20 - A phone call and burnt caramel.

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A milk pudding is one of the easiest recipes to make. Just mix eggs, condensed milk, milk and, if you are inspired, a pinch of vanilla essence. You can use an electric blender or just a sieve for the eggs and the fouet, that utensil made of pieces of wire.

It takes a while in the oven, but there is nothing to do once it goes inside. Definitely not hard.

The only exception is the caramel -yes, it is just melted sugar and water - but do you have any idea of how easy it is for the cook or the cooked to get burned? The temperature is impressively high for something made at home and the line between 'on point' and 'over it' is slim.

I stir the bubbly syrup and watch as it gains a rich golden color. The alluring sweet smell starts to whiff from the copper pot.

Hum, my phone is vibrating; bad time; who might it be?

Just to be sure, since I don't plan on picking it, I take a look at the small screen of the annoying gadget on the counter beside the stove.


Oh, my God! It is James!

Pick up! Pick up!

"Hey." I greet keeping my voice cool as a cucumber despite the turmoil on my thoughts.

What the hell am I doing and how old am I supposed to be? A high school girl?

"Good afternoon, Harry, how has your morning been?" His voice is so low and manly on the phone that my ear shivers.

"Great, and yours?"

"Good, all of my patients showed signs of improvement of their physical condition during early infirmary visit. And the appointments afterward also went well. I could convince an old reluctant patient to finally accept an operation to close his VSD. He was scared for years." I can clearly hear the joy in his words. The pure happiness for the well-being of the people under his care.

Smiling I ask "VSD?"

"Oh, sorry. They are the initials for 'ventricular septal defect'. A communication between both ventricles that shouldn't remain after birth. When the septum fails to close the foramen in the extrauterine life, the oxygenated blood from the left ventricle, that has higher pressure, flows to the right ventricle, diminishing the supply of oxygen to the body, though the real issue is the overload on the lungs that can develop a high resistance to blood circulation with time, decreasing the gas exchange on them, harming the patient's health and deteriorating the quality of his or her everyday life."

"I see." I won't lie that I understood all of it because I didn't, but James is happy in telling me so what is the harm?

Apologetically he says "You have no idea of what I am talking about, right? Sorry for that. I get lost in my thoughts when it comes to medicine. You should have stopped me."

Shrugging I counter argument "Why? As long as you don't ask me to comprehend all the terms and concepts I don't mind hearing you talk." Seeing him happy makes me happy too. But I am not ready to admit out loud.

Sighing he concedes "Ok, but don't hesitate to shut me up if my rumbling becomes unbearable. Have you had lunch yet?"

"Yes, earlier. And you?" Any worker related to the food industry either has an early or late lunch since we try to avoid being absent at the rush period.

"I am going now."

"Is it ok to be talking to me instead of hunting food?"

"Of course it is. I can't think of a better way to spend my break." Oh, how sweet.

A bitter stench hits my nose.

What the.....

The caramel! "Crap!"

"Harry? Everything ok?" his worry is transmitted through the speaker of the phone.

"Sure, all fine." I will just have to start from scratch here. "So, why did you call, after all?"- not that I am complaining - Turning off the heat I place the pot under the faucet and open it. The water is going to completely dissolve the hardened sugar that would otherwise be impossible to clean.

"Can't I call just to hear your voice?" He teases in a flirtatious but humorous tone.

Deciding to take part on the teasing I say in the sweetest way "Of course you can, darling........but you wouldn't." I finish as if stating a fact.

"Not true," he protests "there are a lot of moments in the day that I desire to hear you speak. They are just less than the moments I wish to see you."

"Humm." Ok, I am moved and embarrassed and shocked. How can he say such corny things with such straight voice? What is this man!!?

"But, this time I actually do have a reason."

It is impossible to hold back the laugh. He had to go and ruin that grandiloquent speech.

"Hey, don't be like that." He complains defeated.

"No, it is ok." I assure still giggling "so, what is the reason?"

With a smile in his voice, he asks "Would you like to go out Friday night? We could have dinner at a nice restaurant so you can take a break from cooking. How does that sound?"

A date? Is he asking me on a date?

"It sounds amazing!" I can barely contain my excitement. Mark would always choose to stay home because outside we could be seen.

Stop, me! Stop comparing James to Mark in everything! It is offensive. How would I feel if James compared me to Amanda? Awful, right? Mark is gone, thank God, and James is here. That is what matters!

Even if James is clearly better.


"Good, I will pick you up at 8 pm; be ready in a suit."

Feeling excited, apprehensive, happy and I don't even know what more I gabble "Suit!? Oh, God. Where are you taking me?"

"What would be the fun in telling you beforehand?" He teases.

Suddenly, despite James' obvious delight, I feel a pressure in my chest. James is not used to dating a man, so he might have forgotten that a couple of places don't welcome gays with open arms; though they would never publicly admit it.

Should I remind him?

But, seeing how expectant he is about Friday night, I don't have the guts to destroy this moment.

So what if we are kicked out? Let's eat pizza!


A/N: This chapter was a little short, but who needs prolixity? Until this moment we had James going after Harry and Harry dodging the issue. Now, Harry has accepted James' and his own feelings. How will this development play out?

Dedicated to @hiddenheartprincess for helping me realize how to make this book better.

See you again in the next chapter, until then, please comment and vote!

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