Lee frowned as he heard the quick tattoo of knocks on his front door. “Now what?” he muttered, stopped what he was doing, and went to see who was interrupting what had so far been a quiet Saturday afternoon. It was now almost 5 pm and he was due shortly to head for dinner with friends.
The frown turned to a quizzical grin as he discovered Chip on his front step. “What’s up?” He looked Chip up and down as the blond entered the house, wearing his khaki’s. “I thought you had a date tonight.”
Chip grinned. “Do,” he admitted as he held out the folder he was carrying. “Just headed home to change. I had that teleconference this afternoon about the new computer programs. Just wanted to drop the notes off for you to peruse before we meet with Admiral Nelson Monday morning.”
Lee nodded as he took the folder. “Anything positive? I swear the Navy sends us their stupidest suggestions to try before they’d risk one of their full-time ships.”
Chip shrugged. “Suggestions only, remember. We still have the right to tell them where to stuff them.” His head turned toward the kitchen. “What smells so good?” and he headed that direction.
Lee followed, a broad grin on his face. “Headed to Jamie’s for dinner. Just my contribution to the meal.”
“And why wasn’t I invited?” Chip grumbled, taking a long sniff of what was simmering in the frying pan on Lee’s stove. He couldn’t quite identify what it was, but the smell was wonderful.
“Duh. You haven’t stopped talking all week about having a date with Monika tonight, buddy.”
Chip sent him a grin. “True.” He grabbed a clean spoon and scooped up some of the mixture. “What is this?” he asked, blowing on it a bit to cool it off before taking a taste.
“Ah,” Lee hesitated, “sort of a Chinese BBQ sloppy Joe mixture. It goes over dry Chinese noodles.”
“You sure you want to take something like this to the Jamison’s? Lu-Tsi usually prefers things a good deal more healthy.”
“Actually, she asked for it specifically. It’s one of her favorites.”
Chip shrugged his shoulders and took another nibble from the spoon. “Onion, peppers, tomatoes,” he started identifying the flavors. “Beans?” He pointed an eyebrow at Lee.
“Mashed in,” Lee admitted. “Vinegar, cloves, cinnamon, brown sugar. All the usual suspects.”
“Can’t quite identify the meat.” Chip sent another pointed eyebrow his friend’s way.
Lee shrugged. “You’re going to be late for your date if you’re not careful,” he changed the subject.
Rather reluctantly all of a sudden, Chip put the now empty spoon in the sink. “You’ll make that for me next time we get together.” It came out an order, and caused both men to instantly grin.
“Would have made it for you before now, but I didn’t think you’d like it.”
“What’s not to like? You can be very strange sometimes, Crane, you know that?” Lee merely shrugged again and Chip headed out. Lee quickly put the concoction into a serving dish, covered it completely with aluminum foil and then into a casserole cover to help keep it warm, tossed it and a can of Chinese noodles into a bag and headed for the Jamison’s house.
* * * *
“Lee, I think this is even more delicious than it usually is,” Lu-Tsi told him after taking a bite. “Did you do something different to it?” She, Will, and Lee were sitting around the patio table in the Jamison’s back yard. Lu-Tsi had prepared the rest of the meal: miso soup, veggie spring rolls, and shrimp with a teriyaki glaze.
Lee ducked his head slightly at the compliment before his expression turned slightly evil. Both Lu-Tsi and Will noticed it and stopped eating. Lee chuckled. “Chip stopped at the house to drop off a report just as I was finishing cooking it. He smelled it and ended up taking a bite.” Lee’s grin spread. “He wondered why I’d never made it for him.”
Will snickered. “I gather you didn’t tell him what’s in it.”
Lee grinned. “Everything except the ‘meat.’ Figured if I told him that it was actually crumbled tofu, it would fry his poor little brain so badly it would screw up his whole evening with Monika.”
“Oh, dear,” Lu-Tsi giggled, “we can’t have that.”
The three friends shared another laugh, and continued on with the delicious meal.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Lu-Tsi Jamison used with permission of her creator, Cris Smithson.