Saturday, May 9, 2009

Chapter Nine

As instructed, Kristy clamored down the stairs to the first floor, strode across the main hall into the side hall, and galloped down the basement stairs.

“Kevin,” she hollered as she rounded the last curve and reached the basement. “Are you down here?”

“Over here.” The muffled reply came from the largest storage area.

Avoiding the new pool table and foosball tables, Kristy pushed through the double doors that closed off the unfinished storage room from the finished half of the basement. Heavy rough wooden shelves marched in towering lines away from her. As she looked between the nearest two, she saw no Kevin.

“Where are you?” she called.

“Over here,” a voice declared off to the right and out of sight.

“Where is here?” Kristy asked as she stared along in that direction.“Here,” Kevin said as he came around the corner and bumped into her. Kristy lost her balance and would have fallen on her seat, but Kevin reached out with his free hand to steady her. It took a few moments of precarious maneuvering before they both were again steady on their feet. “See, I told you,” Kevin said with his face only inches from hers. “I am here.”

“You could have warned me,” Kristy grumbled and pulled away from the hand he seemed reluctant to withdraw. She did not like the way he was looking at her. She retreated a few more steps.

“Sorry,” he said although his tone made it clear he was not sorry in the least. She could feel his steady gaze on her, but she refused to give in to the temptation to check if he really was staring.

An awkward pause followed.

“I came for the clipboard with all the room layouts on it.” Kristy announced without looking directly at Kevin. Instead she focused on the nails in the shelf joint directly over his left shoulder.

After making a great show of shuffling his load, he finally answered, “I might have that one.”

“Either you do or you don’t,” Kristy protested and accidentally looked at his face in her anger. She was about ready to tell him to keep the stinking clipboard, but if she returned without it, she was going to have to explain why.

“It depends,” he answered mischievously and winked at her.

“On what,” Kristy demanded as her eyes looked over his head.

“On whether or not you love me,” he answered in a solemn voice.

Kristy was speechless. She could not believe he had just said that. Struggling to control the outrage, unbelief, and confusion she felt, she turned her back to him. “I am not even going to give you an answer to that,” she said.

“Why not,” he asked. “I have loved you since we dated back in high school. I told you that when we broke up. I still do. Before this whole marriage happens between you and my cousin, I just want to know for sure. Tell me the truth. Do you love me?”

Spinning around, Kristy tried with all her might to hold onto her emotions, but her voice still wavered. “Kevin, I have told you every time you have brought this up, I do not love you in the same way you love me. We always have been and, I thought, always would be, friends. Right now, though, I do not think I want to even be that any more. I love Scott and I am going to marry him. Regardless of that fact, I want to make it crystal clear that I never want you to bring up this subject again. If you do, I am going to go to Scott and tell him about this little incident. I have a feeling he will not take it too well, so, I suggest you leave me alone and get a life.” Taking a deep breath, she held out her hand. “Give me the clipboard.”

Meekly, Kevin handed over the clipboard. Kristy turned her back and walked pointedly out of the storage area.


When she arrived on the second floor with the clipboard, she found the hall empty. Jessi and Claudia’s voices came from inside the room where the lavender sofa had been stuck. They were talking about how the wrong sofa could have been put down for that room. Kristy did not feel like seeing them, but she entered the room anyway. Claudia was adamantly insisting that there could not have been a mistake when Kristy appeared. Jessi’s expression of relief and pronounced sigh of thanks was all Claudia apparently needed to sudden take a hormonal swing and break down in tears. Feeling like she wanted to cry herself, Kristy left the room hurriedly to find Dawn. She had share the whole scene in the basement with someone.

She found her on the third floor in one of the bedrooms. When she stuck her head in to check, she spotted Dawn and Liam hugging. Not waiting for them to see her, she backed out the door. She was starting to feel desperate. Starting back down the stairs, she tried to think of who to talk to and the only one she could think of was Scott. Despite what she had told Kevin, she did not feel right not telling him about the whole scene in the basement. He had a right to know. He would be cool and calm about this, right?

Reaching the first floor, she started looking. Timone was in the kitchen. He greeted her warmly, but immediately sent her off again. He was in the middle of making dinner and could not be bothered. As she walked through the empty dining room, she noticed that all the moving trucks had left. Dusk was falling and the sky was darkening in the east. She paused in the quiet silence of the large room.

Maybe she shouldn’t tell anyone about Kevin’s little confession. It is not like he threatened her or was going to hurt her when no one was around. The thought sounded good in the calm emptiness of the darkened space, but would it still seem a wise course in the midst of the daily activities? How about the first time that they were thrown together and she had to act like nothing happened? Besides she would feel like she was hiding something from Scott. It would not be right. She had to tell him.

Distantly she heard the sounds of someone climbing up the stairs from the basement. More likely than not, it was Kevin. Not wishing to run into him alone again, especially not in a darkened room, Kristy crossed to the doors and stepped into the parlor. This room was also dark, but a welcoming light was coming from the cracked door of the study at the front of the room. Warm male laughter also came from there as she started toward the door. Almost at the run, Kristy crossed to the door and pushed it open farther.


Austin sat perched on the desk. Adem was sprawled in the armchair across from the couch where Scott was sitting and desperately trying to get his breath back. Austin had just told a great joke and Adem and Scott were still laughing when the door opened with a slight creak. Scott looked up, but since his back was to the door, he saw Adem’s response to the new arrival first. His face went from amusement to concern in a moment.

“Kristy?” Austin gasped as he rose from his perch. “Are you all right?”

Scott was on his feet instantly. Turning he caught a glimpse of Kristy’s white face a moment before she ran to him and buried her head in his chest. Even more astonishingly, she immediately began to cry. He did the only thing he could think of: put his arms around her and held her.

Adem caught his eye and motioned that he and Austin were leaving and made a speedy exit.

“What is the matter?” he finally asked after she slowed her tears.

With a sniffle, she drew back and sat down on the couch. “Kevin,” she declared angrily.

Puzzled, Scott sat down next to her. “What about Kevin?” he asked. Pulling a tissue from a nearby box, he handed it to her.

Kristy wiped her eyes and nose before she said, “When I went downstairs to get the clipboard from Jessi and Claudia, I found him in the back storage area alone. I asked him for the clipboard and he said I could not have it unless I told him if I still loved him. He told me that he still loves me. I didn’t do anything to make him love me, Scott. He said he told me when we broke up in high school that he loved me and that is was still true.”

“So, what did you say?” Scott asked.

She straightened slightly. “I told him that I was not in love with him the way he wanted and if he bothered me again I would tell you. Then he gave me the clipboard.”

Scott grabbed another tissue. The first was a bit wet at this point. “So did he bother you again?”

She shook her head. “No, afterwards I didn’t feel right not telling you so, I came to find you.”

“I am glad you did,” he said and pulled her into a hug. “I can help you make sure he never has a chance to bother you again, okay?”

She nodded.

“Now, since we are alone and nothing is demanding either of our attentions,” Scott took her hands. “I think we need to talk about how the wedding plans are coming and how you are handling the stress.”

Reluctantly, Kristy nodded and the pointed out. “I don’t think that is a good idea. I am a bit emotional right now.”

Kissing her forehead, Scott replied, “I prefer tears to your towering temper any day. This is much better than the mood you have had for the past few weeks.”

“I have been that bad?” she asked.

Scott nodded.

“I just hate making all these decisions and dealing with all these details. I am about ready to scream.”

“I know,” Scott said as he rubbed her fingers. “I just want you to know that I appreciate all the hard work you are doing. I know I have not been around to help, but I will try harder from now on, okay?”

“Sure,” Kristy frowned. “Now that everything is all set, you offer to help.”

“I am sorry,” Scott apologized. “I will try to be better, I promise.” He paused for a moment. “Am I forgiven?”

Reluctantly, Kristy muttered, “Yeah, but you better make it up to me later.”

So, Scott asked, “How about dinner out tomorrow night? You can pick the place and we will getaway from all this for an evening, just you and me. Sound good?”

“Sounds great,” Kristy replied and gave him a big hug.

“I was thinking more of…” Scott didn’t pause to finish telling her what he was thinking. Instead he showed her by kissing her thoroughly. He was still kissing her five minutes later when the dinner bell rang.

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