Jalen unpacked his saddle bags after plopping them on the kitchen counter. He removed yams, sweet potatoes, flour, butter, spices, sugar, and other baking goods.
Brett came in and looked at the things. “What are you doin’ Jalen?”
Jalen smiled. “I’m goin’ to make us some sweet potato pie, maybe some cookies and yams for our Thanksgivin’ dinner. I already butchered the turkey and he’s been plucked and is ready for the oven.” He with an inclination of his head indicated a lump under a linen dishcloth sitting in a roasting pan. I also bought some corn meal so we can make corn bread stuffin’ for the turkey.”
Brett looked dubiously at the array of staples. He remembered his Mama when he had been at home in Oklahoma before they moved west and his parents were killed in that rock slide that set the wheels of his life turning ending him up here in Diamond Springs and the new Deputy of the town. “You sure you know what you’re doin’?”
Jalen smiled. “Sure. We used to do this on the Smokin’ K.”
“Is there anythin’ I can do to help?” He asked.
Jalen nodded. “You can wash the yams and sweet potatoes.”
Brett did as Jalen told him while he watched him prepare the corn bread stuffing and put it to bake with the turkey.
When he finished with washing the vegetables he watched as Jalen peeled the sweet potatoes, cut them up and cooked them until they were soft enough to mash, then add spices and sugar and cook until it was a thick smooth mixture.
Jalen smiled as he unwrapped a ball of dough he had wrapped in a linen cloth and had placed in the ice box to cool. “Would you like to roll out the pie dough?”
Brett nodded. He did want to help.
Once the dough was rolled out, using a drinking glass to Jalen’s directions, nice and smooth and not too thick Jalen placed it in a pie pan. Then he cut off the excess dough and poured the thick sweet potato mixture into the ready pie dough shell and popped it into the oven. “Now we’ll let it bake.”
Brett smiled. “Hope it turns out good.”
Jalen smiled. “It should. I haven’t had one yet turn out bad.”
Brett watched then as Jalen prepared the turkey for cooking, rubbing it all over with butter and stuffing it with the corn bread he had made and then putting it into the oven. “Every so often I’ll open the oven and take the juices and spoon them over the turkey to keep it from getting’ dry. Once it’s cooked through it will be ready.”
Brett asked, “How will you know?
Jalen said, “By the legs and how easily they move and by pokin’ the breast to see if the fork goes easily into the bone.”
Brett grinned. “Sounds like what you do to me, cover me over and poke me.” He teased with a mischievous wink.
Jalen shook his head and gave his young partner a swat. “Behave yourself.” His green eyes were twinkling though showing the young man he wasn’t mad.
“I wish Dan and Cole could have come.” Brett said.
Jalen nodded. “Yes, but you know they were asked by Gabe to dinner with him and the girls and we all know Dan can’t cook.”
Brett’s blue eyes twinkled. “Yeah…I’m glad they have Gabe or they’d starve to death.”
Jalen smiled. “That’s why between Gabe and us they get well taken care of.”
Brett smiled and nodded. “True.”
As the odor of cooking turkey and pie filled the house Jalen and Brett had gone up to the attic and brought down their Christmas tree decorations. They were sorting through them. Brett picked up one. “I remember this was the first one you gave me.”
Jalen looked at it and smiled. “Yes, it’s still in good shape after you nearly squeezed it to death in delight.” He teased.
Brett grinned. “Uh huh and I’m glad we’re lookin’ through these, it makes me see just how far we’ve come and all the things I have to be thankful for…most of all findin’ you.” He said to Jalen, smiling up shyly at the Sheriff.
Jalen grinned back and tapped Brett on the tip of the nose. “I also am thankful that a young man like you came into my life and taught me how to love again.”
Brett blushed a bit at this and Jalen pulled the young man into his arms and kissed him thoroughly.
Once they came up for air Jalen began to smell the turkey and he said, “I think it’s time for us to check on our Thanksgivin’ dinner.”
Brett nodded, his mouth watering now.
The two men went to the kitchen and Jalen checked their goodies. He pulled the pie out of the oven and placed it on the window sill to cool. “Perfect!” He declared.
Brett grinned. It was. The crust was golden brown and the top of the pie was a light brown color as well and it looked firm, not soupy.
Jalen checked the turkey and basted it again. He wiggled the legs and poked it and said, “It needs a bit more cookin’. I think once the turkey is done the pie will be cool enough and the yams have been bakin’ and I poked them and they’re about done too.”
Brett grinned and began to set the table for them both.
They went back to sorting ornaments. “When will we go for a tree?” He asked Jalen.
“In a couple of weeks. We don’t want to get it too soon or it will dry out and look bad before Christmas ever gets here.”
Brett nodded, knowing from past experience that when they got the tree closer to Christmas it didn’t start to look really bad until after the first week in January.
Once they had finished with sorting their ornaments Jalen smiled. “I think our dinner will be done now.”
Brett smiled. “’Kay.”
They went back into the kitchen, Jalen’s arm around Brett’s shoulders, he stopped him in the door way and kissed him. “I think we’ll hang the mistletoe right here.”
Brett kissed Jalen back and then nodded once they broke the kiss.
Jalen removed the turkey and carved it and the two men sat down to enjoy a feast and give thanks to each other and their relationship and the circumstances that had brought them together.
Once the meal had been done justice, Jalen unexpectedly scooped up Brett into his arms and headed for the stairs and their bedroom. “Time for me to show you know how thankful I am for you in my life.” He kicked the door shut.