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So Very Us

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“Today’s a very special day, isn’t it?” Vivienne asked, raising her eyebrows as Christine checked herself in the mirror. “I do hope you’re planning something equally special.”

“Of course I am, Vivienne,” Christine replied with a smile. She felt her heart flutter with anticipation at just the thought. “I’m making dinner and a cake and we’re going to celebrate with a nice bottle of wine.”

Vivienne rolled her eyes. “You two are so unimaginative sometimes,” she said sadly, shaking her head as she faded away.

Christine frowned, feeling a little hurt. Bernard had been watching over that bottle of wine in the basement for years and he thought it was just at the right point to drink. It had seemed the perfect thing for tonight.

“I’m not unimaginative, am I?” she asked the now empty room. The shutters on the window banged lightly against the wall in sympathy.

***

Rankle was already in the breakfast nook when Christine got downstairs. She smiled and greeted him, receiving only a muffled harumph as he continued cleaning himself. Seemed he hadn’t slept so well and was a little grumpy this morning.

“Coffee?” she asked, already heading for the carafe. She could hear Rose shuffling down the hallway, so she went ahead and filled three mugs with the steaming liquid.

“Christine,” Rose moaned as she heaved herself into a chair at the other end of the table from Rankle. “I need something sweet!”

“Well, if you want sweet, I was just planning to make a cake for tonight,” Christine replied with a smile. “Would you like to help?”

Rose narrowed her eyes. “Helping doesn’t sound a whole lot like eating.”

“They’re not necessarily mutually exclusive,” Christine said, laughing a little. She bustled around the kitchen, getting the supplies ready. “So would you like to help me? And you, Rankle?”

“I don’t know…”

“It’s for Norman and my anniversary dinner tonight.” Christine raised her eyebrows. Rose perked up a bit at that. “I’m sure he’d appreciate that you helped with it.”

“Ok, fine,” Rose said. “But only because I’m sure it wouldn’t be nearly as good without me. I really know what the guys like, you know.”

Christine turned to Rankle, who was glaring at Rose with his normal look of disdain and disgust. “Rankle?”

Rankle sighed. “If you insist. But you should think about whether you want to actually serve Norman anything Rose has touched,” he said. “You never know what he might catch from her.”

“Just the disease of love,” Rose returned, sticking her tongue out at him.

“That’s enough, guys,” Christine chided with a fond smile. The settled down, sipping at their coffee. “I really appreciate you two helping out. I want to make sure this anniversary dinner is really wonderful.”

She stepped over to where the supplies were waiting and looked out into the middle distance. “Today we will be making a very special cake to represent the relationship between Norman and I,” she said, pulling a cloth off a large rectangular cake that had been sitting at the end of the kitchen island. “Now, I’ve already got the red velvet cake baked, stacked with cream cheese buttercream, and crumb coated. This will give us a good base to work from.”

“Who is she talking to?” Rose whispered, making Rankle shake his head. “And how are we supposed to be helping with this anyway?”

Christine pulled out a knife, the metal gleaming in the sun coming through the window for a moment. Rose and Rankle both reared back a little, eyes wide. She held it in both hands and plunged it into the top of the cake, near one end, then began cutting a large section out of it.

“We’ll start with making the space where our bodies will lay in the coffin.”

“A coffin?” Rankle hissed in surprise, leaning forward. “You’re making a coffin for your anniversary cake?”

“Of course,” Christine answered with a smile, setting the cake she’d cut out to the side. “It’s quite romantic, don’t you think?”

“No!” Rankle and Rose both shouted at the same time.

Christine chuckled, shaking her head. “I think Norman will think it’s just as romantic as I do,” she said. “After all, what’s more romantic than two people together forever in the afterlife?”

Rankle and Rose didn’t look completely convinced, but Christine merely went on with the cake. A layer of black fondant went on over the whole cake, followed by some — rather lovely, if she did say so herself — silver detailing made out of piping gel to give the coffin the proper antique look she wanted. Soon all that was left were the figures to go inside.

“I shaped these figures of Norman and I from modeling chocolate last night, so now they’re ready to finalize,” Christine said, holding up the white chocolate figures. “I’m going to paint them with some food coloring mixed with vodka, using a very fine tipped brush. If you’re not quite confident in your painting skills, I suggest you practice the faces on some paper beforehand.”

“Mm, vodka,” Rose muttered, obviously close to falling asleep despite the coffee Christine had provided her with earlier. “Makes me feel all warm inside.”

“It also makes you flamable, if you’d like to be warm outside too,” Rankle replied, hissing when Rose swatted at him, muttering insults.

“We’re not drinking vodka today, I’m afraid,” Christine said. She placed the finished figures into the coffin, their chocolate heads nestled perfectly on the fondant pillows. “We will be drinking wine, though, just like this bottle.” She placed a miniature bottle of wine in the coffin between the figures, then added a tiny silver knife to Norman’s figure and a little bouquet of roses to her’s.

“Is it finished?” Rose asked, craning her head to see.

“It is!” Christine replied, beaming. “What do you think?”

“Surprisingly tasteful for being a coffin,” Rankle said thoughtfully. He looked rather impressed, which Christine was pleased by.

“Thank you! I can’t wait until Norman sees it.”

***

The doorbell rang as Christine was smoothing out her new plum colored dress under Vivienne’s approving eye. Rose, of course, ran for the door as fast as she could. Christine made it halfway down the stairs by the time she got it open.

Norman stepped inside, looking quite dapper in a dark grey suit, a bouquet of crimson flowers held in his hand. His eyes went wide as he saw her, and she smiled. It seemed Norman liked what he saw just as much as Vivienne had said he would.

“Wow, you look beautiful,” Norman said, leaning in for a kiss as soon as he could. He held the flowers out as they separated. “Happy anniversary, Christine.”

“Happy anniversary, Norman. The flowers are gorgeous,” Christine replied, smile even wider as she smelled them. “There’s dinner and wine waiting, and a special cake too.”

“Oh, cake!” Norman said. “Do you mind if I peak at that first, I sure am excited to see what you came up with.”

“You probably won’t say that after you see it,” Rankle muttered from somewhere behind them.

“If you want to break up with Christine after this,” Rose said, leaning on Norman’s leg, “I’m still single.”

Christine laughed. “Let’s see the cake.”

Norman put out his arm and Christine took it as they made their way to the kitchen, Rose and Rankle not too far behind. The cake was set out on a rolling cart for easy transport, since it was so large. Christine had strewn some black rose petals around it, along with some little silver modeling chocolate skulls she’d whipped up after prepping dinner.

“A coffin, with us in it! How very imaginative, Christine,” Norman said, leaning in to admire the details. “I think it’s just swell.”

Behind them, Rose made a sound that was immediately cut off, probably rather forcefully by Rankle. Christine watched them out of the corner of her eye as they tussled, but most of her attention was on Norman. He seemed quite taken with the cake, which pleased her immensely.

“You really like it?”

Norman turned, pulling her in by the waist as she giggled. He kissed her, both of them smiling the whole time. “It’s the best anniversary cake I’ve ever seen,” he said. “So very us.”