His eyes scanned the page and he started to read aloud. "Will Europe Go Nuclear? Like most of the European Continent, Britain has for decades been rabidly antinuclear. But as energy supplies and the time to replace them runs short, energy ministers in Britain -- and elsewhere -- are considering "going nuclear." In the next few months, the government of British Prime Minister Tony Blair is expected to announce that it supports the construction of a new generation of nuclear power generators. It is a step that could turn Britain -- and maybe even Europe -- on its ear, reports London Bureau Chief Stryker McGuire."

He sighed and folded the magazine closed and closed his eyes for a moment. He was glad that he'd gotten caught up with the world again, but with all the depressing stuff that he'd just read left him wanting to curl up in a ball and never leave home.

"Food," he said finding that his stomach wanted more than beer and apple for lunch. When his voice hit the air. he silently scolded himself for talking to himself before he grabbed his beer bottle, the apple core and the magazine to take back into the house.

He flipped on the television and flipped around until he found the Food Channel. He'd never really been into the channel, but he figured that he could see something he might want to eat if he watched long enough. He’d gotten used to having food cravings come when they’d pass a certain billboard on the side of the road, so he figured that seeing it on TV wouldn’t be much different.

After watching a guy make this disgusting looking liver whatever the hell it was, he caught a set of commercials before a show came on that started to make a cake. He watched the guy carefully and pondered the idea of baking his afternoon away, but only got far enough to find out that cakes took too much work so he went in search of a cook book.

He found a Nestle Toll House cookbook with the phone book on the bottom shelf near the phone and pulled it out. He searched through the pages, looking at some chocolate-chocolate chip recipes before he paused to see if there was even stuff in the house to make cookies with.

Sadly, he found butter and vanilla, but no chocolate chips. Instead he found peanut butter chips so he found all the other junk he would need and got a bowl and started throwing everything in. At first he wasn't sure that it was going to work out right. It had been a few months since he'd attempted to make anything this complicated and he was remembering the reason for that. His cookie dough didn't look like cookie dough at all.

Being careful not to get dough on his phone he dialed his mother.


"Mom, how do you make chocolate chip cookies?" he asked not even saying hello. He balanced the phone on his shoulder and picked up the bowl thinking that if he mixed it up more it would look less like chunky throw up and more like cookie dough.

She couldn't help but to sound surprised since he wasn't known for being a chef. "You're cooking?"

"Yes," he said, "Or at least trying."

"Does Farzana know you're messing up her kitchen?"

Now it was almost an insult as if he might hurt someone or himself if he stepped inside the kitchen. "Her kitchen?" he played like he was offended by the comment. "It's my kitchen too."

She paused for a moment. "Are you making cookies right now?"

"Yeah," He laughed and slowed his stirring. "I put all the stuff in the bowl and it doesn't look right."

"What does it look like?" she asked.

He stared at it and tried to figure out a way to describe what was in front of him without being too rude about it. If Joey or Chris was there they'd know exactly the right thing to say, but it would have been R-rated. He had to tone it down a bit for his mother, even if he was an adult.

"Puke?" he offered as a description.

"Joshua Scott," she scolded.

"Sorry Mom," He tried to smell the bowl to see if something was rotten and that's what was wrong with it. "It's looking really more like a science project than something I should try to eat."

"You probably didn't put enough flour in it." He heard noise and could hear her leafing through a recipe book. He imagined that it was the pink and blue striped one that is grandmother's recipes were in. "Why did you decide to make cookies all of a sudden?"

"I don't know, " he said, "I got hungry and I've got this freaking expensive kitchen that I barely ever use and I couldn't find anything else to eat so I thought about making cookies thinking that I could do it in a little while."

"Well is your batter too watery looking?"

He stared at it and thought he might throw up just looking at it. It smelled ok, but it definitely didn't look like anything good. "Yeah," he said.

"Add a little more flour, not too much, but just a little at a time until they get a little dryer."

"I don't know if that will help," he said trying to spoon a little flour in, but found that it just made it look worse.

"Well how did you mix up the batch you have now?"

He shrugged. "I just threw it all in here."

She groaned. "All of it at the same time?"

He looked around to see if he'd forgotten anything. "Yeah. I've got eggs, vanilla, butter, flour, baking soda--everything on the list on this recipe."

Her laughter me his ears and he smiled at himself. So much for actually breaking the stereotype that guys couldn't cook. "Honey, why don't you just put that bowl down and start over."

He looked at it again. "I think I can save it. You sure?"

"Yeah," she said, "Trust me. You didn't put the chips in yet did you?"

"No," he said, "Does it matter that I don't have chocolate chips? I have peanut butter ones."

"No," she said, "Those will work too."

He paused to lean over to read the package. His hair fell in his eyes. His hand went up to automatically push his hair back and he instantly knew that there was going to be flour there. "Are you sure?"

"Yes. Trust me." She started to laugh more. "I've been doing this for a while."

"Ok." He started to search for a place to put the bowl, but no place seemed like a good idea. He had the flour and everything else out on the counter and had to put it on the edge of the counter. "Let me put this down and I'll call you back on the other phone and put you on speaker."

"That's fine. I should get out stuff and make cookies with you."

"Ok," he laughed. He hung up the phone and put the bowl on the counter then grabbed up another bowl before dialing the phone to get his mom back.


"Yeah," he said.

"Ok, first go and head up the oven to three hundred and seventy-five degrees, make sure that there isn't anything in the oven though."

"Ok." It took him two tries to make sure that the oven was even on then turned towards the phone. "What next?"

"Am I on speaker?"

"Yeah." He sighed, "I have a feeling that I'm gonna need both hands for this."

"Honey, it's not that hard."

He lifted his eyebrows and surveyed the kitchen. It was a mess already. He hadn't even done anything yet and he could already see a thin layer of white flour dusting the counter and butter had somehow ended up on the counter next to a drop or two of vanilla. "You'd be surprised."

"Ok. Now stir together about two cups of flour--"

He dug around to find the right measuring cup. "Hold on a second." He found the flour and got it into the bowl. "Ok Mom."

"Add to that, one teaspoon baking soda, and a half teaspoon salt and put it away for a minute."

He did what she said. "Put it away?"

She laughed a little. "You're worse that your father," She sighed. "Get out another bowl baby."

"Two bowls?" He looked around and wondered if he even had two. He'd only seen one in there before.

"Yeah," she said, "You need one for wet and one for dry then you'll put them together and mix them up."

His ears hurt as he pulled a metal bowl out from under the cabinet he'd gotten the other one from. "Maybe I should buy those break and bake cookies."

"What was that?"

"The bowl." He put it onto the counter. "Are you sure this is something I can do?"

"You're halfway there kiddo." Her voice was calming. "It won't take that long."

"Mix up in that new bowl, a cup of butter sticks of butter with a third cup of regular sugar and a third cup of brown sugar."

He went through the motions quickly and started mixing.

"It still looks strange."

"Mash it up with a fork or with the back of the spoon."

He eyed it trying to remember if he’d seen anything look so nasty. It was brown and yellow and basically made his stomach turn over thinking about putting it into his mouth. "This looks like puke."

"No it doesn't baby," she said, "Just be patient."

He stared at it still not sure that this concoction was going to turn out to be something edible. "This still looks like puke."

“You’re so stubborn Josh. This is the wet part, it’s not gonna look like dough until you add the flour and other stuff that you mixed up before.”

“Should I add that?” he asked.

“Not just yet. Now you're going to add a teaspoon vanilla extract, and two eggs."

“I’m not good at cracking eggs,” he said.

“Just crack them against the other bowl and then put them in with the butter and sugar. Be careful not to get any shell into the batch.”

He did as he was told and as he did he remembered the conversation he'd had with Tyler. "Are you really going to go to Chicago for Christmas?"

"Yes," she said.

The egg in his hand cracked and got all over his hand and the counter and side of the old bowl instead of staying in the shell long enough to get into the right bowl. “Crap.”


“I cracked it all over the side of the counter.”

“Get another one then.”

Following her directions he pulled out another egg and tapped it gently this time. When he held it over the bowl and tried to get it all the way open it broke in half and he dropped half the shell into the mix. “This shouldn’t be this hard,” he said. “It doesn’t take a genius to make cookies.”

“Did you drop the shell?”

“Yeah,” he sighed, “I got out it out.” He threw the shells to the side then realized that he’d left some cracked pieces in the bowl so he tried to pick those out. For some reason their conversation continued.

"We thought that you and Farzana would have plans,” his mother said, “So we decided to see your grandmother and Tyler got invited to go with Leanne."

"But we're not spending Christmas together?" he asked. He brought his hand up to find that part of the eggshell was stuck to his finger. He whipped his hand around for a moment to get it off before he went back to stirring the dough he was making. "I kind of wanted to do something big this year since I won't be on tour."

"I know honey, but your father and I need to see your grandmother and your brother got a great offer for vacation."

"Still it sucks," he said then looked the mix in his bowl. "This still looks strange to me, but at least it doesn’t look like puke."

"Next you're going to add the dry stuff to the wet stuff until it starts to look like dough then add the chocolate chips."

A few minutes later he was done with what she said.

"Ok," he said. It didn’t look as perfect as he’d seen her make, but it at least it looked like cookie dough, "How long do I cook this for?"

"Bake them eight to ten minutes or until they look light brown."

Her entrance from the garage into the house was a quick one. She parked the car, threw on the emergency brake, slammed her way through the door that connected to the garage and ran through the house towards their bedroom. She had come straight from the gym and of course had found out only after she was stuck in traffic that she needed to use the restroom so her first reaction was to come quickly into the door and yell to JC at the top of her lungs. "Baby I'm home. I'll be back."

She heard a crashing noise that sounded like the metal mixing bowls or something like that falling from the counter to the floor. She instantly wondered what it was, but the need to use the restroom over road every other thought in her head and she barely made it to the toilet. She cursed at herself for being such an idiot and not going before she left the gym.

When she was finished in the bathroom she pulled off her sports-bra and shirt and pulled on another one. She knew she should probably shower and completely change, but she knew she should check on the sound that had crashed in the kitchen just to make sure that things were ok.

It was definitely a site to see that she found in the kitchen. The sound of laughing came from the direction of the phone and when she looked at the floor she had to laugh too. There were a half dozen eggs broken on the floor and somehow a pound or so of flour was starting to mix with that.

"Um...Josh?" she asked covering her mouth not sure if she should think this was funny or take the time to calculate how long it was going to be to clean it all up. If it had been a hectic day she would have totally flipped out trying to figure out how she was going to get everything cleaned up for the day, but

He looked up, with dough over most of his shirt and flower now all over his face. The other part of the container of flour was now all over the floor as was most of the rest of the carton of eggs.

Her mouth cracked into a smile. "Josh what are you doing?"

"Cooking," he said with a frown, "Except you scared me half to death when you yelled at me a minute ago and I dropped everything."

The laughing stopped. "Baby I'll talk to you later. Zana I told him not to mess with your kitchen, but he insisted."

Farzana walked around the island in the middle of the kitchen around to the phone. "Thanks Mrs. Chasez. I guess Josh and I have some cleaning to do."

"Go easy on him," she said, "He's a novice at this stuff."

She shook her head and tried to figure out how everything had gotten where it had gotten. The placement of everything didn't make sense. "I will."

"Bye guys," she said.

JC groaned. "Bye mom."

She flipped off the phone and smiled down at him. "Are you ok?" she asked. He was sitting on his butt in the middle of the floor with paper towels in each hand trying to pick up the mess but really all that was happening was that he was pushing the mess around in circles due to the slippery nature of the eggs and butter.

"Yeah," he said, "And no."

"You didn't slip and fall did you?" she asked as she pulled off her socks and shoes.

"No," he said, "As corny as it sounds, the only thing that is hurt here is my pride."

She surveyed the kitchen and found the beer bottle on the counter, which seemed completely out of place next to the other ingredients he’d brought out of the cupboards. "Josh what were you trying to do?"

"I wanted cookies." He looked up. She imagined this was the look he’d give his mother when he was little and in trouble, trying to smile and flirt himself out of the situation seemed only natural. "You aren't pissed are you?"

"Josh, how can I be?" Stepping on her tip-toes she grabbed some paper towels and lowered herself to the floor next to him to help. Her hands immediately started to try to grab up all the mess on the floor. “Why am I having Karate Kid flashbacks?” she asked. She moved her hands in circles, “Wax on—Wax off.”

“You’re a nutcase,” he said, “But you’re cute so I love ya.”

“Well I love you too,” she said with a laugh, "You look so cute with that dough in your hair and flour all over you--"

"I have dough in my hair?" he asked reaching up to his hair ending up to put dough into his hair where there wasn’t any and missing the parts where there was some.

"Yeah," she said and moved across towards him. She put her palm flat on the floor so she could balance herself so she could push a curl of his hair out of his face and ended up slipping and landing almost face first into his lap.

“Zana, I don’t think this is the time,” he said with a laugh.

“Well my motto with you is any time any place, so I guess—“ Her face turned pink.

They started laughing and before either of them knew what was going on they were kissing. She was surprised how easily he moved her body to sit in his lap and how expertly his hands found her skin underneath her shirt. The one thing that didn’t surprise her was the fact that he groaned when he found out that she wasn’t wearing a bra and then the curiosity that came with the idea that she would be naked if he lifted her shirt high enough.

 "Zana," he finally groaned out.


"You're naked under there," he said.

"I just got back to the gym. I should have taken a shower. I'm all stinky.” She started to back away a little wondering suddenly if he thought she was as grimy as she felt. “I need a shower."

"Hmm.” His arms let her go only far moved her to sit in his lap facing so that he could wrap his arms around her back. He put his chin on her shoulder and ran a hand down her leg, leaving a buttery sugary line on her thigh just under wear her shorts were. "You're even more messy now."

"It's ok.” She watched his hand on her thigh. “I don't mind."

“You don’t mind being dirty?” he asked.

“Hmmm…not if you don’t mind.”


With a swift move she found herself lying on her back. There was dough pressing through her t-shirt on her lower back, making her feel even more messy than she already had been.

“You ok?” he asked as he moved her leg to the side so he could lay above her.

She nodded, grimacing when she felt some butter and flower and sugar smashing into the back of her head where it was rubbing against the flooring. "What are we doing?" she asked with a laugh.

He licked up the side of her neck and ground his hips into hers. "Making cookies."

The stuff that JC is reading comes from here.

The cookie recipe came from here.

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