Chase was having a hard time putting the idea of going to the wedding out of his head. When he and Dustin were installing a new furnace on Wednesday, he fumbled with a switch on a furnace and it came off in his hands.
“You’re all thumbs today. Any particular reason?” Dustin raised an eyebrow knowingly.
“Brooke wants me to go to her friend’s wedding in Detroit.”
“Why don’t you want to go?”
“It seems like a big step.”
“I thought you were ready to take a big step.”
“I thought we were, but now it’s all this family time, time with the kids, doing activities with them. Do you know how long it’s been since we’ve carried on a decent conversation?”
“You mean since you’ve had a decent kiss,” Dustin said, giving Chase a hard time.
Chase glared at him.
“We’ve got to go back to the shop and pick up another switch,” Dustin said. “Are you okay to drive?”
“You better,” Chase hated to admit that he shouldn’t drive in his present state of mind.
“You’ve got to talk to her, man. Talk this out before you end up breaking something more valuable than a furnace switch.” ·
“That’s the problem. We never have a chance to talk anymore, except on the phone after the kids are in bed.” ·
“That’s what babysitters are for.”
“Yeah, like Josh is going to want someone babysitting him.”
“He can hang out with me, and you can get a sitter for Maddie.”
Chase thought about it. “Maybe that would work. We could get away for a few hours and have dinner alone.” ‘
“Whatever is going on, you can’t let it tear you up inside. Brooke’s the best thing that ever happened to you.”
“Is it that obvious?”
“You’re so happy it’s pathetic. When you’re not being an idiot and overthinking everything.”
“Great way to encourage me,” Chase said wryly. ”Why don’t you swing into the bakery? I’ll pick up a donut and coffee and take it back to her. She and I can talk in the break room.”
“With Darrick listening next door, good luck with that.”
Brooke looked surprised to see Chase and Dustin walk in at ten in the morning.
“I thought the job would take all morning.”
“It would have, but we had to come back for a switch. I broke it off.”
“You broke off a switch?” It was Darrick who thundered the response.
“It’s no big deal. It’s what, a forty-dollar part? You can take it out of my paycheck.”
“Maybe I will. What’s with the coffee and donuts?”
“I’m taking Brooke on a coffee break while Dustin takes care of the paperwork.”
“Fifteen-minute break,” Darrick grunted.
Brooke took the cup of coffee from Chase and followed him into the break room. “Is everything okay?”
Chase closed the door and sat down. She sat down across from him.
“I’m not sure. I’ve had a hard time thinking of anything other than the wedding invitation.”
“You don’t have to go.”
“I know. I want to go. I just—” He looked around. “We haven’t had any time to ourselves, uninterrupted, to talk about anything.” .
She made a face. “I know. I can get a sitter so we can go out for dinner, if you want to. Devon won’t like it, but he will survive.”
“Do you think you could get a sitter this weekend? Dustin said he would let Josh hang out with him, and I can get a sitter for Maddie. Maybe we can go out, the two of us, and talk about the wedding.” · ‘
“I can do that. Why don’t you let Maddie come over to our house and stay with Brinley, and the sitter can watch them both.” ·
“Do you think that would work?”
“‘I think so. I would like to have some alone time with you.”
“If you want to check with your sitter, that would be great.”
She gave him the other half of her apple fritter. He bit into it, savoring the sticky sweetness.
“Are you going to be all right now?” She looked concerned, but she was also smiling.
“Yeah, I think so. You must think I’m a complete fool.”
She wrinkled up the donut wrapper and stood up. She put her hands on his shoulders and leaned down and kissed him. “I think you’re a charming fool.”
He pulled her down onto his lap and kissed her as if he was trying to make up for all the lost time. She almost forgot where she was. When she thought of how angry Darrick was going to be, she broke off the kiss.
“We’ve got to stop sneaking around behind closed doors,” she said.
There was a mirror on the back of the door. Her hair was mussed and her lips slightly swollen. Chase stood behind her and looked at her reflection in the mirror.
“I don’t think there is any way to hide what we were doing in here.”
Brooke grimaced. “Darrick is going to be ticked off.”
Brooke opened the door. Darrick’s office was directly across from the breakroom. He looked up and took in her disheveled appearance. Chase saw Brooke’s face turn red. She quickly went into her office and shut the door.
“Ooh, she’s mad at you?” Dustin said, looking at the closed door.
“No, she’s embarrassed,” Chase said. He couldn’t help the goofy grin as he remembered their kisses.
“Darrick is going to fire her.”
“Darrick doesn’t have a say in it. Not if you stick up for her. We share equal votes in the company, remember?”
“Yeah, I’d side with you and Brooke if it comes down to that.”
Darrick had been right to question whether her dating Chase would interfere with her job.
After Chase and Dustin left, Brooke opened her door. She had trouble concentrating on her work, though. She was mostly worried about what Darrick would do. She wondered if dating Chase was worth losing the job, which she really liked and was good at. Of course, if they broke up, she would probably want to quit anyway, as it would be really awkward to work together.
He didn’t come out of his office until she was getting ready to leave. She couldn’t read his expression.
“Did you and Chase get everything worked out?”
She blushed. “Yes, we did.”
That’s all he said, so Brooke breathed a sigh of relief that she still had a job.
She called Daelyn after school.
“I can’t watch them on Friday. It’s a home football game; and I’m in the marching band. But I can do it on Saturday if that’s all right.”
“That will work out fine. Do you mind if Maddie comes over too?”
“No, that will be okay. I won’t have to play horses, maybe.”
“Oh, I’m pretty sure Brinley will still want you to, but you can bring your homework if you like and let the two of them play.” \.
When Devon found out he was going to be staying home with a babysitter and both girls, he complained. “That’s not fair. Josh should have to stay too.”
“Dustin is taking him for the evening. He should be able to spend the time with his uncle.”
“Way not fair.”
Since it was Wednesday, Chase and the kids were coming for supper before the class. Brooke made Tater Tot casserole for supper. She picked up some fresh green beans at the grocery store and sautéed them in butter, as Chase had said he liked them that way. Dinner was ready to serve when they arrived. ·
Devon had a chip on his shoulder, which didn’t go unnoticed by Chase.
“What’s wrong?” Chase asked, when the boys had taken their plates in the living room. “Something to do with the babysitter?”
“How did you guess? He doesn’t want to stay here with the two girls and the sitter.”
“I can see if Dustin will take him, also. But I don’t know what he has planned.”
“No, it will be fine. Where do you think you would like to go?”
“What about getting Chinese?”
“Where are we going to take it? The kids will all be here.”
“Yeah, but no one will be at MY house.”
Her eyes rounded in surprise, and a smile curved her lips. “Huh. I hadn’t thought about that.”
“I figured that’s why you wanted Maddie to come over here, so you could have me alone.”
She was instantly angry, then stilled when she saw his grin. “Yes, that’s right. Because I’m so forward.”
“I promise I won’t tell anyone, if you don’t.”
. “Your mom won’t be coming home, will she?”
“No. She is coming home the following weekend.”
She smiled. “Sounds like a good date.”