Between the Lines

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Chapter 22

Daniel ended up only taking Friday and the following weekend off, and was back to work first thing Monday. Keeley urged him to take a few more days, but he insisted he was fine, and wanted to get on with the job. He said his mother was upset, naturally, but was doing better than he had expected. The police had been back to question both of them, as well as his younger brother and sisters, but had not arrested them. He agreed with Keeley that it would be a huge relief when the police solved the crime, although given that it had taken place thirteen years earlier, wasn’t optimistic that it would happen soon, or even at all.

On Saturday night, Daniel took Keeley to the Golf and Country Club for dinner. With everything that had been going on, this was the first evening they had spent together in quite some time. After living in yoga pants and tee shirts for weeks, it felt good to get dressed up and go out. Daniel looked at her in appreciation when he picked her up, telling her she was beautiful. He cleaned up really well, too, she thought, not for the first time, although he was certainly no slouch in his work clothes either.

John and Barbara Banks walked into the club restaurant with their daughter Ashley while Keeley and Daniel were waiting to be seated. Ashley’s eyes lit up when she saw Daniel. “Hi Danny, it’s great to see you,” she said. She ignored Keeley, after a dismissive glance at what she was wearing.

“Hello, Ashley,” he said without much enthusiasm. He nodded at her parents.” Mr. and Mrs. Banks. Keeley have you met John and Barbara Banks? And this is their daughter, Ashley Olson, Denny’s wife.”

Ashley frowned.”Ex-wife, as you know perfectly well,” she almost snarled, then got herself back under control with obvious effort. “And it’s Banks. I took my maiden name back.”

“I’ve met John, and Ashley has come to my yoga studio, but I haven’t met Barbara before. It’s nice to meet you,” Keeley said, holding out her hand. Barbara’s unlined and youthful looking face shifted into a faint parody of a smile, as she held out a limp hand for Keeley to shake. Barbara reminded Keeley of her former mother in law, Joan, not in looks so much as the way she had of looking at Keeley as if there was something unacceptable about her. She wondered briefly how Joan was treating Mark’s new wife, and realized that Chelsea would simply not care what Joan thought of her. I shouldn’t have cared, either, Keeley thought. John Banks was slightly more sincere in his greeting than his wife, and Ashley still didn’t bother to acknowledge Keeley at all, keeping her attention only on Daniel, until she and her parents were ushered to their table by a fawning hostess.

The Banks party were seated at one of the well positioned tables, with a beautiful view out towards the tenth tee. Their table was across the room from where Daniel and Keeley were finally led, much to her relief, even though it meant they had to make do with a view of the first hole and the clubhouse. She gave her drink order to the hostess, and opened the offered menu.

Daniel gave her a curious look. “I know why I’m persona non grata with the eminent Banks family,” he said wryly, “but what did you do to get on the wrong side of them? “

Keeley told him about basically walking out in the middle of her interview, which Daniel thought was extremely funny. “That would do it,” he said, laughing. “John wouldn’t understand how you could think it wouldn’t be the highest honor to be allowed to work for him. The whole family acts like they’re royalty, with the rest of us as their serfs.” Keeley thought that his view was a little extreme, but she made no comment. She knew what it was like to be thought of as not good enough for a proud parent’s offspring.

Dennis Olson and Traci were also dining at the Golf Club that evening. Traci waved at Keeley from their table, and Dennis smiled in acknowledgement, although they did not come over to say hello, perhaps because the unsmiling nod they received from Daniel was not exactly encouraging.

Keeley noticed that there was no interaction between Dennis and the female members of the Banks family, even though they couldn’t have avoided being aware of each other. It must be extremely awkward when you lived in such a small town, where it would be all but impossible to avoid running into your ex-spouse and ex-in laws, Keeley thought. That was one of the main reasons why she had wanted to move away. In the city it would be easier to steer clear of people you didn’t want to see, but she would have felt uncomfortable if she’d ended up having dinner in the same place as Mark or his parents. Men didn’t seem to have that same problem, though. It seemed like they could keep how they felt personally about someone separate from their working relationships. John Banks worked with his former son-in-law almost daily, but Keeley would bet that neither Barbara nor Ashley would not have been able to do that, just as she herself could not have brought herself to continue working with Mark and Chelsea, after learning of their betrayal.

However, all that was old news, and Keeley was not going to spoil her evening with Daniel by wasting time thinking about her past, or anything to do with the Banks family. For days she had been looking forward to spending the evening with Daniel, and going out to eat at a nice restaurant. The waiter brought their drinks, and they both settled into enjoying each others company, as well as the delicious meal. Several people had told Keeley that the food at the Golf Club was exceptional, and it did not disappoint. Her salmon steak with lemon pepper sauce and asparagus was cooked to perfection, and the wine suggested by their server complemented it beautifully.

Keeley couldn’t help but notice that throughout the meal, Ashley’s eyes were often on Daniel, even though all she could have seen was the back of his head. She wasn’t sure whether or not to bring up the subject, but curiosity finally compelled her to suggest that it appeared that Ashley, if not her parents, considered him persona grata.

“Ashley’s a spoiled adolescent,” he said dismissively. “She wants whatever she can’t have, and if she can have it, then she doesn’t want it anymore.” He then went on to admit that he had dated Ashley throughout high school, and that she had broken it off when his father disappeared. “Once I was no longer able to take her out, she lost interest pretty quickly,” he said bitterly. He then introduced a new topic of conversation, making it crystal clear that he had nothing further to say on the subject of Ashley Banks. It obviously still rankled though, and Keeley wondered if he continued to have feelings for his former girlfriend.

They shared a decadent cheesecake for dessert with the last of the wine. “Do you want to order coffee before we go?” asked Daniel.

“No, I’ve made a vow not to drink coffee after lunchtime. I don’t want the caffeine to keep me awake all night.”

He smiled teasingly. “You must have just made that vow today. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen you drinking coffee after lunch lots of days.”

Keeley laughed. “Well, that’s my intention, anyway. I just haven’t quite gotten there yet.” Although, now that she thought about it, she had been sleeping pretty well lately. Maybe she could have a coffee. No, better not push her luck.

They went for a lovely walk after dinner, and when Daniel dropped her off at home, Keeley was feeling relaxed and happy. Daniel was a very nice man, as well as being so attractive. They might not have a ton of chemistry together, at least not yet, but she felt at ease with him, and enjoyed his company.

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