Between the Lines

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Chapter 23

A loud crash was accompanied by the unmistakeable sound of shattering glass. Keeley hurried into her kitchen. “Oh no, Max, look what you’ve done! That’s my favorite vase. Bad kitty.” she said, but without heat. The formerly beautiful, and expensive, bohemian crystal vase was scattered in many pieces on the ceramic floor. Well, at least the new flooring hadn’t cracked. That was something to be grateful for if nothing else. A clearly unrepentant Max leapt gracefully down from the top of the cupboard and started walking over to inspect his handiwork. Keeley picked him up, and shut him in the powder room while she swept up the mess. He continued to howl his annoyance at having his freedom restricted until she opened the door and let him out once the danger was past. He gave her a haughty glare, and stalked out of the kitchen, his tail switching from side to side in obvious annoyance. What a little autocrat, she thought in amusement, or maybe that should be autocat.

When she was telling the others about the incident at class later that day, Kira and Lily laughed, but Claire just shook her head. “No one but you would put up with that little demon. If you want to have a cat, couldn’t you at least find one that isn’t determined to destroy all your possessions? And your skin?” she added.”Has your leg wound healed yet, or did you have to schedule an amputation?”

“Max is a good cat,” Keeley said defensively. “He’s just high spirited. And who knows what he went through in his life when he was a stray. He’s staying,” she added firmly.

“What’s going on?” Kira sounded concerned when she walked up to Keeley before the Wednesday evening yoga class, which Keeley was scheduled to teach, Nikki having taken the night off. “You’ve been standing here staring at the wall with a spaced out look on your face. Are you nervous about the class? You shouldn’t be, you’re a great teacher.”

Keeley smiled, but it was a poor imitation of her usual smile. “No, I’m not nervous,” she said. “Well, maybe a little, but that’s not what I was thinking about. Today would have been my wedding anniversary.”

“Oh my Goddess! I totally forgot,” Kira said, now looking stricken.

Keeley shrugged. “There’s no reason for you to remember. I was just thinking about how different my life is now from how it used to be, and completely different from how I always thought it would turn out. I mean, here I am, thirty two years old, divorced, a business owner, living alone, well, except for Max. When Mark first left, I was so worried about how I would survive on my own,” she confessed quietly. “I used to wonder what I would have done if he’d confessed to the affair but wanted to save our marriage. I wondered if I’d have been strong enough to throw him out, and continue on my own.”

“You’re a lot stronger and more capable than you know,” Kira told her. “You always have been. You basically raised Erin and Aiden after your dad died, plus you looked after your mom, both then and during her illness. And you’re even stronger now. Just look at what you’ve accomplished since you’ve been on your own. There’s nothing you couldn’t do, if you put your mind to it.”

Well, that was probably a bit of an exaggeration, but Keeley appreciated her friend’s encouraging words and emotional support. And she was starting to believe that she could take care of herself pretty darn well.

At the next Chamber of Commerce meeting, Keeley was amused but not really surprised when almost the instant Kira came into the room, Wayne, who had been standing casually by the entrance, went over to her and started a conversation. They spoke for a few moments before Kira excused herself with a smile, and came over to join Keeley, Claire and Lily. The meeting began before Keeley could find out what had transpired. Luckily, there wasn’t a lengthy agenda, and before very much time had passed, the four women were seated at their favorite table in the pub downstairs. The teasing began immediately, which Kira listened to with a good natured smile, even if she did roll her eyes a few times. Keeley turned to Claire with a look of admiration on her face. “You are like a romance bloodhound,” she said.

Claire nodded proudly. “It’s true. I see all in matters of love,” she began but had to break off when Wayne came up to the table.

“May I join you ladies?” he asked, and at their assent, pulled a chair over to sit beside Kira. His presence stopped them from having their usual conversational topics, but he turned out to be a lot more interesting and entertaining than his ultra conservative appearance suggested. His being completely different from the usual type Kira dated was probably a good thing, Keeley reflected.

It was a good feeling to come home to Max, who, as long as there was food in his bowl, water in his dish, and a variety of comfortable places to nap, was the perfect companion. That is, as long as you didn’t awaken the hunter instinct in him by walking around barefoot, or pet him after he’d signaled that he’d had enough adoration for the moment. Tonight he was in a particularly affectionate mood, jumping up to sit beside Keeley and bumping his head into her arm to invite her, or more accurately, insist that she scratch his head. He even allowed her to pick him up and cuddle him for a few seconds. Ah, progress! When it was time for bed, he followed her upstairs, going through his usual nighttime routine of circling a couple of times, and then lying down in the exact center of the bed. Keeley slid between the sheets, taking care not to bump into the little tyrant, happy to have him close. She smiled and closed her eyes.

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