“I can’t remember the last time I just hung out with someone before this week.” I laid my head on his shoulder. “That’s not true. It was right before my first album went viral.”
“That’s a long time.” Austin didn’t sound even remotely surprised.
“I guess you know how that feels, huh?”
“The cupcakes will be cool enough to decorate.” I cleared my throat and stood.
We’d been having fun, and I didn’t want to drag the day down with drama about how lonely I was. Had been. Could I consign my loneliness to past tense now that I was spending time with Austin?
“I’ll help you make some icing if you want.”
“That might help,” Austin said around a chuckle.
I showed him the recipe I liked to use, loaded up a piping bag for him, and hand over hand showed him how to use it.
“You’ve gotta be gentle,” I said as I left him to it.
I carefully cut a hole out of the centre of each of my cupcakes, into which I pushed a fresh strawberry. Then I popped the top back on and began to ice them. I’d coloured my icing a soft shade of pink, much paler than the bright red of the strawberries. Using a controlled motion, I spiralled the icing onto the top of each cupcake.
“Bollocks!” Austin said.
I looked around to see that his hands were covered in icing, and the nozzle had shot off the piping bag onto one of his cupcakes. Icing dripped everywhere.
I couldn’t help but laugh. “You squeezed too hard, didn’t you?”
“It wasn’t coming out,” he grumbled.
He put the piping bag into a bowl, washed his hands, and grabbed a spoon. I watched for a moment as he dolloped icing onto the top of each cupcake. They looked anything but pretty. Still chuckling to myself, I finished mine off by sprinkling the tiny pieces of chopped strawberry over the icing.
“It’s obvious who’s won,” Austin said.
“No, it’s not. Don’t we have to do a taste test or something?”
“I guess so.”
“Get a couple of plates out.”
He complied. I cut one of his cupcakes in half and put a piece on each plate, then did the same with one of my own.
“We could use our fingers?”
“I’m pretty sure that’s not how they do it on cooking shows.”
Austin smiled and grabbed a couple of forks. “We should taste the same one.” He handed me a fork. “Mine first.”
“So we’re saving the best until last? We’ll need to eat yours to get rid of the taste of mine.”
“They can’t be that bad.”
He raised his eyebrows. We both took a bite.
“Oh.” The cupcake was like a dry rock in my mouth.
“See what I mean?” Austin said around his own mouthful.
I grabbed some water to wash it down. “They’re not bad for a beginner. A little dry.”
“You might want to try adding a bit of milk when you’re mixing the ingredients. It helps to make the mixture light and fluffy.”
“What would help the taste?”
“Some vanilla-bean paste. It’s much better than vanilla extract,” I added, glancing at the small brown bottle of extract that Austin had bought but obviously not used in his own cakes.
Austin nodded thoughtfully before trying my cake. He closed his eyes and murmured his approval. “Now this is like an orgasm in my mouth.”
I snorted a laugh. “A what?”
“An orgasm in my mouth.” He devoured the rest of his half of the cupcake and then put his plate down. “You win.” He wrapped his arms around my waist.
“What do I win?”
“A kiss.” His lips and tongue tasted of strawberries and icing.