“Paella is Spain’s well-known rice dish. It is a dish that is constantly evolving. The bright, fluffy rice dish can be found all over Spanish restaurants. Present day, you can find in the rice dish that it is complemented with different kinds of meat such as shrimp, lobsters, and chorizo.” The chef in the cooking class eyes was beaming with excitement as he spoke about the dish that Axel was currently cooking. “It is the epiphany of smoky, dark, and richness. It is like a burst of flavors.”
Axel was cooking the meat in the pan with garlic. Immediately the room was filled with the toasting of garlic. In this cooking session, everyone must take a part in cooking their dishes. Axel was cooking the meat and so I decided to help by cutting the tomato.
The chef walked passed by us but not before he gave my tomatoes a disapproving frown. I muttered curses under my breath and heard Axel chuckling beside me.
“Ugh! This is so hard.” I pouted, setting the knife down.
“My god, woman, you really don’t know how to cook. Look at all the shape and sizes of your diced tomatoes.” He pointed at my failed attempt at dicing tomatoes.
“You know what, Axel, I don’t care because it is not the looks that matter. It is the taste.” I lifted my chin proudly.
“Until you taste more tomato than rice or meat.” He countered.
Damn it. He’s right.
“Ugh! Why can’t you just do all the work?” I growled and picked up the knife. I began dicing it into more even cube slices.
Axel and I continued working on our dishes. When he was finished doing his part, he slid over and finished the rest. I leaned back on the counter with my arms crossed.
“All this cooking and explaining is giving me a headache. I need food.” I grumbled a little disgruntled.
He was chopping up the bell peppers and I took the time to look him over discreetly. I have noticed I have been doing that lately. This morning when we woke up, he still had his arms wrapped around me. It was strange how easily I am used to this. I chalked it up to the fact that we lived next to each other for several years and have learned to become comfortable with each other. Axel was the only other person besides my brother that I can act like myself and not feel like I need to impress.
My mind was still reeling with the fact that Axel wants to date me. In fact, this is our first date. I kind of found it amusing that even though it was our first date, he was still himself. There was no weird awkward tension between us.
He must have felt my eyes on him because his attention moved from the bell peppers to me.
“Checking me out, Hermosa?” He teased with a smirk.
I scoffed, “Of course not. I was just looking at someone behind you.”
He turned to see who was behind him and it was a very heavy, large man with a very shiny forehead. Axel turned back to look at me with another smirk.
“I didn’t realize you like bald men.” Axel teased.
Realizing my mistake, I fought back a blush and slapped him playfully over the head, “Just focus on cooking.”
He chuckled before tossing the bell peppers into the skillet. He continued to cook and when he tossed in all the ingredients in, he turned the stove on low to simmer.
Now we wait. I hate waiting for food, especially when it smells this amazing.
“There is a rule about dating, Hermosa.” He propped his hands on either side of me, locking me into the stool that I was sitting on by the counter. I looked up at him. He was very close, the tip of his nose brushing mine.
“What’s that?” I asked.
“The third-date rule.” He was looking at my lips and heat pool between my legs.
“T-third?” I am scrambling at this point to speak coherently. I remember watching a movie about this once. The first date is plainly getting to know one and another. The second date is to indicate that you are serious, and the third date was initiated intimacy.
His cocky, yet sexy smirk grew. He knew I knew because he watched those movies with me a thousand times.
“It doesn’t apply to us.” I pushed against his chest with one palm but god, he was like a boulder.
He brushed the tip of his nose back and forth with mine. His thick long eyelashes spanning his cheek. Funny how something that should make him look delicate, make him look sexier than ever.
“It doesn’t?” He whispered huskily.
“It doesn’t,” I confirmed.
“That’s right because you and I have gone on many dates together. At home, we watched movies together, gone out to eat together-”
“W-w-what?” I stuttered even more. Sneaky Axel. He was using our friendship dates as our date dates.
He chuckled before kissing the tip of my nose.
“I am kidding, Hermosa. You look thoroughly flush right now. If I am taking a guess, you are completely attracted to me.” He pulled back and went back to the skillet to check on the food.
I scoffed to feign indifference, but the truth was—I was. I was completely attracted to him.
By now the classroom was filled with a strong aromatic smell of Spanish flavors. The strong smell of cooked garlic, onions, tomatoes, and seafood swam around us. My stomach grumbled its eagerness to taste whatever it was that was cooking.
Once everybody was done the cooking, we were all given time to eat our dishes. The delight in everyone’s faces in tasting the food could be seen on their faces as they dug in. Axel scooped us both each a dish.
After our cooking class, we got to pack home our leftovers. Axel and I got out of the stone building and walked to the rental car we parked on the street. He sat our leftovers in the back seat before getting into the driver seat.
“Where do you want to go next?” He asked.
I shrugged, “Let’s go do some shopping. I need to wear something else besides your clothes and what I bought to please my mom.”
I glanced down at the outfit I had on. It was Axel’s plain black t-shirt and one of his athlete shorts. This morning, Axel and I had snuck out early to go take this cooking class. My mother had texted me last night and said she had tried coming back to my hotel room to inform me that they were going to go look at flowers at some flower shops in Barcelona. Afterward, they were going to head to the wedding boutique and try on some gowns.
Axel and I decided to skip out on the flowers and meet them at the boutique. However, it wasn’t quite time yet. So, I am going to use this time to do what I want to.
We went to one of the malls in Barcelona. The shopping center was huge and beautifully built with curved tinted mirror windows. Although I am not a big shopper, I was easily excited and couldn’t wait to explore.
Axel and I stopped in several shops and bought a few things. I bought myself several pairs of new flat shoes. I don’t know why but heels scare the crap out of me. Those high inch heels look about ready to snap under my weight.
After, we stopped for some melty goodness ice cream. We sat at a table and ate. I got plain old chocolate because that’s how boring I was but Axel was just as boring as he got himself some vanilla ice cream.
Some ice cream dripped down the cone and I let out a small yelp before bringing the ice cream closer and licking it. Then I proceeded to make sure not to lose a drop of ice cream by licking around it.
When I looked up and saw Axel looking at me with heated dark eyes, I clenched my thighs together while my stomach burned with a full-blown desperate need for something.
I cleared my throat and turned away and then heard Axel chuckling.
“Eating like that will get you into a lot of trouble, Ryleigh.”
I gave him an innocent side look with a shrug, “No clue what you’re saying.”
In a flash, he was leaned over the table, grabbed a hold of my chin. I blinked up at him surprised before I knew his lips were on one corner of my lips. The inside of me intensified.
When he pulled back, he shrugged, “You had ice cream at the corner of your mouth.”
“Could have told me...I could have just wiped it.” I murmured before unconsciously moving to touch where he just kissed me.
One corner of his lip lifted into a sneaky grin, “Kissing you seems to be the better option.”
After we finished our ice cream, we decided to head to the boutique before my mom starts to frantically text me. On our way out though, Axel stopped by a nearby gift shop. He told me to wait outside the shop.
When he came out, he was carrying something behind his back.
“What do you have behind your back?” I asked, tilting my head slightly in hopes I might catch a glimpse.
He pulled it out and in front of me was a white fluffy teddy bear in a pink ballerina dress.
I arched an eyebrow, “I already have George.”
“No, you already have me. George now has cute, stylish Raina.”
“That’s what I am naming her. George is going to love her.” He was grinning.
I couldn’t help but laugh, “You bought George a companion. Aww, you’re so cute.”
His smile slipped and he deadpanned, “I didn’t buy it to be cute. I am not cute. I bought it, so George can stay off the bed.”
I laughed some more, “You’re horrible, Axel. I can’t believe I am encouraging this, but she will be cute next to him.”
“Good, let’s pray that George stays off the bed.” Axel looked heavenward.
I scoffed, “I can’t believe you.”
However, on the inside, I’m melting. It was sweet of him to buy another teddy bear for me.
I moved to pull the teddy bear from him. She was soft and fluffy and had on a pink ballet dress—so new. In comparison to little George at home who has been with me for a while. I must admit, she will be adorable next to old and tattered George.
We made it out of the mall shortly after and started our drive to the boutique.