If you don’t know the term “meet cute” then the sub-heading might be baffling to you. A meet cute is the term for a scene in a film/story/etc that features a couple meeting for the first time in a cute or adorable way. This story is built upon a conversation I had on Twitter that began with me stating that in my next book the couples would eat messy unsexy foods. (I was eating trail mix and trying to find an alternate method of eating it to scooping and pouring it into my mouth…which is hawt.) One thing led to another and my brain came up with the story below. Enjoy.
Sugar Pie – A Meet Uncute
“You’re sure you wanna do this?” Jenna asked her cousin Frankie. The two girls might’ve looked like twins were it not for Jenna’s flavor-of-the-week dye job. This week, her hair was bright baby blue. Honestly, Frankie had always thought Jenna’s drastic hair changes were more reckless than entering a pie-eating contest on a dare. One of these days, Jenna’s hair was gonna fall clean out. Of course, her cousin could probably make that work.
“It’s all about speed,” Frankie said, dragging her cousin by the wrist toward where she needed to sign up. “Ever since Thomas blew chunks of cherry pie at the festival three years ago, the judges opted to go for how fast you can eat one pie, not how many pies you can eat. And you know I’m a fast eater.” Besides, Luke had puffed out his chest and dared her like the pretentious snob he was. Luke had turned his nose up at her all through high school and teased her relentlessly. Not in a boy-pulling-pigtails way either. Oh no, he was a bully and she was smaller and poorer. Now that he was home from Harvard, the band played on with that song. Jerk.
“It’s about speed and being willing to make a fool of yourself.” Jenna poofed her blue shoulder-length hair, tossing it lightly so it bounced. “You’re gonna get cherry pie filling in your hair.”
There was that. “He said I was too much of a girl to do it,” Frankie said.
Jenna looked her up and down—from her beat-up clogs to her brown hair pulled into a ponytail. “Have ya noticed—you kinda are a girl? I’d have thought you’d be glad he finally noticed. I swear you were angling for a date with him all through high school.”
Sliding across the ten dollar entrance fee, Frankie bent over the sign-up sheet and put her name down. “There. Done. Too late to back out now.” And she turned back to her cousin with a glare. “After the rumors he spread about me in high school, I wouldn’t give him the time of day. And I never wanted a date with him. I just wanted a ride in his vintage Mustang.”
“These days, you’d probably rather be under the car than in it.”
She’d been picking at one of her beat-up cuticles, but Frankie stopped at this. “The job at the Quickie Lube is only temporary.” Thankfully. Small-town boys had small minds when it came to a joke about a girl working at a place called Quickie Lube. Eventually, she’d move on to restoring old cars with her Uncle Frank, but he’d insisted she cut her teeth on oil changes and transmission repair. At least she’d managed to scrub the grease off her hands, though they looked red and scraped-up by the effort.
“You don’t have to worry about your nails, you’ll have your hands behind your back while your face is smashed down in the pie.”
Frankie shrugged as they moved to the side so other people could enter the contest.
“Why’d you let him get to you?” Jenna nodded to where Luke was in a group of boys home from college for the summer, shoving each other like they were a load of over-eager puppies.
“I don’t know.” Other than the fact that she’d spent an hour working on his Mustang because he couldn’t even manage decent car upkeep, and he’d come in and suggested a man could have gotten the job done faster. Idiot. It had sorta gone downhill from there, and if he’d already paid his bill, she would’ve slugged him. Instead, she’d paid to enter a pie-eating contest. Not her finest comeback. “Hold-up. Who’s that guy with him?”
Everybody knew everybody in Wildpatch. And, sad to say, they weren’t that diverse so the cute Asian guy stood out like a chicken in church.
“Don’t know. Looks like a friend, though.” Jenna flipped her hair again. “He’s tall. I like them tall.” Jenna just plain liked them. Nobody ran through men like her cousin. She’d even dated Luke once…but only once…because he was a snob. “You calling dibs?”
Frankie smirked. “On a friend of Luke’s? Sure. And after I eat this pie with my face, we can go on a date—maybe go out for pie.”
Jenna blinked. “So, does that mean he’s fair game.”
She bit her lip. Was it wrong that even if it wasn’t plausible and probably very unlikely—she still didn’t want her cousin going after him?
“You paused. You never pause.” Jenna stopped flipping her hair and stared down Frankie. “You’re interested.”
Frankie scoffed, but her faux-disinterest flailed under the continued stare. “Okay, fine. He keeps smiling and laughing. He’s got a nice smile. And his jeans have holes in the knees…you know I can’t resist a guy with holes in the knees of his jeans. Those are genuine. He earned those. They didn’t come with the jeans.”
Jenna squinted her brown eyes that were just a hair lighter than Frankie’s. “You have weird turn-ons. Not kinky, just weird. You know if you left your hair down and put a little make-up around your eyes…”
“I’d look like a rabid raccoon by the end of the night, especially after a pie-eating contest?”
Jenna tilted her head. “You may have a point. But, after this…oh! Look! He’s looking at you! He’s coming this way!”
Frankie quickly looked away and muttered, “Stop staring. I really don’t need a play-by-play. Besides, he’s not looking at us. He was looking behind us.”
“You sure?” Jenna asked.
The guy walked by them and headed toward the table they’d just been at.
“Pretty sure,” Frankie said.
“He’s gonna be in the contest too?”
They both turned to watch him bend over and sign up for the contest. Had that heartfelt sigh been out loud? It was the holes in the knees of his jeans…and the muscles…and the rest of him.
“Mm mm mm. Are you sure you called dibs?” Jenna said, checking him out. “Because the man has one fine…”
Frankie coughed. “Jenna. There are kids around.”
“Pair of jeans. I see what you’re saying about the holes in the knees.”
Frankie bumped shoulders with her cousin, giggling.
“Maybe when y’all are both covered in pie, y’all can help each other get all cleaned up. Ask him if you can use his shirt to wipe your face. Then he can take it off and then take you.”
Her face heated up at her cousin’s words. “Jenna! Come on. Let’s get you some cotton candy to fill your mouth with until the contest starts.”
An hour later, Frankie’s hands shook as she took a seat up on the platform. But she was ready. She had the guts to get up in front of a bunch of people and make a fool of herself. And she knew she had the guts because they were churning around in complaint. To add insult to injury, Luke’s hot friend came over and sat right beside her.
“He got to you too, I hear.” His smile up close was blinding…it was so wide and white and sweet.
She blinked stupidly. “Pardon?”
“Luke. He said he dared you. What’s on the table?”
She raised her eyebrows. They were setting them in front of them right now. “Uhh. Pie?”
The guy beside her laughed. “No, I mean what’d he bet you?”
“Oh.” Her face felt super-heated. Great. She was blushing. “Just my pride is on the line. But I think I might have made a crucial error in thinking I’d regain it by slamming my face into a pie.”
He laughed again. Wow, she loved a guy with a sense of humor. “My name is Kenneth. Friends call me Ken.” He reached out a hand to shake.
She put her cold trembling hand in his warm one and he frowned and clasped her hand between both of his.
“Wow, your hand is cold…,” he trailed off with his eyebrows raised, suggesting she fill in the blanks.
He didn’t drop her hand. “How about we make a side bet then?”
“A bet for what?”
“If I win, you and me, hit a few rides together at the carnival.” He tilted his head and nodded at the surrounding rides.
“Are you sure you’ll wanna go on rides after eating an entire pie?”
“I’m a growing boy. Eating an entire pie is what I’d call a typical Friday.” He was still holding her hand between his and it’d stopped trembling and was warming up.
“Funny. You looked full-grown.” He was over six feet and all yummy muscles. He was her age, maybe older, and, despite how quick he was to laugh, he seemed mature.
“Looks can be deceiving. I’m worried about you though…that pie looks like half your body weight.”
She snorted. She was small at only five feet, and scrawny, but she could haul around a cylinder head from a 396 ’66 Chevelle as good as her Uncle Frank. “Looks can be deceiving. Don’t underestimate me. What if I win?”
“I don’t know. I hadn’t really worried about that outcome. What do you want?”
You. It was tempting to let him win, but Frankie didn’t play that way. “You…punch Luke in the stomach and admit you got beaten by a girl.”
Ken fought a grin while shaking his head. “Sounds like you’ve got some issues to work out with Luke. I’m not poaching on his territory, right?”
She yanked her hand from his grasp. Even the suggestion. She faced straight ahead, staring down at her pie. “Never mind. I don’t know what I was thinking. You’re probably just like him.” Luke had made her life miserable in high school. He’d been calling her “grease monkey” ever since then. He’d probably put Ken up to messing with her. This was part of the dare most likely. Hit on the grease monkey—she’ll fall for the least bit of attention.
Frankie was a pony-tailed small-town girl with aspirations of staying there and fixing fancy cars that other people, people like Luke would drive, but she wasn’t about to be scammed by a guy. Besides, it’s not like he’d be around long anyway. He might even just be here for the weekend. No sir. No way. She wasn’t falling for a smile and a pair of holey jeans.
“Hmm. Luke told me not to mention him if I hit on you, but I thought he was joking.”
“Look, we’re both about to get covered in pie—we’ll probably get it up our noses and in our ears…this likely isn’t the time to be…” She cleared her throat. “Anyway, I need to mentally prepare to do this.” She never should have fallen for Luke’s goading. Like this would prove anything. It was too late, though. Everyone else had sat down.
“What if I told you I barely know him?”
“You’re at Harvard with him, right?”
“No. No way. Oh, you think just because I’m Asian…”
“No, I thought…” She glanced his way to see him smiling. He was teasing her.
Ken held her gaze. “I’m actually out of college—out of med school. I’m interning with Luke’s father at the hospital and he conned Luke into showing me around since I’ll be here for a while.”
“You’re a doctor?” Then he definitely wouldn’t want anything to do with her. Luke might be a jerk about calling her names, but she was a grease monkey. A doctor and a mechanic? Get real. Never gonna happen.
He shrugged. “Right now, I’m just a guy crippled with student loans about to get pie up his nose and make a fool of himself to win a bet.”
“What did Luke say to get you up here?”
The contest was about to start.
“Tell you what…you win and I’ll tell you what was at stake. I win, you take pity on the new kid in town and go on rides with me.”
“What if neither of us win?”
“We’re just racing each other. First one to finish their pie wins.” He cleared his throat. “And, since I’ve been wanting to do it anyway since I saw him trip a kid eating an ice cream cone, I’ll punch him in the stomach either way.”
She had her hand out to seal the deal so fast it made him laugh, but they shook on it.
“Okay,” the announcer yelled, drawing their attention. “Everybody put your hands behind your back. If I see you using your hands, you’re disqualified.”
Frankie slid her hands into her back pockets just so she wouldn’t do that accidentally.
“First one to finish one of Mrs. Gordon’s delectable cherry pies—which can be purchased over at the bake sale yonder—wins. Everything sold at the bake sale and with the contests goes to pay for resurfacing the high school’s gym floor. Grab a pie for yourself after you’ve seen these fine folks stuff their faces with one.” He held up a golden trophy of a pie. “Here’s what they’re aiming for. This is pure gold…plated or painted to look like it.” The audience laughed. “Also there’s bragging rights, of course. Go ahead and cheer for our contestants. They’re all up here out of the goodness of their hearts…and hopefully the emptiness of their bellies. Alright. On your mark—get set—gooooo!”
Frankie had sworn she wasn’t gonna hold back and be prissy about this, but she didn’t anticipate how unpleasant it was to shove your face down in a pie. Luckily, the pie was good and she started chowing down, using her tongue to drag more into her mouth as she chewed frantically. Taylor Jones had told her not to chase the pie by plowing her head forward, but to turn her face from side to side. He said it was easiest to eat the filling and then pin the pie plate with your face as you dug around for the crust. She had cherry pie up her nose, in her hair, in her ears. Good thing she liked pie.
She tried to peek at how Ken was doing but she had pie in her eyelashes and it was hard to tell anyway. At least she knew that he wasn’t holding back either, he was as covered with pie as she was.
“Go Frankie!” her cousin yelled.
She was halfway through and the pie tin was starting to shift around. She heard the scraping of tin against table as other competitors started chasing their pie. She dug her chin down, pinning hers to the table.
“Tucker, you’re disqualified!” the emcee yelled.
Tucker Farnsworth cursed roundly from her left side as he got up.
“Go Frankie!” Was that her uncle? Great, her someday-boss and namesake was seeing this.
Okay, she’d officially hit her fill of pie. She might go a week before she could even look at it again. She gotten most of the filling and she was scraping up pieces of crust as she kept her plate pinned with her cheek now.
“Go Ken!” Luke shouted.
She ate faster.
“Oh, lookee here! The underdog is in the lead!” the emcee yelled from nearby. Who was the underdog? Her? Probably. Maybe. Hard to see. “Well, I certainly didn’t expect to see our town’s bitty mechanic winning at eating a pie the size of her head.”
Her. It was her. She was winning. Take that, Luke! She was nearly done too.
“Go Frankie! Eat that pie! Show that pie you mean business! I’ve got fifty bucks riding on you! Make us proud!” Who’d brought Gran to the festival?
She slurped and scooped and the lighter pie plate was hard to keep in place, but she was almost done! She was almost there!
“Oh, and it looks like it’s neck and neck between these two. Our town’s new doctor and the smallest contestant we’ve seen in the adult age group,” the man yelled into the mic.
“Go Ken!” Luke and Jenna were in a shouting battle.
She had three bites left of pie. Was she still ahead? Chew. Swallow. Chew. Swallow. She nearly choked, but swallowed and ignored her watery eyes. Okay, this wasn’t pleasant. One bite left.
“Oh! Oh! It looks like this is it! Who is gonna finish first? It looks like… It looks like… It looks like…”
What? What did it look like? She pulled her head up as she chewed the last mouthful and everyone cheered as she swallowed.
The emcee grabbed her wrist and held it high above her head just as Ken lifted his head, finished…only seconds behind. “We’ve got a winner! Wildpatch’s own Frankie Miller won the pie-eating contest!!! Betty, grab me that statue, will you?”
She could barely see around the globs of cherry filling on her cheeks and the flecks of red in her eyelashes, but cameras flashed all around her and the emcee pressed the trophy into her palm as he continued tugging her hand in the air.
Beside her, Ken laughed as he wiped his face on the inside of his shirt just before they handed him a towel…which made him shake his head in self-deprecation.
Someone pressed a towel into her free hand as the camera flashes wound down and she gratefully wiped off her face with it.
This was gonna leave her super sticky. Hopefully someone around had a wet wipe to go with this.
“You’ve got pie filling in your ears,” Ken said, leaning forward and brushing his towel across her left ear. “I like a woman who goes all in.”
Did he? He looked good enough to eat with the pie filling still in the corners of his mouth and here and there on his chin. “What did you bet with Luke?” Time for him to pay up.
He grinned. “I asked him for an introduction and your phone number. I saw you at the midway games earlier. When you knocked over all those milk jugs and did a victory dance, I knew I had to meet you. He said you hated him and he’d have to beg your number off an ex.”
Frankie wrinkled up her nose. “Did he tell you I’m a mechanic?”
“Yep. He said you’re into old cars and I’ve got a Barracuda I’m restoring.”
Her mouth dropped open. No way.
He grinned. He knew he had her. He knew the way to her heart.
Reaching out she touched the edge of his mouth. “You’ve still got…”
He grabbed her hand and licked the pie filling off the tip of her finger, sending shivers through her.
“You’ve got some…” He looked pointedly at her mouth before hooking a hand around her neck and tugging her in for a quick kiss on her cheek, just beside her mouth.
“Go Frankie!” Jenna yelled from somewhere in the dispersing crowd.
“You’re crazy,” Frankie said, laughing, and out of breath. For a second, she’d thought maybe he was gonna kiss her, like actually kiss her. Of course, kissing her cheek as good as said another one was coming later.
“You going to show me around this place, maybe go on some rides, even though I lost?” he asked.
“You still gonna punch Luke?”
“In the stomach. And then I’ll find someplace to wash the stickiness off my face and we’ll meet back here?”
She shook her head.
“No?” he asked, his face falling slightly. If she’d had any doubts, he was interested for real…that would have finished them off.
“No. I mean, yes…I mean…you’re really gonna punch Luke even though I’m a mechanic and I can just give you my number?”
He grabbed her hand and pulled her to her feet. “Well, I figure I have to earn it. C’mon. You can watch.”
She twined her fingers with his. “Lead on, then. This I’ve got to see.”
Copyright © 2015 by Wendy Sparrow