New to Quest Five?
The stories are best enjoyed when read in order beginning with May 1, 2009.

Welcome To Quest Five
Allison Beaumont is having trouble finding a job after college until one day the wealthy and powerful Joseph Candle offers her a job at his rather unusual corporation, where mistakes can lead to bare bottomed spankings. Adopting the alias of Virginia West, she joins four highly skilled colleagues, racing around the globe in search of mysterious treasures, but wherever she goes, trouble is sure to follow.
Note: Some stories contain scenes of a sexual nature, corporal punishment, non-consensual corporal punishment, and strong language which some reader's may find offensive. If you feel this material might be inappropriate for you please move on to another blog by clicking the next blog link at the top of the page.

October 7, 2009

Thawing Out: Domestication

Morning came right on time the next day. Birds chirped outside my bedroom window while the sun kissed the blue sky good morning. A few white clouds speckled the scape overhead like decorations accentuating everything positive the day had to offer with a little soft fluffiness. I half expected the birds to come flying out of my closet with my outfit for the day already selected but that was just too much wishful thinking. Even though I was faced with the difficult task of selecting clothing, it was still shaping out to be a good day and I was in a good mood.

Then I opened the door from my bedroom into the rest of my apartment.

Why it hadn't occurred to me last night when I was making suggestions on the telephone I don't really know, but the stark reality that I was hardly furnished enough to live in my place and not even close to being able to invite company over for anything more than a trip to my bedroom, which wasn't in my plans with Mark quite yet, was completely unavoidable. The possibilities were endless because the room was adorned with a few empty boxes and few half empty boxes. If I was the queen of decor I would undoubtedly snap my fingers and the boxes would rearrange themselves into chairs and a dining table along with a sofa, coffee table and maybe even a television. Unfortunately, I'm just me and magic doesn't come out of my fingers or my butt, no matter how hard I wish for it to do just that. I picked up my phone and called the next best thing.

"Cherise, help me!" I said, when she answered her phone.

"What have you done this time?" She asked.

"I invited Mark over for dinner tonight." I said.

"So what's the problem?"

"You've seen my place!"

"Okay so we're talking about furniture?"


"I was just checking cause I wasn't sure you knew the first thing about cooking either."

"I was thinking of ordering in." I said.

"That's cheating and most guys will be disappointed."

"Mark's not most guys."

"No, he's just one of the very few in the world who might actually put up with you."


"I wasn't kidding."

"I'm not the one who changes boyfriends like underwear."

"No, but I only do it because I want to, you don't even have a choice these days. I mean seriously Ally, when was the last time a guy stuck around you long enough to be called a boyfriend?"

"If I wanted someone to dissemble my life I'd have called my mother."

"Just trying to help."

"Right. So, any chance you can help me with something I need help with? Like furniture."

"What's in it for me?"

"Next time I invite you over I won't make you eat my cooking." I said.

"Deal." She replied.

How Cherise managed to get out of work and show up on my doorstep in less than an hour's time I will never know but I was infinitely grateful. The prospect of doing everything by myself had been so overwhelming I had been tempted to just crawl back into bed and hope Mark would not mind taking me out to dinner when he arrived later. With my friend involved it seemed a little less impossible of a task before me. It certainly did not hurt either, that with the two of us working together it was assured to be fun as well.

Of course I was not allowed out of the apartment until Cherise completely redid my look for the day. Apparently, shorts and tees are not acceptable shopping clothes. Who knew? Well, Cherise obviously, but beyond that, I don't think anyone would have been aware. Dresses with low necklines and short hemlines are much more appropriate, although I thought they were just for nightclubs and concerts. I'm still learning things everyday and turning heads at the furniture store is apparently a sure way to a good deal and fast delivery.

"Sometime you gotta shake your ass to get guys to move theirs." Cherise said, as we left my apartment.

I decided I wouldn't ask whether it mattered or not if the stores might have accidentally hired women to be salesmen. I mean I know the term is discriminatory to begin with but most places of business do try to avoid the appearance of trending jobs with members of a particular sex, just look at male nurses and secretaries if you need proof. Cherise, I'm sure, would have had an answer for my thoughts but I'm equally certain I would not have liked, or agreed, with it.

Whether or not I agree with Cherise's take on the world though, I have to admit her techniques are highly effective. Our first stop ended up being our last. Style was supposed to take a backseat to cost but with my friend doing the negotiating, I got both and still had a few dollars left in my bank account. What really amazed me was a sweet smile managed to get my brand new furniture delivered in a matter of hours instead of the store's general policy of a week or so. I'm wondering if Cherise promised anything more to the guys but she assured me there was nothing to worry about.

We stopped and picked up a couple of juicy hamburgers, stuffed with lettuce, tomatoes, bacon and cheese and sat down on my living room floor while we waited for the boys to show up. Cherise promised me the guys would enjoy watching us devouring meat against the wall while they worked, and if they do, I'll never understand men or boys or whatever you call them. It's a good thing I have her to advise me on such things because I would never figure it out on my own.

It was all quite amazing because the guys showed up right on schedule and not only did they bring all my new stuff straight into the apartment, they set it all up where Cherise told them and they took the extra time to clean it up and take out the trash as well. I could have kissed every one of them but it wasn't necessary, they only needed a smile and some sweet talk from my friend.

With the boys gone, I walked back into my apartment and couldn't help smiling like a thief as I looked around. The dining table caught my eye first. It was a perfect fit, round so as not to take too much space but large enough that it wouldn't feel like I was crowding any guests. The mahogany stain suited me along with the pineapple motif intricately carved into the table's base and the backs of the four chairs surrounding it. The top was inlaid with a glass round sitting over a rattan weave with a one inch wood framing smoothing off the round edges of the table.

Cherise had wisely had the boys place it between the kitchen bar and the main living space where it neatly interrupted the straight line from my front door to the bedroom and bathroom. She had them place my new sofa against the wall shared with my bedroom allowing it to have a view out the window when sitting on it and looking left and if you looked to the right there was the table and then kitchen beyond it. The sofa was also framed neatly in mahogany stained wood and while the style was more French in origin the white satin fabric had a sense of royalty to it which helped it blend, not to mention the dining chairs were upholstered with a similar fabric on the cushions.

The pineapple motif returned with the coffee and side table which neatly tied the whole package together. A lamp with a pineapple motif base sat on the side table positioned to the far side of the sofa and would provide dim, low wattage light for intimate conversations or a little philosophic pondering if the mood so struck me. The coffee table would easily become a place of clutter but for the moment it was void of everything but a pair of light gray sandstone coasters. All I needed was a flat screen television to hang on the wall opposite my sofa but, Cherise had convinced me a framed painting would do nicely in the interim. I have to admit the painting, a print of a cottage in the woods beside a stream with a small wooden bridge crossing it and a winding path of river rocks leading between the cottage and the bridge, was quite nice to gaze upon.

I hardly recognized my apartment at all and for the first time I was actually feeling a little proud of the place I was learning to call home. On my own I might have gone a different route entirely but everything was to my looking unless you count the size of the space but even that was seeming not so bad now that it was adorned with something more than boxes. A quick glance at the clock and I realized I still had an entire afternoon to finish getting things ready for my dinner with Mark and that meant everything could be perfect or as close to it as I'm ever going to get.

Cherise decided to stick around and help me do a little more unpacking and stowing away of my, for lack of a more comprehensive description, junk. It would be nearly impossible to have made it through every box and still had time to make dinner for Mark and I, but we did admirably, especially considering we were chatting and laughing most of the time.

Around 4 PM I realized I would have to get to the store and buy the ingredients for the dinner I had promised before much later or risk not getting the meal done on time. Cherise helped me pile the broken down empty boxes into my closet and then stack the handful of boxes with junk still inside them on top of the pile. The closet door barely closed and it was a good thing I wouldn't need to get back into it again until after Mark was gone because unless I was very lucky it was likely the entire mess would fall out into the room the second the door was opened.

Cherise left with my gratitude and unending love when I left for the grocery store. I was prepared with a list of everything I needed straight from a recipe of Mom's I found neatly tucked into a drawer in my kitchen. Actually she had left at least a hundred recipes in that drawer, all written out in perfect penmanship on cute notecards specifically designed for such things with pictures of herbs on the corners. Someday I'll have to ask my Mom just how it is she can manage to be both thoughtfully sweet and incredibly insulting all at the same time.

By the time I made it back home with everything I had a little over two hours before Mark would arrive on my doorstep and a recipe that called for two hours and thirty minutes preparation. I could have panicked and not got anything done, but instead I unpacked my bags and got to work. First things first, I put my brand spanking new apron on so I wouldn't get any mess on my dress. I actually considered stripping naked and wearing only the apron but something told me that would send the wrong signal to Mark if he showed up a little early.

"Massage the meat together into fist-sized balls." I read aloud.

I looked at the packages of ground beef, pork, and veal sitting on my counter. There was just something about the plastic stretched taunt over the trays holding the meat which made it look grotesque. The cold feeling of the ground meat in my hands did nothing to contradict the impression and I suddenly felt like I was back in biology, dissecting a frog. I briefly wondered if I was going to be able to eat my dinner after having to go through the process of preparing it.

I could not quite figure how I was supposed to determine how much of each meat to put together in order to create a ball the size of my fist so I dumped all the meat in a mixing bowl and plugged in the electric mixer to blend it all together. Someone should have told me to put safety goggles on when using a mixer because I had meat flying all over the kitchen. It took me a good five minutes to pick up all the stray pieces and add them back into the mixture. Hopefully any stray dust or hairs will be lost in the seasoning and breadcrumbs.

I grabbed a handful of meat and slapped it down on the counter. My fingers went to work massaging the meat but no matter what direction I massaged from it got flatter instead of rounder. I glanced at my phone, tempted to call Mom for help but the stubborn side of me said no. I sighed in frustration glancing at the clock as seeing the minutes tick by faster than I had time for.

"How am I supposed to massage meat into a ball?" I asked my kitchen.

The good news is my kitchen didn't answer. The bad news is someone else did. My little friend was back and she was laughing at me. Unlike her previous appearances she wasn't being shy about the laughing either, she was nearly hysterical, pointing at my bowl, my mixer, and the splatter of flat meat on my counter, all in turn. If she had been real enough to touch I might have been tempted to slap her silly, except she already was.

"What the hell do you want?" I asked.

"I thought maybe I could help you out, but if you want me to leave I can leave." She replied.

"If you're just going to make fun of my lack of kitchen skills, then you might as well."

"Didn't your mother teach you anything?" She asked.

"No." I lied.

The truth was Mom had tried on numerous occasions to get me interested in cooking and baking but to no avail. I was just not cut out for a life in the kitchen and after the hundredth or so attempt we had both accepted the conclusion. Why I was trying once again was mostly because I desperately wanted Mark to see me as a normal woman instead of a thrill seeking adventurer with a magnet for disaster. None of which was I prepared to admit to a child of any age or origin but most especially the daughter of my boss.

"How disappointing." She said. "Meatballs used to be something of a specialty of mine so I'd be very happy to help if you will let me."

All it took was a glance at the clock and I was convinced to give her a chance. There was no way I was going to get it all together without help and if she didn't know what she was doing, I would be no worse off than I was already. I shrugged telling myself I had nothing to lose.

"Sure. Why not." I said.

"Don't thank me so fast." She said, reminding me once again of my Mom in an unfavorable way.

"Not to be rude but so far when you've shown up things haven't exactly gone smooth. So you'll forgive me for withholding my appreciation until I actually am appreciative." I said.

"Fair enough." She agreed, surprising me.

"Okay, so what do I do?" I asked.

"Pick up that meat on the counter and roll it between your hands like you are washing your hands." She instructed.

I picked it up and started rubbing my hands together and the meat started separating out and falling back to the counter in chunks. I knew it wasn't right, but I kept going hoping I was wrong.

"No, no, no. Who taught you to wash your hands?" She asked.

"I'm certain that's not important right now." I said.

"Yes, well, cup your hands so your palms make a little pocket. Then move them in a circular manner toward each other with the meat in your palms."

Finally, things started looking up. The meat actually melded itself into a ball in my hands. Hope sprang from nowhere and I found myself looking at the little girl, wondering just how old she was and how old she had been before whatever happened to her, happened. Once I mastered the technique it took very little time to form the rest of the meat into the requisite balls and I was actually smiling and having a little fun too. Who'd have guessed?

"Now you need to roll the meatballs in olive oil so you'll be able to get the crumbs and spices to stick to them. The easy way to do this is put some wax paper down on your counter and pour some oil on it. Then spread the oil around the paper so it isn't puddled heavily in any one place. Once that's done, roll each meatball individually on the paper and then you can rest them on your cookie sheet until you are ready to add the crumbs and spices." She said.

It sounded horribly complicated at first listen, but her instructions were rather specific and easy to follow. I glanced at the recipe card as I was following her instructions and while the card didn't give specifics like my little friend, it did generally give the same instructions. There wasn't much doubt she had indeed made meatballs before and it seemed her own method was not so different from my Mom's, only more detailed and easier to follow.

"Do you have a paper sack?" She asked, when I had finished oiling all the balls.

"No. We use plastic ones these days. Will that work?" I asked.

"No. How about a glass jar with a good lid?" She asked.

"Ummm..." I looked in my cupboard. "Yes!"

"Okay that will work but paper sacks work better. Put your breadcrumbs and your spices in the jar, but don't fill it more than a quarter of the way, you need space for it to move around with one of your meatballs inside." She instructed.

I followed her instructions and found it wasn't even difficult because there was no need for exactness just an eye for the amount of room needed and knowing what I was doing it for helped. It occurred to me that my Mom had been making things overly difficult whenever she had deigned to teach me anything about cooking.

"Great. Now take the lid off the jar and place the jar on its side on the counter. Roll one meatball inside and then roll the jar on the counter a complete turn away from you and then a complete turn back toward you." She said.

It was amazingly simple and presto, the meatball was covered in crumbs and spices and still in the shape of a ball. A simple tip of the jar and my meatball rolled out into my waiting hand. I was almost giddy as it appeared I might actually be successfully making meatballs. Now if they actually taste good as well, I can die happy. Hopefully not right after eating them, because I'd really not like to poison myself or Mark.

"Now what?" I asked, staring proudly at my cookie sheet full of breaded meatballs.

"You need to bake them. I would typically do them at 350° but as you are short on time set your oven to 400° and the timer for 12 minutes. Put the cookie sheet in the oven and then we can start on your sauce." She said.

"Shouldn't I wait for the oven to preheat?" I asked.

"Ordinarily yes, but as I explained, you don't have a lot of time so we're taking some shortcuts."

"Okay." I said and set the oven temperature after placing the meatballs inside the oven.

"Where are your fresh tomatoes?" She asked.

"I got canned." I said.

She shook her head at me.

"Next time buy fresh, the difference is worth it." She said and I tried hard not to roll my eyes. "Open your cans and pour your contents into the sauce pan."

"Turn the burner to a low heat, you don't want to heat a sauce to quickly, you should always start with a slow build up until it boils." She said, as I worked.

"Add as much water as you did tomato sauce and then use a wooden spoon to mix it all together until the consistency is smooth." She continued.

Everything was going well as I mixed the sauce and the oven had heated enough that I was starting to smell a very good aroma related to the meatballs. It was difficult but I contained myself and avoided jumping for pure joy. I still wasn't quite done anyway and disaster could be a step away at any moment. I know from previous experience.

"Now you are going to need add some oregano, thymes, garlic salt, onion salt, and parsley into the sauce. Do it slowly and mix it in after each spice. Be generous with the oregano and parsley and keep it moderate on the others." She instructed.

I poured a palm full of oregano into my hand and then brushed it off into the pan after a quick glance at my instructor and a positive nod from her. I stirred until the oregano was entirely mixed with the sauce and then repeated the procedure for the parsley. I did a significantly smaller portion for the other spices which also met with her approval and the simmering sauce suddenly started to smell a little bit like spaghetti. This seemed like a good sign to me. Then the oven timer started buzzing.

"What do I do?" I asked, almost frantic.

"Calm down, there is no rush. Turn the timer off so it stops buzzing." She waited for me to comply. "Grab a pot holder and carefully lift the sheet out of the oven and set it on the stove top."

I did so and still nearly burned my fingertips, the tray was so hot.

"Now, carefully roll each meatball with your spoon so that the part currently resting on the tray is approximately straight up or 180° from its current position." She said.

It was easier said than done, but five crispy fingertips later I did manage to do what she asked. I slipped the cookie sheet back in the oven and set the timer for another 12 minutes on her instructions and then began the tedious job of cleaning up the mess in my entirely too visible kitchen. If I had doors to hide it from view I most certainly would have left the cleaning for the next morning but such are the perils of a small apartment.

The sauce simmered slowly and worked it's way up to a boil at which point I was told to turn the heat off and keep stirring the sauce until it stopped bubbling. My arm got tired but it happened eventually and before my arm completely gave out. A quick glance at the clock and I rejoiced at still having a full twenty minutes before Mark's arrival.

"Thank you." I said.

"You are very welcome Allison. Do you plan on any vegetables or anything else with the meatballs?" She asked.

"I have a loaf of bread but I can toss it in the oven when the meatballs are done and I picked up some asparagus to serve on the side." I said.

"Steam the asparagus with butter and add in some of the garlic salt and thymes. It will make a great base for the meatballs and you can pour the sauce over it all." She said.

I hadn't thought of that but it did actually sound good. I nodded at her and quickly prepared the asparagus for cooking under her watchful eye. A couple of minutes later and it was steaming its way to perfection next to my sauce. As annoying as she had been in the Philippines she was actually be extremely helpful in my apartment and I was even starting to like her. If only my Mom had been half as good at teaching as her, I might have learned to, and enjoyed cooking years ago.

When Mark rang the doorbell, dinner was all but on the plates. Maybe birds hadn't flown out of my closet with the perfect outfit nor had a fairy godmother given me enchanted slippers, but still the day had come out as near perfect as any day could and it was all thanks to friends, old and new. The little girl winked at me before she faded away into nothingness leaving me alone to open the door and greet the man I'd done it all for.


  1. Ashley, the last thing I expected was a ghostly cooking lesson.
    I do hope that Mark appreciates all Alison's hard work.
    Another great chapter, thank you.
    Warm hugs,

  2. Ash,

    Good to see Allison on her own,hopefully she will be happy,she might need to take a home economics class or get a really good cook book that explains everything in detail, she did follow directions good from her little friend which was a good change from how she has been in the past... EXCELLENT Story


  3. Good chapter. Delicious even. I ended up making spaghetti for dinner after reading it.