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Kitchen Goddess

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III. July 2010

“There,” Maxie breathes, feeling inordinately pleased with herself as she pops the last strawberry into place. It has taken her far longer than she’d anticipated, but the final product is worth the extra effort. She picks up the plate lightly with her fingers, turning it this way and that, trying to decide which is the best angle for presentation. She wants everything to be perfect, because Maxie Jones doesn’t cook for just anyone – but when she does, she goes all out.

“Whoa,” comes a disbelieving voice from the vicinity of the doorway. “What happened here?”

She turns, giving her brightest smile. “Breakfast!” she chirps in reply, holding out the plate, strawberries on top.

Matt enters his kitchen, dressed in dark blue surgical scrubs over a long-sleeved shirt. He looks around incredulously as he crosses the room, unable to tear his attention away from the havoc she’s wreaked in her wake. He eyes the plate for a moment before lifting his gaze to hers. “Toast and fruit?” he says skeptically, taking the plate. “You tore my kitchen apart for toast and fruit? What did you do, bake the bread yourself?”

Maxie glances around. It does, she admits, look like a hurricane has swirled through – cabinet doors ajar, packages torn open, utensils scattered about. Still, the least he can muster would be a little gratitude; he’s not exactly Mr. Mary Sunshine first thing in the morning, either.

She narrows her eyes as she returns his stare, reaching back on the counter for the knife she’d been cutting fruit with. “Are you completely sure you want to continue this line of questioning?” she inquires, holding the blade aloft and allowing it to glitter in the overhead light.

Matt’s gaze moves from the tip of the blade to her face; after a long moment, he shrugs his shoulders and picks up a piece of the toast, taking a bite. “What are you going to do, cut me?” he challenges, his eyes dancing with mirth.

“Don’t tempt me,” she deadpans, settling her free hand on her hip.

He smiles at her. “You’re cute when you’re angry, you know that?”

She glowers at him, slamming the knife back on the counter. “I’m not angry,” she insists, “I’m upset! At least the last man I made breakfast for had the decency not to insult me.”

His teasing smile fades. “So I’m not the first, eh?” he muses, managing to appear disappointed, if unsurprised.

You’ve never been a first for me, she wants to say, but she bites the words back. She averts her eyes. It’s not true, after all – he’s the first regular guy who’s held her attention for more than two seconds, even if it’s mostly been via irritation. There’s something irresistible about him, the way he can challenge her without moving in a whirlwind of danger and destruction himself. He’s not a cop, or a killer, or even member of the mob – an increasingly rare combo for Port Charles these days.

He’s the first guy who might stick around and put her first in his life, if given the chance. Is she ready for that?

“Look, Maxie,” he says, exhaling softly as he touches her shoulder, “I’m sorry. All of this” – he gestures, careful not to tip the food-laden plate – “is new for me, too.”

Maxie composes herself as she glances up, gazing at him shrewdly. “I find that hard to believe,” she scoffs. “Aren’t you related to Patrick Drake? To Noah Drake, even? And you’ve never wowed a woman so much that she’s compelled to stay over and cook for you?”

Matt’s eyes sparkle. “Is that what this means?” he asks, unable to suppress his sly, self-satisfied smile. “I rocked your world last night?”

She flushes, but tries valiantly to hide it, bracing her hands on her hips once more. “Just answer the question.”

His expression turns thoughtful as he gazes at her, his eyes steady on hers, the hand at her shoulder rising to touch her cheek. “No,” he says simply, and Maxie hates the way her heart skips a beat. He brushes a lock of blonde hair behind her ear and smiles once more. “No woman has ever been moved so much that she destroyed my kitchen the next morning.”

Maxie rolls her eyes, pushing away from him. “You can never have a serious moment, can you?” she flares, irritated.

He touches her again, his hand warm and firm on her elbow as he draws her back. She turns, just in time to feel his lips press to hers, urgent and fervent and promising so much more. “You’re a keeper, Maxie Jones,” he says softly as they break apart. “How’s that for serious?”

Her heart pumps furiously. “But you don’t even know me,” she replies, knowing she speaks in both truth and lies.

He kisses her again, and this time, she tastes strawberries on his lips. “But I’d like to,” he replies. He pauses for a moment, before continuing. “Is that a problem for you?”

She considers his words before meeting his gaze once more. “No,” she finally responds, smiling at last. “Just don’t ever expect breakfast from me again.”