AJ woke up a few hours later to a delicious smell wafting down to his room from the kitchen. He got up, stretched and made his way down the hall to find Kat and Brenda sitting in the kitchen.
“What smells so good?” he asked with a smile.
“Lasagna and garlic bread. One of Kat’s specialties.”
“Damn girl! You teach, play sports and cook. What do you do in all your spare time?” AJ winked, teasing Kat.
She hit him with the dish towel she was holding and got up to get some plates.
“Let me help you with that.”
As AJ reached up to grab the dishes, their hands brushed and both of them looked down. Brenda sat back and smiled at how shy they both were being.
Kat stepped away and let AJ take out the plates and set the table while Brenda went to wake up everyone else.
“Thanks for doing that AJ.”
“I’ll do anything you need.” He realized how that sounded and he tried to recover. “I mean like set the table, take out some trash, ummm…”
Kat laughed. “I get it and I appreciate it.”
AJ smiled. He appreciated Kat always trying to bail him out when he said something that came out wrong.
Everyone gathered in the kitchen to eat and they spent dinner sharing stories and jokes. AJ relaxed and he was impressed by Kat’s cooking skills. She promised to cook for them whenever they were around at the house. When everyone was done, they cleared their plates and Nick offered to do the dishes.
“Thanks Nick, but I’m good. I know you guys need to get up in the morning so I’ll finish up here.”
“Ok, you don’t have to twist my arm!” Nick hugged Kat and thanked her again for the hospitality. Marcus, Ray and he headed off to get some sleep while Brenda offered to help with the dishes.
“It’s fine Brenda really. You have a long ride home and I know you have your weekend class tomorrow. Don’t worry about it.”
AJ interrupted the conversation. “I got this Brenda. I’ll help her finish them.”
“Are you sure?” Brenda asked trying to hide a yawn.
Kat laughed. “Yes, we’re sure. Go home!”
Brenda smiled at her friend. “Ok. See you on Monday.” She hugged Kat and promised to text her when she got home.
AJ had started the dishes by the time Kat got back to the kitchen.
“Hey, you don’t have to do that. I can finish them. You need to get some rest.”
Kat reached out for the sponge as AJ was turning around and he wound up hitting her chin with it. The bubbles went all over her face and her eyes got huge.
“Oh no, no, no, no! I’m so sorry Kat. I didn’t mean to do that.”
Kat narrowed her eyes at him. AJ was so distracted looking for a towel and trying to avoid her eyes that he didn’t see her reach over for the spray attachment from the sink. She pulled it out and soaked him with water.
AJ turned to face her and it made her burst out laughing. His head was dripping from all the water and he had an expression of shock all over his face.
“I can’t believe you did that. You brat!”
AJ grabbed the sprayer and soaked Kat’s head. She yelped as the cold water hit her face and she ran to duck behind the counter. He put the sprayer back and pretended he was coming around one side of the island and decided to cut to the other side once Kat was distracted. Sneaking up behind her, he started tickling her and they both wound up on the ground.
Both were laughing so hard that neither one could breathe. Kat was about to ask for mercy when AJ’s cell phone rang.
“Stop AJ! You’d better get that. It might be important.”
AJ dragged himself into a sitting position and pulled out his phone.
“We are not finished with this lady!” he said and opened his phone. “Hello?”
Kat lay on the ground and watched AJ’s facial expression change from funny to serious in less than five seconds.
“Nothing. I told you I would call you later. Why are you acting like this?”
He stood up, pulled open the slider and walked outside. Kat pulled herself up and walked over to the sink. She didn’t want to listen in on his conversation but he was getting pretty loud.
“No, I’m not at the hotel. There were no rooms so we’re staying with a friend. Why does it matter if it’s a woman or not Michelle?”
Kat watched as he paced back and forth.
“She’s just a friend! What is your problem?”
Whoever he was talking to must have hung up because he slammed his phone onto the table and sank into one of the chairs on the deck.
“Everything ok?” Kat asked, stepping out onto the deck.
“Just dandy.” AJ snapped. He instantly regretted giving Kat an attitude.
“I’m sorry if you staying here is causing problems for you.”
“It’s not you. She has a problem with everything I do and anything I say. She’s driving me nuts.”
“I know this is probably none of my business, but why do you stay with her?”
If any of the guys had asked AJ that question he would have bitten their head off but Kat was different. She was genuinely concerned for him and he appreciated that.
“Honestly Kat? I have no idea.” He shook his head. “We’ve been together for a long time and I’m afraid to let her go and run the risk of not meeting some. I don’t exactly have the best track record for being a boyfriend.”
Kat sighed. “That was the past AJ. You’re a terrific guy and anyone would be lucky to have you as their boyfriend.”
AJ smiled at her. “Thanks Kat. You always know what to say.”
“That’s why they pay me the big bucks!” she said laughing. She stood up and reached out her hand. “C’mon, you promised me you’d help with dishes.”
AJ took her hand and followed her back into the house. He wished he felt as comfortable with everyone else as he did with her.
The weekend flew by and before they knew it, AJ and Nick were heading back to California. Kat took the day off from work to bring them to the airport. All the guys were sad to be leaving. They had grown to love Kat and it was always enjoyable spending time with her.
“Call me or text me when you guys land so I know you got there safely ok?” Kat asked giving AJ a hug.
“I promise Kat.” He leaned over and kissed her on the cheek. “Thank you for this weekend. I’m going to miss not having you around when I get home.”
“Oh please McLean! You’ll find some other good looking girl to hang around with and you’ll forget all about me.”
He leaned in close to her ear. “Not a chance Brady. No one is as good looking as you.”
Kat felt the heat rush up to her face. AJ pulled back, smiled and winked at her.
“Don’t miss me too much Brady.”
“I’ll try not to. Don’t forget to call me when you get back.”
“I won’t, I swear.” He pulled her into a bear hug and kissed her cheek again. “See you soon!”
The guys all waved at Kat as they headed through the boarding gate. As soon as they were gone, Kat bolted out of the airport and headed down to Brenda’s house.