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Luke finds the letter Noah wrote him on New Year's Eve 2008 and plans a surprise.
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Luke knows he'll need to fight for Noah. He has a few ideas.
Our Love Is Stronger by no1nukelover PG
Luke and Noah are about to see each other for the first time since Noah left for LA! Let's see how this goes!
A Different Kind of Family by SarahSezLove PG
A single sentence makes Noah question what kind of family he and Luke can make together. An abandoned kitten may just hold the answer.
The Other Man by jb1183 PG-13
Noah arrives home from a tour in the Army a few days before Christmas and sees Luke with another man.


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Luke finds that working as a researcher for a security company comes with unexpected events.

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06/15/17 09:45 pm
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Secret Recipe

by jb1183
[Reviews - 14]   Printer
Table of Contents

- Text Size +
Story Notes:
Written for: What did you do? prompt meme
Prompted by: Aspirwriter
With prompt: The Best Thing I Ever Ate
“I can’t thank you boys enough for agreeing to stay here for the week,” Lucinda said as she seated herself on the couch in Lily and Holden’s living room. “I love Natalie and Ethan with everything in me, but at this point in my life, I couldn’t imagine being responsible for them for seven whole days. How did day one go?”

“It’s been fine, Grandmother,” Luke assured her with a smile. “Right, Noah?” Across the room, his husband was on his hands and knees trying to clean up an accident that Pepper, the family’s Black Labrador Retriever had just made on the carpet.

“Yeah, it’s been great, Lucinda,” Noah agreed, with as much enthusiasm as anyone could muster while trying to wipe up dog crap. “It’s good practice for when Luke and I decide to start a family.”

“Yes, and is there, perhaps, any time frame yet on WHEN exactly that will happen?” she asked hopefully.

“In the next few years, Grandmother,” Luke answered, with just a hint of annoyance in his voice. “Noah and I are still practically newlyweds. I don’t know why everyone keeps trying to rush us into parenthood.”

“Well, far be it from me to rush you, Darlings,” Lucinda told them, “but you’ve been married for four years. I don’t think you can claim to be newlyweds anymore-not even ‘practically.’ Speaking of which, have the actual newlyweds checked in with you lately?”

“Yeah, they sent these earlier today.” Luke picked up his iphone from the nearby table, tapped the screen a few times, and handed it to his grandmother.

She took a minute to look at the various pictures Holden and Lily had taken of themselves in and around the Eiffel Tower. “They are so good together when they’re not being stupid,” she commented with an affectionate smile.

“Yeah, they are,” Luke agreed, as Noah stepped over to join them by the couch.

“Let’s hope this time finally sticks,” she added. “You two could really teach them a thing or two about how to have a successful marriage.”

“Thanks, Lucinda,” Noah replied bashfully, exchanging a proud smile with his husband.

“I just wish Grandma was here to see their reunion,” Luke said. “It would have made her so happy.”

“Oh, Darling, she might not be ‘here,’ but I’m quite certain she sees it. And I actually think her unexpected passing was what finally woke those two up, reminded them not to waste the time they have. But, I’ll tell you, as much as she may have wanted them back together, I don’t think anything could have brought her more joy than seeing you two married and so blissfully happy together.”

Luke felt himself getting choked up at that sentiment. He recalled how emotional Emma had been on their wedding day, crying throughout the ceremony and hugging them both tightly at the reception, telling them how thrilled she was that they had found each other to share their lives with.

His memories were interrupted by Pepper bounding through the kitchen door into the living room, tracking muddy paw prints all over the carpet.

“Hey!” Luke snapped toward the kitchen door, as Noah tried to get the rambunctious dog under control, “who let him in here?!”

Natalie walked through the door, holding her backpack in one hand. Her long brown hair was tied in a ponytail and she wore an increasingly familiar look of disdain on her face.

“He followed me in the back door,” the fifteen year old grumbled. “What did you want me to do? He’s Ethan’s dog, not mine!”

“He’s the family’s dog,” Luke countered. “And I already told you guys I didn’t want him getting into the living room straight from the yard before we have a chance to clean his paws!”

“Well, I’m sorry,” Natalie responded, heaving a loud sigh while rolling her eyes and not sounding the slightest bit sorry. “Anyway, I need you or Noah to drop me off at Jenna’s. We’re going to study for tomorrow’s Lit Exam.”

“What time?” Noah asked. He had calmed the dog down and had sat down on the floor beside him, petting him in an effort to keep him in one place.

“Right now,” she answered impatiently, gesturing toward the front door urgently.

“Nat, Grandmother’s visiting right now,” Luke told her. “I’ll take you after she leaves.”

“I see Grandmother ALL the time,” Natalie argued. She walked over and plopped herself down next to Lucinda on the couch. “You don’t mind, do you, Grandmother?” she asked, adopting an innocent little girl voice.

Lucinda cocked an eyebrow. “I certainly don’t mind, my dear. But you need to remember that Luke and Noah are in charge around here this week, not me. So if they want to wait until I leave to take you to your friend’s, then that’s the way it’s going to be.”

“Noah-” Natalie started to ask, turning to where Noah sat with Pepper.

“Sorry, Nat,” Noah cut her off. “Luke’s right. Your grandmother isn’t staying long, and one of us will take you to Jenna’s after she leaves.”

“And, frankly, Nat,” Luke told her cuttingly, “considering you lost one grandmother in the last six months, you might not want to take for granted the one who’s still here with you.”

Natalie opened her mouth to retort, then closed it, then stood up and walked silently out of the room. Noah and Lucinda both shot Luke piercing looks, indicating he had gone perhaps a bit too far in making his point. No one in the family had been more affected by Emma’s sudden death than Natalie.

Ethan walked in the front door, a baseball cap perched on his head and one strap of his backpack slung over a shoulder. The eleven year old’s arrival was all it took for Pepper to go absolutely nuts again, and he jumped up from where he lay beside Noah and ran to greet the boy.

“Hey, Pepper!” Ethan exclaimed, bending down to play with his excited pet. “Hey Boy, did you miss me while I was at school?”

“I give up,” Noah said softly after standing and rejoining Luke and Lucinda by the couch. “Trying to control that dog is a futile effort.”

Luke shook his head and sighed. “You know, I begged for a dog through my entire childhood,” he whispered back. “But Mom and Dad always said that there were enough animals at the Farm. But, of course, Ethan gets one.”

“He’s the baby,” Lucinda supplied from the couch with an amused smile. “The baby ALWAYS gets what he wants.”

“Hey, guys!” Ethan said, bounding over to them, Pepper at his side, having left a fresh trail of muddy paw prints. “Hi, Grandmother!”

“Hello, young man,” Lucinda replied. “How was school today?”

“It was good,” he answered. “We learned about the planets. And Ryan Costello got into a fight with Johnny Folliard and gave him a black eye, and I told Mrs. Lawrence that we’d make one hundred oatmeal raisin cookies for the bake sale tomorrow. And at recess, Mark Piper fell and banged up his-”

“Whoa, back up, Buddy,” Luke interrupted, raising a hand. “What did you promise Mrs. Lawrence?”

“I told her that we’d make a hundred oatmeal raisin cookies,” Ethan repeated. “Grandma made them every year, and everybody thinks they’re so good, and they always make the most money, so I told her we’d make them this year, too!”

Luke pressed his lips together tightly. “But, Ethan, Buddy, things are different this year,” he said slowly. “Grandma’s not here anymore.”

Ethan’s eyes got wide and sad. “But everyone loves her cookies,” he argued softly. “It won’t be the same if we don’t have her cookies. And I promised, Luke!”

Luke bent down to his little brother’s level and put a hand on his shoulder. “I know that, Buddy, but Grandma liked to keep a lot of her recipes a secret. I don’t have her oatmeal raisin recipe and I don’t think anybody else does, either. And even if I did, one hundred cookies is a lot of baking to do by tomorrow. But, you know what, Buddy? I’ll stop by the bakery after I drop Nat off at Jenna’s house and pick up some of their oatmeal raisin cookies, and I’m sure everybody will like those, too.”

“No,” Ethan replied quietly. He shook his head, tears starting to form in his eyes. “They have to be Grandma’s, Luke. Everybody loves hers.”

Suddenly, Noah had bent down next to Luke. “I have the recipe,” he said. “And if you guys help me, I think we can make those cookies by tomorrow.”

Luke turned to Noah in surprise. He had no idea his husband had been let in on Emma’s secret recipe, but given how much she adored Noah, it made perfect sense.

At the jubilant expression on Ethan’s face, Noah, with a smile on his own face, asked, “What do you say, Luke? Are you in for an evening of baking?”

“As long as you’ll take charge and guide us through, Baby,” Luke answered. “And, of course, Ethan’s got to finish his homework first.”

“I’ll start right now!” Ethan shouted, dashing out of the room to get started on his assignments.

“Well, I think I’d better be heading out, then,” Lucinda said, standing up from the couch. “It sounds like you boys have quite a night ahead of you.”

Natalie walked back into the living room, and it was clear from her red, puffy eyes that she had been crying. At seeing Lucinda standing, she walked over and put her arm around her and said, in an affectedly casual tone, “Oh, are you leaving already, Grandmother? I guess that means someone can take me to Jenna’s now.”

“I’ll take you,” Noah responded, grabbing his car keys off the table. “Ethan’s working on his homework, and then he and Luke and I are going by the Farm to bake one hundred of your Grandma’s famous oatmeal raisin cookies for his bake sale tomorrow.”

“One hundred cookies?” Natalie gasped, her eyes darting incredulously between Luke and Noah. “Sucks to be you guys.”

“You know, Darling, I was just saying something very similar,” Lucinda remarked with a laugh. She kissed Natalie on the cheek before doing the same to Luke and Noah, and then Noah and Natalie walked her out on their way to Jenna’s house.

Alone in the living room with Pepper, Luke looked down at him and the muddy paw prints that were scattered all around the room.

“And I suppose you expect ME to clean all this up?” he asked Pepper, gesturing to a particularly messy corner of the room.

Pepper yawned, sticking his tongue out as he did so, and Luke would almost swear that the dog was mocking him.


A few hours later, Ethan sat on a high stool next to Noah in the kitchen at Snyder Farm while Noah greased two baking sheets with butter. Luke stood on the other side of the kitchen island, measuring out a teaspoon of ground cinnamon.

When they had arrived at the Farm, Noah showed them his handwritten copy of the cookie recipe. There, in Emma’s own distinctive flowery cursive, on the personalized stationary he and Luke had given her for her birthday a few years earlier, was the secret recipe that Luke thought had died along with his grandmother.

For the second time that day, Luke found himself becoming emotional. His parents’ wedding and this subsequent week of watching his siblings was the first time he and Noah had been back in Oakdale since the funeral. Standing in the kitchen that she had presided over for half a century, it seemed entirely reasonable that she should walk through the door at any moment and begin supervising their marathon baking session. But, of course, that wasn’t going to happen.

Once Luke had finished measuring out the first set of ingredients, Noah instructed Ethan to pour each of them into the bowl he had set out. Ethan dumped in the oats, flour, raisins, baking powder, cinnamon and salt, and began mixing them together with the same large wooden spoon Emma had used since forever.

“Good job, Buddy,” Noah told him as he continued stirring. Noah went to the cupboard and removed a large bowl, in which he placed a stick of butter, after which he measured out a cup of brown sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla extract and added them to the bowl. He watched as Luke began using an electric mixer to beat the three ingredients.

“It’s so cool that Grandma gave you the secret recipe, Noah,” Ethan said as he continued vigorously mixing the contents of the bowl in front of him.

“I still remember the first time I ever ate these cookies,” Noah replied, smiling at the memory. “I devoured almost the entire batch in just twenty minutes. They were pretty much the best things I’d ever eaten.”

“When did she give you the recipe?” Luke asked.

Noah cracked an egg and added the yolk to the bowl of ingredients Luke was mixing. “When we were visiting at Christmastime. She pulled me aside right before we left for the airport, and told me she felt it was time to share it with someone.”

He and Luke exchanged wistful smiles. That Christmas visit was the last time either of them had seen Emma, who had passed away only six weeks later.

The refrain of Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors”--Luke’s ringtone-- sounded from the table and he handed over the mixing duties to Noah while he went to answer it.

“How many batches do we have to make, Noah?” Ethan wondered aloud as he set aside the bowl he had been stirring.

“I think we can get about twenty-five cookies per batch, so four should do it. If it gets too late for you, I’ll have Luke take you home and I’ll finish up.”

“Oh, no, Noah,” Ethan insisted. “I want to stay and help you! I can’t wait to tell everybody at school tomorrow that I helped my big brother make my Grandma’s famous cookies!”

Noah bit down on his lower lip. Ethan never referred to him as his “brother-in-law,” always as his “brother,” and Noah absolutely loved it.

“That was Natalie,” Luke said, returning from the table. “She’s ready to be picked up.”

“Already?” Noah questioned, raising an eyebrow. “It’s two hours earlier than she told us she wanted to be picked up.”

“She sounded upset,” Luke informed him, lowering his voice so Ethan couldn’t hear. “I think she and Jenna might have had a fight or something. I’ll be back with her soon. You guys keep baking your hearts out.” He gave Noah a quick kiss, then mussed Ethan’s hair playfully, and was out the door.

After a bit more mixing, Noah asked Ethan to add the bowl of ingredients he had mixed to the bowl Noah had mixed, and then had Ethan begin blending the combined ingredients together.

“Noah,” the boy said suddenly, “I’m so glad Luke married you, and not a girl.”

Noah chuckled. “And why’s that, Buddy?”

“Because girls are yucky,” Ethan answered simply.

“Well, I’ll be interested to see if you still think that in a few years,” Noah responded with a smirk. “I’ll bet if Luke loved girls, and had married one, you’d love her just as much as you love me.”

“No, I wouldn’t,” Ethan insisted. “You’re better than any girl he would have married.”

“Thanks, Ethan,” Noah told him as he stepped over to preheat the oven. “That means a lot to me.”

“I wonder if I’ll marry a boy or a girl,” Ethan considered. “Right now, I don’t really want to marry anyone.”

“Whoever you marry is going to be very, very lucky,” Noah said, returning to his side.

“Like you and Luke are?” he asked, looking up at Noah with a broad smile.

Noah couldn’t love the kid--his little brother--any more if he tried. “Yeah,” he agreed, smiling back at Ethan, “like Luke and I are.”


Natalie was already standing on Jenna’s front porch waiting for him when Luke arrived. She climbed into the passenger seat and remained silent as Luke pulled away from the house.

“Everything alright, Nat?” he finally asked.

Instead of answering that question, she told him, “I need to have Art Pencils for Color and Design class tomorrow.”

“For tomorrow?!” Luke scoffed. “God, nothing like leaving things for the last minute, huh, Natty? Where the hell are we supposed to find Art Pencils?”

“I don’t know! Jeez, Luke, I forgot, okay? I’ve had a lot on my mind lately, what with--” her voice trailed off.

Luke wanted her to finish that thought, but decided not to push it. “I guess we’re on a hunt for Art Pencils, then,” he said, making a U-turn to head back in the direction of Oldtown.

Three stores later, they finally had the Art Pencils in hand. They returned to the car and Luke made a turn onto the dirt road leading back to the Farm.

As soon as they had started down the road, Natalie asked, “Do you think you could drop me at the house first before you go back to the Farm?”

Luke kept his eyes on the road, but turned his head slightly in her direction. “I think you should come back with me and learn how to make Grandma’s oatmeal raisin cookies,” he said. “Noah and Ethan have probably made a couple batches by now, and I’m sure Noah would enjoy guiding you through a batch of them.”

“I’d rather eat them than make them,” Natalie responded with a somewhat forced sounding laugh. “Really, Luke,” she continued a moment later, looking toward him pleadingly, “I’d like to go back to the house. Please,” she added, sounding almost desperate.

Luke’s brow furrowed. “What’s really going on, Nat?” he questioned gently. “Why don’t you want to go to the Farm?”

His sister swallowed hard and fidgeted a little in the passenger seat before answering. “I haven’t actually been in the kitchen on the Farm since Grandma died,” she told him.

“Really?” He shot her a look of surprise. He thought back to Holden and Lily’s wedding on the Farm just a few days earlier. Natalie had been there, of course, but he realized that he didn’t remember her ever going inside at any point.

“Yeah,” she answered quietly. “I know I’ll have to do it eventually. Thanksgiving will be here in a few months, but I just…that was her kitchen, Luke.” She reached up to wipe away a few tears that had begun falling. “There were so many days I’d go to visit her and she’d have a bowl of cookie batter for me to lick. I think I might have enjoyed that even more than the actual cookies. I just...haven’t been able to get myself to go in there yet, knowing that she won’t be there…ever again.”

“I was thinking about that earlier, too,” Luke told her empathetically. “About how strange it was to know she wasn’t going to walk in. It’s a tough adjustment for us all to make after relying on her for so long. But you know what, Nat? Being in her kitchen earlier, preparing her cookie recipe? It felt right, it felt good. Like we were honoring her and keeping her memory alive. It’s the closest I’ve felt to her since she passed.”

Natalie pursed her lips and sniffled. “So, are you saying you’re going to make me go in?” she asked.

“No, I’m not going to force you,” he assured her quickly. “We’re going back to the Farm, but you’re welcome to go to the stables if you want. I’m hoping, though, that you’ll come in and see that her memory lingering in that kitchen is a good and beautiful thing, not something that you need to be afraid of.”

She nodded solemnly. “We’ll see,” she finally said.

After a couple of minutes of silence, he asked, “Why did you want to come home early? Did you and Jenna have a fight?”

“No, I just got tired of listening to her talk about Mom and Dad’s wedding. Her parents are divorced, and she thinks it’s so great that mine got back together.”

“Well, it IS great,” Luke replied, sounding confused. “Every kid, even grown up kids like me, want to see their parents get back together.”

She snorted a derisive laugh and rolled her eyes. “What difference does it make, Luke? They’ll be divorced again by this time next year, and you know it.”

“I don’t know that,” Luke said, “and neither do you. We have to have hope, Nat.”

“I’m tired of having hope,” she spat. “I’m tired of thinking they’re ever going to get their acts together and make their marriage work. Ethan’s still so young and naïve. He actually thinks they’re going to be back together forever. And you and Faith are so lucky. You’ve both moved out and have your own lives, and don’t have to deal with their back and forth drama on a daily basis anymore. I’m just so, so tired of it, Luke.”

They had pulled up to the Farmhouse, and Luke turned the car off and repositioned himself in his seat to regard her lovingly. “I understand how you feel,” he said. “It hurt me every single time they split up. It hurt me even after Noah and I were married and living in LA. I think it might actually have hurt me MORE after I was married, because then I finally had a complete understanding of all the challenges and blessings that are a part of marriage. And I want Mom and Dad to triumph over the challenges and receive all the blessings.” He reached out to place a hand tenderly on her shoulder. “And, as tired of hoping as you might feel right now, Natty, I know you want that for them, too.”

“Of course, I do,” she admitted quietly. “It’s just hard a lot of the time, and I don’t always feel like there’s anyone who understands.”

“I understand,” he assured her, looking her right in the eyes. “And Noah understands. And you can call and talk to us anytime.”

Their eyes met in a long moment of mutual understanding.

“Thanks, Luke,” she told him sincerely. Then she reached over and pulled the handle to open the passenger side door.

“You’re welcome, Nat. Does this mean you’re going to come inside?”

"Yeah,” she said, looking toward the door leading to the kitchen. “I think it’s time.”

He smiled proudly as he opened his door and stepped out.

Luke walked through the kitchen door first, with Natalie right behind him. They were greeted by the sight of Ethan, who sat slumped over the table, fast asleep. Noah stood at the island, mixing ingredients for what was obviously the third batch of cookies. Two plates of finished cookies were already cooling on the counter by the window.

“Hi guys,” Noah said quietly. “I’m glad you’re here. I lost my helper just a few minutes ago.” He motioned to where Ethan snoozed peacefully.

Luke looked over at Natalie, who seemed to be taking the room in again, after months of avoiding being there. She appeared to be trying hard to keep her emotions at bay.

“Oh, Nat,” Noah said, picking up one of the large bowls and offering it to her, “I saved you some batter to lick.”

And just like that, the floodgates were opened. Tears started streaming down Natalie’s face and she rushed over and hugged Noah tightly. Without showing the slightest sign of confusion, he pressed a kiss to the top of her head and held her while she cried into his chest.

Luke stood by and watched, and he and Noah shared a long, meaningful look.

After a couple of minutes, Natalie pulled out of the embrace. “Thanks for saving some batter for me, Noah,” she told him, smiling as she wiped her eyes.

He winked at her as he gave her the bowl. “No problem, Kiddo.”

As she took the bowl and a spoon to go sit down at the table, Luke stepped up next to Noah.

“Fifty cookies down, fifty more to go,” Noah informed him as he resumed stirring.

“Noah...I’m ready,” Luke declared quietly, so that Natalie wouldn’t hear.

“Ready for what?” Noah asked, matching Luke’s hushed tone.

“I’m ready to start a family with you.”

Noah abruptly halted his mixing and stared at him.

Luke expected Noah to protest, expected him to say that this was not what they had talked about, that they had agreed to wait a few more years before exploring their options for starting a family.

But that’s not what Noah did. Instead, after taking only a few moments to consider Luke’s words, he broke into a huge grin and said, “I’m ready, too.”

Luke let out a delighted laugh and threw his arms around Noah. “I love you so much, Baby,” he said, pulling him into a kiss.

“I love you, too,” Noah reciprocated, smiling into the kiss. Without breaking their hold on each other, Noah reached over to the counter with one hand and grabbed a cookie from one of the plates.

“Let me know what you think,” Noah told him as Luke popped it into his mouth. Just as Luke had expected, it tasted EXACTLY as if his grandmother had baked it.

“Well?” Noah asked eagerly, once Luke had swallowed it down.

Standing in the room that had always represented life and love and family to him, and staring into the beautiful eyes of the man who had come to represent all of those things to him, Luke answered simply, “It’s the best thing I’ve ever eaten.”

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