Interested Parties

Published July 8, 2011 by Christa Maurice

Want to start at the beginning?

So, how did your date with Colleen go last night?” Scott knew he didn’t sound as disinterested as he wanted to, but no amount of nonchalance would fool Dan anyway. He suspected Dan had been mum on the subject all night just to drive him buggy.

Dan shrugged. “It went okay. She’s a fun girl.”

Scott tried to plumb Dan’s comments for some greater meaning. ‘Okay’ didn’t sound promising, but Dan usually pronounced his dates okay so it wasn’t really a bad sign either. ‘Fun’ in Dan-speak was actually positive. The ones he called fun lasted longer. “Are you going to go out with her again?”

Probably.” Dan grinned.

The grin upped the probably to a definitely. Scott hid his own grin by looking out the passenger window. He and Laura had speculated that Dan was interested in Colleen. He’d been unusually attentive to her at the house and then he’d followed her to her car for a short, private conversation. That would have been enough evidence for the go ahead to build a case. Dan’s sudden interest in the bookstore last Saturday and his lingering to talk to her alone clinched it for Scott, but Laura still worried that something would go terribly wrong on the date.

Which it hadn’t or Dan would have been railing at him all night.

So you like her?” Scott asked.

I like her, I like her.” Dan rolled his eyes. “You two just can’t stand a bachelor, can you?”

No, she’s just new in town and she doesn’t know anybody. Laura and I thought you would have fun together.” Scott paused for a moment to let Dan’s tone gel in his mind. Something about it seemed off. “Why? Don’t you want to be a bachelor anymore?”

Is this the girl we were checking out used cars for a couple of months ago?” Dan asked.

Yeah. She just came out with a couple of suitcases. She’s a great girl. Laura sure is happy she’s here.”

She is a great girl,” Dan said softly.

Scott chose to let it go there. Dan liked Colleen and that was enough to know right now. It was Laura’s job to find out if Colleen liked Dan.


Laura looked over her shoulder to make sure Jimmy was where she left him. She should have known he would be. He loved to be read to and Colleen had trained him to sit still and be quiet if he wanted the stories to continue. He wouldn’t move a muscle until the storyteller stopped reading. Then he’d probably spend the rest of the day reenacting his favorite parts.

Did you and Dan have a good time the other night?”

Colleen sipped from her coffee cup, raising one eyebrow in response.

He’s a really great guy,” Laura commented into the gap.

Colleen swallowed. “He is.”

I thought you guys would have fun together.”

Oh, we did. He took me out to dinner at a really fancy Italian place. I’ve never had wine with dinner before.”

He took you to Vaccarro’s?” Laura tried not to let the shocked squeak leak into her voice. Dan loved Vaccaro’s, but she and Scott couldn’t afford it. “Did you like it?”

It was really nice. The food was wonderful. Remember Granny Ida’s neighbor?”

Mrs Torelli?”

Remember how she used to let us help her make raviolis and pizelles for the Winter Festival?”

They had raviolis and pizelles at Vaccaro’s?”

No, they had tiramisu.”

Oooo.” Laura sank back in the arm chair. “That stuff is heavenly.”

Tell me about it.”

So, are you going to go out with Dan again?”

Probably. If he asks.” Colleen shrugged.

Laura nodded. A nod’s as good as a wink to a blind horse, she thought. If Dan had sprung for Vacarro’s on the first date he was already planning a second. Laura smiled. Dan was a good guy. She could definitely trust him with her favorite cousin.

I should get back to work. I’m setting a bad example.” Colleen stood up. “You want another coffee?”

I think they’re almost done. Thanks anyway. See ya.”

Later.” Colleen took both cups to the espresso bar. On her way back to the office a blond woman stepped in front of her.

Excuse me, are you Colleen Duncan?”

Yes, I am. Can I help you with something?” Colleen faked her best smile. After a classic Laura grilling, she’d hoped for a few quiet moments at her desk before dealing with the unexpected.

I’m Joanne McMillan. My husband Jack is one of the firefighters who did your fire inspection recently. I brought the kids to story hour like you suggested.”

Great. Did they like it?” Colleen wondered if she had time to wager on how long it would take Joanne to mention Mike.

Oh, they’re having a great time. Jack tells me our Mike took you out on a date.”

Nope. “Yes. He’s a sweet guy.”

He’s very nice. We really love our Mike.”

Joanne had referred to him as “our Mike” twice in less than thirty seconds. Her protective streak had to be about a mile and a half wide. “I can see how you would.” Colleen glanced around for Laura. The last thing she needed was for the two men she’d accidentally started dating at the same time to find out about it through their partner’s wives. The whole situation was so surreal she expected Godot to show up with a chocolate cream pie. “He’s a really sweet guy.”

He is.” Joanne studied her for a moment. “Well, thanks for suggesting story hour. The kids really enjoyed it and I loved the chance to get out of the house.”

I’m glad. I hope you can come again.” Colleen smiled more or less genuinely. Come again, she thought, and have long chats with the other mothers about their husband’s partner’s love lives. It’ll be a hoot.

Oh, I’m sure we will.” Joanne walked away.

Colleen ducked into the office. So far she had a protective fire wife who looked like she might bite if provoked and a police wife who heard nothing but wedding bells. Maybe she should start chatting up the mailman although she thought Sonya said he was wearing a wedding ring. Oy! She dropped into her desk chair. If only one of them would prove to be a jerk or something.


I like her.” Mike leaned back in his seat, smiling out the windshield.

You always do.”

No really. There’s something special about her.”

Jack sighed. He should probably pay attention. Joanne was going to want to know. To be honest, he wanted to know too, but he’d have paid someone to take notes for him.

She’s really smart and funny and she has a really cute accent when she’s excited.”

Accent? Where is she from?” Jack frowned, trying to remember an accent. Of course, she hadn’t been excited during the inspection.

Somewhere in the Midwest, I think. She just does this really cute thing with her O’s.”

O’s.” Jack repeated. This was going to be a long shift. Maybe Greg would take notes for him and give him the Reader’s Digest version.


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