Randie was disappointed when Jordy wasn’t in school on Monday. She didn’t want to admit it, but she looked forward to hearing him talk about how he spent Friday and Sunday with his uncle. Jordy wasn’t the only kid sick on Monday, though. Two more students didn’t show up. She hated to introduce any new concept when too many students were missing. She’d just have to repeat the lesson when they returned.
She had a feeling the flu would spread through the classroom for the next few days, so she only introduced a few new phonics that they could work on for the week. They were in afternoon reading circle when Jaden jumped from her seat and ran for the bathroom. The flu came on so suddenly, parents couldn’t know when their kid would get sick. She had to send Sia home an hour later.
When she walked the kids from the building, she crossed her fingers that she wouldn’t be sick in a day or two. Jonathan came to join her a short while later and shook his head.
“I lost four kids today. It’s like an epidemic. At least it’s short. Only twenty-four hours.”
She thought about Lucas. Was he at home with sick kids today? She pitied him. She’d never had to deal with that before.
“How’s Priscilla doing?” Jonathan had traveled to Bloomington to see her over the weekend.
“Acing everything, the super brain. She’s so smart, I always wonder how she ended up with me.”
“Because she knows a good thing when she sees it.”
Jonathan laughed. “Or else she’s only book smart with no common sense, so I have to seal the deal before she gets out in the real world.”
“I don’t think you have to worry.” Jonathan was a keeper. So was Lucas Cainer. How did a girl like her nab a man like him? And then she thought of how much he loved food. Was there a way she could use that to her advantage?
The buses and cars pulled away from the curb, and she and Jonathan went back into the building.
“What are you doing tonight?” she asked him.
“Catching up. I didn’t get back from Bloomington until late last night. I left the apartment in a shambles and didn’t even unpack yet.”
“What about you?” he asked.
“I think I’m going to stop at the store and buy what I need to make beef and noodle soup.” Sick men liked soup, didn’t they? And she was betting Lucas would be sick sometime soon. She might make a Jello salad, too—something cold and soothing to swallow.
She turned on the radio and sang along as she drove to the grocery store. She’d never tried to interest a man before. Certain skills were probably beyond her, but she could cook, darn it. Lucas Cainer had better watch out. She might not win him, but she was going to practice whatever feminine skills she had on giving it a try.
Shopping didn’t take long. On a Monday night, the store’s aisles were pretty empty. She bought a chuck roast, a bag of egg noodles, and lots of onions and celery. She bought lime and lemon Jello, too. Then she went home and started cooking. She started with the Jello.
While the roast—sprinkled with French onion soup mix to add lots of flavor—was in the oven, she sat down and wrote out step-by-step instructions on how to cook a turkey, how to make stuffing, and what to combine for green bean casserole. She printed them out for Lucas, along with a short grocery list of items he’d need. She included a can of cranberry sauce and cans of gravy. If he bought a bag of salad and sprinkled mandarin oranges, sliced almonds, and croutons on top, he’d round out the meal.
That done, she chopped onions and diced carrots and celery to cook until tender in the bottom of her soup pot. She added the juices from the beef when it was finished cooking and enough beef broth to make a good base to cook the noodles. She shredded the beef and added that, too. Finally, she sprinkled in marjoram, thyme, and Worcestershire, along with garlic, to add flavor.
She glanced at the clock when she finished, and it was close to nine. The evening had slipped away. She turned on the TV to relax and let the food cool. By the time she was ready for bed, she could put it in the refrigerator. Some women wore short skirts and high heels to attract a man. She cooked beef and noodles. She sighed. Short skirts might outgun her.