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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22. Chapter Twenty-Two

In the morning, I woke up when I heard a snowplow blasting through the street below. I couldn’t fall back asleep after that. When I got to the living room, Vincent was still lying on my couch with the pillow over his face. So I quietly crept to the kitchen to get started on French toast. I had the first piece in the pan when he appeared in the doorway.

“Hey,” he said.

“Morning,” I replied, not looking at him.

“I should head out. It stopped snowing. Snowplows went through a while ago.”

“Oh, yeah. Alright. I was going to make you some French toast. If you want to stay.”

“Mm—maybe one piece. Maybe two.”

“That’s what I thought.”

“Can I use your bathroom?” I turned to look at him in disbelief. He was leaning against the doorway again, looking sleepy and cute.

“Dude, you don’t have to ask.”

“Right. Sorry.”

He disappeared down the hall, and I finished up while he was busy. He came back out while I was setting the plates down on the dining room table. He’d put his jeans and his hoodie back on and looked slightly more refreshed and awake.

“Looks amazing already,” he said.

“It’s a pretty basic recipe,” I told him. An eyebrow rose.

“I’ve never seen you use a basic recipe in my entire life.” I laughed.

“Well, it was originally a basic recipe. But I may have added a few things to make it better.”

“That’s the Pip I know.” We sat down and got started. I watched him cut into his first bite and waited for that “mm” sound. It happened right on time.

“Why do you call me that?” I asked, once he had swallowed his first bite and gave me a nod of approval. “No one else ever has. Unless you go to Penis’s Steakhouse and order the Pip Steak.”

“I don’t know,” he replied as if he was suddenly questioning it himself. “I just thought Pip sounded like a cool nickname. Then it just stuck.”

“I like when you call me that.” I went back to my food and saw him nod.

“I like when you call me Vinnie. My parents were determined not to let that become my nickname. Only my grandma ever called me that. Which I guess sounds really weird now.”

“Well, that’s nice.” He laughed.

“You say it differently.”

“Vinnie, my boy,” I said with my best imitation of an old lady voice. He laughed again.

“I said my grandma. Not Sean Connery.”

“All old people sound like Sean Connery. Everyone knows that. Even babies.”

“You just blew my mind.”

Maybe we could still be friends after all. He was kind of a dork. After a few minutes, though, he appeared to get flustered again.

“So can I ask you something?” I hated when people started conversations like that.

“Yeah, sure,” I replied.

“I just wanted to know if you maybe wanted to come by my house with me. You said you wanted to see my work and everything. Meet my cat.” It didn’t sound like a very “friend like” thing. But I was a sucker for cats. And I really did want to see his work.

“Yeah, okay.”

Vincent had to work later in the day, so I ended up following him to his apartment in my own car. He didn’t live very far away, so the drive wasn’t long. And even though the roads were icy, they weren’t obnoxiously dangerous. He led me up the stairs to a single bedroom apartment with an open kitchen and a small living room. He had tons of pictures on the walls. When we stepped inside, he put his keys down on the table by the door.

“This is it,” he said. “Not much, but it’s home.”

“It’s nice.”

“So you wanted to see my work. It’s all over the walls.” I went to the black frame hanging beside his open bedroom door. It had a place for four photos. And each and every one of them was a black and white of Erin playing in a park.

“Wow, these are great,” I remarked.

“I took them last spring when I went to see her. I gave them to her family too. In fact, they’ll probably never have to pay for a photographer.”

“She’s cute.”

“She is. I wish I could see her more often.” He disappeared into his bedroom to find his cat, and I kept looking at the pictures on the walls.

“Can I ask you a personal question?” I asked.

“Sure,” I heard him reply.

“Do you ever regret it?” He came back out to me holding a white cat in his arms.

“Sometimes,” he admitted. “But I know she’s happy where she is. And to be honest, I wouldn’t have been able to take care of her on my own. Even now. But I wouldn’t have done it if I could support her.” I reached out to pet the cat, and she sniffed me a few times before closing her eyes, lifting her chin, and letting me scratch her neck. He smiled. “She likes you. She normally doesn’t like people.”

“They can tell when someone is a cat person. Just like with you and Reg. He likes you, but he usually hates everyone else. Except for me, that is.” He watched me pet her and didn’t say anything for a minute. “Although, after last night I have to wonder.” He smiled.

“So you’re going to your parents’ house tomorrow night?” he asked. I nodded.

“Yeah,” I confirmed.

“What time?”

“I’m not sure. It just has to be before five. I’ll probably spend all day cooking. But um, you’re welcome to keep me company. If you have nothing better to do.” He smiled and nodded.

“That sounds fun.”

Kinda short but... cat.

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