Home > The Dragon Finds Forever (Nocturne Falls #7)(12)

The Dragon Finds Forever (Nocturne Falls #7)(12)
Author: Kristen Painter

He gestured toward the older woman. “This is Norma Turnbuckle. She is my housekeeper.”

“Hi, Norma. I’m…Lisa.” She’d almost said Monalisa. “I’m Ivan’s rehab therapist.”

“He told me.” Norma gave Monalisa a smile. “And this morning, I’m also the short-order cook. What’ll it be? Eggs? Pancakes? Frittata?”

“I, uh…” Monalisa looked at Van. “Did you eat already? What did you have?”

He smiled a little. “What else? Steak and eggs.”

“Of course.” She laughed. “Whatever’s easiest, really. Or I can cook my own. That’s not a big deal. I don’t want to be a burden.”

“Pfft. No burden. I’m a hobbit, taking care of people is what we do,” Norma said. “How about a veggie omelet? Van said you like the green stuff.”

“That would be great, except I don’t think those ingredients exist in this house.”

Norma laughed. “Not normally they don’t, but I did the shopping this morning according to what Van told me.”

Monalisa looked at him again. “That was so kind of you.”

He shrugged and sipped his coffee. “You are my guest, and I was not hospitable. All different today.”

“Thank you.”

“And please, call me Van. Everyone does.”

“Okay. Van it is.”

Norma pulled out a pan, then pointed with her spatula toward the end of the breakfast bar. “Fix yourself some coffee, and I’ll have this whipped up in a jiffy.”

“I don’t suppose you have creamer.” She didn’t remember seeing any in the fridge last night, but then, she hadn’t specifically been looking for that.

“In the icebox,” Norma said.

Monalisa couldn’t help but smile as she found a mug, filled it with coffee, and stirred in some sugar (from a bowl she also hadn’t seen last night). Norma might have said she was a hobbit, but she seemed more like a magical house elf to Monalisa.

The fruit dish on the island was new too, because there was no way there’d been a giant platter of bananas, oranges, apples, and pears in here last night. Next to it was another bowl with tomatoes, onions, and sweet and regular potatoes.

Ivan—no, Van—wasn’t kidding about today being different. At least from a dining perspective.

She went to the fridge for creamer and sucked in a gasp as she opened the door. The thing was stocked with all kinds of food that wasn’t just slabs of meat. Three types of lettuce and a whole slew of other salad fixings. Plus, two kinds of juice, bags of carrot and celery sticks, an assortment of cheeses, olives and pickles, lunch meat, a container of deli coleslaw, and in front of it all, a large container of creamer.

Monalisa took it out, added some to her coffee, then put it back, finally turning to face Norma again. “You really stocked this place up.”

Norma nodded as she tipped a bowl with beaten eggs into the pan where an assortment of veggies sizzled away. “There’s more in the pantry too. Chips, cookies, bread for sandwiches, muffins, granola bars, popcorn. Snacky things. I didn’t know what all you liked, and Van wasn’t much help beyond vegetables, so I just took a stab at it.”

“That’s amazing. Thank you both.” Monalisa glanced at Van. Hmm. Calling him that was going to take some getting used to. It wasn’t so different sounding, but it was so much more casual. Like they were friends. And that felt like such a lie on her behalf.

But she would try, because it was what he wanted.

He looked pleased with himself, and she thought that was fitting. He had a right to after doing all this for her. She couldn’t remember when someone had made such an effort on her behalf.

Someone who wasn’t trying to win favor with her father.

The thought sobered her, and she drank her coffee to cover the sudden loss of her smile. Van doing all this for her seemed to underline how awful her true motive was.

“Oh, one more thing,” Norma said, adding cheese to the omelet. “Van, I got that champagne you asked for. It’s also in the pantry.” She turned to see him. “Or did you want that cold?”

He looked stumped. “I don’t know.” His gaze shifted to Monalisa. “Should champagne be cold if it is a gift?”

“I feel a little lost. Who is it a gift for?”

“Pandora. For the housewarming tonight.”

“Oh, that’s a nice gift. If it’s for them to drink tonight, then probably cold. If it’s for them to drink any time, then I don’t think it matters.”

“Hmm. I do not know what they’ll want. Maybe it should be cold.”

Monalisa set her coffee down. “I’ll get it. Where’s the pantry?”

Norma pointed with her elbow. “That door there.”

Monalisa had thought that was for the downstairs. There was definitely a lower level, but as she hadn’t been given the tour, she had no idea how to get there. Not that she needed the tour. She went into the pantry, once again amazed by the amount of food that Norma had brought in, and looked for the champagne.

Her eyes widened in surprise when she spotted it. Two bottles of really, really good stuff. But what else would Van want for his friend? Money was clearly not an issue when it came to looking after those he cared for.

She picked the two bottles up by the necks and hesitated. For a second, she’d included herself in that group. But that was ridiculous. He didn’t care about her any more than he cared about the man on the street. He was just being hospitable, in his own words.

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