Angel carefully measured out eighty grams of muscovado sugar, the last ingredient she needed to bake the cookies she was craving.
The house was quiet around her, the winter morning still dark and empty. It was peaceful, and perfect for baking chocolate chip cookies. Or, at least, it was as far as Angel was concerned…but maybe that was more because she only baked cookies when she was stressed.
Christmas was getting…a bit much this year.
It was the first year Angel had spent it completely away from her friends and family, and it was making her feel unsettled. Even if she didn’t see them on Christmas Day itself, she always saw them at some point around the festive season…but between moving to Las Vegas to live with her boyfriend, and the travel restrictions, and the fact that Covid-19 cases were still super high in Tennessee, where all her family were living, Angel was going to spend her first Christmas without seeing any of her family.
She knew it was the sensible decision. If she went home, there was a high risk she’d contract Covid, give it to all her family, and then come back just in time to give it to Emerson had his family before developing symptoms and realising what had happened. It would kill her to know she’d inflicted that on the people she loved, and just reminding herself of that risk was enough to validate her decision to stay in Nevada.
…It didn’t mean she was happy, though.
Angel tried to work out her frustration out via creaming together the softened butter, white sugar, and muscovado sugar, but even once the mixture was smooth and even-coloured, she still felt emotionally wobbly.
Like the smallest thing is going to knock me off balance.
There wasn’t really a much better way to describe it. Even if she kind if thought she should be happier, or at least a little more satisfied, because she knew she was doing the right thing, Angel still felt like she just wasn’t prepared to face her reality. She couldn’t even put her finger on why she felt that way, besides the obvious reason - which shouldn’t matter because it was the right thing to do – all she knew was that she felt unstable.
That sadness made her feel even more wobbly, more unstable, which made her feel sadder, which left her yet more unsettled…
Which led to her silently crying on the kitchen floor, cookie mixture abandoned on the counter while she slumped to the floor and buried her face in her hands.
It’s all just too much…
Angel bit the inside of her cheek to muffle the sob that wanted to escape her chest, not wanting to disturb Emerson. She felt silly, missing her family to the point of tears, when she was a grown woman and they were all at the end of the phone, but that didn’t stop her from wanting to cry. Or from having to bite the inside of her cheek so hard that she started tasting blood.
She was about to force herself to get up and get some water to wash the taste of iron out of her mouth, when warm arms enveloped her in a tight embrace.
Opening her eyes, Angel blushed when she saw Emerson peering at her in concern: eyes hazy from sleep and squinted against the light of the kitchen after the darkness of their bedroom.
Emerson didn’t say a word, and Angel didn’t either. He just sat on the floor behind her, his legs on either side hers, and his arms wrapped around her torso, chin tucked on her shoulder. He let her cry until she was done, slumped back against him, eyes itching and nose blocked, feeling bone-tired, but a little bit lighter than she had when she’d woken up and decided to stress-bake. A little more willing to listen…which was probably why Emerson chose that moment to finally speak to her:
“It’ll be okay.” he told her softly.
“I know…it just doesn’t feel like it yet.”
Emerson squeezed his arms gently: “You don’t have to feel like it will be yet…but you don’t have to deal with it on your own, either. If there’s anything I can do to make it easier for you, tell me.”
“You’re already doing it.”
“Maybe wake me up next time, then?” Emerson asked: “I don’t like the thought of you crying on the kitchen floor on your own.”
Well, when he puts it like that, it does sound bad…
Angel nodded: “I will.”
Emerson nodded, and then hauled both himself and Angel off of the floor. He whirled her round in his arms, wrapping her up in a tight hug. She hugged him back, nuzzling her face against his shoulder and closing her arms around his waist as they swayed from side to side and Emerson hummed something under his breath, until she slowly started to feel a little better.
Angel started humming along with Emerson, smiling into his shoulder as he twirled them around to stand in front of the bowl of cookie mixture:
“So…cookie dough for breakfast?”
Angel laughed: “It’s just butter, sugar, and egg right now.”
Emerson still looked hopeful: “But if we add all the other stuff we’re meant to add…”
“It’s best if you heat it up in the microwave for a minute.” Angel hedged: “Warm cookie dough is the best. Especially for breakfast.”
Emerson grinned, and reached for the sieve and the flour.
Angel watched as he managed to get - most - of the flower into the mixing bowl, before she added the bicarbonate of soda and pinch of salt, before Emerson mixed it all together. She added the chocolate chips she’d measured out earlier - and found that Emerson had added the rest of the bag while her back was turned.
She didn’t mind - it wasn’t as if extra chocolate was a bad thing…certainly not in the state Angel was in - and if they were going to eat cookie dough in bed, they might as well make it as decadent as possible.
They rolled the cookie dough into balls before putting them on a microwavable plate, standing in front of the microwave, leaning into each other as the balls of cookie dough went round and round.
Emerson wrapped an arm around Angel’s waist, and even though it was such a simple thing: just standing in the kitchen with her boyfriend, making cookie dough before the sun came up, Angel felt…far more at peace, with Emerson beside her, his arm wrapped around her. He was such a steadying presence, even now as they stood in silence together, it was hard to not feel better. Or maybe just the way he let her cry on the kitchen floor and told her everything would be alright.
Either way…Angel felt better.
And she’d feel better still after eating cookie dough in bed with Emerson, she just knew she would.