The client meeting had been a success all the way round – a rich gentleman who wanted a fully-themed weekend party for his guests, complete with ostentatious feasting. I didn’t know much about this Beowulf person, but apparently they had thrown one hell of a party.
Bruna and Connor had sat in on the meeting with me, taking notes and asking the questions that covered up the glaring holes in my knowledge of the modern world. Bruna’s eyes had lit up when I had asked about the budget and he replied that money was no object, he just wanted the best of the best. I could practically hear Sparky and Hades laughing and exchanging high-fives.
Connor plied my client with good whisky and not-quite-exaggerated tales of similar events he had attended, adding in suggestions like costumes for the servers and where to get good reproductions of all the artifacts that the gentleman was hoping to strewn about the place. I smiled into my teacup, because I knew that whatever he couldn’t source among the artisans of the Pack, I would get from Hephaestus and charge five times the price.
I scribbled down notes (thank you, Hades, for teaching me to use this stylus and tablet thing) and told the gentleman I would have a proposal for him in two days’ time. He thanked me and left, wobbling only slightly as Bruna showed him back to the elevators.
“Take the rest of the day, my dear,” I said to Bruna as she left. “See you in the morning.”
“Well, that’s one contract down, I think,” I said, leaning back in my chair and refilling the teacup with ambrosia with a wave of my hand. “It’ll be good to be cooking for people who demand the best.”
“Like we didn’t demand the best of you,” Connor retorted, leaning one hip against my credenza and tipping back the whisky bottle.
“You didn’t. The Pack demanded edible food in great quantity, but you all would never say a word if I tried to cut corners.”
“Oh really? What about that time you got lazy and tried to pass off vanilla pudding as creme patisserie?”
I blushed, but rallied. “I was exhausted and I had forgotten it was Alex’s birthday! I made the cream puffs, didn’t I?”
“Oh aye,” he replied, and gave me a Look.
“Shut up, goat boy,” I muttered, and went back to working on my tablet. Six courses, each getting more complicated, and he had said he wanted a roast pig as the centrepiece…
The phone on the credenza rang, making us both jump. Connor beat me to it.
“Hearthfire,” he said, with that rich, purring baritone that made me get a little wobbly in the knees. Oh yes, satyr boy, you can be my secretary. I’ll have people calling to book parties just to hear you answer the phone.
“I will see if she’s available for a consultation. One moment please,” he said, and punched the hold button on the phone.
“Hes, there’s some madman on the phone, says Thorir gave him your number – something about you doing a bit at the local college about classical-era cuisine?”
“Oh yes, I’ll take that,” I said, scrambling off the chair and taking the phone. “Hello?”
This guy talked so fast, I had a hard time understanding him, so I just scribbled down what I could. Short piece re: Roman banquets, be @ theatre at 11:15. Bring recipes.
Connor stood there with his arms crossed, looking entirely too curious.
“It’s a local college professor, they’re doing something on Apicius, and he heard that Hearthfire specialises in historical themed banquets. Bruna told me about it. Moxie set it up to get my name out there.”
“So what are you goin’ to be teaching these students? How to properly fillet a live conger eel? Precisely what texture should you be looking for in your pounded flamingo brains before you stuff the lark tongues?”
I shuddered. Some of that stuff had been nasty. Consumption for the sake of consumption. It was eerie though, the parallels sometimes – Lucullus may have been legendary for his banquets, and the exotic delicacies, but that was nothing like what I had seen on the telly – two-pound hamburgers dripping in butter and a half pound of cheese, fried hot peppers, and a pig’s worth of bacon, served with enough potatoes to feed a family of four, free if you ate it in an hour. I liked to eat, but my gods…
“More like the two thousand year old recipe for cheesecake, thank you very much. And the mushroom bulgur salad, everyone likes that.”
“I don’t like that,” he muttered.
“You don’t like bulgur,” I teased. “You always say it looks like the mash you fed your mother’s chickens.”
“Smells like it, too,” Connor huffed, but smiled. “Although for you, I’ll eat it – as long as you let me put enough hot sauce on it.”
“Sometimes, my love, you are a barbarian.”
He stepped closer, backing me into the credenza with a grin.
“And you like it when I act like a barbarian, don’t you?”
“Whatever would give you that idea?”
“The fact that I can see your pulse poundin’ in your throat, love,” he purred, and leaned down to give me a kiss.
At the last moment, he jerked his head back and licked my nose instead before hopping backwards out of arm’s reach.
“Finish your homework, darlin’. You have a proposal to finish while I cook your supper.”
With a grumble worthy of a satyr, I wiped my nose dry on the sleeve of my shirt and went back to my tablet.
First course – individual huntsman’s pies, with currants
Second course – smoked trout, butter, dark bread/gravlax with dill and pot cheese, dark bread
Third course – baked small fowl, with roast onions and dressed greens, turnips? Roast grapes.
Fourth course – roast boar, rice with savory, dry mead and butter basted, sage stuffing w/chestnuts
Fifth course – apple and berry tarts in open crusts, melted honey glaze
Sixth course – cheeses, nuts, spiced mead
That was a start, at the least. I’d figure out the money thing tomorrow, after I looked around to see what was going to be available during the dates of the party. This wasn’t going to be cheap, but it was going to be fun. Plus seeing all the satyrs kitted up as my kitchen boys would be nice, too.
Idly, I started another list, as a wee bird told me another big Olympian party may be in the future, and I wasn’t talking about Mr. Hoots. Connor was singing to himself in the kitchen in gutter Gaelic, and this place did feel more than a little bit more like home.