NEHL - Jack

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Three

Chapter Three

Maddie

“Here we are, home sweet home.” I said following Eric through the door and leading Jack through the hallway. It was a modest apartment in a complex in a suburb of Syracuse to the north. It was three bedrooms and fully maintained, which was good, since we were on the road a lot.

I turned to see Jack taking his shoes off and my smile lit my face. Somebody brought him up right, now if only Eric had learned that, the little crap. I waited for him to catch up and we walked into the living room that was fully open with the kitchen off to the side.

There were four doors leading into the three bedrooms and the bath, and that was really all there was to the apartment. We weren’t hear much so we didn’t need anything to fancy, but mom and dad made sure they had a room when they came and since they had control over Eric’s money, this was how it was going to be.

Don’t get me wrong my parents were great and they still weren’t convinced this was the best idea, but I’m sure the way Eric talked to mom all the way home from the stadium, that would influence her.

“Nice place,” Jack said looking around.

I laughed. “I know, it doesn’t look lived in, but to be fair we are hardly ever here.”

“No, really it’s great, you should have seen my last apartment, well, and maybe you shouldn’t have.” He said smiling that smile again.

“Jack, want to play X-box,” Eric called from his bedroom.

“No thanks Kid, I’m whipped, I just want to relax.” Jack called back but his eyes never left me.

“Ok, I’m going to call Max anyway, and see if he is done with practice.” He yelled back.

“High school friend,” Jack asked me before I could say anything.

“Nah, Maximillion LeFleur, goalie for the Storm. He was pulled up to the Blizzard a few weeks ago. He was really the only friend Eric had on the team, well, till you showed up.” I said and he looked a little uneasy.

I mean I knew there was a giant age difference between the two, but after what he did, I mean, wouldn’t that make them friends? The uneasy face that he wore now made me wonder though.

“I really like your kitchen,” he said changing the subject all of a sudden. “This is a kitchen that you can actually work in, you know what I mean? A lot of apartment style kitchens are so small that you can’t even move around, especially a bigger guy like me.”

I knew he was a big guy, I mean he must stand six two or some such and well muscled. His brown hair, while sweaty from practice, still looked good flowing all around him. I bet he hadn’t had a hair cut in months, and I liked it.

“Tell me you cook?” I said disbelievingly.

The look of shock on his face was hysterical. You could tell he was trying to look shocked and charming all at the same time and it was so not working. It was so bad that I snorted again before laughing. Oh the humiliation, that’s like twice I snorted in front of him.

“I’m a damn good cook, I’ll have you know. My specialty is breakfast; we could try that out some time.” He said stepping closer to me and my heart was beginning to beat a hundred times faster than normal.

No, no, no, he was giving me the intense look that said he was into me, and damn it if I wasn’t into him. Shit I had to diffuse this immediately, “Sounds good, we will have breakfast for dinner tonight and you’re cooking. We need to go to the store though because I have nothing here to speak of.”

The look of disbelief on his face was enough to make me smile as I grabbed my keys and my purse and headed toward the door. “Well are you coming, or are you just going to trust me to grab the right stuff for your culinary masterpiece?”

Jack

“Damn,” I said out loud but real quiet. She was calling me on all the shit that was coming out of my mouth, and to be fair, it was pretty much shit. This girl had my head all turned around.

I hurried to throw my shoes back on and followed her out the door. Any time to be alone with her was going to be a win, so I jumped at the chance. I still couldn’t believe I tried that stupid breakfast line, what the fuck was I thinking?

The banter was good on the car ride to the store. I grabbed a cart and made my way to meat and dairy isle. I lost her but while I was grabbing some breakfast sausage she came back with frozen cinnamon rolls, pancake mix and a bag of mini chocolate chips.

“I see you Maddie,” I said as she threw them in the cart I was pushing. I laughed at her blush on her face. Damn she was so cute. “What about dinners, I mean other dinners, what do you eat?”

“Take out or frozen stuff we can heat up. We just don’t have time to cook with both our schedules.” She said explaining and I had to wonder about that. Hell I had the same schedule the kid did and I always found time to cook dinner. I mean I am sure his paycheck was a lot more than mine, so I had to learn to cook to save money, but still.

“Well it might take me a couple days to find a place. Tomorrow night is a wash because of the game but the next night we will all be home, how about I make us dinner?”

She looked at me funny but then she smiled and said “Alright.”

“Please tell me you are not a vegan or vegetarian or some such. I mean it’s ok if you are, it’s just I’m a big meat eater, not that being something else isn’t ok, it’s just, shit this isn’t coming out right.”

She laughed and snorted again and holy crap my heart was falling quickly. “Relax, I like meat, and Eric loves meat, so you are safe.”

Oh yeah the kid, I almost forgot. I knew the perfect meal to make for a romantic date, but for three of us, I mean, what do I do now. Wait I knew what to do, my mom’s pot roast dinner, oh yeah, I got this.

“Alright we need a five pound bag of russet or white potatoes, whatever they have and a bag of carrots. If you would grab those I will grab the meat and the broth.” I said getting excited. I hadn’t cooked a big dinner in a long time.

“Ok Jack, I’ll be right back.” She said and as she walked away I started filling the cart right up. I didn’t know how long I was staying with them but I was hoping to make an impression on her, and my cooking was pretty good, so I was going for broke.

By the time we got to the checkouts we had a full cart and she looked a little sheepish. It was probably more food than they had in the apartment since they moved in and I wasn’t letting her out of it.

“Well since you are letting me stay for a few days I insist on buying the groceries, especially since I’m the one that insisted on most of this anyway.” I threw out the last line because I wanted to stop any protest before she could come up with one.

“Fine Jack, but next time I buy the groceries.” She said and my heart took a leap. I mean did she want me to be around for longer than these groceries would last. I hadn’t really had a relationship since college and wow, I mean, shit, what do I know about relationships, and what was this anyway? Hell we just met today. Shit Jack settle down, I commanded myself.

“Fine, you’re the boss.” I said trying to give her my best smile again.

All of a sudden she looked nervous again, what did I say? I needed to get back on track with her. “So, chocolate chip pancakes huh?”

She laughed, no snort this time, but it was still cute. “My dad used to make them for me, so I am going to put your culinary skills to the test.”

It was my turn to laugh. “I’m not sure how tough you think it is to make pancakes, but challenge accepted.

“Damn Jack, that was good, Maddie always burns the pancakes when she does it.” Eric said finishing off his last piece of sausage.

“She does, does she,” I said while lifting my eyebrows to her. Her blush was immediate and I didn’t think she could be any cuter in my eyes till just then. She was perfect and I swear right now that I will not mess this up.

“Yeah the sausage was good too.” Eric said getting up from the table and heading back for his room. I learned the kid wasn’t a big one for conversation, he liked playing his X-box with his friends, and if I was seventeen, maybe I would be like that, or maybe I was like that.

“I add maple syrup to it. I like the sweetness that it gives the sausage.” I said still looking at Maddie. She never confessed she was a pancake burner, naughty girl.

“It was good, thanks man.” Then he was gone leaving me with his sister and a plate and kitchen full of dishes.

“Kids,” I said laughing.

“Yeah, mom was always trying to get him to help in the kitchen, but that didn’t work so well. Dad had better luck with him getting yard work done.” She explained.

“Well, I better get on the dishes.” I said getting up.

“Let me, you made dinner, I can handle the dishes.” She said but I wasn’t going to pass up this opportunity to spend more time with her.

“How about we do them together? Besides it will go faster that way, you wash and I’ll dry and take care of them.” I countered. I was so going to check her out every time I walked behind her.

She laughed. “I know what you are trying to do.”

No way was I that obvious. I mean I’m a guy and we probably all have the same thoughts, but come on, no way. “What’s that,” I said a little nervous.

“You’re trying to set a precedent. No way mister, you wash, and I’ll dry and take care of things. Besides, I know where everything goes.” She said with such a satisfied smile how was I to argue.

“You’re right; you do know where everything goes. Ok, I’ll wash.” I said getting up before her and holding out my hand. She took my hand and I helped her up and her hand felt so soft in mine, I didn’t want to let go.

“You’re darn right you will,” she said slapping my chest with her bare palm and she may have felt my heart beating, because I knew it was. This was the girl I always wanted.

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