See me when you look at me

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An unexpected invitation

Samantha’s POV

″I’ve never seen Alexander so focused on his homework.″ a voice says.

I look up and see Mr. Harrison standing in the doorway.

″Not homework, SAT prep.″

Mr. Harrison nods and then a frown appears on his face.

″Isn’t that still months away?″

″That’s why it’s called preparation.″ I answer while I mark a paragraph and paste an orange sticky note to it.

″I see and what is that smell?″

″This doesn’t make any sense!″ I groan and I put away the papers. ″Sorry, what did you say?″

″I asked what that smell was.″

″The broth for the Bouillabaisse and that reminds me, I still have to cut the fish.''

I stand up and I wash my hands, while Mr. Harrison opens the fridge.

''Is that salmon also for tonight?''

''I wish,'' I grumble. ''Tony gave me the whole fish and not the fillets. Bet he did it on purpose.''

''Tony? You mean chef Antoine?''

''The one and only. The bastard knows that fish freak me out!''

I stir the broth and then continue to cut the white fish into smaller pieces. Thankfully the rest of the fish was already cut into fillets because otherwise, we would have a problem.

''I can cut the salmon for you if you like.''

I put my knife down and I look at Mr. Harrison in shock.

''You cook?''


''You don't only know how to cut things, you actually know how to cook them?''

''Do I get bonus points if I tell you that I also know how the stove and oven work?''

''Probably,'' I mumble.

Mr. Harrison smiles and rolls up his sleeves. He takes the salmon out of the fridge and puts it on the kitchen island. I'm done with my part and I take a seat opposite Mr. Harrison, so I can watch.

The timer goes off, but I barely hear it. It's almost hypnotizing to see Mr. Harrison cut the salmon. He removes the carcass so skilfully that it actually looks easy.

''This looks wrong!'' an amused voice says. ''My dad is in the kitchen preparing food.''

''Why does the fact that I can cook shock the two of you?''

''Because I can't remember you ever cooking dinner,'' Alexander chuckles and he also takes a seat.

''Because the kitchen looks like it has never been used,'' I say and I'm stunned. There are eight beautifully cut pieces of salmon in front of me.

''Did you finish?'' I ask Alexander and he shakes his head.

''Only five questions left, so at least that's something.''

''Samantha, I can grill the salmon on the barbecue if you like, and don't begin. Yes, I do know how to use the barbecue and to grill salmon to perfection.''

''I will have to take your word for it since there is no proof of that. Alexander just said that he can't even remember you cooking dinner. But you did cut the salmon perfectly, so I guess we can trust you with the rest.''

Mr. Harrison lets out a deep sigh. ''I'm going to fire up the barbecue. You two leave this kitchen and finish your homework or something.''

''Is that how I sound when I tell you and Tyler to leave the kitchen?'' I ask amused.

''You never ask us to leave so politely. You're damn right scary when you want us out of the kitchen. Staring at us while you are chopping something with a sharp knife. I still don't know how you still have all of your fingers!''

''Scarier than the girl from the Ring?''

I laugh and dodge Alexander's grab. I pick up his test and plop down on the couch. He did well, but I don't let him know that right away. The longer I remain silent, the more nervous he gets.

''That bad huh?''

I take my glasses off and I let out a deep sigh. ''1200 and you didn't finish, which puts you in the 74th percentile. Not too bad for someone who spends a lot of time running after a ball.''

''It's called soccer and 1200 is fricking good, Jones! At least it is for me, we can't all be brainiacs like you!''

''No, Alexander and I are not fighting!'' we hear Mr. Harrison say and he sounds very annoyed. ''Yes, I'm sure of that. Because I'm making dinner in the kitchen and Alexander is in the living room with Samantha.''

Alexander shakes his head and I give him back his test.

''Yes, I do know how to cook and perhaps if you would call our son more, then you would know that Samantha is his girlfriend. She was helping Alexander with his SAT prep and he apparently did very well. She was just teasing him and that's why you heard Alexander shouting!''

''The reading and writing part is fine, but your math still needs some work, Alexander. Overall, you did well. Just keep practicing and your score will go up even more. Do you already know where you want to go next year?''

''No, but I did decide on a bachelor.''

''Tell me!''

Alexander chuckles and he pulls out his phone. ''International Sports, Business and Management.''

''And what can you do with that?'' I ask intrigued.

''I can develop sports programs, start my own gym or a sport-related company. I can work for sports companies or organizations. Like, get involved with the management of a professional soccer team.''

''That's awesome, Alexander! I never heard of a program like that, how did you come up with that?''

Alexander chuckles and he puts the test away.

''Basically, because of you. Do you remember that last Arsenal game we were watching?''

''Of course not, but I do remember you and Tyler screaming when a player was injured.''

''That's the one. You said that it was sad that already a short-lived career was cut even shorter and that made me think. I love sports, but I never dreamed of becoming a professional soccer player. So, I started to research sport-related studies and that's when I found this program.''

I can't stop smiling. Alexander sounds really excited about it and I love that!

''Alexander, phone!''

Alexander's POV

''She is engaged, again!'' I grumble and take a seat. Samantha fills a bowl with the soup that she made and for a moment I forget my mom's news. This smelled amazing!

''So, this is fish soup?''

''No!'' both my dad and Samantha answer.

''It's different kinds of fish and shellfish cooked in a fish broth. The broth is usually what you eat first with bread. Then you eat the fish, but you can eat it like this too.'' Samantha explains.

''Eat it like soup you mean?''

There is that stare and I chuckle.

''So, your mom is engaged,'' Samantha changes the subject not subtly at all. ''Isn't that good news?''

''Camilla has been engaged six times now, so it's hard to get excited about it,'' my dad answers. ''Usually, she breaks things off just before the wedding, and then she starts all over again.''

''Well, this engagement could be over very soon then. The date is set for next month. She wants me to walk her down the aisle and guess what. You are invited too, Jones.''

Samantha starts coughing and tears start rolling down her cheeks.

''Why?'' she manages to get out.

I hand Samantha a glass of water and pat her on the back.

''Because if my dad is allowed to meet you, then so is she. As my mother, she is supposed to know the important people in my life and she said meeting you could count as a wedding present. Besides her fiancé is paying for our flight and stay in Vegas, so it shouldn't be such a big deal.''

Samantha looks at me in horror and I see her eyes wander to my dad's wineglass.

''You don't have to go, Samantha. We both actually don't have to go. My mom is barely involved in my life, so why should I even go and pretend everything is fine? She just wants me for the pictures, so just forget about it.''

''Was she involved in your life when she was still here?'' Samantha asks.

Her question confuses me, but I nod. ''Yes, she helped out at my school and she never missed a game.''

''Did she ever forget your birthday?''

''No, she never does. She always calls or visits and she always has the best presents.''

''She still tries to stay in touch with you?''

''You know that she does. I spend a week every summer with her and she calls or visits.''

''Then you are going to the wedding,'' Samantha says firmly.

''Why? I just said that my mom is barely involved in my life.''

''But at least she is still in your life!'' Samantha snaps. ''So, you are going, and if I have to be there to make sure of that then so be it!''

After dinner Samantha excuses herself and my dad starts to clear the table.

''So, you decided that you are attending your mom's wedding,'' my dad teases.

''Shut up!'' I laugh and my dad chuckles, before getting serious again.

''Alexander, I want to apologize for what I said about her. Calling her just a pretty face and that other thing. Definitely, not my finest moment, and I truly regret saying those things. I assumed Samantha would be more like her mother, but I'm glad she is not. Although you still have your hands full with her.''

For a moment I'm stunned. My dad never apologizes for anything, but he actually sounds sincere. '

''I appreciate you saying that, dad. It really means a lot and I don't mind that last thing. She challenges me in a good way and she makes me think things through. Like have I told you about the bachelor that I want to get my degree in?''

My dad shakes his head and he turns the coffee machine on. Soon I tell my dad all about the program, while we drink coffee. He is actually really interested and he keeps asking me questions. He even offers to visit some of the schools with me that have that program.

We are so busy talking, that we don't realize that Samantha hasn't returned. My dad goes to the bathroom, while I check the living room.

''Damn, she is good.'' I hear my dad say. He walks into the living room holding up a piece of paper.

''Thank you for dinner, that salmon was indeed perfect. There I said it. Sorry, I didn't say goodbye. Didn't want to interrupt the conversation.

PS: The dishwasher is left of the sink. Put the tablet in the square and close it. Press on, then press the button with the symbol of the plates and close the dishwasher.''

I look up at my dad. He is not mad that Samantha left without saying anything, he actually looks amused.

''You didn't know where the dishwasher was or how it works?''

''I never used that thing since we moved here, Alexander!''

''But you do know the tablets that you need?''

''No,'' my dad chuckles. ''Read the other side.''

I turn the paper and there it is.

''Really? It's the blue box under the sink that says Finish.''

I shake my head and smile.

That's my girl!

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