Walking to my bathroom mirror, I address my reflection. “Kevin, you were an idiot for accusing her of cheating. You admitted this. There is no way Stephanie holds it against you.” She went out with your brother! “She didn’t know it was your brother.” It was retribution for accusing her of cheating. Besides, you weren’t dating anymore. “Shut up Kevin! And stop talking to yourself.” I shake my head and go to the kitchen grabbing eggs, goat cheese, jalapenos, mushrooms, milk, and chives from the fridge. “Stephanie always loved omelets.” For a dinner date? “Bad idea.”
“I have to woo her again.” I just said woo. Yikes. “Don’t be cheesy. Cheesy, mac’n’cheese. She likes that.” No. That’s immature. “Pizza it is! Wait, with garlic and onions she’ll never let me kiss her.” I pick up a chef’s knife and tap the handle on the counter. “Sushi! It’s elegant, impressive, finger food fun.”
When the doorbell rings, I set the bouquet I bought her on the coffee table and run my wet palms over my jeans. My knees weaken when I open the door. “Hi, Stephanie.” Wow she’s gorgeous. “Come in.” Her perfume envelops me. Keep it together, idiot.
“I almost didn’t come.”
I hang her coat by the door and reach for her hand, but she pulls away. I clear my throat. “I’m glad you did. Please, sit down. Is cherry soda still your favorite?”
“I made some today.”
“You made soda?”
“I wouldn’t be a chef if I didn’t.” Oh yeah, major points there. I wink. “Easy idiot, Don’t scare her.”
Stupid! “Nothing.” I pull a bottle from the fridge and pour two glasses. Our hands touch as she takes hers. Resisting the urge to kiss her becomes almost impossible. “Do you know why I started making soda?” I sit across from her.
Stephanie shakes her head, her hair falling over one eye.
She frowns. “Oh, right! My allergies certain food colorings.” She lifts her glass to the light.“It’s still dyed.”
“But not with actual dye.” I smile, taking a drink. “It’s colored with concentrated beet juice. It was the most scared I’d ever been when you called me from the hospital.”
Her eyebrow rises. “It was?” She takes a sip and seems pleased.
“Yeah.” Setting my glass down, I pick an orange flower from the arrangement and run the silken petal between my fingers. “When I got there and you were still hardly breathing, I thought I’d lose you forever.” I hand it to her with a smile.
She shifts in her seat, smoothing her hair. “How long ago was that?”
“The month before you—we broke up.” I frown. “You don’t remember?”
“I can’t remember every little thing!” She folds her arms and huffs.
“Stephanie, what’s wrong?”
“Can we just eat, please?”
I stretch as I get up. How can she still be mad? I glance over my shoulder at her and see the bouquet again. Moron! She hates the color orange!
I plate the sushi and clear my throat. “I bet,” I say, handing her the tray, “you thought I forgot your favorite color.”
“What?” Stephanie stuffs a piece into her mouth. “My—oh! What color is it, if you remember?”
I sit beside her and take a piece of sushi. “Pink, not ugly baby pink like your sister likes, but like the sunsets your favorite author describes.” Nailed it!
She scowls, “Kerry has good taste!” Clearing her throat, she smiles, black sesame seeds dotting her teeth. “But, I’m glad you remember.”
I stifle a laugh.
“Nothing.” I take her hand. “You look perfect.”
She straitens her shoulders and flips her hair. “Thank you.”
“You don’t mind me holding your hand?” I’m surprised she hasn’t pulled away.
Her cheeks turn red. “No.”
Same old Stephanie. Her eyes are so beautiful. I run my thumb over her palm as I move closer. My thumb drifts onto the smooth skin of her wrist—smooth skin? I’m holding her right hand. I turn her hand over and see her raised birthmark is gone.
When she notices my frown, she pulls away. “I—Oh forget it! Acting is too hard. I’m Kerry.”
My mouth goes dry. Stephanie’s twin?
“I have questions I need answered.”
“That makes two of us! What the heck—”
“Hold it!” She pokes my chest. “You broke my sister’s heart. You don’t get to be angry.”
“Does she know you’re here?”
She laughs. “Do you think she’d set you up?”
I shake my head going for my front door. “You need to leave.”
“Oh no! I need to know she’ll be safe with you.”
“Are you saying you want to help me?”
“Answer my questions first.”
Wow, she is annoying. “What?”
“Do you really care about Stephanie?”
“Not enough. How do you feel about her?” She folds her arms and taps her foot.
My shoulders tense. Who does she think she is? “Stephanie knows that.”
“Pretend she doesn’t.”
I lean against the door, inhaling deeply and running a hand over my face. “You’ll help me get her back?”
“Without Stephanie, I’m not who I should be. I’m a better person when I’m with her. I work harder. I laugh more. She helps me see the good in everything. Saying I love her isn’t saying enough.”
Kerry nods. “I think we can believe him.” She’s pulls out her phone and holds it up. “Did you hear all of that Steph?”
“I’m coming up, Kerry.”
Opening the door, I run from the apartment, leaping down the staircase three steps at a time. As I near the lobby I catch sight of a wet floor sign, but it’s too late. My feet fly in different directions and something rips as I hit the floor.
“Kevin! Are you okay?”
I test my limbs and nod.
Looking down, I see my baby pink boxers through my jeans. That’s what I get for doing my own laundry.
Have a question for Kevin? Leave it in the comments and you might get your question asked and answered in my next character interview!
Want to read Stephanie’s story? Here’s the link! https://justinaluther.wordpress.com/2014/06/30/connections/
Thanks so much for reading! This story is affiliated with When Readers Write’s Blah Buster series. To read more Blah Busters visit: http://www.whenreaderswrite.com