The Main Ingredient

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What happens when you put a novice in the kitchen with a master.? Sparks are not just flying out of the pan. Can he teach her how to cook? and not become the main ingredient of her life?

Kate McKeown
Age Rating:

Chapter 12

Casey made it back to the station in time to see her segment on the TV’s in the sound room. She sat at a chair in the back as they turned on the volume and she came to life with a real reporting story. She watched the entire 8 minutes trying not to critique her work. Once the story was done, she turned to the sound people, “What do you think?”

“Solid job,” one answered.

“You got all the facts out there. You did a great job,” another added.

Casey patted herself on the back as she left the sound room to walk back to her desk. She sat at her computer checking her email when Joshua came up to her desk and sat on the corner of it. “Tonight’s the night for dinner. You and me but I get to choose the place.”

Casey looked up and huffed, the last thing she wanted to do was go out to dinner. She was exhausted. Joshua leaned close, “I’ve been writing the blog, I could use a few minutes of your time, we need to collaborate.”

Casey sighed, “OK but it’s been a long day so if we can make it early then it’s a yes.”

Joshua smiled, “OK, I can do that. We’ll see what happens about getting to bed early. I’ll be back in 10 to get you.”

Joshua walked down the hallway to her own cubicle. Casey’s phone rang, she answered it, “Hello?”

“Beat a chicken, oh my God girl. How could you say that?” Celeste was laughing. That’s been the number one comment on our Twitter feed after your show. Oh and according to the poll Team Will is edging ahead of Team Joshua. We will see what happens with the show tomorrow night. Solid work on the church story. Think about some type of followup. Maybe you can get an exclusive with the whistleblower.”

Casey smiled at the compliment, maybe she was moving out of fluff stories, “Thank you. I still don’t get it. I was flattening the chicken,” She said.

“The look on Will’s face was priceless. I don’t think I’ve ever see a man flabbergasted. You know people talk about choking the chicken and what it is right?” Celeste asked.

Casey gasped, “Oh god, that wasn’t at all what I meant!”

Celeste laughed again, “Oh honey, it did wonders for you. Don’t worry about it. I’ll go through what we have on tap and see if there is something for you. Joshua said he’s taking you to dinner.”

“Yeah, did you egg him on to do that?”

“Maybe that will keep you away from Mr. Dreamy,” Celeste said, “I know Joshua’s not really your type but give him a chance. He’s actually a nice guy. He came over last night and cooked for Stefan and me.”

Casey hung up the phone and stuck out her tongue in Joshua’s direction. She went back to reading the comments from the blog post and email sent to her private inbox.

Joshua pulled up to the posh McMillian’s steakhouse and all of Casey’s hopes about a quick dinner went out the window. He made sure there was someone there taking pictures as he put his hand on the small of her back and guided her into the restaurant. They sat at an intimate table for two while Joshua took over the ordering for dinner. Casey fumed that she wanted to do this on her own now that she had fresh knowledge of what she liked and didn’t like.

When the wine was delivered and poured, Joshua tinked his glass with her, “You know, you’ve been playing hard to get. We are supposed to be collaborating but you won’t meet with me. You seem to spend a lot of time with the diner cook.”

“Well, I’ve been pretty busy with other stories and the cooking challenge. Plus we will be at your house tomorrow night cooking, so I don’t think that’s true,” She said as she sipped her wine.

“I’m not making chicken piccata, I’m making a different chicken dish tomorrow. I’ve got two more sponsors that are ready to cut a check if I mention their products on the air,” Joshua said with a smile, “You should think about doing that also, it’s a great way to make a name and make some money. People are starting to recognize us more from the shows and blogs.”

Casey was glad their meal was delivered so she didn’t have to say anything to him. Her steak was overcooked again and as a bottle of red wine appeared at the table she accepted a glass.

“I don’t see why you keep going to that diner when we could just move to our once a week lessons at my house, something from a professional,” Joshua said as he speared some salad.

Casey tried not grit her teeth, she had to be nice to him. “It’s a contract Joshua, I have to honor it. We have five weeks left them we can discuss something new once this contract is done.”

Joshua regarded her from behind his glass of wine, “You know you want to work with a professional.”

Casey remember the night before when she’d tangled the sheets with Will, “Oh yes, I can always tell a professional.”

They finished their meal, Joshua trying a dessert wine but Casey declined. He shook hands with the owner and introduced her. “The food was good Martin. You’ll get a favorable review.” The owner seemed to breathe in relief.

They left to his car, Joshua put his hand on her knee, “The meat wasn’t the best grade and the red wine wasn’t dry enough for the entrees we ordered. Plus my dessert was burnt.”

“But you said you’d give him a favorable review,” Casey said.

“I will be honest about him. Saying something positive makes it easier to get out of there,” Joshua said as he started the car. He leaned over and kissed Casey’s cheek, “Now you are good enough to eat.”

Casey moved away and stared out the window. She’d so rather be with Will then sitting in the car with Joshua.

She got home and like before just left the clothes she shed on the floor as she went for her cotton pants and t-shirt. The knock on her door had her turn the lock, “Listen Joshua, I’m in for the night.”


She threw open the lock and opened the door to Will, “What are you doing here?”

He took a step forward and she took a step back. She felt the blood rush to her head, “What are you doing here?” She asked again as she smoothed the t-shirt and the cotton lounge pants.

“Simon is sleeping over with a friend tonight because they have basketball early in the morning,” Will took another step toward her.

“But, it’s late,” she said feebly as he made it inside the door but not too far in to shut it.”

“How did you get in the building?” She asked as her hands flew to her hair that was flowing freely around her shoulders. Will’s hands ached to touch it.

“Mrs. Burns? She’s very nice and recognized me from the show. I told her I had to talk to you,” he took another step toward her.

Casey side stepped around him to the door, “Will.”

He pinned her next to the door and took her lips. Casey felt her knees go weak, “I had to see you. I was just sitting there and thinking after the diner closed and the next thing I knew I was here.” He kissed her again, pure heat to her hunger.

“But,” she managed as his hand went and shut her apartment door.

“Yeah, I know. Keep it professional. I can’t seem to do that Casey, not with you,” his hands came to her belly under the cotton shirt, the scars teasing her skin as they moved up. She took a deep breath in and moaned as he teased her.

“We…” she started as someone on the cooking show she was watching set their stove on fire.

“Should definitely,” he said as he pushed her toward her already crumpled bed. She fell on the novel she was reading, the glass of wine on the night stand beside her. He was quick to cover her quivering body as his lips came back to her and his hands, oh his hands moved over her.

“What do you say Casey? I’ve got the night free,” he whispered in her ear, his breath warm on her neck.

She sighed and wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him to her, “Oh shit, what the hell.”

It was easy when it came to pajamas, she thought as again she was the first one naked in the equation. She pulled at his t-shirt, glad this one wasn’t as tight as the other one then groaned as her fingers brushed up his warm skin. Will was equally quick, he kicked off his sneakers and stood up from the bed and stared at her.

“God, what you do to me,” he said quietly as he peeled his jeans off.

“A second ambulance may need to be called, I can’t breathe,” she said as she opened her arms to him.

He fell back on her and bore her down with his weight but she didn’t seem to mind. They tumbled together, breath ragged, bodies straining. He didn’t hold back, he was all over her. Casey’s body stretching toward him scarred hands, asking him for more as the cooking show droned on in the background. She gasped, her moans muffled by his lips on hers.

They looked, brown eyes to blue eyes as they came together. Her eyes closed as she moved under him. Will held himself back as he watched her, what he saw sent his blood rushing. He felt her stiffen under him, brought his lips to her throat until he collapsed on top of her.

The cooking show was talking about letting someone go as their breath slowly returned to normal. Will looked back at the TV, “One of my favorites.”

He rolled to his side and pulled her with him, her head on his chest. “I’m sorry I stopped by unannounced. OK, so maybe I’m not sorry.”

Casey smiled against his chest, “Well it wasn’t something I expected but I guess I’m not sorry either?”

He laid a light kiss on the top of her head, “I don’t have to be out until morning for basketball practice. I’d like to stay.”

She came up on her elbows and looked at him. His hair was a scruffy mess from her fingers, he had light scratches on his chest, his eyes were soft and content, “I don’t usually…”

“Say yes,” he said to her rolling her on her back and bringing that solemn stare to her, “Just a simple yes.”

She looked up to those blue eyes and smiled, “Well how can a girl say no to a gentleman.”


His alarm went off at 7am, Will stirred and pulled her closer to him. They hadn’t gotten much sleep that night as he woke her during the night with roaming hands and soft lips.

Casey looked over at the clock, she still had another hour as the story she was working on wasn’t scheduled until 9am. She groaned and rolled over to her side. Will’s hands traveled up and down her side. She felt that flutter in her heart and turned toward him.

“Shit, I’ve got basketball practice with Simon. I promised him I’d watch,” he said as he hands roamed up to her breasts, her breath catching. He leaned down and kissed her.

“Dammit, if I stay here I’ll miss practice and Simon will be pissed at me,” He kissed her again then moved to sitting on the bed. Casey rolled up and gave him a hug from behind, “You are a great father.”

Will looked back at her and peeled her off of his back. “Yeah, I guess so. Here I am leaving a beautiful woman’s bed to go watch basketball practice.”

Casey moved back and brought her covers up. What did he mean by that? Will turned quickly, “I didn’t mean it that way. I wanted you Casey, I wanted to be with you.” He moved toward her and pulled her to his lips. “I’m just not in practice with how to communicate.”

Casey smiled at him, “I know. Don’t worry about it Will.” She turned from him and pulled the sheets up.

Will went and pinned her on her back on the bed, “Casey. I’m into you, I’m going to admit that. I’m not sure what to do about that because this is new territory for me after a long hiatus. But I know I want to be with you.” He kissed her again, “But I’m a dad and I’ve got to watch basketball practice.”

She laughed, “Well you’re not doing too bad after a hiatus. Go. Go watch basketball practice. I’ve got another hour before I have to get ready for my story.

Will kissed her again then went and grabbed his clothes, “God I hope he doesn’t recognize I’m wearing the same thing as the night before.”

Casey laughed again, “Well you can take my old boyfriend’s t-shirt and I’ll wash what you have.”

Will looked at her appalled, “I’m not taking an old boyfriend’s t-shirt.”

“Relax, it was a joke. It was given to me when I covered the opening of a local Baltimore store. It doesn’t fit me,” she said as she pulled out a drawer, “I sleep in it in the summer time.”

Will walked out with a totally tourist Baltimore t-shirt on his way to his son’s basketball practice. He didn’t see the person across the street taking pictures on their phone then walking away as he started the catering van and careened at a break neck pace to make sure he wasn’t late.

Casey rolled back over in the bed and gave herself another hour. She’d known that Will Pottery was a mistake and she’d already fallen into that pit twice. Her phone beeped with a message from Joshua about his lesson that week which prompted her to toss her phone onto the carpet under the bed and close her eyes and drift away.


Casey arrived at the restaurant later than Monday as she was covering a cosplay parade in downtown Baltimore. She was disappointed this was where Celeste put her but went and did her job to the best of her ability. The parade turned out to be more interesting than she expected, all the participants dressed in costume, some she knew, some she didn’t. She tried to interview a cat but all the person did was meow at her. An entire group of transformers transformed behind her as she finished up her reporting.

She jumped in her car and drove over to Meat and Three, sent Will a text that she was out front. He came down and let her in, reached for her then stepped away as she went through the door. “I wasn’t sure you were coming,” he said, “Are you losing interest in cooking?”

Casey sighed, “No of course not, I had a story to cover.”

Will shut and locked the door, “What was the story?”

Casey followed him through the diner up the stairs to the kitchen, “The station put me back to fluff pieces, this one was a cosplay parade.”

Will stopped and looked at her, “The one today? That looked insane. I saw pictures of it on Twitter.”

Casey nodded, “Yeah, I’ll be on the five o’clock but I’d rather something more hard hitting. I tried to talk to a person dressed as a cat and they did was meow at me.”

Will laughed, “Well, sometimes you have to do the not fun stuff to get to the good stuff.”

Casey sighed, “Yeah, that’s true. Let’s get to the fun stuff, what are we making?”

Will replied, “I thought we would go with comfort food something that helps with sautéing also. Pepper Beef with hand cut French fries.”

Casey smiled, “Sauté, sounds pretty fancy.”

Will replied, “Sauté is putting little bit of oil or fat into a pan and then quickly frying meat.” He pointed to a bag sitting on a plate by the stove, “The difference with this meat is that I put it in a marinade, so you’ll have to come an hour early to marinade the meat before you sauté it.”

Casey nodded and walked over to the bag, she opened it and took a sniff, “Smells like soy sauce.”

Will replied, “It’s soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger and cumin. One of my favorite marinades. Let’s cut up the peppers and the French fries.”

They each went to the cutting board, Will explained how to cut the peppers into long strips, cleaning out the seeds. He showed her how to cut the potatoes into pub fries, he skinned them as she cut the fries. They par boiled the fries for 10 minutes, then put them into the oven with truffle oil and salt and pepper.

While the fries were baking, Will heated the oil in the large skillet, Casey watched. He turned to her, “Do you want to do the sauté or watch me?”

She stepped closer to him, “I’ll watch this time.” She was afraid to get closer to him, he looked too good in a pair of khaki and polo shirt this time. She felt herself drawn to him again, pushed back her feelings.

Will dumped the meat onto the tray, put his hand over the heating pan. “Stand back because this may splash from the liquid when it hits the oil.”

The meat hit the pan and did splash, Will picked up the pan and tossed it before putting it back on the burner. “We cook this 3 minutes to brown it then put it on a plate.” He put the beef out of the pan then moved the cutting board with peppers and onions on it next to the pan. “So we keep the bits and pieces in the pan because it adds more flavor to the vegetables. I’ll add a little soy sauce to the pan, then add in the vegetables.” He sautéed the vegetables until just crisp.

Will looked over to Casey, “Take a look at the fries and see if they are done.”

Casey opened the oven and looked inside, “What am I looking for?”

Will chuckled, “They should be a light brown, crisp on the outside.”

She nodded, “Yes, looks like they are brown and crisp, at least to me.”

Will said, “Go ahead and pull them out and here’s the great part, we’ll combine all this together into the skillet and top it with cheese. The ultimate comfort food, something for those cold fall nights.”

Casey brought the French fries over placing them next to the meat. Will dumped the meat into the skillet, turning everything to mix it together. Finishing up with the French fries, he turned it quickly them put a layer of cheddar cheese on top covering the pan with a lid. “The French fries go in last because you don’t want them to soak up too much of the liquid and get mushy. Covering up the pan will melt the cheese, another way to do this is put it under the broiler but I’m afraid to do that again.”

Casey laughed, “Yeah, don’t trust me with a broiler.”

Will peeked under the pan, took the lid off, “It’s done! This is one of my Dad’s recipes.”

He moved the entire skillet to the middle of the kitchen table, set it next to a bottle of red wine open on the table. Will looked over to Casey, “This is another good pairing, just a small taste to see how these flavors blend.”

Casey sat across from Will as he spooned the food into bowls. He handed her one, gave her a fork and sat across from her. They both dug into the dinner taking sips of red wine, the food blending so well with the wine that before they knew it the food was gone. Casey put her fork down, “That was remarkably easy to make but so delicious. I think you put me in a food coma.”

“Dad likes to serve this at the diner on a regular basis as a special. The important part is the cut of the meat, this was grass fed New York strip steaks cut into strips. In the diner Dad uses sirloin, but I thought we would spruce it up for the show.”

Casey nodded, took a sip of wine. “I like this recipe. I think this is something I can make at my apartment. I think I have a pan like that.”

Will chuckled, “it’s one of the basic items in the kitchen, most likely you have one. Maybe I can go and take inventory, make suggestions on some of the basic items to get you out of frozen dinners.”

Casey laughed, “I’d like that. You’d be shocked that I made myself a grilled cheese sandwich and actually bought a bag of salad.”

“Bag of salad?” Will asked.

“Yeah, I’m trying to eat healthy and figured if I had a bag of salad I’d be more likely to eat vegetables that didn’t come from a can,” Casey shrugged.

“Bag of salad, never heard of that one before,” Will replied.

They got up and took the dishes to the sink. Their shoulders touched as they stood next to each other and rinsed dishes. Casey sighed as she rinsed her plate. Will sighed as he passed his rinsed plate to her to put in the dishwasher.

They finished cleaning then looked over to each other. Will did reach for the piece of hair falling out of her pony tail and put it gently behind her ear. Casey, despite her better judgement stepped forward and kissed Will, surprised at his shudder. “There’s no one here right?” She asked.

Will wrapped his arms around her, “No one is here.”

Casey put her arms around his waist, “All I’ve wanted to do was hold you. We just have to keep this under wraps, think you can do that?”

Will kissed her again, “I can do whatever you want me to do. I was hoping I didn’t have to wait 4 weeks to be with you.” He kissed her, “You taste so good, even with the small taste of dinner.”

He picked her up and sat her on the counter, kisses moved from playful to heat. Will played with her hair, moved to her neck gently kissed the nape then lightly bit her. Casey jumped then laughed, threw her arms around him and pulled him closer to her. He went back to tasting her neck then moved up to her ear, enjoying her moan as he nibbled. They kissed for a few minutes, Casey’s breath got ragged until they heard the door open down in the restaurant.


Will set Casey back from the counter, kissed her lightly, “My son’s home.”

Casey replied, “I know.”

He watched her smooth her hair as he heard Simon’s boots on the steps up to the apartment. He smiled as she touched her lips before she smiled at him. Simon came through the apartment door and ran over to Casey giving her a hug. “You’re here!”

“I am, I am usually earlier but I had a story and had to come later. Sorry I interrupted your time with your Dad,” she replied.

“Smells good in here, what did you cook Dad?” Simon asked his father..

“Papa’s beef and pepper skillet with French fries,” Will replied.

“Ohhh, did you save me any?” Simon asked.

“Sorry champ, but I’ll make you dinner right now,” Will said, he turned to Casey, “You are welcome to stay and finish your wine if you want.”

Casey sat at the table and watched Will dig through the refrigerator, her mind wandered as he bent over and pulled out a few items. He went to the pantry and looked. “How about a personal pizza?”

Simon brightened, “Yes, pepperoni.”

Will turned on the oven, taking the naan out of the package. He put the Indian bread into the oven to crisp it. As he waited Simon disappeared into the bathroom. Will came back to the table and stole a kiss to her, Casey’s heart raced. “He will not poop at school so this is a usual ritual.” He sat next to her and kissed her again, moved her hair behind her ears again. He kissed her one more time, “OK to food for my son.”

Casey watched him pull the naan out of the oven then cover it with tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and fresh basil. He cut the pepperoni thin and added it to the pie. “Doesn’t that come in pouches?” She asked.

“Not if you want the authentic taste,” he replied with a smile. He put the pizza in the oven, moved over to the table and sat next to Casey, his hand on her knee. Casey felt flutters with Will’s hand not the dread with Joshua’s hand. Will moved back when Simon came back into the kitchen and grabbed his backpack.

“I’ve got math homework to do and a test tomorrow.” He looked to Casey, “I wish I could cook with you but I’ve got to get this done, otherwise I don’t get my oysters.”

Casey laughed, “Honey you don’t have to hang with me. I’m glad I got to see you!” He hugged her then ran back to his bedroom with his book bag.

“I’ll call when the pizza is ready,” Will yelled after his son. Will went back to Casey, “You are driving me to distraction.”

Casey giggled and then got serious, “We need to keep all of this under wraps, OK? This could stir trouble for me and the station if word gets out. But I also want to be with you.”

Will thought about what she said, “I agree. I also have to take things slow with Simon. He’s not really ever watched me have someone in my life, we’ve always been the two musketeers.”

They both smelled something together, Will turned back to the stove, “You got me distracted, guess I’m making my son another pizza.


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