Kate Sweeney <firstname.lastname@example.org>
“Tell me, again, why I’m going?" the tall woman asked. She was lying on the couch, nearly asleep.
The younger woman flounced on top of her. “You’re going because I want you to meet my friends. We’ve been dating for two months and I want to show you off. Everyone at the gym is jealous. I have a personal, sexy trainer," she pouted. “Besides, there’s a great band playing and everyone will be there."
The tall woman groaned. A great band, she thought. That meant one thing… a headache at the end of the evening. She looked at her younger lover. She was a very attractive young woman: Medium everything, sandy blonde hair, nice blue eyes and a body that wouldn’t quit. So, she is thirteen years your junior. So, you have absolutely nothing in common but unbelievably sex that left you nearly comatose.
“Okay, let’s get going," the tall older woman, groaned. After two hours of racquetball, she was exhausted. It was nine o’clock and Michelle Harrigan was ready for bed. Hell, at the verge of the big 5-0 her sleep became extremely important. Her lover, Tina Wilcox, was a sprite thirty-whatever; Mitch was too tired to do the math.
Tina was ready to paint the town and Mitch’s paintbrushes, were long since put away. She groaned again and the young blond pulled her up.
“C’mon Mitch, we’ll be late."
“Late? Late for what?" she asked seriously as the young woman pulled her out the door.
“Tell me, again, why I’m going?" the older woman asked as she leafed through the magazine.
Her young friend and fellow teacher rolled her eyes. She took the magazine out of her hand and pulled her out of the chair.
“Because, it’s Friday night and there’s a great band playing at the club. Jess, you never come out with us," the young woman informed her.
“That’s because at nine o’clock at night; I’m ready for some Ella Fitzgerald, a nice hot bubble bath and a glass of wine. Then I turn on my fireplace and fall wonderfully asleep after a long, hard week of pre-pubescent insanity."
Marcie rolled her eyes once again and pulled her older friend out the door. “C’mon, everyone will be there and you need a night out."
“Oh, all right," Jess Tillman sighed and allowed the young energetic woman to propel her out the door.
The music, thank God, was not loud—not yet, anyway as Tina led Mitch by the hand toward the table where several young women sat. As they looked up, Mitch instantly felt out of place.
She knew this was going to happen. While Tina said age made no difference, Mitch knew better.
Jess sat at the end of the long table. Marcie had introduced her to her friends and Jess was dreaming of a nice hot bath; she rubbed her temple then, ran her fingers through her thick dark hair that curled around the nape of her neck. She smiled remembering how she was going to color it. There was a considerable amount of gray streaking through. Even Marcie said to ‘give it a rinse’ just to get the gray out.
Jess, considered it then realized she’d be a slave to Clairol and said, phooey. Besides, she liked the look. I’m forty-nine for heavensake. I’ve never been a slave to anything, I’m not starting now.
Mitch sat down and ordered a glass of wine. Tina, along with her friends, ordered something called a Jaeger-bomb.
It was then she casually looked around the table and spotted the woman at the end. She was talking to another woman and Mitch liked the carefree smile this woman sported. She was average height and Mitch noticed she was out of shape, but upon further inspection, this woman was very shapely for the shape she was in… Her dark shoulder length thick hair was a salt and pepper color. It was her eyes, which Mitch noticed. They were a silvery blue and sparkling.
At once, this woman absently looked over and caught her eye. Mitch grinned slightly and nodded; the woman nodded in kind.
Tina tugged at her arm. “Mitch... Hey..."
Mitch blinked and looked at her young lover. “I’m sorry."
“I was introducing you. Now, this is Amanda and Kim. That’s Sandy and Jane. Oh, I’m sorry I don’t know you…" she said to the older woman Mitch had noticed.
Marcie chimed in. “Sorry, we’re friends with Jane, we teach together. This is Jess Tillman, I’m Marcie Newman."
“Well, it’s nice to meet you. This is Mitch Harrigan."
Jess noticed the older woman who smiled a bit uncomfortably and nodded. This woman was tall, dark haired, very tan and in very good shape. With her dark brown hair styled in short fashion, Jess noticed a wisp or two of gray streaking at the temples. She sympathized with this woman’s uncomfortable posture. While she couldn’t gauge this woman’s age, she knew that she, like herself, was much older than the group of women sitting at the table.
One young woman leaned in. “Mitch. Is that short for something?"
“Yes, Michelle," she answered kindly.
“Michelle? How did you get Mitch from that?"
Mitch grinned. “Well, when I was a kid, I had a crush on Michelle Phillips. Her nickname was Mitch, so…" she explained to the group as she looked around.
Everyone woman sported dumbfounded looks.
Jess chuckled. “And Mitchy wants to go to the sea…" she recited the lyrics and she and Mitch laughed at the old song.
“What can I say? My mother loved The Mama’s and Papa’s," Mitch laughed along her.
Tina laughed apologetically to her friends. “It’s a group from the sixties; old folks’ music."
Mitch shot her a look but just smiled sadly. She glanced up to see Jess Tillman sporting the same smile.
Jess leaned into Tina. “Sweetie, that’s not old. You want old? Let’s talk Doris Day," she said emphatically.
Mitch threw her head back, laughed heartily and raised her wineglass.
The evening progressed with Jaeger-bomb shots and inane conversation. Every now and then Mitch would steel a glance at Jess who would chuckle and roll her eyes.
“You know what I miss as a kid?" one young woman started, “I miss driving to the mall and spending time hanging out. My mom would drive us, we’d go to lunch and then she’d pick us up. Man I miss those days."
“Me too," Tina sighed. “I remember when I got my tongue pierced; most of you guys were with me."
Mitch raised an incredulous eyebrow and looked around the table. She looked down at Jess Tillman and grinned. “What do you miss? Jess, was it?" Mitch asked.
“Yes, Jess Tillman. What do I miss? I miss seeing the original golden arches, with the McDonald hamburger man holding a sign that said fifteen cents. We could get a whole meal for three, for less than four bucks," she said and Mitch nodded.
The younger woman just listened and sported that ‘stroll down memory lane’ look to each other.
“How about you, Mitch. What do you miss?" Jess asked seriously.
Mitch thought for a moment then looked right into the silvery blue. “I miss seeing a caboose at the end of a train," she said and Jess could honestly hear the sadness in her voice. “When we were kids, my mother and father would always wave at the conductor, who’d wave back. Then as the red caboose came by, there was always a guy either standing outside or sitting in the window. He’d wave and I’d always wondered if he lived in that red caboose," she said, to Jess who smiled affectionately and nodded.
With that, Tina let out an inebriated snort and slapped at Mitch’s arm. “Live in a caboose. God, you’re funny," she said and leaned in for a kiss.
Mitch raised a patient eyebrow and lightly kissed the offered lips.
The remainder of the evening was a loud, thumping headache. Mitch and Jess would exchange glances. At one point, Tina grabbed Mitch and dragged her onto the dance floor. Jess watched with a raised eyebrow as Mitch danced to the sexy Latin beat with the young woman. After three dances, Mitch dragged Tina off the floor. Tina grabbed another woman and out on the dance floor they went.
The table was more or less empty while everyone threw themselves all over the dance floor so Mitch took the opportunity to move down and sit by Jess. “Don’t mind if I sit here, do you?"
“No, not at all," she yelled back and both women laughed.
“Why does the music need to be so loud? I never understood that," Mitch yelled and leaned in very close.
For an instant, neither heard the music. Jess turned her head so their faces were inches apart. Mitch stared into the silvery blue pools.
“I think this is why," Jess said honestly, as she swallowed.
“Probably," Mitch agreed with a smile. Jess blushed which Mitch found extremely captivating.
“I’ll be right back," Mitch said and walked away, weaving in and out of the crowded dance floor.
In a few minutes, she came back. “Can I get you a drink?" she asked and Jess nodded. Mitch hailed the waitress who shimmied around the crowded table.
Suddenly, the loud music stopped and Jess sighed happily. “Relief," she said in a normal voice and Mitch laughed openly. A slow song started and Mitch stood and offered her hand.
“Dance with me Jess, please," she said with a smile.
Jess was caught off guard. Mitch saw her hesitation and gave her a challenging grin. Jess chuckled, took her hand and Mitch led her out onto the dance floor.
“Now, let’s show these kids what music is really for," Mitch said and gently pulled her into her arms.
“I can’t believe they have this song," Jess said as Mitch slipped her arm around her waist.
“I know. You should have seen the look on his face when I asked for Etta James," Mitch said close to her ear as ‘At Last’ played in the background.
“You’re a good dancer, Mitch," Jess sighed as they floated around the dance floor.
“A good partner helps," Mitch said seriously, as she tightened her embrace.
All at once, time seemed to stop. Mitch heard nothing but the music; she felt the soft breath against her cheek.
Too quickly, it was over. However, they still danced until the loud thumping started again and both women jumped. For an instant, Jess rested her forehead against Mitch’s chin and Mitch quelled the urge to kiss the incredibly soft skin so close to her lips. With a heavy sigh, they made their way back to the table.
Tina came up and draped herself across Mitch’s arm. “Hey sweetie, we’re going to another club," she said in a thick, slurred voice.
The wonderful spell broken, Mitch let out a dejected sigh. “Tina, it’s late you’re really not going to drive anywhere. Why don’t I take you home," Mitch offered logically.
As Jess eased herself out of the way and sat down, Marcie flopped down next to her. “I’m having a ball. Are you? Hey, we’re all going to another club, come with us?"
“No, no. I’m heading home. This was fun," she said, as she watched Mitch.
Mitch was still arguing quietly with Tina; well, Mitch was quiet. “I can drive; don’t be an old futz," Tina said angrily. “I hate it when you get motherly. I’m a grown woman."
“Then act like one. It’s late and you’re drunk. We’ve had this discussion before, Tina," Mitch said as quietly as she could.
With that, the woman Tina had been dancing with came to her side. “I’ll drive her car," she said.
Mitch raised an eyebrow. “Excuse me, but this really isn’t any of your concern," Mitch said politely.
Jess bit at her bottom lip as she watched.
Tina stepped up. “She can drive me, Mitch. I’m not ready to go home."
Mitch looked down at her young lover then chuckled as she shook her head. This was inevitable. What little common ground they had, grew smaller and smaller with each passing moment. She fished the keys out of her pocket and tossed them at the other woman. “Common ground, Tina," she reminded her in a sad voice.
“Fine, go home and go to bed!" Tina replied. She turned in a huff, dragging the young woman with her.
Mitch let out a sigh of resignation and grabbed her jacket.
Jess walked up to her and put a hand on her arm. “Need a ride?"
Mitch smiled and nodded. “Thanks."
“My car’s a couple blocks away, if you don’t mind the walk in this cold," Jess offered.
Mitch shook her head as she chuckled, “It can’t be any colder outside than it is in here at the moment."
They walked out into the quiet winter air. Mitch took a deep breath and sighed openly. “Ah, there is peace and quiet."
Jess laughed as they walked side by side.
“So, I have a question," Mitch said seriously.
Jess hid her grin as they walked. “Shoot."
“Katharine Hepburn or Bette Davis?"
Jess laughed out loud. “Bette Davis."
“Hmm. Okay. Bette Davis or Judy Garland."
Jess stopped and pulled her coat around her. “You can’t mix singers with actresses."
“Judy Garland was an actress as well," Mitch argued as they started down the snowy walk.
“But I don’t think Bette could sing her say out of a paper bag," Jess informed her.
“True enough. Okay then Bette and who then?"
Jess thought for a moment. “Ahh, Loretta Young."
“Oooh, she was gorgeous."
“This is my car," Jess said. She unlocked the door and walked around to her driver side. Mitch quickly got in and leaned over and opened her door. “Thanks."
“Thanks for giving me the lift," Mitch replied and buckled her seat belt. “If you go up to Belmont, take a right. So you’re a teacher, eh?"
“Yes," Jess asked. “And you’re in fantastic shape. What do you do?"
“I’m an athletic trainer at a gym; hoping to buy it next year. I’m saving my pennies," Mitch said with a smile.
Jess glanced at her and smiled as well; they drove on in silence.
Mitch stole a glance and cleared her throat. “I know it’s late, but how about a cup of coffee?"
Jess glanced again and raised an eyebrow. “I’m not sure Tina would like that."
“It’s just coffee, Jess," Mitch countered softly.
“Well, maybe a cup. I know of a little bakery—"
“Open at one in the morning?"
Jess laughed. “Mrs. Walinski bakery is also a coffee shop. I go there from time to time. It’s open."
They parked in front of the little bakery. “I’ve driven by here a hundred times," Mitch said in quiet amazement and smiled as the little bell rang when she opened the door for Jess.
“I love this smell," Mitch said and sniffed. “Coffee and cinnamon."
Jess agreed with a nod as they walked up to the pastry window. With that, an old woman walked through the swinging door.
“Jess!" she exclaimed and wiped her hands on her apron. “You are away too long."
Mitch grinned when she heard the thick Polish accent. The woman looked at her and raised an eyebrow. “And who is this beautiful woman?" Mitch immediately frowned and felt the color rise to her cheeks.
“This is Mitch Harrigan. Mitch, this is Mrs. Walinski," Jess offered.
The old woman stuck out her hand, which Mitch took. “Nice to meet you, Mrs. Walinski; firm handshake."
“Years of rolling pastry dough. Now, sit, sit," she said and ushered them to a small table by the window.
“What are you doing out so late, hmm?" she asked absently as she put two cups on the table. “Coffee?"
“Thanks. We were at a very loud club," Jess said as the old woman poured the coffee.
Mitch watched Mrs. Walinski as she glanced from her to Jess and back again. The woman then pulled a sour face. “Och, clubs. Everybody dance, dance and nobody hold each other; crazy dance," she said shaking her head. “Now, I just bake fresh cinnamon rolls. I bring two." She scurried away and out of sight.
Mitch was still grinning. “I like her. And she right about the club." She stirred her coffee and looked up at Jess. “Why did you go? I’m just curious." She chuckled softly, “You looked a little out of place."
Jess laughed openly. “You didn’t seem at home yourself. Marci is in my department; the English Department. She’s been after me to go out; says I don’t go out enough." She blew at the steamy cup. “I wish I understood why going to a noisy club, where you can’t hear yourself think, drinking, and coming home at four in the morning is considered ‘going out’."
Mitch sat back. “I asked Tina that last week. I was ready for bed and she said there’s time to sleep when she’s dead."
“That’s a little morbid," Jess said as drank her coffee. “But I suppose she means there’s a lot of life to be lived—"
“It depends on what type of life you want," Mitch interjected quickly.
Jess noticed Mitch’s dark look as she stared at her coffee cup. “She’s very pretty."
Mitch looked up and grunted. “Yes, she is. We’re just not on the same page. She’s young."
“That really doesn’t mean anything."
“Sure it does," Mitch countered and leaned forward. “There is thirteen years difference between us. That’s a big gap. We have nothing in common—Music, movies, philosophy of life for goddsakes."
Jess quietly drank her coffee as Mitch continued. “She’s young and wants different things out of life. I believe their called Jaeger-bombs or whatever that disgusting drink was called…"
Jess tried not to laugh and Mitch glanced up. She laughed and sat back. “I’m an old fogey."
“You are not," Jess countered. “There’s got to be a reason why you are together."
Mitch blushed to her roots and cleared her throat. Gratefully, Mrs. Walinski came out the back with two plates.
“Here we are," she announced and set the plates in front of them.
Mitch’s eyes bugged out of her head. “This is huge."
“I know. Now eat while still warm." She stood back. “I will leave you to get acquainted better. You make handsome couple."
Then she was gone.
Mitch avoided Jess who was looking out the window. They ate in silence; each stealing a glance while the other was not looking.
“This is heavenly," Mitch announced as she took a healthy bite.
“I know, I usually come here on Sunday mornings," Jess said. “I sit at this table and—"
“Watch the world go by," Mitch interjected softly.
Jess smiled and nodded.
“I love—" they both said at the same time and laughed.
“You first," Jess offered.
“I love to watch people," Mitch replied.
“That’s what I was going to say as well. You watch them and wonder what they’re thinking; are they happy; are they in love?"
“Are you?" Mitch asked quietly and toyed with her coffee cup.
Jess smiled and looked out into the dark night. “Happy? Yes, I am. Though sometimes I’d like to have someone to share my life with once again."
Mitch looked up. “There was someone? Did she hurt you?"
Jess heard the concern in her voice and her heart skipped a beat. “I suppose we hurt each other. We were young and in love, but it wasn’t enough to sustain us. As we grew older, we grew apart instead of growing together. We knew it was over, but I never strayed. For the life of me, I will never understand why there is a need to go outside a marriage? Why be unfaithful? We both knew it was nearing an end, but we were still trying. Even if we were foolish to try."
Mitch drank her coffee. “Do you still see her?"
“From time to time. There’s been no one steady since." She stopped and let out a nervous laugh. “Well, that’s a lot of information, sorry."
“Don’t be. I like listening to you," Mitch said. “And I have a feeling you don’t talk about it much."
“No, I really don’t," Jess replied quietly and looked at her coffee cup. “You’re easy to talk to."
Mitch looked across at her pretty face. “What am I doing?"
Jess looked up. “About what?"
Suddenly, Mitch sat forward. “Look, I’ve got some things to take care of, but I’d like to call you again. Maybe have coffee or dinner—"
“No, don’t say no, Jess. Just, please…" Mitch started and stopped; she ran her fingers through her hair in an exasperated gesture. She then looked at the calendar hanging on the wall.
She got up and grabbed the pen on the counter and circled a date. She then turned to Jess. “Meet me back here, on this date. It’s like that movie," she said with a chuckle. “I can’t remember the name of it right now."
“Mitch, what are you—?" she let out a gasp as Mitch marched over to the table and pulled her out of her chair.
“Meet me here; same time on that date."
Jess merely nodded in agreement; she felt the strong hands on her arms as Mitch held her at arms length.
She then let Jess go and stood back. “Okay then, it’s a date," she announced breathlessly.
They looked into each other’s eyes for a moment. Mitch then pulled out a few bills and placed them on the table. “I-I have to go before I—" she stopped and looked at Jess. “I wanna kiss you so bad right now."
Jess’s breath caught in her chest. “B-But you can’t."
“Not now, no," she said then grinned wildly. “G’night, Jess Tillman."
“Good night, Mitch Harrigan."
Jess watched as Mitch confidently walked out of the bakery and out of sight. Jess realized her legs were shaking; she sat down before she fell.
“Mrs. Walinski!" she cried out.
“What!" the old woman screamed and ran up to her; she was grinning when she sat down across from her. “I heard whole thing," she said happily. “Now, what will you wear?"
Jess gave the old woman a disturbed look. “Wear?"
“I will make apple strudel. No, I will make…" she stopped and looked back at the calendar. “Goot God, she wants to meet on Valentine’s Day."
Jess blinked and looked at the calendar. She didn’t even think of that. She was too surprised, too happily surprised to take notice.
“She is romance," Mrs. Walinski announced and put her hand to her heart.
“She has romance; she is romantic, Mrs. Walinski," Jess absently corrected her.
The old woman rolled her eyes. “Has, is; doesn’t matter. Is romance!"
Jess laughed then nervously bit her bottom lip. “Yes, Mrs. Walinski; is romance. I hope."
On February 14th, at exactly one in the morning, Jess sat at the table in the bakery. She was in a cloud for the entire week prior. She thought of nothing else but this meeting and Mitch. Her hands were sweating and her heart was pounding in her chest.
Mrs. Walinski walked out of the kitchen. “I have the apple strudel in oven and fresh coffee made. You look lovely, my darling."
“Thanks, Mrs. Walinski," Jess replied.
She wore the black dress and matching shoes; she hasn’t worn them in quite a while and her feet here beginning to kill her. She laughed at herself. What am I thinking? For some reason she knew Mitch Harrigan could care less what she was wearing. Why, how, did she know this?
She glanced at the clock it was not nearly one-thirty. Jess looked out at the dark street. It was busier than usual; it was Valentine’s Day after all.
Mrs. Walinski had a few customers to take care of and Jess laughed quietly as she heard her mutter, “No one ever comes in here this time of night; now I have too many."
By nearly two o’clock, the apple strudel was taken out of the oven and Jess was crestfallen. She took a deep sad breath as Mrs. Walinski patted her shoulder. “Perhaps there is good explanation."
“There is. I was a fool and she’s with her young girlfriend. It’s Valentine’s Day after all."
She took a deep quivering breath and stood. “Well, Mrs. Walinski, I—"
With that, the door burst open and there stood a disheveled Mitch. Her slacks here torn at the knee; there was a large red welt on her forehead and she was completely breathless.
“Mitch! What happened?" Jess exclaimed.
Mitch leaned against the door and let out a sigh of relief, well a wheeze. “Thank God, you’re still here. I ran from Wrigleyville."
“Wrigleyville!" both women exclaimed as the helped her to a chair.
Mitch nodded and winced as she sat down. Mrs. Walinski dashed to the kitchen while Jess knelt down in front of her.
“You’re bleeding for heavens sakes," Jess mumbled and took the napkin off the table and dabbed it in the ice water. “Hold still."
She gently dabbed the scrape through the torn slacks. Mrs. Walinski came out with a first aid kit. “Jess, use this," she ordered and pulled out a brown bottle.
Mitch frowned deeply. “What’s in there?"
Jess smiled as she took the bottle. She opened the gauze and the bottle. The antiseptic odor filled the bakery. “Oh, I think this is going to sting a little."
“Then don’t use it," Mitch said.
Mrs. Walinski rolled her eyes. “I thought you were big bitch."
Mitch’s eyes nearly bugged out of her head. Jess threw her head back and laughed heartily. “That’s butch, Mrs. Walinski."
Mitch narrowed her eyes at Jess who was still laughing. “It’s not that funny," she grumbled.
“Yes, it is. Now tell me why you ran nearly three miles. Don’t you own a car?"
“No, I live in the city and I couldn’t get a cab to save my life! Every couple in Chicago must be cabbin’ it tonight," she said angrily. “So, I tried to get a bus but…"
Jess and Mrs. Walinski stopped their first aid and looked at her. “But?" Mrs. Walinski asked.
Mitch turned bright red. “I forgot my wallet; they wouldn’t let me on the damned bus!"
Jess bit at her lip to avoid laughing. Mrs. Walinski gave Mitch a disturbed look. “Why you not call Jess?" she asked the logical question.
“I was in hurry," Mitch explained. “I—"
“You forgot phone as well?" Mrs. Walinski asked. Jess heard the incredulous tone in her voice. “You are very unorganized woman, Mitch Harrigan."
Jess looked up and searched the brown eyes. “So you ran three miles, in the ice and cold."
Mitch shrugged and nodded.
“What happen to your knee and forehead? You fall down?" Mrs. Walinski asked. She still had a concerned look on her face, as if Mitch were some escapee from a nearby hospital.
Jess was still looking at Mitch who took a deep irritated breath. “Yeah. I slipped running around the corner on Belmont. I saw the bakery and I guess I was in a hurry." She then looked down into the silvery blue eyes and smiled.
“You hit your head?" Mrs. Walinski asked.
Mitch tore her eyes away from Jess and looked up. “Oh, no," she said and laughed, “That was Tina."
Jess was shocked. “She hit you?"
“Why?" Jess asked as she placed the small bandage on her knee.
“Well, I told her I wasn’t in love with her; that we had nothing in common except, well… We had nothing in common to sustain us."
Jess gave her a wary look. “She hit you because of that?"
Mitch turned bright red and gave Mrs. Walinski a side-glance before answering. “No. She hit me when I told her I had met a nice woman with whom I had something in common. And I wanted to be free to ask her if she’d go out with me sometime and I couldn’t do that with an albatross around my neck."
Jess’s eyes widened. “You didn’t say that!"
Mitch laughed and shook her head. “No, I didn’t say that, but she threw her boot at me anyway; clipped me with the heel."
As Jess stood, Mitch put her hand under her elbow to assist her. “Well, I’m sorry she hit you and I’m sorry you had to run all the way here."
“I’m sorry I’m late," Mitch said, still looking into her eyes.
“I am sorry you are not more organized," Mrs. Walinski mumbled. “I will reheat the strudel."
Then she was gone.
Mitch laughed quietly. “I still like her."
Jess folded her arms in front on her chest and looked down at her feet. “Well, she thinks you are romance," Jess said, trying the Polish dialect.
Mitch raised an eyebrow. “She does, huh?"
Jess nodded and hid her grin.
“It was rather romantic of me, wasn’t it?" Mitch wasn’t sure if she liked the vulnerable sound in her own voice.
“It was if I’m the woman you were talking about."
Mitch stepped closer and put her hands on Jess’s shoulders. “You’re the woman," she assured her.
Mrs. Walinski cleared her throat as both women sat down at the small table. She set the plates and the coffee cups in front of them, then set the coffee pot down as well. “I will leave you alone. Stay as long as you like."
She smiled and kissed Jess on the head and looked at Mitch. Mitch looked up feeling very much like she was about to be scolded. “You are nut, but good for my Jess." She then kissed the top of her head and walked into the kitchen.
Mitch laughed quietly. “I think she still likes me." She glanced up from her coffee. “D-Do you like me?" There’s that vulnerable sound again.
“Yes, I do," Jess answered as she toyed with her fork.
The both heard the swinging door to the kitchen creak. Mitch winked at Jess. “You can join us, Mrs. Walinski," Mitch called out.
“I hear just fine from kitchen," she called back.
The both laughed then concentrated on the apple strudel. Mitch then let out a deep groan.
“What’s wrong?" Jess asked.
Mitch blushed to her roots as she reached into the breast pocket of her jacket and pulled out one small daisy. “I… It’s on of the reasons I was late. I was running and I past this little old guy who was on the corner selling flowers, probably for last minute idiots who didn’t get flowers for their girl. So I stopped and I just saw this one and …" she stopped and gently held it out to Jess. “I was going to buy the whole bunch, but it’s all the money I had on me. And I figured carrying a whole bunch would slow me down and I wanted to get to you."
Jess reached out with a trembling hand and took the little flower and held it in both hands. Mitch winced when she noticed the little flower was slightly wilted. God, what a moron…
“Thank you," Jess said and held the little flower up to her nose.
Mitch was shocked when she saw tears well in the silvery blue eyes. “Hey…" she whispered curiously.
Jess sniffed and shook her head. “I’m okay. It’s just been quite a while since anyone has given me flowers."
Mitch tentatively reached across the table and held her warm hand. “Well technically it’s not ‘flowers’; it’s only one and—"
Jess raised one eyebrow. “Don’t ruin the mood, Harrigan."
Mitch laughed nervously and Jess joined her. “So…" Jess said softly. “I know it’s late—"
“I’m not tired," Mitch interjected.
Jess grinned. “You’re not? Well, there’s an all night film festival at the theatre down the block. I thought maybe you’d like to go."
Mitch was still holding her hand. “What’s playing?"
“Bette Davis, All About Eve," Jess said, with an enticing wiggle to her eyebrows.
Mitch nodded. “You know the way to my heart." She stood and helped Jess on with her coat.
Jess turned to her and placed the little flower in the lapel of Mitch’s jacket. She lightly traced her hand over the daisy and looked up into Mitch’s brown eyes. “Not yet, but it’ll be fun to find out, won’t it?"
Mitch reached up and held Jess’s hand closed to her heart. “Yes, it’s gonna be fun, Jess Tillman."
She lowered her head and lightly kissed Jess on the lips. Jess moaned slightly as she returned the chaste kiss. They stood for a moment and Mitch took a deep happy breath. “I waited all week for that."
She took Jess by the arm. “You’re gonna have to buy my ticket."
Jess laughed out loud as Mitch opened the door, sending the little bell ringing merrily.
Mrs. Walinski walked out of the kitchen and saw them laughing as they walked down the street.
As she locked the door, she smiled and nodded.
“Is romance," she whispered and turned off the light.
Return to the Invitational