So, I know what I said before about relationships and messing things up, but something she said made the risk feel like it was worth taking. We were texting one night, super late, like three in the morning, and I asked if she was thinking ‘bout me—you know, just fucking with her.
She sent one of those thinking emojis, then a text right behind it. Late night thoughts are reserved for boyfriends, is what it said.
I could tell she was joking, but it got me thinking ‘bout how late at night… is when she’s always in mine.
It’s been like that for a minute too; her showing up in my dreams, doing shit like laying in my bed, leaving her stuff around, making my place hers. And when I wake up, it feels… real— right, like that’s how it’s supposed to be. And now I’m kinda feeling like… that’s what I want it to be.
Especially after that night at the movies, where she was comfortable letting things slip that she wouldn’t have before. Where she was good with ‘us’, and me keeping my arm around her waist like she was my girl. Where at the end, when it was time to go, she gave me that kiss, the one that had something, something in it like— I don’t know what, but I could tell she didn’t want to leave, and I didn’t want her to leave either.
So, I got this plan, and if— nah, when it goes the way I want, tonight’ll be the end of all these rules and what she calls boundaries, starting with the biggest one.
I met her ‘round eight, at the same spot from last time—this gas station, I’m guessing’s close by her place. Her car was parked out front, but last time it wasn’t, so she must’ve walked then. And if she did walk, that means she can’t stay no more than a few blocks away.
I leaned across the passenger’s seat and opened the door for her. “Not walking today?” I asked as she slid inside.
Damn, she looks good.
She looked at me like I was crazy, a finger pointing down at her feet. “In these shoes? Boy, bye.”
A good one too, ‘cause what I know about women and their shoes is they’re not walking long distances in heels, so the streets on either side of the gas station are out.
Getting that answer might be easier than I thought.
I took advantage of the opening she left me. “Must be a long walk if you’re worried about hurting your feet.”
She closed her door. “Long enough.” And strapped on her seat belt. “This place we’re going to has food, right?” Changing the subject before I could get any closer.
So, it wasn’t easy, but it’s cool ‘cause we still had a whole night ahead of us, starting with food; and this date-night cooking class thing I had planned was going to get me all the answers I wanted.
I can’t take credit for the whole idea, though. The inspiration came from this corny ass movie I was watching the other day ‘bout this dude who was chasing this girl that stayed giving him the runaround. He tried everything to get her attention, but what won her over in the end, was taking her to do something she liked—but didn’t expect. In her case, it was pottery making.
Now, Camilla didn’t talk a lot about her hobbies, outside of that one show and some art shit, but one thing I’ve noticed from all the weekends we’ve spent together is she likes to eat—a lot.
So, this cooking class thing is like pottery making for her, and taking her home is winning for me.
We made it kinda late, but just in time to catch the main chef’s performance, which was crazier than the traffic we fought to get here. Instead of cooking like he was supposed to be, he was in front of the class, belly dancing—well, trying to anyway—to loud music that blared throughout the classroom.
His knives—that needed to be confiscated—were spinning above his head while he rolled his hips and shook his ass like a washed up R&B artist desperately trying to make a comeback.
When I found this thing on Simoogle, I knew it was going to be some bullshit—with its first-page result prices for this third-page result class—but last-minute date-night planning don’t leave you a lot of options.
The setup was nice, though. I’ll given him that, and Camilla liked it too, so I didn’t see the point in complaining.
Terrified gasps broke out amongst the other couples as we took our place at our station. Some were covering their faces while others sought comfort in their partners.
I looked at Camilla, half-expecting her to be as freaked out as some of the other women, but she was laughing, clearly enjoying herself, not an ounce of fear in sight.
I knew she was different.
Back upfront, he lunged from side-to-side, landing a knife in each hand before breaking out into a poorly executed cartwheel. His assistant met him once he landed; a blindfold in hand for his next life-threatening trick.
Camilla leaned into me.
“Where did you find this guy?” she whispered behind giggles that refused to be suppressed. “He’s hilarious.”
I gave a nonchalant shrug, like this kind of shit was part of my usual. “I got my sources.” Then nudged her a little. “They could be yours too.”
Her go-to for ominous responses like this was usually sarcasm, but this time she stayed quiet and went back to watching the show.
I put my arm around her, amplifying the hint I just dropped, but her silence remained. The new smile creeping up on her face, though, told me all I needed to know.
I’m definitely winning tonight.
We were entertained with bad dance moves and dangerous knife tricks for a little while longer, but I wasn’t tripping ‘cause the longer he kept this up, the longer I got to keep her where I wanted—next to me, snuggled up in my arms.
For the first time tonight, her guard was down and the odds of me finding out the thing I wanted to know shot up from like ten to seventy-five. When she looked up at me, for a third time, to comment on the crazy shit going on upfront, I took my shot…
“So, I was thinking later I could—”
But the crowd broke out in cheers as the chef took his bow, bringing his performance to a close.
I should beat his ass for his terrible timing.
We separated, following the assistant’s instructions to prep our stations. The countertop was full of all kinds of cooking shit; pans and bowls and other things I ain’t never seen before— not up close, anyway. The kitchen don’t get much face time in my house.
He silenced the music. “Alright, Junior Chefs.” And pointed at words written in large letters on the chalkboard behind him. “Welcome to Cooking With Love! Tonight, you lovebirds will learn first-hand how to make Chef Pancake’s world-famous chicken pesto pizza!”
World-famous? I don’t remember seeing no accolades next to his name; and why is a dude named Pancakes making pizza, anyway? And who the fuck names themself Chef Pancakes?
The assistant clapped loudly, urging the class to do the same, while the chef took his place in front of his station. He started the lesson with kitchen safety rules, then moved on to equipment and other things we’d be working with. Next was— Shit, I don’t know. I wasn’t really listening.
I was noticing, though, how comfortable Camilla was with all this. How it seemed like she knew what to do before he even told us. The way, in minutes, she had turned a bowl of flour, water, and oil into something that resembled pizza dough. The way she took charge, with no problems—almost like this kind of shit was part of her usual.
That movie might’ve been on to something.
The tomatoes I had been tasked to slice, sat untouched on the countertop while I watched her work. In the background, I reminisced about one of those dreams I mentioned. Specifically, the one where she spent the night, and it was late, and she said she was hungry, and we were in my kitchen and—
“What?” Her eyes shot up from her ball of dough.
Her tone, her pinched together eyebrows, her hands that would’ve been on her hips if they weren’t gripping a flour covered rolling pin—she had to have known I was watching her, or maybe she heard what I was thinking ‘bout her?
I hoped it was the first one.
I played it off like I wasn’t doing neither. “Nothing.” I nodded at the wall behind her. “I was looking at that poster over there.”
She sucked her teeth; her expression alone, calling me out on my bullshit. “I can feel you staring, Amir.”
Alright, she caught me, but telling her something she wants to hear, a touch even, for good measure, will make her forget about it.
“I’m just… watching you do your thing.” I ran my fingers slowly across hers. “You’re good at it.”
The skepticism washed away and a smile—the smile—the kind that let me know what I was saying, doing was working, took its place. “Thank you.”
And just like I predicted, she was good, and back to rolling her dough.
I grabbed a knife and started on those tomatoes, following up on that compliment I gave her. “You cook like this all the time?”
“God no.” She chuckled, shaking her head, like I was wrong for making that assumption.
I laughed at how dramatic her response was. “Why you say it like that?”
“No reason, I just…” She stopped rolling and looked up at me again. “Lets just say that… when you’ve spent as much time in the kitchen, against your will, as I have, it becomes your least favorite place.”
That was personal.
We didn’t even have sauce on the pizza yet, and I was already breaking down boundaries and shit.
I know I’m winning tonight.
I kept the momentum going by asking what she meant. So, she told me ‘bout how her mom has this catering business, and used to make her stay in the kitchen when she was little, so now it’s one of their many beefs that’s been going on for years.
If I would’ve known cooking would get her talking like this, I would’ve been taken her out.
“But you got all these skills, though.” I pushed some more; trying to see how much she would give me. “Why you don’t use them?”
She grinned in a way that said she wasn’t afraid of a little get-back. “Because I know it pisses her off.”
She’s definitely my kind of girl.
My grin matched hers. “So you like causing trouble, then?”
She shrugged. “Sometimes.”
She finished molding her crust and moved on to the sauce. I was still stuck on those tomatoes, but she didn’t seem to mind.
“So, what about you?” she asked. “You like causing trouble for your parents, too?”
Even though questions were my thing tonight, I let her have this one.
“Nah.” I kept my head down, focusing way more on those tomatoes than I wanted to. “But, let my mom tell it, though, everything I do is trouble.”
She stopped stirring; trying to catch a glimpse of my face that was conveniently shielded by my hair. “Why is that?” she asked in the most sympathetic voice I’ve ever heard in my life.
So sympathetic that I almost told her how my mom thinks her nephew is so fucking perfect that everything I do—good or great—in comparison, is always a fucking disappointment to her. How even after I bought my third condo, the only thing she could talk about was his degree, or the masterpiece he was going to write one day, or the grand-kids he was going to give his mom because he was capable of finding a nice girl and settling down—almost. I almost told her all that. But, I didn’t. I’m not trying to do all that with her.
“That’s boring.” I looked over at her with a forced a smile, and a new conversation topic in the works. “Tell me something interesting like…” She watched me curiously as I wracked my brain for a question that would get us back on track and me closer to my goal. “What you do for work.”
“That’s boring,” she mocked me alongside a mischievous smirk. “How about you tell me something interesting like…” She kept me waiting a few seconds, just like I did her. “Why you picked this place to go to.”
Damn, she’s good. Better at deflection than I thought. Not better than me, though.
“You don’t like it?”
“I do,” she said quickly. “You just keep…” She paused like she was weighing her words; trying to decide if what she wanted to say was worth saying. “Never mind…”
I guess it wasn’t. Or maybe it was?
She went quiet; giving all her attention to the sauceless pizza in front of us. Something changed, and I don’t know what it is.
Fuck. Am I winning tonight?
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