A new short story - Today's Specials

November 12, 2021

todays_specials.jpg

"Jacob, get your ass off the couch and go look for a job!" Lynette said as he stood over her son, glaring at him laying on the couch, again.

"Mom, nobody's hiring, nobody wants to hire me, so why should I bother?"

"Because if you don't you'll be homeless. What do you think about that?"

"Seriously? Mom! You'd kick me out? Your own son?"

"Absolutely. Now get your ass out there knocking on doors and get a job. Any job. I don't care what it is, as long as it's a legit job." She swung her broom at him and hit him on his leg, not hard, but hard enough to get his attention.

"Shit! Mom! You hit me!"

"Yeah, and if you don't get going, I'll do it again, only harder."

"Fine! I'm going." Jacob pushed himself off the couch, grabbed his jacket, and headed for the door. Then he stopped when he remembered one more thing, "Oh, mom, what time's dinner?"

"Dinner? For you? I tell you what, Jake, you return with good news and I'll take you out for dinner."

"Oh, and if I return with not-so-good news?"

"You're cooking your own dinner. Now get out of here." Lynette said as she gave him a kiss on his forehead and then pushed him out the door. She hated being so hard with her son. She loved him more than anything else. He was all she had left of her family. His father died some three years prior because of cancer.

Jacob left the house in a glum mood, but restrained himself from slamming the door closed. He knew enough to know that would only make things worse.

He climbed onto his bike, a Honda 225, turned on the ignition, and looked at the gauges, "Shit, no gas! Oh, great, and with mom, in her mood there's no way she'll loan me gas money." He started walking down the sidewalk, thinking of how he could get some money.

"Hey, Jimmy! It's Jacob, what's up, man?" Jacob called his best friend to ask about borrowing some money.

"Cleaning the garage, that's what."

"Oh, that sucks."

"Yeah, what're you doing?"

"Oh, I have to go look for a job or my mom will kick me out of the house."

"Sucks to be you, huh? Where ya gonna go?"

"Everywhere. Hey, can I borrow five bucks? I need to get gas in the bike. Otherwise, I'll be walking all day."

"You owe me, how much is it now? Oh, yeah, you're up to forty-five, right?"

"Yeah, so, make it fifty. If I get a job, I'll pay you back from my first check."

Jimmy, always quick to sarcastic remarks, said, "Sure, come on over. I've got a fiver in my pocket just waiting to be spent on gas for your bike."

***

"Jimmy! Where are ya?"

"Up here, look up, in the rafters."

"What are you doing up there?"

"Oh, I thought I'd lay out a couple of those plywoods and make some space for storage." Jimmy climbed down from the rafters and took the money out of his pocket.

"So, how's your job going, anyway?" asked Jacob.

"Oh, it's great, for a job. The only thing I don't like is working on the weekends, you know?"

"Yeah, that sucks."

"Here, 5 bucks, make it last."

"Right. I'm only riding when absolutely necessary, then walking."

"Sure, knowing you, you'll be riding from door to door because you're too lazy to walk."

"Hah, funny. Thanks for the fiver, see you later."

"See ya."

***

Finally, moving along at a speed only a little faster than walking, Jacob made his way to the town's main street. He did as he said he would do; he went to every business on the main street and asked about any kind of job that might be available.

The fourteenth business, yes, he counted, was yet another restaurant.

"Well, yeah, we could use another guy in the back."

"In the back? You mean washing dishes? Cleaning?"

"Yeah, let's see how you do, and maybe we'll move you out front."

"Out front? Would that be a waiter?"

"Yep, a server, that's right. That's better pay and you keep the tips you receive."

"Well, I guess so. I've gotta get a job, no matter what it is."

"Okay, then it's settled. Hey! Jenny, come here. Can you get out a new hire packet and help Jacob through the forms, and get him set up to start tomorrow."

"Sure, sir, what will his shift be?" asked Jenny.

"Put him on the second shift."

Jacob cut in, "The second shift? I guess you mean the dinner shift?"

Jenny replied as Pete walked away, "That's right, 3 till 12 am."

"Three pm until 12 am? As in midnight 12?"

Giggling at him, Jenny said, "Yeah, lazy bones, all afternoon and evening. Here, washing dishes and cleaning. You're gonna love it!"

***

Jacob returned home and threw the door open with a little too much force, and it banged against the wall. "Mom! Shit, that left a mark on the wall. She won't like that. Mom!" He walked into the kitchen, down the hall, shouting, "Mom! Where the hell is she? This isn't a very big house. She can't be too far. Mom!"

"Out here, Jakey," she was in the backyard pulling weeds out of the flower bed.

"Mom! Guess what?"

"What?" She continued pulling weeds without looking up.

"Mom, stop for a moment. I've got good news, so you'll have to go get cleaned up because we're going out for pizza!"

"Really? What'd you do? Rob a store? Or the corner gas station?"

"Hah hah! Seriously, Mom, I got a job!" He reached out to give her a hug, but then stopped short when he saw the front of her shirt covered in dirt.

"Jacob! I'm so happy for you!" She grabbed him and gave him a big hug, pressing herself hard against him to get him as dirty as she could.

"Jeez, Mom, look at my shirt!"

"Oh, it'll wash. Where's your job?"

"At the Western Sun Restaurant. Now go get cleaned up so we can go, I'm starving." He tried to push his mother towards the house.

"At a restaurant? What will you be doing? You've never done that kind of work before."

"Well, yeah, so I'll be working in the back at the beginning. And, eventually, I can get a position as a server. With that position, I'll get a pay raise and be able to keep the tips. Now go, shower." He led her by her hand to the patio door and push her into the house.

"Working in the back? You mean washing dishes, right? And, probably cleaning."

"Yes, mom, all that. Go shower, you stink like dirt."

"Okay, I suppose it's better than nothing."

"What? The smell?"

"No, silly, the job." She gave her son another hug and a kiss and went to shower.

***

Jacob did the job as best he could. He learned everything possible about the back of the restaurant. He was well aware of how important any job was, so he put all his effort into it.

"Jacob, today is your 4 month anniversary here, did you know that?" asked Pete when Jacob clocked in at the beginning of his shift.

"Well, I hadn't thought about it, but now that you mention it, yeah, I think you're right."

"Yeah, I'm right. I've the papers right here. And you've been doing a very good job."

"Oh, that's good to hear, thanks."

"How do you feel about moving to the server position? Brenda is leaving us in two weeks, she gave me her notice this morning."

"Really? That'd be cool. I could really use the pay raise that goes with it."

"Of course, who couldn't? Okay, since she's leaving in two weeks I'll ask her to train you, okay? I want you to pay attention to everything she tells you, and practice carrying two plates on each arm."

"Yeah, no problem."

***

Those two weeks of training passed quickly for Jacob. He had just about mastered handling multiple dishes on each arm but was having trouble memorizing the daily specials.

"Hi, welcome to the Western Sun. I'll be your server. Can I get you something to drink to start?"

"No, what are your lunch specials today?"

"Oh, we've got fish, hmm, fried, and a steak, and chicken legs. Those come with salad and your choice of baked potato or fries."

"What kind of fish?"

"Oh, it's, just a moment..." Jacob hurried back to the kitchen. "Hey, Jon, what kind of fish do we have today?"

"You don't remember? This is the third time you've asked today."

"Sorry, the customers are waiting. What is it?"

"Bass."

"Cool." Back at the customer's table, Jacob said, "It's trout, oh no, no it's not, it's bass. Sorry about that. Bass, today."

The same scenario repeated all afternoon. Jacob just couldn't remember what kind of fish was on the menu.

"Jacob, come here," said Pete, who had noticed Jacob making all those extra trips to the kitchen window. "What's wrong?"

"Oh, nothing, I'm doing fine."

"I don't think so. You're making a lot of extra trips to the kitchen. Why?"

"Oh, to make sure about the kind of fish today."

"You can't remember that it's bass today?"

"Well, I'm having trouble remembering that, but it's okay. The customers are ordering just fine."

"Hmm, sure..." Pete wasn't so sure about it all being fine.

***

"Hi, welcome to the Western Sun. Can I get you something to drink to start with?"

"Sure, a beer and a white wine."

"Ok, one beer and one white wine coming right up."

"What's special today?"

"Oh, we have a couple of specials, the spaghetti Freddy, and Roseanne's pork chops."

"What? Spaghetti Freddy? What is that?"

"Oh, maybe I got the name wrong, just a minute."

Jacob hurried to the kitchen window and asked for the name of the specials and returned to the customers.

"Excuse me, I was wrong, it's Chicken Rosemary and Pork Chops alfresco."

The customers laughed, "What? Are you sure about that?"

"Um, well, I think that's it. Just a moment." He hurried back to the kitchen, and this time he wrote the specials on a napkin.

"Okay, I got it this time - we have garlic rosemary pork chops and chicken alfresco."

"Oh, what's chicken alfresco? Fresh chicken? How's it cooked?"

"Shit. Oh, excuse me, ma'am, I meant shoot, I got it wrong, it's chicken alfredo. Yes, that's it, chicken alfredo, see, I have it written right here." He showed the customers the scribbling on the napkin.

***

That evening after he finished his shift, Jacob was talking to one of the servers, Jessica, when Pete interrupted them.

"Jacob, we need to talk."

"Yes, sir, I'm sorry. I know what you want to talk about. I just can't seem to get the specials right. But, I'm trying, and I will, I know I will."

"Okay, Jacob, I hope you do. I like you and you do a good job, generally."

"Thanks, I'll get better with it, I promise."

Pete went to the kitchen and Jessica asked Jacob, "What's the problem with you and the specials, anyway?"

"I don't know. I just can't remember what they are, or I get them confused and mixed up."

"You've gotta get that figured out, Jake. You don't want to lose this job. Jobs are hard to find these days."

"I know, maybe you can help me?"

"Sure, here's the menu for tomorrow, let's practice. Why don't walk me home and we can practice on the way." Jessica liked Jacob and looked forward to some private time with him.

"Oh, okay, sure, why not." Jacob hadn't paid any attention to Jessica, she was just his coworker. But now that she asked him to walk her home he took a second look at her, and thought, "Well, she's much cuter than I had noticed, without the stupid uniform and hat."

***

"Well, here we are. This is my place," said Jessica.

"Nice. I've seen these apartments before, but I've never been inside. Is it as nice inside as it is outside?"

"Yeah, I think so. You want to see inside?"

"Sure."

Jessica led Jacob into the front courtyard area where there was a garden along both sides of the entry to her building. They took the stairs to the second floor then they went to her apartment.

"Here we are, my apartment. It's not big, but it's more than enough for me," said Jessica as they entered the living room.

"Wow, this is really nice," said Jacob. He walked around and looked into the other rooms. "Oh, excuse me, I didn't mean to look in your bedroom."

"Oh, don't worry about it, here, check out the bathroom in here." Jessica led him into the master bathroom. The sight of a jacuzzi tub and a jetted corner shower surprised Jacob. He certainly didn't expect that.

"Holy cow! This bathroom is bigger than my bedroom!"

"Seriously, not it isn't," they both laughed. "It's big, though, and I love it, especially soaking in that tub. There is one problem, though." She sat on the edge of the tub.

"What's that?" Jacob put the toilet seat lid down and sat on it.

"The water! It uses so much water and the bill! Holy cow! I think I paid more for the water one month than I did for rent."

"Really? Shit, what'd you do? Fill this thing full every night?"

Jessica laughed, "Yes! I had no idea water could be so expensive."

She kicked off her shoes and slipped down into the empty tub, then scooted over to the side and waved to Jacob.

"Um, okay." Jacob kicked off his shoes and slipped into the tub with Jessica. He reclined next to her, but he was careful to keep his hands to himself. He hadn't noticed that Jessica liked him and wanted to do a lot more with him. Jacob wasn't really interested in a girlfriend at the time, he just wanted to concentrate on his job and make sure he kept his job.

"Jake, why are you nervous? You don't have to hide your hands, you know, I don't bite. Well, not too hard." She laughed and gave him a little kick with one foot.

"I'm not nervous, just unsure what you want, or how much you want, or what I want, or..."

Jessica leaned over and pressed her lips to his. He finally relaxed and let his tongue explore hers and into her mouth. One hand came out of its pocket and found its way onto her stomach.

After that first kiss, Jessica said, "Well, that was quite nice, wasn't it?"

"Yeah, it was," a smiling Jacob said, "and you don't bite." He could hardly contain himself. He leaned towards Jessica, she leaned towards him and they kissed again. Their tongues became much friendlier with each other, and Jacob felt himself getting hard in his pants.

"How long has it been for you?" asked Jessica. She noticed his erection as it pressed his pants outward.

"How long?"

"Yeah, since the last time you were with a girl."

"Oh, not long. I have girls any time I want."

"Yeah, sure you do, but how long since you last kissed a girl? Like we just did?"

"Okay, it's been a while."

"I thought so." She reached over and placed one hand on the front of his pants. She took the zipper in her hand. He took a deep breath, then let it out, and they kissed again. His hand slid up her stomach and found one breast. She got the zipper pushed down and her fingers were starting on the button.

Jacob reached his other arm up behind her head and around her shoulders. But in doing this he accidentally hit the lever that turns on the water. Suddenly water came flowing down from the large faucet onto both of them. They both struggled to reach the faucet, but they slipped in the now wet tub. The tub continued to fill up. Jessica gave up and laid down again, laughing. Then Jacob also stopped trying to reach the faucet.

Laughing, Jacob said, "Well, that was an accident, honestly!" The water continued to fill the tub.

"I know it was," Jessica laughed, then kissed him.

They let the tub fill, kissed and caressed each other, and slowly removed their wet clothes. Then she let him fill her.

***

At work, Jacob studied the list of daily specials. He sat at a back corner table and repeated them over and over, trying to memorize them. Then Jessica came up to him, sat on his lap, and pressed her lips to his. They kissed long and passionately until Pete saw them.

"Hey! What are you two doing over there! Enough of that! Get to work or you'll both be looking for work!"

They both laughed at the grouchy boss who seemed to always be in a foul mood. They stopped making out and went back to work, getting the restaurant ready for another day.

"Okay, Jake, tell me the specials today," Jessica said as they laid out silverware and napkins on a table.

"Right, the specials, let's see. Oh yeah, Today we have Chippo Beef with tortillas in cheese..."

"Wait, stop right there," she giggled. "What is 'chippo beef'?"

"It's on the specials menu, look," he reached for a menu and showed Jessica the list. "Oh, it's Chipotle Beef! Shit! What's wrong with me? And the tortillas are not in cheese! I'm terrible at this job!"

"Oh, you're not terrible. Actually, you do the job very well, it's just the memorizing-the-specials part you have trouble with." She looked around the dining room, saw nobody, and kissed him again.

"I like your kisses, a lot." Jacob turned a little red and went to unlock the front door.

***

"How was work today, Jacob?" His mother was at the kitchen table reading the newspaper.

"Oh, it was good, normal, you know."

"Well, I don't know, but sure, normal, good, okay. Anything out of the ordinary happen?"

"No, why?"

"Oh, just wondering, making conversation."

"Jeez, mom, are you going to make dinner? Or just conversation?"

"You want to eat?"

"Yeah, of course, I've been working all day."

"Okay, well, there's some chicken in a bowl in the fridge. And some veggies in there, as well." She continued reading the newspaper.

"Wait! I have to cook? I just got home from work. What have you done today? Let me guess," he looked out the back door, "I see you did some work in the garden and rearranged the patio furniture." He looked around the kitchen and living room area. "Oh, look, the vacuuming got done, wow." Jacob walked to his bedroom, took off his shoes, then he noticed, "Mom! What the hell? You cleaned my room? Why would you do that? Where's my stuff?"

"Oh, relax, honey. It's just sorted and put away, that's all. I didn't throw anything away, not even your girly magazines."

"Oh, shit!" Jacob looked through his desk drawers and found the two copies of Penthouse and Playboy magazines on the top of the other stuff.

"Don't worry about it, Jacob. I understand. I found those types of magazines, once, when your father was still with us. After I found them, he never had any more of them, at least not here in the house."

Jacob returned to the kitchen and took the food out of the refrigerator to heat up in the microwave.

"When are you going to get a girlfriend? Then you won't need those magazines."

"Mom! Seriously!"

She laughed at him. "It's true. Get yourself a girlfriend and you and her will enjoy each other more than you enjoy those magazines. Trust me, I know."

Jacob sat at the table, took a drink of juice, then said, "Well, since you brought up the subject, there's this girl at work."

She put the newspaper down on the table and suddenly gave her son her full attention, "Really? Who is she? Is she cute? Is she hot?

"Jeez, mom, what's with you today? Anyway, her name's Jessica. I like her, a lot."

"Have you kissed her, yet? Does she know you like her?"

"Yes, we've kissed, and yes, she knows I like her. And she likes me, too. I think we're going to, I don't know, have a relationship. I hope so, anyway."

"Oh, how exciting! I'm so happy for you Jakey!" She walked around the table to him and gave him a hug. "My little boy is all grown up. You're not still a virgin, are you? Maybe you and Jessica can take care of that." She walked over to the microwave and took the food out of it.

"Shit, mom, unbelievable. Give me the chicken and veggies, I'm going to my room to eat."

"Oh, Jakey, you know I'm just having fun with you, I'm happy for you, and I want you to be happy."

"I'm happy, mom, okay?"

***

"Hi, welcome to the Western Sun. Can I get you something to drink to start with?"

"Sure, a couple of glasses of your house white wine, please."

"Ok, coming right up." Jacob was sailing tonight. Things were going great with Jessica, they've even had sex a couple of times. And he was sure he would get the specials right tonight.

"Here you go. I'm sure you'll enjoy it. Now, for our specials, we have Rigatoni in maple-bacon sauce or Salmon with meatballs."

"You have what? That sounds downright shocking," said the customer.

"Um, Rigatoni or Salmon. How's that?"

The customers laughed and said, "Maybe you've had too much of the house wine?"

"Oh, shit, I did it again! Just a minute."

Jacob headed straight to the kitchen window but before he got there Jessica stopped him and said, "Don't go to the window. Pete is watching. The specials are Rigatoni with marinara and meatballs, or maple-bacon glazed salmon. Okay, can you remember just those two? Come on, I'll go with you."

Back at the table, Jacob said, "I'm sorry, please excuse me. The specials are maple-bacon glazed salmon or Rigatoni with marinara and meatballs."

Jessica whispered in his ear, "Don't forget the salads and veggies."

"And, with your dinner, you get a salad and vegetables, all fresh, of course." Jacob let out a big sigh of relief and finally smiled.

"Well, that was much better, and actually makes sense." The customers were being friendly about the mistake. "We'll have one of each of those specials. Oh, and this wine is quite good, can you bring us the bottle?"

"Yes, sir, of course. Your meals will be here in a few minutes. Would you like something for an appetizer?"

Jessica whispered into his ear, again, "Recommend the Potato Skins. They're very good today."

"I recommend the Potato Skins today, they're very good. I mean, they're very good today."

"Okay, sure, bring us the Potato Skins."

"Excellent choice! Thank you." Both he and Jessica walked to the kitchen window to give the order to the cooks.

Pete walked over to the table where the customers had just ordered and said, "Good evening. I'm the manager of the restaurant. My name is Pete Thonders. I would like to ask you how you received your service? Was it acceptable?"

"Oh, yes, absolutely. We really enjoyed the young man. He has quite a sense of humor. It was nice for a change."

"Nice for a change? What do you mean?"

"Oh, you know, the usual snobbish servers acting like they already know everything about everything in the restaurant, when they know nothing more than the menu. Your guy was genuine and friendly. I'm sure we'll be coming back here in the future."

"Well, thank you, sir, ma'am. I appreciate your comments. Have a great meal."

Pete went straight to Jacob and said, "Come with me, young man."

Jacob looked at Jessica with a worried look on his face. Jessica forced a smile, both wondering what could be the matter. After all, the customer seemed to be quite happy with his service to them.

"Jacob, I know I've been hard on you, you know, because you can't remember the specials menu, ever. But those customers loved your service. I don't know what you did or said, but whatever it was, don't stop. Okay?"

"Oh, yes, sir, of course."

"Very good, now, get back to work."

***

"Hey, mom! I'm home!"

"Hi, Jakey, are you hungry?"

"Of course." He walked into the kitchen to find not only his mother cooking but also a man, wearing an apron with the print of a bikini-clad woman's body. Jacob stared at the image then caught himself and looked back at his mother. The man was suddenly self-conscious of the apron and turned around to tend to the food on the stove.

"Jacob, this is my friend, Henrik. Henrik, my son, Jacob."

Talking towards the stove, Henrik said, "Hi Jacob, nice to meet you."

"Oh, don't be silly, turn around and meet him properly."

Henrik turned around, then Lynette saw the apron and suddenly laughed, "Oh, I forgot about that. Don't worry about it, it's just a silly apron." She laughed again. Henrik didn't laugh.

"Hi, Henrik, nice to meet you, I think." Jacob looked at the apron, again. "Mom, did you have that hidden away here somewhere, or did he bring it? Please tell me he didn't bring it. You didn't bring it, did you, Henrik?"

Laughing self-consciously, Henrik said, "No, your mother pulled it out of the bottom of the pantry, and she forced me to wear it." He laughed at her sudden glare at him.

Lynette shot a glance at Henrik, and he said, "You did, you said if I didn't wear it I wouldn't get to..." then he halted.

"Oh, seriously? You guys, unbelievable! Too much information! Just call me when dinner's ready." Jacob hurried off to his bedroom. He started some music, which he played loud enough the others could hear it in the kitchen.

"Okay, well, that went well," said Henrik, a little dejected by the not-so-great introduction to his future stepson.

"Don't worry about it, sweety. He'll get over it fast enough. When he's eating, he'll forget all about it."

"I doubt that. This image," Henrik looked at the apron and gave it a little shake at Jacob's mother, "is now burned into his brain forever. Every time he sees me he'll see this apron, these boobs, and this bikini." He shook it again.

Laughing, Lynette said, "Stop doing that. Don't be so over-dramatic, darling." She hugged Henrik and gave him a kiss.

"We're going to tell him about our plans, right? During dinner?"

"Yes, it's time we get it out in the open. No more sneaking around. I think he's ready to see me with another man."

"Okay, well, everything's ready, let's get this show on the road."

During dinner, Jacob learned all about his mother's boyfriend and how they had been secretly dating for about a year.

"Well, this is a surprise, mom. I had no idea, you did a great job of hiding it from me."

"Sweetie, it's not like that. I know how difficult life has been since your father was taken away from us, and I didn't want to make it worse. I wanted to put off telling you until I thought you were ready."

"Yeah, okay. Well, I guess it's okay with me. I mean, you seem like an okay guy, Henrik. And a year with my mom? And you still want more? I guess you really do love her." Jacob gave them a wink, and his mom and Henrik both let out big sighs of relief.

***

"Jacob, I'm glad you're here a little early today. Come to my office with me. I want to talk to you."

They went to Pete's office and a nervous Jacob sat down in a chair that was too small, not just for him, but also for the office. He wasn't at all comfortable.

"Jacob, you're doing an excellent job. I'm very pleased with your work. I know you still have a problem with memorizing the specials but whatever you're doing with the customers it seems to work. They're always happy with your service."

"Um, okay. Thanks, I guess." He shifted his position in the uncomfortable chair.

"I want to give you a pay raise. It won't be a lot, but it's more than the cost-of-living increase this year. What do you think?"

"Well, if you want my opinion, then I think it's a good idea to do that. If you want my approval, then yes, I approve of it." He let out a strained laugh.

"Good, you'll see it on your next paycheck. That's all."

"Excuse me, sir, but can I ask you a question?"

"Of course, what is it?"

"Will you be giving a raise to Jessica also? She works hard, if not harder than me. She even tries to help me with memorizing the menu."

"Well, that's between me and Jessica, don't you think?"

"Yes, of course, I'm sorry, I shouldn't butt into her, or your, business."

Pete smiled and said, "Don't worry about it."

Jacob realized that was probably the first time he'd seen Pete actually smile, sincerely. Jacob thought, "Maybe he's finally warming up to me?"

***

Jacob and Jessica rented an apartment and moved in together.

"Jacob, we've been living together now for 4 months and dating for over a year. Do you realize that?"

"The living together part, yes, but I hadn't thought about how long it's been since we started dating."

"Really? Well, it's been 1 year, 3 months, 2 and half weeks."

Laughing, Jacob said, "Seriously? You remember it down to the weeks? Why? Or How? I barely remember that it was a year."

"Jakey, baby, I remember everything. Do you remember our first kiss?"

"Oh, yeah, sure, of course, I do, baby." He didn't.

"Stop eating for a minute and try to remember. Where were we when we first kissed?"

"Really? Of course, I remember." He took another bite of his dinner.

"You don't remember! You're stalling, hoping I'll remind you." She gave him a little kick under the table.

"Hey! What was that for?"

"Just a little nudge to help you remember our first kiss."

"A little nudge?" He reached down to rub the spot on his ankle where she kicked him, pretending it hurt more than it did.

"Oh, Jakey, I didn't kick you that hard."

"Oh, yeah? Then why is there a huge contusion thing growing on my ankle?"

Laughing at him, Jessica said, "A contusion thing? You want a contusion thing? I'll give you a contusion thing." She picked up the big metal spoon from the vegetable platter and swung it at him, teasing him even more.

"Okay! Okay! I remember our first kiss, it was at the restaurant, sitting at one of the back tables, and you were helping me memorize the specials."

"Jacob!" Jessica frowned.

"What?"

"No, our first kiss was at my apartment in the jacuzzi."

"Oh! Yeah, I know, I was just testing you."

"You were what?" Jessica picked up her glass of water and poured it over his head.

Dinner was finished, but they weren't. They went into the bedroom and continued their playing and soon were entangled in each other, making love like there was no tomorrow.

***

Jacob and Jessica were at his mother's home for dinner with her and Henrik, and Lynette asked, "So, when are you two lovebirds going to get married?"

"Um, what? Us? Married?" Jacob almost spit his mouthful of food out.

Jessica said, "Well, I want to get married soon, but he won't set a date."

"Wait! Wait a sec, Jessi. Since when have we talked about getting married? I haven't asked you about this, yet."

"I know, not yet, but you've been thinking about it, and I know about the ring you bought."

"Really? Oh, um, what ring?"

"Oh, Jacob, don't be silly, it's in your sock drawer, in one of the old socks you don't wear anymore."

"How do you know about that?"

"Easy, that old sock has a hole in it, and one day when I was putting the laundry away I found the ring in the drawer. It fell out of the hole in the sock."

"Great. Okay, yes, I was planning on asking you when we were out for dinner."

"Well, where are we now?"

"I mean someplace nice."

Lynette suddenly broke in. "Someplace nice? Jacob, this is your home, there's no place nicer than home. So, ask her, here and now."

Henrik said, "You can't argue with her, Jacob, you know that."

"Yeah, ain't that the truth."

Jacob cleared his throat, stood up from his chair, then knelt down in front of Jessica, and said, "Jessica, you know I love you very much, and I want you to share your life with me, and I want to share my life with you. Will you do that? Will you marry me?"

"Yes! Yes! I will!" She grabbed Jacob and pulled him to her, and they kissed long and passionately.

"Well, you know what, sweetie," Henrik said to Lynette. "I think..."

"That we should have a double wedding!" Lynette finished his sentence.

"Yep, exactly, my dear." He kissed Lynette, and they spent the rest of the evening talking about such a possibility.

***

"Jessica, this weekend will be our first anniversary. Can you believe it? One year! We've been married for one year already. Where'd the time go?"

"It sure flew by, that's for sure, darling. And, I have news for you."

"What news?"

"Well, today I went to the doctor..."

"What? Why'd you go to the doctor? What's wrong?"

"Nothing, baby, nothing at all. I have wonderful news for you."

"What? Oh, wait a minute, are you?"

Jessica smiled, leaned over and kissed Jacob, and nodded her head yes.

"You're pregnant? Really?"

"Yes, baby, we're going to have a baby!"

"Oh, my god! That's fantastic!"

Jacob kissed Jessica, and they rolled over on the couch and made love. Then he called his mother.

"Mom! Guess what?"

"Hi, Jakey, sweetie, what is it? I'm a little busy right now." Lynette was busy getting naked with Henrik about to go down between her legs.

"Mom! Guess what?" Jacob almost shouted.

"Oh, oh, Jacob, please, it has to wait, just, oh, yeah, call back in a half-hour, okay?" She disconnected the phone call, then pressed Henrik's head into the heat between her legs.

Laughing, Jacob looked over at Jessica and said, "You won't believe this."

"What? Why'd she hang up on you?"

"Well, I'm pretty sure they're having sex."

"Seriously?" They both laughed and cuddled on the couch, and passed the time until the next call with more kissing.

"Okay, mom, guess what?"

"Oh, Jacob, how can I guess what? There's a million things I could guess wrong before I guess the right one."

"Jeez, mom, you're taking all the fun out of it. We're pregnant!"

"You're pregnant? You're going to have a baby! That's fantastic news!" She repeated the news to Henrik who was bringing two cups of coffee to the patio table.

"Yes! Jessi's gonna have a baby!"

"Oh, Jakey, Jessi's pregnant. You said you're pregnant." She laughed.

"Shit, mom, what's gotten into you today? Oh, never mind, don't answer that question."

"Sweetie, I'm so happy for you. I'm going to be a grandmother! How exciting! Let me talk to Jessi."

***

At work, Jessica and Jacob told Pete the good news and Pete was excited for them.

"Well, congratulations, both of you," he said.

"Thanks, Pete."

"Yeah, thanks. I want you to know that I plan on continuing to work as long as I can, so you won't have to hire anyone to take my place, at least not for quite a few months."

"Thanks, but I think we can work something out. We'll talk about that a little later on, though. You guys go out there and get the restaurant opened."

***

Jessica was almost seven months along when Pete called her and Jacob into the office.

"I want to talk to you two about something very important. You guys have been working here a long time, longer than anyone else besides me. And, I really appreciate all the hard work you do for this restaurant. It means a lot to me."

Jake and Jessica both shook their heads in agreement but said nothing. They were anxiously waiting for whatever he had to say that was so important.

"I'm getting up there in years, you know, and I'm thinking of retiring in the next two years. But, before I do, I'm taking the missus on a trip. We're going to travel across Europe and down to the Mediterranean. We'll be gone a couple of months, at least."

"Wow! That sounds fantastic! I'd love to do a trip like that someday."

"Yeah, wouldn't that be wonderful?"

"Yep, and here's what I want to do here at the restaurant. Jessica, I want you to take over the manager's position. And Jacob, I want you to be her assistant."

"Seriously? You want us to run the restaurant while you're away? For a couple of months?"

"Wow! I don't know, sir."

"You guys know this place inside and out. I wouldn't dream of bringing someone in from the outside to run it when I have you two here. We'll hire a couple people to take your places as servers and you guys will take over the restaurant. That's my decision."

"Um, okay, well, when will all of this happen?" asked Jacob.

"Oh, my wife and I will leave on Saturday."

Jessica gasped, "Saturday? You mean, two days from now Saturday?" She grabbed Jacob's hand and squeezed it.

"Well, at first I suggested to my wife maybe the third Saturday of the 4th odd month of the next even year. But she thought that was too long to wait. So, we decided on this Saturday."

Jacob and Jessica sat in silence. It took a minute for them to absorb what Pete had said, they had never heard him say anything funny before. Pete broke them out of it. "So, you guys have two days to get up to speed, so, chop-chop!"

***

"How long has he been gone now?" asked Jacob. He and Jessica locked up the restaurant and headed home.

"Well, I think it's been about four months. He said he would be gone about 2 months."

"You know, I have a feeling he won't be back any time soon."

"Yeah, I think so, too. Well, that's okay with me. I enjoy running the restaurant better than being a server."

"So do I. I was just thinking, wondering, what will happen to us in these positions when he does return. What do you think?"

"Hmm, I think he'll just retire and let us keep the positions."

"That would be nice."

***

Another two months later, "Jacob, can you get the phone, please?"

"Sure. Hello, Western Sun Restaurant, how can I help you?"

"Hey, Jacob! It's Pete! How ya doing?"

"Pete! Hi! We're doing great! Hey, honey, guess who it is?"

Jessica called back to him. "How should I know? The President?"

"It's Pete!"

Jessica hurried out to the front counter where Jacob had answered the phone.

She grabbed the phone out of Jacob's hand and said, "Hi Pete! How are you doing? Is everything okay?"

"Yes, yes, of course. We're having the time of our lives, I'll tell you."

"That fantastic, I'm, we're, happy for you. You haven't called us in what? Almost 6 months."

Jacob interrupted her. "What's he saying? Here, I'm putting on the speaker."

"Yeah, right now we're in Sicily, and it's amazing!"

"Wow! I bet it is. Hey, Pete, one question, first, okay? When are you coming back? We've been wondering about that for a couple of months now. You said you'd be gone two months, it's now what, six or so?"

Laughing, Pete said, "Well, to be quite honest with you, I have no idea. We're having such a great time I'm sure we won't be back for quite some time. Don't worry about anything. I keep an eye on things, and it appears you guys are doing a bang-up job running the place. You just keep doing what you're doing, okay? And you'll have nothing to worry about."

"Okay, well, thanks, Pete."

***

Another two months have passed with no word from Pete, then one day he called, "Hey, guys, guess what?" he asked.

Jessica asked, "What? Oh, let me guess, you've decided to stay somewhere over there."

Jacob also took a guess. "My guess is that you are back home and coming to work tomorrow and we're back to being servers again."

Pete laughed. "No, Jacob, not that at all. In fact, you guys have nothing to worry about, because I have set everything up with the bank for you two to take over the restaurant."

"Wait, what?"

"Take over the restaurant? What are you talking about?"

"I'm saying this: I'm giving your two the restaurant. My wife and I are staying in Greece. We're retired now and we love it here. We have new friends here and we've already started making a new life here. The restaurant is yours!"

"Seriously?" Jacob couldn't believe what he was hearing and was still trying to absorb it.

Jessica said, "Oh my god! This is unbelievable! It's just that simple for you? Give us the restaurant, just like that? Don't we have to do some paperwork or something?"

"There are some papers for you both to sign, but nothing to get excited about. The banker, Joe Wembley, has everything in order and ready for you both. Just go to the bank and ask for him."

"I don't know what to say." The news still dumbfounded Jacob. "This is the most incredible thing I've ever heard in my life! I did not know such a thing was even possible!"

"Well, it is, and it's done and waiting for your signatures. So, tomorrow you both go to the bank, sign the papers, and the restaurant is yours, always and forever. I know you'll do very well with it."

***

During the next year, Pete called the restaurant every 4 months to check on Jacob and Jessica and answer their questions. He was satisfied with his decision to give them the restaurant and retire in Greece.

Jacob and Jessica made improvements and expanded the restaurant with a catering service, and were doing very well. Lynette and Henrik were happy and had moved to Arizona where they enjoyed the warm climate and year-round hiking and outdoor activities.

Jessica had another baby, and Jessica spent most of her time at home, doing the restaurant accounting from home. Jacob took care of the day-to-day operations.

Everyone was happy, and finally, Jacob was getting the specials menu correct, and occasionally served customers in the dining room.

"Hi, welcome to the Western Sun. How can I help you?"

"Oh, yes, for today we have Sweet Chili Pork Chops, Homemade Lasagna, or Maple-Bacon Glazed Brisket Burgers. And with those you have your choice of..."