Honey Crisp by Rick R. Reed

January 7, 2015

Title: Honey Crisp

Author: Rick R. Reed

Pairing: Duncan and Peter from Legally Wed

Prompt: Apple

 

Duncan awakes for two reasons. One, there’s a bit of a swell that morning on Lake Union, causing the houseboat in which he lives with his husband, Peter, to make a little dip and rise, strong enough to be felt.

The second reason is that he’s alone in bed. He turns his head to regard the empty space beside him and realizes it’s not completely empty.

There’s an apple on the pillow. While there are dozens of varieties of apples, especially here in Washington State, Duncan recognizes this lovely, shiny specimen as his favorite—the honey crisp. He turns to the apple and reaches out a hand to touch its firm, smooth skin. He wonders why an apple has replaced his husband.

Speaking of which, he hears Peter bustling around in the kitchen. It’s a Sunday morning and Duncan sits up, fragments of dream and weariness scattering all at once. He’s hungry and hopes the man he married is making something good for breakfast. From the smells drifting his way, Duncan has a clue to what’s being prepared. There’s a sharp note of cinnamon, perhaps just a touch of nutmeg combining with it. There’s brown sugar and butter, caramelizing. And underneath it all… yes.

The scent of apples, softening under the irresistible embrace of the butter, sugar, and cinnamon.

“Oh boy,” Duncan whispers. He gets up from bed in only his boxers and tiptoes around the partition that separates their bed from the houseboat’s common area.

He glimpses Peter from behind. And what a view! The soft reddish hair has caught a shaft of sunlight coming in through the window above the sink, turning his red locks almost a burnished gold. His hubby is clad also in a pair of boxers. Duncan grins because the boxers are white, but decorated with a repeating pattern of—you guessed it—apples. This time, though, it’s the lovely and somewhat arresting green of the Granny Smith.

Peter hums as he flips pancakes at the stove and Duncan relishes this quiet moment, when Peter doesn’t yet realize Duncan’s awake and Duncan can watch without Peter knowing. What’s the tune? Something jazzy and sweet, from a bygone era. Ah yes, “Sentimental Journey.”

Duncan tiptoes up behind Peter and wraps his arms around his waist, which causes Peter to gasp and jump. To calm him, Duncan lays the gentlest kiss, barely a whisper, on the soft, almost translucent hairs that grow on the nape of Peter’s neck. Peter’s shoulders go up and he laughs, tickled, at the feathery touch. “Good morning, you. And as delightful as that is, I need to remind you that I’m over a hot stove, so startling and tickling me may not be the wisest idea… in terms of kitchen safety at least.” Peter wriggles his backside against Duncan’s front. “That reminds me. I need to get the sausage started.”

“Oh, you’re terrible, Muriel,” Duncan says, quoting a line from one of their favorite movies.

Peter edges away. “Let me finish here. Buttermilk pancakes with sautéed apples and sage chicken sausage. Sound good?”

Duncan reluctantly moves away from Peter, thinking how much he’d like to just pull the man back into the still-warm covers of the bed, but also understanding Peter’s working hard to make him a nice breakfast. As he would tell his elementary school students, “All good things come to those who wait.”

He sits down at the table and notices the new, yet retro, apple placemats, the glasses of already-poured apple juice, and the card propped up against the bowl of, yes, apples.

“What’s this?” Duncan snatches up the card, smiling, yet a little panicked as it dawns on him what day it is.

Peter turns to him and shakes his head. “Just like a man.”

Duncan opens the card. Outside is a painting, very Thomas Kincaid, of an apple orchard. Inside, Peter has drawn a single eye to stare out lovingly—or maybe accusingly—at Duncan. Below it, Peter’s neat script says, “You’re the apple of me eye. Happy anniversary, Sweetheart!”

Duncan closes his eyes. How could he have forgotten their first anniversary? “Oh, this is so sweet.” He begins to stammer out an apology but Peter stops him with an upturned palm.

“Hey, no worries. You’ll make it up to me.” He grins. He turns from the stove, with a fry pan in each hand. The smells are pure heaven.

“You’re wonderful,” Duncan says, as Peter lays down the feast before him. “I don’t know how I got so lucky.”

“You let me plan your wedding,” Peter responds. “And I’m a pro. How could you lose?”

He sits down and begins to dish up the pancakes and sausage, smothering both in the glistening and fragrant sliced apples.

Duncan takes a bite. “You know that phrase, ‘died and gone to heaven’?”

Peter nods, a little smirk of satisfaction emerging from his red beard.

Duncan points at the pancakes. “This.”

They eat in contented silence for a moment or two, then Duncan asks. “Why apples?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, aren’t first anniversaries traditionally supposed to be about something else? Like, I think, paper?”

Peter covers Duncan’s hand with his own. “Sweet man, if there’s one thing I’ve learned as a wedding planner it’s that couples need to create their own traditions. Paper’s so boring. So, for us, this time, it’s apples.” He takes another bite of pancake and sautéed apple. “Maybe next year will be our rutabaga anniversary.”

Duncan’s touched and feels a little dampening at the corner of his eyes. He nods, takes a forkful of apple pancake, lifts it to his mouth, and says, “Out with the old and in with the new.”

“Exactly.” Peter smiles.

Did you enjoy Rick R. Reed’s story? If so, check out the rest of his books and take 25% off at checkout with the code RickRReedFlash. Coupon code is good for one order per customer through February 7, 2015.

One Response to “Honey Crisp by Rick R. Reed”

  1. Loved! What a sweet taste of Duncan and Peter. I so loved Legally Wed. But, where are the dogs? I’d expect them at the table side hoping for a dropped sausage….
    V :)

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