Sunday afternoon, Victoria parked her car in the parking lot and got out with a groan. She was exhausted and her clothes were dirty. Opening the trunk, she removed a kiondo filled with vegetables: her mother’s care package after the work-filled weekend. She’d spent her weekend at her family farm in Kinoo helping her father prep the greenhouse they’d purchased. They’d planted tomatoes because her strawberry project was still far from ready. Locking the car, Victoria walked to the stairs ready for a hot shower, and a cold drink. She hoped electricity hadn’t run away, because that would put a damper on her plans.
When she got to her floor, she paused at the sight of Eric leaning on the balcony rail outside her door. She tagged on her dirty t-shirt, and wondered if she could pass him unnoticed. A serious urge to hide flooded her and she almost took a step back but he turned and saw her. She adjusted the weight on her back and continued to her door.
Victoria winced, and continued to her house with slow steps.
“Hey,” she said when she got to her door.
Feeling self-conscious, Victoria rummaged in her handbag for keys, and almost dropped the heavy kiondo in the process. Eric took the basket.
“Were you in the shamba on a Sunday?” Eric teased.
Victoria nodded, finding her keys; she concentrated on opening her door. Eric preceded her into her apartment, hauling the basket into her kitchen. He placed the basket on the kitchen table and started checking what she’d brought home.
“Cabbage, carrots, onions, dhania,” Eric smiled and held up celery. “Do you also grow these?”
“Did you lose your words?” Eric asked with a grin, taking a carrot to the sink. He turned on the water, washed the fresh carrot and crunched into it.
“Hey,” Victoria said, frowning at him. “Why are you eating someone else’s carrots?”
“Apparently it’s the only way to get you to talk,” Eric grinned at her, still crunching on her carrot. He leaned on the sink counter, chewing on the carrot with relish. “These are good, sweet.”
“Glad you approve,” she said and stood for a moment amazed.
“Aren’t you going to close the door?” Eric asked when she kept standing at the entrance.
She laughed then as he promptly bit into the carrot again. Closing the door, she dumped the keys on a small table in the corridor and sighed.
“You know, it’s rude to go digging into other people’s groceries.”
“Yeah,” Eric grinned. “You’re not other people, Victoria.”
“You look great,” Eric said.
Victoria touched her sticky t-shirt. “Well, guess I don’t have to worry about that anymore.”
“I like a woman at work,” Eric said. He held up his half-eaten carrot. “Want a bite?”
“No.” Victoria removed the headscarf she wore, and pointed at him. “I need a shower. Don’t mess my kitchen.”
“You’re so bossy,” Eric said as she turned to head down the corridor to her room.
“I can help,” he called after her.
“You wish,” she replied, entering her bedroom and locking the door.
She was glad for the hot shower. It cleared her brain as nothing else could. She dressed in light blue sleeveless blouse and matching skirt. She held her hair in a ponytail at the top of her head and stood in the middle of her bedroom with a smile.
Truthfully, she was happy that Eric had come looking for her. That he’d come to see her…she’d thought about him all weekend waiting for his call.
She left her bedroom eager to see his face again. She frowned when she didn’t find him in her living room. She went into the kitchen and found him grating carrots with expert speed. The kiondo was empty, her vegetables on the counter. He’d chopped tomatoes, onions and cilantro.
“What are you doing?”
“Making lunch,” Eric pointed at the chair behind her, at the small kitchen table. “Sit there.”
“Don’t argue,” Eric said, holding up a half-grated carrot. “I’ll make you crunch on this.”
“What kind of threat is that?” She scoffed. “I told you not to mess with my kitchen.”
“I’m making lunch,” Eric said. “Are all the vegetables from your parents’ farm?”
Victoria sank into the chair. “Yes, Mum always packs a ton of vegetables for me to bring back. She thinks I don’t go grocery shopping.”
“I like your mum,” Eric said.
“How was your trip?” she asked.
“Lonely,” Eric said glancing at her. “I wished you’d come along.”
Victoria started to protest, but he continued, not giving her a chance.
“The couple had this photo session near a waterfall. I had a great time working with light and shadows. The sun danced in and out of the trees, bouncing on the water, you have to catch it at the right angle. Otherwise the shot is useless.”
Victoria smiled, watching Eric make a light carrot stew. He used leftover chicken from her fridge, moving around her kitchen like he belonged. He talked about his work with love. She learned about lenses, light and dark shadows, capture speed…
Eric placed a plate of chicken and carrot stew, with a slice of whole wheat bread before her.
“Want some orange juice with that?”
“I don’t think I have orange juice,” she said taking the plate. She took a bite and smiled in bliss. Eric was a great cook. “Thanks for the food, Chef.”
Eric winked and went to her fridge. He came back with a bottle of white cranberry juice and two glasses. He sat across her with no plate.
“Aren’t you eating?”
“I had lunch with the team I went with earlier,” Eric said. “I wanted to thank them for listening to me gripe.”
“You do complain a lot when you’re working,” Victoria said, taking another bite of the delicious chicken stew.
“I have to get that shot. It was fun, but most of all, I missed you,” Eric said, leaning on the table. “I came running here to see you, only to have you not be home. Do you know you look sexy carrying a kiondo, Victoria?”
Victoria blushed. “Yah, I was sweaty and covered in dust.”
“Guess that’s my thing,” Eric said.
Victoria smiled, meeting his gaze.
He smiled, and her heart sped up fast. She had no defense against him at all.
*Kiondo – Basket
Thank you for reading ^_^