In the end, they had simply chosen to be vague with Judy, not specifying any relationship other than friendship and an offer to fix the sink. Getting her out of the house had not been easy, but they had been saved by Judy's daughter, who called her mother, requesting a ride to the mall for an emergency shopping trip.
After her exit, Jack had gotten back to work on the sink, cleaning out the trap and doing other, mysterious things to the pipes. Erica continued to chop fruit, observe and kept up a light flow of conversation. It was peaceful and for a moment, she could forget the threat looming over their heads, literally.
"There," Jack declared, sliding out from under the sink and smoothly pushing himself upright. "Let's see if that did the trick."
Hopping off of her chair, Erica joined him by the sink and said, "Here goes nothing…." as she reached out and turned the faucet. Water flowed smoothly and quietly and streamed down the drain without pooling in the sink. "It works!"
Jack smiled and gave a satisfied nod. "Plumbing, I understand. It's much simpler than resistance fighting."
With a grin of her own, Erica replied, "That's true, I suppose. Why don't you wash up while I get the food ready."
"Okay," he agreed reaching for the faucet again, only to have her wave him off.
"Use the bathroom," she laughed, pointing him in the right direction. "I have a few things left to prepare."
Chuckling, Jack left the room, allowing Erica to set out the plates on the table, pull the fruit salad and juice from the fridge, along with the waffle mix she'd prepared earlier. After putting coffee on, she measured out a serving of batter into the waffle iron and set it. While she waited for the timer to go off, she moved around the kitchen, straightening up.
They sat down to their meal and made pleasant conversation, Jack asking how things were going with Tyler, a topic Erica could expound on for a while. Her son was running around in an absolute funk since his Peace Ambassador girlfriend dumped him. His buddy Brandon had dragged him off earlier that morning, something about a video game release. It had to be something special to get them up and out the door before noon on a Saturday.
Jack's appreciation of the waffles made Erica smile. He dug into the meal with gusto and she laughed, "Hungry?"
He nodded, but didn't respond till he swallowed the bite in his mouth, which she appreciated. Tyler had still not learned to do that. "A bit," he replied, then pointed at his plate with his fork, "And this is really good."
Erica wasn't about to tell him tossing batter into a machine was about the limit of her culinary skills. As a general rule, cooking was not her forte, but she didn't feel the need to advertise that fact. It was just nice to have someone appreciate the effort.
"Thanks," she said happily, taking a bite of her own food.
When Tyler and Brandon suddenly came stomping into the kitchen, she jumped in surprise because she was listening to Jack's explanation of what had been wrong with the sink. She totally wasn't distracted by the bit of syrup and powdered sugar that was clinging to Jack's bottom lip. Nope, not at all.
"Mom…," Tyler began, then froze when he saw that she was not alone. "Oh…hey…I didn't know you were expecting company."
Exchanging a glance with Jack, Erica nodded, then said, "Jack came over and fixed the sink, Ty."
Tyler's face scrunched up as Jack greeted him and Erica could see the wheel's turning in the teenager's head. Then his eyes widened as he said, "Oh, right…the priest!"
Jack nodded pleasantly, but was clearly not sure how to deal with the two staring teenagers. Brandon piped up, "Um…like a Priest, priest?"
"Yes," was Jack's simple reply and Brandon squirmed and tugged Tyler's arm, galvanizing the other boy into motion.
"We're gonna play the game I got…" Tyler began, then Brandon interrupted, "At my house!"
A little confused, Tyler let Brandon haul him away and Erica exchanged an amused glance with Jack, who said, "Let me guess? His family's Catholic."
Puzzled, she said, "I think so."
He nodded as though that explained everything. "A lot of people find it odd to see a priest in jeans, especially if they're raised in the church. It makes them…uncomfortable."
Offhandedly, Erica said, "Well, I think jeans are a good look for you."
Jack's brows rose and a faintly embarrassed look crossed his face, but he simply said, "For you too…but there's something to be said for those striped shorts of yours."
Wide eyed, Erica felt her own cheeks redden as laughter spilled from her lips. How weird was her life? Here she was, sitting in her kitchen, enjoying a nice breakfast and flirting with a priest while alien ships hovered overhead.
And in that moment, she wouldn't have had it any other way.