Requirement #1: A short romance with a tasty recipe.
Requirement #2: A short story that can be read in 10 minutes or less, preferrably with a holiday theme.
The first reading took place on Dec 1 at Books and Company. I hate reading out loud and I was nervous, but I got it done.
The second reading took place on Dec 11 at a Christmas Party. Again, I read it out loud, but it was in a more intimate setting (not in a book store where just ANYONE could listen).
I didn't get any BAD comments (maybe they were being nice?). Anyway, I thought I would share the short story with you all. It's not meant to be anything but entertaining. I hope I do that.
The morning before Christmas, Lynn looked out the French doors and watched the snow fall softly to the ground. She loved the snow. How it made the world all quiet when it fell. If she weren’t holed up inside the house with a broken leg, she’d be out in it, reveling in the sereneness of it all.
She hobbled into the kitchen. Damn cast. If she couldn’t have her solitude outside, she might as well have it in the kitchen. The house was quiet – her parents at work and her brother off on some last minute shopping. No better time than to fix her grandmother’s favorite dessert, Glorified Brownies. She couldn’t find the recipe anywhere, but knew the basics: brownies, marshmallows, and frosting. She held the boxed mix and canned frosting and looked up toward heaven. “Hope you don’t mind I’m cheating, Grandma.” Inside her heart, Lynn was sure she didn’t.
She opened the bag containing the brownie mix and poured the contents into a bowl, causing chocolate dust to float in the air.
The front door opened and slammed shut. “Hey, Linnie. Whatcha makin’?”
No. Her quiet solitude just flew out the door. Of all the people who could come visit, why him? He strutted inside the room as if he owned the place. When he removed his coat, snow from the shoulders fell to the floor, but all she saw was his chest. Then he removed his knit cap, uncovering a blond shaggy mess that he quickly ran his fingers through. He was still handsome as ever and she had to snap herself out of the spell he always managed to put her under.
Coming to her senses, she used anger as a shield. He didn’t deserve to call her that endearment when she wasn’t any more than his friend’s sister. Well, two could play that game. “Michael isn’t here, Raphael.”
Michael and Rafe, as he preferred to be called, had been friends since grade school and she had secretly had a crush on him until he graduated high school and left her behind. It hurt that he never seemed to look her way and the only time she’d see him was during school break, but she eventually got over it. Going off to college could do that to a person.
He narrowed his baby blues at her and then smiled. “Ouch. I still wonder what my parents were smoking when they came up with that. But I get it. Lynn. You didn’t seem to mind me calling you Linnie when you were ten.”
“Well, in case you didn’t notice, I’m not ten anymore.”
She was right, she wasn’t ten anymore. And it wasn’t like he didn’t notice her, he did. He noticed her curves and the way her short brunette hair curled around her ears. And she had the warmest brown eyes he’d ever seen. But she was Mike’s baby sister, so he had treated her like one, too. It had been safer that way. He wasn’t so sure he wanted to be safe any longer.
Rafe ran a hand over his unshaven face. All of a sudden he felt like a slob, coming in here, flinging snow and apparently getting on her wrong side. She almost acted like she hated him. He hoped to God she didn’t.
He went into the kitchen to grab a paper towel when he saw her leg. Mike said something about her falling, but Rafe thought he was joking. “You broke your leg?”
She looked down at the subject of interest. “No, I just like to wear this because it keeps my leg warm.”
“Damn, girl. How come you’re not sitting down? You should have that thing propped up.”
Lynn raised one eyebrow and placed a hand on her hip, getting some of the chocolaty flour mixture on her jeans. “I’m not an invalid. Besides, I have things to do.”
Tempted to brush the mess away, he was afraid she’d take it the wrong way. “At least you can sit on a stool while you do that.”
He went around the counter to get one when he stepped on the melted snow. The next thing he knew, his feet went flying and his butt landed on the floor with a thud. Curses that would make his mother question his upbringing came forth with a vengeance.
“Oh my God, Rafe! Are you okay?” She peered over the counter, eyes wide, with a real look of concern on her face.
Well, maybe she didn’t hate him after all. He held on to the hope.
“I’m fine.” Nothing felt broken, except maybe his pride. Slowly he stood, avoiding the puddles and another fall. His butt was wet and throbbing just a bit, but he certainly wouldn’t admit that to her. Lynn held out some paper towels.
After he cleaned up the mess, he retrieved the stool as he intended and placed it in the kitchen, by the counter. “You can sit while you work, at least.”
“That’s stupid. I’ll only have to get up and down.”
“No you won’t. Consider me your helper.”
Her helper, huh? It reminded Lynn of when she helped her grandmother make the brownies. Maybe she didn’t have to be alone to remember.
Rafe was great. He never once complained fetching all the ingredients, even when it appeared he was in pain. Her heart had stopped a moment when she saw him go down; his head had nearly hit the countertop.
She spread the batter into the pan and handed it to him to put into the oven. After he set the timer, he came over and looked at the spatula. “Can I lick that?” he asked.
“Sure. All helpers get to.” She smiled, remembering Grandma told her the same thing.
After he scraped every last bit of batter from the bowl, he actually washed the dishes, not letting her move from the stool. When he was done, he brought another stool around and sat down next to her. They still had ten minutes until the timer went off.
He propped his elbows on the counter as he leaned back against it. “I’m surprised I didn’t find you outside in the snow when I got here. You usually can’t resist a good snow falling.”
“Well, the cast makes it a little hard. Don’t want to get my toes frostbitten,” she said, wiggling them for effect. “But how did you know?”
“What, you don’t think I see you? Is that it?”
That’s exactly what she thought, but before she could say anything, her brother barged in. The connection she was feeling with Rafe vanished when Michael offered to stay and help finish the brownies and maybe even sample some. So after she added the marshmallows and frosting, they sat around the counter and each had a piece, toasting Grandma in the process.
When Rafe announced he had an errand to run, Lynn’s heart sank a little. She thought maybe he was interested in her after all, but when her brother showed up, he resorted back to his old ways of avoiding her. Who was she kidding anyway? Their relationship would always be one way and she had to face the fact.
Later in the afternoon, while she was sitting in the family room watching a movie, Rafe returned carrying a large Christmas present. Her leg was propped up on the coffee table and she had a shawl over her exposed toes.
“Hey Linnie… I mean, Lynn.” He sat beside her on the couch and she noticed he had shaved. “Merry Christmas.”
He held out the package. It wasn’t wrapped very well, the paper bunched on the sides and the ribbon was loose, but she didn’t care. He seemed to have gone to a lot of trouble. She just couldn’t figure out why. “For me?”
He smiled and nodded. “Go ahead, open it.”
Like she used to do as a little girl, she broke the ribbon and ripped off the paper. Inside the box was a very large Santa Stocking. What was she supposed to do with this? “Umm, thanks?”
He chuckled as he removed the shawl and slid the stocking over her cast.
“You’re decorating me? Couldn’t you just sign the cast like a normal person?”
“Hold on, I’m not done,” he said, then pulled out a roll of saran wrap from the box and proceeded to wrap the sock. Standing up straight and proud, just like a peacock, he said, “Now you can go outside and enjoy the snow.”
Rafe did this for her? Tears formed in her eyes and her heart swelled. She didn’t know what to say.
He sat beside her and took her hand. “I had such fun with you today and realized I’ve been stupid not telling you how I feel. I like you. I want to be in your life. I want you to be my Linnie.”
She was sure she was dreaming until he leaned in close and kissed her. His lips were warm and tender and better than any dream she ever had. When he pulled away, she couldn’t resist. “You sure you don’t just want me for my brownies?”
A sly smile spread across his face and his eyes twinkled. “Well, they were good brownies.”