For the life of her, Liz could not fathom what Dirk wanted to tell her. She and Bryce talked almost every day. If there was anything going on in his life, she was among the first to know. In Dirk’s absence, Bryce and Liz formed a strong supportive friendship.
A flash of aha brightened to be followed by a steady staccato of disbelief pulsed through Liz’s brain. Had someone started a rumor about her? Rather than jump to conclusions, Liz thought it best to give Dirk the freedom to express himself. Once he verbalized his concerns, he’d hear that they were ridiculous. He had known Liz for all his life;. history would supersede silliness; and he’d come to his senses.
Still, the urge to push away his concerns controlled her instinct. Liz rubbed Dirk’s arm to sooth him. “Let’s talk over something warm to drink.” Then she wrapped her hand around his and gently tugged to guide the conversation to safer territory.
Dirk had sat in the chair closest to the stove when her phone dinged a notification. Liz set down the kettle on the stove and headed straight for the door.
“Where are you going?” Dirk pointed toward the coffee table. “Your phone is in the living room.”
There was no point in answering his question. The results would explain the routine. Liz continued her course toward the door. The lock clicked when she released it to pull the door open. Bryce waited with his grin on the other side. Liz focused on the boys when she stepped away. “They’ve been like that for a little over an hour.”
“Good to see you, man.” Bryce all but ignored Liz and the boys. His basketball shoes gave off a dull thump to mark his steps to the kitchen.
Liz shook her head. She should have known Bryce would have been more excited about seeing Dirk than talking about the boys. She pressed the door shut and turned the latch on the lock. Bryce sat across from Dirk at the table. “If I’d have known you were going to be here, I’d have brought some beers.”
“I wanted it to be a surprise,” Dirk studied Bryce as though he was watching for a reaction.
Bryce’s finger point emphasized his affirmation. “Maybe if I’d have done that a little more often, I’d have learned about my wife’s extra curricular relations sooner than later.” He quickly averted his focus toward the living room and sighed. “I got one good thing out of that fiasco.”
“He’s a great kid,” Dirk nodded his agreement.
“I was going to make some decaf or cocoa. Would you like some?” Liz didn’t wait for an answer. She brought the kettle to the sink to add more water.
“Nah, I’ll only be here for a little while. I should let you two have some alone time. Speaking of…” Bryce leaned his arm over the back of the chair. “Tomorrow night is the monthly date night at the Civic Center. If you’d like I could take Cam and you two could go… I meant to say something sooner.”
“A date?” Up to this point, Liz and Dirk hadn’t been on a real date. Every time they were together it was with a friend, or family member. It had been so long since she’d been on a date, Liz didn’t know if she had clothes nice enough for an occasion called the monthly date night.
“Yeah, it’s nothing too fancy. They have a catered dinner with some live music. One of the guys I work with took his wife to it last month. He swore he hated it. But they’re going again tomorrow night. That’s how I know about it.”
“He hated it,” Liz scoffed. It sounded just like a man. Unless they were trying to impress a woman, they didn’t care to take them out. She almost said as much but stopped when she considered the comment from Dirk’s point of view. She didn’t want him to think she measured him with the same ruler.
Their situation was different. He was gone three of the four weeks of the month. Then in the one week he was back, Dirk had to help his mother around the house, take care of business that he hadn’t had time for when he was gone. Liz appreciated the time he squeezed in for her.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Dirk challenged.
“Oh nothing bad.” Liz set three cups on the counter. Bryce said he wasn’t sticking around. But he had pulled the chair away from the table so he could stretch out his legs in front of him comfortably. Liz bet if she pulled out a deck of cards they’d be up all night playing games. “It’s just that men complain about things women want to do with them. But as soon as a woman says she wants to do it without him, he’s explaining why it’s better if he went along.”
“Is this from experience?” Bryce mocked.
“I’ve seen my brother and Maggie perform the dance several times.” Liz scooped the cocoa into the cups.
“That’s because he knew he’d save money if he was there to distract her from spending it,” Bryce chuckled toward the end of his comment.
Liz rolled her eyes and handed him one of the cups.
“Thanks.” He waited until Liz handed Dirk his cup and asked, “So what do you say? I take the boys and you take Liz for a night out on the town.”
“Ah,” Dirk stammered. “Sure. If it is okay with you, of course.”
“It’s okay,” Liz held her cup to her lips to hide her reaction.” It would be a real date for all to see. She could hear the gossip in the coffee shop already. The gray haired single mother went out with her brother’s best friend, who happened to be much younger than her. Hmm, Liz pressed the warm cup against her lip to hide her reaction to what she was thinking. Hopefully they’d have something to talk about.
Categories: Home For the New Year