“The flavor of the week is Luna Chip. Want to try it?”
I looked up to see Becky Sommers smiling at me. Becky owned the Sweet Spot restaurant in town. I went in there often to grab a bite to eat after a long day.
Lately, I went in there more.
“Sounds good, Becky. Give me two scoops.”
Becky served the best burgers in town…and the best ice cream, but I didn’t look forward to the food so much as I wanted to see her.
She was petite-- not the prettiest woman I’d ever seen, but definitely easy on the eyes. Her movements were quick and efficient; she had a nice way with the customers, especially the families with kids. She moved about, helping customers and giving instructions to the group of teens she hired to wait tables.
Her blue eyes turned stormy if she thought one of them slacked off and didn’t serve the customers properly. Then her eyes would soften…especially when one of them was having a rough time. One of the waitresses had two deaf parents. Life was tough for her at home. Becky helped the kid register for college…even went with her to get her books. One of the other servers, Colleen, was divorced with three kids. Colleen told me Becky paid for Colleen and her kids to take a week’s vacation in Disney World.
Becky’s employees loved her, because deep down inside, she really had a soft heart.
I gazed at her across the way and felt my own heart swell with happiness. It was an odd feeling, considering we were just friends.
We shared a common bond – we both left bad relationships. My ex didn’t think too much of me working with my hands all the time, thought I should be more…refined. I found myself wondering about Becky’s thoughts on that. I did that quite a lot lately.
I turned away intent on finishing my ice cream.
When I looked up again, Becky was gone.
A couple of days later, I walked into the Sweet Spot. Becky sat at one of the tables in the back. Intent on reading something, she looked up when the bell rang. Her pretty blue eyes locked with mine for just a few seconds.
I slipped into one of the booths off to the side and was just about ready to order when Becky came over to my table.
“Monkey Do,” she said to me. “It’s the newest flavor.”
“So I see,” I replied as I scanned the menu. My heart thudded in my chest. She probably thought I was rough and coarse; I was still in my work boots and overalls, but she didn’t look away.
“Would you like to try it?” she asked, smiling.
My hands shook. I wished I could think of something witty to say.
Soon, she reappeared with a dish full of the ice cream and hot fudge.
She gazed at me for a few seconds. “I was visiting my cousin last week. I thought I saw you at the house across the way. There’s a lot of work being done on it.”
“You’re right,” I replied. “You did see me there.”
“You’re working on that house?” she asked, placing a dish in front of me.
“Yes, I am.”
“It’s beautiful.” Her voice sounded wistful. “I like what’s being done to it, Sam. You must be very skilled to do that kind of work.”
“It takes a lot of talent to do what you do here, too.”
I took a taste of what was possibly the most delicious ice cream I ever ate. It was chock full of chocolate pieces, nuts and bananas.
Grinning, I realizing why she called it Monkey Do.
She smiled that beautiful smile of hers. “Thank you, Sam, but what I do is just good business sense.” She blushed.
That rosy bloom on her cheeks warmed me inside, a contrast to the icy cold feel of the ice cream on my tongue.
I finished my ice cream and lingered over a cup of coffee. Hungry patrons spilled into the small waiting area and I realized Becky probably needed my table. I stood and waved to Becky as I left. She was busy seating the dinnertime crowd.
“Bye, Sam!” she called out to me.
When had she become so important? Probably since I had started working on the house. I had to get it finished before winter set in. I guess working on the house made me think about how much I was missing in life – like a wife and kids.
I found myself wondering if Becky wished for the same things, too.
“The deck is beautiful, Sam. You do nice work.”
I looked up to see Becky standing on the lawn. She had a bag in her hand.
She extended it towards me. “I haven’t seen you at the Sweet Spot lately.”
“I’ve been working.” I continued to hammer. I didn’t want to tell her that I was afraid…scared to tell her what was in my heart. She would definitely think I was crazy if I told her how much I looked forward to her smile. I wanted to see her smile all the time.
“It’s a hamburger and fries and all the trimmings. Oh! And Monkey Do ice cream. Do you have someplace to keep it cold? Maybe you have a cooler…” She glanced around the deck.
“I’ll just put it inside.”
A puzzled looked crossed her face. “You have a key to the house?”
“Of course, why wouldn’t I?”
“But the people who hired you to work here…they just let you go in when they’re not home?”
I grinned. “I would hope so, considering I own the place.”
She just stood there, her mouth agape. I thought she had the prettiest mouth – full, lush. I wanted to kiss it so badly.
“I-I didn’t know. I thought you were just a workman.”
I swallowed hard. “Would it bother you if I was?”
She shook her head. “Not at all. You take a lot of pride in what you do.”
I invited her inside. She marveled at the polished wood floors and the big kitchen. Suddenly, the big house I built didn’t seem so empty.
I wanted to speak, but stopped. Then I figured you didn’t get anywhere in life if you didn’t take a chance.
“I think you’re wonderful,” I told her.
Her blue eyes misted. “I saw you here so many times when I’d come to visit my cousin. I’d wish that…well, that I could come over here and just sit and watch you work. This house is so beautiful…and there’s something about it, a feeling of peace.” She glanced up at me. “When you would come into the Sweet Spot, I’d feel so tongue-tied.”
“Me, too,” I chuckled.
“You did?” she asked, surprised.
“I never knew what to say…I just, well, I liked looking at you, too. You made me feel good inside. I haven’t felt that way for a long time, Becky.”
I’ll never know how it happened, but there she was, nestled in my arms. Her head fit snuggly against the crook of my shoulder.
I kissed her, my lips lingering on hers.
In that moment, I knew I had found a home for my heart.
About the Author: Catherine Chernow was born in the land of the Midnight Sun, however moved to Long Island at the age of three and never left. She loves to be scared, which led to her love of incorporating the paranormal in her own writing. When she's not writing, her favorite things to do include reading, gardening, and cooking for large crowds (she loves to entertain friends and family!). Her hubby and she (he's her hero) enjoy traveling - they've been to Aruba and all over the United States and Canada (and Catherine has been to Europe... and says, "Italy is molto bello - very beautiful").
When they are not on the go, they're spending time with their two terrific children (now grown) and...their two cats. Visit Catherine: http://www.catherinechernow.com/