Thursday, October 20, 2022

As promised last month, this is the first part of the second short story from The Art of Proposing. A preview of the next story will be sometime in November.  When exactly?  I guess that will be obvious when it shows up.

Cameron’s Turn

    Katie got a face full of steam when she opened the oven.  The enticing aroma had caused her to lean forward too quickly.  She stepped back as she pulled the door all the way down, then pulled the pan out and set it on top of the stove.  She inhaled again.  The barbeque sauce was tangy enough to tickle her nostrils.  The kabobs looked delicious, just a hint of char on the edges.  They also looked like more than she could eat.
    She should have asked Cameron to join her.  Maybe.  Something had been weird when they talked about her plans for dinner.  He’d been duly impressed with the advancedness of using the broiler.  She couldn’t quite put her finger on why it had sounded as though he didn’t want to be invited.  He hadn’t actually said that.
    Katie grabbed a bagged salad from her refrigerator.  The meat was enough of an adventure.  She frowned at the salad that was also enough for two.  She could wait a day and have the same meal again on Friday.  It was always nice to have an easy dinner on Tichu nights.
    Her phone rang as she was sitting down to eat.  It was probably Cecelia.  She kept the ringer silent for unknown numbers, and her sister was the gabbiest person she knew.  It was a good guess.
    “Hey, Cecelia.”
    “Hey.  Did I catch you after dinner?”
    “I’m just starting,” Katie said.  “But I don’t mind talking while I eat if you don’t mind me eating while we talk.”
    “Sure.  It’s kind of late for you though.  Something complicated tonight?”
    “Not complicated exactly.  I had to let the meat soak in the, uh…”
    “I’d say you were turning into a real gourmet if you knew the word marinade,” Cecelia teased.
    “It was on the tip of my tongue.”
    “Is Cameron there?”
    “No.  Not tonight.”
    “Uh oh.”
    “There’s no uh oh,” Katie said.  “We don’t have to see each other every night.”
    “It’s not uh oh that he’s not there.  It’s uh oh that you sound wistful and defensive about it.  What’s wrong?”
    Katie made a noise to indicate she was chewing.  She was chewing and congratulating herself on the flavor.  But she was also buying herself a few moments to think.  Cecelia was easily her most drama-loving sibling.  Katie had to be careful what she said to her.  This time, she’d forgotten to be careful how she said it.  There couldn’t have been more than the faintest whiff of defensiveness.  And Katie didn’t think she sounded wistful at all.  “Nothing’s wrong,” she said.
    “And now you sound more defensive.  Why did you say you don’t have to see each other every day as though… I don’t know, but I didn’t say that.”
    Katie took another bite.
    “You might as well tell me,” Cecelia said.  “The baby is already asleep so I have lots of time to talk and bug you until you tell me.”
    “Fine.  But it’s really nothing.”  Katie paused for a quick sip of water.  “I was talking to Cameron at lunch about what I wanted to try for dinner.  He said something about how he hoped I would enjoy it.  I don’t remember his exact words, but something about the way he said it sounded like he was preempting an invitation.”
    “Why would he do that?”

To read the rest of the story, preorder the ebook:  AppleAmazonBarnes & NobleKobo.