When I got home, I spent the afternoon going through the cookbooks I’d found at the library. Most of them were really outdated. They were made back when women were expected to be stay-at-home moms and would start dinner first thing in the morning and let it cook all day. Well myself, as well as just about everyone else, didn’t have the time or patience for that kind of stuff anymore.
But there were still a lot of really great recipes. I figured I could do something like the traditional theme but for a younger generation. Something like, “Grandma’s Recipes for a Modern Kitchen,” or something. I’d still have to work on the title.
I wrote down the recipes and ideas I liked the most and then headed to the grocery store to pick out a few things to try. Roast lamb was first on my list. It was a meal that apparently took four full hours in the oven and needed to be basted regularly. Well, not in mine. Thank God for slow cookers, am I right?
The next day I called Sean just like I promised, but he was still at work at the library. So he told me he’d come by when he got off so I could feed him. I spent the morning working on dessert recipes and by the time he got there the whole apartment smelled like roasting lamb and garlic. It was my favorite part of cooking. When the house was permeated with the scent of cooking food and someone was going to get to smell that and taste it, and you’d get to hear what they think.
“Oh my God,” Sean said when I let him in. “I could smell that in the hallway.” I beamed and jumped up and down.
“It looks so good. I haven’t tried it yet. But—Oh my God—It’s going to be amazing. Not to brag or anything, but I’m totally bragging.” He shrugged his jacket off, and I hung it on the back of one of my mismatched chairs.
“Is this a recipe from one of the books?” I shrugged.
“I got the idea from the book. Like I never thought to use pineapple to marinate a roast before. But it sounded interesting, so I tried it. I can’t wait to hear what you think.”
“I really like your apartment.”
“Thanks. My mom is paying for it. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to afford it.”
“The windows are huge.”
“Yeah, I love big windows. Do you want something to drink? I have soda, water, I even have wine. But I won’t give you that if you have to drive.”
“I take the bus actually.”
“Then would you like some?”
“That would be perfect.”
“Good. I just barely turned twenty-one, so I bought a bunch of wine to ‘cook with.” I did air quotations, and he laughed. “But I did some research, and I found a wine that’s supposed to taste really good with what I made. So we’ll see how that works out.” I went to the kitchen to pour us both glasses. When I first moved in, Paige sent me the glasses as a housewarming gift even though I told her I needed useful things. But now I was grateful for it because otherwise we’d be using my Garfield cups.
“Thank you,” he said when I returned to the dining room and handed him a glass.
“So how long have you worked at the library?” I asked.
“Since I started school actually. I’m from New York originally. But I came here for school. I don’t make much at the library, but my parents help too.” I nodded.
“Were they supportive of the fact that you wanted to be a—what was it—library technician?” He laughed.
“No, of course not. They had much higher hopes for me. But I’ve always wanted to work in a bigger library, you know? Not a county library. Something like the Smithsonian or the Vatican or something. Work with historical documents. I did a lot of training on how to take care of that stuff. Luckily Boston has a pretty rich history. I just haven’t gotten in with the right people yet. But at the same time, I love my job so I’d be sad to leave it.”
“That’s really cool, but I understand.” I pulled one of the mismatched chairs out and sat down. He did the same across the table. “When I told my mom I wanted to be a cook she was appalled. She refused to believe it until she realized I was good at it. Then she decided that if that was what I really wanted to do, then she could probably force me into fine dining or make me a fancy chef or something. I worked at a steakhouse for two years, and she thought it was horrible.” He laughed.
“Well, we’re lucky we both get to do what we love then.” I nodded.
“Definitely.” I heard the timer go off in the kitchen, so I jumped to my feet. “Yay, it’s ready! Go ahead and make yourself comfortable and I’ll serve you, okay? I’ve got fancy stuff and everything.” He laughed.
“Alright. I’m excited.”
I shuffled into the kitchen to get the roast out of the oven and assemble the plates. I’d also made rosemary potatoes and a chocolate raspberry cake for dessert. I was supposed to have seven entrees, side dishes, desserts, and breakfasts for my book. But I had to do a lot of testing before I decided which recipes to use. I was really eager to see if this one would make the cut or not.
I carried the plates out on my forearms and set one down in front of Sean. I knew how to wait tables too since sometimes the waiters would call in sick at Penis’s, or they’d be busy, and one of us would have to carry something out.
“Holy mother of Jesus,” he said when I set the plate down. I laughed.
“Is that a good response?” I asked.
“Amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever had a meal like this in my entire life.”
“Well, it’s a good thing I walked into your library then. Dig in.” I set my plate down opposite him, and we got started.
That was incredible. If I can say that without sounding full of myself. But I thought I deserved to be full of myself. And Sean seemed to like it too. It was so good we cleaned both our plates and I had to remind myself that it wasn’t particularly polite to release your jean buttons in front of guests.
After we had finished eating, I walked him back down to the lobby. He didn’t have a car, so I just walked him to the door. He groaned when we reached it.
“That was so good. Thank you, Piper,” he said.
“It wasn’t a problem at all. I’m glad you came because I had to make it anyway and it probably would have gone to my neighbors or my cat.” He laughed.
“Can I ask you a question?”
“Was this a date?”
“Well—do you want it to be?” He nodded slowly.
“I think I do.” I smiled and felt my heart leap in my chest. He wanted to date me. How cool was that? So I nodded again.
“Then it was a date. And I’m cooking tomorrow night again. So if you get hungry, you can come over.”
“I’m always hungry.”
“Then be here.”
“I most definitely will. Thanks, Piper.”
“Not a problem.” He smiled and headed out the door. He didn’t kiss my cheek or touch me in any way. And I found I liked that. He was already different from Dustin. I just hoped he stayed that way.