Lucas couldn’t help that he worried. Andrea had been close to screaming-point when she had left. No: she had been at screaming point, for certain, very angry at him.
One message to her, one apology, he knew would be enough only if she wanted it to be. Lucas wasn’t going to push his luck by being in Andrea’s face. She didn’t play that way. And Andrea was scary when she was angry. He didn’t want to further mess with her mind.
So, instead of pestering, Lucas trod carefully around the house that afternoon. He began to start gathering all the ingredients for the dinner, managing them carefully. It wasn’t that Lucas tried to think beyond his illness, but it didn’t affect his life. The fact that he could not go on to the preparation of the dinner until each ingredient was placed out in its measured order did not bother him.
Not as much as Andrea’s anger bothered him, anyway.
Frantically, Lucas fetched pans, open cans and chopped herbs, all the time thinking of her...
When Andrea returned home in the late afternoon breeze, she was very much bedraggled. Their pairs of eyes met across the room, Andrea dropping her bag, and Lucas fetching his recipe book from the bookshelf.
“Smile,” offered Lucas, albeit timidly. “It’s not the end of the world. You have the rest of the week off, and, umm…you get a lie-in…”
On the contrary to Lucas’ rising panic (he twitched a coaster that had spun out of place on the coffee table), Andrea put on a pure face of forgiveness. She advanced the moment Lucas’ heart-rate sped to light-speed.
A smile sneaked onto his lips.
“Nothing...” she replied, scurrying up to him and throwing her arms around his neck.
Andrea’s height had never deterred Lucas; he gazed down at her head, turned up to his own. Nowadays, Andrea had let herself open up, applying more makeup to make herself shine out.
In a moment, Lucas began to pull away, but Andrea stretched herself up and pulled Lucas close in a tight embrace. The sweet notes of her perfume hit him, along with the last scents of her shampoo. Too, her hair was as soft as daisies under his fingertips, her body as warm as the sunset.
When Andrea finally let go, she had tears in her eyes.
“I owe you an apology.”
“No, you don’t.”
“Shh.” He silenced her with one finger. “You might not want to call it a flaw of men that they prefer to leave- and watch- their partner sleep, but I’m afraid that I am an imperfect soul who put my wants above yours that I should have thought of.”
“Partner…I like that.” Here eyes were wide and the brown ovals were bright. Another word fell short of her lips, and Lucas could not discern what she had been about to say, but the whisper did not hinder their hearts; it was an unsaid message that reached the man.
Lucas touched her elbow, balancing the two of them together. He wore a tender smile again.
“By the way,” Lucas added, a gentle tinge in his regretful voice, “I knew that the café serves nice banoffee pie, because it’s one of my favourite desserts. I remember you remarked on temperate tastes in your ad in the paper; you mentioned banoffee. We have similar tastes, whether we realised it or not.”
“Oh, really? You have teased me enough, darling.”
He shrugged and removed himself from her vicinity. From the kitchen drifted the ready smell of tomato sauce boiling with all the vegetables...except the carrots.
“Dinner?” Lucas asked, hurrying into the kitchen. His fingers twitched over the knife as he cursed himself for getting into a state over the lovely Andrea when the carrots had needed chopping.
“What is it?” she asked, following him.
“Three bean stew. With meat.” Her eyes gleamed at the last word; the two of them could not conceal the lust for meat that was innate to them. “Can you add the chicken cubes whilst I chop these carrots?” He fetched the carrots from their inanimate place.
“And I was thinking, Andrea…” he said from the counter as his self-fury dissipated. “I like your plan. Sounds like…Keith might get off our backs for a while if he were given a feminine distraction.”
“I was being silly. How exactly do you intend to put it into action? I was drunk when I suggested...” But she bit her own tongue, a guilty look ravishing her features.
Lucas turned, raising his eyebrows high to the ceiling.
“The drunk have the best ideas. Anyway: you didn’t think I haven’t spent my day devising a way?”
“Ah, yes,” Andrea danced across to him, “you have everything so ready.” She rested her hands upon his shoulder as he began to chop up large carrots in front of her.
“I am Lucas Gorge.”
In less than five minutes, the chicken cubes and the carrot had been submerged and cooked, and Lucas slid the two bowls down onto their kitchen table as Andrea herself slid gracefully into place, eyeing the meal.
As they both hungrily tucked in to the delicious stew, Lucas surrendered to watching Andrea, who, thankfully, had risen to become extremely talkative once more. Warmed not only by the food, Lucas contented himself with her words; he was delighted to call her his girlfriend after so many other failed courtships of the same kind. Luckily, Andrea didn’t mind how fast they were moving, as if she valued a relationship based on this sort of passion.
Yes, the woman was his own little miracle on Earth.