This is a Dresden Files story. Takes place after White Night.
"Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork" I thought to myself. "It's not enough to nearly die, oh no- they have to make me write these fiction stories on top of it". I sighed in the squeaky rolling chair they gave me at the precinct, looking for anything to distract myself from the increasingly-wavy lines of the forms. "Was I ever out of here?" My stomach rumbled. "Have I ever eaten?" A slight change in the pitch and tempo of the surrounding conversation gave me pause. Over my shoulder, I suddenly saw a woman that drew everyone's attention.
She was fat. Not Hollywood fat, not five to ten vanity pounds fat but fleshy bread-dough fat. She wasn't going to be on Maury Pauvich anytime soon on one of the obesity shows, but she gave every indication that if I touched any part of her body it would give way like only soft flesh could. Yet, she was strangely compelling, as well.
She caught me looking at me and a wry smile twisted her face. "Mr. Dresden, I presume".
"Yes," I responding, tilting my ballcap slightly.
Her smile grew wider. "I am thankful I have been permitted to see you."
"Weren't you supposed to thank god?"
"Under the circumstances, I am loathe to invoke a deity."
I looked closer at this woman. She was about 5 foot 3, if that, and had to weigh near two hundred pounds. I couldn't see any evidence of makeup, except perhaps some chapstick on her lips, but she had a fairly nice face anyway with chocolate brown eyes and skin of creamy white. Her strawberry blonde hair was pulled into a ponytail on the back of her head, but strays had already fled the confinement and were floating around her head in a static electricity halo. I did not feel the pull of a practitioner, but there was something familiar about her that made me think that she was not a vanilla mortal.
"Okay, I give? Who are you, and what do you want with me?" I asked.
"Why Mr. Dresden, it's what you want. I'm here to help you out." She said. "As to who I am, well you can call me Amy".
"Help me out?" I asked, suspiciously. "No offense, but generally when people offer that, it's more like 'Help me out of this mortal realm' sort of help".
She softly chuckled. "I'm here to get you dinner."
"I am not-a, what?" That one threw me for a loop. As soon as the thought cleared my head, my stomach rumbled its approval. "Uh, is this like a date sort of thing, because no offense to you, but I'm not really in a good place, romantically…"
I was cut off by her uproariously laughter. "Mr. Dresden, you are most assuredly not my type. I am 100% serious- what I offer is dinner, and nothing else. My place, if you'd like. I prepare an excellent…meal". That last word was said in a way that bordered on pornographic. It conjured up images of vegetables drenched in butter, meat sizzling on an open flame, and bread fresh from the oven. It was the sensation of chocolate melting over your tongue, and then being washed away by a cold microbrew. My stomach once again made its presence known.
I mentally told it to shut up. "Listen, I don't know who you are, but I'm not going to be led into some trap because I'm hungry. Lady, you better start making some sense here, and soon, or else I'm going to get angry. And you wouldn't like to see a wizard angry."
Her hands were held up in the universal gesture for peace, though her face looked anything but repentant. "That's fine, Mr. Dresden. You may choose wherever you'd like for dinner. McAnally's, perhaps? Surely you would feel safe in Accorded Neutral Territory." So she was a member of the supernatural community. The question was, what? Paranoia wrestled with the very real hunger and not a small amount of curiosity. Yet, curiosity had gotten me close to killed on more than one occasion, and the base functions of my body are always unreliable. Reason would tell this one to get lost, or at least make an appointment if she wanted to talk.
"Alright," I said. "We can meet at McAnally's in an hour. I have some things to finish up."
"I would be more than happy to wait while you finished up..."
"Don't even think about it." I said. "I'm not near so crazy as to let you give me a ride. An hour, or my mistrust outweighs curiosity".
"My, don't we get cranky when we get hunger" she said, her eyes glittering with amusement and the wry smile unmoved. "One hour then."
An hour later, I stood at the top of the staircase of McAnally's. I ducked as one of the 13 ceiling fans that Mac had spinning nearly clipped my head. The 13 ceiling fans had 13 tables and 13 columns carved with runes. The runes and design kept errant magic from grumpy (and hungry) wizard dispersed and the building more or less intact.
"Mr. Dresden, over here". Amy was near the back wall. As I walked over, it seemed like McAnally's was doing a particularly brisk business today. People who normally only came in for an ale had food piled on the small tables.
"Mr. Dresden, I hope you don't mind, but I took the liberty of ordering a steak sandwich and some potatoes for you. They should be out shortly". At that, Mac placed two steaming orders of steak sandwiches with all the trimmings on the bar, and gave us a pointed look. Mac was of the belief that if you wanted food and his joint, you could get it your own damn self. "I'll go and get that order," Amy said as she got up to get the plates. I suppose I expected her to walk in sort of the wobbly little walk of someone unaccustomed to using their body, but I found myself rather enjoying watching her walk. She carried herself as someone who knew her body very well, and could work it. But on the other hand, there was an air of a predator about her. Like watching a shark weave its way through a room or a well-fed lion padding through the savannah.
I found myself becoming a bit suspicious, but then the food was on the table, and all suspicious thoughts disappeared and my stomach came front and center. Washed down, with one of Mac's micro-brews and I found myself on cloud nine.
"So, what do you want from me?" I asked, in between bites.
"Why should I want anything from you?" Amy asked.
"Because in my experience, you don't get something for nothing," I said, nearly choking on a bit of potato.
"Why don't we continue this conversation after you have finished eating?" Amy asked. "I don't want you to choke."This seemed like a reasonable point, so I nodded and continued to chow down.
When I was near the end, Amy asked "I'm still a mite hungry. Join me in some stuffed mushrooms?"
"I've determined that you have slipped in from the Fade, and I've decided I don't care," I said, between mouthfuls.
Out came the piping hot stuffed mushrooms, sizzling a little on the plate. As I bit into them, I felt the hot juice spray into my mouth, as the little notes of the seasoning followed. Heavenly.
I didn't even notice that she gotten up one more time and came back with a discrete green and brown box, sealed with the image of an old-style mill.
"Mac doesn't make those", I said.
"No," Amy said, "He surely doesn't. He was just keeping this in his cooler for me. If you notice, it comes from a little bakery here in Chicago. I kept it sealed, after I learned of your paranoia". She opened it and inside sat a nice dark chocolate caramel almond fudge custard stared back at me. I knew from looking at it would be sweet, and play across my tongue like a slice of heaven. My mouth filled instantly with drool, and my stomach, though already full on delicious scorched meats and hot fried grease, renewed its desire for empty calories.
But, just at that second, the rational side of my brain decided to pop up. Or the paranoid side, depending on which shrink you were talking to. I don't meet nice, normally attractive women out of the blue that go "Call me Amy, no last name" and feed me for no reason. I looked up. Amy's face resembled someone who was half-way through an all-you-can eat buffet in Las Vegas. Content, but still ravenous for more.
"Go on Harry," she purred, "Have a bite. You'll love it, I promise." Suddenly, I realized I was feeling very weak, and not just the stuffed contented feeling you get after a big meal. A few things clicked into place.
"Son of a bitch," I muttered. "Fear, lust, anger…but there are seven deadly sins. I suppose you are in the gluttony camp."
"Gluttony is such an ugly word," she said, as she picked up a spoon and dished it into the custard. "I prefer to think of it as one of the most basic indulgences of the flesh." She stuck the spoon I her mouth and her eyes gently closed as in ecstasy. "Mmm. Sure you won't have a bite?"
"I get it, I take a bite, you get a bite. How 'bout you tell me your actual name so I can remember to put your name on the list of people to destroy?"
"It's not just "a bite". People have to eat every day- if it were that simple, we'd easily be one of the most powerful of the Courts, as opposed to just the one with the least mortality rate. It has to be eating to enjoy the sensation of eating, not just eating to not die. It has to be about pleasure. It has to be shemomedjamo."
"Cute, but you still haven't told me your name. I had a pretty good threat going there, and I feel strongly about adding to it".
"I'll do you one better," said Amy, looking pretty relaxed for someone just threatened by a wizard. "I'll give you my card, so the next time you find yourself needing… a little something, I can be there for you." She got up, and reached into her purse. "This has been a most enjoyable meal, Mr. Dresden. Can't wait to do it again."
She handed me her business card, and walked out of Mac's, in that slow predator's walk. She left the custard behind too, that foul temptress.
I looked at the card, a dark chocolate color with shiny gold inlay. It had a phone number, and a single name: Ambrosia Este.