I shouldn’t have been alone with Jake. These days I try not to be alone with a guy--ever. See, I’ve figured out something about people. One woman plus one man plus time alone (in person, on the phone, on the computer) equal, pretty much always, intimacy—emotional, if not physical. Not necessarily a bad thing, unless of course, the two are married. To other people.
I didn’t plan on going to Jake’s on Monday. I’ll make him wait. ‘Til tomorrow.
I was sitting at the kitchen table making out the grocery list when Silas walked in. With Millie on the leash.
“You ready?” he said.
I put my pen down. “For what?”
“For Jake’s. It’s Monday.”
“I didn’t tell him we were coming for sure.”
“No, but we should.”
“We should, should we?” I said. “Why?” Like I didn’t know.
“’Cause it’s the right thing to do,” Silas said. He had a don’t-you-know-anything smirk on his face. “Don’t you think? I mean, he’s probably bored to death over there, all by himself.”
I sighed and pushed back from the table. “I reckon you’re right. Give me a minute.”
Millie barked when she spied Jake. Strained at the end of her leash. When Jake heard her, his chin lifted and he turned toward us. A smile opened his face. He’s been waiting for me. For us. He stood and started snapping and whistling. I squatted and unhooked her leash. Gave her rump a swat. She trotted toward him. Tail like a windshield wiper—left, right, repeat. When she crashed into him, he dropped onto the grass. Laughed. She crawled into his lap. Covered it with her white and tan-spotted self. He flipped his face side to side in an attempt to dodge her tongue. Finally, he gave up. Pursed his lips and let her lick. I shook my head and chuckled. That man needs a dog.
“Howdy, Jake,” I said.
“Morning, Dana. Silas? You there too?”
Silas started to wave then stopped. “Yeah. Right here, Jake.”
Jake buried his face in Millie's neck for a moment. Not before I saw his grin. He stood and headed toward the house. Millie followed. The leash trailed behind her.
I stayed put. “It’s nice out here,” I said. “Don’t you want to be outside?” Where everybody and their brother can keep an eye on us?
“It is nice,” Jake said, “But Jenny made coffee. I just have to flip the toggle and we’ll have Italian Roast. You do drink coffee, don’t you?”
“I do. The boy child, however, does not. Not yet.”
“Lemonade cool with you, Si?”
Silas smiled. “Sure.”
Okay, so maybe one cup.
Jake led the way. Knew exactly when to step up. I stood in the middle of the kitchen and rotated. Wow, that green is almost black. Love it. Oh, and the snakey silver light fixture is really cool. They’ve got the minimalist thing going on. Or is it a-don’t-leave-anything-out-that-Jake-could-trip-over-or-break thing?
“I love your house,” I said.
Jake fiddled with the coffeemaker on the other side of the island. “Tell Jenny. Design is her thing. Silas, glasses are in the cabinet over the dish drainer.”
When I heard the coffee maker gurgle, I went over and stood next to Jake.
He swatted his hand around. Never found me. “I’ve got this.”
“Great,” I said. I bit my lip when I saw Jenny had put out china cups and saucers. What was she thinking? That I’d be in charge of coffee detail? “Do you want to sit in here or go out on the sleeping porch?”
“You can go on out. Silas, why don’t you stay here and give me a hand?”
Silas made his way toward Jake. “Sure thing.”
I went outside to wait. Perched on the edge of a wicker rocker. Glanced at my watch. I’ll time them. How many guys does it take to serve coffee? In china cups.
“Ca-rap!” I jumped up. It was Jake. “Why can’t anything ever be easy?”
I hurried inside. “What’s wrong? Are you hurt?”
Jake turned. The front of his polo shirt was drenched in coffee. He ducked his head and peeled it off.
“Holy Schmoly,” Silas said.
My eyebrows headed for my bangs. You can say that again.
Silas started laughing. At me. “Mom! Stop staring!”
Jake flicked his head in Silas’s direction then mine. “What? What’s she staring at?”
“You,” Silas said.
“Me? Why me?”
“’Cause you’re ripped. That’s why?”
A grin grew on Jake’s face. “Dana, are you staring at my muscles?”
I fanned my face with my hand. “Maybe. It’s just-- They’re--”
“They’re what?” Jake said.
“It’s just . . . they’re so . . . Goldilocks.”
The guys tilted their heads. “Goldilocks?”
I swallowed. “Yeah. Not too big. Not too small. They’re—“
“Just right,” they said. Jake’s smile seemed to make his face glow. I wiped the sweat mist from under my nose and looked at the ceiling. I can't believe I said that.
Silas squeezed Jake’s bicep. “How did you get ‘em that big?”
“Let’s go outside,” Jake said. “Silas, can you get the tray?”
Silas and Jake settled onto the wicker sofa. Millie flopped at Jake's feet. I returned to the rocker. Tried to focus on my coffee cup.
“Kevin asked me to work out with him before he went out for soccer this year. So we did. Started in January.” He leaned toward the coffee table. “Dana, will you please pour me a cup? Black’s fine.”
“Here,” I said. I tapped his knuckles and handed it to him when he was ready.
“Turned out, the coach wanted cardio strength, not muscular. This guy wants those boys to be able to run ten miles a day, no problem. Can you believe that? So now Kevin runs every day. I still do our strength workout though. Push ups, sit ups, wall squats. Gives me something to do.”
Don’t stop. For Jenny’s sake.
Silas turned to me. “Hey, maybe Dad would do that with me.”
I smiled. “That would be great,” I said. On multiple levels. “Now why don’t you see if you can find Jake a clean shirt?”
Jake bent to pet Millie but not before I saw he was grinning to beat all.