Wednesday, November 27
The freak snowstorm fell and rose in severity over the course of the evening and day. By lunchtime, there were several inches on the roads and the cars. The big bosses put their heads together and announced everyone could head home early for the holiday, drive safe, and return on Monday. Through the cries of elation, Landon and the others hurried to shut down their stations, clean the desks, and finish last minute crap.
Pulling on his jacket, slinging his messenger bag over his shoulder, grabbing his wallet and keys, he headed to his bosses and found them in conference. "Hey there, I wanted to tell you both to have a wonderful Happy Thanksgiving with your families. As always, it's a real pleasure working with both of you."
"Thanks, Landon, you're one of the finest assistants we had around here," John Sampson said as he rose and accepted Landon's handshake.
"Thank you so much and the same to you and your partner. You mentioned he's been busy preparing everything," Lisa Coleman said as she rose and kissed Landon's cheek.
"Yes, he's driving me crazy with this intention to outdo the disaster of our first Thanksgiving."
Lisa chuckled since she heard the story. "I'm sure anything would be better than a butter slathered bird flying across the floor."
"God, I hope so," Landon said.
"This isn't company policy, but Lisa and I spoke and we wanted to give you something in thanks," John said as he glanced at Lisa.
"Oh, there's no need. I didn't get anything for the both of you," Landon said, holding up a hand.
"Nonsense, you do enough for us every work day and we want to show our gratitude. Especially during a lull in the economy and can't offer you an increase in salary," John said, pulling an envelope from his desk, and held it out.
Landon took it without opening, knowing that would be rude. "Thank you. Both of you. I truly appreciate everything." He shook John's hand once more and kissed Lisa's cheek.
"Good. Now get out of here with the rest of the crowd. Say hello to Max for us," John said.
"Both of you are leaving soon, right?"
"Within the next hour, I promise," John said.
"Bye!" Landon shoved the envelope in his pocket as he turned around, not wanting the other employees to see his private business. He buttoned his coat, wrapped a scarf around his neck, and ventured out into the cold.
It took an extra half hour to drive home to Max with the snow, but he managed to pull safe in the driveway. He got out, locked down, and raced to the door and inside.
"Damn, it's getting crazy out there," Landon said as he kicked snow off his shoes before stepping out of them. He removed his bag, peeled out of his outer layers, and hung everything in place. "Max…" Reminding himself, Landon reached into one pocket and pulled out the envelope. "Max, I'm home."
Moving to the sofa, he dropped down and opened the envelope. There was an elegant card of thanks from John and Lisa and three folded $100 bills.
"What? What?" Max asked, raced into the room. "Sorry, was in the middle of cutting and folding yeast rolls."
"John and Lisa gave me three-hundred dollars as thanks," Landon said, holding up the money.
"Holy shit!" Max dropped on the sofa next to him and checked out the card.
"I know. They said it was only a little something."
"More than a little. Sweet. Put it in our sooper-seekrit-stash."
Landon chuckled. "Will do."
Max looked out the gel-cling covered window at the following snow. He nibbled on his lower lip. "Damn, I hope this lets up enough for everyone to get here tomorrow."
"It should pass by tonight from what I heard on the radio."
"It'll be okay," Landon said, rubbing his hand over Max's back. "What have you been up to?"
"I'm going through and preparing some of the dishes to get ready for the oven. Others can go in the oven today and finish tomorrow. I love my new timer. Thank you," Max said with a kiss on Landon's cheek.
"Welcome. Happy it can help you." Landon rolled to his feet, grabbed his bag, and glanced down at his partner. "I'm going upstairs to change. After, I'll be yours to command."
Max grinned. "Hmm. Can I command you to come downstairs naked except for a frilly apron?"
Max snapped his fingers in an aw-shucks motion. "Dash a fantasy of mine. Fine." He walked off to the kitchen.
Landon moved in time to slap his partner on the ass and race upstairs to get away.
"Hey! You brute!"
Landon continued to laugh.
Returning downstairs, Landon breathed in some delightful scents. He followed his nose to the kitchen and sat on one of the bar-stools. He dropped his chin on his raised hand. "Whatcha making?"
Jumping a little in surprise, Max placed a floury hand against his chest. "Damn, you scared me. Hi, honey." He brushed off his hands, poured a glass of tea, and filled a plate with an extra hot Monte Cristo sandwich. He placed everything on the bar for Landon to enjoy.
"Thanks. You didn't have too."
Max waved a hand. "Little things I can do since I know I'm driving you crazy."
"Just a little."
Landon pinched his fingers and thumb together. A tiny crack was left between them. "A little."
"I'll have to do better."
"Please, don't." Landon picked up the sandwich and took a bite.
"As for what I'm making, it's the rest of the yeast rolls. They were my grandmother's recipe I asked my mom how to make."
"Is this another addition to the menu?"
"It was planned, but I needed help from Mom. I'll bake these until they're just cooked and stick them in the fridge. I'll finish the baking until they're golden tomorrow."
"What else has happened?"
"I deep cleaned the house on Monday before you finished the decorations. I went through and made sure the kitchen is ready. I cleaned from the cabinets to the floor and everything in between. I re-organized the entire fridge. Since they were grimy, I made sure to send all the towels, gloves, and potholders through the wash."
"Why did you go that far?"
"They were nasty." Max made a grimace.
"What else did you do?"
"I became a crafter." Max grinned, almost preened in front of him.
"What did you do? Where is it?"
"I did everything in the second bedroom. I went to a craft store, found some of those plastic pumpkins you can carve, several small wooden pumpkins, a couple of different chalk paints, brushes, dark and light waxes, and sanding paper."
"How did you know how to do this?"
"Went poking around on the internet and saw this cool table full of decorations. I followed the instructions to carve, paint, sand, and wax the pumpkins. I collected branches, pine cones, and acorns. At a store, I found these cool battery powered candles, other pumpkins, a pair of gorgeous hurricane glasses, and other items."
"What about the bags on the table?"
"Oh, we're using them too. Those were the finishing touches I wanted. I did all the craft stuff over the last two weeks."
"Is this why I didn't see you?"
"Yup." Max finished cleaning the counter, brushed off his hands, and waved to Landon to follow him.
Finishing his lunch, Landon followed and stopped at the sight of the decorated table. "Holy crap! This is gorgeous."
"Thanks. Those are the pumpkins I painted and filled them with fresh mums, leaves, and branches. I wound branches, leaves, and acorns around the hurricane glasses and those battery candles. Using votives, I placed more around the table. The little pumpkins were wrapped with this cool paper I found and wrote everyone's name on it for place settings."
"Everything looks fantastic against our plates. I like the runner."
"It's actually two runners, a silver overlay and rustic burlap."
"Wow. You're fabulous at this," Landon said with a grin and captured his partner for a lingering kiss. "Guess I don't need to decorate the table."
"Nope. It's crossed off my list in my Thanksgiving bible."
"What's left?" Landon followed Max back to the kitchen and their previous spots.
Max brought over his bible and opened it between them. He snagged a pen, clicking the end, as he moved through his prepared and detailed checklists.
"Let's see. The cranberry compote is done and chilling. The glaze for the turkey is mixed. I also washed the herbs and tied them for the turkey's interior. I sliced and prepared the carrots, green beans, mushrooms, butternut squash, and sweet potatoes. All of the herbs are rinsed and bagged. I cubed the bread and put half in the dish with the rest of the herbs and ingredients for the stuffing. The other half is mixed with the roasted butternut squash to be finished tomorrow. It's covered and in the fridge. I combined what I could in the storage bags, labeling everything."
"What about the baking?"
"We're having a spiced pumpkin cake, two pumpkin pies, and an apple-pear tart. Everything is baked. I covered and put everything on top of the washer and dryer."
"The bread is cubed for the pudding. I precooked and crumbled bacon and finished the vinaigrette. It's poured over the steamed green beans."
"All you have are the finishing details for tomorrow."
"Yup, it includes roasting one bird and all the other dishes."
"You're ready. You can do this."
"I hope you're right."
"We'll find out tomorrow."
Blowing out a long breath, Max nodded.
(TO BE CONTINUED)