Something in Liam’s demeanor had told him already, but the Doctor pretended to be surprised both times the waitresses told him of the relationship between the cook and Ellie.
“They was to marry, come next year, Ellie said…”
“She kept it from her mother – Efora wanted her to marry her third cousin Lark Nittlescent. Nice favored boy, and well pocketed, but bland as custard…”
That interested him.
Ellie wouldn’t have liked bland, indeed. Her menu featured quirks of taste and savor and spices that sometimes felt like blows, but ones that left you tingling with satisfaction. He knew that without her, what had come to the table was only a shadow of what it could have been, but she had designed the recipes, and they were as individual as signatures. As he ate, he had put together the strands, as though he were talking to her in his mind, drawing her out, finding out how she felt about fighting, or politics, or love.
Love. There was a dish on the menu called “The Cook’s Left Hand” and he thought, somehow, that it was meant as commentary on Liam. It was flavored with cinnamon, sometimes called “the forbidden spice” for reasons he was unsure of, which was an odd combination with the fish’s firm white flesh. Sour berries, no bigger than a sparrow’s eye and green as olives, had surrounded it. Somehow that combination of flavors, which should have seemed unsettling, mingled together in a way that enticed the tongue, as though flavored with desire itself.
She had loved Liam. Liam had seen the advantages of a partnership with her, at the least, and had perhaps even returned her love, just buried it so deep in sorrow that the Doctor could not see it. Although the boy seemed to have felt strongly enough about Kim.
How, the Doctor wondered, had Kim felt about Liam?
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