Bearly Healed:Pacific Northwest Bears(9)

By: Moxie North

“No squirrel tonight, although I’ve eaten squirrel. Way too much effort for so little meat,” he said thoughtfully.

Cassie had the good grace to blush. “Erm, sorry, was just joking.”

“Oh don’t worry about it, honey. When Edward and I moved out here originally, it was rough living. I’m talking outhouses and generators. It was rough,” Connie said with a laugh.

“Outhouses?” Effie said shocked.

“I won’t even get into using that thing in the winter,” Connie said giving a delicate shiver.

“But no young lady, no squirrel. Our oldest son’s wife brought over chicken pot pie for dinner. She is the main cook out at our logging base camp. She’s a Cordon Bleu trained chef that came out to the woods to start a new life. She got a husband and a baby for her troubles,” Edward said with a laugh.

Cassie figured she was forgiven for being a tacky houseguest and settled into Effie. There was a fire in the hearth, and she let her mind wander as she watched the dancing flames.

“How do we all feel about eating casual tonight?” Connie asked from the kitchen.

“I’m good, don’t want to move,” Cass murmured. Effie had started petting her head, and she was lulled into a stupor better than her meds.

After a few minutes, a plate with a fresh looking salad and a steaming serving of creamy chicken and vegetables covered in a brown flaky crust was handed to her. She pushed upright to accept the plate. Connie had delivered the plate, and Dax was behind her with a huge plastic tumbler full of ice to the top with a straw and fizzy orange soda.

“You had orange soda?” Cass asked.

“No, but I had your staples delivered,” Dax said, giving her a wink.

Good thing she didn’t need to worry about being deprived of her junk food in the woods.

The savory aroma of dinner made her stomach growl. She waited until someone else took a bite first. Growing up the way she did, she had never really learned any social niceties. When there was food in the house growing up, it was every man for himself. If you didn’t eat it fast, there wouldn’t be anything left.

While living with Dax, she’d been watching him and trying to pick up on those skills she was lacking. Who knew you were supposed to put a napkin in your lap? Who knew you were supposed to always have a napkin for that matter. Effie seemed to pick up on things easier than her. Effie wasn’t raised in such a void of culture like she was.

There was a napkin under the plate she was handed, so she put it on her lap and then tried to maneuver her leg with the brace to balance the plate on her lap.

Edward, who had been sitting in a large worn leather recliner the whole time, reached over and grabbed the edge of the heavy wood coffee table. With a tug that belied how heavy the table was, he pulled it towards Cassie.

Dax was there and helped lift her leg on the table. Cassie looked at him bug-eyed. The furniture in the Rochon home was nice, clearly still lived in, but nice.

“Oh honey, you haven’t met our boys yet. If their legs weren’t so damn long, we’d have a permanent scuff mark on the floor from them pulling it close to put their feet up on it.” Connie laughed. “We don’t stand on ceremony around here, honey. You make yourself comfortable. You’re not just our guest, you’re family, so if you aren’t sure just ask. I guarantee the answer will always be yes.”

Edward was already shoveling food into his mouth, when he gave a muffled, “Hmm hmm.”

Cass looked at Effie for confirmation. “They wouldn’t say it if they didn’t mean it, dork,” she said affectionately.

Cassie gave a shrug and took a bite of delicious herby chicken. She’d had pot pies before. The kind you microwaved or baked in the toaster oven then burned the shit out of your tongue because you couldn’t wait to take a bite. This was nothing like those. This tasted like real vegetables; the sauce was peppery and the chicken, well you could see it was chicken. Not some processed meat cube.

“Mmm, seriously?” Cassie asked, her mouth full of food.

“Hah, we hooked her.” Edward laughed.

“Just wait until dessert, honey. We’ll get you fattened up in no time,” Connie said.

Cassie looked down at her body that was hidden under Dax’s huge shirt. She couldn’t deny she needed some meat on her bones. Heck, it probably would make her feel better and heal faster. But it was like a little kid refusing to eat their veggies. It felt like a little bit of control she could hold onto.

Deciding that denying herself this yummy dinner was not in her best interest, she tucked in. Everyone around her was chatting. Connie and Edward gave updates on their four grandchildren even though it had only been a few months since Effie and Dax had seen them. They talked about their plans for the summer, for their logging cuts, and general business updates.

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