Between the Lines

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Chapter 35

On Saturday morning, Keeley was in the studio greeting the students arriving for the morning hatha class when she heard the front door bell. Since the invasion of her home by the unbalanced, at least in Keeley’s opinion, Sue Ferguson, she had taken to making sure the front door was always kept locked, as well as locking the studio door after the last person had left. Thinking it may be a new student who wasn’t aware that the studio entrance was at the back, and had missed the sign advising of this, she ran out to the front and opened the door.

“Mark!” She was stunned to see her ex husband standing on the porch, a tentative smile on his face. “What are you doing here?”

“I needed to see you,” he answered. “Can I come in?”

“No, you can’t come in. I have a class right away. I can’t talk to you now.”

“I’ll wait,” he said, starting towards the door, but Keeley shook her head, telling him he couldn’t wait. Since he was so insistent on having a conversation, she told him to go get a coffee, or take a walk, and she would call him when she was free. She pointed him in the direction of the coffee house, and closed and re-locked the door. She wondered what he could possibly want, and why hadn’t he called her instead of just showing up on her doorstep out of the blue.

Trying to shake off the jumble of thoughts going through her mind, she went to teach the class. She knew she owed it to her students to have her full attention on yoga instead of wondering what her ex husband was up to this time. At the end of the session, she felt she had been mostly successful. Her mind had wandered a few times, but she didn’t think anyone had noticed. Several of the women even complimented her on the class, which gave her a warm glowing feeling. She knew she wasn’t as good a teacher as Nikki, but she was getting better every day.

After everyone left, Keeley took a leisurely shower, and then decided there was no point in stalling any longer. She might as well find out what Mark wanted. She called his cell phone, which he answered immediately. Clearly, he had been anxiously awaiting her call. He suggested having lunch, so she arranged to meet him at the pub. He was already there, sitting at a booth in the corner, when she arrived a few minutes later. His eyes lit up, and he stood to kiss her cheek, smiling warmly at her. She did not return his smile.

“Why are you here, Mark?” she asked, but just then Carol came up to drop off menus and take their drink orders. Feeling the need for fortification, Keeley ordered a glass of wine. Mark ordered a beer. When Carol left to get their drinks, he sat back and looked at her for a moment.

“You look fantastic,” he said. “I’ve missed you.”

“Mark, don’t do this. You’re married to Chelsea now. Say what you’ve come to say, but remember, we’re divorced.”

He looked hurt, and sighed as he looked around the room. Carol brought their drinks and took their food order. Keeley ordered a Greek salad, even though she didn’t feel the least bit hungry. Apparently, she was back on the Mark diet plan, she thought cynically. I should market this. I’d make a fortune. She took a sip of her wine while she waited for Mark to tell her why he had come.

“Look, Keeley, I know I screwed up royally,” he said finally. “I deserve what I got. I know that. I’d give anything if I could go back, and change what happened, but I obviously can’t.” He stopped, looking incredibly sad. Despite herself, Keeley felt a twinge of sympathy for him.

“You weren’t just my wife, you were my best friend,” he continued. “I was hoping…I was really hoping you’d be able to forgive me, at least enough so that we could be friends.”

Keeley took another swallow of her wine, uncertain what to say. They had been good friends in the early days. Could they be friends again? Did she even want that now? One thing she was relieved to realize was that there didn't seem to be any remnants of the anger and bitterness towards Mark that she had felt previously. He was looking at her, half hopeful and half worried, waiting for her response.

A sudden thought occurred to her. “Does Chelsea know you’re here?” she asked.

He shook his head. “No. She would read something into it that isn't there, and create a scene, so it was easier not to mention it to her. I’m not trying to start something back up with you, Keeley. I know that ship has sailed. I’m married to Chelsea, and we have a child together. For once in my life, I’m going to live up to my responsibilities. I needed to see you, and to make sure you were doing okay, and to ask you to not hate me. Even to consider being friends again. If you can’t or won’t, I guess I understand.”

“Oh, Mark. I don’t hate you. I was angry, and hurt, but I don’t think I ever actually hated you. But I don’t think it would be appropriate for us to be friends, at least not right now. I don’t think Chelsea would like it. And you obviously know that's true too, or you would have told her about coming here.”

When Mark left to drive back to the city, Keeley went for a walk to think about what had just happened. She was pleased to discover that she felt much better about the whole situation. She was happy that she had seen and spoken to Mark, even though her first reaction upon seeing him had been dread. She felt that a sort of healing had just occurred. What did therapists call it, closure? Yes, she felt like she had closure now.

On the way back from her walk, she stopped in at It’s Magic to tell Kira about her lunch with Mark.

“I guess it’s punishment enough that now he has to be married to Chelsea,” Kira decided grudgingly. “I wonder how he knew where to find you. You hadn’t given him your address, had you?”

Keeley shook her head. “He called Aiden, and got all the details from him. He knew I would have told him not to come, if he'd called me first.”

Kira knew Keeley was disappointed that neither Aiden or Erin had come out to see her new house and business. “Has Aiden returned your calls yet?” she asked, but was not really surprised to hear that he hadn’t. Maybe one day Aiden would grow up and start acting his age, but that time was clearly not here yet.

Kira agreed with Keeley that a friendship between Keeley and Mark wouldn’t work, even though her reasons had nothing to do with Chelsea. Since the younger woman had willfully and amorally gone after another woman’s husband, Kira believed she didn’t deserve any kind of consideration. And worse, the woman she had so grievously injured hadn’t even been a stranger, but someone she worked with, and had at least pretended was a friend. She had broken the sister code, and would never be worthy of forgiveness, at least in Kira’s opinion.

On a happier note, things seemed to be going really well with the relationship between Kira and Wayne. They had been invited over to Wayne’s mothers for dinner, which Kira was taking as a sign that Roberta was giving a cautious seal of approval on their relationship. Jessica spent as much time as she could with Kira, and had told her that she wanted to learn to read tarot. She had wisely decided not to spring that on her mother just yet. She’d bought a deck of tarot cards from It’s Magic, and Kira was helping her learn the basics, as well as lending her some books on the subject. She really enjoyed Jessica’s company, and was flattered that the young girl wanted to emulate her. It was a novel experience.

Kira’s self esteem had never been high, and Keeley was hoping this experience would help to change that fact. The string of unsuccessful relationships hadn’t been particularly helpful, either, but Keeley was beginning to see the start of a newfound confidence in Kira. Maybe it was the obvious adoration from Wayne, the hero worship of his sister, the responsible job, or the new friends she was making, or more likely a combination of all of those things. Whatever the reason, it was wonderful to see.

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