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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27. Chapter Twenty-Seven

When I was driving back home, I had the urge to call Vincent and ask him to come over. We’d spent the whole day together. I’d been away from him for like six hours, and all I wanted to do was see him again.

But he was probably busy with his family, and it was really late. I was supposed to stay with my parents for the night so he wouldn’t have planned for me to come back so soon. And we promised to meet again on Wednesday. Plus, we were just supposed to be friends. And asking him to come over in the middle of the night kind of crossed that boundary.

My house was so quiet when I got home. Reggie bolted down the hall to scream at me for leaving him and then went right to his dish to make sure I gave him the good wet food for his proper dinner, instead of the nasty dry stuff I’d left him with.

When I finally got to bed, I laid there clutching my phone in my hand, forcing myself not to text Vincent to let him know I was back home. Or to ask him to leave his family and come over. Or even just to see what he was doing. But as I finally started to fall asleep I felt my phone buzz on my chest. I jolted and took a moment to register what the weird sound was since I didn’t usually sleep with my phone on my chest. And it usually didn’t go off at night.

There was a moment of panic when I wondered if something had happened after I left home. My sister had a long drive ahead of her. My mom was drunk. Anything could have happened. So I lifted my phone and saw that it was a text from Vincent.

“Merry Christmas,” it said. “I hope you had a good night.” I rolled onto my side, accidentally yanking the charger out of the wall. Then I sat there blushing and smiling and trying to think of something clever and not obnoxiously obvious to text back.

But I couldn’t think of anything other than, “Merry Christmas to you too. I hope you had a good night too.” Then I whacked myself in the face with my phone for being stupid. I fell asleep with it on the pillow next to me.

Wednesday couldn’t come soon enough. Vincent texted me a few times, but I was too eager just to talk to him in person. The briefness of our friendship managed to feel long and short all at the same time. I wanted him to come back and to never leave. But I didn’t want to be weird. He’d had a relationship with my sister. They had a child together. We still didn’t really talk about things, and it was probably better that we didn’t. It had gone from obvious attraction to full-fledged crush in just a matter of days. All because we’d watched a stupid Godzilla movie and he wore glasses when he worked.

I didn’t know. So I also didn’t know how to act when he finally got there.

I decided to cook another one of my better meals for our dinner. We were almost done with the dinners and desserts, and I wasn’t sure how everything was going to go once we had to move on to breakfasts and lunches. But I decided to worry about it later. He texted me to let me know he was on his way and I almost panicked.

I hurried back to the kitchen to make sure everything was perfect. Then I ran to my bedroom to do the same with how I looked. I stayed there fiddling with my hair and my clothes until I heard him knock on the door. Then I had another small freak out and had to compose myself before I let him in.

“Hey,” he said when he came in the door with his camera bag.

“Hey,” I replied. Then we just stood there. Like neither of us knew what to say.

“Um,” he started. “So how was your mom’s party?”

“Oh, it was great. Everyone really liked the food I made.”

“I’m not surprised. My parents loved the meatballs. They said they aren’t actually Swedish, but they liked them anyway. The meatballs, I mean. My parents actually are Swedish.”

“I got you. I’m glad they liked them.” We stood there for a second longer. “So um—I hope you like dinner tonight,” I said as I led him over to the table so he could set down his camera.

“I’m sure I will. I always do.” I watched him set it down and then he looked back at me. I was breathing heavily and twisting my fingers. “So um,” he started again. Then he paused and sighed, dropping his shoulders and looking so adorable it was taking everything I had not to just smash my face into his. “This is probably going to sound weird. And maybe I should slow down and be rational about this. I know I promised I wouldn’t say anything weird again.” I felt my heart pick up pace. I was waiting for him to tell me something bad.

But that’s not what happened at all.

“I missed you,” he said. Then he flinched like someone had thrown something at him. “Is that weird?” If it were acceptable to shriek like a teenage girl in the 60’s at a Beatles concert, I would have. I shook my head.

“It’s not weird. Because I missed you too,” I told him. “Is that weird?”

“God, no. I was so afraid you were going to yell at me for making it weird again. I was afraid I was being too forward.”

“You have no idea how glad I am to hear you say that. I was so afraid I was being really awkward.”

“I had no idea what to text you. I had to stop myself like thirty times.”

“I had no idea what to text back! I fell asleep with my phone in my hand!”

“This just got a little weird again, didn’t it?”

“No. I mean. Friends are allowed to say things like that, right?”

“I don't know. I’ll shut up now.”

“I’ll go check on dinner.”

And then I made the biggest mistake of my life. It was a disaster. And of course, it had to be with Vincent. He was standing in my kitchen with his hands on his hips looking amazing and nerdy with his glasses on and his sweater with a cat peeking out of the front pocket. I was standing next to him, staring at my smoking oven.

“I can’t believe it,” I muttered when he came in to investigate the smell that emanated from my oven as soon as I got the door open. I wanted to cry.

“It’s okay, Pip. It happens,” he said. I shook my head.

“Not to me. I’ve never done this before.” He sighed heavily and looked at my meal. Or what was left of it that wasn’t charred and smoking.

“Well,” he decided. “To be honest, I’m kind of relieved. I was starting to think you were some kind of super powered demi-goddess. It’s not natural to go so long without burning something. You have to make mistakes sometimes, right?”

“I’ve never burned anything in my entire life.”

“That’s not true. You burned toast once. I remember.”

“It was the toaster’s fault.”

“You didn’t mess up. Things like this just happen sometimes.” I covered my eyes and tried not to cry. I felt him wrap his arms around me. He pulled me to his chest, and I melted into them. He patted my curls down. And I was suddenly very okay with the fact that I’d ruined dinner because he was so warm and smelled so good.

“Hey, don’t be upset. It’s just one meal. We can make it again. It’ll give us an extra dinner night, right?”

“I wanted it to be perfect,” I whined. My voice was muffled by his sweater.

“It was perfect. It’s okay. It’s a healthy thing. This is what it’s like to be a normal person, okay? We make mistakes all the time. In fact, I burned my Pop-Tarts just this morning.” I groaned.

“I’ll make you homemade Pop-Tarts.” I felt him laugh lightly.

“Demi-goddess,” he muttered. Then I smiled and looked up at him.

“Pizza?” I asked.

“Mm, I love pizza,” he replied as he let me go.

“I can make homemade pizza too.”

“Now you’re just being a show-off.”

“So what if I am?”

“So I don’t have any skills to impress you with.”

“That’s not true. You take beautiful pictures.”

“Pictures schmictures.” I put distance between us because he smelled good and he was warm, and I was dying to just hold onto him forever. I had to take a moment to work through all of that, plus the emotion of having just ruined our dinner by turning the oven up just a bit too high and cooking just a bit too long.

“Well, at least dessert turned out alright.” I went to the fridge to double check just in case disaster struck again.

“What did you make?” he asked.

“Ice cream cake.” He clutched at his chest dramatically and fell over into the counter.

“Be still, my heart.”

“Nerd.” I opened the freezer to check. The cake was fine. But then I popped my head around the doors to look at him. “By the way,” I said slowly. “You have many impressive skills.” His eyebrow rose.

“Like what exactly?” he asked.

“You just do.” I disappeared behind the door again and heard him laugh as he returned to the dining room.

 

 

I imagine that Vincent was wearing the shirt with the cat that flips you off when you pull the pocket down.

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