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The 'It' Factor

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Jim took a bite of the flaky Dutch apple pie and closed his eyes, savoring the rich flavors as they melted over his tongue. A moan involuntarily escaped him and the middle aged female judge beside him tittered in amusement.

It was ‘her’ pie. A small voice in the back of his head protested that the baker could just as easily be male, but he knew in his heart of hearts they weren’t. Love had been poured into every aspect of this pie – from the selection of the apples, to the spices which only served to enhance the tartness of the fruit, to the crust which reminded him of the pies that his Sally, father’s housekeeper, used to bake for the family. Yes, whoever had created the pie wanted to win, after all they had submitted their pie to the fair’s competition, but her cooking wasn’t about the perfection for perfection’s sake. It was about enjoying the fact that she could make people moan in ecstasy. Several of the pies he had tasted had been truly excellent, but there was just something about ‘her’ cooking. He tasted the unquantifiable ‘it’ in her peach cobbler and her pumpkin pie. Her cooking stood head and shoulders above everyone else’s.

For the first time since the Army had paraded him out as their latest ‘hero,’ he was truly enjoying himself. Reluctantly, he set his fork on the plate and wrote down his scores.

While the head judge tallied the scores for all categories of the competition, Jim finished the remainder of his slice, watching the gathering crowd as he did so. Many of the women stood in small groups, talking amongst themselves, giggling when they noticed his eyes were upon them. But one redheaded woman stood to side, with a small dark headed boy on her hip. She smiled, almost proudly, as she watched him eat. And Jim knew that she was ‘the one.’

Martha. The Widow Kent. The city girl who thought she stood a chance. All were monikers he had heard attached to her.

As he finished his last bite, he held her gaze and was surprised when she didn’t drop her eyes and blush. She smirked back confidently at him, almost challengingly.

Kansas, he decided, was as good a place as any to put down roots. He knew he was never going back to Cascade again, that he would never voluntarily place himself anywhere near his father’s sphere of influence. He knew that he could let his senses go here and not have to worry about the dangers that city life would wreck on them. And as he studied Martha Kent, he knew he would never have to hide who he was from her.

But you haven’t even ‘officially’ met her yet a voice protested in the back of his mind. Jim smiled again at her again. But he would. As soon as the competition was over, he was going to make it his business to know Martha Kent better.