May I have this Dance Chapter 22

Chapter Twenty-Two

Brooke

On Saturday morning, Brinley asked about going to the theater. “Maddie and I want to go see the new Disney princess movie,” she told Brooke at the breakfast table.

            “When did you decide this?”

            “At school. Some of the girls said they saw it last week when it opened. Maddie and I thought her dad and you might take us on Sunday.”

            “I don’t know, Brin. I’ll have to think about it.

            Brooke thought about it, and it wasn’t a bad idea. She didn’t think Chase would go for a princess movie, though.

            Brinley asked again at lunch. “Did you think about it?”

            “I can ask Maddie’s dad. If he doesn’t want to take her, then I can take the two of you myself.”

            “But it’d be more fun if he goes, too.”

            “Maybe he won’t want to.”

            Chase admitted that it wouldn’t be the first time he’d taken Maddie to see a princess movie. “I can’t say I’m crazy about going, but I think it’s a good idea. I don’t mind spending a couple of hours in a dark theater with you.”

            “Like anything is going to happen with the girls between us.”

            “Do you get the feeling that we’re never going to have any alone time again?” he asked with regret.

            “I knew it’d be hard, with the kids around. I just didn’t realize how difficult it’d be to have a romantic relationship.”

            “Not much romance, right?”

            She thought of the stolen kisses and the tenderness in his eyes.

“Enough to keep it going,” she said.

He was quiet for a long moment. “Yeah, you’re right. So what time does the movie start?”

            “We can do the one o’clock matinee, if you’d like.”

            “That’d be best, so Maddie doesn’t fall asleep. Do you want to get lunch first?”

            “Not really. We like to eat popcorn with the movie.”

            “So do we. I’ll feed Maddie a good breakfast.”

Devon was happy that he could stay home alone for a few hours. “That means you trust me, right, Mom?”

            “Yes, it does. But remember to keep the door locked.”

            “Of course I will.”

            “I’m going to run out and get a few groceries. What kind of chips do you want me to bring for you?”

            “I get chips?”

            “Yes. We’ll be eating popcorn at the theater.”

            Brooke and Brinley went to the grocery store. As they were walking in, Chase and Maddie walked out.

            “Well, what a surprise!” Chase stopped abruptly. The girls squealed and hugged each other.

            “There’s not much in the house to eat,” he admitted, holding up the two grocery bags.

            “I’m picking up a few things we need.”

            “And chips for Devon,” Brinley piped up.

            Chase winked at Brooke. “Another special occasion, huh?”

            Brinley put her hands on her hips and stared at Chase, then looked at Brooke. It was as if she were noticing for the first time that they liked each other.

“We’ve had a lot of special occasions since you started dating my mom.”

            Brooke saw that Chase was blushing, even as she felt her face turn red.

            “Leave it to Brinley to point out the obvious. Let’s get going, Brin.”

            “We’re going to get gas in the pickup, then I’ll be over,” Chase said.

            “Can I ride with Chase, Mom?” Brinley asked eagerly.

            Brooke hesitated.

            “Please?”

            Maddie turned her blue eyes on Chase. “Please, Daddy?”

            “We’re toast,” Chase said. “I can’t resist them both.”

            “If it’s all right with you. I’m going to swing through McDonald’s and pick up some lunch for Devon, so we’ll meet you at the house.”

Chase helped both girls into his truck.

Brooke went through the drive-thru for Devon’s lunch and took it home.

“We ran into Chase and Maddie at the grocery store,” she explained Brinley’s absence. “She’s riding over with them.”

“You’re in love with him, aren’t you?”

For some reason Devon didn’t look happy about it.

Brooke was careful how she answered him. The truth was best, she decided.

“I like him, Devon. I wasn’t looking for someone new to come into my life, into our lives. It just happened. Chase and I met again, and we feel a connection. We can do one of two things, we can run from it and maybe miss out on a new friendship, or we can take a chance to get to know each other better and see what the future holds. Which do you think is the right choice for me?”

“Isn’t there a third choice?”

“The third choice is to stop living, Devon.”

“I don’t want you to die, Mom.”

“There are other ways to stop living. Take your grandma, for example. She is still so bitter that she can only talk about the accident and how unfair it was. She blames God for the plane crash, she blames the pilot, she blames your grandpa for taking the trip. She won’t allow herself to remember the good things about your dad and grandpa that I want you to remember. In a sense, she has stopped living.”

Chase parked his truck in the driveway and hopped out. Brooke walked outside.

“I’m leaving, Devon.”

“I know. Have fun.”

“Remember—”

“I know, don’t answer the door for anyone, not even Grandma or Grandpa.”

When Brooke saw Chase’s expression, she realized he’d heard the parting words. “Something I always have to say, just on the off chance that the doorbell rings and he forgets.”

His smile showed he was amused, but not put off by her protection. “Are you ready?” he asked.

She waited until she heard the lock click in place. “Yes, I am.”

He opened the passenger door for her and she stepped up easily into the truck. Looking in the back seat, she saw the girls sharing a package of M&M’s.

“We stopped and got gas,” Chase said. “I asked them if they wanted a snack. It’s Maddie’s favorite.”

“It’s Mom’s favorite, too,” Brinley said.

Chase looked at Brooke. “Interesting. Maddie, share some with Brooke.”

“No, that’s okay,” Brooke protested. But Maddie was leaning forward and ready to shake some candy out of the package, so she held up her palm. About a dozen pieces fell into her palm. Instead of eating them one at a time neatly, she popped the whole thing into her mouth at once. Then she held her fingers in front of her mouth to keep it closed as she was trying not to laugh and spit them out. Chase’s grin caused her heart to skip a beat.

At the movie theater, they waited in line for tickets, then Chase bought popcorn and drinks. Brooke said that she and Brinley usually shared their drinks, but he bought one for each of them, anyway. And two buckets of popcorn. “We like our movie theater popcorn,” he said. “Do you want one without butter?”

“I like butter,” Brinley said.

“One without, please,” Brooke said. Chase handed her the first tub and waited for the second one to have the melted butter added.

“No candy, Daddy?” Maddie asked.

“You just ate M&M’s, remember?” He patted her head before he picked up the popcorn and led the way to the theater room.

            He picked a spot about halfway to the front. “Is this okay?”

            “This is perfect,” Brinley announced, and went in first.

            “Wait, Brin—”

            Maddie followed Brinley in. It made sense that Maddie would want her dad next to her, so Brooke found herself on the outside aisle, sandwiched next to Chase. Maddie reached for the popcorn bucket that was in Chase’s hands.

            “Brinley and I will share our bucket,” Maddie said.

            Brooke’s eyes met Chase’s. “I think my daughter is manipulative.”

            “You mean, letting us sit next to each other?”

            “No, getting to share the popcorn with the butter on it, with Maddie.”

            He frowned, but his eyes were lit with amusement. “Does that mean I have to share the one without the butter?”

            She held the bucket away from him. “No, you can go get another one for yourself.”

            In answer, he reached across her seat to dip his hand into the bucket. “I know you can’t eat that whole thing of popcorn by yourself.”

            “Mom really does like popcorn,” Brinley said.

            “M&M’s and popcorn? Hmm. The things I’m learning about you today—”

            “And mom likes M&M’s mixed in popcorn. She calls it trail mix.”

            “Brin, quit telling my secrets!” Brooke protested, embarrassed. She blushed as Chase’s eyes held hers for a long moment, and she saw the genuine interest in them.

            “I know how to find out more about you,” he said. “Just ask your daughter.”

            “Two can play that game.” Brooke leaned around Chase. “Maddie, what is your dad’s favorite snack.”

            “He likes everything.”

            “There you go, no secrets there,” Chase said with a mocking smile.

            Brooke didn’t give up. “What is his favorite candy bar?”

            It was Brinley who supplied the information. “Snickers. He ate one while we were driving to your house. Maddie said it was his favorite.”.

            Chase’s face turned red.

“See, you do have secrets,” Brooke said softly, laughing.

“I see I really have to watch myself around your daughter.”

“Everything she sees, she tells. Unlike me.”

Previews started, and they all settled into their seats, eating their popcorn. Focused on the movie, Brooke wasn’t aware of Chase’s hand reaching into the popcorn bucket, and she reached at the same time. Her hand brushed his, and she felt heat rush into her face. A glance at him showed that he was watching the movie. Over the next fifteen minutes or so, it happened three more times. She finally caught his eye, and saw his grin. He was reaching for the popcorn at the same time as she was just, so their hands would brush. It was pretty juvenile, but it was funny, too.

She passed the popcorn bucket over to him. “If you wanted to hold my hand, you should’ve just asked,” she whispered with a smile.

***

Chase

He asked silently by laying his hand on the armrest they shared, and turned his palm up. He looked at her and lifted an eyebrow. She laid her palm in his, and he entwined their fingers. She settled back into her seat, so close their shoulders were touching. He was glad it was a basic princess movie, the princess finds a prince, there is a nasty villain and a fight, and the prince wins the fight and the princess.

Other details about the movie were sketchy in his mind. He found it hard to concentrate on the images on the screen because his mind was full of images of the pretty lady holding his hand. When his hand started to get too warm, he removed it from hers before his palm started to sweat.

“That was the best movie ever!” Brinley burst out when the credits rolled across the screen and the lights turned on.

Chase’s eyes met Brooke’s for a moment and he nodded, sure she’d understand his meaning. He turned to Maddie.

“Did you like the movie, princess?” he asked.

***

Brooke

Brooke saw the pain in Brinley’s face. Princess was what Carl had called her, from the time she was a tiny baby, he’d always told her she was his princess. It sounded like Chase felt the same way about Maddie.

Brinley was a little subdued as she reached out for Brooke’s hand. They followed Chase and Maddie out of the theater, both a little sad as they watched the loving interaction between the father and daughter. Brooke hurt for Brinley, that she’d lost her father so young. “That was a good movie, wasn’t it?” she asked. She’d been aware of Chase more than the movie itself, but had paid close enough attention to it so she and Brinley could talk about it later. They talked about the movie as they were getting into the truck.

On the way back to Brooke’s house, Chase said, “Hunter’s safety class starts tomorrow.”

“Devon is excited about it. What time should I get him there?”

“I’ll pick him up. You don’t have to get out.”

“Then Maddie can stay with us while he goes with you.”

“Yes!” Brinley and Maddie said together.

“All right. I’ll pick Devon up around six-thirty.”

Brooke thought for a moment. Chase would have to hurry home from work, fix supper and get ready to go. It made sense to invite him and the kids over for supper. She liked to cook, and she wouldn’t mind seeing him again soon.

“Why don’t you come early, and I will fix dinner for you,” Brooke suggested.

            “Yeah, Mom loves to cook,” Brinley spoke up.

            “Will you make pizza again?” Maddie asked. “That was really good.”

            “Chase?” Brooke looked at him. She saw the relief in his eyes, the appreciation for the offer of a meal he didn’t have to cook.

            “The pizza sounds great.”

            “Did Josh like it well enough?”

            “He never said, but he ate it.”

            “Are you going to bring pop and chips again?” Brinley asked.

            Chase raised his eyebrow and met Brooke’s eyes. She shook her head slightly. “It’s a school night,” he said. “I don’t think pop is a good idea.”

            “Oh, okay.”

            “We can’t bring cookies again,” Maddie said with a sad expression that bordered on tears. “Grandma isn’t here to make them.”

            “You know what, Maddie? I don’t make cookies as well as your grandma. But with a little help, I think I could make some chocolate chip cookies to go with the pizza.”

            Her eyes lit up. “Really?”

            Brooke nodded.

            Chase walked Brooke and Brinley to the door.

“Would it be all right if I pick Maddie up after school and bring her to my house? I think she and Brin would like to help bake the cookies.”

            “If we were alone right now, I’d show you how much that means to me, for you to offer that.”

            She blushed. “I don’t mind. You’re taking Devon to hunter’s safety classes. It’s a fair trade, I think.”

            He leaned down and kissed her on the mouth. There was an urgency to his kiss, but he kept it light and G-rated with the two pair of curious eyes watching them.

Come back next week for Chapter 23 of May I have this Dance.

Published by Carol Underhill

Author of Christian romance. Mom to 3 adult children and a spoiled Lab. Household includes several rescued cats. Loves flavored coffees and quiet mornings. Likes finding new authors on Kindle and binge reading all their books.

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