The first space Molly cleared in the chaos of boxes was the kitchen.
She piled things in the spare room, to make space, and did her best to clean off the dining room table as well. That done, she began looking through the boxes marked as culinary supplies, intent on digging out the bare essentials. The knives, chopping block, pasta pot and skillet were all in the same box, with just enough plates and bowls stacked on top of them, so perhaps this had been in the back of her mind when she’d packed.
Who was she kidding? Of course it had been. Just like slipping a condom or two into her purse before leaving on a date. There hadn’t been any guarantee that she’d need them, but if she did, if, say, she managed to work up the courage to invite Glen over for dinner to say thank-you for his help with moving, then she’d be prepared.
It was a delicate balancing act, and yet at the same time it was just dinner. She needed to whip something up that wasn’t too contrived or overdone or overtly romantic, and yet something that’d impress him enough that (hopefully) his bachelor’s palate would be forever changed and he’d have no choice but to stick close to her and be fed.
The thought made Molly smile as she spun a thin stream of olive oil into the skillet. She hadn’t even had a chance to make a serious shopping trip; the garlic, onion, sun-dried tomatoes and olives had all made the trip from Massachusetts with her. She checked on the water that was heating for the pasta, took the tomatoes out of the microwave where they’d been soaking, and then the crushed garlic and diced onion went into the skillet. She added a bit of pancetta to the mixture as well.
So, yes. Dinner had to be good, yet informal. Pasta and salad would handle that nicely. Bread and candles were the next obvious step, but that was too much, too heavy-handed. Besides, the condo was still a maze of boxes and she couldn’t even see the sofa. The candles were well and truly buried, let alone a shelf to put them on.
Glen could be infuriatingly cagey, and Molly was just glad she’d gotten him to agree to let her make dinner for him. In spite of the movers that Dobie had provided (and thinking too hard about his reasons for helping her out as much as he had was more than she felt like doing) Glen had rounded up a few friends to tote boxes. Cygnet had also turned up, though in her inimitable fashion she hadn’t done much other than be cheerfully jealous of Molly’s new digs.
Gifts of food for the other people who’d helped her move would come later, of course. She’d been able to convince Glen that she wasn’t singling him out by pointing out that he’d been there when she’d first seen the place, and with some judicious claiming of scheduling conflicts preventing a group dinner. In any case, it had worked.
Molly frowned as she drained a can of diced black olives. It was so hard to read him. He seemed interested, and she could tell he was genuinely happy when they were together. But the moment things started to turn romantic, Glen would collapse in on himself. Avoidance city. She couldn’t place what was making him run away, though she didn’t think it was her.
Hoped it wasn’t, anyway.
In any case, while she had packed the proper dishes for a dinner for two on top, she hadn’t made any condoms readily available.
“You’re thinking about this too hard, Molly Snow,” she said aloud, adding the tomatoes to the skillet and stirring with annoyance. “Dammit.”
The doorbell rang; Glen was right on time. Her irritation faded immediately. Dammit, indeed. It would’ve been so much easier to stop thinking about these things, if he didn’t have that effect on her. She turned the heat down and went to answer it.
He looked appreciatively around at the massed boxes, as if he hadn’t just helped to move it all in less than twelve hours before. “I like what you’ve done with the place,” he said.
She rolled her eyes at him and took his coat, hanging it in the meager space she’d managed to clear in the closet. “Goof,” she said, charmed.
“It seemed as good a way as any to break the ice,” he replied. “It was either that, or burst into song.”
“Been known to,” he said. “I was in a terrible a capella group when I was in college.”
“I love a capella.”
“Don’t get your hopes up. I said we were terrible, and I meant it. The five of us started singing based on our shared experience of failing to make it into the glee club.” They shared a smile. “Some of us failed quite spectacularly. Remind me to tell you how our baritone, ‘Rolaid’ Wyeth, got his nickname.”
“I think I can guess.”
Glen nodded. “It’s still a good story, as long as you’re not eating.”