“That bird,” Steven pronounced, “is frigid. Couples counseling’d do you both a world of good.”
Jack shushed him impatiently, and stared at the naked poultry in front of him.
“Face it, Jack,” Seth said, “you’re just going to have to put rosemary and prosciutto in it. It’s not so bad. It’s comfort food.”
“I am a creative genius,” Jack told the Cornish game hen. “I have made men weep with my turkey. I am an architect of flavors, a sultan of sweets, and you, you will not be comfort food.”
Steven leaned over his shoulder, and poked the meat with one finger. “Bet I could trade all of these with the sous chef at Bernardine for several dozen racks of lamb.”
It was an appealing idea, but as the morning had worn on with Jack trying one dish after another with the stubborn little birds, creating something new and different had become a personal challenge instead of a professional necessity.
“Okay, how about – thyme and onions?” Jimmy piped up from the back of the kitchen. “My ma used to make the best –“
As one, Seth, Jack and Steven turned to glare at him. He held up both hands and backed out quietly. “Right. I’m the bitch. I get it.”
“I will not be undone by you,” Jack said, turning back to the horrible little drumsticks, the tiny wings. “I am a master chef. You are nothing to me.”
The bird remained inert, just as it had when Jack had tried stuffing it with gorgonzola, and glazing it with ginger, and covering it in rock salt, and – the list was far too long, and Jack’s head was staring to hurt.
“You could always douse it with brandy and set it on fire,” Steven suggested, sloshing a bottle over his head. “Be therapeutic, yeah? Burn the bugger black, then throw a few cranberries on it, call it Cornish game hen en flambé and be done with it.”
Jack blinked once, and then blinked again, and before he knew it his hand was deep in Steven’s pocket grabbing for the lighter while the other was drowning the game hen in brandy and he was barking out orders, and people were scurrying around the kitchen.
“Hey, hands!” Steven yelped, and Jack whipped his head around until they were nose to nose.
“Steven, right now you are so sexy that you’re lucky I’m not raping you over the pastries,” he said, and really, the only thing better than watching the game hens burn merrily was Steven’s blush.