Between the Lines

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Chapter 9

Even though Daniel had come highly recommended, Keeley had been a little trepidatious about hiring him to do the renovations on her beloved house. She was therefore immensely relieved to find out early in the process that he lived up to his reputation for excellent craftmanship, as well as a strong work ethic. He arrived for work each day on time, worked steadily throughout the day, rarely taking breaks, even though she urged him to stop for coffee whenever she took a break. He would occasionally accept a cup, take a sip or two, and then get back to the task at hand. Each day she was seeing noticeable progress, and when Keeley carefully inspected everything after he’d left for the day, she was very happy with the quality of his workmanship. Expecting that the adage of renovations always taking twice as long and costing twice as much as was estimated would hold true, she was thrilled to discover that apparently wasn’t going to be the case. If anything, work was ahead of schedule, and she could not have been happier. A dream that she had not even realized she had was coming true. It was tremendously exciting, if a little overwhelming at times.

Daniel was not given to idle chitchat, and although he would politely answer any question she put to him, he did not initiate any conversational topics that did not involve the work he was doing. He brought his lunch from home, and always politely refused Keeley’s offers to bring him something back from Claire’s coffee house, where she went daily for her own lunch. Once her kitchen was completed, she would start cooking for herself, but for now it was easier to run over to Claire’s for lunch, and she enjoyed the visit she invariably had with Claire and Lily, who was usually there as well.

“Danny’s had it pretty rough these last few years,” Lily explained when Keeley mentioned how quiet he was. “He used to be a lot of fun, but since his father took off and left the family in debt, Danny’s had to take care of his mom and his brother and sisters.”

“Oh, I didn’t know that. Poor guy. How awful for his mother and the rest of the family.”

“Yeah, they were all pretty devastated, especially since Mr. Freemont ran off with a girl not that much older than Danny. His mom’s lucky she has such a great son, though. He took over his dad’s construction business. He finished the jobs that his dad walked away from, and has been working hard paying off the debts. Most people would have just declared bankruptcy, but Danny was too proud to do that. He hasn’t had a lot of time for fun since then, though.”

That explained a lot, Keeley thought as she walked through the park back to her house after lunch. She knew what it felt like to be the oldest child, and have that sense of responsibility for the welfare of the younger children and a grieving parent. How much worse it must have been for Daniel, when his father had intentionally left the family, and had burdened them with a bunch of debt as well. How could someone do that to their family? He must have been a horrible person. It was amazing that Daniel had turned out so well.

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