Between the Lines

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Chapter 13

Keeley poured a cup of coffee for Daniel, and set it on the counter beside him, then poured a cup for herself. She hadn’t noticed Max coming in, and when she turned to walk to the table, her foot touched him as she started to step down. He howled, and she quickly pulled back to avoid stepping on him, but the action unbalanced her, and she started to fall. Daniel caught her before she hit the floor. The cup in her hand went flying, coffee splattering and china breaking upon contact with the tile. Daniel continued to hold onto her as he asked “are you alright?”

Keeley was alright, although a surge of adrenaline was still coursing through her body. She raised her eyes to his in embarrassment. “Thanks for catching me. Did the coffee spill on you?”

He shook his head, still looking into her eyes. Slowly, he let go of her, and went to get the broom to clean up the glass. “I can do that,” Keeley protested, but he insisted she stand still until all the glass was swept and the coffee wiped up. Max sat innocently licking his paw, and cleaning his face.

Daniel poured another cup of coffee for Keeley, and they sat down at the kitchen table. Keeley was trying desperately to think of something to say to break the awkward silence, when Daniel asked rather hesitantly if she wanted to have dinner with him one night. Caught completely off guard, she didn't respond for a moment, and then said shyly " Yes, I'd like that." He smiled at her, picked up his cup, and went back to work, whistling. Wow, thought Keeley, I actually have a date.

At the next Chamber of Commerce meeting, Keeley was able to greet a number of the other members by name, and she was pleased when several of them questioned her about when the studio would be opening, and indicated they would be interested in going to yoga. She was starting to feel more and more optimistic with the way her life was turning out. She agreed to stay after the meeting to have a drink with Claire and Lily, as they usually did. While the sisters lingered upstairs, talking to various chambering members, Keeley went downstairs to get a table and order the drinks. She noticed John Banks come down the stairs, and pause at the bottom. He was looking towards the bar and frowning. Following his gaze, she saw Dennis Olson sitting on a barstool talking to the waitress, Traci. From the distasteful look on his face, it appeared John didn’t approve of his employee being in the bar. Keeley didn’t think what Dennis did on his own time should be of any concern to his employer. She realized a bit guiltily that she was assuming the worst of John simply because he hadn’t been particularly encouraging about her yoga studio. I have to stop judging people when I have no clue what is going on, she decided. For all I know, maybe Dennis has a drinking problem that’s affecting his work, in which case his employer has every right to be concerned. I need to mind my own business. When Claire and Lily came down to join her, she was tempted to check with them to see if her theory was correct, but reminded herself she had just vowed to stay out of what was clearly no concern of hers. Getting to know a little about her new friends and neighbours was one thing, gossiping was something else entirely!

Daniel and Keeley had fixed upon the next Saturday as the night they would go out for dinner. It had arrived rather quickly, and Keeley was both excited and nervous as she got ready. She’d told Kira about the date, but hadn’t mentioned it to Claire or Lily. She knew that with the speed in which information traveled in Ashton, they would likely know about the date before the dinner was even consumed, but she thought their teasing might have made her more nervous than she already felt. She had not been on a date since before her marriage, and very few even before that time. She just hoped she would be able to get through the evening without looking and feeling like an idiot.

The next morning, Kira was at her door, eager to find out how the date had gone. Knowing Claire and Lily would be equally curious, she texted them both to invite them to come over for coffee. Since it was Sunday, their shops were closed, and they had the day off. The sisters arrived together soon after the invitation was issued. Keeley had prepared Kira’s favorite herbal tea, and made a large pot of coffee for those who preferred to start their day with a caffeine rush. Neither were surprised at Keeley’s revelation, although they were anxious to hear all the details. Claire in particular was delighted, although she claimed she had seen it coming from the very first.

Keeley told them that although she had started the evening feeling nervous, she soon felt completely at ease and had very much enjoyed her night out. “I guess I hadn’t been out for so long, I forgot what it felt like to have a nice dinner I didn’t have to cook, and an interesting companion to enjoy it with.”

“Why were you nervous? You’ve been spending a lot of time with Danny.”

“I don’t think it was Daniel that was making me nervous. I think it was that I was going on a date, and I wasn’t sure I’d remember what to do. Do you know how long it’s been since I went out with anyone other than my ex-husband?”

“Probably about the same length of time as since I’ve been on a date,” Claire muttered, making a face.

“Actually,” Keeley continued thoughtfully, “last night was really the first time I’ve been on a date as an adult. I went on a few dates with a couple of boys when I was a teenager, but then I met Mark. We didn’t really date, it was more like we hung out together all the time. And then we got married. No wonder I was nervous. It was uncharted territory for me.”

“So, get to the good stuff, did he kiss you goodnight?” asked Lily. Keeley admitted that he had. “And, how was it?”

“It was nice,” Keeley told them. All three looked surprised, and sort of disappointed.

“Just nice?” asked Kira, a slight frown on her face. “That seems a little tame. I thought there would be more chemistry between you two.”

“Nice feels pretty good to me, at least for now,” Keeley said. “It hasn’t been that long since I was married, and I’m just happy to be able to ease back into dating. Believe me, the last thing I want right now is a serious relationship.”

Claire was looking skeptical, but Kira nodded understandingly. “Yes, I guess Daniel is your transition guy, the one where you get your confidence back after the marriage breakup. It’s the next relationship that will be serious probably. Usually, the transition guy is totally unsuitable, but leave it to you to make a sensible choice,” she teased.

“Yes, I’m nothing if not sensible,” Keeley agreed, but she was thinking to herself, why does sensible sound so much like boring?

Kira stayed after the other women left. She and Keeley had decided to go for a walk to get some fresh air and exercise. Claire and Lily had errands to run on their only day off, so declined the invitation to join them. While walking around the neighborhood, Kira brought up the subject of Keeley’s date with Daniel again. “You seemed more attracted in him when you first met him than you do now,” she said. “Did something happen?”

“No,” Keeley responded, frowning slightly as she thought about the question. “I like Daniel, I really do,” she continued, “but it’s true that there isn’t much of a spark between us. I think when I first got a really good look at Daniel, I was so blown away by how gorgeous he is, that I started feeling and acting like a teenager with a crush on a movie star. How immature and shallow does that make me?”

Kira laughed. “You are the least immature or shallow person I know. Being attracted to a gorgeous guy? That makes you a perfectly normal woman.”

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