Read Midu's Magic Online

Authors: Judith Post

Tags: #romance, #paranormal, #magic, #feel good, #heart warming, #emerald hills

Midu's Magic (3 page)

BOOK: Midu's Magic
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Kyle's pickup was already parked near the
door. She wanted to jostle him out of their usual routine somehow,
but maybe later. For the moment, she yearned to fall back into
their easy companionship. Time to finish the lettuce rows. She gave
Kyle the packets for red, leafy lettuce and she took the spinach
seeds. They spent the next two hours, working in silence. This
time, though, it didn't feel friendly. It felt like she and Kyle
were both harboring secret thoughts that festered inside them. She
was relieved when they finished their sections and walked to the
house for a quick sandwich.

They sat across from each other. Kyle would
surely make some kind of small talk, but it didn't happen. He
grunted most of his answers or gave one or two-word responses when
she made an effort. Okay, maybe working was better. At least, they
didn't just sit there, uncomfortable. When it was time to return to
the greenhouse, Kyle took the arugula seeds and Midu the Bibb
lettuce. Little by little, they worked until all the greenhouse
beds were finished.

Midu glanced at her watch. Maybe it was time
for another tactic. She gave one of her most beguiling smiles. "We
put in a full day. I'm making Kashmiri chicken for supper. Want to
stay?"

Kyle glanced at his watch, too, and shook his
head. "Sorry, I told Lynn I'd swing by her place tonight. She put a
chuck roast in the oven. I'd better go. She was making a pecan pie
for dessert—one of my favorites."

Midu frowned. So Lynn
was
a cook. "I
thought you liked apple pie."

"I do, but not as much as pecan." He started
for the door. "What's on the agenda tomorrow?"

"I thought we'd start the other early spring
vegetables—peas, carrots, radishes…."

"Sounds good." Before she finished, he gave a
wave and was on his way.

Midu kicked at an empty seed packet that had
fallen. Well, wasn't Lynn just too special? How did she know that
Kyle's favorite was pecan pie?

A tiny voice answered,
Maybe she asked
him
. Had Midu ever asked Kyle what his favorite foods were? She
doubted it. When they first met, he was a hired hand and she'd ask
him if he wanted to stay for supper. She didn't think of him as a
guest, didn't give a thought about what he might have preferred.
She just offered whatever she had on hand. And he'd seemed happy
with that.

Midu squirmed. Lynn treated him special. Who
wouldn't like that? What did Gino always tell her? "Don't settle
for cheap shoes." No, not that--he ran a shoe shop. He said that to
everyone. He told her, "The way to a man's heart is through his
stomach." But Gino was Italian. And now that she thought about it,
he did almost all of the cooking for Evelyn and Bridey, so what did
he know?

She sighed. Obviously, food wasn't a
sure-fire answer, but it couldn't hurt to put forth some effort.
She tried to remember. What were Kyle's favories? He usually ate
whatever she made and complimented it, but was he just being
polite? He didn't like to call attention to himself, but now she
wish he'd have said
something
.

She thought about the July Fourth carry-in at
the town park each year. Kyle always looked forward to Nancy's
potato salad, and he'd buy barbecued ribs from one of the food
stands at night. She'd never made either one of those, but they
couldn't be that hard, could they? She went online and looked up
recipes. Doomed. She was doomed. There were more barbecue recipes
than people who lived in Emerald Hills and just about as many
versions of potato salad. How could she be sure she made his
favorite kinds?

Maybe he'd notice that she made an effort,
and that would be enough. She drove to the grocery store and bought
everything she needed. She spent the rest of the night cooking.
Ribs needed two hours in the oven, and potato salad took a while to
make, too. She even simmered homemade barbecue sauce ahead of time,
just in case. And while that cooked, she made the Kashmiri
chicken.

She went to bed that night with a smile on
her lips. Kyle would know she'd broken tradition and appreciate
it.

They worked in the far greenhouse the next
day. Midu carried containers of the chicken with her for them to
have for lunch. Kyle looked surprised when she brought a picnic
basket with her.

For the first time ever, she felt
self-conscious around him. "I had lots of leftovers last night,"
she said. "We might as well use them up."

He didn't argue. When it was lunch time, he
watched her unload the containers of food, wrapped in newspapers
and foil to keep them warm, and settled on a stool across from hers
at their cramped work table. "I should have told you ahead of time
that I wouldn't be around for suppers. I didn't think about how
much food you'd waste, eating by yourself."

She forced a smile. "It won't go to waste if
we eat it for lunch. Can you stay for supper tonight? I made
something special."

He frowned. "What did you make?"

Trying to keep the smugness out of her voice,
she said, "Barbecued ribs and potato salad."

 

He stared. "You went to a lot of bother. You
usually have me grill for you in the summer."

Midu wasn't sure how to answer. Did she tell
him that she wanted to impress him? Would he like that or would it
aggravate him? She shrugged. "I made these in the oven. It was too
messy outside to grill, but I got hungry for them."

"You?" He wasn't buying it. "I've never seen
you eat a rib."

"There's always a first time."

"Have you ever made potato salad before?" It
sounded like an accusation, like he suspected she was trying to
poison him.

She raised her chin. "I can read a
recipe."

He laughed, and a smile blossomed inside her.
She loved the sound of Kyle's laughter. "I'm game. I'll call Lynn
and let her know I can't make it tonight."

The smile sagged. "Are you going to be
spending lots of nights at her place?" The words didn't come out
like she'd intended them to. They sounded wrong.

His eyebrows rose. "Probably. I'm going to
stay on for as long as it takes."

It? What
it
? Installing her
cupboards…or more? Midu sighed. "So I shouldn't count on you for
supper for a while?"

He finished his lunch and resealed the
plastic container she'd brought it in. "Maybe we should take a
break for a while. We've lived in each others' pockets for so long,
maybe it's time to change our routine."

She choked on the rice she just swallowed. He
had to stand up and pat her on the back, and she had to drink half
of her bottle of water to get herself back together again.

"Are you all right?" he asked.

"Fine." But she wasn't. She felt like a
jigsaw puzzle where someone switched around all of the pieces and
nothing quite fit.

He nodded. "I'll help you pack the lunch
things up, then let's finish up here. I'll take the rows of peas if
you take the radishes."

Seeds. Who gave a damn? Her thoughts ground
to a halt.
She
did!

They spent the rest of the afternoon,
working. Midu was careful to envision each, little seed pushing its
head above the soil and thriving. When they finished, Midu trudged
to the house to put the ribs in the oven to warm, then she hurried
back to another greenhouse to help Kyle. They were starting
eggplants and squash in here. They stopped at five, and Kyle
followed her to the farmhouse for supper.

When they opened the front door, the aroma of
barbeque filled the rooms.

Kyle inhaled deeply. "Boy, that smells good."
He went to the kitchen and began setting the table.

"The potato salad's in the refrigerator,"
Midu told him. She added green beans to a skillet to sauté. She
couldn't help it. She added a touch of garlic and curry, too. At
the last minute, she went to the pantry and came back with a
chocolate cake on a pedestal.

Kyle blinked. "Cake too?"

"Chocolate's your favorite, isn't it?"

He looked sheepish. "It's right after carrot
cake."

Midu felt her happy bubble sag. "Let me
guess. Lynn made that for you."

He had the grace to look uncomfortable. "I've
eaten a lot of desserts lately."

"I can't eat the whole thing myself." She
glared at the cake.

"No need to." He visibly made himself rally.
"I always have room for chocolate."

He worked too hard on the save for her to
ruin it. She motioned to his plate. "Let's eat."

Kyle bit into the potato salad and gave a
quick nod of approval, but she'd noticed his first look of
surprise. "Good stuff."

She tasted it, too. "It's not like
Nancy's."

"Hers has boiled eggs in it," he said.

She poked at her food. "Hers has more
flavor."

"It needs salt." He shook a healthy amount on
his potatoes.

She grimaced. She silently watched as he
picked up a rib and bit into the meat. "It's falling off the bone,"
he said. "Really tender."

She tried hers. Not too bad. Not as good as
the Smoke Pit's, but not too shabby, either. Her shoulders relaxed.
The potato salad might be bland, but the rest of the meal was
decent.

Kyle made an effort to make small talk. He
told her that his mother had called him last night. His parents
were going to travel to Oregon this summer. "They want to see
Crater Lake."

"What about your brother?" she asked. "How's
he doing?"

Kyle hesitated. "He and his wife are
expecting. They'll have a little boy in late Fall."

Midu almost dropped her fork. So that's what
had started this. Kyle's brother was younger than he was. He'd
married two years ago, and now he was going to have a child. Kyle
must feel like he'd been left behind.

Kyle looked at her, his expression suddenly
serious. "Do you ever want children?"

She stared. "I haven't really thought about
it."

"You're turning thirty soon, aren't you?"
Kyle never asked questions that were this direct, this
personal.

She put a hand to her throat, feeling
threatened. "I need to meet someone and get married before I worry
about kids."

"Are you feeling anxious about that?" he
asked. "Thinking maybe it's time?"

"Are you?"

"Yeah, I am." He didn't look away, but held
her gaze.

She sucked in her breath, nervous. If he was
going to tell her that Lynn was a likely prospect, she didn't want
to hear it. "From what I've heard about your parents, they're
probably excited about having a grandchild."

It was a cop out, she knew. Kyle knew it,
too. He grimaced before answering. "Yeah, Mom went on and on about
it." He concentrated on his food. "I like whatever you did with the
green beans."

They were heading to safe territory again.
How many times had they done that? And was it always her fault? No
wonder Kyle was tired of her. She squared her shoulders. "Do
you
want kids?"

He looked up again. "I'm two years older than
you are, so yeah. I'm ready. I don't want to be too old to enjoy
them."

She picked at the hem of her long-sleeved
shirt. "You're thinking about getting married first, right?"

No smile. A direct stare. "Kids do better
with families. So do parents."

She took a deep breath. What would he do if
she proposed? It wasn't a leap year, but women didn't just sit back
and lose men without taking a shot at it, did they? She licked her
lips, ready to test the waters, when a pain exploded in her side.
She gasped and pressed a hand to the spot. It shifted to her back
and settled in for a long stay. Perspiration covered her forehead
and upper lip. She felt nauseous.

Oh, Lord, nothing like ruining the moment by
throwing up. She smashed a hand against her lips and raced for the
bathroom. She stayed in there a while.

When she came out, Kyle was on his feet,
pacing. "Are you all right?"

"Pain." She bit out the word. "Hurts."

He reached for his cell phone and called
their doctor.
Their
. That word again. But Emerald Hills
wasn't big enough to sport too many general practitioners. Kyle
explained what had happened and handed the phone to Midu to answer
more questions.

"He wants to see me," Midu said when she
finished. "I can drive to the clinic."

"You're not driving anywhere." Kyle tugged on
his coat and handed Midu hers. "I'll take you."

Kyle had her bundled into his pickup and was
on his way before she could calm her stomach. She gripped her knees
on the drive to the far side of town. She really didn't want to
make Kyle pull over so she could heave on the side of the road.

Kyle put an arm under her elbow and hurried
her into the waiting area. A nurse looked up and said, "Doc's
expecting you. Go on in."

Kyle didn't leave as Doc poked and prodded.
Midu thought it would never end, and she had to hustle to a
restroom before the end of their visit. When she returned, Doc
shook his head.

"It's the hospital for you, girl. We'll do a
few tests, but I'm guessing your gall bladder doesn't want to stay
with you much longer."

Midu gaped. "But I'm healthy."

"Kyle said you were fine until you ate
barbecued ribs. He said every time you eat something spicy, you pay
for it," Doc said.

Midu stared. How had he noticed more about
her than she did herself?

"You didn't feel good the last time we had
chili for supper, remember? And when I made you buffalo wings, you
could only eat a few."

Doc nodded. "Grease and spice are sure clues.
Let's check you out."

Before Midu could protest, Kyle gripped her
elbow again. "It's always good to have answers. This way, you'll
know."

It was a short drive to Emerald Hills' west
side, and before she knew it, she was going from one lab to
another. When Doc came to see them again, he shook his head. "It's
a hospital gown for you, my girl. No use waiting. I'll operate in
the morning." He grinned. "You got lucky. We have open beds. Most
people have to wait for an invite."

BOOK: Midu's Magic
4.71Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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