The Y-files [GL]
Sauce à la provençale :
Provençale sauce is named after a region, the Provençe, in southern France. Although you will not find the typical Belgian provençale sauce there. In the same way Flamenco dancing does not originate in Flanders. The sauce is more like an impression of the southern French regions. It is a tomato sauce with garlic, onions, bell peppers and mushrooms. Sometimes people will also add zucchini. The typical taste is acquired with a herb mix called “Herbes du Provençe '' which means “herbs from the Provençe” which consists of thyme, oregano, rosemary and savory.
Chapter 22: Emma arrives
I woke up a bit groggy. I’d had trouble falling asleep after my date with the prince. In the end I had gotten up out of bed in the middle of the night to bake Emma's favorite cookies. She was arriving this evening after all and that way I could clear my head and spoil my godchild at the same time.
I went to the bathroom and took a shower. After that I went to the kitchen to get me some breakfast. Mom and Frank were already busy getting everything ready in the brasserie.
While I was eating a sandwich I checked my messages on line. I had a bunch of messages from the girls to ask how yesterday had gone. Apparently the prince's valiant rescue, saving me from the masses in a princess carry, had been trending on social media, so they all wanted to know what that was all about. Well, I did promise to keep them posted. But I decided to keep them in the dark about the finer details of the date and just said that it had been nice and that I had agreed with Valerie to meet at the FBY on Monday after school.
After my message, Ms. Lyst had started a group video call.
“Sorry girls to talk shop on a Sunday, but I have something that needs to be discussed right now. Yesterday I ran into Mia in the city center and we got talking and she agreed to meet with us today. So I wondered if we could arrange that somehow.”
That woman! She had been scheming again. She had again done something unexpected to pull control out my hands. I had to make short work of this meeting, and not give her an inch to do something unnecessary. The smallest loss of time would just be doing it here in the apartment. Then I would also have the opportunity to cook a little something for all of them. After yesterday I wanted to do some tests with shrimp croquettes so it might not be bad to have some test subjects.
“You can all come to my place. We will have the apartment to ourselves, since mom and Frank are working downstairs.”
I took the initiative. I am sure Ms Lyst had somewhere else in mind, but now they all had to come here. I did an imaginary fist pump. Good parry Claire, you are one step closer to taking back control.
Gazette told us she would unfortunately not be able to come. Today was the one day a month she saw her dad and it was impossible for her to postpone that. Elsa and Tina were going on their first date today so of course we weren't going to ask them to cancel, but Fien and Elodie decided to join us.
“In that case I will record everything. That way you girls can watch it later.” Ms Lyst said. She looked rather happy. It was hard to tell for sure, when she was talking in that professional demeanor of hers, but I was pretty sure I could see a little smile form on her lips.
“I have just sent a message to Mia, and she said she will be there at 3 pm.” Anna confirmed.
“Okay, see you all later then.”
That would still give me some time to prepare the croquettes which was a good thing because they needed to rest for a while after they were made before baking them. It might also be best to clean the apartment a bit if I was going to be receiving guests.
I started on the croquettes and while I was at it, I decided to also make some cheese and vol au vent croquettes. They take a while to make, so I managed to get quite relaxed by doing so. When I was done, I put them in the fridge to let them rest.
Then I started cleaning the apartment. My room especially needed some fixing up. It had been quite hectic this last week. While cleaning the apartment I found some of my yuri novels in mom's room. I knew she had read one, but it seems she had been keeping it up. When I took a closer look to see exactly what she was reading, I noticed that those novels weren't mine. Had she gone out to buy them? Did she like them that much? For now I had to clean but I wondered if I should discuss yuri novels with my mom? No, somehow that just felt wrong to do.
I think I did sufficient damage control for now and made the place presentable enough so that it won’t touch my image of a proper girl and at the same time I made sure it would not look like I rushed to clean just because we were having guests.
I had half an hour left, so I went to the brasserie to have lunch. The lunch rush should have died down a bit by now, and now that we had Marie and Tory, I could eat with mom and Frank again.
When I opened the door to the brasserie I was met with a squeal and 3 girls rushed to me wanting my autograph. I cursed myself for forgetting about my celebrity status. I should have taken the entrance in the kitchen. I quickly gave them my autograph, because that would get rid of them the quickest. I really was having a hard time getting used to being the yuri-Jeanne D'Arc. I took some deep breaths to calm down again. I hoped this would all blow over soon.
The place was filled again with yuri couples. When I saw Tori and mom serving them I was reminded of one of my yuri novels. Maybe I should suggest maid uniforms to mom? She was reading the same kind of novels as I am wasn't she? That thought put me in a better mood. Then it occured to me that lately other things than cooking have been improving my mood. Cooking was still the most important thing in the world, but maybe, just maybe it was not that bad to let a few other things into my heart too, and maybe yuri was a rather nice thing to occupy myself with, since so many good things had already come out of this troublesome situation. But I should not let myself go too much! I would not want to lose too much time to cook, and it would be hard to remain in control of too many things…
I put on a fake smile for the customers that were all taking glances at me, and walked toward the kitchen. I greeted Mari and Frank with a kiss and asked Frank if he wanted to have lunch with mom and me. He said okay, but he would make it. Apparently there were some leftovers from yesterday's day's special so we would be having Femme Fatale's cod à la provençale. A lot of customers in the brasserie eat this dish with croquettes or french fries, but if you live in one, you soon start to want it with mashed or boiled potatoes.
I apologized to Mari and Tori that we would eat together, and asked if it was okay with them to hold the barracks alone for a while. It had been a long time since Mom, Frank and I could eat together while the brasserie was open. Tori and Mari did not mind eating together. That way they could start their date with lunch at Femme Fatale as they had the afternoon off. That sounded so cute, so I promised to make them a nice entree. Seeing their reaction to my proposition, I could see they both looked forward to eating my cooking again which stroked my ego as a chef. To be honest I was looking forward to getting some feedback on my shrimp croquettes from Mari, because she is a chef specialized in fish dishes and the advice she gave me the other day was really sound, so I was sure we could learn a lot from each other.
When we sat down at the table, I said to mom: “Some friends will be coming over soon, could you show them to the apartment?”
“Sure honey, but remember that Elizabeth is bringing Emma around 5pm and I need you to take care of her until closing time because Mari and Tory are off at 3pm.”
I knew mom just gave them the afternoon off, just so that they could be busy working when Elizabeth came by. They always let me deal with Elizabeth, my brother's ex. They always made sure that it would suddenly be “really busy” in the brasserie around 5pm on the day that Elizabeth came by. I was the only one in the family that was still on good terms with Elizabeth. She has always been really nice to me. I was still in elementary school when she and Frank started dating, so she had put on a real offensive to get onto my good side. I guess this is one of the better consequences of that period. But whatever, I loved spending time with my precious godchild so it didn't really bother me.
I went back to the apartment. Many of the customers nodded to me like I was their acquaintance. Well if it was just a nod I could indulge it so I just nodded back.
When I got into the apartment’s kitchen I took a few of the shrimp croquettes and took them back to the Brasserie’s kitchen to prepare the entree I promised Tory and Mari. When I presented them I said “Let me know later what you thought. I am still experimenting with them. “ Then I turned to Mari “Maybe we can make them together one of these days, then you can give me some tips.”
I left them alone so they could enjoy their time together. While I made my way back to the apartment I could hear some sweet moans coming from behind me. Making me form a smile on my face. My new croquettes were having the desired effect.
The first of the girls to arrive was bully Mia. She was a little early, so suddenly I found myself alone in my living room with the worst bully in school.
I thought I'd break the ice, so I let her have a seat, and brought over some of the cookies I made during the night, and made us some coffee.
“Would you like some sugar or milk?” I asked, doing my best as a good host. I hoped someone else would arrive soon.
Then she slapped the dish of cookies from the table.
“What are you doing, playing the perfect housewife? Wanna seduce me too? I know you went out with Valerie last night, you disgust me!” she shouted.
Now I can accept anger issues and deal with it civilly most of the time. But there is one thing I will never tolerate and that is someone disrespecting the food that I made!
My eyes turned very intense. I could feel the anger flow through my veins and I picked up a vegetable knife from the kitchen and spinned it in my hand, like a cowboy would do with his revolver. Then in a really determined way I went straight for Mia, grabbed her by her hair and put the knife against her throat. She shivered in fear at my transformation and actions. She probably thought I would be an easy victim. Well I probably would've been if she hadn't been disrespecting my cooking.
“Say you're sorry!””, I said, pushing her face against the ground.
“I'm sorry Claire!” she said not daring to move. She could feel I was serious.
“Not to me, to the cookies!”
I pushed her a little harder to the ground.
“Say sorry to the Cookies!”
“I'm sorry, cookies!” she said, shivering.
“Now eat them!”
She started eating. First with disgust on her face, but soon she started eating more and more eager. After all, they were perfect cookies that I personally made. I felt Mia going into a blissful daze from the taste of my cookies. I felt really powerful. That would teach her not to disrespect my cookies.
I felt myself going back to normal and noticed that in the meantime Elodie and Fien had entered the room. They looked really scared. I guess I overdid it huh.
Then Ms Lyst entered the room cheerfully, but immediately noticed the atmosphere, and then saw Mia sitting in a daze on the ground.
“What happened? What is going on here?”
“She's crazy!” Mia shouted and then added whispering to herself “But why do I feel so good? I hope I did not pick up some weird fetish...”
“Well that is not really fair now is it?” I said while spinning the knife again in my hand. “You were the one trying to bully me. You just should not have disrespected the cookies I made. I hate people that play with food!” I answered.
Fien and Elodie were still shocked. But then Fien suddenly shouted: “You were so freaking awesome Claire! That was like right out of a movie or something!”
Elodie started laughing.
That absurd comment by Fien seemed to wash away the heavy mood that was hanging in the room and even Mia's color started normalizing. “You girls surely are a strange bunch, I'm sorry for earlier. I just get so pissed when I think of girls touching Valerie, I always lose it no matter what I tell myself...”
Okay that was fair. I had sort of the same thing with people disrespecting my cooking, so I could somehow relate, so I apologized too for overreacting. (Slightly, maybe I overreacted slightly...)
Then Ms Lyst walked over to me and took my knife out of my hand. I was so used to holding a knife that I forgot I was still holding it. “I think everyone will have a better time without the knife dear.”
I could hardly say anything to that could I?
“Now let us get to the task at hand and discuss the case.” Ms Lyst said.
Dammit I had lost control and now Ms Lyst was leading us. I had to get it together.
“Let me make some snacks to brighten the mood a little. I owe everyone at least that.”
I started baking the croquettes and served them on a large tray so that everyone could take whatever they wanted. I also put some toothpicks on the table because they would still be to hot to handle with bare hands.
Everyone took a croquette. Mia was a little wary, but decided to trust the enthusiasm of the girls surrounding them. After their first bite they were all moaning, and telling me about how good it was. Especially the chili,the trick I learned yesterday, in the crust was apparently amazing. Mia immediately apologized again for throwing my food on the ground earlier. I took a croquette myself and the ideal taste I was trying to create touched my tongue. I felt a rush going through my body. I did it. I successfully improved my recipe. It was even better than what I had yesterday.
We were talking about the case and something wasn't matching up with what Valerie had told me. The way she had rejected Valerie, saying she was disgusting did not fit this lovestruck maiden.
“I just don't understand why you rejected Valerie and said she was disgusting? If you are so lovestricken, why did you do that?” I suddenly interrupted the conversation and all eyes fell on Mia. I saw that Mia was deliberating if she would tell us or not but in the end it seemed like she decided to tell us.
“I was always in love with Valerie, but she was in love with my older sister. She confessed to my sis a few days before she confessed to me. I wanted to be her number one, not my sister's replacement. I thought it was disgusting that she asked me so soon after. It was clearly just a way to get back at sis. What else could I do but reject her?”
I had to agree the situation had become quite impossible, but right now Valerie was definitely fixated on Mia, and not on her sister. This would not be solved with a simple locker room. The one taking the initiative and giving proof of her intentions would have to be Valerie that was already clear to me.
While we were discussing different yuri patterns that could apply and solve the case, I noticed that Mia became more and more open toward me, she clearly no longer saw me as a rival when she noticed my input and that we clearly were trying to help her.
Then there was a knock on the door, the door opened and suddenly this adorable red-haired bundle of joy ran toward me.
“Auntie Claire!” Emma jumped and hugged me and gave me kisses all over my face. My godchild is so adorable! The other girls were looking stunned at me with stars in their eyes. I think Ms. Lyst’s pupils had even turned into hearts.
Seeing Emma always puts me in a mellow mood. I loved taking care of my cute little godchild. I mean just look at her. How could anyone not love that cute energetic girl? Only seeing her made me want to spoil her.
Then Elizabeth walked into the room.” Hi Claire, I'm here to drop off Emma. That no good brother of yours had no time for his daughter... again.”
Emma looked really sad at that remark so I hugged Emma and whispered to her, “He is just scared of your mom, there will be plenty of time this week.” and then I tickled her and she started laughing again. Emma looked around the room to the other girls and then shouted “Auntie Mia is here too!” She ran toward Mia and hugged her.
Elizabeth walked up to me and gave me a kiss and then she went to Mia to give her a kiss too. “Hey Mia, I did not know you knew Claire?” Mia was surprised too to see Elizabeth here. I saw her putting two and two together and she answered “Oh so all those stories about that cute sister of your ex were about Claire?” Mia asked. Elizabeth got a little blush. She was clearly embarrassed because she was caught gossiping “I just told my cousin some of the stuff we have been through.” I noticed her signaling to Mia to stop saying anything else.
Elizabeth went over some specifics of Emma's care with me. Apparently Emma had had a little accident at school and we needed to apply some ointment.
“If not for you, I would have fought custody a lot harder, you know.” She said, then she gave me a goodbye kiss and whispered to me, “That lady in the business suit isn't a bad catch.” and she gave me a wink and left.
I stood there a bit stupefied. What the heck?
I got myself back together and went back to the living room, and put Emma on my lap. We decided to put the case on hold until we had talked to Valerie tomorrow. We needed to get to the bottom of that rebound situation and it seemed to me, we would mostly need Valerie to make the effort.
Since it was getting late I asked if they wanted to stay for dinner. Ms Lyst answered positively saying that she loved my cooking. That made me blush a little. Then Fien and Elody looked knowingly at each other and said they had to go. I noticed them staring at Mia, who clearly got the hint and said she had prior engagements. What the hell was all that about?
Because of that, for some reason I was having dinner with Ms. Lyst and Emma tonight!