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Never Too Late

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Sarah turned the sign to Closed on the front door of her restaurant and locked the door. She smiled as she walked back into her kitchen. It had been a long, tiring day, but she felt a second wind hit her when she remembered that Isaac was flying in tonight. She checked her watch, she figured he touched down 30 minutes ago but with traffic his cab probably wouldn’t arrive at her restaurant for another hour at least. Plenty of time to cook them dinner.

 

She wanted to make him a new pasta dish she was trying. It was a twist on a traditional Carbonara. Mostly the same except she added truffle oil to the sauce.

 

As her sauce simmered she set a table at a cozy crescent-shaped booth over by one of her front windows. She bit her lip as she lit the votive candle in the center. Too much? She thought. Nah… it fits the atmosphere…

 

She went back to check on the food. The sauce was ready, she reduced the heat to keep it warm as she tossed some linguini in some boiling water. 

 

Ten minutes later she was tossing the pasta and sauce together as she heard a knock at the front door. She smiled as she hurried to the door, seeing Isaac waiting for her through the glass. 

 

Sarah let him in and he rolled his small suitcase inside the door. She locked the door behind him. 

 

Sarah started, “hey, it’s great to see you!” giving him a big hug and a quick kiss on the cheek. He returned her hug and greeting. He looked exhausted.

 

“Are you hungry?” she asked. She didn’t give him a chance to answer before she said, “I hope so, I made you dinner…”

 

Isaac sighed gratefully, “oh, thank God… Yes, I’m starving…”

 

She showed him over to the booth she had set for them and gestured for him to sit. “Wait here, I’ll be right back…”

 

Isaac took off his wool coat and hung it on a hook over by the door, taking a seat at the booth. He rested his face in his hands, rubbing gently, looking like he was trying to wake himself up. Sarah came back from the kitchen with their food.

 

“Do you want wine?”

 

“No thanks, just water is fine.”

 

“Sure…” she felt a twinge of disappointment at how casual Isaac was keeping this as she went to grab two glasses and a water jug. Snap out of it, Sarah, she chastised herself, it’s not like this is a date...

 

After pouring water for both of them, she took her seat next to him in the booth. Isaac had already eaten several bites, he was clearly really hungry. 

 

“Oh my God, Sarah, this is amazing…” he mumbled in the middle of chewing.

 

“You like it? I added truffle oil to the sauce, I thought I might add it as a special once or twice a week."

 

“It’s incredible… definitely. Maybe even make it permanent on the menu if it’s received well...I can’t imagine it wouldn’t be. How’s business been?”

 

Isaac jumped straight into shop talk as Sarah started to fill him in on her progress. This was always mildly awkward as they walked that line between their long standing friendship and more recent working relationship. But it seemed to work pretty well. Once Isaac seemed satisfied with the business update, they moved on to more personal small talk.

 

“So...how’s Paul?” Isaac started.

 

“Probably still an asshole, wherever he is…”

 

He looked at her.

 

“We broke up 2 weeks ago.” She explained.

 

“Really?”

 

Sarah was staring down at her plate, caught up in her own self pity, so she missed the hint of interest in Isaac’s voice. “Yeah...I’m such an idiot. All the red flags were there on the first date… he was late with a lame excuse… insisted on going dutch… couldn’t stay off his phone the entire time…” she rested her head on her hand and pushed her food around her plate, feeling sorry for herself, “I think I just end up making excuses for these losers because… I guess I assume that’s all that’s left…” she glanced at Isaac briefly before looking back down at her plate, “...all the good guys are already taken…”

 

“That isn’t true.”

 

Sarah sighed, frustrated, “that’s easy for you to say…”

 

“Kate and I broke up a week ago…”

 

Stunned, Sarah looked up at him, letting her fork drop and clang against her plate, “what?” Her heart was pounding in her chest, “she broke up with you or you broke up with her?”

 

“She broke up with me…”

 

Her heart sank, it wasn’t his choice. “Oh…I’m...really sorry...to hear that…” she swallowed, looking back down at her plate.

 

“I’m not” he said softly.

 

Sarah looked at him again, “what?” it was a barely audible whisper.

 

“I’m not sorry…”

 

They looked at each other for a few moments, letting all this news sink in. For the first time since admitting how they felt about each other, they were both single. 

 

Can they really just do this? Just like that? After all this time? Sarah wondered if Isaac still wanted to. She searched his face, allowing her own face to reveal everything she was feeling. Then she saw it… the same longing that was making her limbs tingle and her eyes smolder was reflected back in his eyes. Isaac moved an inch toward her.

 

Like heat seeking missiles, they quickly closed the distance between them in the booth they were in, their lips coming together feverishly, Sarah clung to his shirt, Isaac cupped her face with both of his hands.

 

______________________________

 

Finding the booth too confining, Sarah opened the door to her back pantry and pulled Isaac inside, embracing him immediately, she spun him around and pushed him against some shelves along the back wall, making the assorted cans and boxes rattle. They chuckled softly but continued to kiss passionately.

 

“I've wanted to do this since college…” Isaac panted against her lips.

 

“God... why did we never do this back then??” Sarah gushed back.

 

“Because we were fucking idiots…”

 

Isaac was kissing her neck and began to unfasten her jeans.

 

Sarah had wanted this, exactly this, for what seemed like forever. But suddenly she felt panic surging inside her, tightening her chest.

 

It took every ounce of will power she had, but she began to push away slightly, “Isaac...wait. Stop…”

 

Nearly out of breath, Isaac pulled back to look at her, worried and confused, still cupping her face with his hand, “what? Why? What’s wrong?”

 

“I’m sorry… nothing’s wrong, I swear. I want this. So badly. I’ve always wanted this.”

 

“Then what is it?”

 

“Not here. Not like this.” She touched his face, “come over to my place tomorrow night. Let me cook. I just want this to be right.”

 

Pulling himself back together, Isaac rested his forehead against hers, still catching his breath.

 

“It will be worth it. I promise. Let’s just do this right, ok?” Sarah repeated.

 

Isaac nodded, “Ok. We’ve waited this long...”