Heart Eaters – Part Eight – Doug


Heart Eaters

Part Eight

Doug

 

The spaghetti splattered onto Doug’s plate, he speared it again with his fork, dragged it in little circles, the soggy noodles leaving trails of bland red sauce in their wake. Doug heaved a sigh. The last three days at the hospital had been miserable without her. He had thought that his job was ok, even that he liked it, but now he wondered if it was Lucy that made him happy to come to work. The idea of making her smile, even for only a second, the smell of her in the hall, just the knowing that she’s close, were these things what made him smile throughout his workday. With the way he felt he tended to believe so, and he decided that was just fine. Depressed at the prospect of two more days without seeing her face, Doug leaned back in his chair and wondered, once again, if there was anything he could have done to avoid the suspension he had dealt her.

Damn! I’m crazy about her! He thought as he remembered the way her hair had smelled of lavender and vanilla. Lavender, she must love lavender. She has certainly created a fondness in me for the scent. I wonder if I could go by and see her again? She didn’t really invite me back, he pondered. Maybe, I could go by after work? Wait, no, I have the potential buyer coming to look at mom’s house at five… dang! Maybe, I could reschedule. No, no, I can’t. I really need to sell the house.

Doug continued to maul his lunch as he went over the many changes he had made to his parents’ house since their passing nearly a year and a half ago. It took his mind back to Chicago, and the potential his career had had there before he came to be with his sick mother. The youngest of seven, he wasn’t surprised to get the call, his parents were old. She passed soon after his arrival, heart failure, and his father, his mother’s lifelong love, had passed in his sleep only two weeks later. It had been difficult for Doug, but it had also seemed so right for them to go so close together.  It had never been one plus one with them. They had always just been one.

The smashing of glass, the clinging of metal fork and spoon, and the curse of a frustrated nurse that had just lost her lunch to the cold, blue speckled tile, jolted Doug from his memories. His eyes found Lucy’s habitual lunch break seat as he rose and dumped the hospital’s poor excuse for food into the trash.

*****

 

The fragrance of apples and cinnamon danced in the air exciting and tantalizing Susan’s and Lucy’s children. Minute particles of flour hovered in the streams of late afternoon sun that poured through the kitchen windows, and Susan and Lucy chatted through lifted lips as they baked.

“Damn!” Susan cursed dropping the rolling-pin beside the pastry. “I tore it again.”

Lucy moved beside her, retrieved the rolling-pin and began smoothing and shaping, quickly repairing.

“How do you do that?” Susan said with a smile as she refilled her wine glass.

“You are too impatient with the dough.” Lucy said, turning to Susan as she wrapped the now perfectly shaped and tear-free pie crust around the rolling-pin then eased it into the pie tin.

“Well you always had me when it came to baking, but give me a rump of beef and a few potatoes and I’ll give you the Mona Lisa of main dishes.”

Lucy laughed. The sound tickled Susan’s heart.

“Luce, I have a favor to ask.” Susan said.

“Anything.”

“I want you to come look at a house with me.” Susan said, but hurried on when Lucy raised an eyebrow. “It’s on Oak Street, you know off Main.”

“Yes, I know where Oak Street is.” Lucy replied the smile growing on her face. “Susan what does this mean?”

“I miss you, I miss home. The only reason we were in Lincoln was for Jonathan’s family. Jonathan is gone,” Susan paused. “I never grew very close to his family, and I’m ready to come home. I have savings from working the past two years, and there was some life insurance. Anyway, I have more than enough-”

“So you’re staying!” Lucy threw her arms around Susan almost knocking them to the floor. “This is the most wonderful news I’ve heard in years!”

“Yes, and it’s the most wonderful news I’ve had to give in years. So you’ll look at the house with me? I have to meet the owner at five thirty.”

“Yes!”

Sheets of water pounded against the windshield as Susan struggled to get to her appointment on time. Gusts of wind tore the few remaining leaves from their limbs and tossed them against her car. Susan hated storms; tornadoes were the only thing that bothered her about moving back home.

“There,” Lucy said squinting. “That’s it, 201 Oak Street, that little blue house.”

Doug heard the car pull into the drive with relief. As he walked toward the door, he heard high-pitched cursing that  he figured was directed at the weather and smiled. “Mrs. Harmon,” he called as he opened the door then froze when he saw Susan’s face. “Susan!”

“Doug!” Susan said eyes wide. “I guess it’s Mr. Doug Harding, funny that we never exchanged first names.”

“Yes,” he said smiling. “Lucy?” He called as she jumped from the car into the rain and ran for the porch. His heart flipped in his chest making him feel twelve years old.

“Doug,” she said as she lowered her umbrella and shook it slightly. “Susan never told me you were the homeowner.”

“No, we neglected to give our first names for some reason.” Doug said unable to remove his eyes from her. She glowed, brighter than he had ever seen her; it made his mind reel with pleasure.

Doug endeavored to focus as he showed them the house. Laughter, even giggles spilled from Lucy and Susan as they examined the lovely little place. Unable to avoid it, he joined them often and made no effort to control his desire to let his eyes soak in and lick at the corners of Lucy’s bright face.

“It’s perfect!” Susan declared. “Three rooms, two bathrooms, which means, I get my own, close to Lucy’s, remodeled well,” she said looking to Doug. “Did you do the remodeling yourself?”

“Yes, I like carpentry. It gave me things to do after work, which was a distraction after my parents died.

“Oh, I’m sorry Doug. I didn’t realize.” Lucy said feeling ashamed. I worked with him and didn’t even know. How self-absorbed have I been?

“It’s ok now. That’s why I’m here actually. I moved from Chicago when my mother fell ill, and didn’t go to war for the same reason. My father couldn’t be without her and died a short time later.

Like a cannonball the guilt hit, all this time he has mourned too. He reached out, tried to lift you, and you merely brushed him aside with a polite smile. How cruel to not even notice his pain, and judge him for not going to war without even knowing the cause. Lucy berated herself.

“So,” Doug said interrupting Lucy’s internal rant. “Do you want it?”

“Yes!” Susan proclaimed and spun around taking in what would soon be hers.

“Wonderful!” Doug beamed. “I’ll get started on the paperwork. We can have you set up in a week.”

“Thank you Doug.” Susan chirped.

Lucy and Susan chattered about color schemes, rental trucks and furniture stores as they sauntered toward the front door. Doug smiled uncontrollably at the light he saw all over the two women. Happiness was banging at Lucy’s door, and he prayed with all his might that she’d let it in.

As Doug moved to open the door for them it reminded Lucy of the thoughts he had interrupted earlier. “Doug,” Lucy said thoughtfully.

“Yes?”

“Susan and I have been cooking and baking this afternoon, and I wonder if you’d like to come join us for dinner? We have more than enough.”

“That would be lovely,” he jumped.

“Great,” Lucy smiled. “It’ll be soon, if that is alright? Susan and I were just going to get some wine in town then head home.”

“Yeah,” Susan added. “Some one seems to have drunk all our wine.” They laughed.

“Why don’t you ladies allow me to pick up the wine and meet you there? Merlot, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, what is your desire?” Doug inquired.

“Merlot,” they answered in unison.

“Ok, see you in a few.”

*****

 

“Well ladies,” Doug said leaning back in his cherry wood chair, “that was probably the best roast, and pie I have ever eaten!”

“Oh, now you lie simply to make my little sister feel good.” Susan crowed as she refilled her wine glass.

“Surly your mothers were better than ours,” Lucy said, the words warm as they feel off her wine stained lips.

“No, my mother was an excellent mother, but a horrible cook.” Doug laughed. “Everything was mixture, some of this, some of that, terrible! To this day, I cannot eat casserole and enjoy it.”

Lucy watched him as he remembered his mother; his laughter was like little fingers inside her chest that pulled at the knots and cords choking her heart. The sound of her own laughter startled her and made her want to weep with joy. This is what it must have been like for Rip Van Winkle, Lucy thought. What beauty to be awake, what joy to feel more than emptiness.

For hours they talked, laughed, drank, lived. Lucy’s insides hummed like a bee on the wind, ecstatic to feel alive.

Doug was telling Susan and Lucy what is was like to grow up with six siblings. Face bright, he was recalling a time when two of his older sisters had fought.

“Oh my,” Susan interrupted. “Are you serious? She actually swung a hot frying pan at her!”

“Yes, but it was because Sarah had thrown a loaf of bread at her!”

“It sound like fun,” Susan laughed and noticed Lucy staring at Doug.

 Doug did too, his heart and body stirred. Lucy looked away, her cheeks bright red.

“Anyway, Doug, I had a lovely time. I’m tired though, and think I’m going to head off.” Susan bent, planted a kiss on his cheek.

“It was lovely. I’m so happy you’ll be staying.”

“I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed myself this much,” Lucy said as Susan walked up the stairs.

“I can’t either.” He sipped his wine, trying not to stare at her gorgeous face, he failed. “You’re so beautiful.”

Lucy smiled, surprising him. “Well, I told Susan that you were pretty attractive, but that was a lie.”

“Oh really,” Doug said leaning toward her. “Do you not think so?”

Lucy shook her head. “No, I would have to say that you’re closer to incredibly handsome.”

In one swift move, he leaned in and laid his lips against hers. She jumped but quickly relaxed into the softness of his mouth. It was tender, slow, simmering. Lucy gave into his arms as he pulled her to him. Hotter, fiercer it built; Lucy twined her fingers in his hair as his grip around her tightened. Somehow -she didn’t care by what force- Lucy found herself straddling his lap. She moaned as his hands caressed her shoulders, her back, and her ass. A year of pent-up desire beat at the edges of Doug’s control as he fought the urge to take her there, pleasure her right on the table. God, how he wanted her.

“Doug,” the word rasped out of her throat.

“Lucy,” he breathed ravaging her mouth once more.

Lucy danced inside at the immense desire she felt as she pulled at his shirt. It was so real, so overwhelming.

“Wait, wait,” he forced the words out.

Breathing hard, face flushed, she pulled her lips from his.

“I don’t want you to feel like I’m pushing you. I mean, I haven’t even taken you out on a date.” He ran his finger along her jaw, and acutely felt the warmth of her bare back against his other hand.

“You’er right,” Lucy said leaning her cheek into his hand. “I don’t know Doug. Are you sure you want me? I think I’m broken inside. Really, I’m not sure of what I am ready for.”

“You’re not broken. You’re perfect. You’re what I want. We can do this slowly, let me take you out.” He said, and just because he could he pulled her face to his again and softly kissed her.

  “Ok, I’ll give you a chance if you’re willing to take one on me.”

Like heaven, like springtime, like a fire in the night, that was what he felt as she spoke and laid  her head on his shoulder.

He lifted her and walked to the couch. Sitting, he said. “Just let me hold you, feel you near to me.”

She snuggled into his side, breathing deeply his warmth and slept without nightmares for the first time in over a year.

 

 

 

 

 

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2 Responses to “Heart Eaters – Part Eight – Doug”

  1. I love the frying pan fight! That one needed to be archived somewhere. :o)

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