Pots, utensils, and food dishes in various stages of preparedness covered the surface of the counter and the table. If kitchens had brains, hers was wondering if her parents had come back to life. After walking off with Bruce’s note, Liza decided to be a big girl and not spend the rest of the day hiding out in her bedroom. Instead, she was hiding out with Michael, who turned out to be a cranky tyrant in the kitchen. The cranky part, at least, had improved when Liza presented him with the Bird Dog.
He was making turkey with pineapple stuffing, mashed sweet potatoes, asparagus, and fresh rolls (So that was what the white hook that came with the mixer was for.). Liza was chopping vegetables for a soup stock. Michael had been appalled when he saw the frozen pie that Liza picked up at the market, but he let it go when she told him that she was also going to make a cake.
Liza hated to cook, but didn’t mind baking and loved to decorate cakes. The chocolate pound cake that she made should be ready for frosting when she was done chopping. Liza tried to think of a design, but Bruce’s note kept forcing its way into her head. I LOVE YOU.
She knew that she loved Bruce a long time ago, but hadn’t considered actually telling him. Michael probably wouldn’t get involved with Bruce if he was in her shoes. Her mind had that conversation on an involuntary replay ever since.
She knew what he meant, as long as that was all that he meant. Liza wasn’t as clueless as people thought. She knew that a homeless guy was no catch, but that really didn’t bother her. Liza wasn’t looking for someone to take care of her. She had a house, a car, and a job that paid enough for her to cover her expenses.
What worried her was the part of Bruce’s story that she didn’t know. She had tried to put it out of her head, but another conversation kept finding its way into her head. When he thought that Bruce had taken a vacation, Smiley Jim…Professor Crozier had said that he deserved it after “everything”. Her brain felt overloaded. Jim and Michael yammered away while the woman and little girl from the picture looked on silently.
“What?!” barked Michael. Liza must have been staring. She shook her head and tossed the last of the vegetable pieces into the pot. Michael stomped over to inspect her work, wiping his hands on a towel that dangled from his waistband. He dug through the pot frowning.
“Good!” said Michael, flashing his tooth and whacking her on the back. “Now…since I don’t want you ruining Christmas dinner with your mood.” Liza raised her eyebrows. He pretended not to notice. “I’m gonna give you some unsolicited advice. If you love him, then keep going. You’re gonna have problems, but they’ll be nothing like the regret you’ll have to live with forever if you end it.” Michael slid a bottle of Bird Dog from behind the mixer. He took three huge gulps and then went back to his sweet potatoes.