When the Captain comes across Maria and the girls baking in the kitchen, he finds that watching her leads to forbidden thoughts.
* * * * *
Captain von Trapp pinched the ridge of his nose with his fingers and closed his eyes. Going over the monthly financial records was a necessary process, but it was tedious. He'd developed a slight headache after poring over the numbers for the last few hours and was eager for a break.
Georg opened his eyes and sighed deeply. On his desk was a photograph of his late wife seated in the garden, surrounded by the children. He stared at it for a moment and smiled, remembering the day it had been taken. There was a time when he would not have been able to look at the photograph without experiencing pain, but time had healed much of the wound. Time and a certain young woman…
Georg shook his head sharply. He should not be thinking of Maria that way; she was a postulant, living in his home as governess to the children, and that was only temporary. Although nothing was official yet, he and Elsa had discussed marriage. His future was clear. He would marry the Baroness, and they and the children would become a complete family. It was all but decided. He was happy with Elsa; she had brought something to his life that had been missing for a long time.
Why could he not stop thinking about Maria?
Georg pushed his chair back forcefully and stood, ignoring the scraping sounds that ordinarily would have upset him. He needed a distraction. He left the den and sauntered aimlessly through the house.
Turning a corner, he suddenly got a whiff of a delectable aroma. He breathed in deeply. Yes, someone was baking. Perhaps Frau Schmidt was planning something extra special for the evening's dessert. It was a bit early for dinner preparations, but sometimes she prepared dessert in advance. Perhaps he could sneak a taste of the confection. Frau Schmidt knew that Georg had a sweet tooth.
Georg followed his nose to the kitchen, already dreaming about which treat he would find. Before he reached the open doorway, he heard the sound of voices and laughter, and he stopped in his tracks. That did not sound at all like Frau Schmidt; in fact, it sounded much more like…
Georg sidled up to the doorway and peeked inside the kitchen. Maria was helping Gretl stir a batter of cookie dough. Gretl's face was screwed up in concentration. Georg smiled to himself; Gretl was always trying to prove that she could do everything the older children could do. Marta was standing next to them, transferring freshly baked cookies from a baking tray to a cooling rack. She looked proud, happy to be assigned a task that she could do without assistance.
A sudden burst of laughter brought Georg's attention back to Maria. She was laughing heartily, the top of her apron and the lower part of her face covered in bits of cookie dough. Gretl had stirred too vigorously and had splattered the dough. She looked as if she wanted to cry, but Maria held up a finger and looked at her firmly. Gretl, comforted by the look in Maria's eyes, grinned at her and went back to stirring, more gently this time.
Maria began cleaning herself up with a kitchen towel. He could still see the mirth in her eyes. So many women would have been angry at the incident, but that was not Maria's way. He could not imagine how Elsa would have handled the situation. In fact, he could not even imagine her baking with the children in the first place. Georg admired Maria's way with the children, the way she was able to get so much pleasure out of ordinary things, the way she enjoyed life. She was a breath of fresh air. So lovely…
"You have a bit of batter at the corner of your mouth, Fraulein Maria," Marta pointed out.
"Well, we can't have that, can we? Waste not, want not," Maria responded, and her tongue reached out to lick up the bit of dough.
Georg's breath caught in his throat, and he unknowingly licked his own lips. He was unexpectedly overwhelmed with a desire to lick that bit of dough from her mouth. He wanted to taste it, to taste her. Again he licked his lips, trying to moisten his suddenly dry mouth. He took an involuntary step forward.
"Look, it's Father! Father, we've been baking cookies! Come and have one!" Marta shouted, happy to see him and impatient to share her culinary accomplishment.
Maria looked up, and Georg locked eyes with her. He knew he should look away; he had not had time to disguise what he was feeling. But he could not tear his eyes away from her, could not so quickly suppress the hunger he felt for her taste.
Maria's eyes widened slightly and she blushed. He didn't know if she understood completely what she saw in his eyes, but it was clear she saw and understood enough. He thought she'd look away then, but she didn't. She continued staring back at him. He saw the moment she began to breathe harder, and his heart started pounding. If the children weren't here…
"Father, please try one of the cookies I made. It's chocolate chip. Don't you want to taste it?" Marta had come around the counter to offer him a cookie.
Without looking away from Maria, he replied, "Yes, actually. I think I would very much like a taste." And, his eyes smoldering as they bore into Maria, he licked his lips again.
Maria flushed scarlet and dropped the spoon she'd been holding. The sound of the spoon falling seemed to break the spell and she dropped her gaze. Georg shook himself mentally, silently berating himself for making her feel uncomfortable. He'd had no right to say what he'd said, to think those thoughts. It wasn't appropriate. He accepted the cookie Marta offered, took a bite, and smiled warmly at her.
"Mmm, delicious. I shall have you baking for me often if your cookies turn out this well. Thank you for the treat; it's exactly what I needed before returning to work in the den." Marta giggled in delight and returned to her assigned task. Georg smiled his goodbye at Gretl, who responded with a toothless grin. He looked finally at Maria. He could see that her face was still flushed, and she was stirring the cookie dough vigorously.
"Goodbye, Fraulein Maria. I'll see you at dinner," he said softly.
"Goodbye, Captain." Maria did not look up, her voice hardly more than a whisper.
Georg left, walking slowly back to the den, still trying and failing to stop thinking about that forbidden taste.