"What in blazes is that stink?!" Deryn hissed in Alek's ear. She had just come home from work, looking tired as every.
Alek whispered back "Lilit offered to make us dinner tonight, and I said yes."
Deryn coughed "Nice going." she sucked in a big breath and hurried into their room.
Alek's eyes had been watering for the last ten minutes. In an attempt to apoligise for bearing such bad news, Lilit wanted to make them all a nice meal. Alek agreed, not wanting to be rude, but also especting her to be a little better in the kitchen. Boy, was he wrong.
Lilit seemed to be enjoying herself, bustling around the kitchen, whistling happily. Lilit had run to the store that afternoon and came back with an odd array of things, some Alek had never even seen before, let alone tasted. But he felt terrible enough that Deryn had been more than unwelcoming to Lilit, he didn't want to stop her. Besides, it was too late now anyway, the entire apartment smelled of a most sickening misture of things. It would probably stick to the furniture for years to come.
A few moments later Deryn returned from the bedroom, wearing a turtleneck all the way up to her cheeks, and sweatpants. The apartment was sweltering as it was with Lilit cooking like mad.
Alek looked at her incredulously. "Arey ou okay?" he asked her.
She nodded, seating herself on the couch with a book. He shook his head, smiling. He had already been driven to a undershit and shorts, she was going to suffocate in all that. Alek saw Lilit give Deryn a confused look, then she turned around, smiling.
They all sat at the table while Lilit served them up a very colorful dish. There was a meat that looked like lamb, with some red and green vegetables, all served on some suspicious looking bread. But Alek dug in anyway.
What happened next in his mouth was unbelievable. Lilits food was....good. Despite the smell, the taste was tangy, rich, savory, any other word for delicious. He took another mouthful, unable to stop.
Deryn stared at him as she rolled her turtleneck down. He smiled at her, giving her a thumbs up. Lilit was giddy, taking dainty bites and watching them both. Deryn took her first bite, her face going from disgust to bliss in about a second. She gave Alek a look and continued, lookign abotu as addicted as Alek felt.
"So, you like?" Lilit said. He nodded, shoving another bite into his mouth.
Deryn swallowed, staring at her plate. Alek stared at her."I supppose its.....oh fine! It's very good, Lilit. Thank you." she pouted and took another bite.
Dinner didn't take them very long, even with Alek asking for seconds. In about a half hour, Alek's gut was full to bursting. He leaned back in his chair, hand on his stomach. Deryn burped loudly and took a long pull from her glass.
"Well, Lilit, I must tell you I was not expecting that!" Alek said.
She smiled. "I knew you would think it did not smell very appetizing, and I'm very glad I was able to surprise you."
The next few weeks were quite interesting. Lilit did not have the chance to cook again, being to busy planning her way back to Istanbul. Alek and Deryn begged for longer hours at work so as to pay for their trip. They planned to return to New York if things did not go as planned, so Alek got a coworker to take over the lease to their apartment after they left.
Alek, no matter how many times he tried to convince himself it would be okay, could not shake the nerves. He was scared to death of Volger now. How in blazes was he going to convince the man to stop his nonsense, let alone take his place as the duke?
Deryn got gradually quieter throughout the weeks, still extremely upset about the whole situation. When Lilit finally got on her way back home, she still did not come out of her angry stupor.
"Love, talk to me" Alek said to her one night as they lay in bed. She was turned away from him, but he knew she wasn't asleep.
"Why you haven't spoken to me in days, really."
She slowly turned over, looking at him with a confused look.
"I know your upset about going back, and, well, I am too. I don't want to leave New York. I have never felt as happy in my life as I have been these past months. Its what I have always wanted."
Deryn moved closer, resting her head on his arm. "I know, me too. This is all jsut too much. Lilit's gone now, why don't we just forget about it and stay here? She will never - "
"No, I can't do that. Volgers going out of control, I can't let him keep this up. Who knows hwat he might do next?"
Deryn shook her head. "It isn't your problem anymore. Your not Aleksandar Ferdinand anymore. To them, you've been long gone."
"I am still the heir, and it is my right to save Austria from Volger's rule."
He turned towards her, covering her mouth with his. She tried to protest, but gave in, letting Alek kiss her. He got more intimate than they had ever been, and Deryn ahd to push him off.
"Alek...are you sure?"
His lips were her answer, and she pulled the blanket up over their heads.
Alek walked briskly down the sidewalk, not stopping as he ran into people. Tomorrow they would be leaving for Austria, and he had one last thing to do.
The previous days paper had announced that his granduncle had finally passed on. He had been ill for weeks, and his age combined with his sickness had gotten the best of him. Now was Alek's chance...
Alek came up on the building he was looking for, striding right in through the door. He walked up to the counter where a receptionist sat, writing lazily. She looked up at him, a bored look on her face.
"Can I help you?" she drawled.
"Yes, I'm here to speak with someone....its urgent."
"Who might that be?"
"Just a second." she stood and walked through a door behind her. He heard voices, the scraping of a chair, and the woman returned, followed by a most familiar face.
Malone walked up to Alek, his hand out, not recognizing Alek at all. "Eddie Malone, at yoru service sir. And you are?"
Alek chuckled "I'm somone you are going to be very excited to talk to."