This was a little creepy and she knew it. But the restaurant left little time for anything resembling dating, this was as good as it got. Besides Lenore was already up before dawn each day, she figured she might as well enjoy it. She checked the dough before taking her post, fingers gathering warmth from her coffee mug.
The back kitchen window provided the best vantage point across the canal into the small park. As always his impressive lope and pace identified him first. By now his running shoes, sweat pants, and running shirt that did nothing to disguise the way his shoulder muscles moved under its fitted fabric were as part of her morning routine as making the dough. Lenore sipped the foam from the top of her coffee and twisted her mouth in frustration. The man was an inverted triangle with legs.
He was wearing the green shirt today. She liked that one. The color complemented his deep tan and darker hair. Once closer she could see his features, strong jaw and a generous mouth. He was handsome in that classic chiseled way that meant he probably had a girlfriend or two. One of the many reasons Lenore had never approached him.
The runner stopped, as usual, to hoist himself up on the pull up bars at the corner of the park. Lenore sighed. Five in the morning, every morning he did this. No wonder he was in such good shape. That was the other problem. It was five am, people didn’t come out this early to chat or socialize. Approaching him would be weird. Not as weird as stalking him from pizza kitchen window across the street, but he didn’t know she was doing that.
Lenore had considered coffee as a perfectly acceptable morning drink with respective dating precedent. A deep roast, slightly seasoned with cocoa and nutmeg, a little spicy and not too sweet. It would be a sample of her culinary gift and easy enough to pass off as simply friendly if the interaction ended horribly. But he was in the midst of a run, not sitting across from her in a café.
He finished his set at the bar and stretched. A minute more and he started up his stride. Lenore craned her neck, letting her gaze linger on his retreating form. “See you tomorrow.” She said to the empty kitchen. This was pathetic.
Lenore ground the last of the herbs between her hands, sprinkling them over the cheese before she slid the pie into the oven. With the last pizza in she finally stepped back and wiped her brow. The ovens were going full blast and she was sure her face was a brilliant red in the broiling savory air.
Pizza was easy. Muscling every fan her father’s apartment possessed over to the window was more difficult, especially as she had a schedule to keep. The last one in place and precariously balanced on the countertop Lenore climbed up and moved to pull open the ancient window. The warped wood and glass strained and groaned, Lenore swore at it.
“Are you using your powers for evil again?” The voice was heavy with sleep.
Lenore froze. She looked back at her father standing barefoot, robed and in the middle of her kitchen. “Hey dad.” She pulled a smile and tried unsuccessfully to blink away a drop of sweat, balanced half on the countertop as she was. How many minutes did she have left? “What are you doing up?” She asked.
He gave her a look and moved around her to help her with the window. Far past his prime he was still a head taller than her and much stronger. The window surrendered with a small shriek. He offered her a hand off the counter. “I could feel the ovens from upstairs. It’s five in the morning you know.”
Lenore took her father’s hand despite being a grown woman in her twenties. “I am astutely aware of that.” She took a deep breath and turned on the fans one by one. Soon the aromas of cooking dough, roasting spices and melting cheese wafted from the window out over the canal and into the park where a lone jogger stretched.
She exhaled and leaned up against the table with massive yawn. Her father shook his head. “I’ll leave you to your siren song. I’m going back to bed.”
Lenore snorted and pushed back sweat soaked hair back from her forehead. “I am just making pizza.”
Lenore wrapped the wool scarf tighter against the blustery cold. Going from the ambiently warm kitchen into the outside winter was always bracing. Especially on busy days when the ovens required her constant presence and she didn’t leave the restaurant much.
She smoothed down the menu, running her fingers over the imprinted items before tacking it to the board outside the restaurant door. Lenore set her hands on her hips, proud of the new additions. The customers would bemoan the loss of old favorites but they’d fall in love all over again with her new creations. They always did.
Lenore snapped the glass case shut over the board. “Do you work here?” Someone asked close behind her.
She jumped. “Oh. Yes I–” Lenore turned. It was him. Tall, wide mouth. His nose was more crooked than she’d imagined from the distance. Like it’d been broken a few times. A light scar ran from his left brow to his dark hair. But it was him, the handsome triangle shaped jogger standing there wondering why she wasn’t finishing her sentence. She cleared her throat. “I do. I uh… make the pizza.”
He leaned forward, looking over her shoulder. “Pizzamancy.” He read the name of her restaurant out loud. “That’s funny. Like magic pizza?”
She laughed. “Something like that. You want to come in, get a slice?”
“That was the plan.” He smiled and Lenore’s stomach flipped a little. “I actually run near here everyday, there’s a park on the other side of the canal.”
“Huh. I guess there is.” Lenore pulled open the door for him and the two headed inside.