A Lukewarm Love Story

By Alicia Bruzzone

For The Soup Heroes Award


 

Gina’s date grimaced and pulled a finger to the collar of his shirt, wrenching it to the side as if he was in the process of being strangled.

“You say you have super powers?”

Colour left Darin’s face in one deathly rush.

Gina reached for his hand and spoke in a conspiring whisper. “It’s just– I have one too.”

Darin wrung his napkin, and took a deep breath. This was it, all or nothing. “I can heat things up. To exactly 37.5 degrees.” He groped nervously over the table, finding Gina’s iced chocolate. Darin shoved his fist into the glass, spilling chocolate milk over the linen tablecloth of the restaurant.

Gina jumped back before the mess reached her dress as Darin removed his hand and smeared a napkin over his skin. “I have to touch it you see. Look.” He whipped out his phone, and Gina watched in horror as he opened a temperature reading app and dunked it in the beverage.

“Is that waterproof?”

Heat blazed Darin’s face before he groaned and ducked his crimson head under the table in embarrassment.

Gina’s hand shook as she reached for her drink, dunking in a tentative finger. It was lukewarm. She let out a soft gasp as her repressed hope flared to life. Her date wasn’t crazy.

“You can leave now,” came a quiet voice from under the table.

Gina slowly raised the cloth, trying not to startle her timid dinner partner. “I don’t want to,” she admitted, and Darin dared lift his eyes to hers. Gina gave him a hesitant smile that hid the turmoil within her. “I can cool things down to room temperature.”

Darin was so surprised he bumped his head on the underneath of the table. Rubbing the knock, he crawled back into his chair. “You can?”

Gina nodded shyly. “Not by touch though. I have to insult it, and sometimes it takes a few minutes.” She nodded to the iced chocolate she now had no intentions of drinking and let out a torrent of words that would have done a sailor proud.

Darin forced himself to slide back under the table when the waiter started staring.

“It’s not very useful,” Gina admitted in a small voice.

“Are you kidding?” Darin exclaimed, going over to crouch by her side. “Why, you could order coffee and drink it immediately. No worries about a scalded tongue.”

Gina’s body hummed pleasantly in supplication. “You know; I think that’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me.”

Darin’s whole body flushed at the remark from the amazing woman seated before him. “Do you, maybe, want to be my girlfriend?”

Gina placed her hand over his slightly sticky one and gave it a squeeze. “Yes, I would like that very much.”

Darin crowed under her gaze. “I can’t offer you much, but with me I promise I’ll never let you freeze to death.”

“You know how to warm a woman’s heart,” Gina laughed, her joy genuine.

Darin smiled too. He certainly did.