Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight or its characters
Mini A/N: This is dedicated to a one Miss AHizelm in celebration of her birth!
I furiously beat the wooden spoon against the side of the metal bowl. By this point I was huffing and puffing, a light sweat breaking over my skin. The air was thick with frustration and I wanted to pummel the little dock my iPod was sitting on, belting out Michael Buble and other mushy songs.
For the past six hours I had tried to make four, count them, four, cakes. Each time I would take them out of the oven they were looking worse and worse. I was not a fucking chef and this experience was hammering that fact into my head pretty damn hard.
I groaned as I tried to beat out all of the little bubbles in the mix. The only comforting thought I had was that each time I started over, I realized what ingredients I had left out the last time. Apparently, flour, sugar, eggs, and butter were all crucial to the cake-making experience.
The phone rang on the wall, the plastic shell vibrating against the cradle. I threw the spoon down onto the counter, splattering batter everywhere as I stalked towards the wall. I wiped the back of my hand against my forehead and I could feel my hair sticking up all over.
Great, I now had eggs in my hair. Fucking peachy.
I wiped my palms against my cake-covered jeans and picked up the receiver.
"Hello?" I barked angrily.
"Oh, um, hi," a small voice said, startled, "I think I have the wrong number."
I huffed and slammed the phone back down. I eyed the bowl across the room and wanted so much to just walk over and backhand it onto the floor. A timer distracted my attention and I snapped my head towards the oven, where smoke was now coming out of.
"FUCK!" I screamed, running over to open the door, fanning at the smoke with a towel that I had previously used to clean up one of the earlier messes. It wasn't dry, of course, so cake batter and water was splattering all over the room and me.
"For the love of it all," I groaned. I grabbed for the only pot holder I owned and swiped at the pan in the oven, pulling it out only to find the batter running over and down into the bottom of the oven. I had fucked up…again.
I chucked the pan into the sink and turned on the water, letting it cover the gooey mess. I turned the oven off and pretended to give it a swift kick.
I looked over at the clock and sighed heavily. It was almost 3 o'clock, and I had to be ready to go by almost 6. I turned back to the bowl I had been previously beating to death and flicked it off.
"I'm out," I said to it, grabbing my keys off the peg and slamming the house door shut. I jumped into my beat up car and started driving, rolling the window down so I could get some air circulating in the car. Last summer the air conditioner broke, but I never seemed to have enough money to fix it. I flicked on the radio and groaned as a cheesy love song played. I switched the channel but tuned out as the announcers droned on and on about some upcoming basketball game.
I had bigger problems on my mind right now.
I silently rejoiced as I pulled into the parking lot of the grocery store and found a spot near the front. I wasn't necessarily a lazy bum, but today had been a bad one, and I just needed one good sign in my life.
I walked into the store and was immediately assaulted by the smells of the dinner display. A lady was standing at a make-shift kitchen cooking up some form of stir-fry. My mouth instantly watered and I gravitated over, eyeing the display of brightly colored vegetables.
"Hello," the lady said sweetly.
I nodded at her.
"Would you like to try a sample?" she asked, handing me a small cup and plastic spoon.
I took it, thanking her, and spooned some of it into my mouth. I thought I felt my taste buds orgasm as the salty flavor consumed me. I held back a moan and nodded. "This is fantastic."
She smiled. "Well it's very simple to make, too. Here's the recipe card, and all the ingredients can be found in the case right next to the display," she said, pointing at the cooler that held the pre-packaged meat and vegetables.
I shook my head sadly. "I can't cook to save my life." I laughed, motioning to my clothes. "I've made six cakes today and not one of them is edible."
She laughed. "Well, cooking and baking are two entirely different playing fields. Can you cut vegetables?"
"Ah, no. But I can make a mean peanut butter and jelly sandwich."
I saw her pause to think before she began to pull of her gloves. She dug in her pocket and pulled out a piece of paper and a pen. She scribbled furiously before offering it to me. I took it and stared at it.
"That's my daughter's name and phone number. She's an excellent cook, and I'm sure she wouldn't mind giving you a few pointers."
My heart dropped down to my stomach. "Thank you, but no thank you—see, I already have a girlfriend and I don't think she'd take too kindly to the thought of some other girl giving me cooking lessons."
She smiled warmly and nodded. "I understand. You can't blame a lady for trying."
I waved at her as I made my way towards the bakery, sighing in relief as I saw shelves full of cakes. I eyed them all, trying to figure out which one would be best. Red Velvet, German Chocolate, and Coca-cola cakes stared back at me, begging to be eaten.
"Can I help you, sir?" A man asked, leaning over the glass counter towards me.
I coughed. "Yes, I'm looking for a birthday cake for my girlfriend."
He nodded. "Okay, when is the big day?"
I felt my cheeks flush. "Tonight."
He smiled knowingly. "It's okay, we have some left. Is she a chocolate or vanilla kind of girl?"
I thought for a moment. "I'm not real sure, to be honest."
He winked. "Marble it is then." He walked around the counter towards a cooler that held square cakes. He opened the door and pulled out a large cake, big enough for 40 people. I shook my head.
"That's too big. It'll be just her and me."
He put it back and pulled out a small, round cake covered in white frosting and some piping with red, blue, and yellow frosting. I nodded, smiling.
"Now, would you like a message on it?" he asked, walking back towards the kitchen.
"Yes; Happy Birthday Alice."
He grinned. "Alright; coming right up." He got to work and I looked around at the other desserts, wondering why I hadn't done this in the first place.
This was a big year for my girl. It's not every day that a girl turned 25. I knew she was apprehensive about it, but I wanted to make it a memorable day for her. So far, it was only nightmarish for me. A few minutes later he called me over and smiled. "Would you like to see it?" he asked.
I shook my head, grabbing the cake and holding it against my chest like a child. "No, I'm running late, but thank you!" I took off towards the check-out line where I quickly paid and sped home. I walked into the kitchen feeling victorious, even though the mess was still there. I set the cake down on the counter and grinned.
"Now, this is what I call a success!" I cheered as I opened the cake.
My jaw dropped. No, no, this wasn't happening.
"Happy Birthday ALIVE?!" I screamed, feeling my hands clench into fists. "WHAT THE FUCK! HOW DOES SOMEONE MISSPELL 'ALICE'?" I yelled up at the sky. The Birthday Gods were definitely not on my side today. I hunched down into the chair and beat my head against the table.
"Fuck me, fuck me, fuck me," I chanted. Until a light bulb went off in my head. I snapped up and rushed towards the silverware drawer, and pulling out a butter knife. I could fix this. I'd just trim and move the frosting a little. This couldn't be that difficult.
I leaned over carefully, trying not to smudge any more of the cake then I needed to, and began nudging the frosting. I wasn't doing so bad, and I even started smiling, gaining confidence. I was just about finished when the phone rang, startling me and causing me to cut into the cake and smear her name. I growled and looked up at the phone. I threw the knife down on the table and picked up the phone.
"What the hell do you want?!" I asked angrily.
"Oh, I'm sorry I think I called the…" a man started to explain.
"The wrong number? You're fucking right you did!" I screamed as I slammed the phone down. Fucking Christ, how many people were going to call me as a wrong number today?!
By this point, I wanted to cry. It was about 4 o'clock, and I had two hours to clean the kitchen, make a dinner, and find a replacement cake for Alice so I wouldn't look like a complete fuck-up. I started thinking about the local Thai place, and perhaps if they delivered, when I remembered.
The lady at the store. I quickly pulled out the slip of paper and stared down at it.
"Thank you Jesus!" I cried as I rushed to the phone and frantically dialed the number. Someone answered on the third ring.
"Hello?" a small voice asked.
"Um, hi, is this Bella?"
"Yes, who is this?" she asked. I gulped.
"Well, you don't know me, but today I met your mom in the grocery store…"
"Oh, God, I hope she didn't try to set you up or anything. I am so sorry, she does this all the time."
I laughed. "Well, she did, but that's not why I am calling, sorry. See, it's my girlfriend's birthday tonight and I wanted to cook her an amazing dinner and it's just been one bad thing after another today, and I'm desperate, and your mom said you were an excellent cook…"
"So you want me to make her dinner?" she asked. I could tell this probably wasn't the first time this had happened to her.
I sighed in relief. "I'm willing to pay you anything you want."
"You sound like a desperate man…"
"Jasper," I said, praying she was going to help me out.
She was silent for a moment before she spoke. "All right, I'll help you. I don't want your girlfriend to have a horrible birthday."
I hooted and hollered in delight. I spent the next few moments giving her directions to my house and a list of things that I knew Alice was allergic to. She promised to be over in 20 minutes after running by the store, and I thanked her a million times over.
I grabbed a quick shower while I waited for Bella to arrive. I made sure to wash all the egg and cake debris out of my hair, and I changed into jeans and a t-shirt, planning to change again right before Alice showed up. Just as I was finishing buttoning my pants, I heard the doorbell ring. I all but raced down the stairs and yanked the door open.
There she stood, a tiny little thing with long brown hair and arms full of groceries. I took them from her quickly, trying to be a gentleman.
"Thank you so much, Bella. Really, I owe you," I fawned.
She shook her head. "It's not a big deal." I led her into the kitchen, where I heard her gasp. "What happened in here?!"
"I, uh, tried to make Alice a birthday cake from scratch," I said, leaning from one foot to the other nervously.
She filled the sink with water and grabbed a towel, immediately getting to work on wiping things down. "We can't work like this. Here, help me." She was very in charge of everything and began scrubbing while I loaded the dishwasher and cleaned the top of the stove. Eventually, we had the kitchen under control, and she began unloading the bags. I watched with curiosity as she began washing and chopping vegetables.
"What are you making?"
"Irish Beef Stew. It was my great-great-great-grandma's recipe, and it's been in my family for generations."
I nodded. That sounded good. "Can I do something to help?"
"Yes, put that bacon in the skillet for me and turn it on medium."
I figured that didn't sound too difficult. Over the next hour we worked side by side and chatted about Alice. I told her how we met and about how much I cared for her. She smiled the whole time, commenting that we sounded like a good match and that she hoped things continued well for us.
I felt bad—Bella was a really nice girl. I thought maybe she and Alice would make good friends—but I could never do that because then Alice would find out about this dinner catastrophe and she would hate me forever.
After the dish was set to simmer, Bella whipped up a quick batch of cupcakes, saying that it would be more romantic to feed her one of those then a slice of cake. I thanked the lord for sending me Bella, the Angel of Food. She told me to go set up the living room, or whatever else I had planned, while she finished up in the kitchen.
I spread a new throw blanket over my ratty couch and placed a few tea lights on the coffee table. I pulled the curtains tight over the windows, trying to create a romantic yet casual setting. I didn't want to overdo it.
Bella came in to tell me she was finished, leaving me final instructions and commenting on how nice the room looked. I thanked her again and tried to give her cash, but she refused.
"At least let me pay you for the groceries," I said.
She agreed, and I wrote her a check, adding an extra twenty dollars in before she could protest. She wished me luck as I walked her out the door.
I looked at the clock and had just enough time to change and pour some wine before Alice showed up. I ran upstairs and put on a crisp, button-down shirt and my nice blue jeans. I was buttoning up the last button when I heard the doorbell again. I took a deep breath as I stared at myself in the mirror.
"Here's looking at you, kid," I joked, pretending to knick the chin of my reflection. I rushed down the stairs and pulled the bottle of wine out of the fridge, setting it on the counter before hustling to the door.
I opened it to reveal my beautiful girlfriend. I grinned when I saw her, leaning down to give her a kiss. "Happy birthday," I whispered.
She giggled and threw her arms around me, squeezing me. "Thank you, sweet boyfriend! Something smells delicious!"
I helped her out of her coat and hung it on the rack. "Wine?" I asked.
She nodded and I ushered her towards the living room. She gasped when she walked in and I smiled behind her, looping my arms around her waist. "This is so great!" she exclaimed.
I leaned in to her ear, planting a sweet kiss there. "Only the best for my baby girl."
She slipped off her shoes and tucked her legs under her, cuddling into the blanket on the couch. I popped the cork on the wine and poured her a glass, handing it to her. She smiled and thanked me.
"It smells so good in here, Jasper! What is that?"
I grinned. "Your dinner."
Hey eyes widened. "Did you make me dinner?"
I smiled, trying to keep myself from lying. "I wanted this to be a special day for you."
She bounced up and down before she stood up and tugged on my arm. "C'mon, Chef Jasper, I am hungry!"
I laughed as I followed behind her and pulled out a chair for her. I went over to the stove top, putting some mashed potatoes in a bowl and covering them with the stew. I grabbed a roll and tucked it in the bowl before setting it down in front of her. I watched her lean over and inhale, her nose twitching. I suddenly became nervous. What if she didn't like it?
She grabbed her spoon and took a bite, a small moan coming from her lips that made my toes curl. She took a second bite and savored it, her little cheeks sucking in as her eyes closed.
"Mmm, Jasper, this is delicious. I can't believe you made this!"
I sat down next to her and filled the spoon up, holding in front of her to take a bite. "Like I said, I wanted you to have a great birthday."
"Is this…Irish Stew?" she asked.
I nodded. "I thought it'd be fun to have something we don't normally do."
"Did you Google the recipe or something?" she asked suspiciously.
I had a hard time swallowing the lump in my throat. This was about to be bad news bears.
She set the spoon down and took my hands in hers. "Alright, it's my birthday, so that makes whatever I say go, right?"
I nodded, not liking where this was going.
"Well, tell me the truth: did you make this yourself?"
I shifted in my seat, staring down at the table. "No."
"Who made it, Jasper?" she asked calmly.
I sighed. "This is going to sound all sorts of weird and wrong, but just hear me out."
She blinked at me.
I coughed. "Well earlier today I was trying to make you a cake...and everything just kept going wrong. So I went to the store…" I recounted the whole incident to her, including the part where Bella came over and basically made the dinner. Oh, alright; she made the whole thing. Alice sat patiently through the whole story, watching me with attentive eyes. When I finished, I bit my lower lip, waiting for her to break up with me.
What happened next surprised me. Alice laughed. Really hard.
I raised an eyebrow at her. "What's funny?"
"I know who Bella is, Jasper! She's one of my parents' oldest friends' daughters. I knew it was her the moment I tasted this stew—it's the Swan family recipe."
My jaw dropped. "So…are you mad at me?"
She shook her head and leaned forward, planting a small kiss on my lips. "No, Jasper—you are a silly man. You didn't have to hire someone to make me dinner. Hell, you could have ordered in from that Thai place we like and I'd have been happy. I just wanted to spend my birthday with you!"
I smiled. "Well, I really did try. You can ask Bella—it was a nightmare in here! I didn't want to disappoint you!"
She kissed me again and tapped my nose with her finger. "Oh, you sweet, sweet, man. It's the thought that counts."
** ** **
A/N: Happy Birthday, Ang! I hope your day is a special one and that Non-chefsper brightens your day! I love you very much!