Randie walked out of the school building on Friday night, feeling a little low. Lucas hadn’t asked her out one time during the week. True, he’d invited her and Gram over to cook again on Sunday if they wanted to use his kitchen, but he’d told her he was tied up with family stuff and old friends until Saturday.
On Tuesday night, he was eating dinner with his brothers at their sister’s house. Jordy had been excited about seeing his uncles again. He’d talked about it during reading circle. Randie was impressed by how much the three brothers meant to him until she realized they went out of their way to take up the “man” slack while Jordy’s dad was overseas.
On Thursday, Lucas was bowling with old friends of his. It was his buddies’ Guys Night Out. And tonight, he was meeting his mom’s new husband. He hadn’t sounded thrilled about that. Randie crossed her fingers and wished him well. But still . . . she’d been hoping he couldn’t go a whole week without seeing her. She’d been wrong. So, she was going to take pizza to Kelli’s tonight and catch up.
Her friend had been in a slump lately. She didn’t want to go anywhere or do anything, so Randie was invading her house. Kelli had signed the divorce papers on Monday, and Curtis had been so happy to be rid of her, it had hurt. She’d gone into hiding to lick her wounds, which was understandable. But Kelli should be celebrating instead. She was rid of the ego maniac.
Randie didn’t even go home to change out of her teacher garb—navy shirt and khaki Dockers. She just drove to their favorite pizza parlor, grabbed a large Supreme, and pulled into Kelli’s drive.
Kelli stared at her when she opened the door. “I didn’t know you were coming.”
“I know. This way you can’t pretend you’re not home. Your car’s in the drive.”
Kelli shook her head, offended. “I’d never do that to you.”
“Sure you would. You want to curl in a ball and suffer alone, but that’s not what friends are for. You’re mourning something that’s not worth the pain. Curtis is a leech. He’s gone. He can’t suck you dry.”
Kelli led the way to the kitchen. She got a bottle of wine out of the refrigerator and grabbed two glasses. They plopped on stools at the kitchen island and Randie flipped open the lid on the pizza box.
Kelli drooled. “I haven’t eaten much lately. This looks good.”
They dug in. After a while, Kelli said, “I’m not mourning Curtis exactly. It’s more the marriage thing. I never thought I’d be a divorce statistic. I wanted my Happy Ever After. And now, I don’t trust myself to get it right a second time. I might be single and alone for the rest of my life.”
“I doubt that. You’re a bombshell blonde. Some male will try to win you over.”
“Been there, done that, and I chose Curtis. I obviously have no quality control with men.”
Randie laughed and reached for another slice of pizza. “At least, you got the house. You’re not living in some shabby rat trap somewhere.”
“Curtis didn’t need it since he was sleeping with Rich Girl before he filed.”
Kelli was so down, Randie said, “I’m taking Gram to cook at Lucas’s house on Sunday. Meet us there. You might even learn to cook a few things.”
“I cook.” Kelli shrugged. “A few things.”
“Just come and hang out with us. Don’t sit around feeling sorry for yourself.”
“One. Gram loves to see you.”
“Aww, your gram is so neat.” Kelli struggled, then nodded. “I’ll be there.”
“No wimping out, or I’ll bring Gram to you.”
“One o’clock. Scouts honor.”
They settled on the couch after they ate to rent a movie.
“No romances,” Kelli said.
They ended up watching an action movie with enough explosions and chase scenes to hold their interest. When Randie left, she knew Kelli would turn off the lights and retreat back into her cocoon, but that was all right. She’d make sure she showed up on Sunday.
On the drive home, it occurred to her that she’d invited her friend to Lucas’s house without asking him if it was all right. There’d be no cuddling, no making out while Gram napped, with Kelli there.
When she got home, she called him. She could hear the guilt and worry in her voice as she said, “I have to confess. I went to see Kelli tonight, and she’s so miserable, I invited her to cook with us at your house on Sunday, but I never asked you.”
“That will cost you two kisses.”
“What?” She wasn’t expecting that as a response. It caught her up short. She chuckled. “Only two?”
“More if I can get them.”
If she locked lips with him for two kisses, she meant to go for more. “That might be possible, but not with Kelli there.”
“I’m not busy next week.”
Doggone it! The man wanted to spend time with her, and she had holiday party commitments. “I am. Holiday stuff. We have our teacher’s Christmas dinner Tuesday night, I’m going out with Jonathan on Wednesday, and a bunch of us girls are getting together Thursday night . . . ”
He interrupted. “I get it. It’s December. It’s part of the drill.”
“Will you miss me? I missed you last week.” Lord, she was turning into a hussy. She couldn’t wait to get this man alone.
He sounded surprised. “If I had my way, I’d see a lot more of you, but I’m trying to play it cool.”
“I’d like to see you more often.” There. She’d said it. Just laid it on the line.
“Then let’s make that happen.” He paused a minute. “Sounds like we can’t do anything until Sunday, and you’re bringing Kelli. I might invite my brother Toby to stop by, too. We met Mom’s new husband tonight. He didn’t hit any of us right. Dylan likes his privacy to work through things, but Toby needs people and stimuli when something throws him. Just like your friend.”
“Maybe they can cry on each other’s shoulder. It’s going to take a while for Kelli to get over her divorce.”
“Good, they can meet on Sunday and commiserate. After this week, maybe we can go on a date?” He sighed. A week must sound as long to him as it did to her.
“I’d like that.” When she hung up, she felt better, but then, Lucas always made her feel better. What would it be like to have him in her life every day? It couldn’t be bad, could it?