This is my entry for the Falling into Autumn contest.
Many thanks to the hosts, validators, judges, banner makers, and other entrants.
Many many thanks as always to the wonderful beachcomberlc for letting me share her birthday present with the contest and cleaning and tidying the mistakes. And for helping me remove all the Canadian traces from the story.
First place Public vote, Second place Judges vote and honeybeemeadows' pick, you have no idea just how honoured I am.
A nod to Stephenie Meyer and Stuart MacLean for inspiration.
Edward Cooks the Turkey
Edward Cullen is a man who loves his wife.
He loves her passionately and without reservation.
He loves her soft floral smell, how she smiles and especially the way she loves him. He admires the way she carried and raised his children with grace and kindness. He is insane over the velvety spot just behind her ear and would spend the rest of his life between her thighs if she were to allow it. He's crazy about the way her wee-wee piggy toe curls and the three freckles just under her left breast. He likes the rich color of her hair and how she fits into his arms. He loves how she wrinkles her nose just before a sneeze. He adores the fact that she always has a tissue somewhere on her person from the autumnal equinox to the vernal. In his view, Bella Cullen makes seasonal allergies sexy.
Edward Cullen loves his wife, insanely.
He just doesn't understand her sometimes.
Which is fine, for he is aware that he has some incomprehensible habits himself. Possibly more than she does, but that depends on which of them you ask.
They met in high school. They were very close friends until Edward gained the necessary scrotal fortitude to ask for a date. After that date, they were damn near inseparable. They lived together for two years toward the end of college, much to the displeasure of both their families. This time was spent working out some of the kinks all relationships have: laundry basket versus floor, thermostat regulation and the proper way to load a dishwasher. Then they married in a small ceremony and pledged themselves forever.
Thus, the toilet paper always hung down, not over. The toilet seat was always down with the lid shut 'cause, really, who wants to see an open toilet? The phrase 'just put on a sweater' quickly became a family motto. Edward was raised to compromise and the negotiations were smooth. And the make-up sex was outstanding.
Edward was in charge of the laundry and Bella, the cooking. Bella did the yard work leaving him more time to vacuum. Both of them were more than capable of doing the other's tasks but they played to their strengths and it made for a healthy, happy relationship.
There were still arguments and disagreements. Those are only natural in any relationship. They had children; two, one of each. They moved houses three times and still the couple was solid.
Life was good in the Cullen household. They worked hard and enjoyed their life together.
For thirteen years, after the children started arriving, tradition held Thanksgiving dinner at Edward and Bella's house every year. His parents hosted the Christmas celebration, and one brother took Easter, the other the Fourth of July. In attendance usually were his family: mother, father, two brothers, their spouses and respective children. Her father and his girlfriend of the year were invited. There was also always a place set for the stranger. The stranger was a colleague or friend who was unable to be with their own family for the holiday. One year it was a Bulgarian exchange student, the next, a newly divorced and teary accountant from the office. One year the tally reached thirty when Edward kept inviting more and more people, forgetting how many had already been offered invitations. It took six months of biweekly foot rubs before Bella fully forgave him.
This year, the dinner was for seventeen, a large but manageable number. The majority of those invited were children; easy to please children. Bella arranged for the week off work to clean the house, do the shopping and cater the meal. Edward worked from home and could not wait for the smell of the delicious treats his wife always concocted to waft up to his office.
Unfortunately, a minor tragedy forced Bella out of town for the week. Her mother's boyfriend broke his leg and her mother was a mess. Renee could scarcely take care of herself, let alone her injured man. Renee booked tickets for Bella and the kids to fly down for the week. He insisted they go; Renee needed them and it had been a long time since the kids had seen their grandmother. It would not be a problem for Edward to take charge and cook the Thanksgiving dinner. He was adamant and Bella was too harried to argue. Bella and the kids were scheduled to arrive back just in time to sit down for the grand meal.
Edward was confident. He had eaten thirty-five Thanksgiving dinners that he could recall. He knew exactly what to do. It would be a breeze. And he had four days with the house all to himself. His first order of business was to schedule a cleaning service for the following morning. His second was to order a vast amount of pizza and wings.
To celebrate his temporary bachelor status, no trousers were worn for the remainder of the day as soon as the cleaning ladies left. Edward spent all afternoon in his boxers. When he was cold, he turned up the heat. If he got sweaty, he dropped the temperature. When he was hungry, he ate. He ate what he wanted, when he wanted. He did not clean up after himself. All in all it was a very liberating day.
Back to adulthood. He cleaned the mess he had made the day before and started organizing a list of grocery items he would need.
Potatoes or is it Potatos? Stupid Dan Quayle
Those orange things
It was a start.
One hundred and thirty-six dollars later, he spent a long time trying to find space for thirty pounds of turkey. Edward named it Seth, for no reason really, he just liked the idea. He had read somewhere that, when serving a large bird, you needed an average of one pound per person. He figured that a thirty pound bird would suffice and make for some mighty toothsome leftovers. He left the twenty pounds of potatoes in the garage. As potatoes had no bones, he factored a half pound per person would be enough. He would deal with them later.
Edward woke missing his wife terribly. He missed the constant noise his children made. The house was too quiet. He had no one to talk to and he had a huge task ahead of him. He spent a great deal of time in the shower to mentally prepare. Actually, he spent a great deal of time in the shower jacking off. He imagined a scenario in which Bella came home early and without the kids. She had been so proud of everything he had accomplished thus far that she pushed him onto the kitchen counter and had her way with him. She was wearing a see-through black corset nightgown thing that had holes for her nipples to poke out; there were corresponding black lace crotchless panties finishing the outfit. Red come-fuck-me hooker heels were on her feet. First, she did a thing with her tongue that made his eyes roll back in his head as she teased him with a well lubed little finger. Then she climbed on the counter with him and rode him until they were both sweaty and breathless. Once his eyes could focus again and there were no longer little black dots in his field of vision, he got out of the shower and started his day.
The first menu item Edward tackled was the potatoes. He looked at the two ten-pound bags and thought of the size of the kitchen sink. It would take forever to wash the potatoes there. So he hauled the bags to the kid's bathroom and gave them a bath in the tub. It reminded him of bathing the kids when they were little, although the potatoes were much less squirmy. He wrapped the clean potatoes in a towel and brought them back to the kitchen. He took out three of the biggest pots he could find and filled them to the brim with potatoes and water. He set them to boil and took out the carrots and the green beans. While the potatoes happily bubbled away, he peeled five pounds of carrots and cut them into little circles. Those got put aside for tomorrow. He snapped all the green beans into bite-sized lengths and then searched for the rest of the ingredients. His mother always made green bean casserole, and Edward loved it growing up but Bella made hers with almonds. He was torn. Did he choose one over the other and potentially piss off a very important woman in his life? If he chose wrong, his mother could deliver guilt like a pro and make him feel like shit or his wife could withhold sex. He really liked sex.
After another long shower and a refilling of the water in the potato pots, Edward made his decision. In line with the thinking of some of the most brilliant male minds of this century, he decided to make both by combining the recipes. A quick internet recipe search later and he was in the car heading back to the grocery store.
He had never seen so many frazzled-looking women in one place before. He fixed an apologetic smile on his face and dashed to the soup aisle.
There was a problem.
Google just said "combine the soup"… it didn't say what kind of soup. There were hundreds, no, thousands of different cans of soup. Edward only knew he needed a Cream of—soup. He searched and searched, but for the life of him he could not find Cream of Green Bean soup. He stood there, occasionally getting jostled by other shoppers, staring at the display. Finally, after a 'fuck it' moment, he grabbed several cans of Cream of Asparagus. It was the closest to green bean he could find.
The potatoes were well-boiled by the time he got home. It was slow going and the blades got clogged frequently with skins, but eventually all the potatoes were mashed in the mixer.
His next trip to the grocery store was for bandages. The casserole was mixed and awaiting a topping. Almonds were a bugger to slice. He only got through a handful of them before cutting his fingers. Therefore, he needed extra bandages to staunch the flow of blood.
Edward decided to break out the whiskey when he found ready-sliced almonds in the back of the pantry. He happily set out to toast them to a golden brown, just like Bella's.
After clearing the smoke and silencing the alarm, Edward decided that the green bean casserole was just fine as it was and didn't need any fucking topping, thank you very much.
An afternoon nap improved his disposition immensely. It also sobered him up enough for his next trip to the grocery store. Most of the frazzled women were gone. In their place were grimacing individuals, mostly men, storming around searching for that last item that was forgotten during the last trip. He fit right in. Fifty-seven dollars later, he had everything he could possibly need for the next day's meal. Including a shiny new bottle of whiskey.
A couple more shots of whiskey and the sweet potatoes were done. He had a great deal of fun arranging the mini-marshmallows over the dish. He made a pretty woodland scene with the different colors. It was a pity that the scene took so many of the lime-flavored ones because those were his favorite. He forced himself to only snack on the plain ones. Did you know that a marshmallow shot from the right nostril flies faster and farther than one from the left? It's a true fact.
The next few hours were spent making pies. Edward had always enjoyed baking. He would be the only kid to help his mother with the task, much to the delight of his brothers. They teased him mercilessly, calling him "Julia". Now grown, he took pride in his baking and without incident made five pies. Two pumpkin, two pecan and one sweet potato, liberally laced with some of his precious whiskey.
Brimming with satisfaction, Edward collapsed on the couch to watch whatever piqued his interest on television. He kept one ear tuned to the pot of boiling eggs on the stove. Deviled eggs were his favorite and he was making them as an appetizer.
He woke to the sounds of gunshots and hit the floor before he was fully awake. Why the fuck would someone be taking potshots at his house the night before Thanksgiving? He was scared shitless. After a few more rounds went off, he realised there was no sound of breaking glass, so it might be safe to look through the windows. He commando-crawled to the front window and peeked out. It was really dark outside and he couldn't see anything. There was another shot, but he didn't see a muzzle flash and the sound seemed to be coming from the back of the house so he snaked his way to the kitchen. He reached the doorway and was just about to stand when another shot ripped through the night's quiet. He hit the floor again. That's when the smell first wafted to his nostrils. It was god-awful, acrid and fetid, almost demonic smelling.
Edward found the source of the gunshots and the smell in the same place. The pot of eggs had boiled dry while he dozed on the couch. Eighteen exploded eggs were blackened onto the bottom of the pot and there were shells and debris all over the stove. He picked up the hot pot and ran cold water over the eggs. He then took the cooled pot and put it in the garage. He'd buy Bella a new pan as soon as he could, hopefully before she noticed one was missing.
Edward fell asleep on the couch again with vivid dreams of warfare. Needless to say, he did not sleep well nor did he feel well-rested when he awoke the next morning.
Day four began at four-thirty in the morning when Edward's eyes flew open and he fell off the couch. Something was very wrong and he couldn't put his finger on just what it was, but he could feel it. He listened for a while, but there was no sound of an intruder. He didn't smell anything other than the remnants of scorched egg. Giving his balls a well deserved scratch, he ambled into the kitchen and brewed a cup of coffee. With one hand bracing him on the powder room mirror, he was able to drain the last of yesterday's whiskey from his bladder. A huge mug of coffee improved his mood as he sat at the breakfast bar and looked over his task list for the day.
Things were looking good. All the vegetable side dishes were done. The cranberry sauce was done. He had even prepared for the stuffing by dicing some carrots, celery, mushroom and bacon. Both his mother and his wife, love them dearly, used pork sausage in their stuffings. Edward, now Edward was a man's man and damn it, he wanted bacon.
Like in almost every comic strip known, a veritable light bulb went off over his head. Stuffing. Stuffing. Stuffing. STUFFING!
The turkey was still in the freezer. There would be no stuffing of anything because Edward had failed to defrost the fucking turkey. Three tears of frustration landed in his coffee cup before he came up with a plan. It was a magically idiotic, asinine, half-assed plan, but it was the best he could come up with at five o'clock Thanksgiving morning. He slugged back his coffee and ran to the freezer. He hauled Seth out and laid him on the counter.
Edward stood there, looking at Seth in all his yummy turkey glory. If they all survived this Thanksgiving without salmonella, botulism, or ptomaine he would be the luckiest bastard in the world. He got to work.
Step one: empty dishwasher.
Step two: lay old towel over the spiky things that hold the dishes.
Step three: nestle Seth gently on the bottom rack of the dishwasher.
Step four: run dishwasher on sanitize.
Step five: pray.
While the rapid defrost machine was working, Edward made the stuffing. If Seth hadn't defrosted enough, he would bake it in a pan, cover it with bacon and call it 'dressing'. It was a fine line between the two, stuffing versus dressing. He never really understood the distinction but always kind of liked stuffing better. It was stuffed, therefore it is stuffing. He kept repeating the word stuffing in his head and aloud until he realized that perhaps he still had a bit of whiskey left in him. He thought of taking a hot shower but he'd have to wait until Seth was done with his, so he just had another cup of coffee as the stuffing cooled.
The dishwasher did an adequate job. There was some give to Seth's skin and he was no longer frozen solid. However, his legs were still crossed tighter than a Catholic schoolgirl an hour after Mass. Edward rummaged through Bella's mysterious and dangerous bathroom cabinet. He had learned early on in his relationship with his wife that there are a few places he wasn't allowed to mess around with: her purse, her panty drawer and her cabinet in the bathroom. There were secret, private, scary woman-things there and he preferred to not know about them. Her tool chest in the garage had similar restrictions but as she had the nicer tools, he always asked permission before borrowing them.
Edward found what he needed and triumphantly made his way back to the kitchen. He placed Seth on a cookie sheet, grabbed a stool and plugged in Bella's fancy new hair dryer. It had been a thing with her, having long thick hair, she went through quite a few cheap hair dryers before she was talked into getting a good quality, more expensive brand. She'd felt guilty for a while about spending the money, not that it was really expensive. It wasn't one of those three hundred dollar ones and she did get it on sale, but she didn't feel she warranted the extra expense. She compensated by cooking fancier meals for two weeks and doing things in the bedroom that made him feel like a king. He didn't care what she spent on hair care as long as she was happy. Although, he really enjoyed the guilty sex; it was really hot.
The hair dryer was noisier than he expected, so he jumped a bit when he finally found the button that turned it on. Seriously, there were like six hundred buttons on the handle of the thing. With the hair dryer plugged in and ready, Edward set to work. In short, ten minute bursts, it took an hour to get the legs of the turkey defrosted enough so that he had access to the cavity for stuffing. However, by then time had run away from him and he knew he wouldn't be able to stuff the bird and get it in the oven and ready in time for dinner. But he also knew he had to keep going and get the really big chunk of ice he could see out of the cavity before he put Seth in the oven.
He was determined.
He was a man on a mission.
He was fucked either way.
His next coffee had a healthy slug of whiskey in it.
Edward propped open Seth's legs and pointed the hair dryer into the cavity. Images of going to the ob-gyn with Bella when she was pregnant flooded into his mind. The thought made him a bit ill and a bit giggly. He had reduced himself to being a turkey gynecologist by failing to take the bird out of the freezer in time. He found himself wanting to pat Seth on one of his plump breasts and promise to be gentle with him. It was an utterly absurd idea and he decided not to have any more whiskey in his coffee, or at least until the cooking was done.
He tried really hard not to let the hair dryer touch the raw turkey but it was difficult. He wasn't sure what the best course of action would be; clean the hair dryer or just buy Bella a new one. She had kicked up such a fuss over this one he didn't think she would want him to fork out the money for a new one. He decided to google how to clean it later.
Giant scoop-y spoon in one hand, hair dryer in the other, Edward endured the smelliest facial known to man. The blowback from the inside of the turkey made him want to toss his cookies but he was determined to get the fucking ice chunk out and make his family a nice fucking Thanksgiving dinner. All the work he had done and all the work he had left to do, well, they better fucking appreciate him after this. He already knew he would have to plant his face in his wife's crotch for hours as payback for every fancy special meal she had ever made him. He might have to take a week off work just to make a dent in the payback he owes her. She works so hard and he never properly thanked her for it. Maybe tickets to the ballet or a stupid art gallery as well. Nah, his first idea was much more pleasing. For both of them. Maybe the kids could stay at their grandparents for the Christmas break. Yeah, that's the ticket. He lost concentration for a while before returning to the task at hand.
Finally, he dislodged the thing and set it on the counter in a bowl. It was solid, crusted with ice, a weird purple color and heavy. He'd worry about it later.
Seth got a cleaning, a seasoning and a cozy roasting pan before being shoved unceremoniously into a four hundred and fifty degree oven. In lieu of stuffing, Edward shoved Seth's main cavity full of onions. The other small cavity was nicely rounded so he felt no need to tamper with it. He set the timer for half an hour and started cleaning up. His first order of business was to lay his head on the counter for a moment; just a moment.
Edward fell asleep waiting for the timer to tell him to lower the temperature on the oven. He didn't overshoot the mark by long, just an hour, but he didn't panic. With Seth being partially defrosted, a little extra time at a high heat couldn't hurt him. He wiped the drool from the counter and turned the temperature down to three twenty-five. He melted some butter and gave Seth a porn-star-worthy rub down. Seth was very glisten-y now. "I believe in miracles. Where you from, you sexy thing you?" The song slipped from his lips without him even knowing he was singing. Multiple pelvic thrusts and a few ass slaps later he finished the song with hundreds of imaginary dollar bills tucked in his red spangled g-string.
Edward lined the counter with all the vegetables he had cooked the day before. He arranged them in the order they would need reheating. After basting Seth with a cup of white wine, he marched into the dining room to begin setting the tables. Bella had run around frantically, much like Seth might have, pulling out the Thanksgiving decorations for the table so her husband wouldn't have to go searching. A table set for seventeen is a feat of organization. Bella was the queen of holiday organization; Edward, not so much. There were plates, cutlery, fancy napkins, leaves, candles and other decorating shit on the table. People could eat and that was, in the end, all that was really necessary in his opinion.
Edward did a sweep of the rest of the house to check for general tidiness. It was in the living room that he noticed both his dead cell and disengaged landline. No wonder it had been so quiet for the last three days. He had been unreachable. God, Bella must have been going crazy. He plugged in his cell to charge and fixed the landline. The cleaning service must have taken the phone off the hook accidentally while they were working. No big deal. He was sure Bella had been too busy helping her mother to worry about reaching him. Bella and the kids would be in the air and on their way back so he had missed any opportunity to get her input with the dinner.
The timer chimed once again to remind him to baste Seth. He ambled into the kitchen and readied Seth's bath. Seth was coming along nicely. He smelled wonderful; rich and homey. However, Seth was looking a little uneven. Edward started to fret. Then he started to agonize. Then he started to stress. He was in full-blown panic mode when the phone rang and scared the shit out of him. He ran to grab the kitchen extension, not bothering to check the caller ID.
"Hello, son. Your mother was concerned that you hadn't called in a while so she asked me to check on you. Do you need…" His father's voice made his anxiety levels grow. There were sixteen people depending on him and he wasn't ready.
"Can't talk Dad, my legs are too dry and my breasts are pale." He slammed the phone down and did what most adult males would do when faced with a cooking emergency.
He grabbed more bacon.
Seth looked resplendent in his new bacon coat. Edward had a momentary panic, though, wondering if the stranger guest kept kosher. He highly doubted it as the man's name was Alistair but still, you should never assume. There was no hope of salvaging a clean meal for him if he was, anyway. Keeping with religious rules was the least of Edward's worries when it came to the meal he was preparing. Violent diarrhea or death was more to the forefront of his mind. He searched every drawer and jar of utensils, but couldn't find a meat thermometer anywhere. He peeked in on Seth and then ran outside to look for his special, fancy, high-tech digital barbeque thermometer/meat fork. He loved his baby; only used it on special occasions and for special meats. It was the crowning glory in his flaming meat arsenal. All the other men in the neighborhood were jealous. But it was by and far away the best Father's Day present he had ever received. He called her Sue. Sue knew everything. She had different levels and settings and performed magic at the touch of a button. She was beautiful; stainless steel and shiny, nine inches of pure joy. He gave her a little kiss and walked back into the kitchen to introduce Sue to Seth. The introduction went well. Sue let him know that Seth had a few hours left to go to reach optimum temperature.
Another quick basting and Seth was back to napping in the oven til next time.
When they had remodeled the kitchen last, he had thought his wife, his perfect sweet, loving, sexy wife, was crazy when she insisted on dual ovens. He wondered when she would ever need two ovens for anything. After all, they were only a family of four. So what if he and his son could polish off an entire meatloaf between them, or a pan of brownies? Ovens had those rack things for a reason, right? But now he was praising her to every deity he had ever heard of because he was able to warm most of the vegetable dishes while Seth lingered in his own sauna. He was so proud of himself for marrying such a smart woman.
Bella called from the airport as soon as she and the kids landed. Edward assured her that everything was under control and that he was in charge. They were twenty minutes away and Edward felt supremely confident, with Sue's help.
His brother and family arrived and Edward stationed them in front of the television. He enlisted the help of his sister-in-law to check the table, but he refused her entry into the kitchen.
The stranger, Alistair, rang the bell and was happily greeted by the sister-in-law. Alistair was her acquaintance and invite.
His parents arrived next, quickly followed by his other brother and entourage. Seth was taken out of the oven and was resting on the counter. He threatened to whack his mother with Sue if she stepped into the kitchen. He wanted this accomplishment all to himself. He had been in the trenches with this meal for days, dammit, and he wasn't going to accept help from anyone. This was his war, his battle and his honor.
Bella and the kids arrived just as he was putting the finishing touches on the gravy. It had been touch and go with the sauce for a while. It was very oily and wouldn't set, so he had to keep adding more and more flour to get it to thicken. It was really thick now but still pourable so he ladled it into the gravy boat (when had they become grown up enough to have a gravy boat?) and finally let his mother into the kitchen to help ferry dishes into the dining room. One last jab of Sue into Seth and Edward proudly presented the turkey to the crowd. Out of deference, he let his father carve as they all, one at a time, said what is was that they were thankful for that year. As plates were passed and filled, Edward looked around the room at his family. He felt such joy, happiness and relief that a tear came to his eye. He was a fucking lucky man and he promised himself he would let each and every member of his family know just how much they meant to him over the course of the next year.
When everyone was served, they all raised a glass and toasted Edward for the monumental task of cooking his first Thanksgiving dinner by himself. He accepted their praise with grace. They all ate their fill and were polite with their praise. Edward was the first to admit that the sweet potatoes tasted a bit weird and the green bean casserole wasn't quite right. They were both edible but not as good as when Bella makes them. Seth was a bit chewy but there was ample gravy and bacon to distract from that fact. The stuffing was good and the potatoes, well, not bad is the best reference they would get.
Dessert was phenomenal. Every crumb of pie was eaten with gusto and verve. The entire gathering cheered for Edward and a wonderful time was had by all.
Later that night, his dishevelled and sweaty wife in his arms, Edward finally asked a question that had helped stave off his climax a few minutes before.
"Who is Alistair, again? Does he work with Rose or something?"
Bella giggled quietly. Edward was known for bringing up bizarre questions during pillow talk. It was a trick he learned long ago to help with his stamina. It wasn't that he wasn't present during sex, but his mind wandered a very strange journey until he couldn't hold off finishing any longer.
"He's a professor like she is. He's the new head of catering in the hospitality department at the college. He specializes in safe food handling. He used to work for the health department"
Edward felt his stomach knocking at his toenails.
"Bella, there's something I need to tell you about the dinner…"
AN: I hope whatever large family meal you are preparing or attending isn't like this. The egg thing, yup, that happened. Turned me off Devilled Eggs for years, or any kind of egg, really. Even the dog was convinced we were under fire.
That is all. There won't be anymore for this story.
Thank you for reading