Noah took the cast iron skillet off the heat, breathing in the aromatic spices that sizzled in the browned butter. He took the pan over to the marble kitchen island and poured the fragrant butter over the warm cut of prime rib that was perfectly cooked to a medium-rare consistency. The meat looked juicy, glazed and mouthwatering.
Placing the pan in the sink, Noah took a deep breath, inhaling the luscious scent of the two plates he had prepared. His salivary glands went on overdrive, and he swallowed, reeling in his desire to cut into the succulent meat and take a delightful bite. He couldn’t eat yet. He had painstakingly spent the last week shopping for the best ingredients and cooking this meal. Tonight was an extraordinary occasion, and Noah had been waiting for it for a very long time.
He turned to the top cabinet and pulled out a transparent spice jar from the back. Pulling on a disposable latex glove, he took a pinch of the dried powder from the container and delicately sprinkled it over one of the plates that he had marked with a single sprig of thyme.
Perfect, he smiled to himself.
The jingle of keys pulled Noah out of his thoughts. He heard the front door open and peeked out of the kitchen. A woman was in the hallway, taking her jacket off and hanging it on the coat rack.
“Welcome back!” Noah beamed at her as he tossed his glove in the trash.
The woman turned to him and her lips curved into a smile. “Something smells good. Did you cook dinner?”
Noah walked up to her and lovingly wrapped his arms around her waist. “I did.” He leaned in and kissed her tenderly. “Are you hungry?”
“Why don’t you wash up while I set the table.”
The woman leaned in and kissed Noah once more. “I’ll be with you in a minute.”
Noah watched his wife walk away and made his way back into the kitchen. His eyes widened for a moment as he noticed the spice container left on the counter. He rushed to it and quickly hid it in the back of the top cabinet. Everything had worked out perfectly so far he couldn’t afford a silly mistake. Things had to go according to his plan. There was no alternative. He’d had to travel across the country and specifically order that container, and it was a miracle that he had found it. Since the manchineel tree was highly toxic, Noah had to really struggle to find a sample. Thankfully, at the right moment, he had come across a vendor who had sold him a jar containing grinds of the poisonous bark. Things had gone his way so far, and in a couple more moments, he would finally feel satisfaction. All he had to do was wait.
Noah picked up both the plates and took them to the dining table. He set them on the charcoal placemats and arranged the silverware.
A pair of arms wrapped around Noah’s waist. “That looks delicious,” the woman said, leaning into Noah and looking at the plates from over his shoulder.
Noah looked back at her and grinned. “Let’s eat.”
The woman kissed Noah and made her way across the table. She sat down and unfurled a napkin that Noah had folded into a swan. “Thank you for this!”
Noah sat across from her and took her hand into his own. “I love you.”
The woman beamed. “I love you more.” She cut out a small piece of the juicy meat. “It’s been so long since we’ve had a good dinner like this.”
Noah cut out a piece from his own serving. “It really has.”
The woman raised her fork. “To the best husband ever.”
Noah raised his own fork. “To you.”
The woman directed the fork towards her mouth and Noah’s eyes narrowed. This was the moment he had been waiting for. His hard work had led him to this.
The woman’s eyes rolled as she moaned feeling the meat melt on her tongue in an explosion of flavors. “This is heavenly!”
“I’m so glad you like it,” Noah grinned.
“Mmmm I could die right now and I would have no regrets.”
Noah chuckled but his gaze was sharp.
“You haven’t touched your food,” the woman said.
“I need a moment to admire your beauty,” Noah mused.
“You can admire it later,” the woman joked, “This is a dinner to die for. Eat!”
Noah smiled as he raised his fork to his mouth. His gaze fixed on his wife for a moment and their marriage flashed before his eyes. He then took a deep breath, adjusted the sprig of thyme on his meat and took a bite that would be his first and his last.