Bite Off More Than You Can Chew
Disclaimer: How many times must I declare, without an ounce of belief, that the Lancers aren’t mine?
Author’s Note: This is a sequel to Love At First Bite. The Ladies of Lancerlot demanded that Teresa be made to pay for being the root cause of Johnny’s problem in the first story.
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The sounds of a new day unfolding filtered up the stairway to the upstairs hall, along with the almost over powering scent of bacon and coffee. Any other morning, these things would have scarcely registered in Johnny’s consciousness, but this was not any other morning. This was the day after his disastrous attempt to bake a cake. Johnny padded down the steps in his socks, having elected not to put on boots, since his favorite pair was missing a heel. He walked with a cautious soft footed tread as he was still battling the effects of a mild concussion suffered the day before.
A flash of white from the staircase caught Murdoch’s attention as he poured another cup of coffee. Gently setting the coffeepot down, he leaned back, until he had a full view of his youngest son. Johnny was navigating the steep steps, one hand clutching the banister and the other hand knuckling the sleep from his eyes. The pallor of his face told Murdoch he was still experiencing the ill effects of the head injury. Another strong indicator that he wasn’t feeling up to par was the fact he had walked down the stairs instead of sliding down the banister as he normally did.
Johnny wobbled as he stepped off the last tread into the kitchen, his eyes closed in pain. He put his hands out to gain his balance. He didn’t even realize a muffled moan escaped his lips as he shuffled to the table and gingerly lowered his battered body into a chair.
“Johnny…what are you doing up? Sam said you should take it easy for a few days,” Murdoch admonished gently, his worried eyes closely examining his son.
“I’ll be okay. I’ve been in worse shape and still managed to put in a day’s work and I can work today,” Johnny mumbled, afraid to raise his voice for fear it would split his head wide open at the crack he was sure currently halved it.
Biting back his irritation at his son’s stubbornness, Murdoch emphatically replied, “No sir, not today you will not. You are not to go any further than the patio. If I catch you on a horse today young man…let’s just say it will be too wet to plow and to thick to drink when it’s all over.”
“I can at least clean-up the mess I made yesterday.”
“Well if you would actually open your eyes you would see that has already been taken care of with the exception of repairing the icebox door. Jelly is in his work shed now searching for the parts to accomplish that.”
Forcing his eyes open with no small amount of trepidation; Johnny got his first good view of the kitchen. Everything was back in order. Things were spic and span even the floor glowed from a fresh scrubbing. He had sure caused someone a lot of extra work. He sort of hoped Mamacita was the one that cleaned the mess up, not that he wished to cause her all that trouble, but if it was her, most likely he would get a half-hearted scolding along with some oven warm cookies and a glass of milk. Maria turned from the stove where she stirred the contents of a large pot and smiled at him, shaking her big wooden spoon at him in mock anger.
His hopes were dashed in the very next minute. The back door swung open and Teresa stormed into the kitchen with an empty laundry basket. Spying Johnny at the table she made a beeline for him, her mouth pursing in contempt, her tongue obviously vibrating with the desire to lash his ears. Her entire countenance screamed her intention to exact revenge for all the additional work she had had forced upon her the day before.
“Johnny Lancer, I have a bone to pick with you,” Teresa declared in a barely concealed rage.
Groaning, Johnny propped his elbows on the table and supported his aching head in his hands. “Teresa, I’m real sorry you had to clean up from my mistake, but I told Murdoch yesterday I would clean it up.”
Eyes flashing with anger Teresa exploded, “Well you weren’t able to do that were you? We could hardly leave the kitchen looking and smelling like a pigsty when we needed to make breakfast this morning. Not to mention the fact you had no business plundering about and disturbing things in my kitchen…”
War drums pounded in Johnny’s head as Teresa’s bitter harangue echoed in his ears. He wasn’t sure what was worse this loud shrieking or her normally skin crawling whine. What little color left in his face leeched out and he groaned.
Maria gasped at the insolent behavior she was witnessing, she started towards Teresa with her wooden spoon raised and ready to strike, but before she could act Murdoch spoke up.
“Young lady, you would do well to remember this is Johnny’s home. And I will not have him feel like he’s not free to enjoy every part of it. He did tell me he would clean up, and he has apologized to you for the extra work. Now then I think you owe him an apology for making him feel like he doesn’t have the right to avail himself of all the amenities of his home!” Murdoch thundered at a stunned Teresa.
Momentarily shocked by Murdoch’s reaction, Teresa realized she had pushed her luck too far. She had been so happy when the Lancer brothers first came home, until she felt like she was slowly being replaced as the apple of Murdoch’s eye. There was a time when she could do no wrong, and Johnny could do no right. However, the tide had turned and more and more she found herself secretly seething over the paternal relationship Murdoch had forged with his sons, especially with Johnny. It was bad enough when Scott always tried to take the role of protector and giver of guidance for him, now Murdoch did too. Behavior that used to make Murdoch rant, rave and bellow at Johnny, now made him chuckle. Now he was bellowing at her…her…his little darling! She had one way out of this, she turned on the tears.
Teresa’s eyes welled up and large shimmering tears quickly coursed down her cheeks. Sniffing and hitching her breath she turned doleful eyes to her guardian. “It’s just not fair. I don’t go out and try to break horses for him. He shouldn’t be in here rummaging through my domain.”
“This kitchen belongs to all of us, since we all eat. Had he tried to do your cross-stitch for you, you might have a valid argument. Perhaps you are forgetting the very reason he got the idea to try and bake a cake was because of the recipe book that came with the rotary beater he ordered for the kitchen. At your request I might add,” Murdoch replied, the warning in his voice clear to those willing to hear it.
Snatching the egg beater up, Teresa couldn’t resist rubbing salt into Johnny’s wounds. “Well, don’t you feel silly biting off more than you could chew because of this gadget and you didn’t even finish a cake to chew? You certainly let it get you into a predicament,” she snorted in derision, as she held the rotary utensil up by her smirking face.
Rolling his eyes, Johnny retorted, “Good Lord, Teresa! I swear sometimes you have enough tongue for ten rows of teeth.”
“Ha ha ha…at least I have better sense than to make a fool out of myself because of an egg beater.” Teresa taunted, as she turned the crank to set the blades in motion, intending to tease Johnny with it.
However, Teresa bit off more words than she could chew and they turned back on her. Maria had heard quite enough of her sassy mouth, especially as it was aimed at her nińo Johnny. Mamacita swung mightily with her wooden spoon and smacked Teresa’s shoulder. The shock of the jolt caused her to jerk and twist her head to the side the attack came from. Her long hair fluttered out from the swift movement and was quickly snatched by the rotating blades. Had common sense prevailed she would have simply stopped turning the handle, but in her hysteria she kept cranking until multiple strands of hair were viciously pulled out and the blades dug a trench into her scalp. Her hair became hopelessly entangled. Maria worked for an hour trying to free the long tresses with no success and amidst many squeals of pain from Teresa. Finally she announced the hair would have to be cut free. Teresa tearfully agreed as the pain was more than she could bear any longer.
“Johnny, please go get the scissors from Teresa’s cross stitch supplies,” Mamacita requested.
“I’m not sure I should do that! The cross stitch box is Teresa’s. I don’t have any right to be rummaging around in it,” Johnny stated, throwing Teresa’s words back at her.
“OUCH…OW! Please just go get them…owwwww…I can’t stand this any longer,” she whimpered.
Johnny snickered, he found it amazing how much better his head felt when Teresa’s started hurting. Much to Teresa’s chagrin Maria pulled her out to the patio to cut her free of the cooking device, so they wouldn’t get hair all over the kitchen. To Teresa’s horror by the time Maria was done the hair on the right side of her head was as short as Johnny’s and Scott’s.
The uneven hairstyle looked ridiculous. The only solution was to trim the rest of her hair to even it out. Loud wails and shrieks rent the air as Teresa watched her beautiful long tresses land in clumps around her feet. Her melodramatic theatrics drew a crowd as one by one and in small groups the ranch hands wandered by to see what the racket was all about. To Teresa complete mortification, the residents of the ranch made no attempt to hide their amusement or laughter over her plight.
When the torturous session was over Teresa ran into the house to view the finished style. One look in the mirror and she froze in place, she could not tear her eyes from the hideous sight. The short hair made her elongated face look as long as a mule’s. Her ears looked like the handles on a large size jug. Her forehead looked as wide as a whole hand. Her eyes looked like craters, and worse of all it made her nose look like it had grown four inches longer. It was not a flattering hair style at all.
“This is the worst haircut I have ever had! What am I going to do until it grows back?”
“Wear a hat and it won’t show,” advised Johnny. “Mamacita, I’m hungry, I never did get any breakfast.”
“Come with me, nińo, I will give you a glass of milk and a big slice of the chocolate cake your father brought home yesterday to hold you over until lunch.
Teresa glared at the two as they departed for the kitchen, mumbling in disgruntled agitation, “Great I get the haircut from hell and Johnny gets his cake and gets to eat it too!”
May 29, 2008