A Fast Woman
CJ returned with a piece of chocolate pie on her plate but pulled up short when she noted the solemnity of the table and everyone throwing furtive glances toward her.
“Is there something wrong with my pie?” It was the first time I heard her southern twang.
I studied her concerned expression before quickly digging my fork into the chocolate pie Andy put in front of me.
I wasn’t giving much thought to eating it, just doing it to ease her worry. But when the chocolate sweetness smoothly awakened my taste buds. I fell back in my chair, closed my eyes in bliss and groaned—loudly. “Oh my God…CJ.”
Sass tried valiantly to hold it in, but the laugh burst from him. Harper’s followed. Gus covertly studied CJ out of the corner of his eye and then glared at me.
What did I do?
Harper gave me a knowing smile—well, maybe the groan was a bit much.
“What?” I asked. “This pie is amazing!”
CJ seemed to have trouble swallowing.
“You okay over there, CJ?” Harper said. “Gus, you may want to give CJ some breathing room. I think it’s been awhile since she’s heard a man groan her name.”
If it were possible, I think CJ turned even more red. That was until she picked up the plate of pie as if she were going to throw it at Harper. Gus caught her arm and took the plate.
“Easy, killer,” Gus whispered. “No need to waste good pie.”
CJ—she actually began to smile. First at Harper, then Gus, and then at me. I was trapped. Her smile was everything. It transformed her and mesmerized me. Her face softened, her eyes brightened, her lips…God, her lips…
CJ’s body began to shake. She was laughing and it was as if the heavens opened.
It was beautiful.
I did that—even if it was unintentional. I made her laugh. It was the best rush I’d had in…awhile. It was better than when I opened up the engine and slingshotted through the first banked turn.
I wanted to do it again.
Harper and CJ had the entire table laughing. I joined in.
I felt at home with these people. I just met them yesterday, and already I was at home with them.
In all honesty, some of them would probably hate me by the end of the season—including the captivating, complex woman whose laugh I was fixated on.
But tonight, the cool, spring, lake weather in the dimming evening, surrounded by people who genuinely liked each other and who seemed like family—I wanted to be part of it.