Needing a distraction, Dasan asked, “So what do you do when you’re not dealing with the Cadre?”
“I run an import and export business,” Jalin said before taking his first bite of steak. His face lit up, then he closed his eyes as if in ecstasy before moaning in appreciation. When he opened his eyes, he said, “This is amazing.”
Pleased that his mate liked his cooking, Dasan asked, “You don’t mind that it’s well-done?”
Jalin shook his head, since his mouth was full of his second bite. Once he’d swallowed, he said, “No. I prefer rare, but the flavor of the meat is so delicious it doesn’t matter. What did you season it with?”
“I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you,” he said, laughing.
When Jalin laughed, Dasan just stared at him. His mate’s laughter filled the room, easing something deep inside Dasan. The way his mate looked so carefree and at peace was something Dasan was determined to see as often as possible.
“My mother created the recipe and my father guarded it religiously.” Dasan and his father had many arguments about his father’s fanatical need to hold on to his dead wife. He’d never understood before now. As Dasan looked across the table at his mate, he started to get the need to not let go, and he’d only known Jalin for a day.
Each morning his father started the day by telling his wife’s picture how much he loved her. “When she died, he tried following her recipes.” He grimaced at the thought of some of those meals. “I lost a lot of weight those first few months.”
He laughed lightly. “I remember the first time he tried to make her famous banana pancakes. The smoke alarm woke me that morning. When I went into the living room, I could see smoke pouring out of the kitchen. My father was cursing at the griddle for not cooperating.
“Next to him was a stack of charcoal black pancakes that could have been used as hockey pucks.” Laughing hard, he managed to spit out the rest. “When my dad saw me standing there, he said, ‘Grab a plate, Son, breakfast is ready.’”
“Did you eat it?” Jalin asked, laughing right along with Dasan.
“If you can call it ‘eating.’ Dutifully, I grabbed a plate and put one of the hard-as-stone pancakes on my plate.” Clutching his stomach, he was laughing so hard as he remembered trying to eat those pancakes. “No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t cut into them. So I took the syrup and literally drowned them in the liquid, hoping they would soften the pancakes enough to cut.”
Taking a sip of his beer, Jalin asked, “Did it work?”
Dasan shook his head. “No. Determined not to disappoint my father, who was trying so hard, I picked up the pancake and bit into it. When I pulled the still-intact pancake from my mouth, my front tooth was sticking out of the top.”
Jalin burst out laughing. “What did you do?”
“I started jumping up and down, I was so excited. Several of the kids at school had lost a tooth and they’d gotten money for them. I had been trying to wiggle my teeth every day, hoping one of them was loose. Thanks to those pancakes, I had finally lost my first tooth.” Finishing his dinner, Dasan relaxed back in his chair.
Jalin was also done, but he was sitting forward with his elbow on the table, appearing engrossed in Dasan’s story. It warmed him to know his mate was truly interested in Dasan’s life.
“Fortunately, it distracted my father from noticing I didn’t eat. Some of my friends’ parents had noticed how hungry I usually was. I think they guessed my father was having a hard time cooking, so they always sent food for me with their kids.” That was the thing about Stone Haven, the residents were always willing to lend a helping hand.”
That was mostly because of the Alpha and his inner circle. They believed in leading by example. He couldn’t count how many times the Alpha and his men would come by the garage to check on Dasan and his father through the years. They did that with all of the citizens.
Not many Alphas knew the names and family members of each of the residents in the town they lived. What was more amazing was he also knew the names of the people throughout the Northern Territory as well as the Alliance Army. Alek had once told Dasan it was important to know the people, for they are what’s important.
He and Jalin sat there for a few moments before deciding it was time to clean up. As much as Dasan wanted to have sex with his mate, in fact his body was still craving it, he wanted to continue talking to the man. Maybe Jalin would be willing to share something of himself this time.