Liz wasn’t mad. Then again, she didn’t look like she was happy to Dirk. She acknowledged him with her eyes. It was a greeting anyone would give to someone they recognized. Polite, brief, and finished. Dirk replied in like. A quick nod and turning away of one’s attention.
It bought him time.
The baseball coach was oblivious of Dirk’s intention. Of this, Dirk was certain. Otherwise, he’d have leaned in closer to Liz or come up with an excuse to whisper in her ear. No, he hadn’t done anything of that nature. Instead, he focused on the game.
His second fatal mistake came quickly. He leaned forward to talk to the man in front of him. He pointed at the player that merited his observation, and both men focused on the court.
So, there Dirk waited, standing at the edge of the bleachers and casually talking with people he hadn’t seen since he left Three Creeks. He caught up on all the news. Marshall Issacson bought the Neely farm. The town was preparing for the upcoming Cocoa Catch-up. Dirk raised his brows with the revelation that the Cocoa Catch-up would be a perfect place to mend hs connections with Liz.
Once people knew, Liz had his heart they’d support Dirk. They’d help him keep an eye out for Liz.
Dirk found his chance to implement his plan at the end of the first quarter. The baseball coach accompanied by Cameron and his son passed by Dirk. Cameron, focused on the lively conversation with his friend, paid no attention to Dirk as he passed by. With the opportunity in front of him. Dirk climbed the cement stairs that led to the row where Liz sat. He chose the row behind her and inched his way along the edge of the bleacher, apologizing to the people who had to move to accommodate him. Finally, he reached the spot behind Liz. He knelt so he could be closer to her, leaned in and kissed her on the cheek. It was a risk. Men who took no risks reaped no rewards.
Before the frown fully formed on her lips, Dirk addressed the obvious. ”I get the feeling that I ’m in trouble.”
“You’re not in trouble,” she sassed. “I’d have to care about you for you to be in trouble.”
Dirk covered his lips to hide the smile he couldn’t control. Liz was beautiful when she was mad. He quickly recovered his composure. “How about this. Come with me to the Cocoa Catch-up and tell me all about how you don’t care about me.”
“That makes as much sense as using an umbrella in a blizzard.”
Dirk couldn’t help it. The visual of someone carrying an umbrella and wrestling with it in the wind made him chuckle. “That would be a sight.”
“You’re not supposed to laugh.” Liz gave him the forced frown. The one she wore when Cameron was supposed to be in trouble, but she really thought his transgression was cute. Dirk saw it the last time he was with them. Cameron didn’t want to go to bed, so he created every excuse under the sun to avoid the inevitable, going as far as asking if he could read a cook book. Liz held back her smile barely. In the end, she won and Cameron succumbed to sleep.
Dirk threw the ball back in her court. “Then quit saying things that are funny.”
Liz pursed her lips and tilted her face away from him. Dirk climbed over the seat into the space beside her. “If you don’t talk to me, people will think we’re having a lover’s quarrel.”
Liz hissed, “Don’t you wish?”
“Truth be told. Yes, I do.”
“Then you should have called.”
The baseball coach and the boys were at the edge of the stairs. With the time for reconciliation dwindling, Dirk rushed his words. “I wasn’t thinking. It isn’t like I’ve been away from home before. Or, been in a long distance relationship for that matter.”
Cameron preceded the baseball coach and his son and skittered his backside along the bleachers. He stopped short of running into Dirk. His face beamed the greeting before he spoke a word. “Where have you been? I missed you.”
“Working. You know. I’m saving money so I can buy your mom some nice things.” Dirk said it subtly so Cameron would get the sense that he was in on a secret, but loud enough for Liz to hear.
The baseball coach’s son sat by his father. Dirk felt bad about that. He wanted to retain his favor with Liz’s son, not interfere with his fun.
Liz leaned into Dirk. She smelled like flowers and vanilla and the scent went straight to Dirk’s head. Her not knowing what she did to him added a degree to the impact on him. She had virtually pulled his heart out of his chest and held it for all to see. If the feeling wasn’t so exhilarating, Dirk might have resented her for it. She said, “For starters, I don’t need you to buy me nice things. I can get them on my own.” She pulled away and Dirk immediately missed the warmth her presence created. Then she returned, giving him a second dose of her magic. “We can talk about this at the Cocoa Catch-up.”
If anyone were to ask Dirk who won the game that night his reply wouldn’t have made any sense, because he would have proudly proclaimed, “Me.”
The chapter ends here. I’ll add another part of the story in a couple days. In the meantime, drop me a note in the comments to let me know what you think of the story so far.
Categories: Home For the New Year