twenty-six. Better Served Cold

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I woke up when Gabe tried to disentangle himself from me, his movements as slow and delicate as humanly possible.

I froze and that was probably what clued him in to the fact that I was awake.

"Hey, Isis."

To say I was mortified would be the understatement of the year. I covered my face with both my hands, but Gabe pried them away gently.

He was grinning and I wished he didn't look this good in the morning. His hair had grown quite a bit since the last time I'd seen him –I only noticed now that I was no longer drunk –and it fell into his face slightly, the dark strands looking more like satin than ever. He was backlit by the sunlight pouring in through his window, his whole body edged in golden light. All I could do was to look at him, awed.

He looked like a perfume ad.

"Isis, relax. It's fine, I promise."

"I'm so, so, sorry Gabe. I was drunk, I wasn't thinking straight."

"It's all right. Don't make it weird. It's only weird if you make it weird."

I huffed.

He cupped my face in his hands, forcing me to look at him. I was pretty sure I glowed red.

"If you want me to, I can forget yesterday night ever happened. It changes nothing between us, alright? So just stop and come down with me for breakfast."

I knew he meant well –he was trying to make me comfortable –but the fact that he dismissed last night so easily, as if truly nothing had happened, made my heart constrict.

He got off the bed, and to my utter dismay, put on a white tee. It was worn thin from use and I could just barely see the outlines of his tattoos through it.

I hesitated for just another moment before I followed him downstairs and into the kitchen.

"What are you making?"

"Pancakes."

He pulled out a skillet, a mixing bowl and all the ingredients, lining everything up on the marble counter.

I'd forgotten how much I liked his kitchen. Compared to Alexei, it was so warm and homey –his whole apartment looked lived in. There were traces of him everywhere –whether it was the open book lying face down on the small kitchen table, or the jacket thrown over the back of a chair, it made the place feel real, not like a model house from some home deco magazine.

"My mom used to make the best pancakes. I never got around to asking her for the recipe. Mine are mediocre."

"I've had some pretty positive feedback about mine," he said with a smile over his shoulder at me. "I'd say that if you've never fucked me, the experiences are pretty similar, pleasure-wise."

He winked at me then, and my whole body ignited. It was as if he knew exactly what to say, and how to say it, to get a reaction out of me. Everything about him, the inflection of his voice, the lopsided grin seemed designed to get a reaction out of me. Even the way he moved, so precise and confident, made my belly clench deliciously.

"What's wrong with your pancakes anyway?" he asked.

I sighed. "I swear, my mom's pancakes were so fluffy. It was like eating clouds. Mine are always so thick. Ugh."

"Come here and watch, then. Learn from the master himself."

I stood next to him, watched him expertly mix the ingredients together, squealing as blew some flour onto my face, ducking when he pretended to throw some egg yolk my way. It truly felt as though nothing had happened between us, as though last night was some sort of fever dream my drunken mind had conjured up.

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