Ryan and Anna picking snails - for BlueStarGirl
BlueStarGirl left a review and made a comment about Ryan/Anna picking snails and I thought to myself, why not? Anything to keep me from my sentence challenge, right?
Anna put the orange to her nose and inhaled. When she felt satisfied, she pressed her fingers at its sides, checking for firmness. Ryan watched in fascination.
"You do realize that they are 10 cents each."
Anna glanced at him. "So what?"
"So you don't have to pretend you are picking out a lung."
"Which you will have to be doing soon, if you don't stop smoking," she pointed out.
Ryan let out a sigh of defeat. "I told you I quit months ago. When are you going to stop bugging me?"
Anna leaned over and picked an apple. "When I believe you. Just because I didn't say anything the other night, doesn't mean that I didn't smell burnt nicotine."
"When?" He was curious to know. As far as he recollected, he hadn't smoked anything in about three weeks.
"You, Seth, Summer and Luke's graduation party. Does that ring a bell?"
"But you weren't even there.” She’d been at one of her art things so she couldn't make the trip to Arizona with him.
"I know. But I smelled it all over your clothes when I got back. Next time, get rid of the evidence by actually washing them, instead of just sticking it by the machine."
She dropped the pieces of fruit back on the pile. "Forget it. Let's get what we came for."
They were at an open market buying ingredients for a huge meal they were preparing for the Cohens. It was Sandy's 56th birthday and somehow, Seth had roped them into organizing it this year. He'd used the excuse that since Ryan only got to see them occasionally, he wasn't saddled with all the responsibilities he had to deal with all year round. Which everyone knew was untrue because generally, Seth had a way of getting out of things. But Ryan loved expressing his gratitude to them so he didn't mind, till Seth suggested that a meal at a restaurant wasn't special enough for their beloved father.
Anna pulled her boyfriend’s hand and dragged him to the meat section. They’d reunited at an art convention in San Francisco. A graphic artist and an architect didn’t attend the same events but a chance meeting in the hotel lobby had led them to discover that they only lived ten minutes apart. They’d made a date to catch up and had been doing so for three years. A little over two years into their relationship, Ryan had abandoned his tiny bachelor pad to move into her three bedroom condo.
Ryan walked past a butcher slicing meat. “Why aren’t we getting beef again?”
She pulled him even harder. “Ryan, you are not wasting my time today. We are already late as it is. If you’d done as I’d asked and picked them up yesterday, we wouldn’t be in this mess.” Anna was staying at her parents' while Ryan stayed with the Cohens.
“Except, you were supposed to pick them up yourself and only called me five minutes before it closed for the night.”
She finally stopped at the right stall and stared at the black objects.
His eyes widened slightly. “They are alive,” he observed.
“Hey, we want them fresh, right?”
“I like my chicken fresh but I don’t like to hear them cluck,” he said solemnly.
Anna smiled at him fondly, “Oh, my baby is becoming witty.”
“Keep calling me your baby and never hear me speak again.”
Anna put her arm around his and smiled. “ Oh, shut it. What else would I call you?”
“'Ryan' sounds fine. Let’s just pick these things and go, o.k.? They look weird.”
She pulled his cheek with her other hand. “Aww, isn’t my baby cute?” she said in a baby voice. “My big, strong man is freaked out by slow, harmless, little mollusks.... aww.”
Ryan rolled his eyes and pretended to be offended. He enjoyed the silly side of her more than he cared to admit. She’d shown him how to just enjoy - he’d finally learned to relax and drink life in. He took his eyes away from the snails. Their horns were beginning to churn his stomach. “Are you sure we can’t buy these in a can?”
“We can, but don’t your parents deserve the best?”
The shopkeeper watched them uninterestedly. He was used to annoying little couples and sometimes he just wished they’d pick what they want and leave. Normally, he’d have hurried them so that another customer could take their place but it was a slow day so he didn’t care. Besides, he had other things to think about it.
“How many would you like?” he asked Anna.
“Wait, how fresh are they?”
The shopkeeper raised his eyebrow. He was sure she could tell they were moving.
“I mean, how old are they? We are trying to find the ones with the most tender flesh.”
“They are fresh and tender, m’am ,” he replied.
Anna wasn’t convinced. She knew he’d say that even if they were one foot from the grave.
She looked at Ryan's frowning face. “You’re going to have to touch one.”
“What?” He looked at the bucket in dismay. Lions, snakes or dragons he could handle. But slimy disgusting snails?
“You don’t want to serve rotten flesh to your parents, do you?”
“Since it was your idea, why don’t you touch it yourself?”
“Because it’s icky.”
He grimaced. “I don’t care. I’m not touching them.”
She grabbed his muscular biceps and touched them. “My big, strong man is too chicken to touch a snail?” she teased.
He sighed. He knew he was going to have to do it eventually so he decided to just get it over with. He shut his eyes. He felt that not seeing their wet, revolting bodies wiggle would make it easier. “Tell me why we are cooking snails again?”
“Not snails, sweetie; escargot.”
“Same difference.” He pulled one out of the bucket.
“No, not same difference. One is haute cuisine, and the other is, well, not.”
Eyes still shut, he held it out to her, “Is that fine?”
“Nope. You’re going to have to feel it.”
“Ryan, please,” she begged in a breathy, suggestive tone.
He wanted to, but he just couldn‘t refuse her, not when she said it like that. “Well, I am not going to open my eyes. You’re going to have to lead my finger to it and figure it out that way.”
Anna picked his hand and put it on the snail.
“All this for haute cuisine. So you’re saying that if French people refer to escargot as snails then it’s haute cuisine for them? Or will that be 'high kitchen'?” He was just speaking to distract himself from how slimy and nasty it felt against his finger. He’d learned that tactic from his brother.
“You can stop rambling now and drop it,” she informed him.
“We’ll take 4 lbs,” she told the stall owner. Ryan opened his eyes and impishly wiped his fingers on her hand.
She jumped. “That’s so nasty! And childish.”
“Too bad. You think I’m the only one that’s going to smell of “escargot”?”
Anna laughed as she took the bag from the shopkeeper. She waited for her change and let Ryan walk ahead of her. Then she wiped her hand on his butt; served him right for trying to get one over on her.
Ryan stepped into the kitchen in different pants. Even though Anna had tried to reassure him that the snail juice didn't leave any stains, he still wasn't comfortable. Every time he touched his pants, he could feel their slippery bodies struggling for freedom. And that made him gag.
He looked at his girlfriend and swallowed hard. God, she was beautiful. Her back was turned as she stood under the bright lights stirring the pot. She'd taken off her jacket, and underneath her blonde slick pixie-cut lay the feminine curves he enjoyed, accentuated by a dark body-skimming sleeveless dress. She looked even more desirable slaving over the pot but he didn't dare verbalize that thought; he knew she'd give him a lecture on feminism and gender roles and he wasn't in the mood for one. Or was he? he thought. He did quite enjoy seeing her riled up.
He tiptoed to her then kissed her on her neck, startling her. When she realized it was just him, she relaxed.
"Ryan, I'm cooking here,” she said, attempting to shrug him off.
Instead of leaving, with his neck on her shoulder, he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her to him. "You don't need to cook. I have everything I need right here," he whispered into her ear.
She smiled. It'd taken some time but she'd finally taught him to be romantic.
"I don't think that's what your parents are going to think when they sit down for dinner and find nothing.”
She was right - they didn't have much time. He released her with a quick peck on her cheek. Then he peered over her shoulders. "Are those the snails?" he asked, looking into a bowl filled with round black balls.
She nodded. "Yep. They've been steamed. When this sauce is ready, I'll add them in."
"And you're sure no one is going to be poisoned?"
She smiled. "Yes, I'm sure." She picked one up and bit into it. "Yep, it tastes good. Why don't you taste it?" she said turning around and holding the uneaten half to him.
Ryan shook his head and backed away. Touching it was bad enough... she couldn't possibly expect him to eat it too, could she?
"Ryan, come on. If you can‘t even try it, how can you expect your parents to like it?"
She had a point. Why did she have to make sense? "Alright," he said, slumping his shoulders. He decided he’d just swallow it, that way, he wouldn’t taste it much.
She moved closer to him then put it in his open mouth. However, instead of letting her go, Ryan grabbed her hand then slowly licked her fingers. It felt nice but before Anna could utter a word, Ryan pulled her till their eyes were only inches apart.
"What do you think you're doing? Have you forgotten, I'm cooking?" she chastised.
"No," he said, swallowing. It wasn‘t as bad as he‘d expected but he wasn‘t satisfied. His eyes traveled to her mouth then hungrily covered it with his. Anna momentarily forgot about her sauce. She put her arms around his neck and kissed him back. There was something about the way he kissed, his sincerity mostly, that always kept her wanting more.
They were almost breathless when someone coughed. They abruptly broke apart to find an irritated Summer and an amused Seth, staring back at them.
"Planning on burning down our home?" Seth remarked.
Anna walked back to the stove. She glanced at Summer who was plump and glowing in her bright sundress.
"Wow Summer, you're looking kinda huge,” she observed.
Summer frowned, pulled out a chair and sat. "You're ever so tactful, Anna," she replied sarcastically.
"Hey, you're supposed to be huge. You’re six months pregnant, after all."
"Yeah, thanks for the information, Captain Obvious."
Ryan cleared his throat and stood up. "I'll like to make an announcement," he declared, hitting his glass with his fork to get their attention.
He and Anna had decorated the patio with lights and other ornaments and they were all sitting around the table enjoying dinner, the evening breeze and great company. Ryan marveled at how they'd progressed from being two parents and two sons having discussions about school, to three couples talking about every and anything under the sun. He wondered if it was something he would ever have been able to experience with his biological parents. He still missed them sometimes but recognized that his life would have been very different if Sandy hadn't approached him that summer day. And he was eternally grateful.
Kirsten clapped excitedly. "Finally! Congratulations! I knew it. Sandy, didn't I call it? I'm so happy! Yay!" she screamed.
Everyone but her husband looked at her in confusion.
"What?" She looked at Ryan and Anna. "You're getting married, right?" When their only responses were furious blushes, she realized she'd been mistaken.
"I'm sorry, I really am, but I need to plan a wedding, any wedding...” She really wasn’t that sorry. She figured it was time they started talking about it, anyway. Her eyes settled on Seth.
"Hey, don't look at me. Remember I asked," he said with a shrug.
Summer scowled. "Cohen, you didn't honestly expect me to go down the aisle looking like this, right?" She pointed at her belly.
"See? It's not my fault, besides Mom, you don't get to plan any weddings -you're the mother of the groom not the bride."
Kirsten frowned. She was well aware of that but that didn’t stop her from hoping. "Summer, you'll let me help, right?" Summer pretended not to hear. On seeing this, everyone laughed.
When the laughter died down, Sandy noticed that Ryan was still at his feet. "Okay son, what's this big announcement?"
He cleared his throat again. "As you all know, I was being considered for a promotion at my company. Well, I got a call and I made partner!"
There was a lot of hooting and howling and Anna jumped off her seat and kissed him.
"When did you find out?" she whispered, looking into his eyes and holding him.
"And you didn't tell me?"
He kissed her softly. "I wanted it to be a surprise."
Anna was lying in Ryan's bed flicking through channels. She'd originally planned to go back to her parents’ but decided against it - she missed sleeping next to him. He was still in the bathroom brushing his teeth. She'd finally decided on Conan when he stepped out with his toothbrush hanging from his mouth.
"Anna," he called. When she looked at him, he pulled it out.
"You know you're going to have to marry me one day, right?"
She looked at him, white bubbles covering his lips, his body toned and clad in a white wife beater, the Sponge Bob boxers she'd gotten him and a pair of socks barely on his feet. He'd never looked sexier.
"Yep. I know," she replied with a lazy smile. She'd known it since that day in San Francisco.