Food, Cats, and Being in Love

I don't want to think about it
I don't want to talk about it
When I kiss your lips
I want to sink down to the bottom
Of the sea

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33. Chapter Thirty-Three

The car ride home started out a little weird just because I still didn’t know what to say. But then Vincent broke the ice when he located a station playing polka music and tried to dance for me. Then I couldn’t stop giggling, and everything felt just a little less awkward. We immediately jumped into a conversation about polka music and whether or not it was appropriate to call polka dots "polka spots." And he said “polka spots” was cute and I should never stop. I didn’t feel so weird after that.

He drove me right home so I could get to work on my orders. But then when we were standing in my hallway he asked me if we were really going to do this. Like date and be a couple and all of that. And I was looking into his hazel eyes like all of my dreams were coming true. I hadn’t imagined this would happen with Vincent. Never in a million years. But with him standing in front of me and my heart still soaring from spending the night in his arms, I was glad it was him and no one else. So I nodded and said yes.

He kissed me goodbye. And what started as a kiss quickly turned into a full on make out session in my hallway. I wasn’t even sure how it had happened. Maybe we were still working through all those months of tension. But the next thing I knew my head was swimming, I could barely breathe, and my heart was swelling. I would have dragged him to my bedroom if he didn’t kiss my nose and tell me he had to go to work.

I already thought I was in love with him, but it was just barely the start. The next thing I knew we were in a full-fledged relationship. He came over to hang out and carry on our dinner tradition, but it didn’t go so well since a quick kiss of greeting turned back into another make out session. And this time we really did end up in my bedroom. And even though it wasn’t as dark, I didn’t feel self-conscious or weird. It was like I forgot everything that had ever worried or bothered me. He spent the night. And a few days later after we got home from the movies, he spent the night again. And the next weekend we went to have dinner and then went back to his house, and I spent the night. And this time we shared the bed.

Naked.

We did that a lot.

I was a fool. And I knew from the start that it was going to fall apart eventually. Either we would grow apart, or things would go so well until I eventually had to tell my family. He was, without a doubt, my first love. And I just so badly wanted him to be the last.

We didn’t fall apart. It was a seemingly innocent Facebook status that brought about the end. Because I had once, long ago, made the mistake of joining my mom’s group of friends. And Collin Denver was apparently also a member of that group. And Collin was also apparently friends with Vincent. One status about how cute of a couple we were, throw in a few tags, and boom. You’ve got yourself a recipe for disaster.

I didn’t even know until the bomb had already ignited. The only time I was ever on Facebook was when I was updating my business page, and I usually avoided it otherwise because I had like 10 friends and 20 followers and it got annoying and pathetic quick. Vincent didn’t go on much just because he said it made him non-productive. But he just happened to be at my house for dinner when the bomb went off, and I failed to hear my phone ringing because while it was ringing, I just happened to have my legs wrapped around him.

Then later someone knocked on my door. I popped my head out of the kitchen and looked at Vincent on the couch. He had his glasses on while he edited his portfolio for the Nat Geo contest, but his hair was still messy from my hands.

“You want me to get that?” he asked with a glance over his shoulder.

“No, it’s fine. I’ll do it,” I replied. I dusted the flour off of my hands and onto my apron and went to the door. I peeped out of the little hole and then panicked. It was my mother. “Shit,” I said. Vincent looked over the back of the couch and down the hallway.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

“It’s my mom.”

“I can hear you,” she said through the door. “And Vincent.”

“Fuck, fuck, fuck.”

“Language, Piper.” I sighed slowly and took a deep breath as he left the couch. There was a concern on his face, but not outright fear like mine. “Open the door, please?”

“You ready for this?” I asked him. He shrugged. At least he was wearing clothes now.

“Ready as I’ll ever be,” he said. So I took another deep breath and opened the door. She was standing out in the hall looking mad as hell. Well, more than usual. Which was the first clue that she already knew about Vincent before she came to see me.

“Your sister has been trying to call you,” she informed me as she let herself in and pushed right past the both of us, barely giving Vincent a passing glance.

“I was busy,” I replied.

“I can see that.”

“I was making dinner,” I clarified. She turned back around by my dining room table and crossed her arms over her chest. Then she looked at Vincent, standing tall and awkward in my entryway with his glasses and messy hair.

“So what exactly is going on?” she asked. “Why am I hearing about my daughter’s love affair on Facebook?”

“It’s not a love affair,” I retorted. Her eyebrows rose.

“Then what is this exactly? A fling? A friendship? A date? I’d like to know.”

“Well…” I glanced at Vincent. A few weeks ago I could have very well said that we were just two friends hanging out. But we weren’t anymore. We’d crossed that line. A lot. In fact, if she'd come a little earlier she probably would have heard a lot more of my cussing.

I could feel my natural instinct to cower trying to kick in. I wanted to go hide in my room until she left. But he looked back at me, looking helpless and hopeful all at the same time. I couldn’t leave him there hanging. And I said from the start that I didn’t want to keep him a secret.

“It’s none of your business. For starters,” I said. Though with a very meek and quiet voice.

“I think it is my business, Piper. Since I’m the one paying for your love shack.” I groaned and put both my hands on my head.

“It’s not a love shack, Mom. I just like him, and he likes me.”

“So that’s it? That’s the basis for this—whatever it is you two are doing? You like him, and he likes you, and so that makes it perfectly okay for you to lie and sneak around with your sister’s sloppy seconds?” Vincent opened his mouth to protest, but I cut him off.

“He’s not sloppy seconds, first of all. He’s a person, and he’s standing right here.”

“He’s a boy. Who got your sister pregnant. Who is now sneaking around my other daughter’s house. I think I have a right to be concerned.”

“We’re not sneaking around! Oh my god! I didn’t tell you just because I knew you’d act like this! He’s not trying to knock me up! Jesus Christ! It’s not like we planned this out just to hurt Paige and piss you off! We’re both adults. We’re allowed to do adult things.”

“This is my apartment, Piper. Which means you’re living under my roof. And I didn’t give you this place so you could screw your sister’s ex-boyfriend.” Then I snapped.

“Right, but you paid for Paige to screw a married man under ‘your roof.” She looked confused.

“Excuse me?”

“Since my relationship is now out in the open for everyone to comment on, why don’t we talk about how her boyfriend is also someone else’s ‘sloppy seconds.’ Did you know they were still married when she started ‘screwing’ him? Did you know that he has kids?” She opened her mouth and snapped it shut again. This was obviously news to her. But I knew she was going to try and throw something back at me.

“This isn’t about personal choices. This is about family,” she decided.

“Oh, here we go,” I groaned.

“How could you do this to your sister? To us? Did you not stop to think about what this would do to her?”

“I did stop and think about it…”

“And you didn’t care?”

“I did care. I cared for a long time. And I kept a wall between us for a long time because I cared. But Paige doesn’t care about me. She would never stop to think about my feelings.”

“So that makes it okay for you to do whatever you want to her.”

“I’m not doing anything to her! I’m seeing a guy I like and okay they had a thing five or six years ago, but it was in high school! It hardly counts!”

“They had a child!”

“They put her up for adoption for fuck’s sake! It’s not like I was screwing her husband behind her back! They haven’t even spoken since!”

“What you’re doing is distasteful and classless, and I’m not going to stand for it.”

“Oh great.” She headed toward the door again and stopped before she reached it just so she could turn around and be more dramatic than she already was.

“I suggest you find a new way to pay your rent,” she said.

“Mom, goddamn it. Don’t do this. Don’t make me choose.”

“I am going to make you choose. You should have done this before you let it go any farther. It’s between this guy,” she gestured toward Vincent, “or your family. Make the right choice.” Then she walked out and slammed the door. There was a moment of complete silence before I put my head in my hands.

“You’re getting flour all over your face,” Vincent said. I felt his hands on mine as he pulled them away so I could wrap my arms around him. I buried my face in his chest and felt his hand at the back of my head. And then I sobbed. I couldn’t hold it back anymore. “Hey, don’t cry,” he murmured. “We knew this was going to happen. Honestly, it went a lot better than I was expecting.” I sniffled.

“This is just the beginning,” I told him. “She’s serious. She’ll make me choose.”

“Your family will love you no matter what choice you make.”

“Maybe your family does. But no one holds a grudge better than a Finnegan. Paige didn’t talk to me for months after Collin told her you kissed me. She only started talking to me again because she was in labor and didn’t want to be alone. And I haven’t even spoken to her yet. She’s going to lose it.”

“We’ll figure it out. We’ll make it work.” I pulled away from him and wiped my eyes on the back of my floury hands.

“I need to finish making dinner,” I said. Then I hurried back into the kitchen where I could successfully keep my mind off of it. I was making homemade rolls, so I went back to kneading the crap out of them. Vincent lingered in the doorway. He knew what I was doing. He watched me violently pull at the dough and then stepped forward. I felt his hand brush my hair off of my shoulder. He kissed my temple.

“Look,” he started. “I won’t ask you to choose between your family and me. But if you’re willing to make it work then I’m willing to make it work. You could always stay with me if you need a place to go. They may not forgive you right away, but they wouldn’t let something like this come between you forever. It’ll hurt, but it’ll be worth it if you’re willing to try.” He kissed me one more time and left the kitchen so that I could go back to distracting myself.

I wanted to take him up on that offer. I really did. But I didn’t think that I would.

 

Alright, drama time.

Sorry for not updating for a while. I've been in a funk. Still. And I meant to get this out yesterday but I had a mountain of Spanish homework.

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