A Visit to a Fan Ch. 07byvelvetpie©
Dinner began with the sparkling wine and plates of baked lemon-infused shrimp scampi, drizzled with butter-thickened sauce. Gale took the opposite end of the table, smiling when she arose to serve him. He protested but she would hear none of it, handing him a navy blue napkin and watching as he spread it across his lap. Lifting and biting into a jumbo shrimp, he was so grateful to have a homemade meal that he suddenly felt close to tears and had to take a deep breath.
An exquisite combination of lemon, butter and garlic burst across his taste buds, perfectly amplifying the sweetness of the shrimp. He closed his eyes and chewed, enjoying the slight crust that provided a counterpoint to the dish. It was just heavenly. When he opened his eyes, he was startled to find her watching him.
"How is it?"
"Fantastic. I've never had scampi this good anywhere."
She smiled and shyly looked away, raising her glass for a sip. They continued with the appetizer, eating silently and enjoying both the food and the company. Velvet lifted the bottle of Asti from the metal container and arose to refill his glass, then filled her own, taking her seat again. She stared at him for a moment before speaking.
"I'm sorry for being so judgmental earlier. I guess my poor brain was overwhelmed."
"Don't apologize, Velvet. You did nothing wrong. I just didn't express myself as well as I could have."
She stood, taking their plates and was in the kitchen for several minutes before returning with bowls of salad greens. A second trip brought a platter of dressings and he selected Roasted Red Pepper Vidalia while she opted for Three Cheese Caesar. Again, more silence as both tore into mixed field greens, slivered tomatoes and cucumbers, all covered with a sprinkling of cubed pickled beets and sharp cheddar cheese.
Gale opened a new bottle and filled glasses, surprising her by taking her empty salad bowl and heading into the kitchen. She followed with the tray, putting the assortment of dressings back into the refrigerator and turned to face him. "I've never had anyone ask me to seduce him."
"And I've never asked anyone." He looked down at the floor briefly. "I suppose you would say that with my looks, I wouldn't have to."
"The thought did cross my mind." She said honestly, lifting a lid and stirring a pot with a slotted wooden spoon. She reached into another cabinet for two deep bowls, setting them on the counter, then retrieved a plate of sliced red meat from the refrigerator. "But why me, of all people?"
"Because of that story and because of the way you made me feel when I read it." He took a deep breath as he watched her ladle fragrant soup into the bowls, then got another small saucer and halved the raw meat.
"You said that before but why come to me? Surely you could have found someone in your zip code."
"No. It had to be you."
She turned around. "But why?"
"Because you really care about me." He moved closer, letting his fingers touch her hand. "And that's what I want." He slid two fingers under her chin, lifting her eyes to his. "Someone who really cares about me."
Slowly, he bent, assessing her response the closer he got until his mouth was touching hers. Her lips were soft and warm and smelled like the cherry lip balm that he'd seen her use earlier and he slipped his hand fully inside hers. When he stepped back, her eyes opened slowly, searching his and she licked her lips, glancing down at his mouth.
"Soup's getting cold." He nodded and released her, happy that she hadn't rejected him. He took his bowl and a saucer of the meat and followed her back to the table. "This is my famous Beef Tartare soup. This is thinly sliced beef tenderloin. Drop a few slices into the soup and stir it around. It's cooked by the heat of the soup."
He ate silently, enjoying the tiny pearl onions, quartered creamer potatoes with their skins and sliced mushrooms that comprised the rest of the soup. The tenderloin cooked perfectly and was tender, nearly melting as he chewed. "This is fantastic. You should open a restaurant."
"I plan to." More Asti was poured as they finished the soup and he stepped out to have a cigarette while she checked on the main course. He joined her in the kitchen when he had finished, standing back as she removed a large foil-covered broiler pan from the oven. "Are you full?"
"Good. I was worried that I made too much food."
He smiled. "There's never too much food where I'm concerned. I love to eat."
"Good. Well, go have a seat and I'll bring your plate out in a minute."
Eight minutes later, she presented him with a plate that was so artistically arranged that he would have sworn that he was in a restaurant. She had sliced a rack of pecan-crusted lamb into six ribs and arranged them in an arc at one side of the plate and a thick brown sauce had been drizzled over them. Bright green spears of asparagus fanned out on the other side in counterpoint and baby carrots with their green tops completed the palette. The lamb rested on a mound of garlic mashed potatoes and a blue cheese-portobello muffin nestled against it.
"Oh, my God! I can't eat this. It's too beautiful!" He arose as she smiled, her face filled with pride. "Thank you." He leaned forward and gave her a kiss, noting with a flip of his heart, that she leaned in as well.
"You're very welcome." She went to the other end of the table and started in on her own plate. Halfway through, she arose to refill his glass and brought out a plate that had another sliced rack of lamb, setting it near him. "There are more vegetables if you want, too." Gale nodded and finished what was on his plate, arising and grabbing more asparagus and mashed potatoes from the kitchen and serving her as well.
By the time they'd finished, the lamb was gone and just a few carrots swam in their butter sauce. He burped, excused himself and let out a huge sigh, patting his stomach. "No meal in any restaurant I've ever eaten in comes close to this. This was so good."
"I'm glad you enjoyed it. Food always tastes better when someone who loves you makes it for you." She smiled at him and the heat rose in his face. "I hope you left some room for dessert."