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Surprise Around the Corner

by Michele Fleming  
9/21/2012 / Short Stories

"The cookout starts in less than an hour and I still need to fix my hair and finish my potato salad!" Paige complained as she banged on the bathroom door in an attempt to speed up her roommate.

"I'm almost done!" Tara yelled from the other side of the door.

Paige whirled around and rushed to the kitchen to work on her potato salad. As she was covering the finished product with foil, Tara entered the room.

"Bathroom's all yours." She announced and then walked and plopped herself down on the couch in front of the TV.

Paige placed the bowl of potato salad by her purse on the counter and took off to finish getting herself ready. She hated being late for anything, especially today. The new youth minister was going to be there. Since she was the youth's drama team leader, they would be working together quite a bit, so she couldn't wait to meet him.

She headed out the door with ten minutes to spare. It was going to take about that long to make the walk to the church, so Paige wrapped her arms around the large container of potato salad and took off. Out of breath, she made her way up the walk in front of the church and decided to cut around the side of the building.

Just as she turned the corner . . . wham! She ran headlong into a man, dumping every bit of potato salad down the front of his shirt.

"Oh, my! I am so sorry!" She exclaimed as she began raking the mush and muck from his chest.

"It was an accident, I wasn't watching where I was going." He assured her as he began helping with the cleanup. "I should be the one apologizing."

With that, they both stopped what they were doing and finally looked into each other's faces. Paige's breath caught in her throat, first because of the tremendously handsome face looking back at her and second, because she realized he had to be the new youth minister.

"Please, don't tell me . . . you're Nathan Price, our new . . . youth minister." She stuttered, suddenly horrified that she had practically drowned him in potato salad.

He gave her a brilliant smile and chuckled. "Okay, I won't tell you."

Even though she was completely mortified, she couldn't help but smile.

"I am truly sorry."

"It's okay, really. I have some extra clothes in the rectory. I will run and change." He gave her another knee-melting smile and turned to walk away. Looking back over his shoulder, he added, "Sorry about your potato salad."

A few minutes later, Paige made her way the back of the church where the cookout was set up. Searching the crowd, she spotted Tara over by the food tables and headed her way.

As soon as she made it to Tara's side, Tara handed her a paper plate. "Where's the potato salad? I was looking forward to it."

Paige rolled her eyes. "Don't ask."

Tara gave her a questioning look, shrugged her shoulders and moved on to finish filling her plate. Paige decided to do the same and once finished, walked to the large oak tree and sat down at its base. Concentrating on her food, she didn't realize she had company until he spoke.

"Mind if I sit with you?" Nathan towered over her holding his own heaping plate of food.

"Are you sure you're not afraid to?"

"I think I'll take my chances."

There's that smile again. He really is going to have to stop doing that! She thought as he claimed the spot on the grass next to her.

"So . . .," a teasing glint flickered in his eyes, "you're Paige the 'drama queen'?" He asked referring to the nickname the kids had given her.

Paige laughed. "Yes, that would be me, alright!"

"Well, I am pleased to meet you and I look forward to working with you."

"Same here."

After a moment's pause, Paige leaned over and looked at the contents of Nathan's plate. "No potato salad?" She asked giving him a tease of her own.

"No, I had some earlier." He chuckled. "There's still some in my shirt pocket as a matter of fact. I'm planning on eating it later."

Paige burst out laughing and Nathan followed suit.

For many years to come, Paige and Nathan would tell the story of how a bowl of potato salad brought them together.

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