I stood at the bottom step. He was whistling in the kitchen. He looked straight at me, saw me watching him.
"Mornin', Sunshine." We both flinched. It was so natural for him to say, the way it rolled right off his tongue as if he had never stopped.
His tongue ... I sighed, closing my eyes for a second. It had been so long. I cleared my head. Shivered. Pulled my robe closer.
I looked out the kitchen window. Still blanketed in white. Still blinding. Great. I let out an easy whistle.
"Still pretty rough out there." He paused. "Did you sleep okay?"
"Feeling alright this morning?"
This time nothing.
"Cats got your tongue?" I noticed the fur-balls, curled up on my sofa. I laughed. Softly. Throatily. My early morning voice finding its way.
"They sleep with you last night?" I asked. His turn to nod. I watched as he scrambled eggs. My stomach churned. "Traitors," I whispered, walking over to them. One stretched, the other curled deeper into himself. "Fantastic." I heard him laugh. Turned to catch him watching me. Smiling.
He motioned to the coffee pot.
"Seriously? You still don't know how to make a cup of coffee?" I stopped. Assumed too much, with no hesitation.
"That's what Mary is for," he answered.
"Down at the coffee shop. You haven't met her?"
"She's great. Sweetest little thing..."
I didn't want to hear about a sweet little thing named Mary.
"I'm pretty good at making my own coffee these days," I said as I walked over to the pot. I counted. "Three, four, five ... "
"Six doughnuts, please."
"Someone's pretty hungry." I gave him a polite smile. "Got one over there for me?" This guy was pretty ballsy. Acting as if he owned the place.
"Hold on, Matty. Lovely lady was here first." I smiled again. Satisfied.
"I was talking to her, actually." He looked at me. Extended his hand. "Matt." I didn't move. "Got an extra one I can take off your hands?" I don't know what happened. What made me do it. Every inch of my body was saying no. Saying walk away. And yet.
"Sure. Get my coffee and I can spare a doughnut for you." Was that just my voice? Did I really just say that? His eyes sparkled. Twinkled, even. Damn. Not smart. Joe shared a hearty laugh from behind the counter.
"Watch out, sweetheart. This one's a toughie."
"Like your day old muffins, Joe?" Matt ducked as a dishrag flew past his head.
I sat down. What the hell am I doing? What am I DOing?
He sat down across the table. Placed my coffee in front of me. "So, do you have a name?" I smiled. I couldn't help myself. Took a deep breath.
Seven, eight ... how many scoops was that? Damn. I totally lost track.
"Hey," he was waving his hand in my face. "Doughnuts okay?"
I really have to stop playing with these memories.
"Doughnuts," he repeated. "You up for some?"
He smiled, as if remembering something himself. "I also made some eggs." I shook my head. "No?"
"Not in the mood. Where'd the doughnuts come from?"
"I'm making them out of canned biscuit dough." I laughed. "I know, I know. Wonders never cease."
"No, Matty. You never cease. To amaze me. What else have you learned over these past months?" I stood against the counter, steam rising behind me. Biscuit dough sizzling on the stove.
He walked over, pushed my hair behind my ear.
"Has it been that long?" I felt my breath slowing. My arms, legs, weakening under his gentle touch.
"Yeah," I whispered.
"Where does the time go?" I shrugged.
He was so close I could smell him. Over the eggs. The doughnuts. The coffee. My stomach churned. I swallowed heavily and found myself blinking back tears.
This post is linked up to the Red Dress Club this week for their "doughnut prompt" ... it is a part of a work in progress, and if you'd like to review the previous parts of their story please feel free to click on the story label at the bottom of this post, or click here for more history. As always, constructive criticism is welcomed.