“Can I help you?” Charlie asked without looking up.
James was hovering over her shoulder as she read her list for the tenth time. He had been doing that down every isle, standing immensely close to her. It wasn’t safe for either of them. She turned around and pushed James gently towards the cart before wandering down the isle.
They had stopped off at a grocery store outside of downtown Pittsburgh after he finally decided on what he’d like for dinner. Charlie had to hide the smile as she remembered meeting him in a store just like the one they were currently shopping at.
“All we need now is broccoli. I’ve got wine at my place if you’re alright with that,” She looked back to James as he came to a stop next to her.
“I think we need to grab some more,” he suggested, already turning the cart towards the wine isle.
Charlie shook her head, “I’m sure I have a full bottle,” her words were ignored, as James was already halfway down the store. Charlie had to jog to catch up with him, which in heels wasn’t a great idea.
James insisted on paying for the groceries. The two took them out to the car and were quickly back on the road.
When he didn’t turn back to town, Charlie knew James had something up his sleeve. She just eyed him as he tapped his fingers on the steering wheel to the beat of the radio. His smile never faded, but only grew when he’d catch her staring. They spent the rest of the drive in a comfortable silence, their arms resting on the center console brushed more than a few times.
James drove down through the neighborhood that was quickly becoming more and more familiar to him. He pulled into a driveway of a nice size, two car garage, brick house. He put the car in park and turned off the engine. Silence quickly filled the car.
“Where are we?” Charlie asked, looking around at all the houses on the street.
He smiled proudly, “My house.” James jumped out of the car and opened the door for Charlie. She looked pensive as they grabbed the groceries from the trunk and made their way up the front walk.
“I thought you lived in an apartment downtown?”
“I do, well I did. It was temporary, until I was finished with the house,” he explained, fiddling with the keys before the door clicked open.
Charlie followed James in to the small foyer. Their steps echoed on the hardwood floor as they walked down the long hallway and into the kitchen.
James took the bags from her and began laying everything out. “Please, make yourself at home,” he insisted.
Her fingers began work on the buttons of her long dark green coat. Charlie walked through the modern and sleek kitchen. The pale grey room was complimented with stainless steal appliances, and black, rustic cabinets. White granite covered the countertops and massive island. Open to the kitchen, the family room had a similar feel. The cream walls balanced the kitchen well, and a dark brown leather L couch faced the dark wood framed fireplace. A few pieces of art hung on the walls, but for the most part it was simple and uncluttered.
She made a full circle of the first floor, having shed her jacket in the hallway closet. She met James at the counter. “Time to get to work!”
Charlie was quick to begin cooking. Salad, broccoli and chicken were on the menu. She was mixing the dry ingredients for the chicken when she looked up and caught James staring.
“I don’t think I told you this yet, but you look beautiful tonight,” he said softly. She watched as his eyes slowly admired her from head to toe. Charlie could feel his stare burn through the purple sheer top she had tucked into a high wasted, tight fitted skirt.
“You need something to do,” she laughed nervously. Her head shook at how silly she was being around him. C’mon girl, it’s not like you’ve never liked a guy before!
She asked for him to get a cutting knife and handed James some vegetables to cut up. They stood alongside each other at the counter, they arms and hips bumping gingerly.
With a bit of teamwork, the chicken was prepped and in the oven by 7:30. Charlie poured them both a glass of wine while James turned on the fireplace in the family room. They stayed away from the couch, knowing that it was too soon in the night to be that close to each other.
Leaning against counters opposite from one another, she took a sip of her wine. “It’s beautifully done,” she complimented.
James looked at his home, and smiled proudly. “I’d have to agree,” he also took a sip of wine. “I’d like to take all the credit, but my mom and a designer did most of the work,”
Charlie put down her glass to check on the chicken while James continued. “We’re close, but we still have some rooms to finish. I just can’t wait until the basement is done, have the team over, it should be fun,”
Charlie glanced at him over her shoulder.