The lump in my throat didn’t go away the whole time we were at the grocery store. As a matter of fact, it only got worse the closer we got home. I simply remained quiet though and focused on taking deep breaths.
“Pumpkin?” I hear Andy’s voice calling from a distance. I turned around, my eyes skimming over all of the frozen meats in the aisle, to look at him. “What would you like to have for dinner?” Walter and Chelsea looked at me expectantly. I simply shrugged and forced a small smile on my face. However, Andy only frowned in returned.
He turned towards Walter before looking back towards me. “Y’all been working hard today, perhaps we should reschedule? That way y’all can get some rest.” Andy said, only looking away briefly towards Chelsea before returning his attention back to me.
“Yeah, maybe that’s best. We don’t want to keep y’all up if you need to catch some sleep.” Walter said with a gentle smile. A part of me was relieved because I knew I could take this as my way out. This was just the excuse I needed to get out of this. Yet...it didn’t feel right. I knew that they were just trying to give me a way out...they probably saw how anxious I was about the whole situation.
If I can’t even have dinner with Walter and Andrew, then who could I have dinner with besides Chelsea? If I want to move on, I need to take steps to do so. They seem to understand my situation...if it gets too much I can just excuse myself and go to bed.
" I’m actually not that tired...unless you are Chelsea?” I asked her, wanting to make sure that she was still okay with having dinner. She shook her head in response. “Well...I suppose we should hurry and grab something to eat. I’m starting to get a bit hungry.” They all smiled at me, making me feel slightly awkward in the middle of the grocery store, before resuming to look at the meats.
“How does BBQ Pineapple Chicken sound? It’ll only take 30 minutes to make!” My mouth practically salivated at Chelsea’s suggestion.
“Sounds good to me” Both Walter and Andy said together.
“We could also pair it with some rice, maybe even some veggie stir fry on the side?” I suggested.
“Perfect! Walter grabs the basket please and follow me! Ally, would you mind grabbing some rice please?” Chelsea and Walter went off to grab the vegetables, while Andrew followed me to grab the rice. It was quiet as we reached the aisle and began looking through the variety of options for rice.
What kind of rice goes well with BBQ Pineapple Chicken? Does it matter?
“I’m thinking white rice will go well with the chicken. What do you think, Pumpkin?”
“Hmm, to be honest...” I hesitated while I glanced up at him, to find that he was already looking down at me” Sheesh, why is he so tall? " Uh...I don’t have a clue about what kind of rice would go well with it...”
He smiled gently at me before nodding. “Well, white rice it is. If Chelsea doesn’t approve, you can just blame it on me” He said before winking at me. I stared at him for a good 30 seconds before snapping out of it. He looked amused but said nothing nonetheless, which I was grateful for.
“uh..right,” I said, as I grabbed a box of white rice, before heading back towards Chelsea, all the while trying to fight the blush that had spread like wildfire across my cheeks.
We met back up at the register to pay for everything, with Walter insisting on paying for the food. Afterwards, we made our way back to our apartment to start cooking. I was still feeling quite anxious but tried not to ponder on it too much....that only made it worse when I did. We finally arrived back to our place, where we started to cook.
“Now boys, I know y’all want to impress us but it’s no secret that y’all can’t cook for nothing and no one. I want to have an edible dinner tonight, so step away from the stove and go set the table.” Walter and Andy both pouted at Chelsea before shuffling out of the room. I couldn’t help but let out a quite laugh, although you could clearly hear the nerves mixed within it.
“Suga’, you know at any time you just give me this signal,” She ran her pointer finger from her ear down to the base of her neck, ” and I will usher them on out of here. You won’t have to explain anything to anyone. Just give the signal and I’ll take care of the rest okay?” I gave Chelsea a grateful smile and hug.
“I’m so blessed to have you, cricket.” Tears sprung to my eyes as I thought overall that Chelsea has done for me, ever since I got here. I’m not sure where I would be without her...
“Well then, let’s get started with this chicken! It ain’t gonna cook itself and my stomach is just about to touch my back!” I laughed and started to unpack the groceries.
About thirty minutes later dinner was served and we were all seated at the table. The small table seemed even smaller with two giants sitting opposite of Chelsea and me. Andrew sat across from me while Walter sat across from Chelsea. After a quick grace led by Chelsea, we begin to dig in.
“Sweet baby Jesus this is heavenly.” Walter groaned while Andrew just nodded as he continued to eat. Is he going to come up for air anytime soon? I smiled nonetheless, happy that they liked the food Chelsea and I cooked.
“Ally was in charge of the chicken!” Chelsea exclaimed. Walter and Andy both looked up at me, pausing from eating to give me looks of approval. I immediately flushed under their gazes and looked down towards my food.
“This is exquisite, Pumpkin. Dare I say even better than what I’ve had at Mo’s!” Walter and Chelsea mumbled in agreement causing me to blush further.
“So did anyone watch the soccer game last night?” Chelsea piped up. I shot her a grateful look, thankful that she offered a change in topic. She smiled back at me, before continuing to eat her food. Dinner went by rather quickly and I found myself slightly saddened that they were leaving, yet at the same time relieved that I could have some time to myself.
“Thanks again, ladies. Dinner was delicious. Andrew and I will have to cook next time, won’t we?” Walter said, not taking his eyes off of Chelsea. I honestly hope they get together soon...it’s so clear that they are meant to be together- even if for a short while. Although I doubt it will be anything less than forever...I smiled at them before turning away, only to lock into Andrew’s gaze.
“Yes, we will.” There was nothing implied with his response, no underlying meaning. But it was eyes, his eyes that held so many stories and emotions that it made me slightly breathless. His eyes held a promise that hasn’t been spoken. I began to wonder why I was so reserved about them coming over for dinner in the first place. They both have done nothing but support, protect and simply be the positive male figures in my life that I’ve never had before.
“Well, I suppose next time Chelsea and I could sit over there and y’all can take over the kitchen....right Chelsea?” Chelsea looked over at me with a gentle smile.
“You got it. While we’re at it, we can even do face masks and manicures while they cook!” I’ve hadn’t done anything of the sorts before but the thought of doing something relaxing excited me. I nodded quickly, liking her suggestion.
“In that case, we shall see y’all next time. We got some planning to do!” Andrew replied as he gave me a wink before heading for the door. Walter gave me a nod and a wave along with a “See you, Ally”, before turning to Chelsea.
“See you, Walter’” Chelsea replied with a bright smile. He extended his hand, at which she looked at in confusion. Before slowly placing her hand in his. She gave a little jump but quickly relaxed into his grip. He slowly, never breaking eye contact with her, kissed her knuckles.
“I look forward to it.” With that, they were both out the door leaving Chelsea and I stunned in silence.
“So...does this mean y’all gonna start dating soon?” I whispered. Her face quickly became flushed as she stumbled over her words.
“What? I- no-just- ugh!” She scurried into the bathroom where I heard the shower run. I laughed before heading to my room and getting ready for bed. They are totally going to be dating soon.