Sliding onto the stool, she watched him move effortlessly around the kitchen. The comforting warmth that came only from an aged, well-kept vinyl drifting through the empty, gently-lit rooms, C.C. fingered the neck of the wine glass. She felt strange. She wasn’t sure why – it wasn’t the first time she had come over for dinner – but as she sat there with her glass of burgundy and watched him wash the dishes, all the while listening to an innocent sing of a land she had heard of once in a lullaby, she couldn’t help but feel…strange. Well… No, strange wasn’t really the right word. It was just this new, unfamiliar feeling that was welling up in her that she had never experienced – or hadn’t in a very, very long time – that she didn’t quite know what to say or do with herself.
“Is everything okay?”
She looked up to see him peering at her through the yellow light of the lamps above. Smiling briefly, she met his eyes before they wandered away.
“Yes,” she replied. And so, she realized that everything – everything – actually was for the first time in three years. He returned her smile as he dried off the last of the plates before moving to the fridge.
“I would offer you some assorted nuts,” he said as he rummaged around. “But now that I know about your allergy, as well as your taste for pizza…” He brought out a platter with various kinds of cheese and meats. “I thought you’d like this better.”
He set them down in front of her as he stood adjacent to her around the kitchen island corner. Leaning on his elbows, he raised his own glass to his lips before reaching for a thin slice of cheese. C.C., accepting the treat, sampled the creaminess. She answered his expectant look with a small smile.
“Was I right?”
“That’s a relief to hear.”
“Mmm.” Grabbing a slice of salami for herself, she made short work of the meat before saying, “I didn’t know you were the type to collect records.”
“Hmm?” He glanced beyond her at the record player before letting out a huff of a laugh. “Oh. That. That… As contradictory as it may sound, I don’t. My mother does though. Or rather did.”
Her hands drifting into her lap, she loosely balled up the napkin as he nearly lost himself in the depths of his glass.
She watched him as he smiled at some secret memory. He straightened up as he reached for the bottle of wine. Setting it back down, he glanced at her.
“Red always tends to have somewhat strange effects on me,” he offered her. She reached for his hand.
“Thank you,” she said softly. You make me so happy.
“It’s my pleasure.” He squeezed her hand. Me too.