Kenneth managed to balance everything in a mad dash to the front door. He slipped the packet of croutons between his lips to free up his fingers to unlock the front door. Then using his foot to push the door open, he toddled through and was relieved to put everything down in a heap on the counter. After closing the door, he plugged his cell phone in to charge and then washed his hands and used the bathroom. The last thing he wanted to do was let anything interfere with this moment between them. For an instant, he stood before his loot from the stores at a complete loss.
"Come on, Kenny. Get it together."
With a deep breath, he set about cutting up some fruits into a large, glass bowl. Next to come was some potato chips along with other finger foods then finally the sandwiches. He knew taking the food into the room where Clifton was working was not a good idea, especially with all the dust flying around in there so he took a breath, rinse his hands then hurried through the house to find his guest. He located Clifton busy sanding a piece of wood. Once the sander went off he cleared his throat.
"Lunch is read," he explained when Clifton looked around. "I figured I'd wait until you put down the tool."
Clifton chuckled pushing the goggles from his eyes. "Let me wash up first?"
"Yeah. Sure. It's set up in the kitchen when you're coming."
Taking in Clifton's eyes for a little bit longer than he probably should, Kenneth hurried back to the kitchen and proceeded to pace. He couldn't let Clifton see him being so nervous--could he? No. Clifton wasn't the kind of man that loves tame or shy. Tilted his head to one side then the next, he snagged a piece of honeydew melon from the fruit bowl and popped it into his mouth. The heavy rise and fall of footsteps in the hall told him his guest was coming. Leaning against the counter, he tried his best to look as nonchelant as he could--unworried and calm.
Then the beautiful man he's been trying to woo appeared in the doorway, and his heart did a lurch then raced. Licking his lips he enjoyed the smile to appear on Clifton's face. "Lunch is served."
Clifton chuckled. "Wow. You were not kidding."
"A little bit." Clifton stepped forward and snagged a piece of melon from the fruit bowl. Kenneth loved the way the fruit moistened his big, lush lips. "I could eat this for years."
"So I did pick the right fruits."
"Partially--you're missing the strawberries."
Kenneth chuckled. "Please, have a seat, help yourself."
Clifton sat on the stool and accepted the plate Kenneth held out to him. Their fingers brushed softly and he quickly looked away before Clifton could see his eyes. Still, he tried focusing on having conversations that wouldn't lead to them both getting stubborn at each other again.
"This is delicious," Clifton admitted.
"It's my favorite. I used to sneak away from school to head down to that deli--a lot."
"Confession, Kenneth is good for the soul."
"I would confess a lot more things to you, Clifton but I dare say there are laws against them if you were to file a complaint."
"That didn't stop you earlier."
Kenneth held his gaze for a moment then smiled and looked away to pour them each a glass of juice. He wanted to do wine but didn't think Clifton should be drinking then operating power tools. After he took a sip he felt strong enough to speak. "Well, I 'm sure it's not a confession anymore since you already know."
"That I want you. I pretty much said as much when I asked you to lunch. I'm only playing this game until you come around to the fact that perhaps you're as curious about me as I am about you."
"And what if I said I knew all there was to know about you?"
"No offence but I'd say you're full of shit. You know me as Kenneth Roderick. Deceased parents, two brothers, more money than anyone has a god given right to have. That's all you know. When the cameras go off, and the gates are closed, at nights when its silent enough in this large building to hear the ghosts of my grand parents roaming the hall, you don't know me at all."
Clifton nodded and placed his half eaten sandwich down. "Fair enough."
"Since I have you in a giving mood," Kenneth said, softly. "I'm not sure what my family has done to you or your family, and lord knows my brothers and I have taken a lot of flack for crap my parents pulled in this town. But none of them hurt me as you have."
"Really? And why am I so special?"
"I don't know. I'm intrigued by you. What you think of me matters and the more I think about it the worse it gets. I don't expect anything from you--I just..."
"Need to know..." Clifton's voice cracked softly. "I'm not a hard man to get to know, Kenneth. You're right--your parents did something to my mother that she won't speak off. Growing up there has been a hatred in my house for yours that I don't understand. Now, as an adult I know its wrong to hate the children for the parent's crimes but I can't help it...I shouldn't say hate. I'm sorry."
"I know, Clifton."
They slipped into a slow, uncomfortable silence until Clifton reached over and touched Kenneth cheek with a caloused finger. His touch was soft, almost as if it didn't happen. Kenneth turned his face, pressing it into Clifton's hand.
"Don't be sad..."