out what we have here and I’ll run around and get from every other kitchen.” Cynthia nodded and grinned ear to ear as she started grabbing whatever was left uncooked.
“Sorry I have like twenty pounds of bass in there that I never got any ideas for. So hope you have a few.” Daniel said as he paused a moment next to Jenna and Michael.
It took only ten minutes to get every kitchen to send up whatever supplies they didn’t need. Daniel walked into the kitchen and looked around. Cynthia was helping prep, as were the four helpers.
“Daniel, thank you.” Jenna said as she came up, hugged him and kissed his cheek. “Don’t worry I told Cynthia I was going to give you a big kiss. She said go ahead.”
Daniel laughed al little. “Don’t thank me I didn’t do anything. You two are now center stage. Everyone will see you here. You have less time to get things made now. Food we have, now you have to figure what to do with it.”
“Well not everything was a loss. The ingredients the professor gave us today are still useable,” Michael said as he went over the list of thing sand searched everything. “Just coming up with dishes that we have time to cook is an issue.”
Daniel looked at Cynthia as she came over. “I checked on everything before coming over. Everything is cooking fine. We should be ready on time. We can stay and help for a little if they want us to.”
“Yes,” Jenna and Michael said at the same time. “If you don’t mind that is.”
“It’s you kitchen chefs. What do you need?” Daniel asked as Cynthia put her arm around him.
“We have just over two hours to go and need to make at least five main dishes, two desserts and soup. We have everything including crawfish and rabbit. Any ideas?”
“Time being a factor, we have to get started right away,” Daniel said as he started rummaging around the pile of ingredients. What are you leaning towards?”
“Well for a soup we thought the crawfish and vegetables and a crème of broccoli.”
“Nice. When we were looking for desserts, we looked at a carrot cake. Could make whip crème frosting,” Daniel looked over his shoulder at the four helpers. “It’s a two hour process.”
Jenna nodded. “ I’ll get them started.”
“You have plenty of apples blueberries and strawberries. What about pies?” Cynthia suggested.
“Maybe, we can make extra whip crème.”
“Joslyn suggested fruit tarts. Georgia suggested crapes with pulled pork stuffing, Mason said chicken and beef skewers,” Jenna said as she rejoined them. “I put one of them on the pork. We’ll just get it done in time.
“You could do a potato salad with the crapes and put the skewer over rice pilaf,” Daniel added.
Cynthia suddenly jumped and latched on Daniels shoulder. “We have something that can help with that too. We couldn’t use them but it could work out here.”
“What? There isn’t anything left.”
“Yes there is we don’t have much but we just finished processing them. I’ll get them and check on everything.”
They watched her run off and then two turned to Daniel questioning.
“I think I know what she is talking about. I just don’t know what she thinks to do with them.”
They talked several more minutes and finally came up with a few more dishes. Most were achievable inside the time that was available, a couple needed a few extra minutes. Daniel and Cynthia looked at the clock, excused themselves and went back to their kitchen about half hour before the doors opened. As he walked by the instructors control panel Daniel pressed a few buttons.
“I saw that,” Cynthia grinned as she locked harms with him.
“Saw what?” he asked innocently. They got back to their kitchen just as the waiters were coming in.
It was ten minutes to go when Dean Stassen walked in.
“Whatever it is your cooking smells wonderful,” she said as they spun around towards her.
“Thank you,” they said in unison. “I just hope it taste as good as it smells.” Daniel added.
“I was speaking to professor Crème and she told me how the two of you stepped up to help out your classmate. Seems that no one was willing to step out and help them s you did. You not only helped them get everything planned and ready you gave up a great chance to show off your own skills. You gave the opportunity to them. I don’t know how many others would have done that.”
“I just didn’t want to waste the time of the professionals coming here tonight. They are looking for talent but they are also looking for those interested in working with that talent. It seemed a wasted opportunity, on me at least. I really can’t speak for Cynthia,” he joked grinning at her.
“The fact that you took that into consideration and let it guide your decisions is seldom heard of in new students. They may work together but often push comes to shove they are looking for anyway to get ahead. Judging by the housing request I received and the letter you sent me about the Agriculture Committee offer I think it’s a safe bet that the two of you will agree on these types of things.” She watched them a second, “I have been at this a long time. I can read between the lines. That is why I came a little earlier. I spoke again to the Committee chair, he has agreed to fund the project with the condition that if, and when you make some break through you make it available to the committee for use. Any ideas and creations will remain yours. They want to see what you can do, as do I. Which is why, to alleviate the concerns you had, the university will cover any additional costs of your education. I have also approved your housing request and it so happens there is an available two bedroom in the vicinity of where your project is situated. In fact, right next door. I trust that will be very helpful in the maintenance of your project. You can work on it through the intermission as well. I trust it won’t take you long to get reestablished.”
The waiters came in and she stepped aside. “The committee will await your request for equipment. Mr. Miller, I do expect a bottle of that brandy now and again. I wait to see what you do with more time.”
Daniel blinked trying to figure out what was happening. Cynthia pushed him to the cabinet they had stored the bottles in. “No need to wait, we have one here. You’re welcome to have it for dinner tonight,” he pulled the bottle and walked it over to her.
“Thank you, I will leave you to your work.”
Daniel nodded and turned back as she left to start the waiters on the wine and brandy. Cynthia was already there.
“I know we put it on the menu as a selection do you think we should just put out the caviar?” he asked her as they went out the door with the bottles.
“It would be a waste if they don’t eat it. If we just give it to the ones that ask, then we can deal with the uneaten portion later. I for one hope they eat it all. It makes me sick just thinking of eating that stuff.”
“Well we only know of a few coming. Captain Sims with his wife. Nicolas and his guest. The professors and their wives or guests. The professor didn’t say who else was invited or accepted. So who knows they may or may not want it. You have to admit it is a rare treat for the people that do like it.”
They were going to kiss but heard the bell that the professor rang to signal them to come out and stand at the kitchen entrance. “Saved by the bell,” Cynthia grinned.
Professor Crème was already speaking as they came out. “Good evening and welcome. I am pleased that all of you could join us tonight . I have seen the menu plans for every kitchen and you are all in for some good food. If you look around you will see all our students. Some of these students are here to be in the culinary field. Others are here because they elected to be here. These students have shown that you don’t need to be interested in being a chef to be one. They have all jumped hurdles and obstacles to accomplish what they did. I ask that you note the number at the top of the menus on your table. We have an evaluation that will give you an opportunity to comment on the food you eat here tonight. I expect to see good reviews for all. Enjoy your meal.”
Cynthia turned to go back into the kitchen but Daniel was looking out at the dining room. He counted the bottles on the tables three times. Then the number of seats at each table. Cynthia pulled on his arm. “What’s wrong?”
“Not sure if it’s wrong or just unexpected. Did you see who is here?”
Cynthia hadn’t really taken the time to look. She was eager to get the night started so it would end that much sooner. She looked at the tables and saw them instantly. “Our parents are here. Unexpected but maybe we should have guessed that. Everyone else we..” she stopped and went out a little, looking closer. “Is that the chef from Quantum?”
“Yes it is. Chef and owner, Chef Collier, and I believe that is his second in charge with him. He runs the kitchen while she runs the front of the restaurant. Though she will step in and take over if he wants to walk the floor.”
“Great, no pressure there.”
“Yeah right. I read an article about her a few weeks ago. She fired a line cook for carrots being too soft. They are not here for the free meal, they are looking for their newest staff.”
The waiters came over and started putting in the salad and soup orders. Joslyn and Mason were behind them.
“Jenna said we needed to come back and help you,” Mason explained.
Daniel stopped one of the waiters as he stepped out of the kitchen door. “I counted the seats when I came in tonight. We had sixteen seats. Where did the extra six come from?”
“Professor Crème had to add guests to a few kitchens. She said that there were some of the students didn’t complete enough food to accommodate the number of guests. She and her husband are also joining the dean and her husband.”
“Okay, we got set up. We have some special guests. Any problems let us know immediately if not sooner. Make sure they have enough bread and the apple brandy butter.”
“We also have orders for the caviar for all but one of the tables.”
“I can guess as to which table,” Cynthia said. “Alright let’s get to work. We can’t make Mason and Joslyn do it all.”
When they went in the kitchen, they were mildly surprised that they already had the salads and soups near ready. “Joslyn, are any of them pea soup?”
Daniel walked over to the stove and pulled a pot from the back. “All pea soup add a shot of this then mix it in. Then add one large chunk of the baked ham.” He showed her what he wanted making up one bowl.” he walked to the refrigerator and grabbed a few squeeze bottles. “Then use this.” He squeezed the contents of one out and made a circle inside a circle then a small blotch in the center. “Use the green one for the potato soup. Then use the white on top of that. Use whatever pattern you like. Garnish it with chives, please.”
He had taken his time showing her. Mason jumped in taking the two bottles for the potato soup and started on what he could. Cynthia took one bottle from him and they tag teamed each bowl. Daniel went over and picked up a frothing container. He sprayed the contents into the bowls of vegetable beef, covering the entire top with the foam. For color, he added parsley flakes.
“Okay that gives us maybe fifteen minutes or so,” he said as the waiters took out the trays. He started getting plates set up at the various areas of the kitchen. Cynthia came over and started rubbing his back.
“Why the extra flare? I thought we weren’t going out of our way to stand out.”
Daniel shrugged. “A moment of weakness I guess. Just seemed a little to plain and didn’t feel right sending it out that way.”
“For someone that doesn’t want to be a chef, you are sure acting like one,” she chided him. She laughed, as he turned red. “It’s fine Daniel. We shouldn’t hold back. If we can do it then why shouldn’t we?”
“Who knows. My luck we will find horrible consequences,” he grinned.
“Then we will deal with them just like everything else.”
“Just keep that in mind when we see the test results.”
“Daniel they are testing the waiters not us. Professor Crème said they needed a real time event to see how they worked.”
“Yeah, then explain why we have twenty two guests and we sent out twenty four soup and twenty four salad.”
She thought about and grinned. “Someone is very hungry.”
Daniel chuckled. He kissed her cheek and called up the menu on the station monitor. He started reading each one. “Item one, Grilled salmon with cucumber wine sauce and steamed asparagus with butter, Mason start the steamer. Item two, baked chicken breast with a hollandaise sauce with mashed potato. Joslyn are you comfortable with making the hollandaise?” Joslyn yelled yes chef and ran over to the stovetop. “ Item three, beer battered fish and chips using tilapia. Let’s drop some potatoes and get them ready. We can do a double fry. Item four, salmon cakes with spaghetti, I’ll get them on the grill.”
“I got item five, six and seven. The chicken cacciatore over linguini, eggplant parmesan and Blackened Catfish with vegetables in a Croissant Foam are all pretty much on the same station.”
“Mason, that puts you on the pizza oven. You good with that?”
“MMMM yeah pizza, my favorite.”
Daniel had to laugh. “That puts the pot pies with you as well so make sure you keep room. Joslyn you’re not off the hook. You have the pan seared parmesan trout with green beans sautéed with sesame seeds and butter on that station. I’ll take care of the chicken paillard with warm potato salad. I also have the pork loin here. We will have to tag team any of the other dishes we made up today. If your prepping it let everyone know so we aren’t doubling up. If anyone gets bogged down, shout out.”
The orders started coming in and the beef was popular as expected. Both the rotisserie and broiled. Daniel worked with Joslyn showing her how he wanted the fish cooked and plated. Cynthia worked with Mason. They had orders for just about everything. Aside from one salmon fillet that Daniel dropped, they managed to get through it all without an incident. The started cleaning up any spills and messes when one of the waiters came in.
“The Professor sent me in to get two eggplant parmesan. The kitchen next door didn’t make any vegetarian dishes. They have people just sitting eating salads.”
“Good thing there weren’t any vegans, we wouldn’t have had a thing for them.” Cynthia cut two portions from the pan and slid them under the broiler. She pulled it and plated it. She then took the green pepper sauce they had for the soup and gave the plate more color.
She looked around then took Daniels hand and started for the door. “Come on. We need to go out and say hello to everyone.”
“No we don’t,” Daniel said planting his feet and stopping her. “I’d rather just imagine everyone happy and content. We go out there they could complain or worse be overly pleasant.”
She just stared at him and gave him that look. Daniel looked at Mason. “If you haven’t already learned this, women always get what they want, you may as well just give up and give it to them. It will be less of a headache.”
Joslyn laughed as they went out. They weren’t the only ones out on the floor. They could see a few including Jenna and Michael walking around the tables.
“Well, well look who has finally come out of hiding,” Cynthia father said as they walked up.
“They probably in there paying off whoever it is they got to cook for them. I know Daniel couldn’t have cooked any of this, none of it was burnt,” Daniel’s father laughed. “Ouch,” he said suddenly as Daniel’s mother kicked him under the table.
“Be nice,” she said in a hushed tone. “Everything was very good you two. Nicely done. We were just saying how the next time you offer to help in the kitchen we might have to take the offer.”
“I’ll try to remember not to offer too many times from now on,” Daniel said, making a mental note.
“Who said it would be just when you offer? Now we know you can actually cook we might just have to put you to work.”
“I don’t know. Dad might gain too much weight. He actually cleared the plate. Probably has no room for dessert. Of course he might not eat at all, your food cost will go down and you could make some homemade bread once in a while.”
Daniel’s father didn’t say another word as they talked a minute more and then went on to the next table. They finally met Captain Sims’s wife as well as Nicholas’ longtime girlfriend.
Captain Sims introduced his wife, Anna and she nodded to them. “Robert told me about you two,” she said and Daniel laughed.
“Nothing good I’m sure.”
“In fact it was all good. He has taught people to be a pilot before and he told me that the two of you took to it like you were born to it.”
“Really? How kind. I think he must have left out all the mistakes we made and the bickering back and forth. I think he wanted to strangle us on more than one occasion.”
Daniel laughed as she looked at him. “Cynthia and I don’t always get along so well. I think we almost crashed once taking a shuttle to a repair station we were arguing about the best angle to go in. We didn’t pay attention to the monitors and he had to jump in and make a correction.”
“We have learned a lot since though,” Cynthia added as she put an arm around Daniel’s neck. “We still disagree on things but he now knows I’m right and I get my way when I want to so why fight it.”
Everyone laughed and then talked about the food. The only complaint was there wasn’t more.
All the professors, except professor Crème were seated at the largest table. They all said they enjoyed everything. Hey were impressed that they made what they could using what they had grown and raised. They congratulated them on a job well done and said they were waiting on dessert.
Professor Crème was seated with her husband and Dean Stassen with her husband. The minute they walked over Professor Crème was apologizing for adding the extra guests then making the added request for the vegetarians.
“It was a surprise but it want anything we couldn’t work through,” Cynthia offered to relieve her of any concern she had. “As for the vegetarians, we were glad to help. The point of food is to be eaten after all. They came here to eat, we can just mark it as another lesson.”
“We would have had a vegetable soup they could have had too but last minute I added the beef to use some of those surprise ingredients you gave us,” Daniel replied thinking he added quickly “The potato soup had no meat in it, they could have had some of that.”
“A wonderful job making it, I loved the added colors and flavors,” Dean Stassen replied. “Professor Crème told me that she put the full hams in your basket today. I was certain that you wouldn’t have had time to make it. Once again you managed to exceed expectations.”
“Well hopefully it’s not a one time thing. This is going to be a hard session to top.”
Their last table was the owner of Quantum. Daniel felt bad he got stuck there with them instead of a culinary student.
“We meet again, and I see the two of you managed to get together.” He stood and met them holding his hand out. “ We didn’t properly meet, I’m Greg Collier, and this is Heather Jackson.”
“Yeah we did, thank you, it’s a pleasure to finally meet properly,” Cynthia said taking his hand. “I hope that everything was to your liking.”
“I would say there is room for improvement but not much. It would be something you get with experience. I talked with your professor and what impresses me is that neither of you had any experience other than this class. Even still, you made a lot of from scratch items. I would love to see what you could do with more training. However, your professor has also informed me that you are not looking to go into a cooking field.”
Daniel took a deep breath. “As fun as it has been, I think we had more fun growing it. I’m sure that you didn’t come here looking for that. I’m sorry your time was wasted.”
“You are right, we didn’t.” Heather stated with an all business tone. “What you need to remember is that there is more to a restaurant than a good chef. A chef is useless if he or she has no food to cook. We may have come for other reasons but we wouldn’t say it was a waste of time. We may have some things to talk about in the future.”
Daniel looked at the time. “Well we better get back in there and get the desserts ready. If we don’t we may not have a future.” Even Heather laughed. “If you’re looking for a chef, talk to Jenna and Michael there in the center kitchen. They are the top of the class and they seem to cook well too.”
They were getting the orders the moment they went in. Mason and Joslyn were setting the plates. They didn’t have to do much it was pretty much done. They heated the pie and the pound cake before putting it all together.
While they waited, they put food for the waiters in containers so they could have it whenever they were ready to eat. They decided to send out some extra containers to see if anyone wanted to take some home. Joslyn and Mason had made up a couple on their own. They got flustered when Cynthia caught them both with two dessert containers each.
“It’s fine. You two help yourselves to what you want, minus the liquor cabinet. You’re not old enough yet for that. You did a great job tonight, thank you for the help.” Daniel said smiling as Cynthia laughed.
“It was fun, nothing like my sister said it would be,” Joslyn said as she popped a strawberry in her mouth. “When she did this she said they were mean and nasty and made her do everything. They got mad when she ate something. She made me so worried about it. I almost didn’t volunteer, but my teacher said it would be good experience if I wanted to be a cook.”
“Well it’s a sad thing she didn’t have a good experience. Not everyone is so nasty.” Cynthia said and took a breath. “Why don’t you two go home. There’s very little left to do and it’s been a long evening.”
Cynthia gave them their comm number and told them to feel free to keep in touch. They would see them when they started at the university if not sooner.
They took a last look around the kitchen and everything was clean. They packed up several containers for themselves and then packaged everything left over. Daniel took the remaining bottles out of the cabinet and put them back in the box that they had brought them. They finished up quickly and gave the kitchen one last wipe down. Daniel activated the controls on the box and it hovered a few inches off the ground. They walked out to the dining room with their collection of food containers in hand and the box in tow behind them. The guests had left and the waiters had cleaned up everything.
“Congratulations to everyone.” Professor Crème started speaking over the sound system. “The reviews are remarkable. There were some stumbling blocks but overall we had a great night. You should all be proud of what you have done. I will send you a copy of the remarks. Before you leave please make sure your kitchens are clean. I imagine everyone has leftovers so please feel free to take some of them with you. Whatever is left will be taken to the Med Center or university cafeteria. Everyone enjoy you intermission. I will see most of you after, to those I don’t best of luck in your chosen fields.”
Daniel and Cynthia set their collection of containers on a table and started organizing them into carry bags. They had taken some of everything that they had cooked. Neither of them were big beef eaters. Maybe it was because the cost made it a rare treat. They took a little more of that and a few other things. Daniel loved the pasta and broccoli rabe where Cynthia was more for the eggplant. Daniel saw professor Crème and went over to tell her that an intern in the science section would be by to pick up the liquid nitrogen. He came back to find Jenna and Michael talking to Cynthia.
“We were just thanking Cynthia for that satay idea, and for the peanuts. It was a big hit.” Michael said as he saw Daniel walking up. “We wanted to thank you for the help. The guests were happy with the simple dishes.” He and Jenna were standing side by side each with an arm around the other.
“Sometimes the simple is the best way to go. The fun part for you will be to find out when it is time for simple and when it is time for complicated,” Daniel replied sitting down.
“Well we had multiple requests for seconds so they either liked the food or they just wanted to see if it was just as bad as the first round. We even had two restaurant owners come up to us and offer to be the host for our externship. Neither of them was in our section. They said they were watching us in the kitchen. We gave them some things to take with them so they could at least taste the cooking. I even had a couple of the women leave me their number.” Michael added as Jenna turned in his arm and faced him putting her arms around his neck.
“Numbers you threw out right,” she said a little surprise in her tone. She pulled him in closer kissing him softly at first then harder and more passionately. Michael’s hands dropped right down to her ass cupping both sides he gave a squeeze. She squealed but kept the kiss going a moment longer. “After all you got what you want and there are only so many things I share.” She said hoarsely. She pulled away and walked to the table Daniel and Cynthia had their stuff on. She sat down as she giggled. “Michael’s fan club aside all night I had a feeling everyone was watching us. I could see them all looking our way when I looked out into the room. Talk about pressure.”
“I’m sure some of them were watching. Price you pay for being the star of the class,” Daniel grinned as Cynthia scowled. She kept trying to get him to tell them what he did. She thought it was a good thing.
“They will find out sooner or later, may as well tell them what you did,” she finally said out loud.
“I’m certain I have no idea what you are talking about.
“Daniel turned on the cameras to all the kitchens and somehow he managed to feed them the screens. Everyone got a bird’s eye view of almost all the kitchens,” Cynthia grinned as she sat in Daniel’s lap.
“Tattle tale, couldn’t let it go could you,” Daniel frowned, giving her a squeeze. “Yeah almost all. The only ones being displayed were the ones not here as an elective. I overheard some of your classmates complaining about how you had an unfair advantage being out there were everyone could see what you were doing. I told them I would fix it and gave them all a chance to be seen. I told them to put on a good show. Probably hurt some of them more than helped but they can’t complain that they didn’t have the chance. The odds are it brought you two more attention since the screens were right above you.”
“Cool, wonder why they don’t do that all the time,” Jenna thought out loud.
Cynthia yawned. Daniel grinned. “Who knows. Maybe they never thought about it or just didn’t want to deal with any issues that came from it. Maybe they will from now on after they seen how it went over tonight. Whatever they do tonight is not the night to worry about it. It’s been a long day and strangely enough I am a little hungry and someone else is a looking tired. I better get her home before she falls asleep.”
Cynthia nuzzled against him. “You could always carry me,” she whispered just loud enough to be heard.
“That would be so romantic,” Jenna offered as she looked at Michael. He just held up his hands and stepped back. “Carrying you a few feet is one thing but we have a long way to get to the room. Security would stop us at every chance thinking I’m kidnapping you or something.” Jenna stared at him coldly.
“So what about you,” Cynthia nuzzled Daniel on the neck as she spoke. “Going to carry me home in your big strong arms?”
“If you fell asleep?” he asked looking at Jenna with a big smile.
“Yes, if I fell asleep would you carry me all the way back to the apartment,” she kissed his cheek.
“I don’t know. Hard choice,” he said as she stopped and leaned back looking at him confused.
“What choice, simple yes or no Daniel.”
“Well put it that way I guess its no. I have all that food to carry back, can’t leave that here. Someone might eat it. I’d just have to leave you on the table instead,” he bit his tongue and tried to keep from smiling. The look on her face was too hard to ignore and he finally broke out laughing. She looked like she was going to start crying and slug him at the same time.
“Daniel that was just mean,” Jenna said as she laughed. Michael joined her as he took her hand. “Here is our number. We are sure that our directions for school lead in different directions but we thought we could keep in touch. Maybe we can get together and keep them cooking skills in shape,” she added as they started for the door.
As they headed out Cynthia reached back, cupped the back of Daniels head and drew him in for a kiss. She was right there face to face when she let go and slapped him in the back of the head.
“Ouch, hey wait you two I need witnesses to the abuse I’m getting here.”
“You deserve it. Michael will get his later,” Jenna yelled over her shoulder.
Daniel chuckled then yelled. “There is plenty of food left in there. You should go in and get some of it before you go.”
“No thanks we already got the best food made tonight. Why go for second best? Maybe you should go over and get some of that. I’m sure it’s a step up from what you have been eating.” Michael yelled back.
“You maybe be right. I haven’t had time to cook for myself. We have been too busy tasting the slop the rest of you all have been bringing us.”
It took only a short moment, Cynthia jumped up off him and they all started running towards the others kitchen.
They made sure to take something of everything made and added it to their collection then put it on the hover box.
“Hey you slow pokes, get a move on. Don’t forget to look in the cabinet on the left, try not to drink it all in one night,” Daniel shouted and they left.
“How much did you leave them?” Cynthia asked as they walked down the corridor.
“Only two bottles. One watermelon and one strawberry wine. I wasn’t sure if they would enjoy the harder stuff. Jenna maybe but Michael never struck me as a drinker.”
“Well it’s hard to tell. They seem to complement each other’s habits so well. Hard to say what they like because they actually like it or just because one of them does. Whatever it is they make it work.” Cynthia moved closer and held his arm as they moved towards a lift.
“Yeah some people are just lucky. Who knows one day I may have such luck,” he laughed and she slapped him in the chest.
“We’ll have to call them up in the morning see if they applied for the two bedroom apartment or settle for the two singles. If they took the double, you and Jenna might want to set up a shopping date. If not I guess your mother will want to help out.”
“Why is that?”
“Well there’s more space in a two bedroom. I’m sure you’ll want to get some things to filling the added space.”
“Ooo, yeah that’s right and every girl loves to go shopping. I think you’re forgetting one thing though,” she sighed as they walked in the apartment.
“I don’t forget things,” Daniel said as he went back to the kitchen.
“Yes you do, you forget all the time that this is a joint effort. We are together Daniel. We make decisions, and we do things together. It will be your place too. You need to go shopping with us, Michael too."
Daniel came back and sat on the sofa holding a tablet and two containers of food. “I haven’t forgotten. I think that you may have forgotten that most of the stuff here is mine. With a few exceptions, I haven’t added to what I already had. I just thought that you would like a shopping trip. You could go and have a good time and maybe forget some things yourself. After all shopping seems to make women forget a lot of things.”
“My memory isn’t as good as yours Smart Boy, but it would take a lot more for me to forget some things. We need to get this straight. There are some things that we will do have to do together. In time, there will be things we do apart. That time is not now.” She sat down grabbing a container. “Don’t get any ideas, I doubt it will be any time soon. You are stuck with me Smart Boy.”
Daniel took a bite of food and sat back. “I think you are wrong, you’re stuck with me,” he countered. It had a strange deja vu feeling to it.
They ate as they watched the nightly movie. Every now and then Daniel picked up the tablet and made some entries. A few times he made an entry then shook his head putting it back down.
“What are you doing?” Cynthia finally asked when he dropped the tablet.
Daniel lay back with a sigh and put his arm around her as she cuddled closer. “I am trying to write out the agreement with the university and the AC. I have been trying to take the information the Dean sent and integrate it so that we have coverage and they can’t back out. Maybe I’m just paranoid but they gave in way to quick. I’d rather have it all in writing before we do anything that we could have issues with later on. I’d like to think that there won’t have any negative impacts from anything that we do, but we have over five years and I can’t predict that far in advance.”
“Let me see what you have,” she said reaching for the tablet. She first read the information from Dean Stassen. Then she read Daniel’s draft proposal. She read it again to be sure she read it all. “I didn’t realize they were going to pay us on top of the credits for equipment and supplies. They aren’t being cheap about it either.”
“That is what has me thinking there is more to this than they are letting on. Not that this will be cheap, but it’s a lot of effort in something that has more potential to not garner anything new than it does to have any breakthroughs.”
“You didn’t think what we did would do anything, yet it got their attention,” she said as she got in close again and settled in. She put the tablet on his lap.
“Again I am not sure why. I don’t believe we did anything that spectacular, complicated maybe but far from spectacular.”
“Daniel you have trouble accepting the good things that come to you. Just take it as it is. We can only do so much in the here and now. We can deal with the rest when it happens.”
“Sounds so little picture of you,” he teased as he ran his fingers through her hair.
“You are still a rookie when it comes to the big picture. I figured you need to just take it all in moderation.”
Cynthia fell asleep not long after. He picked her up and carried her to the bedroom just like every other night. For the first time in a few days, she didn’t come back out.
Daniel got the agreement to the way he thought it would work best and sent it off to the Dean and the Agriculture Committee. He did his usual routine and then pulled out the sofa. He read and watched something on the entertainment system. He finally turned out the lights and tried to sleep. He tossed and turned. He finally gave up and started working on the layout for the new project. He worked a few hours before finally sitting and slipping into a deep meditative trance. The sleep he had been getting was great but whatever the cause, it was gone. He had a few hours to morning. It would just have to do was the last thought he had before the calm of meditation came.