Friday, February 5, 2016

Only a Kiss ~ Part 34

“Hi,” said Ana. “You must be Katie.”
The woman nodded. “And you must be Ana, or at least I hope you are or we have a seriously awkward situation here.”
Ana laughed at the joke and instantly knew she’d call Katie a friend. “I am, please sit. Would you like some coffee?”
Katie sat and nodded, as Ana poured Katie a mug of coffee from a silver carafe.
“I hope you like the blend,” said Katie. “When I grocery shop for other people I spend an obscene amount of time lamenting over which type of coffee they would like. Remember the good ol’ days when you just bought coffee. No dark blends, winter blends, summer brews, light roasts … just coffee. And don’t even get me started on all the fancy creamers.”
“It’s wonderful,” said Ana, taking a sip. “It reminds me of the kind Mandra used brew, so I’m glad you bought it because I would have been clueless and thank you for all the groceries. You and Jeffery have made me feel quite at home.”
“We are just glad to have someone in the house,” said Katie. “I was just telling Jeffery last week that the house seems sad when it’s empty. So, is Mandra your sister?”
Ana shook her head and smiled. “Mandra is our housekeeper, and God bless her, she always had the coffee and breakfast ready as I stumbled out of bed.”
Katie gave her an ornery smile. “Sounds like an outstanding woman.”
“She really is,” said Ana. “I don’t know what my mother would do without her. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t even know how to make a grilled cheese sandwich.”
“Do you?” asked Katie.
Ana couldn’t help but laugh. “I do, but only because Cindy taught me. I’ve always lived at home, even during college. My mother insisted on it. After Cindy’s father passed and before Mandra, Cindy did all the cooking and cleaning.”
Ana’s face fell. She wasn’t certain if she should tell Katie the details, but figured she already knew since Ana had broken down in front of Jeffery the night before.
“Anyway,” continued Ana. “Cindy didn’t know how to cook any more than the rest of us, but she taught herself by watching the Food Network and reading cook books. Now she’s an excellent cook. But I watched her struggle the first few months, knowing my mother would be cruel if the food was not palatable and I wanted to help, but I, like most of us, was scared of my mother.”
Katie nodded. “Cindy has shared some of this with me. I know it wasn’t an easy place to grow up.”
“Especially for Cindy,” Ana said, she desperately wanted Katie to know that she was nothing like her mother and understood the wrongs that she had been a part of. “Anyway, during college I had a group study project and we decided everyone would meet and bring food so we would have a pot luck marathon session and just get the project done. I wanted to contribute without just ordering something so I asked Cindy to teach me how to make spinach artichoke dip.”
“Yum,” said Katie.
“It was yummy and I loved every minute of the process,” said Ana. “Even cleaning up afterwards. I swear when I got to the meeting and watched people dig into my dip, I was giddy. You would’ve thought that I had just won a James Beard award. So after that, I started helping Cindy with the meals and she taught me how to cook.”
“How did you mother feel about that?” asked Katie.

“I told her it would help me get a good husband, so she was fine with it,” said Ana, causing Katie to belly laugh.

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