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Chicken Soup

He broke their date Saturday night.  Told her he wasn’t feeling well.  She had offered to come by his place to play nurse.  But he’d turned down her offer.  So he stayed home alone and brooded by himself instead. 

Maybe she wasn’t The One, after all? 

He did the same thing Sunday morning, too.  Just lay on the couch, watching football, listening to his stomach gurgle because he hadn’t gone down to the corner cafe for his usual Sunday brunch. 

But as the morning game ended, he heard a car pull up outside.  He got up and looked out the blinds.  Her Honda Civic was parked at the curb. 

Wearing a little spaghetti-strap top over tight, white jeans, she was already approaching with a covered pot held between both hands with a dishtowel—like a modern-day version of Florence Nightingale.

He turned off the TV and opened the front door.

“You’re not contagious, are you?” she asked from the other side of the screen door.

He shook his head, “Nope,” and pushed it open for her.

“Good.”

She stepped inside.  She was tall and slender with high cheekbones and innocent, doe-like eyes—a model’s figure and pretty face. 

“I made you homemade chicken soup.”

“Really?”

She had never cooked for him before this.  He had only been to her apartment a few times.  Mostly to pick her up for dates.  The place was usually messy.  More like a guy’s apartment than a lady’s abode. 

And his queen-sized bed was larger and more comfortable than her old twin, with its back-stabbing, mattress springs. 

He followed her into the kitchen.  She put the pot on the stove, turned on a low flame, and approached him.

“I missed you last night.”

She put her long arms around his neck and smiled her purposely crooked, little smile.  She wasn’t wearing a bra. 

He wanted to kiss her—badly.  But he’d promised himself to play it cool.  So he didn’t answer, even though he, too, had missed her company.

She leaned against him. The corners of his mouth rose uncontrollably.  He tried not to smile, not to give in to her. 

But damnit, it really wasn’t her fault.  He had agreed—they could see other people.  For now.  They’d only been dating for a few months.  No sense in rushing things.  And he, too, had wanted to keep his options open. 

How was he to know it would come back to cuckold him?

“You hungry?” she asked.

He nodded.  “Famished.” 

“Good.” 

She kissed his cheek and went to the drawer for a ladle. 

“I spent all night in my apartment.”

She turned and pointed the big spoon at him. 

“Cooking this soup for you, mister.”

He sat at the kitchen table.  As she reached up into the cupboard for a bowl, her shapely, little breast threatened to pop out the side of her top. 

Maybe they could work this out, he thought?  Rearrange their arrangement.  Get the other guy out of the picture. (She was unaware that he had inadvertently seen her out on a date with some other guy.)  Make it monogamous.  Exclusive.  Why the heck not? 

But when she removed the top from the pot, stirred its contents, and ladled out a steamy bowlful, an aroma—like dirty sweat socks—wafted across the room.

Smiling, she brought the large bowl and placed it on the table in front of him.  As she went back to the drawer for a spoon, she warned him playfully:

“And you better like it!”

But as he looked down through the steam at the oily surface of the murky liquid before him, he knew it was highly unlikely that anything that smelled like this was going to be likable

She came back with a soup spoon for him, sat across the table from him, and arched her perfectly plucked eyebrows in anticipation. 

He dipped in, lifted the spoon to his lips, and tasted the oily broth.  But as he tried to keep from gagging, he came to the realization—she wasn’t The One, after all.  Not for him anyway. 

Because dalliances aside, there was no way in hell he could spend the rest of his life pretending to like this woman’s cooking!

It was as simple as chicken soup. 

Until she rubbed her leg against his leg under the table and again flashed that crooked, little smile of hers. 

Aw, what the hell?  There were Tums antacid tablets in the medicine cabinet.

“Mm-m,” he pretended.

But as he sipped another spoonful, and forced a smile back at her, he made a mental note:

From this day forward, we dine out exclusively. 

Let the other damn guy eat her lousy cooking!