Jo headed into the kitchen to brew fresh coffee and wash the few dishes littering the sink. She was a perpetual neat freak, anal by nature and, as she liked to tell people, OCD by choice. Life was harried enough – there was absolutely no reason to have a home that was in chaos, as well.
That was probably one of the reasons she and Maerin had been such close friends for many years now – they both had very definite ideas about what constituted clean, comfortable and proper when it came to housekeeping . . . and — be honest, Jo, she said to herself – just about every other area in life.
While it left both Jo and Maerin with pristine homes, balanced checkbooks, and spotless cars . . . it also made them exceedingly difficult to live with – or at least so they had both been told by a string of lovers. Although neither of them cared sufficiently to relax their standards, so the men came and went.
Perhaps that was the problem, Jo thought. She and Maerin had never transferred their fastidiousness into their relationships, therefore they continued to fall for men that were the exact opposite of them. Which of course never worked out by any stretch of imagination.
Jo opened a cupboard and took out blueberry muffin mix. She figured Lad would be hungry when he woke up from his nap. Benson would be arriving to get case notes in fifteen minutes, and she had yet to meet a man who passed up goodies when offered.
She mixed batter and dug out some extra frozen blueberries to add to the mix, shaking cinnamon and nutmeg into the batter for good measure. The coffee stopped percolating, and she poured herself another cup before filling the muffin tins and sliding the pan into the oven, setting the timer for 20 minutes She eyed the bowl with its remnants of batter and decided she could scrape it clean with no regrets whatsoever.
Jo closed her eyes in delight as the batter hit her tongue, and she attentively scraped up every last bit of the batter before finally washing the bowl in hot, sudsy water.She wiped the counters and the table one last time before setting out an additional coffee mug, creamer, sugar, spoons and plates.
“Butter!” she reminded herself, finding a stick of butter to add to the table setting. The muffins were nearly done and Jo lined a basket a large napkin, ready to hold the muffins once they came out of the oven. Then she went down the hall to check on Lad. He was still asleep in front of the TV and she covered him with an extra blanket and quietly closed the door behind her, just as the doorbell rang.
“About time,” she muttered, heading down the hall to answer the door.
Benson was standing at the door, rather like a soldier at attention Jo decided, as she peered through the peep hole to make sure it was who she was expecting. He looked a little older, with a few streaks of grey showing at his temples, and his face had a day’s worth of stubble sprouting on his chin. Jo unlocked the door, and opened it, gesturing Benson inside.
“Thank you for coming so quickly,” Jo said, holding out her right hand to Benson. He carefully took her hand in his and gave it a polite squeeze, and then wiped his feet on her mat.
“Shoes on or off?” he asked.
“On is fine,” she replied. “I am assuming you have not been trekking through mud or piles of puppy poo on your way here?”
A lazy smile spread across his face, and Benson’s eyes sparkled, as he shrugged off his coat and hung it neatly by the door on the coat tree.