“I think the potatoes are done, you’ve been mashing them for the last 20 minutes. Why don’t you go tell the guys to have a seat at the table?” my mom says, interrupting my daydreaming.
Dean is all I could think about since he walked into the kitchen and now I’m going to have to walk out there and talk to him. Why didn’t we just have a dinner bell I could ring or couldn’t my mom just yell ‘Come and get it!’
I stand up, straighten my pretty dress my mom made me wear, and walk toward the living room. The cool air goes in my nose and down my throat, my palms start to sweat. I stop in the doorway of the living room, look at my dad and say flatly, “Dinner is ready,” turn around and walk back to the kitchen as fast as I can.
Along with my nerves, my heart is working so hard, I am sure they could see it drumming. My dad never has return visits from his employees, it’s just a onetime thing. After tonight I won’t have to worry about seeing Dean again, but I kind of hope I will.
My mother and I grab the plates and walk out of the kitchen to serve dinner. Dean and my dad are seated so I have to stand right next to Dean and put his plate on the table. “Thank you, Em.J,” he says as he looks up at me. I don’t make eye contact, but I feel his stare and it shakes me.
“You’re welcome.” I walk to the other side of the table and plop my plate down noisily.
We eat, drink, make small talk, and laugh. Dean is getting along well with my parents and they seem genuinely interested in what each other has to say.
“I think these are the best mashed potatoes I’ve ever had,” Dean says and smiles at me. We stare at one another far too long, for some reason I can’t look away from him. My parents don’t notice the connection between us.
My mother talking interrupts our gaze, “Em.J made them, it’s one of her specialties. I think she has a secret ingredient that makes them yummy.” I barely notice my mother say a word as odd as yummy to someone over the age of five. I am trying to cut my steak without flinging it across the room because I know I am being watched.
“Love,” Dean says. Shocked at hearing him say that word, I look up and see him smiling at me. My embarrassment is hard to hide. He’s either having a really good time watching me squirm or he feels what I feel. This time my parents look at the two of us and each other. Dean laughs and says, “They must be made with love. I thought you looked familiar and I’ve been trying to place you ever since I met you. Where is it that you work?”