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Here are a couple of recipes, one that Diana was
going to use and one that Vincent fancied.
Hope you enjoy their story on the next page...

Cream Cheese Cake Mix Cookies

Cook Time:
    10 Min

Prep Time:       5 Min
-one box cake mix, any flavor
-8oz cream cheese, room temperature
-1/4 c butter, room temperature
-1 large egg
-1 tsp vanilla, (optional, depending on flavor
-1 c any add-ins (flavored chips, candy, nuts, etc.)
-Amounts can be varied. For chocolate chip, I added a 12oz bag of semisweet chips.
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream together butter and cream cheese. Add egg and vanilla; mix until well blended. (I used a mixer for this part only.)
2. Stir in cake mix a little at a time until it's all blended and then add any chips, candy or nuts, as you like.
3. Spoon onto cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes, until edges are brown.


Short Bread
recipe makes 3 dozen
2 cups butter softened
1 cup white sugar
4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons cornstarch

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (170 degrees C)
Cream softened butter thoroughly. Slowly add sugar.
Sift flour and cornstarch before adding. Mix well. Press into an ungreased jelly roll pan 11x15x 1 1/2 inches.
Bake 30 minutes or until very light brown. Score and cut while warm.


JUST A PINCH

3-S Steam Tunnel Celebration of Winterfest

By RedNightBird

“I thought you couldn’t cook.” Vincent’s head hung at the angle that his long golden hair obscured the smirk on his face. He had remembered seeing the tiny kitchen in Catherine’s apartment, how she had always admitted she didn’t cook. Diana’s loft was spacious, airy, and even in the winter sunlit. It was the kind of kitchen you could ‘live in.’ William would have loved it. He loved being here. 

Regardless of what wonderful family comfort food she produced in this room, she’d serve it up denying her culinary skills. She had served up more than food. His life, little Jacob’s life had begun to build in small hours spent sharing meals. Time had fallen away and the small snippets of conversation had embraced him. Within all his apprehensions, he had turned to her and her heart was open. His regrets for dragging his booted feet through his doubts had emerged and been dispelled while sharing homemade French fries or sundaes, two rare menu items below. Her bright eyes, her soft voice remained with him, always now. 

“I said I didn’t cook. Often enough.” Diana raised her face indignantly, hands flat on the island counter. The oven’s heat had begun to curl the tendrils around her neck. The cut sweatshirt had curled at the edges, the wide neckline cut lying sensually along her pale freckled shoulders. Vincent surreptitiously viewed her beauty. Her flushed cheeks, the glistening fiery braid that sprouted ringlets in the kitchen’s heat. His unique lips curled, he wanted to smile at her comment yet it might have appeared coy or a come on for more tactile delights. He was dizzy with the thought of her now the most complex measure was over. Bringing Jacob home, knowing he was ‘a man’ uncoiled that age old fear. 

“So I brought home the ingredients. I thought you could bring Jacob up Friday night and we could watch ‘Miracle on 34th Street’; then when he sacked out, we could watch ‘Christmas in Connecticut’.” Diana was used to including Jacob in their time together, and at four he enjoyed the view through the telescope on her roof as well as the claw foot tub in her bathroom. She mused at the things Jacob adored about his time with ‘Deena’. 

Vincent pretended to mull the thought, eyes at the ingredients on the counter before them. “1 box cake mix, 8 ounces  cream cheese, room temperature, - 1/4 c butter, room temperature.” He nodded as he walked closer to view the list. Every invitation Diana extended, he cherished. He held the list regarding it circumspectly. 

“Diana, 1 box cake mix is supposed to make cookies?” If his nose could wrinkle much, it would have. “These cookies, have you made them before?” She could feel his skepticism. Vincent was her ‘doubting Thomas’; Diana knew that on so many levels. 

Convincingly she went on, “Um, ah, no, no I can’t say I’ve made these. Joe’s secretary said they worked for her. I thought…” Diana’s voice trailed off as she watched Vincent read the box, inspecting the ingredients. 

Vincent balanced his curiosity with the need to judge, “And when did Mr. Maxwell’s assistant become an expert on Holiday Cookies?” 

“Hey, she’s a busy gal, I think she was fishing for me to bake a tray, you know, make me the guinea pig.” Now Diana’s indignation had melted into realization, she’d be the next cookie doyenne. “They must think while I’m profiling crimes I can man the oven?” She loved his push back, she cherished the hours she spent proving things to him. He’d let some issues slide until it would hit a boulder of some old argument. Their ‘gloves’ would come off, and they’d dicker like an old married couple. Dispensing any further discussion about her being the next Cookie Queen, Vincent removed the thick cookbook from the shelf and let his hands flip through the illustrated pages. 

“Let that recipe go,” Vincent insisted, his large hands cradling the cookbook. “These. I want to make these.” He was emphatic. 

Well, here was a twist in her plans. “What about these? I thought you liked chocolate chips?” 

“I’d get by with them, Diana.” He drew in a deep breath. “It’s the simplicity of this cookie. It’s such a standard.” 

Wasn’t that the important thing at the holidays? Tradition…that's what really matters in the end. 

“Sure, Vincent.” Straight lipped and quiet, she turned to the cupboards and checked for the simple ingredients. 

Once he had been satisfied she was on board with his request he upped the ante, “I want to make some now.” 

Without barking back, Diana summoned her restraint, sometimes Vincent was…so….candid. 

“Now?” She looked at the clock. 9:14pm. With winter’s early darkness, it felt like midnight. She closed her eyes, summoning patience; and in that blindness, she heard his boots circle the island and felt his sweatered, strong arms encircle her waist from behind. 

His hot breath carried his words into her heart, “Please?” She could not forget the way she felt each time he was close; her heart wanted to pound.  Her self-restraint only heightened the sensation washing over her. She fought for clarity as she felt the strong length of him behind her, poised, ready to envelope her. Knowing he was guileless, he simply radiated sensuality; did he recognize why she was like this at times? Did he realize what it was like to be within his arms? He had to know – he was doing this just for….cookies? 

Her voice barely above a whisper answered his question. “Somehow, if I said no, I’d probably regret it.” Diana’s head fell back, finding his shoulder so close. Vincent’s velvety chin nuzzled at her temple, “You, the woman who doesn’t know the meaning of regret.” There above her ear he pressed a simple kiss, “Do I sense you caving?” Vincent felt Diana’s body flag against him. 

Pressing her closer to the kitchen island, his feather light kisses danced along the rim of her ear as his right arm moved up to her shoulder, and the sensation of his sweater glancing across her collarbones induced a sigh so slight he cocked his head to hear it. Diana felt the ornate brass buckle skimming across her back as he was moving to be more beside her. She had hands free, she wanted to grasp at him, she wanted to hold him in one place to ‘freeze’ this moment in time yet something within her left her panting for his next move. She wanted to languish in this small hour, did he? 

Vincent silently drew his clawed fingers along her jaw, bringing her eye to eye with him; the world had fallen away, and neither of them missed it. There were two hearts stirring a passion of its own recipe. 

Diana’s lips were dry; she ran her tongue slowly over her bottom lip “How badly do you want cookies, Vincent?” His stormy blue eyes followed that movement, freezing him here with his palm so gently on her cheek. 

He blinked as if back to reality and drew in the scent of her longing. His golden shaggy head fell back only to return his face to her with a wide, fang-baring grin. “I can only focus on one succulent morsel at a time and it seems, Diana, you are where my hunger lies at this moment.” 

Diana was no fool. Having shared so few moments like this, she only sought to quench his hunger, whatever the dish. “So….we’re…not…. going…to…make…shortbread?” Standing face to face, she brushed her thumb up the center of his V-neck sweater, watching his response, feeling his pleasure at her loving connection.   His wide smile mellowed as he drew another deep, deep breath. 

[1} “I hunger for your sleek laugh and your hands the color of a furious harvest. I want to eat the sunbeams flaring in your beauty.” His words never startled her, but his swift movements caught her breath as he lifted her over his should playfully and swung in a circle. Light footed he twirled into the larger area of the loft while Diana giggled and smacked along his back in playful love-taps. Any other time, their playfulness had ended at the sofa. Tonight his steps travelled closer to her bedroom threshold where he lovingly set her on her stocking feet. 

His broad chest rose with a confident breath. [2] “I crave your mouth, your voice, your hair. Silent and starving, I prowl through the streets.  Bread does not nourish me, dawn disrupts me, all day I hunt for the liquid measure of your steps.” 

Diana stood there, mesmerized by his nearness, the musicality of the verses in his voice. Her hands found his neck, her body gone limp at his facing his feelings. She felt his words stop and her face darted up to face him, her hands flat on his chest where she felt his heart thudding. How could he surprise her like this? She had squelched her fever pitches so often before and now…when she thought they’d spend time patting out cookies, he carries her to her bedroom door? “Oh, oh, steady Diana”, she thought. With her last conscious thought, she caught his hands, threading their fingers together like playful children until she could feel their tensions lighten. His hands caught hers behind her, drawing her tightly to his chest, his hips casting away all doubt as to whether he wanted to quench his cravings. 

“You sure, babe?” Diana’s eyes peered closely up to his, her breath stoking his audacity. Vincent’s chin dropped in a nod, and she caught his lips in a full kiss. That kiss, the one where lips lock a moment in time to mark shared guardianship, this was the telling glance of flesh on flesh that met and melded with certainty. 

Reverence tempered his movements, reverence for what Diana was granting him and for what they would celebrate. Scant words passed between them as they spent indulgent minutes removing clothes each of them had seen for years. This was no wedding night consummation with fancy adornments; these were day-worn sweaters and jeans peeled away, releasing halting breathes from each of them. 

Standing beside her bed, Vincent turned away. “Every time I close my eyes, I know who I am. Yet when I open them, I am still this.” Vincent granted her a view of his chest, arms outstretched. His hair spread over his muscled shoulders as the moonlight played over the flanks of his buttocks. 

Diana lay back against the mountain of pillows she had been taken to hugging each night, “I’ll hold you close. ‘This’ is what I want ever so much.” 

In their past there had been need for secrets and they had met in confusion and walked long paths to clarity. Only now Vincent had this one hesitance before her could call her ‘home’ for his heart.
 
Jovially, Diana swung her legs over the bedside to place her feet on the furry rug, “My feet are on the ground, my head is in the clouds, and we’ll make it up as we go.” She playfully craned her head to see him fully. “You know I have an itching suspicion of what you look like, but I’d love the cook’s tour if you know what I mean?” Vincent felt her playfulness, it soothed him in these wild waters of what he was about to do. 

“Be careful, Diana, what you wish for.” His eyebrows rose and fell–- they had known each other for years, longer than he had wrestled with loving Catherine. His queen of everything was gone, and he had fallen from a lofty love to the unsteady ground of reality. Diana had been proof to ‘never say never’. 

Vincent turned slowly to reveal all that he was from furry toes to his bewitching half smile. Once again their fingers interwove, and as he gently placed one knee next to her, he whispered, “Don’t let me go, Diana.” 

If she thought she would bait him or lead him to some soothing embrace she thought wrong. This wasn’t poetic; this was hunger gracefully exemplified by long strokes of the back of his hand, her toe travelling up the back of his calf. Lips poised to urge flesh to quiver, hot breath sent to excite, and a portent of secret places to be kissed and suckled. 

Diana’s heart caught at the sensuality of his silent assessment of her beneath him. He straddled her thighs to view the glow he knew she hid under baggy grey shirts, Diana the goddess, his goddess. Unashamed, his flesh came to life, knowing she wanted him with the same hunger. 

In that moment Diana’s one hand cupped his soft flesh beneath the curved weight of his erection. Both of them hissed at their discovery of such a simple mutual inclination, to touch and rapture in that touch. Breathless and torn to leave where their pleasure had begun, the hours melted with their loving explorations.


 

 
Sated, wrapped in each other’s arms, tangled in sheets, Diana heard Vincent’s breathing slowing; it was 2:37a.m. Vincent’s eyes were fluttering, as if to sleep. Reclined with her, Vincent looked changed, his eyes less lined, his mouth relaxed, four very profound fangs looking more inviting since Diana knew what he could do with those things. The shoulders she was used to seeing under layers of clothing, square and stiff, were relaxed against the linen sheets, his chest moist with the hard earned cocktail of their loving. Bound into his embrace she wanted to pinch herself just to confirm this was Vincent lying naked in her bed. 

His eyes flashed open, “Diana?” Her name, his single word hypnotized her again. 

“Vincent?” She only hoped his name leaving her lips meant as much. 

His lips closed. “I’ve done something irreversible.” He rose on one elbow, plopping Diana solely on the bed. Seeing her discomfiture, he shook his head, 

Diana was mesmerized, watching his hair nearly fluid with its life as it had while he made love to her. Would she ever see his hair damp and loose and not think of his joyful abandon?  

His velvet voice whispered, “I was---excuse the expression, up-tight. I broke Catherine’s heart repeatedly. I denied her, us, all of this.” He ran the furred back of his hand along Diana’s arm on the sheet, and both of them quivered. “Then I was broken for so long, part believing Jacob’s conception was a fluke, the other half of my heart mired in my loss.” 

Diana’s eyes darkened and her head shook, wondering what regrets he had. She grabbed all of her hair in one hand and wound it into a knot, her world poised to shatter. 

“I see I’m frightening you.” Vincent sat up, the sheet dropping to reveal his chest and tight belly. Drawn quickly into his lap, she wrapped her legs around his trim waist and began to draw lazy circles in his chest hair. Lovingly Vincent caught her chin to kiss her lightly then when their eyes locked he confessed, “The pressure I was under caused something magnificent; I know that now. It burnt away those doubts; it brought me to your door last night. For so many reasons, I love you.” Using his fingers, Vincent loosened her hair, streaming it over her shoulders. 

Diana nodded, waiting for the other shoe to drop. Of her few one night stands, she could not let Vincent go. She was struck mute waiting. 

“I’ve never had anyone to confide with on matters of the heart,” Vincent outlined a Valentine’s heart over her breast and she trembled at the sensation. “I know the classics, I know old film, and I’ve never known a woman like you, Diana!” He stole a kiss on her nose and sighed in relief. “I had to have faith that what I felt coming from you---“ 

Diana fairly snorted, “All these years? Please, Vincent, I was going to give you until Winterfest, and then I was going to take Jacob to Kanin and Olivia and kidnap you.” 

Thinking of the Tunnel grapevine, Vincent pursed his lips to stifle a snicker. “Really?” 

“Really!” Playfully she found his earlobe and gave it a bit of a tug. Vincent shook with false exaggeration. “Oh, sit still, you’re tougher than that.” She caught his unique face in her hands to kiss him again on the lips before she levied her words. “Look, you sexy brute of a man, I was afraid you’d wake up and think this was some sort of embarrassing mistake. In the future, when we’re in bed after a night like this, I don’t want to hear you say you’ve done something irreversible. I love you!” 

Their fatigue was setting in over hunger and thirst. Diana knew that. She wondered if she could get him to stroll naked to the kitchen for juice. Not relinquishing her place in his lap, she was still curious. “That poem you started a few hours ago, was that Neruda?” She began to play with his hair as he watched her enjoyment. He nodded before she finger combed his bangs straight back then he good-naturedly frowned, and she drew them back down.  Hugging him close, she taunted him, “What’s the rest of it?” 

Awake and motivated by her wet warmth hovering over his flesh, he tossed her back on the bed and leaned over her. 

“I hunger for your sleek laugh”, he drew a nail over her throat to hear her rumble, “your hands the color of a savage harvest”, Vincent laved his tongue slowly over her wrist and drew her finger to his mouth. “hunger for the pale stones of your fingernails, I want to eat your skin like a whole almond.” He took her fingertip in his dangerous mouth and suckled so delicately that it gave her the shivers. 

“I want to eat the sunbeam flaring in your lovely body,” Vincent bent to nuzzle at her navel and stroke the auburn delta at the juncture of her legs. Then with grace and speed, he knelt over her face, “the sovereign nose of your arrogant face, I want to eat the fleeting shade of your lashes.” Again he kissed her wetly before he bounded over her to stand on the rug, silhouetted by moonlight at her window, his face wistful.  She waited for his words to end; Diana craved his warmth and strength more than another’s words. Didn’t he realize how she had yearned for him for so long? 

She left the bed with such speed her long titian tresses streamed behind her; they joined in an embrace and marveled at puddles of street light on the damp and empty street floors below. 

Once again Vincent caught her earlobe, bathing it with his hot breath and the Sonnet’s final words,  “and I pace around hungry, sniffing the twilight, hunting for you, for your hot heart, Like a puma in the barrens of Quitratue.”[2] 

Lost in their cotton-wool feelings, they swayed, snuggling and caressing, their passions re-igniting. Diana came up for air, caught her breath and declared, “Vincent, are you thinking what I’m thinking?” His high arched brows crested and settled. Other than his universal bond, he felt the same cravings as she had transferred for hours. 

“We don’t have cookies ready, but I do have a quart of cinnamon ice cream and some whipped cream, are you hungry?” Her doe eyes pleaded for a different type of nourishment. “All this talk about food has me a bit twitter-pated.” Diana’s fingertips introduced a tremble with her strokes up and down his muscled arms. 

With a final shiver, Vincent rubbed at his flat tummy and recognized a rumble not equated with love. “Cinnamon? Whipped Cream?” He was serious now. Diana nodded yes to both questions and wrapped the sheet around her toga style, Vincent grabbed a towel thrown at the end of the bed and wrapped it low around his hips to follow her with an urgent question, “Is it in a tub, or is that whipped cream in the can?” 

Diana stood at the open refrigerator, flummoxed, Redi-Whip in hand, “Really, Vincent? Would it matter?”


 [1] Pablo Neruda

[2] Pablo Neruda, Sonnet XI

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