Elsie tossed the pizza dough in the air and punched it with a solid uppercut. Her fist went straight through.
The dough slogged down to her elbow.
“Elsie. Elsie. Elsie.” Hildreth gathered it off her arm. “You can’t treat pizza dough that way.” He grinned. “It just won’t look right if it has holes all over it.”
“Sorry. Force of habit.”
“Probably.” He patted it up into a ball and rolled it out again. “But you have to be nice to it. Open your hands wide. Catch it with just your fingertips – soft, gentle, light – before tossing it in the air again.”
He set the rolling pin aside. “There. You wanna give it another go?”
He stepped back and watched her scoop it up. “Remember: soft hands, Elsie. The pizza dough is not a vampire. You don’t have to kill it. Be nice to it. Soft to it.”
“If you tell me to caress it and make love to it—”
He laughed. “Well. That would be going a bit too far. You ready?”
She tossed it into the air again.
Hildreth held his breath as the off-white floppy disc headed on back down.
Elsie opened her hands just right.
The dough landed on her fingertips.
She twirled it and sent it back up into the air again.
Hildreth went wild with applause. “Yeah! I knew you could do it! Woo-hooo!”
She smiled at him.
The dough landed with a floury poof on her head.
Hildreth couldn’t help himself. He laughed.
“Oh, yes. Very funny. Ha. Ha.”
“It’s all a matter of perspective, baby.” He helped her de-dough her hair. “From my perspective, it was hilarious. The dough just foomped on your head. It was a beautiful, magical moment.”
“Have I mentioned that you have a very corrupt sense of humor?”
Hildreth kissed her forehead. “Only once. Wait. If you include this time, twice. Huh.” He looked at the frizzy black hairs sticking to the dough. “Okay. I love you, baby, but nuh-uh. I am not eating your hair.”
He threw the dough into the garbage and dusted off his hands.
Elsie’s gaze traveled all over his trim figure, all the way up to his face. I want to throw myself at him and push him up against a wall and make him scream for mercy.
Why did I let Ambrose stand between us for so long? Why did it take me so long to see him like this?
She smiled. It doesn’t matter. Ambrose is no longer there and I can see him. Hildreth, I can see you.
“All righty then! Second verse same as the—”
She hugged him.
“You have a corrupt sense of humor and I’m sure you’ll pass it down to our children. You can be a total blockhead and an idiot and stubborn beyond reasoning and…I love you.” She tightened her grip on him. “I love you so much.”
Hildreth hugged her. “Elsie.” He kissed her forehead again. “I feel so happy when we’re together, whether we’re fighting vampires or just—-” He chuckled. “—failing at making pizza. I feel relaxed when I’m with you. I can be myself. There’s no need for me to put on airs or pretensions. I can be just silly, goofy me.”
“I wouldn’t have you any other way.” She laid her head against his chest and listened to the power of his heartbeat. “Never change.”