This is what happens when someone who is a disaster in the kitchen ... takes on an exercise that is supposed to use cooking to illustrate how a man and a woman interact. This is exercise 48, it is probably completely useless for a novel or a short story being too long with nothing happening, but it was fun to write:
Anevi stood amongst hills of grains and a treeline of vegetables trying frantically to figure out which went into the boiling pot first, her small body pulled up to the very tips of the toes as she bounced. “Let me see … let me see …”
Jaref leaned over her shoulder, starting to point. “You should -”
She batted his hand away, laughing. “You’re not supposed to do any of the cooking!” she said. “Sit back, relax, let me do the work for once.”
He grinned at her, grey eyes spackled with mischief. “It’s not precisely relaxing to watch you.”
Anevi scuttled about, brandishing the chopping knife back at him. She then picked up the bowl of rice and dumped it unceremoniously into the pot.
“There.” She beamed at him. “Started.”
“That’s only supposed to cook for -”
“Tsk, tsk, I have it under control!” To silence him, she whirled about and popped a strawberry into his mouth.
“Mmph, wait a second -”
“I didn’t know you could talk with your mouth full,” she said as she stirred the rice vigorously, taking “season to taste” to mean liberal assaults with the shakers. The iron-clad stove rattled as its fire burned.
He grinned at her wryly, pulling himself up on the counter. “Requirement of the job.”
She had control of the vegetables now, better with a knife than she was with the concept of moderation. She watched him out of the corner of her eye, feeling a bit remorseful now. She really shouldn’t tease him so much, but he made it so easy she blinked and she was doing it again.
“I hope this isn’t reminding you too much of work.” She juggled a carrot in slices and tossed them back over her shoulder in the general direction of the pot.
“No, you are absolutely nothing like any of the chefs I work with.” He leaned in for one of the potatoes.
Anevi spun about and brought the knife to a dramatic thwack-landing in the one right next to it. “Oh, you infuriating man!”
He yelped, sliding off the counter. His feet missed the floor and he landed with a crack. She slid around the island to help him, bumped the flour with her hip –
In seconds, the two were as white as ghosts, Jaref laughing helplessly, Anevi shouting apologies in a way that suggested divine wrath if he didn’t accept them and more importantly, stop howling. Finally, exasperated, she flopped down atop him and tipped his chin back to kiss him.
He broke the kiss to study her with thoughtful eyes. Finally, “You taste like cinnamon tarts.”
“Are you calling me a tart?”
He tried to protest, then ended up gnawing air as she put an elbow into his ribs. “Remind me why I talk again? Every time I do, I seem to get in more trouble.”
She ruffled his hair, pasting the flour more thoroughly into blonde locks. “I’m sure I haven’t got the slightest clue.”
An ominous burble came from the stove above. Jaref worked his way up into a crouch. “Anevi, the rice …”
She squealed an unladylike string of words and scrambled to her feet. Pot-holders, handles, and she whirled about with the entire pot a-slosh. Uneven breathing escaped her as she grinned down at him, rice saved, first course triumphant.
Jaref shook his head, leaning back against the wood. “You’re a disaster waiting to happen,” he said.
She grinned at him, unrepentant, even taking it as a compliment. “I know.”
He chuckled, dusting himself off. “And I love you for it.”
“If you’re not going to tell me anything I don’t already know,” she said sensibly, “will you please let me work?”
(Yep, that's it. 600 words sayeth the exercise - 600-and-a-bit, I stop.)