Chapter 2: Bruschetta
Hey, I have a surprise for you when you get here. ;)
I messaged Tim as I compared two tomatoes at the market. One was a rosy, oblate, misshapen little thing and the other was a yellowish red, not quite fully ripened.
“Oh, dear,” I muttered aloud as I continued rummaging through the pile of mediocre tomatoes. I felt a buzz from my hoodie pocket and saw the screen flashing with a notification from Tim’s number. I hadn’t put in his contact information yet, but I had already memorized the 9 digit code.
Just in case…
Can’t wait honey bun. ;)
I grinned and suddenly saw two absolutely perfect tomatoes.
Today sure is looking up!
I was planning on impressing Tim with my cooking because no one can resist a free meal. Plus, in my bio, I’d added that I was a culinary student - not quite accurate, but nothing crazy. I’m sure I could cook circles around those fussy chefs anyway. I couldn’t help but feel nervous though.
When I think of what tonight might be like, my heart skips a beat. Tim is so handsome, and works at HareTech, this big tech company owned by a family of rich rabbits. And I’m… just an unemployed one.
I sighed and grabbed some discounted cheese from a refrigerated cart along with a loaf of fresh baked bread.
I probably shouldn’t be spending like this, but I’m sure I can find a job no sweat in about a week. I had saved up quite a lot, too.
I looked over at the deli, seeing the meat substitutes that were marketed for carnivores. They were all pretty expensive, but I grabbed some sausages that seemed like a decent deal for their quality. I had never cooked for a carnivore before - well, not dinner, anyway.
I hope Tim will appreciate the effort.
Glancing at my phone, I realized how long I’d spent deciding what to buy.
3:30pm, better hurry.
I quickly made my way to the checkout and left the store. We lived fairly close to the market, and I didn’t own a car, so I had to scurry home on foot, arms full of groceries. I skipped up the steps to my door and knocked on it with my foot.
“Jenna, help!” I shouted. From the other side of the door I heard an overly dramatic, exasperated sigh rise out of the depths of Jen’s skull as she reared open the door just enough to let me inside.
“What are you even doing?” she asked while typing on her phone.
“I, uh, have a date tonight. So, I need the place to myself,” I responded sheepishly. She met my gaze and grinned viciously
“That’s so...gay,” she laughed as she followed me into the kitchen.
“Well yeah, that’s the point, dork,” I retorted as I laid out the ingredients for dinner that I’d purchased today. “Besides, it’s not like you weren’t going to Aria’s place anyway.”
“Actually, I was going to ask if she could come over tonight, but now I don’t think I could stomach it,” she fired back as she faked sounds of vomiting and heaving.
“Cute,” I snapped as I flicked my tongue out at her. Jen walked back into the living room and plopped onto the couch, apparently too distracted by her friends to be bothered by her brother.
Sighing, I grabbed two ramekins and a small saucepan, along with a pint of cream from the fridge. I got some vanilla, sugar, and agar-agar powder out of a cupboard, and mixed the vanilla and sugar with the cream in the saucepan, heating it up and waiting for the delicate ripple of a simmer.
This was going to be our lovely creamy dessert, a panna cotta. I had to make do with what we had on hand, but even though it was simple, I was sure it would impress. After the main course, Tim would be leaning against the counter, seductively spooning the creamy dessert into his muzzle, and I would be waiting in anticipation of his gasps of delight. The thought made me giggle.
When I started seeing bubbles, I stirred in the agar-agar until it was well incorporated and pulled the mixture off the stove. Then I poured it into the ramekins, placing them gently in one of the open spots in the fridge to cool, then rinsing off the saucepan and setting it aside.
The cookbook my family made rarely ever had savory options, but Irene’s sister Lucille spent a few years in Italy learning about food, and meeting the second love of her life, Paolo. Lucille made sure to add a few recipes she learned from him and his family, including what I was making for my own date night.
Grabbing a larger pot, I poured in a box of pasta, water, and salt, then set it on the stove. I glanced at the clock and saw I still had about an hour. I turned the flame up higher, then left it to boil.
I grabbed the loaf of bread from the store and ripped open the packaging. This recipe was for an appetizer called bruschetta. I had never made it before, but I trusted Great Aunt Lucille to guide my hand. I quickly sliced the bread into even pieces, nibbling occasionally on the loaf ends for a snack, and putting the rest onto a baking sheet.
From the fridge I retrieved a stick of butter and some leftover garlic I’d minced yesterday, and from my basil plant on the windowsill I harvested a bunch of leaves. I melted the butter and combined it with the garlic in my saucepan.
After a minute of light simmering, I generously brushed the garlic butter onto each side of the bread slices and sprinkled some seasonings on top. Then I grated the discount cheese liberally across the entire pan. I popped it into the oven and turned my attention back to the pasta.
Linguini Alfredo was Paolo’s favorite dish, and Great Aunt Lucille had several versions of the recipe archived, but I picked the one she would make for his birthday. Since using premade pasta was kind of cheating, I wanted to at least make the sauce by hand.
I began by melting another stick of butter in the saucepan along with the the rest of my leftover garlic. I removed the sausages from their casings and slid them into the sizzling butter as the pan erupted with the smell of spices. Waiting for the sausage to brown, I then added more cream to the pan, stirring it gently to avoid scalding. Checking the recipe again, I realized what had to come next.
No wonder Lucille made this for Paolo so sparingly; this has so much cream, butter, and cheese.
I then grated about a cup of cheese into the bubbling cream, along with some herbs and salt, tasting it and adding more until I got the seasonings just right.
Checking on the pasta, I found that it seemed done so I strained it and incorporated the sauce into the freshly made noodles.
The sauce clung to the noodles like a fresh silken blanket, enveloping each strand in intense flavor. I could already feel my mouth watering.
Just then the timer for the bread went off, and I scurried to my oven mitts, pulling out the golden, toasted bread slices.
I set them on the counter and began cutting the tomatoes I had bought earlier, mixing them with olive oil, salt, the basil leaves, and pepper. I gingerly applied the tomatoes onto the slices of bread, and finished them off with a light dusting of grated parmesan.
I sighed with relief now that date night dinner was essentially complete, save for plating and presentation. I looked down at my phone and noticed that I had gotten a text from Tim.
Hey honey bun, I’m on my way over. I got off work a bit early.
I gasped and began whirling around the kitchen, plating the food and sprinkling herbs over the top to look fancy. I even drizzled honey and berries over the top of the panna cottas, but kept them in the fridge for optimal serving temperature.
“Aria is coming over in about thirty minutes,” Jenna yelled from the couch.
“Well Tim is coming like now so go to your room!” I snapped back, still frantically preparing the food.
She sighed and dragged herself to her room, slamming her door.
There was a knocking at the door that nearly made me drop the plate of pasta I was holding in my hand.
Oh dear, he’s already here.
I threw my apron onto the rack and took off my cooking gloves, throwing them away as I raced to the door. I opened it slowly, and there he was.
Tim towered over me by about a foot so when I opened the door I was greeted by the exposed portion of his chest peeking out of his maroon button-up shirt. It fit him perfectly, defining every curve of his musculature.
“How’s it going, Andrew?” Tim purred raising my chin to meet his gaze. His eyes were a deep golden honey which scanned my look of awe in amusement.
“G-good, uh, come in?” I blurted out, pushing the door a little too hard, making a loud bang. The bang startled me and I tripped backwards on the welcome mat, landing square on my bottom. “Ow!” I moaned.
For the love of...dammit Andy!
“Are you okay, Andy?” Tim giggled as he offered his paw to me. I felt flushed as I accepted his help back onto my feet.
“Sorry.” I mumbled shyly.
“It was cute, I don’t mind,” He purred again. “So what’s this surprise you were talking up?” Tim asked eagerly.
“Oh it’s nothing, I just thought I’d cook a little something,” I awkwardly laughed.
Smooth Andy. Tim makes this look so easy.
“O-oh,” Tim stuttered.
For the first time he looks genuinely off guard.
“I hope you don’t mind I just-”
“No, no I wanted to surprise you with a dinner at a favorite place of mine tonight. I already made a reservation, too,” Tim sighed.
“Oh, if I had known- I’m sorry Tim,” I apologized weakly ,glancing at the food I had just spent hours on.
Wow Andy, you could have said something. Now you both feel weird. Could you have blown this any harder?
“Tim, we could still go, I mean, really I didn't work that hard on this. Plus my sister and her friend could just have it, seriously,” I reassured as I grasped his paw.
“Aw, I was right, you are a sweet little honey bun,” he smiled, showing perfectly white sharp teeth in immaculate rows.
“One second,” I said as I ran over to Jenna’s door. “Hey, you and Aria can have the food on the counter and stay the night. Tim and I are actually heading out,” I half yelled through the door.
“Good because I didn’t tell Aria she couldn’t stay over tonight,” Jenna shouted back. I sighed and rolled my eyes as I strolled back over to Tim.
“Are you ready?” he chuckled deeply, making my heart skip a beat.
“As I’ll ever be,” I responded shyly.
Tim and I exited my apartment, and I saw the shiny black limousine sitting snugly on the street.
“T-tim? Did you have a limo drive you here?” I asked sheepishly, now hyper aware of how underdressed I was.
“No, I flew,” he joked, taking my paw and leading me through the door being held open by the chauffeur.
“This is a lot Tim, I really can’t-”
“Nonsense, any date of mine gets the first class treatment. Plus the limo is free,” Tim smiled as he patted my thigh, dangerously close to my sensitive areas. The touch made me giggle a little. “You aren’t ticklish are you?” his perfect smile contorted into a mischievous grin as he lunged forward mockingly. All I could manage was an awkward laugh.
The interior of the limo was clean, nice vinyl seats with a soft tan carpeting. There was even a small bar to my right.
“I was thinking about this all day, but I never imagined our date was going to be like this,” I gushed. Tim put his shoulder around me and pulled me close to him. His chest had a bouquet of warm sweet spices almost like an exotic tea. It was intoxicating.
“You’re cute, Andy, but really, don’t feel weird.” He looked down at me with those golden honeyed eyes again, making me shiver. I had never had someone so interested in me.
“O-okay,” I said as I leaned in to him. We rode like this for about 15 minutes until we came to a gentle stop. I looked through the tinted glass of the windows, seeing the sign of the restaurant we were going to.
“Oh my God, you did not do this. Tim, really, this is too much. Do you know how much a freaking salad is here? One meal here is like paying my rent!” I cried.
“I know the chef, and I figured why not come and say hi. Plus, you know I’m a CEO right?” he retorted as he opened the door.
Tim, you are freaking nuts!
“I can’t go in there dressed like this, Tim!” I hissed as I slid further into the limo, out of sight from the now open door. Tim’s ears drooped.
“But I think you look wonderful,” he purred right in my ear.
You are weak and pathetic if that worked.
“Okay, Tim.” I smiled, still a little stiff.
You actually make me sick, Andy, and I’m you.
Not only had Tim taken me on a limousine ride through the city, but now we were about to eat at one of the most prestigious restaurants in the country, Moléculaire. The chef, Gaultier Macron, specialized in molecular gastronomy, and I thought that I would die before I ever tasted his cuisine.
“So you know the Gaultier Macron?” I asked, still clutching Tim’s giant arms as we entered the restaurant.
“Yeah, we actually own half of the stock for his company, so you could say we are business partners.” Tim grinned as he made a gesture at the maître d'.
That kind of money scared me. He could probably buy me, and sell me to some slave trade across the sea. Honestly, I could use the money, for Jen’s college or something.
“Andy? Our table is waiting,” Tim purred, bringing me back to the present.
“Sorry,” I giggled awkwardly as we traced our way between the tables to a private dining room on the opposite wall of the entrance. The room was lit by the warm glow of candles that illuminated the modern art strung about the walls. The table we were seated at was round and covered with a white silk table cloth, nicer than the sheets on my bed.
Tim and I were alone glancing over the menus when our waitress came to the table.
“Bonjour! Monsieur ‘awthorne,” the deer squealed in her thick French accent. She glanced over at me, unimpressed, and returned her attention to Tim. They conversed for a few minutes in French as I watched, patient but jealous.
Who is she to him?
“Sorry about that, honey bun, Belle is Gaultier’s niece and we were just catching up.” Tim smiled warmly as he reached across the table to grasp my paw.
“No worries, so, no menus?” I asked, trying to hide my unimpressed tone for that deer’s service.
“Oh, I ordered for the both of us, but it’s a surprise,” he said, bringing his claw to his pursed lips. I smiled and took a sip of my water.
“ So, Mr. ‘awthorne,” I said in a mock French accent, “ what do you do at HareTech exactly?”
Tim stirred in his seat a bit before answering, “Well, I manage a lot of the finances and investments we make. Boring stuff like that.” He eagerly reached for his glass and started drinking quickly.
“Oh wow, that must be stressful,” I responded.
“ Yeah, I like to leave work at the door,” he answered curtly. “Now tell me, Mr. Borough, what do you plan to do about your next job?”
I felt my stomach begin twisting in knots.
“I-I’m not sure yet, to be honest,” I mumbled.
“I see,” Tim replied, gazing at me with those hypnotic disks of gold that were his eyes, “The reason I ask is, I recently had to lay off my personal chef. There was some unprofessional conduct that needed to be addressed, and I was wondering if you might be interested.”
“So this is a job interview, not a date?” I asked, a bit harsher than I intended.
“No, but I can’t help but reach out a hand to a cute little bunny in need, now can I?”
I felt flush, and my heart was beating rapidly.
“You can even move out of that little apartment, and live with me. Free.”
“Look, I can’t-”
“What about your sister? She could really use a nice safe place to grow up. And I guarantee you I can provide that,” Tim purred, still gazing intently at me, never breaking his eye contact.
“This all is just moving so quickly,” I responded, now hyper aware of my arms, and not knowing what to do with them.
“Andy, let me help you. I have more than enough to go around, and I’ve always wanted a bunny.”
That made my spine shiver.
Just then the deer came through the doors with a large tray carrying a bottle of wine and two large silver dishes with oddly shaped colorful food.
“Bon appétit!” she chimed cheerily as she quickly exited the room.
“Enough business, let’s eat!” Tim cheered.
The trays set in front of us were intimidating. The rightmost portion of my plate housed a pile of neatly twirled green noodles, to left of that was a cream colored rectangular blob topped with little yellow bubbles like caviar, and finally a large spoon containing a ruby red bubble topped with a mint sprig.
Tim started by twirling some noodles onto his fork and slurping them into his muzzle. I followed suit and felt the odd texture, almost gelatin-like. They bursted with herbal aromas and flavors as I chewed, lemongrass, fennel, and mint. They were so refreshing!
“What d’ ‘ou ‘ink?” Tim mumbled with his mouth open.
“This is amazing!” I giggled as he balanced a noodle on his snout and tried slurping it with his delicate pink tongue.
I dove in for a bite of the creamy blob and bubbles, and when I brought it to my nose I could smell mushrooms. I put it in my mouth as I felt it melt like butter on my tongue, with a rich and wonderful taste of mushroom. The bubble popped and released another similar but more intense mushroom aroma, probably truffle oil.
We quickly devoured what remained of our plates, except for the small ruby bubble. We both picked up our spoons and toasted them before eating. The bubble popped and I could feel the burn of alcohol mixed with the bright sweetness of strawberries.
Getting me drunk, Tim? Tsk tsk.
Elle came back and Tim tried to pay, but she insisted that the meal was free. Tim took the bottle of wine we didn’t end up touching, and we started to make our way out of the restaurant.
“Weren’t you going to say hi to Gaultier?” I asked, slurring my speech a little.
How much alcohol was in that little thing?
“Elle was actually cooking for us tonight, Gaultier was sick,” Tim muttered as he led me to the doors.
“Wow, cooking must run in their family, too!” I shouted, a little louder than I meant to, startling some guests.
Tim laughed, and pulled me through the door towards the limousine waiting in the street.
“Somebody has had a little too much to drink,” he teased, easing me into the vinyl seats.
“I’m not even drinking age, you criminal,” I retorted, resting my head against his broad chest.
“Well, you could call me daddy, and that may ease any suspicions,” he winked. I rolled my eyes and took in more of his intoxicating smell.
The vehicle started to thump with the bass of a song Tim turned on.
“So, bunny, you want to play with me?” Tim asked, as he started rubbing my thigh.
The butterflies in my stomach hadn’t settled, but I couldn’t resist him any longer. He was so handsome, and nice, and hot.
I nodded shyly, and Tim obliged. He ripped off his shirt and pulled my sweater up and over my head. I was now on my back under Tim, fur to fur. He lowered his muzzle to mine and kissed me.
*Oh. My. God. What. Are. You. Doing. *
I had never been with another guy before, but I surrendered to his kiss, letting him run his claws over my chest.
“Wait, Tim,” I said, pulling out of his kiss. “This is my first time, um, doing anything.” I felt my ears burn with the heat of the sun. Tim looked surprised, but then his surprise changed to something, almost like a hunter after its prey.
“I’ll be gentle, baby,” he purred into my ear, biting my neck gently. I couldn’t help but to let out a moan. This excited Tim, who doubled down and began tracing his tongue down my torso to my pants. He teased me just above my waist with small, quick kisses, making me shiver. The vehicle started to slow, and Tim sighed. “Would you like to take this to my bedroom, honey bun?”
Tim was still in between my legs, caressing my body, and my desire was overwhelming. “Please?”
17 November 2018 at 13:34:08 MST
This is Chapter 2 of Bittersweet: Recipes for Life and Love, a gay romance/drama novel that I and my fiance, Fox Galewarden, are writing together.
The novel is about a rabbit named Andy, an aspiring baker hoping to find love, happiness, and a purpose while taking care of his sister following the death of their mother.
If you enjoyed reading it, please give it a favorite, send it to your friends, and/or comment what you liked about it.
Keep an eye out for our upcoming Kickstarter to get the full book published!
If you liked reading this, please share it! We're new authors and we would greatly appreciate a signal boost.
Note: This story will eventually contain dark themes which some readers may find distressing. Please exercise care when reading.