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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28. Chapter Twenty-Eight

Vincent was perfect. And I hated saying that someone was perfect because they usually inevitably proved me wrong. And I didn’t mean perfect in the sense that he was flawless and could do no wrong and that I was likely to put him on a pedestal and let him walk all over me. But that I was really enjoying having him around.

We ordered pizza for dinner and ate the ice cream cake for dessert. We ate dinner on the couch and watched another Godzilla movie, but mostly just talked and laughed and told stories. He didn’t say anything to make it weird. He acted just like his usual self. His usual self just happened to be amazing. And my usual self just happened to be dying to hear him say something about liking me again.

I felt like a goofball staring at him and smiling all the time. But he was so handsome and good looking and he smelled good and I liked the way he looked at me and made me laugh and I just…

I fell in love.

Not that night, of course. It was the combination of nights. The weekend, the night I burned our dinner. And every subsequent day after that. Even when he didn’t come over because he was working or because we were just supposed to be friends. He texted me when we weren’t together. He came by for dinners three nights a week. And even when we finished the dinner section of my book, we decided to have lunches for dinner.

I was nervous at first that if we got too much of my book done at once he would stop having a reason to come around. But that’s not how it happened. We finished up the photos and he worked on edits when we weren’t together. But we hung out a lot. I’d spend time with him at his house or he’d hang out at mine. Sometimes he even brought work over so he wouldn’t have to leave and I’d work on catering requests while he was busy editing on his computer at the dining room table.

By the time we got all the photos sent to the publisher, I was 100% without a doubt in love.

With my sister’s ex-boyfriend.

Every time I thought about that I got a nervous twinge in my stomach. I was scared that maybe we’d fall into the same pattern he did with Paige. Like at some point we’d get tired of each other and just stick around because it was familiar and comfortable. Or that sometimes I would do things that might remind him of Paige. That would either hurt him, disgust him, or he’d like it a tad too much.

It was hard to be around him sometimes because whatever I was feeling was amplified. And since he never actually brought up how he was feeling, it was hard for me to know if he still felt the same. But he didn’t date anyone. And I didn’t date anyone. And sometimes we’d touch accidentally and there would be a moment of awkward silence we had to move past. Or those brief smiles that lasted just a little too long.

There were times when I told myself not to worry about Paige at all. I would convince myself that she wouldn’t be that upset about it and I was dumb for making a big deal out of it. I should just tell him that I still liked him and wanted to try it out. I would psych myself up for it, even recite what I would say, and then he’d be there in front of me and I wouldn’t be able to get the words out of my mouth.

We decided to keep it friendly. Even though spending every second with him made my heart ache and he still sometimes let it slip that he liked me in that way. When he would casually say things like “You look beautiful,” or “Demi-Goddess” whenever I made things. And okay, those could be friendly. But I didn’t think friends spent as much time together as we did. I didn’t believe that they pined for each other as badly as I did for him.

But one day after I brought breakfast over to his apartment, he was walking me out to the curb, so I could go home to work on cupcakes for a baby shower. We walked right into Collin.

I forgot he told me he worked over by where Vincent lived. We stepped out of the building laughing and being dorks. I was walking backwards so I could tease him and he had all his focus on me. Okay, we might have been flirting. I was definitely flirting and I got the feeling it was mutual. He made one little mistake. One little trip of his feet that sent him right up to my chest and then he was looking down at me and I was looking back up at him. And for one glorious second I thought he was going to kiss me.

“Ekroth, how’s it going, man?” Collin said, and I cringed. I knew that voice. Vincent looked up, and I saw his shoulders tense.

“Denver. Hey,” he said, taking a step back. Collin was standing not far from us. Holding a coffee cup and a cigarette. His eyebrows rose. He had that knowing smile back on his face.

“Long time, no see.”

“Yeah, it’s been a while. What are you doing here?”

“I work just up the street. I was getting coffee.” Vincent looked down at me.

“I’d better go,” I said.

“No need to leave, Pip. Oh, wait. I’m not allowed to call you that. I forgot.” I wasn’t sure what had happened between them after that night when Collin acted like a jerk and Vincent punched him. But it didn’t sound good to me. Vincent still looked uncomfortable.

“He was at my mom’s Christmas party,” I explained.

“Yep, I was going to get in touch with you about catering my friend’s wedding.”

“Right. Well, I have to get back to work.” Vincent looked back at me.

“I’ll call you,” he said. I nodded.

“Alright. See you later.” I slipped away from him and headed for my car, but Collin spoke again.

“Does Paige know you guys are seeing each other?” he asked. I paused and turned back around. Vincent, no doubt, detected the threat in his voice just like I did. He had his hazel eyes on me. I had no idea how to answer that without making Collin act like a dick.

“We’re not seeing each other,” I admitted. “We’re just friends. And I don’t tell her about my personal life and she doesn’t tell me hers. We like to keep it that way.” He smiled and took a hit off of his cigarette. The smell made me want to vomit.

“She’s gonna fucking flip,” he said.

“It’s really not your business, Denver,” Vincent said. Collin turned his eyes to him.

“I know that, man. I’m just saying. Can’t keep things hidden forever, right?” He flicked ashes onto the sidewalk and then turned. “It was nice seeing you guys. Tell Paige I said hello.” Then he walked off down the sidewalk. Vincent and I stayed where we were, just a few feet apart.

“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you I saw him,” I said. He shook his head slowly.

“No, it’s fine,” he replied.

“He’s kind of an asshole.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“What happened to you guys anyway?”

“Just your average high school rivalry, I guess. He always had a thing for Paige.”

“I gathered that much. Doesn’t seem like he’s let go of that rivalry, though.” He shook his head.

“Just try to forget it. He’s a gossip, but he’s harmless.”

“I know. It’s just,” I twisted my fingers. “He’s right. Paige will flip if she finds out.”

“We’re just friends.” He didn’t sound like he liked that. Or maybe it was just me who didn’t like it.

“I know. I just…”

“You’re worried.” I nodded.

“I just don’t want anything to ruin this for us.” He smiled and put his hands in his pockets. Then he stepped forward.

“Then we don’t let anything ruin it. We’re not doing anything wrong. Just friends, right? Just try not to think about it.”

“I’ll try.”

“Have a good day. Save me a cupcake.”

“I will.” He smiled again and then I went to get into my car. But I couldn’t stop thinking about Collin and what he was going to do to ruin this for me.

 

Jumped forward in time a bit. I meant to go back and add more between the last two chapters, but it didn't end up happening that way.

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