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November 21, 2004

Chapter 11 ... in progress

Katelyn pulled into downtown Enfield and found the lawyer's office with half an hour to spare. She had no desire to go in and wait for her appointment so she parked a few blocks from the office and slowly walked past the storefronts along Main Street. She still had a slightly fuzzy head, though the drive had helped clear it a bit, her edges were still slightly unfocused. She wandered into the coffee shop, thinking that an espresso was just what she needed to clear her head.

To Katelyn, the shop looked like it was trying very hard to be hip and upscale. The tables and chairs were mismatched; dining room tables paired with wing back chairs, coffee tables paired with the back seats from cars, giant cable spools paired with church pews. The walls were painted black and someone had hung their abstract paintings on the walls, each with a small business card sized tag with the artist's name and the price. There was also a small stage near the back of the shop with can lights hanging over it and a microphone stand. It was surrounded by smaller tables and café chairs. Apparently, someone performed something here, too.

Katelyn looked at the menu. Standard coffee shop fare. She ordered herself a large Café Breve and, realizing she hadn't eaten yet today, added a bagel.

"What kind of entertainment do you have here?" Katelyn asked.

"You're looking at it!" the perky girl answered back, giving Katelyn a little bow. Katelyn laughed. "No seriously, there isn't any right now, but our schedule is over by the door."

Katelyn smiled and walked over to the table that held menus and calendars. She picked up one of each and walked back to the counter to pay.

"Sorry to be nosey but I haven't been here before. How is the dinner?"

"Well," the girl, whose name was Staycee according to her tag, leaned in conspiratorially "The soup and salad is really good, the breadsticks are to die for, and most of the entrees are excellent, though I would steer clear of the Veal Parmesan." Her voice dropped to a whisper "It's not real veal, it's pork and veal, but shhh ... " She looked back and forth as if they were being listened to, is if she had to be furtive in an empty coffee shop.

"Is it a nice place to come for dinner, like, on a date?" asked Katelyn.

"That depends on the date. If you're looking to have some good conversation, this is the place. If you want fancy shmancy, this ain't it! It is much more romantic and intimate than it looks in the daylight, though. You'll have to trust me on that."

Katelyn looked down at the calendar and noticed that tonight was open mic night.

"Open mic night? What does that mean?"

"Just what it says. Poets, musicians, anyone that wants an audience can get up. Lately we've been having several really good poets show up and do readings. Tonight, I think the girl that looks like Jewel is coming. She really looks like Jewel, down to the snaggletooth grin, but she sounds more like Shirley Manson."

Katelyn's eyes opened wide. If that wasn't a sign, she didn't know what was. She had just found where she and Bernie would be having dinner. She thanked the girl for all her help and stuffed a dollar bill in the tip jar before taking her meal to a table. She chose to sit on a pew so that she could put her foot up, since it was beginning to hurt now. The coffee was good, strong and smooth, and the bagel was fresh. She had chosen a low-fat Tuscan herb cream cheese and found it to be excellent, plenty of basil, garlic, and sun-dried tomatoes. She had just found her favorite new hangout.

Keeping her eye on the time, Katelyn tried to think about what else she needed to do today, something that didn't have to do with Bernie. If she had her choice, she would go there right now and spend the rest of the day with him. She didn't want to deal with lawyers, with her father's business. She felt guilty enough not keeping it going, now she had to see just how much there was to sell.

Katelyn looked at her watch. 12:50. I better get going. She finished up her bagel and drained the last of her coffee, wiping the table before taking her trash to the barrel by the door.

"Thanks for all your help, Staycee! I'll be back!" She called as she left and turned left onto Main Street. Just a block up, she kept saying, each step a little stab of pain in her heel.

By the time she got to the office, her foot was throbbing. She told the receptionist who she was and sank into one of the arm chairs in the lobby. They had tried to make the lobby look like a living room, with a sofa and love seat, end tables, a coffee table, and a couple of arm chairs but, with the big glass window taking up one whole wall, Katelyn felt curiously like she was in a display window for a department store.

"Miss McKenna!", Katelyn recognized the booming voice but, when she looked up, she was surprised to see that it came from an overweight, balding man instead of a broad shouldered stud in a varsity jacket. She hardly recognized him until he extended his hand to her and heartily shook hers, smiling as he spoke. "Will Davis, so glad you could come by,"

Katelyn looked in his eyes and she knew this was the same Will from school, not his father, as she had originally thought. Those eyes, dark blue and fringed with thick lashes, made all the girls swoon in high school. I guess we all change, some of us more than others.

"Come back into my office, won't you, and we can get caught up." Will led her down the hall to his office. Katelyn noticed how his shoulders almost brushed both walls of the narrow hall and resisted the urge to straighten the pictures he knocked off kilter.

They passed several large, well-appointed offices before coming to the last door on the right, which Will stopped next to and gestured to Katelyn to go inside. It was smaller than the other offices, with older furniture, as if Will got all the hand-me-downs after the other partners upgraded. Katelyn sat in a flowered wing back chair near the desk, settling in to see what he would have to tell her. On the walls there were several pictures of Will in his high school uniform and some larger pictures of him in a college uniform, UNC, it looked like. The boy in the picture looked like this man's son.

Will noticed Katelyn looking at the pictures and felt compelled to explain as he got out his paperwork. It would be so bad if he hadn't had a crush on her in high school and if she didn't still look just as hot as she did then. Will tried to suck in his gut, thinking that might help.

"Hey, remember those days, Katelyn? May I call you Katelyn?" He turned to look at her and she smiled and nodded. "I was so young then, such a jerk! I thought I was hot stuff, that the world owed me a free ride, just because."

"We were all young then, Will." Katelyn reassured him. He seemed nervous around her, something she had never seen in his when he was younger. If he had shown a little vulnerability, she might have liked him more.

"After graduation, I went off to UNC to become a Tar Heel, following in my dad's footsteps just like we had planned my whole life. I played first string until my senior year, when I blew out my knee during the Cotton Bowl ... and there went my football career. Luckily, I was doing okay in school, so it only took a few more years to get my law degree and here I am." He smiled sheepishly, as if he just noticed the shabbiness of his office, his prodigious girth. "And what about you? What happened to you after school?"

"Well, I went off to DC, went to American University to get my journalism degree with a concentration in photography. I interned at the Washington Post in my senior year and they picked me up as soon as I graduated. Nothing special."

"Didn't you do some work for National Geographic?"

"Yes, I did a few things for them." Just two days ago, Katelyn could have bragged about what she had achieved but, today, she was unemployed. Nothing was more humbling than being fired.

"Ahh, I remember when your first spread in National Geographic came out, the story about the Irish orphans. Your father bought out every news stand within a 20 mile radius and went door to door, handing out copies, just so everyone could see what 'his Katie-girl' had done. I still have the magazine." He pointed to a small end table in the corner and, sure enough, there was Katelyn's first cover for National Geographic, encased in protective plastic. "I sure was sad to hear of his passing."

Katelyn barely heard his condolences. She had never heard the National Geographic story before. She knew her father had a few copies of that issue at the house but she never suspected it was because he had bought them all out. The thought made her throat close and she had to breathe slowly so as not to burst into tears.

"Wow, anyway, it sure is nice seeing you again, Katelyn. We have so much catching up to do. Today, we do have some business to get through though." Will sat down heavily behind his desk, setting a stack of papers 4 inches thick in front of him. He saw the look on Katelyn's face, how her eyes were already glazing over, and tried to reassure her. "Now, don't let this intimidate you. Your father dealt with my father for a good 20 years or more. They had built up a lot of history. What we have to talk about only concerns the last couple of years."

"Okay," Katelyn said cautiously. Nothing he could say would have made her feel comfortable doing this but she tried to relax a bit, if only so that he would be able to listen to what he was saying.

"Well, Katelyn, as you know, McKenna Farm has been very successful over the years. It was always the largest cotton operation east of 95 and, under your father, it became a respected name, also. He left everything to you in his will, Katelyn." Will enjoyed the fact that he had been given such a prestigious case. His father told him that it was because he knew Katelyn, they had been friends and bad news coming from a friend is easier to take. Apparently, he didn't know Katelyn's friends.

Katelyn suddenly thought of one person that could ruin this. "What about his wife? He must have left something to her, though she didn't deserve anything. She left him you know." Katelyn was embarrassed telling tales out of school but his dad wouldn't mind.

"Yes, I know ... and shortly after she left him, he came in to see me." Will enjoyed telling Katelyn this. Unfortunately, it was the last piece of good news she would get from here on out. "He had me draw up a new will, specifically excluding her from laying a claim on anything that was his."

"That was smart of him. She doesn't deserve anything after what she did to him." Katelyn had been afraid that he had been soft about her, been too much of a man to admit what she had done.

"I have to agree with you, Katelyn. As the only surviving McKenna, everything should rightfully fall in your hands. Unfortunately," Will draw in a deep breath here, not intending to create more drama but trying to figure out how to tall Katelyn what he had to tell her. "there is more to this than just a farm passing from his hand to yours. There are extenuating circumstances that will complicate things. For one thing, your father was in debt. Deeply in debt."

Katelyn sat up. She knew her father was bad with money; she just had no idea how bad. The fat that the lawyer knew about her father's debt worried her.

"How bad is it, Will?" She was beginning to have a tight feeling in her shoulders, something she would have to get used to as a precursor to a panic attack. She tried breathing, determined not to have one in this damn office. In through the nose, out through the mouth.

"Well, apparently, his wife ran up his credit cards to the max." Will looked over some papers here. Linda had been one piece of work. A nice piece of ass, too, but that was besides the point. "Once she moved out, he had the credit card companies cut off the lines of credit but not before she had spent close to $35,000."

"Whoa," Katelyn breathed. This was going to be ugly. "What else?"

"There are also back taxes that, apparently, didn't get paid because of other debts. There are also his medical bills."

This was starting to feel like a black pit. Katelyn felt the tightness growing in her chest and took another deep breath, trying to concentrate on anything but the fluttering in her throat. She couldn't stand the suspense.

"Will, bottom line it for me." She pleaded for mercy, for a quick end to this.

Will felt sorry for her and regretted telling her this but she had to know. On some level, he enjoyed having this bit of power over the situation, enjoyed watching her squirm, but he tried not to think of himself as sadistic. That was just the way he was. "Katelyn, I've been going over the numbers for a week now. I called in a few favors from a couple of friends of mine, one's an appraiser and the other's an accountant. If anyone can find a way out of this, it would be them. They have some advice for you."

"What is it, Will?" Katelyn was tired. She just wanted to sleep, just wanted this to be over. She had a feeling he was building her up so that he would seem to be a hero.

"You'll have to sell the farm. All of it. Equipment, land, buildings, vehicles. If it all fetches fair market value, and I think it could in the current market, you could break even with the debt."

The room spun slowly. Katelyn felt as though she was underwater, drifting, unable to surface. Just as she was getting used to the idea of living at the farm, it was going to be sold out from under her feet. Katelyn wondered briefly if this wasn't some weird sort of cosmic joke.

"The only thing you'll have left is the cabin." Personally, he would sell off the cabin but, from what he had heard from the appraiser, even thought it was prime lakefront property, the cabin was a wreck of a place and it wouldn't sell. Most places on that lake still had septic and there was no chance for them to upgrade to sewer, making them obsolete compared to a new build.

Katelyn's eyes flickered toward Will. She had forgotten all about the cabin. Oh, yes, this was a cosmic joke. After all that she had been through over the past three months, she would have nothing to show for it. After coming home, living with her dying father, losing her job, her boyfriend, and, maybe, her mind, all that was left for her was the cabin, the one place that she swore she would never go to.

"Now, Katelyn, you are free to seek your own counsel at any time. As a matter of fact, I recommend you do, just to be sure we didn't miss anything. If you like, we can go ahead and start auctioning things off. If we do well, you may have a little cushion left to go along with the cabin." And, if he was lucky, he would be able to pad his fees just enough so that he could make a tidy sum himself. His friends were very good at what they did and, if Katelyn moved back to DC, who was to be the wiser?

"Thank you, Will. Please do that. My father trusted you and so do I." She really didn't have a choice in this. "Just let me know what I have to do."

"Nothing really, Katelyn. Just let us know how to get in touch with you so that we can keep you apprised of what is happening."

"I don't think I can afford to pay you." Katelyn was trying very hard not to cry. She had never felt so bereft before.

"Don't worry about that, little lady. Big Jack left instructions about how he wanted things done. He made sure that this was paid for ahead of time." Will knew it was hollow consolation at this point but he wanted to say something, anything, to make her feel better. Besides, he would be making more than enough on this deal.

He pulled out an envelope and pushed it across the desk to Katelyn. "Here is the key and the deed to the cabin. It's already been put in your name."

Katelyn stared at the envelope as if it were covered with poison ivy. It took all her strength to pick it up and put it in her purse.

"I appreciate you taking the time to see me and explaining everything to me, Will." This wasn't his fault, Katelyn kept telling herself as she wrote her cell phone number on the back of one of her now obsolete business cards. For all intents and purposes, it was just a piece of paper now. "Just let me know if you need anything."

Will stood up to walk Katelyn out, holding her elbow as she stood, noticing how she winced as she stood up. Poor kid has been through a lot, he thought. Suddenly, he said. "Katelyn, before you go, could you do something for me>"

"Sure, Will. What is it?"

"Could you sign your magazine? It would mean a lot to me."

He looked so afraid to ask her that she softened, flattered. "Sure thing." She took the Sharpie that Will held out to her and waited for him to peel back the plastic from the magazine. She leaned over the desk to sign the lower right corner of the magazine.

Will watched her, studying her back, her ass. She really had kept in good shape. He was tempted to touch her, to make a pass, but he figured there would be time for that. He had her number now; he knew how to find her again. There were any number of reasons he could make up for the two of them to get together.

"Thank you, Katelyn. I appreciate that. It has been good seeing you again." He reached out to shake her hand and, when she put her hand out, he pulled her to him, pressing against her, pushing his right knee between her legs. Katelyn stiffened against him and he backed away, letting his left hand grazed her ass.
Katelyn couldn't look at him, her cheeks burning as she mumbled her thanks.

Will took her elbow, walking her to the door, watching her walk down the sidewalk. When he turned around, he looked at the secretary, who was glaring at him.

"What's wrong, sweetie? Jealous? She's just an old friend." Will smirked at her. He was getting tired of her. She was possessive, jealous. She wouldn't even go down on him in his office. To keep her happy, though, he would buy her flowers. His father had told him he was sick of hiring new secretaries just because he couldn't keep it in his pants. He knew how to work them, to keep them happy. As long as his wife didn't come in here, he was fine.

Katelyn stalked off down the street, furious. What a prick. He hadn't changed a bit since high school.

Just as she was about to get into her car, her phone rang. She pulled it out of her bag. It was Michael, just on time. Here we go, thought Katelyn.

"Hi, Michael."

"Katelyn, Hi! How are you? How was your appointment?"

He was eager. "I'm fine, Michael. As for the appointment, it could have gone better."

"Oh? What happened?" She could almost hear him chomping at the bit.

"Michael, enough of the innocent act. Listen, the farm is gone, the land is gone. There is no money. There's no reason for you to keep calling, you're not getting anything out of my father's death."

"Katelyn, I'm hurt that you think that's the only reason I'm calling you. I was worried about you."

"That's bullshit, Michael. You don't care about me. You care about my inheritance. Well, it's gone, ok? There was so much debt that I'll have to sell everything my father owned to pay it off. McKenna Farm is gone. I'm broke. Oh, and, by the way, in case you haven't heard, I've lost my job. So now this is your chance, Michael. Pack everything up and get out. The gravy train has left the station. It's time for you to find another sucker to sponge off of." Katelyn was practically shouting, standing by her Jeep, ad the few people that were on the street had turned to look at this obviously hysterical woman shouting into her phone. Nothing like watching a train wreck.

It was very quiet on the other end of the phone. Finally, Michael spoke softly "If that is what you want, Katelyn, for me to pack up and leave, that's what I'll do. Be happy, Katelyn. God knows I couldn't make you happy."

Katelyn stood there, stunned, her breath coming in gasps. So that was it, his final blow, to put her down for not being happy. Pathetic. "I don't ever want to see you again, Michael. Goodbye." said Katelyn as she hung up the phone and threw it in her bag.

She climbed in her car, slammed the door, and screamed as loud as she could. Realizing she was probably attracting more attention to herself, she started up the car and, buckling her seatbelt, pulled away from the curb with a squeal of her tires.

At the next intersection, she had to stop for a red light and that gave her enough time to think. Where was she going to go? She didn't know how much time she had before she had to be out of the farm but she couldn't face going back there today. Katelyn sat there, undecided, long past the light changing and didn't notice the car behind her beeped. She gestured in her rearview mirror, a decidedly unladylike thing to do, and pulled through the intersection, heading the Jeep toward Bernie, the only person she wanted to see right now.

Katelyn pulled out her cigarettes as she drove down the highway toward Roanoke Rapids. Just when did she promise herself that she would quit again? When I'm damn well good and ready, that's when. Today, she needed one. She needed a drink, too, but last night had pretty much done her in. I'm getting too old for this shit, she thought. Her head was still fuzzy and her reflexes were slow today, as though she was in a fog. Then again, what had happened at the lawyer's office hadn't helped.

She thought about Will Davis, how slimy he had been. She shuddered to think that at one time she found him attractive. Then again, she also had thought she could trust Michael. It infuriated her that he thought he could take liberties like that with her, thinking he was all that. And on the heels of losing her father and everything he
owned. Just like his to take advantage of her while her emotions were fragile.

She pulled into the mall parking lot. The poles were festooned with artificial pine decorations and wire stars wound with lights. It was busy and it took Katelyn a long time to find a parking space close to the door she needed to go in. Finally, after following someone that was walking with bags in both hands across the parking lot, she waited and pulled into their space as soon as they pulled out.

Though her foot still hurt, she found herself walking quickly toward the bookstore, as if she were racing the next piece of bad news to a safe point. As she came closer to the bookstore, she could smell the coffee before she could see Bernie. Cecil ran to her, winding himself between her legs, and Katelyn felt her pant legs catching on the scabs of the tiny cuts from the night before. She picked Cecil up and let him sniff her face, enjoying the cat's thorough investigation and subsequent head butt. The way to a man is through his cat.

Bernie was helping a customer and hadn't seen her yet. Katelyn asked Dave, the college student that worked with Bernie, if she could make their coffee and he had said sure. After all the fuss his boss had made about putting fresh coffee on and making sure the shop looked good today, he figured he may get extra brownie points if he kept his bosses girlfriend happy. She was a pretty lady, too, he thought appreciatively, even if she was an older chick.

Katelyn had set up their table and was sitting there, pretending to relax, when Bernie came around the corner and saw her for the first time. IF it was possible, she got more beautiful every time he saw her. Even today, dressed in a dark suit and sneakers, looking conservative and moody, she was gorgeous to him. Dangerous but gorgeous.

When she saw Bernie, it was as if all the tension of the day evaporated. He didn't make the pain go away but he made the burden lighter, just knowing she wasn't alone. He made sure his customer was all set before going over to where Katelyn was sitting. She got up from the table and hugged him briefly, her lips grazing his cheek. Bernie felt a thrill rush through him. This was a step.

He looked at the table and smiled. She had taken the liberty to set up mugs of coffee, napkins and spoons. "Kind sir, your caffeine awaits!" Katelyn repeated their running joke, gesturing toward the table. Bernie grinned and took his seat, waiting for Katelyn to sit down and settle, letting her work off her nerves before she started talking. When she was still fiddling with her coffee a few minutes later, Bernie reached across the table and caught one of her fluttering hands in his.

"Katelyn, what happened?"

Katelyn slowed down, putting her hands in her lap and looking at them. They looked very small. She took a deep breath and decided she needed to tell him everything, see what his reaction would be.

"Bernie, it's all gone. The farm, all that land, the house, the equipment. It's all being sold at auction to pay off my father's debt. The only thing I have left is the cabin on the lake. On top of that, I lost my job. They couldn't wait for me anymore so they gave my job to someone else. I ... I don't know what I'm going to do, where I'm going to go."

Bernie reached across the table and Katelyn put her hand back in his. "Katelyn, you do have someplace to go. You have an apartment. You even have a boyfriend. You can start over." He hated to bring up Michael, especially since he had been such a jerk to Katelyn but hadn't she said that he was still calling her? Maybe this whole thing they had here between them was only coming from him. Maybe she was just biding her time with him.

Katelyn stiffened when he mentioned her boyfriend. "Bernie, I didn't have a boyfriend, I had a sponge. HE called me after my appointment today and, when I told him that there was nothing left, he couldn't hang up fast enough. It's over, for good, for ever. I told him to make sure he had everything out of the house and that I never wanted to see him again."

Trying not to smile, Bernie lowered his head, afraid to let her see how happy that made him. When he looked up again, she was crying. Bernie stood up and pulled Katelyn to her feet, saying "Come on." He led her to the back room, not willing to let her feel humiliated again today.

He pushed open the door to the store room and led Katelyn to his office, sitting her in his desk chair and handing her Kleenex. He sat on the desk facing her, his hand on her shoulder, rubbing it gently. She bent her head to rest it on his leg and his left hand traveled to her neck, his long fingers gently rubbing along the length of her neck. HE had never felt such softness, her hair curling around his wrist, catching his fingers.

Katelyn's tears slowed as Bernie's fingers stroked her neck. She lifted her face to look up at him, to say thank you, but found that she couldn't speak. Bernie
S right hand reached for her face, her cheek, his thumb gently wiping away the tears left behind, his fingers tracing her jaw line. He was afraid to move, to break this spell; this was the rightest moment he had ever felt. He swallowed thickly, staring into her amazing eyes, green from crying. God, she is even more beautiful when she cries. He cleared his throat with some difficulty.

"Ahem, umm ... I know your day has been terrible so I just, ummmm, want to let you know that, if you want to cancel dinner, we can."

"No!!" Katelyn practically shouted, then smiled. "No, Bernie, as a matter of fact, I found the perfect place for us to go. It's in Enfield, I hope that is okay?"

Bernie smiled gently "That's fine. I'm glad, because I really didn't want to cancel. You know, Cecil would have been mad."

Katelyn smiled and stood up until she was directly in front of Bernie. She leaned forward, her hips pressing against his knees, and lifted her arms to put them around Bernie's neck. She held him as he rested his fingertips lightly on her hips for just a moment or two longer than casual, then pulled away, brushing his cheek with her lips.

"Thank you." she whispered.

"For what?"

"For being, Bernie. Just for being." Katelyn said and smiled. "All day, I waited to come see you. I made a good choice."

"I have to agree." Bernie said with a smirk, teasing. "Listen, are you alright? Do you want to leave now??" His fingers were still resting on her hips, holding her against his knees. He hated to let her go.

"We can go whenever you're able to leave. Hey, we didn't even have our coffee! We must have lost our minds." Katelyn laughed. It felt good to laugh. It felt good to be with Bernie. It wasn't that her bad news had gone away, it was that now she didn't feel so alone facing it.

"Well, let's go have our coffee, then I can make sure that Steve is all set for the night so we get out of here." Bernie opened the door to his office, reaching back for Katelyn's hand. Just before they stepped out of the back room, Katelyn leaned over and kissed Bernie on the shoulder. He felt a shiver that made his knees weak but he cut his eyes at her and smiled, squeezing her hand.

AS Bernie and Katelyn walked back to the table near the front desk, Steve looked at their flushed cheeks and smirked. So, the boss was getting a little action in the back room. It was about time! Maybe now he wouldn't be so damn moody! Steve wondered hhy he didn't think of that and made a mental note to call his girlfriend so they could fool around in the backroom, too.

Bernie left Katelyn at the table and went behind the desk to make sure Steve had everything he needed. Steve smirked at him, nudging him in the ribs, saying "Dude, she's pretty hot."

Bernie knew what Steve was thinking, that someone like him couldn't get someone like Katelyn and, actually, he thought the same way. He just smiled back at Steve and said "Yeah, she is." And left it at that.

As he and Katelyn walked through the mall, he felt proud to be with her. Their fingers easily tangled together and their strides matched. As they stepped outside, the sun was just setting, sending streaks of color ricocheting in all directions. It had gotten colder while Katelyn had been inside, since the sun had gone down, and she shivered. Bernie threw his arm around her shoulder and pulled her close, shielding her with his body. They hadn't talked about how they were going to get to Enfield so Kate suggested they go sit in her Jeep, out of the wind, to decide. One they were both safely inside, they decided that Bernie would follow Katelyn to the farm so that they could drop off her jeep and then they would both go to the café in his car. Katelyn drove Bernie to his car, a 91 Volkswagen Jetta, and, with a quick squeeze of her hand, he got out and unlocked his car, trying to be fast, as thought she would disappear if he didn't move fast enough.

When he finally got into his car and was read to go, he flashed the headlights at her; she took the signal and pulled away slowly with Bernie right behind her. After driving the 20 miles to Enfield, They drove another 4 to the farm. When they pulled up, Bernie was amazed to see how far away their next neighbor was, how nice the house was. It was a shame she was losing this, he thought as he pulled around her in the circular driveway, waiting for her to get out of her jeep and climb into his car.

They drove back to downtown Enfield, following Main Street until they came to the café. After looking for a few minutes for a place to park, they finally pulled into a spot about a block away, just in front of Davis, Davis and Clayton. Before they got out of the car, Katelyn pointed out the building and told him what had happened in the office that afternoon, everything from how much Will had changed on the outside while still being a jerk on the inside to how she felt like she was on display in the storefront. She told him about his solution for the debt, how he recommended she get her own lawyer, to which Bernie agreed. She told him aobut signing the magazine that his father had bought and handed out and how Will had grabbed her as she was leaving, how dirty he made her feel. It made her feel better to have someone to talk to about these things instead of just letting them fester inside.

When they finally got out of the car, it was totally dark except for the Christmas decorations, rows of stars leading them down the street. They walked arm in arm toward the café, taking their time. The wind wasn't so cold here and neither of them wanted to rush anything.

Bernie opened the door of the café for Katelyn and stepped in after her. tThey stood for a minute waiting for someone to come over to seat them. This seems like a great place, thought Bernie. It was very eclectic, very artsy and hip, the kind of place he would have picked. The people were a nice mix, too, both younger and older crowds intermingling. Bernie would have to let Katelyn make more decisions.

Katelyn was surprised. This place looked totally different at night. On each table was a lit tea light and the black walls seemed to be nonexistent, fading into he background. The paintings seemed to be floating in pools of light. Each had a small art lamp attached just above it, illuminating the colors so that they seemed alive, luminous. Many of the tables were full in the dining area but the café area was empty. It was apparently too early for the entertainment.

The hostess approached with menus and Katelyn saw that it was Staycee. She smiled when she recognized Katelyn and looked over Bernie, giving Katelyn an approving wink. She looked around the room a bit then asked them to follow her, saying that she had a special table just for them. She led them to a booth made from a Chevy back seat and a dining room table. The seat faced the stage area and the front of the table was pushed up against the railing that separated the dining area from the café tables. Katelyn was glad they would have to sit next to each other in the same seat and that they would have to move when the show started. Bernie was glad the table was away from everyone else so that he could have Katelyn all to himself. He was also glad the table had a table cloth so that if he decided he wanted to hold hands with Katelyn, they could have a little privacy.

Katelyn had the same thought and, as soon as they were seated, she laced her fingers in his. She felt comfortable with Bernie in a way she had never felt comfortable with anyone before. She wanted this night to last, to not have to face tomorrow.

....... in progress ..........

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This page contains a single entry by Prosemonkey published on November 21, 2004 8:56 AM.

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