Rain, motorcycle repairs, and scones on a porch.
Rain fell in a steady rush. It gargled from the spout of the gutter, and it splattered into the puddles in the yard. It was still warm enough to leave the garage doors open, but it was clear that the violet and orange asters behind the garden fence were summer’s last hurrah. Soon Nate would need to close the doors and fire up the old cast iron stove. He turned his attention from the dripping bushes to the woman sitting on an upturned crate, polishing chrome accents for his bike. Adelie wore a rust coloured, thick cabled sweater; her old fatigue trousers pushed into chunky work boots. The right attire for a day at a dirty workshop, but too concealing for his liking. He missed the days of sundresses that showed off her perfect figure. His back lamented his crouched position behind his motorcycle, and he stretched. The movement caused her to look up and smile. She put her work aside and stood up, crossing the space between them with large strides. Putting her hands on his shoulders, massaging them lightly, she bowed over him to study his progress with the bike.
“Hey, that’s looking great. You’re almost done with reassembling it.”
He fitted his dirty, oily hand over hers on his shoulder. “All thanks to you and your steady Saturday company. Don’t think I’ve come that far in just a couple of weeks if it weren’t for you.”
“Come on, what I’ve gotten to do with your bike?” She pushed her knees into his back, ruffling his hair with her free hand.
He craned his neck to look up. Amber brown eyes shone down on him. “Oh, a whole lot. First, I finally want to go riding with you on my own bike. Then you’re always asking about my progress… and I’m not one who likes to show up empty handed, so I kept working on it. And last but not least your quiet company. Your willingness to get your hands dirty and help me.”
He got up and stretched his legs. Adelie reclined against the workbench, arms crossed in front of her chest. She watched him intently with a tilted head as he strutted around the garage to get the blood in his legs flowing again. He had enough of tinkering with tools and tightening bolts for one afternoon. He wanted to spend some time gazing into two compassionate brown eyes and listen to her mellow voice.
“You know, I think I’m done for today. How about some tea on the back porch? The garden offers a much nicer view than the workshop yard anyway.”
She laughed, pushing herself away from the bench. “You are aware that it is raining, yes? Not exactly the weather I envision for tea on a back porch.”
“I am. But you like the swing, and there are blankets and pillows. It’s really cosy on rainy days.”
He was right. The back porch was a comfortable and cosy place, even with the rain. Adelie picked up a blanket and sat down between the thick pillows of the porch swing. Gently swinging, she made herself comfortable, not for the first time wondering why a house of three men had wicker chair cushions with floral patterns. It looked quaint and almost grandmotherly. Behind the railing with the chipped white paint, soggy pink roses nodded in the breeze. Way back at the end of the garden, she could see Bob’s yellow sou’wester peek over the bushes now and then. He was digging up a bed in the vegetable garden, prepping it for the coming fall. The garden was Bob’s domain, just like Eddy’s was the workshop where he was always building or repairing things. Nate had made the kitchen his realm, and she admired how the three men had turned the whole place into a home. It was old, and some corners desperately needed work, but it still breathed more life than her polished and styled studio back in the Star City complex.
Nate kicked open the screen door, both hands busy holding the tea tray. He had switched his ratty work sweater for one without oil stains and holes, brushed his hair and washed his hands. On the tray, he had piled up scones, marmalade, clotted cream, cups and a teapot painted with blue flowers, and both her heart and her stomach appreciated the view. She patted the space next to her and with a bright smile, he joined her on the swing after he’d set the little table in front of them.
“You’ve outdone yourself again, English,” she mumbled while munching one of his scones.
“Why’s Bob digging up the garden in this weather?”
“Because he’s a stubborn mule. He’s leaving for another concert tour tomorrow and said it couldn’t wait until his return.”
After a delicious scone break, Nate asked if she could help him picking a colour for his bike and went to fetch the paint chips.
“Here are the ones I collected, but I can’t decide. It’s all red to me.” He turned with pleading eyes to her and dropped a small pile of painted squares into her lap.
“Oh my gosh, that’s a lot.” She placed the chips on the table to study them. Indeed, they were all different shades of red. “They’re all pretty. What are you looking for?”
He’d sat down next to her and pushed the swing with one foot. His warmth enticed her to lean against him, and he put his arms around her, his chin on her shoulder.