The quickest way to a man’s heart – fast fiction ~title by JBirdman~
Ali was sweating and looking into a big pot. Jay sat at the table watching her like a hawk. He was smiling as she trembled. He lifted his nose to smell all the different aromas in the kitchen, the bread baking in the oven, the chili cooking on the stove top, the fresh cut veggies for their salad; all so delicious, but the coup de gras was the trifle already sitting at the center of the table. Jay leaned over and sniffed at it. The fresh strawberry jam and pound cake that she made that morning making his mouth water ever so slightly. Ali turned just in time to see what Jay was doing and she smiled at him, but the anxiety still showed plainly on her face. Jay made the move to stand up, but Ali’s hand shot up quickly, motioning for him to remain seated.
“What do you need me to do,” he asked, watching her with an almost taunting smile.
Ali’s lip quivered. She had been cooking all day and she was exhausted, but she replied in a brisk tone. “Nothing, go check on the guys outside,” she snapped.
“Yeah yeah,” Jay replied. “Whatever.” He walked out the large sliding door to where another group of men were sitting, nursing their beers and staring forlornly into the kitchen. Each had been banished one by one outside. Jay was the last to receive his banishment.
“What’d you say for her to kick you out,” asked Jay’s best friend Mike.
“Asked her if she needed help,” Jay laughed.
“Bummer man,” said Peter. “I mean, you were being nice, not even rushing her!”
Ryan grunted in agreement. “This sucks guys, I mean, we’re hungry!”
From in the kitchen they heard Ali shout, “BE QUIET AND DRINK YOUR BEERS. IF I HEAR ANYMORE WHINING I’LL COME AFTER ALL OF YOU WITH MY WOODEN SPOON.”
The men fell silent for a moment, and then Jake looked around the table, his eyes stopping finally at Jay. “No worries blokes. We know what’s comin!”
The men nodded and went back to watching the trees rustle in the wind and silently nursing their beers. Ali had told them only two before dinner or they’d not get any of the food, not even the desert. They looked in at her in the kitchen, she seemed to be concentrating.
Jay leaned in, a wolfish smile spread across his lips. “I think we ought to go in there and just get some. She’s kept us waiting all day,” he whispered.
A few of the guys grunted in agreement, but no one went to stand up first. Jay sighed and stood up. He moved to the door, but no one else followed him. When he got there, Ali rounded on him and demanded to know what he was doing.
“Heading in to the toilet. That’s all, Ali. Excuse me,” he answered sheepishly. She watched him as he walked down the small hallway and turned into the bathroom. The other guys started laughing outside but just a glance from Ali stopped them. Just as Jay was leaving the bathroom, his hands still wet from washing them, Ali called to them.
All of the guys hopped up and Jay rushed down the hall into the kitchen. As they filed in she smiled at them and pointed to her cheek with the spoon that had been stirring the chili. Each gave her a kiss on it while glowering at the men that came before, and after him. When they were all seated, she dished out large bowls of chili, with a side of piping hot bread and a salad on a small plate. She brought them each their bowl, starting with Jay who lasted the longest. Jay dug into his meal with gusto, followed by Mike, then Ryan, and finally Peter. She sat on a stool away from them, watching them carefully. Each man had a beer, salad, bread, and chili. Each approached the meal differently as well. Some eating the salad first, some digging straight into the chili leaving the salad to pick at when their chili was gone. Some tore their bread into tiny pieces, while others ate the crust first. Some sprinkled cheese on their chili, while others used a dollop of sour cream, and some did both. All the men were silent, eating their fill, occasionally commenting to the others about a flavor. Finally Peter sat up and looked at Ali. His spoon was halfway to his mouth and he was smiling.
“Miss Ali, have you made your decision yet,” he asked, his eyes twinkling with hope, and his cheeks flushed with either embarrassment or the heat of the chili.
“Nope,” Ali replied. The men sighed almost in unison.
Mike watched her, only glancing down to make sure he wasn’t going to spill, but when her eyes locked with his, he looked away. Jay caught the movement and looked up, looking between the two of them, but said nothing, and Ryan said nothing, but kept shoveling food into his mouth.
When the plates were cleaned she brought over small bowls and dished out the trifle. The smoothness of the layers being destroyed with the large spoon. Each man was given a heaping portion of the desert, and when that was done, Ali walked away again. This time, all the men watched her with with concern. She’d not spoken since the single ‘Nope’ and she’d not given anything away on her face. They looked around at each other, every one of them hesitant to lift their heavily laden spoons into their mouths. Ryan was the first one to eat, and his subsequent smile and sigh set all the other men to shoveling their desert into their mouths.
The meal was long over, and the men had done their cleaning up. The kitchen was spotless, and each had a small container with chili and a foil wrapped piece of bread resting on top. They looked around, afraid to upset Ali, but all anxious to know the news.
“Jay, your patience and polite manners won out. You’re the first one,” she said, her voice shattering the silence of the room. “Mike, your quiet disposition brought you in, so you’re the second. Mike and Peter, you’re both adorable, but that only gets you so far. You get to go in together, and last.” Jay stood from his chair, a huge grin flashing on his face, the others stared at him with jealousy and sadness painting their faces. Ali took Jay by the hand and lead him down the now darker hallway and turned to a closed door on the opposite side from the bathroom. Carefully she opened the door and took him in. The other men sat speechless while quiet sounds could be heard from the thin doors. They could hear Jay laughing, and Ali was laughing too. Ali let out a loud gasp and almost a squeal and Jay a little moan. The men began to talk in hushed tones, but all talking quieted when they heard Ali call for Ryan. He smirked at Mike and Peter, and strutted down the hallway, as a flushed Jay walked out, his hands full of his prize. A small puppy wiggled in his hands and the scowls of Mike and Peter melted instantly. Soon, the men sat on the back porch again, nursing their beers, and watching the small bundles of fur run, wrestle, and play.