Kevin got up and walked upstairs, not uttering a word or turning back to look at Jessica, causing her heart to sink for him.
Kevin felt horrible for leaving her like that.
He hoped she didn’t hate him, he probably shouldn’t have left like that.
“I’m such a moron,” he sighed, throwing himself back against his bed, arms spread, staring up at the ceiling. But what was that? Did she feel that too? How the hell had he fallen this hard, this quickly?
“Okay, deep breaths, Kevin, you can’t hide up here forever. Let’s go over this, She hooked me with the first blog post I read,” ”Whenever I Get Naked In The Bathroom, My Shower Gets Turned On.’ She’s a food/travel blogger, so you never quite know what you’re getting yourself into, but she always has a connection. She’s so clever and he figured he was taken by her sharp, witty humor. She talked about how she went to a pig farm, and she watched the butcher slaughter a pig. When she told this to friends and family they asked her if it disgusted her. She told them, no, it made her hungry. He chuckled at the memory. “Oh!” He remembered, opening the blog post so he could reread it and hoped that his memory was serving him correctly. This was the post where she talked about her love for Cuban sandwiches and shared her method for making one. She was visiting Ludlow, Vermont, and she explained how she loved how everyone in the town helped each other out. The restaurant “Pot Belly” (not the chain sandwich place,) mentioned on the menu how the bread came from the baker down the street, and the vegetables came from the local fresh air market that’s held in the town parking lot from 10-2 every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. She loved the sense of community and it’s where she met 83-year-old, Opal, who reminded him of his own, sweet grandmother. She talked about how she spent the most time with Opal. He learned that it’s not because it was part of her job, she wasn’t getting paid for it or anything. Opal had recently lost her husband, and her son is a detective for the NYPD and she doesn’t get to see him very often, and she’s very lonely. So instead of going to Ben & Jerry’s factory, taking pictures of farms and various food markets to make the most of her time for her blog, she willingly gave her time to keep an old lady company, and thoroughly enjoyed doing so. She talked as if it’s something everyone would do. Yep, this was it, this was where he knew he was screwed, He had found a rare gem and she still didn’t realize how rare she was.
But then she posted pictures, nothing too graphic of the pigs, joking around was one thing, traumatizing someone was another, add respectful to the list, that seems to grow by the minute, still, after a year. She showed pictures of herself, laughing, smiling wide, she has such a beautiful smile, he thought, she’s stunning. “Aww, and there are pictures of her with Opal, serving her a piece of strawberry rhubarb pie.” Opal’s favorite. He thought that was sweet of her, and how it’s sweet that she still calls to check up on her and had made plans to visit her in March of this year. “Oh no, COVID-19 probably ruined that for her. I wonder if she’s feeling sad about it?” He paused, realizing just how deep he was in. “Crap,” he sighed, facing defeat.” I have to accept it, I’ve fallen in love with her.”
Before she left Vermont she held a celebration in Opal’s honor and paid for it all out of pocket. The chef at Pot Belly taught her the correct way to fix a Cuban sandwich, and she made them for Opal’s party. She baked Opal a cake and thanked her for making these memories, which have become her new favorites. “I bet she made Opal feel very appreciated, what a sweetheart.” He continued scrolling but stopped in his tracks when his eyes met a certain picture. “
Oh, I forgot about that picture, how could I forget about that picture?” Kevin dug that pin-up style dress, and she has the curves to pull it off.
“Yeah, she says hello, and I say, I do. What is wrong with me?”
Kevin knew there was no turning back, perhaps he needed to make his feelings for her a little more clear, but that was a very scary thought for Kevin. He’s had his heart broken before, but he couldn’t help but wonder if maybe she was too humble to recognize his feelings.
It wasn’t just the blog posts that did it. He had left a comment, not expecting a reply, she isn’t famous, but she is very well known. She makes a decent living at what she does. But she did reply, and not only did she reply, but she also started following him, and liking his poems, and commenting on them. Before he knew it he was giving her permission to contact him via email, which she did. He followed her on Instagram so he could see more pictures of her and parts of her life. She is charitable, loves animals, adores babies, is a fantastic cook, and an even better baker. She’s a talented writer, she has penpals and loves getting cards in the mail, she’s an old soul. She loves bright colors and bohemian décor, she believes in cheering on others successes, and every time she complimented his writing, Kevin found himself wanting to reach through the computer to hug her. She is charming and incredibly kind. He found her irresistible before he even met her.
He was standing in the doorway of the kitchen, leaning against the door frame, arms crossed against his chest, his weight shifted to one foot. Red Hot Chili Peppers were polluting the air, and she was completely lost in the music, her in her yoga pants swaying her hips in sync with the guitar and singing along.
He knew he probably shouldn’t stare, but how could he tear his eyes away from her? He rubbed the back of his neck, contemplating his next move, but she was so sexy, he wanted to keep watching. She spun around, singing into her spoon, but she stopped, dropping her hand, and she had the saddest look in her eyes.
“Are you okay?” He asked, walking closer to her.
“I was just about to ask you the same thing?”
He flashed her a confused look.
She cocked her head, not sure why he wasn’t understanding, “The phone call, earlier?” she paused, “I don’t know who was on the other end or what they wanted, but I figured it wasn’t good news. You looked so disappointed.”
Her empathy caught him off guard, he was expecting her to be embarrassed that he caught her dancing around the kitchen, using a wooden spoon for a microphone.
“Oh, right,” he replied, “I didn’t get the job.”
“Oh, Kevin, I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay, I would have had it, it’s why I was looking at houses, I was pretty much told I was going to get it.”
“Okay, I’m confused.”
“Oh, right. Oh man, that sucks. I’m really sorry.” She hugged him. Holy crap! She was hugging him, and she felt so good in his arms. She smelled of coconut and lavender, her skin was so soft, it was only a hug but it felt so good. Little did he know that she was thinking the same thing, she had never felt so comfortable in another man’s arms, and she couldn’t help the smile that crossed her face when he wrapped his arms around her waist, hugging her tighter. She also tightened her grip, as he buried his face into her shoulder.
“You don’t need to thank me, I just don’t like seeing you so upset.”
“Your empathy is admirable, my dearest.”
She smiled and started dancing again.
Okay, Kevin, be cool, he thought to himself.
“I thought I lost the bet?”
“This?” She asked, flashing him a smile while running her hand up and down her body. “Oh, this is how I dance in front of everybody, this isn’t the private dance I would have given you.”
She could have picked his jaw up off the floor and she chuckled at his reaction.
“I take it back, I’ve had a better burger at Chick-fil-A.”
“Okay, that’s just mean,” she pointed a pizza cutter at him,” and it’s too late to take it back.”
“So that’s it?”
“So what’s it?”
“You’re just going to leave me with my imagination of what could have been?”
“Yup, she said, popping the p, licking the remaining raspberry filling off the spoon, rather seductively.”
He figured she knew what she was doing.
“May we make another bet?”
“Nope,” she shook her head.
“Oh, come one, you’re being an awfully sore winner.”
“I am not!” She defended.
“Don’t play coy with me, you know very well what you’re doing.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” she stated before bending over to put her utensils in the dishwasher.
“I want to make you dinner tonight.”
“Yes, I want to make you dinner tonight, and I know you said you you would pick, but I’d really like to make you a Cuban.
“It’s a lot of work to get it just right.”
“I’m up for the challenge.”
“Alright, be my guest, I’ll call the butcher and tell him you’re on your way to pick them up, he’s only two streets down, and he’ll meet you outside. I’ll give you cash.”
“No, this one is on me.”
She started to protest, but he stopped her.
“I’m not taking no for an answer.”
She put the raspberry peach pie into the oven.
“There’s just one more thing.”
“If I make the best Cuban you’ve ever had, will you dance for me.”
“I was not expecting you to answer so quickly.”
“There’s no way you’re going to get it on your first try. I’m not saying that to belittle you. It took me many times to get it just right. Every sandwich was good, but it took me many tries to get it perfect.”
He smiled, “You underestimate my cooking skills, my dear.”
What Jessica didn’t know was that Kevin had studied this recipe. He practiced it, wanting to try and make the sandwich she talked so highly of. He knew she loved coleslaw with it, and he took her recipe for that too, there was no way he was going to fail. He knew how to present the sandwich, and he knew if he put garlic dill pickles on it, it made the world of difference. She had written that in another post about the same sandwich, but she did not include that in her recipe, and he figured she was betting on that. Of course, he would never force her to do anything she didn’t want to.
He came back from the butcher and asked her if he could have the entire downstairs to himself. She wasn’t sure why he wanted the entire downstairs to himself, but she agreed to it, deciding to take the opportunity to video chat with her friends. She called Amanda first.
“Hold on,” Amanda answered, holding up her toothbrush to show she was rinsing out her mouth.
“Sorry, I didn’t want to miss your call.”
“That’s okay, I just wanted to check in on you. See how you’re doing.”
“That’s sweet, I’m good, but I miss you though.”
“I miss you too, and I have to tell you something.”
“What? Is everything okay? Amanda asked in a concerned tone.
Jessica chuckled, “Yes, I’m fine, better than fine,” she started to giggle. “Lord help me, I’m giddy.”
“Okay, what’s going on over there in Seattle?”
“There’s a man downstairs cooking me dinner.”
“Do you remember me telling you about Kevin Long?”
“Your insanely handsome blog follower that writes such beautiful poetry it makes you cry? How could I forget?”
Jessica laughed, laying back on the bed, “Oh, God, am I that obvious?”
“Yes,” Amanda replied bluntly. “What are you going to wear?”
She sat up quickly. “I didn’t even think of that, he’s just making me a sandwich, nothing fancy, what should I wear?”
“I love you in that black maxi dress. I know you brought it with you.”
“You don’t think that’s fancy?”
“No, it looks so comfortable on you, it’s flowy, but the high slit and low cut top make it sexy.”
“I don’t know, you don’t think that’s a bit too much?”
“He’s a guy, Jess, don’t read too much into it. You’re showing leg and cleavage, he’s going to love it.”
“Okay.” She chuckled again, realizing her friend was right.
They talked more about the craziness going on in the world and what was happening in Amanda’s life. She also video chatted with Christen & David, telling them that she was quarantined with her blog crush and they also advised her to wear the maxi dress. Jessica decided to take a bubble, bath, she was going to pamper herself, shave her legs, give herself a pedicure, do her nails, and put on just a little makeup, nothing over the top, but she wanted to look good for him.
He texted her throughout the time it took him to cook the pork, giving her time frames, and sharing funny jokes and memes he found on the internet. He asked her to come downstairs in 10 minutes, but not a moment sooner.
At the bottom of the stairs was a trail of LED candles, leading to the screened-in porch which was attached to the balcony. Kevin had strung fairy lights around the screens, bringing them to meet in the center of the ceiling, above a round table, which was adorned with a red linen table cloth and a vase of cuttings from her aunt’s forsythia bush. Everything looked so beautiful, She turned around to meet him in the kitchen but he had been standing behind her. He was looking at her as if she were an anomaly, and no one had ever looked at her that way before.
He was wearing a pair of jeans and a black button-up, shirt, it was nice to see he had put in some effort as well. Was this a date?
Was this a date? He wondered as he walked over to her, handing her the peach sangria he had made, knowing how much she loved them, her blog was working in his favor tonight. Besides, he figured it would pair well with the pork.
“You look incredible, Jessica.”
“Thank you, Kevin. You don’t look so bad yourself.”
“What? This old thing?”
She laughed, and the fact that he was the cause of it made him happier than it probably should.
He had followed her recipe precisely. Grilled ham steak, smoked, pulled pork, and swiss cheese, all melted together on a griddle, beside the homemade roll which was buttered, this dish was far from healthy, but he liked that although she ate healthy most of the time, she also liked to indulge. Meat held together with melted cheese goes on the bottom bun, then two thinly sliced, garlic, dill pickle spears. A large heaping of mustard spread on the top layer of the bun, coating its entire inside length, allowing the bread to absorb it.
The top layer goes on, and then the sandwich is pressed.
He cuts it diagonally, wrapping the bottom half of the sandwich in parchment paper before placing it on the plate, putting the coleslaw in a small, clear, bowl with some fresh parsley laid on top, and placed next to the sandwich.
She was impressed with his presentation. “This looks fantastic, Kevin.”
“Just wait until you taste it.” He retorted.
He reached over and pressed a button on his phone, John Mayer started to play. She knew what he was doing, and she was elated.
The moan she made as she bit into her sandwich had just become his second favorite sound, the first being her laugh. She closed her eyes, enjoying the umami taste that was flooding her mouth. She opened her eyes and met his gaze.
“I’m not ashamed to admit that I was wrong, you absolutely nailed it on your first try.”
“I have to be honest with you.”
“I just let you believe it was my first try, I never actually said it was.”
She shifted in her seat, crossing one leg over the other, the split allowing Kevin a lovely view.
“You’ve made these before?”
“Yes, a few times.” You talked about them so highly in your blog that I wanted to try them.”
“Well, I appreciate your honesty, but I don’t think it’s fair to still expect me to dance for you.”
“I don’t, and I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to sound so forceful about it.”
“I’m not offended that you want to watch me dance, Kevin.”
“Well, that’s good to know.”
Jessica started to take her plate into the kitchen, but Kevin stopped her. I’ll clean up, and before you can try and stop me, I just want you to relax tonight.”
She handed him her glass, “Then bring me another sangria, please.”
He smiled at her, “Will do.”
She sat on the sofa, stealing glances, allowing him to catch her once or twice. He changed the music once again, this time to Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me.”
“I’m not asking you to dance for me tonight, but will you dance with me?”
She took his hand and he led her in front of the big picture window which held the perfect view of the Seattle skyline.
“It’s so pretty,” she spoke softly.
“You’re so pretty,” he replied.
She ran her hand up the length of his arm and placed it on the back of his neck, drawing closer to him. He placed a finger under her chin, lifting her gaze to his. “Do you have any idea how many times I have imagined this moment with you?”
“I didn’t know you thought about me outside of the blogging community.”
“I can’t stop thinking about you.” He admitted. “I find myself checking your blog every single morning in the hopes that you have written something. I think about you before I fall asleep at night, willing my brain to dream of you. I heard your voice through your photographs, but the sweet sound is better than anything I’ve imagined. Your soft skin, your silky hair, your perfect lips, and sapphire eyes, pictures just don’t do them justice.”
She smiled, he had her, boy did he have her, but she wasn’t willing to give in so easily.
“How is it that you can say things like that, melting my heart, and other times, you’re infuriating?”
He laughed, “I like to keep you guessing my dear, if I become predictable, I can no longer surprise you, and I know how much you love surprises.”
“See, you say things like that and I can’t help but find you charming.”
“Good, because I’ve,” he trailed off, clearing his throat and letting go of her, hoping she wouldn’t press him.
“Jessica, please, I don’t know if I’m ready.”
“For what? I’m so confused, what are you talking about?”
A few agonizing seconds passed between them.
“Are you really going to leave me hanging? She asked, cautiously.
“I’ve fallen in love with you.”
I hope you enjoyed, and yes, there will be a part three.
Love & life lessons,