"Crap—the sweet potatoes!"
Emma was up to her elbows, literally, scooping stuffing out of the turkey when she noticed the cloying smell of burning sugar quickly filling the kitchen. She was in trouble. Just what she needed: today's meal ruined by charred yams! How hard could they be to cook right?
Pulling her arms out and holding them awkwardly in front of her, her feet fumbled back and forth between the sink and the oven mitts just a couple feet away. "No no no no!" She felt like crying.
Suddenly, her hair breezed back from the dark-haired streak that zipped past her.
"I've got it!" Mary Margaret grabbed the mitts and rescued the casserole. She placed it on the stovetop, closed the oven door, and pirouetted back around to face her daughter, grinning despite the chaos. Her cheeks were blooming and there was a sheen of sweat on the bridge of her nose.
"Thanks," Emma said, slumping against the counter, feeling flushed and sweaty, too, but not in a radiant way. She looked around her at all the pots and pans and dirty measuring cups and leftover cooking ingredients. What had she been thinking, taking this on? "This is crazy," she moaned. "Why the hell did I agree to host Thanksgiving dinner this year? I don't know what I'm doing…I-I've never roasted anything before, never mind feeding twenty people. The turkey is probably so dry that no one will be able to eat it, no matter how much gravy there i—crap! I still have to make gravy!"
She felt the prick of tears in her eyes and rubbed at them furiously to make them stop. Who knew that cooking would have been her undoing?
Soft hands on her shoulders brought Emma's gaze up. "It's okay," Mary Margaret reassured. "That's why I'm here."
Emma stared back.
Emma still stared.
Mary Margaret's smile faltered a tad, but she rolled her eyes good humouredly, finally understanding Emma's look. "Okay, so it's not like I'm a Thanksgiving expert here…but I can cook, and we're both smart, fearless women."
Both of them turned their heads and surveyed the disaster that was formerly known as Emma's kitchen. Emma may have whimpered a little.
She heard her mother take a deep breath. "We've battled armies and ogres and giants, Emma. What's one dead bird, some vegetables, and an ungodly amount of carbs?"
Despite herself, Emma snorted. Mary Margaret faced her again, her brilliant smile back.
"We can do this," she promised, giving her daughter a kiss on the forehead and moving to scoop out some of the drippings from the roasting pan.
Tightening her apron, Emma charged back into the fray.
The guys came back a short hour later, their weary footsteps carrying them to the living room where David and Killian had all but collapsed onto the sofa and Henry sprawled onto the floor.
Emma rushed around the corner before the front door had even closed all the way. "Oh no you don't!" she shrieked. Three sets of shocked eyes met hers. "I have got fifteen other people coming over here today, and I need this place as spotless as it was three hours ago when I got done cleaning it."
Henry lifted his head from off the floor. "But, Mom! We've been playing soccer all morning. We're pooped."
She felt headily immune to the puppy dog looks she was now getting. "I don't care—out! Go take showers! And don't come back down until there isn't a speck of mud left on you."
They each gave her a wide berth as they passed, David and Henry heading up the stairs (her son mainly stomping), and Killian on his way to the master suite.
It wasn't until Killian had dared to turn back to face her—behind the safety of the closing bedroom door—and smirked, his Nice form, love reaching her ears, that she realized the carving knife was still in her hand and just how she'd been brandishing it.
"No, it goes on the left."
"No—it's supposed to go on the right."
When everyone had started showing up and the tables hadn't even been set yet, Emma had felt like crying with relief upon hearing Regina's offer to help. They'd maneuvered through the cutlery and glasses just fine, working with production-line precision. However, then they'd gotten to the bread plates and, well, things had gotten heated.
They stood glaring at each other, hands on hips, like some old Spaghetti Western.
"And just where, exactly, did you learn how to set a formal table, hmm?" Regina taunted. "Bail bonds school?"
Emma felt the surge of magic that went along with her surge of anger and her fingertips sparked with it. The crowd around them hushed, but Emma no longer cared about anything but getting the stupid table set the correct way.
"Fine. Have it your way, princess." Regina gave her an amused smile, which only made more sparks emanate from her, and slowly, eyes never leaving hers, plunked the plate down on the right.
After everyone else had gone, and Mary Margaret and David had stayed to help wash all the dishes and then left, too, Emma was finally putting her feet up. She sat on the couch tucked under Killian's arm—who was dead asleep after his fourth helping of pumpkin pie—with Henry's head resting against her leg. They were watching a rebroadcast of the Macy's parade (since hell felt like it was breaking lose earlier that morning and no one had been free to watch it anyways).
"You need a haircut soon. It's getting so long, I'm surprised you can still see," she teased quietly, tousling her son's hair. "I can cut it if you'd like."
There was a long pause and then Henry's shoulders started to shake with laughter. Clamping a hand over his mouth—Killian was still out to the world—he moved so that he was sitting up next to her. She found herself smiling from the sight of him, even though she was utterly confused why what she'd said was so funny.
"You could use the carving knife, right?" There were tears streaming down his face.
The memory from earlier today struck her like lightning: clean upholstery, a lecture, and a…oh. Oh. She felt the blush climb up her neck.
"You were kinda crazy today, Mom. And not just with the knife. I mean, with getting everything just right and Regina—she was right, by the way—"
"She was not!" How would he know?
"Look," he said, talking to her like she sometimes talked to him when trying to be patient, "I grew up in her house, and she always insisted on setting the table for dinner. That chore earned me five bucks a month—you think I got it wrong?"
He stared at her. And she stared back.
Huh, she thought with growing embarrassment, he was telling the truth.
He nodded once smugly and continued, "And then there was your hair—"
"Wait—what? What about my hair?" Her hand shot up to feel, and…no!
"Yep," he giggled at seeing her reaction.
She yanked her ponytail out and frantically pulled out hardened pieces of stuffing. She had gone all day like this? What the heck?
At the look on her face, Henry instantly started backtracking. "Gramps told me not to tell you. We figured it was payback. There wasn't that much, and it wasn't really noticeable unless you got right up close. No one really saw it, so…no big deal…right…?"
Emma wanted to fume at him, but as she opened her mouth, the absurdity of her behavior that day finally caught up to her and stopped the words she'd had poised on the tip of her tongue. She swallowed them down, along with all the pride she'd felt at pulling off a successful Thanksgiving for the first time ever in her life; really, the first time she could remember celebrating it.
An apology was forming in her mouth instead, but before she could get it out, Henry threw his arms around her neck.
"It was still the best Thanksgiving I've ever had."
She hugged him back. Feeling his small warmth in her lap, and Killian's soft breathing next to her, she thought of how it was for her, too.
By the time she got back downstairs after tucking her little prankster in, Killian had moved off the couch and gone to bed. She washed her face and brushed her teeth as quietly as she could, but as she slipped underneath the covers, he was lying on his side, eyes wide open and watching her. A fresh wave of mortification hit her just thinking about what he had witnessed. Seeing herself through Henry's eyes was one thing, but through Killian's…she wanted to forget everything.
Just as she opened her mouth to tell him so, he dragged her to him, his lips covering hers, shutting her up, surprising her. He rolled her under him as he moved his mouth from hers to her neck, and she couldn't stifle her moan at the feeling of his breath and tongue warm against her skin.
Wait…she tried to form the word but lost it when he nipped at her earlobe. "Wait," she tried again, dazed but trying to work something out before he kissed her completely senseless.
He pulled back to look into her eyes, his own intense, inflamed pools of sapphire. "Not for long, I hope," he murmured, now biting her lower lip.
Wow, she had to say this fast. "I'mreallysorryabouttoday—Iwassostupid."
He pulled back a little more, a small furrow on his brow as she watched him trying to work out her words. The moment he did, his face lit up with his smile. "Aye," he conceded, moving down her body, his eyes never leaving hers in a way that made her toes curl. "Utterly stupid." He brushed a kiss over a section of her stomach that he'd exposed. "But utterly—"
His tongue flicked inside her navel.
A gentle nip on her hip before he kissed his way back up to her lips.
She snorted. "You're crazy if you still think all that after today."
A shrug. "Perhaps. But then again, you saw me fight over a lighter for you." She traced his lips, enjoying the contrast between the smoothness of his skin and the way his whiskers scratched against her fingertips. "I'd say that makes us even."
"Deal," she whispered, kissing away the distance between them.
Later, his head resting on her while she stroked his hair, he murmured sleepily, "I quite fancy this Thanksgiving affair."
For the second time that night, she thought she did, too.