curing meat

The Turkey Story

 So it’s 2001, and my family drives from fucking California and like three blizzards to get to Ohio for thanksgiving, becuase my grandparents are moving into a nursing home and it’s their last holiday in that house.  So its a bit bittersweet but ultimately a good thing.

Since it’s their last holiday there, the family pulls out all the stops when it comes to dinner, all the Russian desserts come out, as does the Lethal Bacon Mashed Potatoes and the horrible candied yams dish because not all expressions of love are good, even if they are sincere.  In the spirit of going all-out, Uncle Bobby smokes a Turkey.  

Uncle Bobby started cooking as a boy scout by tossing foil-wrapped potatoes into a campfire and has been addicted since, and now has a hand-made smokehouse in the backyard where he makes various cured meats and other delights.  He seasons the turkey in the traditional manner, but he and grandpa have a shared passion for a spaicier mesquite-style bird, so Bobby makes a Cornish Game Hen seasoned that way, for them.

Then Bobby has a Brilliant Idea.  He realizes that he can stuff the turkey (once it has been smoked) with regular stuffing, and there is still plenty of room for him to put the game hen inside THAT, and stuff the game hen becuase why not?  He confers with Mom, and she explains how to cut open the turkey so there’s  dramatic reveal as the stuffing and game hen come out.  It’s Genius.

Except, of course, that my Aunt Sue is attending, Uncle Cliff slouching after her.

So the day of the dinner, tensions are running a bit high, between the marathon cooking, the kids all being trapped indoors due to aforementioned blizzards, and Uncle Cliff deciding that the best way to amuse himself is by hiding from the adults in the basement, getting drunk and rambling about how various ethic groups were destroying America.  Being that I had close Muslim friends that were leaving the country becuase of 9/11, I was near tears from this nonsense and ready to fight a man roughly five times my size.  

Sue, for some reason, keeps coming down and defending him, or telling us we’re rotten children for ‘attacking’ him, becuase she Must Stand By Her Man, even if her man is a hefty bag of feces with an ugly mustache.

My sister eventually bolts upstairs to tattle and my grandfather limps down to the basement and brandishes his Hip-Bone Cane, hands rock-steady in spite of the Parkinson’s slowly taking over him.

“Firstly Cliff, It may not be my roof much longer but while you are under it you will be civil, or I’ll beat your skull in.  Also, dinner’s ready, everyone go wash up.”

We go upstairs and sit down, and do the traditional “Name one thing you’re thankful for” as the bread gets passed around the table, and things calm down a bit.  Bobby brings out the Turkey and everyone goes OOH becuase it’s really pretty, them Mom carves it open so that the stuffing spills out dramatically along with the game hen and there’s an appreciative gasp all around becuase it looks cool.

Only Sue KEEPS gasping, in utter horror, before getting up and clasping her hands to her face ala Edvard Munch and shrieks-

“OH MY GOD IT WAS PREGNANT!”

We all stare at Sue.  We all look back at the fully-dressed-cooked-and-stuffed birds that in no way had any internal organs in them or ever gave live birth. Then we all looked back at Sue, trying to figure out where to begin but since she’d been trying to justify Cliff’s behavior she was pretty much free-associating conspiracies and scandals now, and just kept going.

“IT WAS PREGNANT MY GOD WE’VE COMMITTED AN ABORTION WE’RE ALL GOING TO HELL FOR THIS, I’M SO SORRY JESUS-” She goes into full pearl-clutching gibbering horror at this point and falls back into her chair like it’s a Victorian fainting couch only it’s a shitty chair from the Eisenhower administration so it collapses and she slams into the floor, sobbing and kicking her feet like a toddler.

Everyone watched for a moment before my Mom sighs heavily and starts carving and serving the turkey while my grandmother mouths “she’s not coming back”.   

Cliff, reactions delayed by about six beers, finally notices his wife is on the floor and tries to pick her up, falls on his ass himself.  They are assisted by Dad, who is saintly patient man and less immune to this jacknapery at that point. I am stuffing dinner rolls into my face to keep from laughing at this grand spectacle and it’s not working.

“I CAN’T EAT IT, I REFUSE TO PARTAKE IN THIS BARBARISM-”  Sue begins but Dad puts on his best Kindly Father voice (he went to seminary school long enough to learn that before getting drafted but that’s another story) and assures Sue that she need not eat, or even be in the room if she wants.  She nods, placated by being the center of attention again, and Dad goes in for the kill.

“I wouldn’t want you to go hungry.  Can I make you some Eggs?”

“That would be lovely.” Said Sue, joke flying over her head like a boeing 747.  I recall watching my grandmother nearly choke to death on the green beans over that, and everyone pointedly trying to avoid talking about anything poultry-related while Sue sat there and ate the most ironic scrambled eggs in the history of mankind.

Shortly thereafter, Cliff threw up in the sink and they went home, and the party got underway properly, with Grandpa raising a toast to Mom and Uncle Bobby “For marrying well, for a change”

“Pregnant Turkey” has been an Ohioan thanksgiving staple since then.  I’ll see if I can hit Uncle Bobby up for instructions but if you decide to make it 1. you HAVE to shriek “OH MY GOD IT WAS PREGNANT” when you carve it open, or it’s not authentic and won’t taste as good 2. Share the pictures with me.


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50 Cute This or That Questions
  1. cacti or succulents
  2. butterflies or honeybees
  3. typewritten or handwritten letters
  4. flower crowns or oversized sun hats 
  5. polaroids or film
  6. road tripping in a VW bus down the coast or camping in the woods on summer nights
  7. cozy beanbags or breezy hammocks 
  8. oversized jumpers or fluffy bathrobes
  9. banana bread or pumpkin spiced loaf
  10. the smell of old books or the smell of petrichor
  11. chapstick or matte lipstick
  12. macarons or eclairs 
  13. a candlelit bath or a naturally lit reading room
  14. a matinee at a musical or a evening at the art gallery
  15. creamy hot cocoa with marshmallows or dippable hot chocolate with churros 
  16. poetry or prose
  17. vinyl or cassettes
  18. antique shops or second hand stores
  19. a heavy, rich chocolate cake with ganache and caramel or a light, summer sponge cake with cream and fruit
  20. purikuras or photo booths
  21. cozy scarfs or warm beanies
  22. rose gold or copper
  23. watching the sky at sunset from the beach or watching the city below from an airplane at night
  24. mason jars or coffee mugs
  25. puffy clouds and blue skies or thunder and lighting on rainy days
  26. a cup of hot tea or a bowl of warm soup
  27. picnic on a grassy hill or tea in a flower garden
  28. silk or lace
  29. sketching in a museum or journaling in a café
  30. converse high tops or beaded summer sandals
  31. sweet crêpes or fluffy pancakes
  32. galaxies or nebulae
  33. cuff-chain earrings or full finger rings
  34. knee socks or leggings
  35. in bed or out in the rain
  36. the muted colors of winter or the vibrant colors of summer
  37. autumn leaves or spring flowers
  38. summer fruits: peaches, berries, cherries, and apricots or tropical fruits: pineapples, mangos, papaya, and grapefruit.
  39. malt shakes or ice cream floats
  40. smooth jazz or lo-fi
  41. waves lapping at the shore or wind rolling over wheat fields
  42. sunflowers or lavender
  43. enamel pins or embroidered patches
  44. fresh cheeses and cured meats or fresh bread and homemade jams
  45. fireworks or sparklers
  46. bath bombs or scented candles 
  47. library borrower cards or vintage postcards
  48. singing and playing the ukulele while walking or singing in the car with the windows down
  49. filling your passport with stamps from each place you travel to or collecting souvenirs from every place you’ve traveled to
  50. _____ or _____
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Dancing Goths: The Smiths edition

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why go with ‘the mages rebellion let all the dangerous people out in the streets and even though they were just defending themselves from templars attacking, their fire got 13 people killed all of them orphaned children’ when you can

  • an old enchanter who has not seen their younger siblings for decades and finally returning home and to his family and finding out that he has grand nephews and cousins
  • a mage who stops by to heal a wounded farmer who has taken a fall and for the first time in their lives feeling like their magic is not a curse 
  • a young apprentice who, for the first time in their lives, has felt grass and wet soil beneath their bare feet instead of stone floors of their tower, the rainfall and the sea breeze
  • a teenage mage who hasn’t had a good night’s sleep ever since they started worrying about the Harrowing and Tranquility, finally getting a night of dreamless sleep without the fear of being taken away in the night (not again)
  • a quiet mage who has always had to watch her words and her mouth in fear that someone would pick it apart, brand her maleficar, use it against her, finally being able to say what she wants, and actually being the loudest of all her friends with a mouth foul enough to shame sailors
  • young mage children who are afraid to go out of the little cottage they’ve been taken in, being enticed to hide and seek by the local non-mage children, exploring new places and woods, so much bigger than the world they were used to, the enchanter being in charge of them taking in the local friends because what is another child who she can teach letters to?
  • a recently harrowed mage who is fascinated by all different kind of foods, espcially roasts and cured meats, so much flavor, how do you guys cook without fire magic?
The Mistake (Epilogue) - Stiles Stilinski

Author: @were-cheetah-stiles

Title: “The One With The Revelation”

Author’s Note: Welp, it’s here. I’m just as sad to see this series go as you guys. This has been one of the greatest joys to write and I want to thank all of you for loving it as much as I have. Your comments and messages have meant the world to me. My forever thanks is to @fillthevoid-stilinski for asking me to write this series for her. I never would’ve done this without your prompting, Em, and it has brought me endless happiness so thank you for being such a source of inspiration and motivation. I have a few more bonus chapters that will be listed on the masterlist for The Mistake, but this is the end. This is my version of “You got off the plane.” from Friends. Thank you all again. 

Summary: Stiles and Y/n spend her twenty-seventh birthday in a place that holds a lot of meaning to them both. They then return a year later to make a commitment to each other. 

Prologue - Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5 - Part 6 - Epilogue 

Bonuses: #1#2 - #3 - #4 - #5 - #6 - #7 - #8Masterlist

Originally posted by kangolucanavari

You enjoyed the warm mid-May breeze blowing across your cheek, and what it meant: summer was coming again. You listened to the rustling of the new leaves above your head, shading you from direct contact with the warming sun, and you sighed happily. You laughed when you suddenly felt a rough and wet tongue wipe across your cheek. You brought your hands up to grab at the shaggy-haired dog, keeping him from drenching your face in spittle, then heard the jingling of keys getting closer. You opened your eyes and saw Cespedes standing right next to your head, panting and happy, then tilted your head back against the blanket underneath you, and saw Stiles jogging.

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7

Food Preservation Skills: Learning to Cure and Smoke Bacon

We’ve started a new rule. In an effort to gradually reduce our meat intake, the Hubs and I are also trying to learn more about preparing certain meat products at home. If we can’t make it, then we don’t buy it, and so we don’t eat it at home. For months now we’ve been grinding our own meat to make sausages, chillis, hamburgers, etc. It’s a lot of work, but removing that convenience and instant gratification made us more aware of our meat consumption.

Bacon…is something that’s been difficult to give up, but if we can make our own, we’re committed to stop purchasing the industrialized version of this product. This is our first time making bacon and our first time smoking meat, which is a food preservation skill we’ve been wanting to learn. Without a smokehouse or a lot of outdoor space, we used our grill to simulate the smoking effect. Not saying we did everything perfectly - we need a lot more practice - but this homemade hickory smoked bacon may be the first time I’ve had real smoked bacon, as opposed to the liquid smoke that’s poured over the commercial products. Homemade bacon is also hammier…it doesn’t crisp up the way store-brought does. I’m also delighted that I can better control the flavoring and amount of salt to use when curing the meat.

How do my other homesteaders do smoking? We’d love to hear your experiences! Anyway, 10/10, would try to make our own bacon again!
Have This

Sometimes, the heart demands feel-good smut with feelings (Probably the sweetest stuff I’ve written in a while). I just need for them to have some tender moments, okay? ;). Takes place post-4x05 

Also on AO3 [Part 3 of the Appropriation Series with @bellohmyblake


Clarke isn’t sure the dust will ever settle for life on the ground. The piercing scent of burning rubble hangs thick in the air as the orange glow finally begins to fade, swallowed up by the blackness of night.

After hours of treating inhalation injuries and burns, the stream of patients has finally trickled down to a halt. The makeshift med-bay is completely full of recovering patients, but by some miracle, none of them are in critical condition.

Harper gives Clarke a tired smile as she makes her way over. “I think we’ve got this covered, Clarke, if you need to go take care of other things.”

Clarke squeezes her shoulder with a grateful nod, “Thank you, Harper.”

She takes one more glance around and spots Bellamy on the far side of the room, speaking in hushed tones with Miller. As if he can sense her gaze on him, he meets her eyes with a barely perceptible nod. She fights the urge to squirm under a stare so intense it feels like it’s physically holding her in place.

With one look, she’s transported back to the quarry. She swallows back a bolt of nausea at the vivid memory of the wind being knocked out of her as the bag was pulled off Bellamy’s head. She reminds herself that he’s safe. He’s here. He’s still with her. He wraps up his conversation with Miller and makes his way back to her with slow, steady strides that contrast the erratic rhythm of her heart, not once taking his eyes off her.

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Fireproof // Part 2

Part One

Summary: Supernatural Half Blood Boarding School AU where students are paired with a human counterpart to help them adapt to the human world outside their supernatural communities.

Waking up with something constricting your leg was alarming. You had been dreaming that your leg was really heavy and you couldn’t run. Now you understood why. Your first thought was that Shawn was laying on your leg but that didn’t seem to be so. Shawn was curled up against your pillow, obviously having stolen it from under your head sometime in the night. He is pressed against your side and his blanket is half over you. You lift the blanket to look at your left leg because it’s really very tight and very hot and starting to ache. What you find shocks you for a second but then you remember what Shawn was. His tail is wrapped, coiled perfectly around your mid thigh down to your calf to your ankle. You had no idea that his tail was so…capable.

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Dalish Food Preservation: Jerky, Pemmican, and Hot-Pot

For most cultures throughout Thedas, preserved foods are a necessity. For the peoples of the Anderfels, and the Elves of the Dalish Clans, this is especially true. The Anders have to deal with the volatile climate of the Anderfels, and the Dalish must deal with their nomadic lifestyle which leaves little room for fresh food storage of any meaningful value.

One thing many cultures have in common throughout Thedas, and even our own real world, is that each cultures has some variation of dried meats. In Thedas, two kinds of dried meats are very ubiquitous throughout most cultures that still make liberal use of preservation: Jerky, and Pemmican.

Jerky

Jerky is meat that has been sliced or pounded very thin, and then dried with the aid of liberal amounts of salt and seasonings. In the modern era, we usually use nitrates of some kind to aid in the curing of meats like Jerky. In Thedas, and our own middle ages, however, they would have used only salt.

The Dalish typically make their jerky using salt, ironbark syrup (which is similar in flavor to mollasses), fermented rashvine sap and various herbs and spices that are native to the area in which they are staying. For example, Dalish clans in Ferelden and the Free Marches typically use a lot of borage, bay leaf, mint, juniper berries and parsley in their jerky.

Pemmican

Pemmican is essentially a loaf of dried/cured meat, mixed with fat and sometimes other ingredients. Some cultures add fruits and grains, whereas others use only meat, fat and seasoning.

In our own world, it is unknown who truly invented pemmican, but the word comes from the language of the Cree, one of the many indigenous peoples of North America.

Likewise, in Thedas, it is unknown who invented Pemmican. But almost every culture has, or used to have, a variant of it. The Dalish variation is known as ghial’bradh and incorporates a lot of dried berries and wild grains.

Hot-Pot

Hot-pot, hochepot, or hodgepodge is a stew made of a mixture of various ingredients, usually whatever the cook has on hand at the time. In many cultures throughout thedas, hot-pot is made with pemmican or some other cured or preserved food as its base.

Most cultures througout thedas have a variant of Hot-Pot. In Fereldan and the Free Marches, it is known as either hodgepodge, or rubaboo. In Orlais it is known as hochepot. In Antiva it is known as either mezcolanza or misto. In Nevarra it is known as miktí, and in Tevinter it is known as farrago

Among the Dalish, it is known as grid’iathe. It is typically made with Dalish ghial’bradh along with whatever fresh vegetables, grains and herbs that Dalish clan is able to forage.

DALISH MEAT JERKY (Dil’Selem)

Dalish jerky is usually made from wild ram, bear, sheep or boar meat. However, some clans will trade with human settlements for mutton, pork and beef.

Ingredients
yield: about 1.5 lbs of jerky

  • ¾ cup hickory salt (about 6 oz by weight) (pickling salt will work fine)
  • ¼ c ironbark syrup (Maple syrup, molasses, or honey will work fine)
  • 1 large amrita vein bulb or 4 arbor blessing bulbs, crushed (4 spring onions or 4 cloves of garlic will work fine)
  • 2 large spoonfuls purified and fermented rashvine sap (2 tbs Worcestershire sauce plus 2 tbs black pepper will work fine)
  • 5 pounds fresh meat
  • spices of choice (vary by clan, so just use your favorites, or none at all)

Process

  1. Rub the meat with the salt, making sure to cover every inch of meat in a thin layer of slay. If you need to use more than ¾ cup, do so. However, do not use less than ½ cup. 
  2. Lay the meat on a rack in a large container and allow to rest in a cold place for at least 12 hours (the Dalish usually use tightly packed snow or ice, but i’m pretty sure a fridge will work fine). Do not allow the meat to rest for more than 48 hours.
  3. Check the meat every day to check to see if any liquid needs to drained from the container. Make sure that any liquid that is drawn from the meat does not touch the meat. While there is enough salt on the meat to prevent bacterial formations, the same cannot be said for any liquid that is leeched out by the salt. Make sure to remove liquid when necessary. 
  4. After 12 hours, remove the meat and wash thoroughly, making sure to remove all salt. Then vigorously pat dry until the surface of the meat is completely dry.
  5. Once dry, slice meat into long, thin strips no larger than ¼ inch thick. Make sure to slice the meat with the grain, otherwise your jerky will fall apart once dried.
  6. Combine syrup, crushed bulbs, rashvine sap and any other spices of choice in a bowl until you form a smooth paste.
  7. Dip each piece of meat into your seasoning paste, making sure that each piece is thoroughly coated in a very thin layer of seasoning.
  8. Dry your meat using a wire rack over a low burning fire for at least 24 hours, or until fully dried.
  9. In the real world: use a food dehydrator, making sure the temperature stays between 130 and 140 degrees at all times. Dry your jerky until it is firm and stiff but not ready to fall apart.
  10. Alternatively, you can dry your jerky in the oven, making sure to use your oven’s lowest setting and leaving the oven door slightly open.

DALISH PEMMICAN (Ghial’bradh)

Similar to Dalish jerky, Pemmican or ghial’bradh is typically made with ram, bear, sheep or boar meat. Unlike jerky, however, it is not as salty, and usually incorporates dried fruit and grains. What results is a thick, dry meat ‘bread’ that is usually stored and then sliced to be heated and eaten later. 

Many Dalish clans will store ghial’bradh is bags made of animal hide. These bags can be made to be air-tight and oftentimes clans will bury bags of excess ghial’bradh and leave specific markers so that other Dalish clans can make use of their good fortune later.

Ingredients

yield: about 3 lbs of pemmican

  • 5 lbs of fresh meat
  • 1.5 lbs of suet (animal kidney fat, specifically of beef, venison and pork)
  • 2 oz (by weight) dried fruit
  • 1 oz (by weight) cup cooked, drained and dried wild rice, or wild wheat berries

Process

  1. Slice meat very thin against the grain.
  2. Dry meat on a wire rack over a very low smokey fire for about 24 hours until completely dry. (alternatively, dry on your oven’s lowest setting with the door slightly open for about 10-12 hours. If you use a dehydrator, bake your meat strips in the oven for 30 minutes at 200, and then use your dehydrator normally). Meat should be completely dry and brittle once done.
  3. Using a mortar and pestle, ground your dried meat into a coarse powder (alternatively, you can use a food processor in the modern world).
  4. Make sure the amount of dried meat is equal (in weight) to the amount of rendered fat you have. Adjust if needed.
  5. Melt your rendered fat completely, but do not allow it to become too hot.
  6. In a large bowl, combine the cooked grain, dried fruit and meat powder.
  7. Add your rendered fat and stir until combined into a smooth paste.
  8. Pour your paste into molds of your choice (the dalish use clay bread pans) and pat down to get rid of any air bubbles. Store in a cool place until set and firm.
  9. Remove pemmican from your mold and wrap in cloth (or use plastic wrap if you live in the real world). 

Your pemmican will keep for longer if you choose to omit the fruit and grain. Many Dalish clans would choose to leave out the fruit and grain until it was time to eat, and then they would mix the pemmican with the fruit and grain in a large bowl before eating.

Do remember that pemmican is very high in calories. 1 pound of pemmican typically contains 3000 calories, so it is very much not a food that you want to snack on. This is, however, the perfect food to take when you go backpacking or camping (or if you’re a constantly travelling nomadic Dalish clan).

Additionally, I recommend buying pre-rendered suet if you can get it, but if you’re interested in being a bit more traditional, check out this instructional video on how to render your own suet.

DALISH HOT-POT (Grid’iathe)

Ingredients

yield: about 8 portions

  • 1 pound Dalish pemmican (ghial’bradh)
  • 1 large bowl rashvine nettles, boiled, drained and washed (feel free to using stinging nettles or fiddleheads instead. Learn how to prepare stinging nettles here, and how to prepare fiddleheads here. Warning: Never EVER eat fiddleheads or nettles raw.)
  • 1 large bowl fresh elfroot, washed and drained (you can use spinach or kale instead)
  • 1 pound potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 6 large Amrita Vein bulbs, roughly chopped (or 2 large onions)
  • Any other fresh vegetables and herbs you can forage (or buy at ye olde grocery store)
  • ½ pound fresh wild rice or wild wheat berries (you can use farro or rye berries if you like)
  • 1 spoonful of lard or butter (you can use vegetable oil as well)
  • Salt to taste

Process

  1. Roughly chop your pemmican
  2. Heat the butter or lard in a large pot. Once the butter has started to brown, add your onions. Cook until translucent, and then add all of your other vegetables.
  3. Put in another water to cover all of the vegetables by at least 2 inches.
  4. Add in your chopped pemmican and wild rice. Cook until stew has reduced to a thick consistency and pemmican and rice are fully cooked.
  5. Add your rashvine nettles, elfroot, and any other fresh greens and herbs that you wish. Cook just long enough for them to wilt and release their flavor.
  6. Season to taste and serve immediately with a large mug of fresh Dalish ale.

Your stew should have the consistency of thin chowder. If you wish for a thicker soup, simply use more grains.

Bon Appétit, or as they say among the Dalish: Son’ava!

Lloyd Hall

Meet the man responsible for helping to make the modern preservation of food and other products a reality for billions of people across the world today. While his research helped to combat spoilage and rancidity in food, he earned 59 U.S. patents too. Oh, and also improved the bacon-curing process (you’re welcome for that one). So, what else did he do?

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Lionhearted - Part 1 - Nessian fic

Summary: Modern AU - Nesta and Cassian run into each other frequently due to her sister’s engagement to his best friend, and the encounters never go the way either of them want. Tension boils over at the rehearsal dinner and then the next day at the wedding, where they say and do things they can’t take back.

Notes: Thanks to @blxckbeak and @acourtofstarsanddreams for talking to me about this fic! More specifically, about Nesta. Also I want to tag @christina-dh because she asked for me to tag her in a certain type of fic if I wrote it… which, the thing doesn’t happen until the second part, but I don’t want to spoil it. :) And I hope the anon who sent me this prompt also enjoys it! (The prompt was “the hills are alive with the sound of bullshit”.)

I’ve never written a modern AU, plus it’s nessian, so… let me know what you think!

AO3 linkage

********

Lionhearted (Part 1) (Part 2) (Part 3) (Part 4)

The evening before Feyre and Rhysand’s wedding, Nesta prepared for the rehearsal dinner by getting a drink alone. The bar of the hotel had seemed like as good a place as any for an over-priced gin and tonic, especially if it meant she didn’t have to wander alone down the sidewalk and be subjected to the inevitable leering of men who hung out on the city street corners at all hours of the day. She could play nice and support her sister, but she knew she needed something extra to smooth her sharper edges before she showed up at the restaurant. Edges that would inevitably come up against a certain infuriating best man. And combined with the fact that her father would be there… yes, she definitely needed this drink.

Sipping from her glass slowly, she listened to the hum of quiet conversation just outside the bar in the cavernous lobby of her hotel, to the first tentative sounds coming from the instruments of the jazz band that was setting up for the evening. She had chosen a hotel where few of the other guests were staying, a decision that she had explained to her sisters as the result of poor last-minute planning, but really had more to do with not wanting to be surrounded by the sycophants who clamored for her future brother-in-law’s attention. The kind of power that Rhysand’s family wielded would ensure security for her sister - for all of them, really - but Nesta had no intention of being caught up with his crowd.

She was seated at the end of the bar, close to where the bartender was cleaning glasses. There was no use in sitting too far away from the man with the bottle, she figured. Nesta was sure that no one she knew would show up here, at a generic hotel bar. Among the many privileges of being on her own was the fact that she could pretend to be ignorant of the group’s plans of where to meet, when, to think about having to please everyone else first. She was responsible for and answered to no one but herself.

As she drank, she thought about Feyre and Elain, the recent changes to their lives that had them seeing a bit more eye-to-eye. A week ago she had talked to Feyre alone, for the first time in ages. The strain between them had become less and less, lately; in fact, it had been the first time that Nesta had spoken frankly to her sister about their mother, their father, the way that Feyre had had to take responsibility of the household when they were teens. Nesta and Elain had left as soon as they could, Elain moving in with her now-former fiancé as soon as she had graduated college and Nesta just… moving on.

Nesta had told herself that their father, if left to his own devices long enough, would figure out that he was needed. That maybe one day he would get his act together and take care of her younger sisters. By leaving the moment she turned 18, she thought she was washing her hands of her responsibility towards them, forcing him to take it on himself. That didn’t happen, though, and she watched from afar as Feyre struggled to pick up the slack at far too young an age.

She told herself that the anger she reserved was for him, but it had a habit of being aimed at the wrong people.

When she had met Feyre for lunch, Nesta hadn’t expected to rehash the past. But over salads and microbrews, the two had come to a sort of… détente, if not outright understanding. Nesta knew her youngest sister would be fine, had found a life worth living, whether she had Rhys or not. And Feyre knew that Nesta had done what she felt necessary at the time, though it had come from a resentful, scornful place. Growing older had the effect of putting their childhood in perspective, and they were both ready to put aside animosity.

Nesta had asked about Rhysand, about how Feyre had met him - there was an ex, someone Rhys knew, who had had a hard time letting go. Nesta had been… displeased to find that her sister had needed help in that way. That she had experienced something like this without reaching to her sisters for help. Not that she could blame her little sister. But if this Rhys was everything that Feyre claimed, then she could be happy for her. She would give him a chance. Which was why she had flown out here and had even helped her sister with some of the wedding planning.

Checking her phone for the time, Nesta saw that she had planned perfectly. She had enough time for a second drink before leaving for the dinner at a new Italian place that Mor had clued Feyre in on, the kind of place where they cured their own meat. Finishing the last sip of her drink, Nesta asked for another and was waiting patiently when a voice came from behind her, smooth and taunting.

“Nesta, sweetheart.”

Her shoulders stiffened and she closed her eyes, cursing under her breath. Shit shit shit… Of all the hotels in the city, of all the bars… Turning her head while keeping her body facing the bar, she answered him.

“Cassian.”

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