**Sorry for the typos and errors!!! I'm off to the cottage for the weekend and wanted to get this out to you before I depart. It's totally unedited but I hope you still enjoy!**
Claire's mood worsened as the day wore on. The more she thought about her conversation with Marv, the more discouraged she felt. By the time she arrived at Gabe's doorstep that evening she was on the verge of tears. All it took was Gabe giving her a sympathetic look when he opened the door for them to begin trickling down her cheeks.
Claire wiped away the tears, annoyed with herself for being such a baby in front of Gabe. "I'm sorry. I'm not usually such a wimp about these things."
"Just shut up." Gabe said. He pulled her into his arms and held her tightly.
Claire felt the last shred of her composure abandon her the moment Gabe's strong arms were around her. She couldn't stop herself from sobbing into his chest. Every time she felt she was about to regain her composure a new wave of tears came crashing out.
"It's OK sweetheart." Gabe soothed. "Let it all out with me here tonight, and make them think you're made of steel when you're back at work tomorrow."
Claire wasn't only crying about her disappointing conversation with Marv. No, she realized she was crying over all the times she was ignored, overlooked or patronized by her colleagues. She was letting out the pain of doing everything in her power to be the best for years on and still coming up short even though she'd succeeded.
Gabe hated it when women cried - No, scratch that - He despised it. The worst feeling in the world was having a woman he cared about in so much pain and not be able to do anything about it. With Claire it was even worse, since she was dealing with things he didn't have a reference point for.
"Aww Claire. My beautiful girl." He whispered into her ear as he held her in his arms.
Apparently Claire wasn't in the mood to be called beautiful. The compliment brought on another onslaught of sobs.
"I'm not beautiful. I hate my hair so much." She sniffed.
Finally, chick drama I've dealt with before. Gabe thought to himself. He knew exactly what to say to this problem. "Darling, you'd be the most beautiful woman in the world even if you shaved your hair off completely."
The compliment earned him a watery smile from Claire. It was a pathetic smile, but it still made him feel like a million bucks. He was happy that he was able to make her feel a little better, if only for a moment.
Gabe release Claire from his arms once she calmed down. "Come inside, there's a G&T waiting for you." he said in an attempt to cheer her up.
Once in the kitchen, Claire took a seat at the reclaimed wood kitchen table and sipped her G&T as Gabe began unloading the ingredients for dinner from the fridge.
"So what's for dinner?" Claire asked.
"Since you said you had a rough day, I decided to skip anything fancy and make comfort food instead. We're having the world's best grilled cheese sandwich with a mixed greens salad on the side in case you decide to go all girly on me and complain about the carbs." Gabe said.
"World's best eh? Are you sure you have the skills to back that up?" Claire challenged.
"I don't need skills when I have a secret ingredient." Gabe said confidently.
Claire raised a curious eyebrow. "Secret ingredient? Would you be willing to share it?"
"I dunno. It's a pretty epic thing to share..." Gabe teased.
"Oh c'mon! I hate not knowing things. Pretty please." Claire said, batting her eyelashes at Gabe.
"Alright, alright. I can't say no to that face. I obviously start with good ingredients, it really helps that I Iive a block away from a specialty cheese shop and a bakery. But it's the the top secret, secret ingredient that really puts it over the top..." Gabe said allowing his sentence to trail off and keep Claire in suspense for a few moments longer.
"Don't go all Ryan Seacrest on me and make we wait until after the commercial break for the results! Tell me already!" Claire begged.
"The secret ingredient is mayonnaise."
"Really. You make the sandwich the way you normally would, with bread on the outside, cheese on the inside. Then you spread mayo on the outside of the bread before frying it in butter."
"And that actually works?"
"I guess you'll have to wait to find out. Now stop distracting me woman! I have a dinner to make." said Gabe as he turned.
Sitting there lazily sipping her G&T watching Gabe prepare her comfort food was an almost surreal experience for Claire. Having a guy pamper her just wasn't part of her reality. Growing up, her mom (who referred to herself as a domestic goddess) had been the nurturer and then, when she got older and was in her own relationships, the guys she dated were always just as concerned as she was with their own careers that it had always been an every man for themself situation. Even if the grilled cheese sandwiches turned out totally shit, having a hunk like Gabe waiting on her hand and foot made her feel like a princess.
Claire couldn't believe how perfect this evening was turning out after such an awful day. There was no where in the world she would have rather been in that moment but sitting in Gabe's kitchen watching his biceps move as he grabbed things off the counter top as he cooked while they bantered idly.
And then it hit her like a Mack truck...
There was no one she would rather be with in that moment than Gabe.
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