In previous episodes of Suzie’s House Drew decided to take on the investigation into the Smash Master by himself. Refusing to be cut out of the action, Suzie, Vin, and Miranda formed a vigilante group. Following their own leads, and making their own alliances, they try to find the men with the red hair without Drew knowing.
Drew clattered some pots and pans together a few times, taking them out of the cupboard then putting them right back. He had a cast iron skillet in one hand, turned upside down so he could read the imprinted circle on the back, and a copper-bottom saucepan in the other when Suzie walked in.
“Need any help?” She gently removed the saucepan from his hands.
He managed to keep his face bland, though it was hard. Suzie was so predictable. All he needed to do to lure her away from the others was go into her kitchen and look incompetent. Or rather, sound incompetent.
“Um… I thought I’d make some Ratatouille.”
“You know how to make Ratatouille?” Suzie’s eyebrows went arching up.
“No, but I think I’d like some.” Drew worked to look like the woe begun, bumbling man about the kitchen.
“If you really, honestly want some, I’ll make it tomorrow when it’s my turn to cook. I have some lasagna in the freezer if you’d like.”
“No, no no. I don’t want to put you to any extra work.” He set the pan on the stove, letting his hand linger a second as if reluctant to let it go.
“I don’t mind. I’d much rather do it that way than…” She let her words trail off in embarrassment.
“Than to have to clean up the mess I’m likely to make?”
“I didn’t say that.”
She didn’t have to. Weeks ago he noticed her distress at what she often found in the kitchen. She grumbled under her breath as she re-arranged the cupboards to her own special order and tossed out leftovers he would have saved. She jumped in to help a little too eagerly, went to too much effort to provide quick and easy cooking options for all of them. She didn’t seem to be aware that unlike Vin or – God help him – Miranda, Drew actually did know how to cook.
He wandered over to the refrigerator. “I don’t need any help. Except maybe a recipe. Do you think you could bring the recipe file in from your office for a minute?”
“THE recipe file? The only recipe file I know about is MY recipe file. I promise you, ratatouille is not in it.” Her lips pursed together and her chin came up. He admired the fire in her eyes as he opened the refrigerator.
“What’s so special about your recipe file anyway?”
“It belonged to my grandmother. There are recipes in that file that are over a hundred years old.”
“I didn’t know there were recipes that far back.” He pulled out some mushrooms, a couple of bell peppers, and a clove of garlic.
“There were in my family,” Suzie said with pride.
Drew had no idea if there were any in his own family. He’d taught himself. He put the vegetables on a cutting board he already had out.
Suzie sighed. She shoulders went limp. “I guess I can trust you. Just don’t tell Miranda I let you look in my recipe file.”
“Why not?” He sliced up the vegetables.
“We got into a fight one day. About Rob, actually. She said he was trying to steal me away from her, keeping her from seeing me. Looking back, I think she was right, but at the time, I wouldn’t believe it. She got mad when I wouldn’t listen and pitched the recipe file into the toilet.”
“Huh!” Drew slapped his hand over his mouth. He hadn’t meant to laugh out loud.
“There’s nothing funny about it.”
“No. Of course not. But I could easily see Miranda doing it.”
“That’s the least she’s capable of.” Suzie rolled her eyes heavenward. “Anyway, I’ll let you borrow a recipe if you really want, but I honestly don’t have ratatouille.” She turned, as if about to leave.
“No hurry,” he said quickly, moving around the table to intercept her. “I’d love to look through it some other time, but not right now. Would you mind putting some water on to boil for me?”
She looked as undecided as a deer in the headlights. “All right,” she said reluctantly.
“You’ve known Miranda a long time.” He turned on both burners.
“Just about my whole life.” She put the pot on a burner without having to be told which to use, then settled against the counter a couple of feet away.
Someday they would cook together, a whole meal, not just a little help here and there. He’d like to do it with a whole lot less space between them. While Suzie stared into the distance and talked, he added rice pilaf to the saucepan, and took out some prime cuts of steak and cooked them up with the vegetables and some sherry he’d set out.
“I’m not sure why Miranda and I have been friends so long. I don’t even like her part of the time.”
“All friends have moments when they’d rather not be together.” He poured some of the sherry, a quality bottle, into wine glasses; one for each of them.
“Maybe.” She took her glass with less than half her attention on it. “I think at first I was friendly to her because I felt bad for her. I’m not sure – because I never actually saw anything and she never said – but I think she might have been abused, and not just by one or another of her mother’s boyfriends.”
Drew paused with his spatula hanging over the skillet. “That’s a serious accusation.”
“I know.” Suzie nodded, then took a sip. The elegance of a wine glass full of red-amber liquid contrasted with her disheveled ponytail and blouse covered in a miniature-flower print. He liked it. Oblivious to his attention, she talked on. “But she has these scars inside where no one can see that make me think…” Suzie shook her head. “I’m probably wrong.”
“She’s not too badly messed up. She’s fun to go bar hopping with.”
Suzie winced. “You know what that was about. It’s not like I normally go bar hopping with her now a days.”
“Didn’t you go bar hopping with her yesterday? You and Miranda and Vin?”
Suzie sucked in her lower lip.
“Or were you, perhaps, chasing after Christina, who took off in Cindy’s red Corvette right before the three of you shot out of the driveway in your borrowed car.”
Suzie swallowed hard.
Drew let silence hang over her head while he arranged the rice, meat, and a salad he’d made earlier on each plate. When he made eye contact, she looked ready to spill.
“I expect you to inform me of anything pertinent you happen to learn that way.”
Her jaw snapped shut. He wouldn’t be getting anything out of her right now. But later. Maybe. He handed her a plate.
“Would you mind taking this to the dining room for me?”
“Hey, this isn’t Ratatouille.” Suzie looked down at the plates he’d handed her.
“I know.” Drew turned away quickly so she wouldn’t see him smile.