It was the day after Allison left to help her parents following her father’s heart attack, Franny and Leo’s first real date.
Leo, overwhelmed by Allison’s sudden departure and the projects ahead of him, nearly called Franny to cancel. He told Precious as much, kneeling down to scratch her favorite spot behind her ear.
“So much going on, old girl. Maybe I should reschedule this dinner when I have more time. Or more focus. Or something.”
The old dog slapped his knee with her tail. Leo took Precious to his place just about every afternoon, their bond strong after their shared near-death experience. Precious sighed, fixing him in the gaze of her cloudy eyes. Her message came across loud and clear: Keep your date.
Leo laughed. Precious loved Franny, too, and maybe the scruffy dog just wanted time with her. Or maybe she knew Leo needed a kick in the rear. Either way, he decided to shower and get dinner started.
He prepared a meal of spaghetti and garlic bread, both of which were fragrant and steaming when Franny arrived, wearing the sixth (at least) outfit she’d tried on before leaving her apartment to walk up Pine Street to the old green house.
Casual, but pretty; put together, but not trying too hard; comfortable, but not sloppy; layers, because Leo’s basement apartment could shift from hot to cold and back again in the blink of an eye. Accessories alone had taken nearly thirty minutes of Franny’s prep time, necklaces and bracelets tried and rejected until finally she wrapped a lightweight yellow scarf around her neck, grumbled at herself for being “ridiculous,” and headed out the door.
All their nervousness melted into the steam of the warm food as they ate, savoring the tastes and aromas and one another’s company. Leo made Franny laugh so hard she cried, and when he told her how beautiful she was, damp and flushed and a mess from laugh-crying, she responded with a heart-fluttering kiss.
“Garlic kisses,” they laughed, kissed again, and Franny spent the night.