“Are you going out?” Edna Clarke asked her daughter, Neriah.
“Yes, Mama. I’m going to the library.”
“On your way to the library, could you stop by Mrs. Miller’s house?”
“Good. Just let me finish banging out a dish she really likes.”
“Okay, Mama. I’ll just go and finish my essay which is due tomorrow. Call me when you’re done.”
Neriah went to her room and on her laptop. She turned it on and tried to finish her essay but her mind was elsewhere. She was thinking about Mrs. Miller’s son, Jace. She could still remember the day when they saw each other and something happened between them. She had gone to drop a tin of biscuits which her mother had baked for Mrs. Miller and Jace was there. They had met a couple of years earlier and there was an attraction between them but he had a girlfriend.
After she sat with Mrs. Miller for a while, she had gotten up to put some of the biscuits out in a plate for her when Jace walked into the kitchen. Like clockwork, her heart and pulse began to race at alarming rates. Still, she tried to act cool. After they exchanged greetings, he said, “If I had known that you were going to be here today, I would have stopped by earlier.”
“Oh,” she said. “It was just this morning that my mother asked me to bring these cookies she baked for your mother.”
“Your mother has been very kind to mine. Please thank her for me.”
“I will.” The way he was looking at her made her stomach somersault and her knees weak. Also, it was beginning to feel rather warm in the kitchen all of a sudden. Maybe she should just grab the plate with the biscuits and bolt. Her heart lurched when he went up to her.
He was standing very close and his eyes were intent on her upturned face. Then, without saying a word, he reached out and pulled her against him. She watched transfixed as his face got closer. Her gaze dropped to his lips just before she felt them on hers. Her eyes fell shut as he kissed her and her arms went around his waist as she responded.
They kissed for what seemed like a long time and then, he raised his head, his breath unsteady and his face flushed. His eyes were dark and smoldering as they met hers. “Neriah…”
What ever he was going to say was by the sound of approaching footsteps. They broke apart just as his girlfriend, Rosanne appeared. She looked at him and then Neriah and then him again. “Oh,” she said looking a bit put out. “Your mother said that you were in the kitchen but she didn’t mention that you had company. Who’s this?”
“This is Neriah. She stopped by to visit my mother and to drop off these biscuits.”
“I-I was just taking them out to her. Excuse me.” She gingerly picked up the plate and hurried out of the kitchen. She gave the biscuits to Mrs. Miller, make up some excuse and left.
That was several weeks ago. She hadn’t seen Jace since then but she couldn’t stop thinking about him and the kiss. She wondered what happened between his girlfriend after she left. She hadn’t looked at all pleased to see them together. Did she suspect something? Did their faces betray them?
Her mother’s voice interrupted her thoughts and she signed off of her laptop, turned it off and left her room. She took the dish with the food and walked out of the door which her mother held open for her. “Thanks, Neriah.”
“You’re welcome, Mama. I’ll see you later.” She walked to her car, put the dish on top of it so that she could open her door. She put the dish on the passenger seat and then closed the door behind her. In a couple of minutes she was on her way to see Mrs. Miller. When she got there, her heart leapt in her chest when she saw a black Vauxhall parked in the driveway. Jace was there! Was his girlfriend there too? She hoped not.
She drew up to the curb and parked. She turned off the ignition, got out of the car and walked around to the passenger-side. She took up the dish, placed on the bonnet of the car so that she could lock it. She took a deep breath before she started up the driveway to the front door.
As she stood there, trying to figure out how she was going to ring the bell without dropping the dish, the door suddenly opened and Jace stood there. A tense expression was on his face.
For several minutes, they stared at each other until he finally said, “Hello.”
“Hello,” she said. “I–I brought something my mother made for your mother.”
He stepped aside for her to go inside. “You can take it straight into the kitchen.”
She nodded and headed straight to the kitchen. After putting the dish on the counter, she went into the living-room where Mrs. Miller was. She was sitting in the armchair beside the fireplace. Her face broke into a big smile when she saw Neriah. “Hello, Dear,” she said.
“Mama, asked me to bring some food for you. She said it was a dish you really liked.”
“Would you like some of it now, Mother?” Jace asked her.
“Yes, that would be nice.”
“I’ll share it out for you, Mrs. Miller,” Neriah offered. She left.
She was in the kitchen sharing out the food in a plate when Jace walked in. “Do you know I was just leaving when you showed up?”
“I–I didn’t know that you were going to be here.”
“Would you have come if you had?” he asked tightly.
“Of course. Why wouldn’t I?”
“Stay here. I’ll take this to Mother.”
“We need to talk.” He took up the plate and carried it out of the kitchen while she stood there, her heart pounding.
When he returned, he stood there, watching her. “We need to talk about what happened the last time we saw each other.”
“We kissed and then, your girlfriend showed up–“
“She isn’t my girlfriend any more.”
Neriah’s eyes widened. “She isn’t?”
“No. After you left, we broke up.”
“You did? Why?”
“Why do you think, Neriah?”
“I–I don’t know.”
“How could I continue being in a relationship with her after what happened between you and me?”
“From the moment you and I met, I was attracted to you. I tried to fight my feelings because of Roseanne but when I saw you here, alone, I couldn’t resist. When we kissed, I knew that I couldn’t be with her anymore. It was obvious that she suspected that something had transpired between us and when she asked me about it, I couldn’t deny it. I told her that we couldn’t be in relationship any longer. Understandably she was upset. She give me a piece of her mind and then she left. I told my mother what happened.”
“And what did your mother say?”
“She said that I did the right thing.”
“So she knows why you broke up with Roseanne.”
“And what did she have to say about that?”
“She likes you, Neriah.”
“I like her too but would she approve of you and me?”
“Yes,” he said, moving closer. “And even if she didn’t, it wouldn’t matter. I want to be with you. What about you?”
“I–I want to be with you too.” Her breath had quickened and her stomach was acting crazy again.
He pulled her against him, his eyes darkening on her face. “Good,” he murmured huskily before he lowered his head and kissed her.
Unknown to them, his mother stood in the aperture of the doorway, watching them. She turned away, a smile on her face as she returned to the dining-room, carrying the empty plate.