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Home > Nights in Rodanthe(16)

Nights in Rodanthe(16)
Author: Nicholas Sparks

“I know, but I was coming this way anyway. I wanted to find out what we were having for dinner.”

“Are you getting hungry?”

Paul turned on the faucet. “A little. But we can wait if you’d rather.”

“No, I’m getting hungry, too.” Then, seeing what he was about to do, she added: “Here, let me do that. You’re the guest.”

Paul moved aside for her as Adrienne joined him near the sink. She rinsed the cups and pot as she spoke.

“Your choices tonight are chicken, steak, or pasta with a cream sauce. I can make whichever one you want, but just realize that what you don’t eat today, you’ll probably eat tomorrow. I can’t guarantee we’ll find a store open this weekend.”

“Anything’s fine. You pick.”

“Chicken? It’s already thawed.”

“Sure.”

“And I was thinking of having potatoes and green beans on the side.”

“Sounds great.”

She dried her hands with a paper towel, then reached for the apron that was slung over the handle of the oven. Slipping it over her sweater, she went on.

“Are you interested in salad, too?”

“If you’re having one. But if not, that’s okay, too.”

She smiled. “Boy, you weren’t kidding when you said you weren’t picky.”

“My motto is that as long as I don’t have to cook it, I’ll eat just about anything.”

“You don’t like to cook?”

“Never really had to. Martha—my ex—was always trying out new recipes. And since she left, I’ve pretty much been eating out every night.”

“Well, try not to hold me to restaurant standards. I can cook, but I’m not a chef. As a general rule, my sons are more interested in quantity, not originality.”

“I’m sure it’ll be fine. I’d be glad to give you a hand, though.”

She glanced at him, surprised by the offer. “Only if you want to. If you’d rather relax upstairs or read, I can let you know when it’s ready.”

He shook his head. “I didn’t bring anything to read, and if I lie down now, I won’t be able to sleep tonight.”

She hesitated, considering his offer before finally motioning toward the door on the far side of the kitchen. “Well… thanks. You can start by peeling the potatoes. They’re in the pantry right over there, second shelf, next to the rice.”

Paul headed for the pantry. As she opened the refrigerator to get the chicken out, she watched him from the corner of her eye, thinking it was both nice—and a little disconcerting—to know that he’d be helping her in the kitchen. There was an implied familiarity to it that left her slightly off balance.

“Is there anything to drink?” Paul called out from behind her. “In the refrigerator, I mean?”

Adrienne pushed aside a few items before looking on the bottom shelf. There were three bottles lying on their sides, held in place by a jar of pickles.

“Do you like wine?”

“What kind is it?”

She set the chicken on the counter, then pulled one of the bottles out.

“It’s a pinot grigio. Is that okay?”

“I’ve never tried it. I usually go with a chardonnay. Have you?”

“No.”

He crossed the kitchen, carrying the potatoes. After setting them on the counter, he reached for the wine. Adrienne saw him study the label for a moment before looking up.

“Sounds okay. Says it’s got hints of apples and oranges, so how bad can it be? Do you know where I might find a corkscrew?”

“I think I saw one in one of the drawers around here. Let me check.”

Adrienne opened the drawer below the utensils, then the one next to it, without luck. When she finally located it, she handed it to him, feeling her fingers brush against his. With a few quick moves, he removed the cork and set it off to the side. Hanging below the cabinet near the oven were glasses, and Paul moved toward them. He took one out and hesitated.

“Would you like me to pour you a glass?”

“Why not?” she said, still feeling the sensation of his touch.

Paul poured two glasses and brought one over. He smelled the wine, then took a sip as Adrienne did the same. As the flavor lingered on the back of her throat, she found herself still trying to make sense of things.

“What do you think?” he asked.

“It’s good.”

“That’s what I think.” He swirled the wine in his glass. “Actually, it’s better than I thought it would be. I’ll have to remember this.”

Adrienne felt the sudden urge to retreat and took a small step backward. “Let me get started on the chicken.”

“I guess that’s my signal to get to work.”

As Adrienne found the roasting pan beneath the oven, Paul set his glass on the counter and moved to the sink. After turning on the faucet, he soaped and scrubbed his hands. She noticed that he washed both the front and the back, then cleaned his fingers individually. She turned on the oven, set it to the temperature she wanted, and heard the gas click to life.

“Is there a peeler handy?” he asked.

“I couldn’t find one earlier, so I think you’ll have to use a paring knife. Is that okay?”

Paul laughed under his breath. “I think I can handle it. I’m a surgeon,” he said.

As soon as he said the words, it all clicked: the lines on his face, the intensity of his gaze, the way he’d washed his hands. She wondered why she hadn’t thought of it before. Paul moved beside her and reached for the potatoes, then began cleaning them.

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