Breakdown

Published July 29, 2011 by Christa Maurice

Want to start at the beginning?

 

Dan guided her back to his car being far too sweet and speaking softly with that voice Colleen couldn’t resist. He opened the passenger and crouched in front of her. “Honey, will you just tell me what the problem is? Are you upset about the kid? Are you upset because I jumped in after him? What is it?” He was starting to sound frustrated, very unlike him. He also didn’t seem to notice his own shivering.

I just was afraid you would drown,” Colleen lied.

It was plausible enough that Dan sighed. He almost seemed pleased by it. “I wouldn’t have jumped in if I thought I couldn’t handle it. I’m a pretty strong swimmer.” He took her hands between his. “You were worried about me?”

You’re cold.”

Yeah, I guess we have to cut our date short.” He stood. “I’ll take you home.”

You don’t have to. I mean, not until later.” Colleen looked up, biting her lip. “It’s been a pretty eventful night. We could just watch TV at your place for a while and then you could take me home.”

Dan flushed up his neck to his ears. The sight was more endearing than she wanted it to be. “You want to go to my place? Are you sure?”

Well, you know, you can change and dry off.” Colleen looked at the ground between his feet. She should have seized the opportunity to get away from him. She needed to get her head on straight, but she didn’t want to leave him just yet. She liked being with him and liked how he made her feel. She hadn’t realized how much David had made her feel like a patsy until Dan, and Mike, didn’t. “We don’t have to. You could just take me home.”

No. No, if you want to just hang around my place we can do that for a while. I can’t promise it’s clean.”

I’m sure it’s fine.” Colleen drew her legs into the car so he could close the door.

Dan hurried around to the driver’s side as if she would change her mind. He drove to his place without speaking. Colleen stared out the window. He lived in a quiet apartment complex. The building, like so many others around here, was U-shaped with a pool in the middle. All the parking was lined around the outside. Dan pulled into a space and came around to open her door. Colleen waited. She felt a little awkward having him open her door all the time, but he had seemed slightly offended when she tried to open her own door on their first date.

I really don’t remember what condition the place is in. I didn’t expect to have anybody here.”

Dan, I doubt your place is that messy,” Colleen murmured. He was drying off, she noticed as he unlocked the door. Salt rimed his clothes and his hair stuck up oddly making him look cute and hopeful.

His apartment was cleaner than hers. The front room was long and thin, divided in the middle by a brown couch. Next to the door sat a dining table with three neat stacks of mail and two newspapers. On the far wall was a TV and a stereo system. “I guess should get some coffee going.”

I can get it if you get me started,” Colleen offered. “You probably need a shower.”

Probably.” Dan grinned. “I won’t be long. Here’s the kitchen.”

His kitchen, other than a cereal bowl in the sink, was perfectly clean. In the back corner where Colleen expected to see a kitchen table, Dan had a set of weights. He pulled a coffeepot out of the cupboard and set it in the counter.

There’s coffee on the counter.”

Go. Shower.” Colleen poked him toward the door.

His face softened. He leaned down and kissed her on the cheek. “I’ll just be a few minutes.”

Colleen filled the pot with water. She heard Dan rattling around in his bedroom before moving to the bathroom where the shower hissed on. She measured out enough coffee for the pot and turned to lean on the counter, studying at the weights. David had had the physique of an English grad student. She wouldn’t have believed he could carry her over a threshold. Mike was strong and wiry. When he’d offered to carry her down the cliff, she’d believed he could do it.

Dan, however, had the broad shoulders she’d always admired from a distance. The kind that made her hot and cold and shivery all over if she thought about it too much. She turned back to the coffee, which didn’t make her hot, cold or shivery. Given, her attraction to Dan was an issue, but it had been months since she’d made love to a man and, even if David was lying though his pearly whites, she had still felt deeply wanted and desired. The coffee gurgled to a finish so she poured herself a cup. She wasn’t sure how she would handle it if Dan put the moves on her tonight. She didn’t want to look like a complete tart, hopping into bed with him in the second date. He didn’t even know about Mike yet.

But she really, really wanted to hop into bed with him and his lovely broad shoulders. Even more than she wanted to hop into bed with Mike. She wanted to feel him against her and hear him murmuring in her ear. And she wanted him to want her.

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