“I’ll show you,” Davina’s voice sounded. “Kol doesn’t like to go there, truth be told, he’s banished from that tomb anyway. All Mikaelsons are.”
She followed Davina over the cemetery and couldn’t help but wonder. “You talk about the Mikaelsons as if they’re poisonous.”
“Yeah, they’re a pest, but a necessary evil,” Davina shrugged as she opened the gates to the Dubois Tomb. “Kol and I remain civil, but the others? No, don’t want to deal with them.” She lead Bella to Kaleb’s stone. “Did you really talk to Kaleb?”
“Yeah,” Bella smiled as she squatted down and touched his stone before placing the flowers at the base. “Nice guy, but you do realize you were dealing with Kol, right? Not Kaleb?”
“So you’re basically mourning someone who’s not real.”
“He was to me.”
“But it was Kol inside of him. He just looked like Kaleb,” Bella said, as she got to her feet and faced her. “You have to move on, Davina. Either move on or deal with the fact that yes, Kol is a vampire and has impulse control issues and see if you can mend fences with him again because from what I understand is Kol is a very good ally to the witches.”
“He’s always been, yes,” Davina sighed as tears fell from her eyes. “But Kaleb…”
“Wasn’t Kaleb,” Bella repeated. “He doesn’t understand why you’re so obsessed with him because it wasn’t him. Hell, if it were him, he’d likely have gone for another male witch instead of you.”
“Kaleb’s gay,” Bella gently squeezed Davina’s shoulder. “So think about what you want. You can pine away and mourn Kol’s witch form, or, move on and have a relationship with the real thing because he’s not that bad.”
“I can’t. I – likely hurt him. He doesn’t forgive easily.”
“Yeah well, you don’t look like a quitter to me, Davina Claire,” she smiled at her before she left the tomb and headed back to Kol. “What the hell are you doing in there?”
“Spring cleaning. Isn’t what couples do when they break up, take their stuff back? Well, that’s what I’m doing,” Kol headed back in, only to come out with another box full of books.
“Oh dear,” Bella let out a long breath. “This was yours and Davina’s?”
Kol came out again with a smile. “Technically it’s her family’s. I ran with one of her great grandmothers when I tried to kill my brother some time ago. I told you this. I just have to find a new hiding place for everything.”
“Wait, you never said you were trying to kill your brother. Just hurt him enough with something.”
“It only subdues him, the bloody bastard is a hybrid so very little works to kill him. When I reconciled with him and learned his girlfriend is willing to side with me in family battles, I tricked our mother into destroying it. All’s fair!”
“Okay… then I might have done something stupid,” Bella said as she watched Davina come back. “Like… very stupid.”
“Kol?” Davina asked, wiping tears from her eyes. “Can we talk?”
“Oh, bloody hell, Bella, what did you do?”
“What I always do, really… when it comes to talking to deceased loved ones and the ones they left behind… a little bit of therapy and encouragement…”
He glared at her before turning to the young witch. “What do you want Davina? I’m a little busy here.”
“You don’t have to move out, you know. We can work things out between us, try again?” Davina said hopefully. “I mean… Bella’s right, I was mourning someone who didn’t exist, it was you all along.”
He opened his mouth, closing it, then glared at Bella. “Yes. You did something very stupid.” Taking a deep breath, he shook his head, hands on his hips as he looked back at Davina. “She was right and I had told you time and again. I’m sorry Davina, but I can’t quite forgive the hurt you caused, knowing everything you do. I do cherish our friendship and what you’ve done for my family and I, but no. It’s too little, too late. I waited until I could not wait any longer and let you go some time ago.”
“No buts, Davina. I’m sure you’ll find someone more compatible with you, but I’m done. I’ve been done for a very long time. Move on.”
Davina glared at Bella in anger before walking off.
“You broke her heart, again,” Kol scolded Bella. “Now why would you do that?”
“Because now she has a real reason to mourn and to move on,” Bella replied, looking at the retreating back of the witch. “To do something with her pain. I knew she wouldn’t have a chance with you anymore, you already told me that.”
“To do something? Now she will go and work on trying to kill my family again,” Kol said incredulously. “No worries! At least it’ll keep them busy while you and I run away together!”
“I convinced her to move on and make a choice. I told her I didn’t see her as a quitter. So even if she’d do something stupid in her heartbreak, she’d come after me. Not you.”
He couldn’t believe what he was hearing and shook his head. “Alright-”
“Plus, she didn’t like hearing Kaleb was gay.”
“Well that’d put a dampener on anyone’s day,” he conceded. “I wish I could have seen her face. Nonetheless, I need to move my stuff to the apartment for now. Start carrying and using those scrawny muscles.”
Bella picked up her backpack and took Kol’s bag before lifting a box. “Scrawny? Who you calling scrawny?” She said with a strained voice. Damn, this box was heavy.
A throaty chuckle let out from inside. “Maybe I’ll just compel some tourists to carry these for us? Sound better?”
“No. Your shit, not theirs… but we could call an Uber.”
“Are you paying?”
“Yes! And I’ll cook tonight too!” She said as she swayed on her feet and put the box down.
He pouted at that. “Aww, I was hoping to take you to dinner at Nik’s favorite bar. We could get some psychotherapy before we leave.”
“Kol, I saw your kitchen and I want to make lasagna.”
“If you love my kitchen, I wonder how’d you’d react to my brother’s.”
“Lasagna,” she said, dead serious.
“Fine,” Kol sighed, dropping a box and pulled out his cell phone. “Myriam! Can you get your minions to get my stuff from the mausoleum and bring it to the compound? Bella and I have some shopping to do then we are taking over the kitchen by you.”
Bella’s eyes grew big. “No! Your kitchen!”
“What’s she making? Some dish. It’s all for me, but you and Nik could be jealous while you watch us eat. And yes, this is your punishment for allowing me to make a fool of myself with Bella yesterday – and for what she just pulled on me. You ladies are terrible! Elijah is playing with the council wolves tonight, I hope. I don’t feel like dealing with his uppitance. Come to think of Bella’s conversation, perhaps our dear brother is gay? What say you?”
Bella smacked her forehead with a flat hand.
“What did she do? Oooh… All we shall mention is Davina Claire…”
Bella winced as she could hear a woman scream so loud over the phone that she could hear it.
“Okay, Dove. See you soon!” Kol said as he hung up and looked at her like the cat caught the canary.
“I take it she’s not a fan of Davina?”
He scrunched his face and shook his head. “Not even a little bit. It’s a witch thing between those two.”
She punched him in the arm. “That’s for making me cook lasagna for two people I haven’t met before.”
“I could call and ask Elijah to reschedule his plans and join the family. Then there is Rebekah who is frolicking the country…”
She narrowed her eyes on him. “Do realize I can ask the spirits to toss you around like a ragdoll tonight.”
“Are you truly that vindictive, Miss Bella?” Kol curiously questioned, his eyes bright with excitement. Who knew Saint Bella had a mean streak? Definitely worth exploring that!
“Maybe, maybe not,” she shrugged as she readjusted the straps of the bags. “Since you are what you are, the possibilities are endless.”
“You’ll fit right in with the family,” he laughed as he saw two familiar faces of Myriam’s lackey’s heading their way. “Time to go shopping.”
While they went for the ingredients she needed to make her lasagna – he wasn’t quite sure why she was so insistent on making it – he also got them some snacks and non-alcoholic drinks for at the apartment. Kol could understand she didn’t drink alcohol but other than tea and water his choice of beverages was limited to bourbon.
He couldn’t help but be worried about Davina and what she might do, but after receiving a text from a mutual friend he felt a lot better. It was a good thing Davina had run straight to Camille. I don’t know who your new friend is or what she’s said to Davina, but I like her already. D has finally started her healing process after your break up. Highly doubt she’ll be stroppy and coming after you.
Bella was lucky. This time. The next time could end up in a lot of misery for all of them.
He could tell Bella was nervous after he put their groceries in the hallway, ready to go to Nik and Myriam. “What’s the worst that could happen? They may not like your lasagna?”
“They may not like me despite what you told me about them?”
“Don’t be silly,” he put an arm around her and guided her towards the entrance of the compound. “They’re very excited to meet you, Myriam in particular.”
“Does that building have the same spell as your apartment?”
“No. Everyone knows not to cross Niklaus Mikaelson,” he lead her through the gates onto the courtyard. “We’re here! Come meet us in the kitchen!” Kol called out before pulling her further into the building.
“There are spirits here,” Bella whispered softly. “Not roaming freely but contained and I don’t understand why or how. They can’t talk or see and…” she held on to Kol as a wave of dizziness washed over her. “I don’t think they’re aware they should be aware or something…”
“Myriam! Tuck your spirits away, you’re confusing the sensitive!”
“No, it’s fine,” Bella sighed as she tried to close herself off again. “The door went wide open as soon as we got inside, I couldn’t stop it.”
The brunette vampire appeared, leaning against the balustrade with a pout. “That’s not fair. While you were off annoying the Ancestors, I felt the need to poke a few dolls. My family probably has a nice headache. Good for them,” she shrugged.
Kol grinned. “Who did you annoy this time? Rick?”
“Of course,” Myriam shrugged. “He had it coming,” she replied before zooming down the stairs and stopping right in front of Kol and Bella. “Hi, Bella, I’m Myriam, so nice to finally meet you.”
“Uh, yeah, same,” Bella said slowly, not sure what to make of this Myriam. The spirits were all around her, still bound and gagged and seemingly floating and it was hard to ignore, it made her feel as if she was on a ship on an unruly ocean. “What are you doing to them?”
“I have them in my dolls. Wanna see? My family never agreed with the way I wanted to practice my voodoo. They were all about curses and hexes but I prefer the greater good and even helping some bad who had good in them. Like our family here. Klaus and Kol are prime examples. Anyway, they tried ostracizing me and all, but I got one up on them. Now they fuel my stronger work when needed,” she explained.
“Speaking of spells,” Kol said teasingly as he looked at his brother’s girlfriend. “Did you do a spell that had Bella open up without her having any control over it?”
“Of course, I wanted to see her work for myself, what? Want me to remove the spell from the building? You don’t have to hide who you are here, you know.”
“If you don’t want me to throw up in your dinner, I’d suggest you’d please allow me to close myself off, your spirits are making me woozy,” Bella replied kindly. “I understand your curiosity, but this isn’t good for me.”
Myriam went to a little bowl on a nearby counter and dropped in a herb bundle she had in her pocket before lighting it. “There. It’ll dissipate gradually as it burns out. No worries.”
“Hey, Myr, guess what?” Kol grinned as he excitedly bounced on the balls of his feet.
“Your most favorite person in the world was pining for the gay shell that I had been forced to use.”
Myriam’s lips twitched, saying nothing as Klaus made his way in appearing confused. Dropping his coat over a chair, he raised a brow. “You were gay?”
“He likely is gay,” Myriam muttered and grinned brightly. “But we still love you!”
“Kaleb’s gay, keep up, Nik,” Kol snapped at his brother.
“I heard you. I’m still trying to get over mother choosing him for you. Was she playing matchmaker?”
“You know as well as I do Kaleb was the weaker witch out of the two and she needed to control me, fat load of luck that did for her, I still managed to outwit the bitch.”
Klaus hummed as he nodded, shooting a smile at their guest. “They do say the first step is denial. It’ll come in time. Just accept it and we will too.”
Kol growled lightly before turning Bella around and gently nudged her towards the kitchen. “They like to pick on me.”
“And you allow them to,” Bella was amazed by the way the building was built, it was wide and spacious and it looked very old. As Kol lead her down the stairs to where ever, she could feel remnants of spirits pass through her and was confused for a moment before she couldn’t feel it anymore as the burning herb bag in the courtyard was removing the magic. Kol then lead her into the kitchen, a fully staffed industrial kitchen and it was huge. “Wow.”
“Yep,” he agreed as he looked at the staff. “Everybody out, you’re done for the day.”
“Yes Mr. Mikaelson, have a good day,” the staff chorused before walking out.
“The kitchen is all yours, Ms. Bella,” Kol smiled at her as he placed the groceries on the counter and hopped on to watch her. “We have all the nice stuff here.”
“This is nuts. Why do you need a kitchen the size of this?”
“Sometimes we hold large parties and Nik likes to have the best of everything. I’m still trying to figure out his reasoning for having Myriam…”
Bella hummed something as she looked at how the kitchen was set up; everything was where you would think it was, very logical and very clean. She found utensils and a chopping board without a problem, and even the pans were where she believed they’d be. Strange. “But that’s you too, isn’t it? Don’t you like having the best of everything too?”
“I’m content with most things. There are things that, sure, I wouldn’t mind an upgrade to buy a lot isn’t necessary. You saw where I used to spend most of my time for awhile. It’s not exactly glitz and glam at the mausoleum.”
“No,” she smiled at that. “But it is the right place if you want to look for a vampire if you have to believe the fictional books,” she pointed out as she dove into the bag and got the vegetables out. “And that mausoleum did look quite comfy.”
He laughed. “Hardly, love. It served a purpose to teach some witches and create dark objects to protect myself. Usually, over the years, I was in – cramped quarters.”
“What? In a coffin?”
Kol shifted a little on the counter and turned away. “Yes.”
She sensed he didn’t like talking about it, and she wasn’t going to press the issue. “I’m a bit worried about you and your family tasting my food, to be honest. No doubt you already had the best lasagna ever over the years,” Bella eventually replied as she was chopping the carrots really fine for the base of the sauce. “And I’m not even sure if it’ll turn out alright because I haven’t cooked in a very long time now.”
“Do you even have a home?”
“Nope,” Bella shook her head. “I don’t see the use of having one when I’m not there, I’m traveling most of the time.”
“And what if you aren’t? In those months you’re saving up?”
“Oh, here and there. I made sure the equipment was safe with Jake so I didn’t have to worry about it,” she shrugged, moving on to the onions. “Sometimes I go back home and crash on my dad’s couch but I don’t like staying there too much.” Bella stopped chopping and looked at him. “I don’t know what to do when the next lull happens. Maybe you can look after the stuff when I’m not doing anything for a longer period of time.”
Kol hopped off the counter and made his way over to her to take over chopping of the onions. “Or you can come back here with me. I mean I have the space.”
“I’m pretty sure that after this month, you’re going to be sick of me and you want me out of your hair,” she laughed, shaking her head.
“I don’t think so. And if Gilbert’s threats are any indication, he’ll be here soon enough and neither of us will be able to get rid of that pest.”
“Yeah, I know you think it’s a great idea to include him and all, but I’m not so sure. It’s always been a two people job, this. Why include a third? You already said he can see spirits, but… I don’t know.”
Kol drew in a breath and set the knife down. “He’s stronger than your typical human. He can see ghosts when needed. And he can protect you from me if I lose control. He did kill me after all, so he can get the job done.”
“That’s just it, I don’t want you dead.”
“I know but it’s simply a precaution. Look, I’m not entirely mad at him and what he did. Not anymore. However, he has a shitty sister who has done my family more harm than good and he and I had been friendly once upon a time. I did tell you there are other things that go bump in the night. He can help you where I cannot.”
“You’re making it sound as if I’m in constant danger,” she snorted as she put some olive oil in the pan followed by her base vegetables. “I’m not. Sure, I’ve had some bad experiences with some dark spirits and especially the last one was a tough one because I hadn’t noticed it, but other than the guys who show up every once in awhile at a location where I’m at, there’s no danger when I’m with someone else.”
Bella shrugged. “If I stay at a place for too long, people will notice through my videos and track me down. It’s something most people have to deal with when they put out videos with your face in. It’s the reason why I need someone who’s able to protect me, because I’m not strong enough to punch someone to have them back off. They just laugh.”
Kol scratched his head as he was certain she’d never believe what he and Myriam suspected when it came to her and her abilities. “Has your gift gotten stronger? Changed in any way?”
“I don’t know,” Bella shrugged. “I mean, the last two years were quite… subdued. I’ve watched the videos. It’s basically all the same. It was during my recent time at the convent where things started to clear up. I don’t know if my abilities have changed and if so, in what way, because I haven’t gone on a trip like that yet.”
“You being drawn in by something dark? Yeah. I saw. I’m concerned about what it means because it was more than one location and you were progressively deeper.”
“No, the oppression is gone. The dark entity is gone. Priests do come in handy sometimes,” she let out a snort. “I’m much more like myself now than I’ve ever been. Because of what happened in the last two years, I rarely protected myself, couldn’t bother.”
“You’re not listening to me, Bella,” he was clearly worried. “The reason why I think Jeremy should join us is that he can see things where you can’t. You know as well as I do dark entities can mask themselves as innocents. He could actually tell if you were talking to a light or dark spirit.”
“I don’t interact with -”
“Bullshit. Jeremy’s coming onboard, whether you like it or not,” Kol said sternly. “Because you know, you have the potential to become so much better than you already are and it would be a shame to see that talent go to waste. You never had the right people with you and now you do. It’s up to you if you’re ready for the next step.”
“I don’t know yet. I know you do this for the spirits, to make them feel better and relaxed and maybe help them move on, but I’m in charge of your safety and that means Jeremy is coming with.”
“Fine,” she sighed as she continued working on her sauce with the rest of the ingredients. “But you make it sound that it might be better to quit.”
“Oh, never quit, Bella,” Kol smiled at her. “Don’t be afraid. You’re going to be fine and you’re going to help spirits for even longer because it’s a good thing you’re doing.”
“Is it? Sometimes I’m not sure.”
“Of course it is,” he said encouragingly before hopping back onto the counter to watch her move around so elegantly, seemingly being happy to cook a decent meal. “Because by telling their stories, you bring them some peace and that’s all we want, isn’t it? Closure and peace.”
“I suppose,” she smiled at him.
“Now, I’ve told you all about me, or a lot about me, tell me, why don’t you like spending time at your dad’s?”
Bella let out a breath. “He lives in this very old town, a milling town, there are a lot of dead people there. When I need a break, the worst thing for me to do is to go there,” she replied after giving it some thought. “On top of that, we were never close, although I was closer to him than to my mom. She was quite something. I always felt I was wrong somehow. Misunderstood. Out of place. Jake and his family were the only ones who kind of understood, or at least accepted me for who I was. Jake was the one who kept me going, you know. I still feel immensely guilty about what happened with the dark entity latching onto me, I didn’t realize. Jake had to deal with a lot of grief that I gave him and.. Yeah… it had reached a boiling point and he left me.”
“Were you guys involved in any way?”
“No!” Bella laughed. “Oh god, no. That’s like… dating my brother or something. Ew.” She visibly shuddered. “Besides, he always had this very strong body odor I tolerated but wouldn’t want to have like… on me.”
“Did you ever date someone? I mean, you’re always moving and going places, can’t be easy for a relationship.”
She blushed then. “That’s a bit too personal, Kol.”
“What? I’m telling you all about my life, you know about Davina, hell, you were discussing porn with Kaleb earlier!” He laughed. “Throw me a bone here. Don’t tell me you’re still a virgin!”
Grabbing the salt and pepper, she seasoned the sauce in the pan. “I tried to be normal for awhile. You know, not this weird person. It’s so frustrating to be the way I am so I wanted to be normal. Like anyone else.”
Kol leaned back against the counter beside her. “The thing is, you’re not normal. So perhaps you would need someone not normal. Wanting to be something you’re not is normal, however, it could lead you somewhere that isn’t safe for the wrong reasons.”
“I ended up with some random guy, I was completely drunk off my ass and we had sex. Consensual. We agreed before we got drunk.”
He nodded, not pleased by what he heard as it could have gone a lot worse for her had it been someone not so considerate. “Enough about this now. I have no doubt we have ears listening in.”
Bella grabbed another pan and started to make the bechamel sauce with her twist. “I’ve gotten over the fact of being not like anyone else, because it’s a very good defense mechanism, people think you’re crazy and they back off,” she grinned as she stirred the roux.
“That they do. Especially when they are dealing with some unknown threat,” Klaus spoke from the doorway. “Are you faring well here? Anything else you need?”
She peered into the bag that was getting emptier while she cooked. “No, thank you, we were very thorough when we bought the ingredients,” Bella smiled at him.
“Just say the word,” he nodded, glancing curiously at his brother with a smirk. “Just wanted to share with Kol that – negotiations with the wolves aren’t proceeding to Elijah’s expectations.”
Kol guessed they were likely going to ‘party’ with the wolves tonight. The sooner the better. “Oh, that’s a shame. You’re going to get involved at the party tonight?”
With a slight nod, Klaus scowled. “Myriam and I will, once you two are safely out of town on your adventure.”
“I could take her to St. James, we were planning on staying in town.”
Klaus’ head tilted as he considered the option. St. James wasn’t far from where Elijah was handling the wolves. “Perhaps. If that’s the case then we will send Camille there as well.”
Kol then had a thought. “Or, if that pleases you, I could take Bella to Jackson Square, now, that would be a riot! Camille can join, of course.”
“You really wish to drive your girlfriend mad?” He questioned. “Even Myriam avoids that area as much as possible.”
Bella blinked at Kol. “You’re dating someone?”
“I’m talking about you, Sweetheart,” Klaus winked. “No Jackson Square. The magic there is too strong.”
Kol scowled. “Fine, I’ll take her across the bridge to Slidell,” he threw his hands up in the air. “You’re no fun, brother.”
“I’m plenty fun. Ask Myriam.”
“Yeah, I was just telling Bella here she needs to get her head examined. Who in their right mind would want to be with you?”
“Hey now,” Bella scolded Kol. “Leave me out of this,” she grabbed the bottle of port and poured some of it in the sauce. “And I’m not his girlfriend, Klaus. I’m not girlfriend material.”
“Is that what you think? Perhaps you should be more open to the living around you rather than the dead. It may surprise you what you find,” he smiled and walked out only to be tackled by his brother, leaving her in the kitchen for the moment.
Bella was surprised by Kol’s sudden burst of activity, pushing his brother away from the kitchen and she could feel a slight trembling sensation going through the concrete of the floor; something Kol had warned her about – they were vampires, they could get rough with each other.
It was strange how normal her life had become in the last two days. Once over the initial shock of Kol finding her and then running to him when a vampire wanted her as a snack, she had felt at ease. Really at ease. Perhaps it was the good night’s rest that she had, or the effect Kol’s apartment had on her. Or how Kol was trying to take care of her. And she fought him hard on that front, she knew that. It was her independence and her pride.
When Bella put out the call for a new partner, she hadn’t expected someone like Kol would respond to it and it was still strange. And for Klaus referring to her as Kol’s girlfriend? That was just not done. Things like that didn’t happen in the real world. As if. Maybe it happened in the old days – in fact, she knew it happened in the old days where some girl would meet some guy and then marry the next day because it was good for their families, but no. In this day and age it would be strange. And girlfriend? Please. He could get someone way better than her.
She greased up the oven dish and shook her head. She’d only met Kol the day before. She wondered if she’d stop fighting him on things if things would change for the worst or for the better. Would she be willing to give up more control? What would happen if she did?
Klaus laughed as he lay on the floor in the hall with his furious brother on top of him. “Touched a nerve, did I?”
“Keep your mouth shut! She’s not ready to hear everything!” Kol hissed. “You know what she did today? From the goodness of her heart, she convinced Davina to let go of Kaleb and see if she had a shot with me still.”
“You’ve been over the teenage witch for months. Why would she do something so reckless when you are interested in her?”
“Because Bella doesn’t know I’m interested in her like that, Nik. I’m working my way up to telling her without sounding like a stalker,” He grabbed his brother by the jacket and shook him. “But don’t worry, according to Camille we’ve dodged a bullet, and my rejection actually helped Davina to finally move on without any repercussions, your ass is safe from witchy interference.”
Klaus grunted at the thought of having to deal with the young witch again. “A bloody pest that one. I like this girl more.”
“Yes, so do I, but she’s something special and I just want to make her happy and help her find her true self. Yes, she’s more focused on the dead – it likely made her unaware of how the living react, but dammit, Klaus, call her my girlfriend again and she might run and I don’t know if I can survive that.”
“Oh, that’s alright, I’ll just box you until you’ve learned your lesson.”
Kol growled and smacked his brother on the floor again. “Treat Bella lightly, you hear? Not everything you say hits her, or it hits her later. She’s special and she’s mine to take care of.”
“Does that still happen?” Bella’s voice sounded from behind them. “Two people meet and bam, they decide to be together in a relationship the next day?”
“Well shit,” Kol growled at his brother. “Look what you did.”
Klaus pushed his brother off of him and got to his feet, dusting himself off as he looked at Bella. “The human community don’t necessarily do that anymore, but us supernatural creatures work differently, love,” he said kindly. “While yes, us vampires can be very lustful and have many lovers, we simply seem to know when someone crosses our path that we can’t forget. There’s usually an instant deep connection to that other person and we end up with them within a short period of time without even knowing much about them. It’s almost like a leap of faith, but knowing beforehand you will be safe.”
“Nik, no,” Kol told him off as he saw Bella look thoughtfully. “Don’t.”
She hummed and bounced a little on her feet before turning around to finish the lasagna before it went into the oven. “That explains a lot.”