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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29. Chapter Twenty-Nine

I was thinking about stupid Collin all day. I thought it was funny how six years ago I’d probably been thinking about him too. But in a totally different way. Who knew that six years later I’d be sitting in my own apartment stewing on something he’d said, worried he’d ruin things for me and—Vincent?

It bothered me all day. I almost even messed up my cupcakes over it. Luckily, I always saved the wonky ones for Vincent and me to pig out on later, so I wasn’t too broken up about them. But my concentration was obviously skewed.

Even worse than that I was having trouble finding a job. My parents were still helping me pay for my apartment, but with my dad cutting back hours, it meant they weren’t going to be able to help as much. I was doing just fine when I was getting paid for writing, but now that the book was finished, I had no income. And there was no say in whether or not the book would succeed until it was published. But they published all their books at once in the summer, and I had to wait until then. Which mean I’d likely not get paid until I was making enough for royalty checks. And there was no saying that the book would even be successful enough to pay my bills.

I was still advertising catering and stuff on my website (which Vincent helped me design with pictures he took), but even that wasn’t generating enough. I’d get an order every now and then, usually through friends of my mom’s and her country club people, but I wasn’t making enough elsewhere. And most people went to actual bakeries to have stuff made.

So I had several options. I could either; A. Start applying at restaurants and hope I got a job despite my mom’s insistence that I was too good for it., B. Beg my teacher to let me go back to school and hope that student loans could pay my bills, Or c. I’d have to move back in with my parents.

None of these seemed particular appealing to me. I liked school, and I loved learning. But the semester had already started so it was unlikely she’d be able to get me back into class until September. In the meantime, I still didn’t have enough fine dining experience or training to get into a nicer place. I’d be stuck with something like Penis’s Steakhouse or back to McDonald's. And I sure as hell didn’t want to move back with my parents even if that didn’t cut into my time with Vincent. Though, I have to admit, that played a large part in not choosing that decision.

But I’d gotten another check once I finished my book. It wasn’t much, but it would help until I found an alternative. So I decided to focus on the things I did have. A mediocre catering company, my own place, and a “just friend” I was not supposed to be falling in love with.

Of course, I hadn’t told him that. But I wasn’t even sure if I should. I just knew it was there. And I was pretty confident it was love.

Like actually imagining a future with this person, love.

He ended up bringing me dinner. Once I got all the cupcakes ready and put away, he called me to let me know he was on his way over. He had a big deadline coming up for some National Geographic contest where they were looking for photographers or something, and he had to put together a portfolio. He usually had one ready to go, but he got super panicked and decided he needed more pictures of animals. So he’d been scrambling around the city all week, went to the zoo and the aquarium like seven times each, and then he was really busy. So he told me he was going to bring his computer and work and asked if that was okay.

I really wanted to see him since I’d been kind of bummed all day. I would have agreed anyway, but I was glad he asked because I was just going to ask him if I could crash at his house. Though that was just going to remind me of Collin and I didn’t want to leave Reggie all alone by himself. But I really liked Vincent’s cat. She was a sweetheart even though he swore she didn’t like most people.

He came over just as I was being lazy on the couch. Whenever he was on his way, I just unlocked the door so he could let himself in. I heard the door open and he stepped inside.

“Hey, I brought sandwiches,” he told me. “I was going to grab Chinese food, but they were closed.”

“Oh, sandwiches are fine,” I said, sitting up. He took them into the kitchen to get plates, and I stayed on the couch. I leaned my head against the back of it and watched him through the kitchen doorway. Then he popped his head out.

“Are you okay?” he asked. He was so cute and concerned with his little fogged up glasses. I wanted to squeeze him. I smiled.

“I’m fine. Just still irritated about the thing with Collin earlier,” I explained.

“Oh. I forgot about that. I’ve been so busy all day.”

“It’s alright. I understand.”

He disappeared in the kitchen again. I could hear him shuffling through bags. Then he appeared holding two plates and our sandwiches. We didn’t eat at the dining room table unless I was making something nice or we were doing photographs. But he handed the plates over to me and then went to get his computer.

“Sorry,” he told me as he came back. “It’s just been hectic trying to get this portfolio done. I want it to be perfect.” He set the laptop up on my coffee table, and I picked at my sandwich.

“It’s alright. I know how much it means to you.” He got it going and then leaned back.

“So you’re still worried about what he said?” he asked. I nodded.

“Yeah, it’s just the way he talks. Like everything out of his mouth is vaguely threatening. He was like that at the party too. He said he saw us out front of your apartment and that he wouldn’t tell Paige on the condition that I catered his friend’s wedding.”

“He threatened you?”

“I don’t know if it was a legitimate threat. Like I said, it’s in his voice. And I mean, it’s not like we were doing anything wrong. So I told him we were just working together and it wasn’t his business anyway.”

“But he still felt the need to hold it over your head.”

“Yeah, pretty much.”

“In exchange for catering?” I shrugged.

“That’s the thing. It wasn’t said like I HAD to do it. And he didn’t say I wouldn’t be compensated. But it was just—weird.”

“Has anyone contacted you about it?”

“Nope. And you’d think if there was really a wedding to be catered that they would have contacted me already, right? I mean most of the time when I get called for weddings they call me months in advance. Sometimes a whole year.”

“Mm,” he said. Then he reached for the plate with his sandwich.

“And he also said he didn’t like my cranberry sangria.”

“I love that cranberry shit.”

“Right? He said it needed more vodka.” Then he shrugged.

“Well, he doesn’t exactly have a good track record when it comes to vodka. If you remember.”

“Oh, I do. Vividly.” He squeezed my shoulder.

“Try not to let it get to you. I bet he just enjoys having something to hold over you more than he would enjoy telling Paige we’re just friends.” I sighed. It was the way he said it again. The rest of his sentence sounded fine. But those two words “just friends” always sounded somewhat bitter. Or maybe I just heard it that way because I hated it.

“I know. I’m just—freaked out. She’ll try to ruin everything.”

“Well, you know those engagement pictures I did a few weeks ago?” he asked as he got to work on his sandwich.

“Yeah, I remember,” I said.

“They finally sent me the damn money. Like they thought I was going to just hand them over and they didn’t have to pay, right?”

“Like usual. I’m glad they sent the money, though.”

“Yeah, me too. Well, I was thinking—if you were interested—I was thinking about maybe going to see Erin this weekend. Just the two of us. We can drive down together.”

“Really?” He noticed the excitement in my voice and smiled at me.

“Yeah, absolutely. If you want to.”

“I’d love to. Oh my gosh! Do you think she’ll want to meet me?”

“Of course she will. Why wouldn’t she?”

“Oh gosh. I’m so excited now. I can’t eat.” I set my plate back on the table and stood up to go back to the kitchen.

“Where are you going?” he asked, apparently confused.

“Cupcakes!” I replied from the kitchen.

“You just said you couldn’t eat.”

“I was lying. I want cupcakes.”

“God, I love you,” he muttered with his mouth full.

I paused with my hand on the fridge handle. He was still eating his sandwich and seemed oblivious to the fact that he’d just said that. And I wasn’t sure how he meant it anyway. It was stated very casually. The way I said it to my cat. So I turned back to the fridge and wondered what I was supposed to say next. Was I supposed to tell him I loved him too? No. He said it too casually. I could say something like, “I know.” But that might be too casual for ME.

I decided to ignore it. Maybe he would say it again.

Hopefully.

I still gushed anyway.

 

 

Sorry for not updating this earlier in the week. I was feeling kind of down about my art skills and it just sort of creeps into my writing too.

So update dump it is. Sorry sorry.

And happy holidays

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