Kei absentmindedly chewed on one fingernail. She stared at the computer screen. Maybe she could find some names if she looked up the history of the house she lived in? She started to type, when a instant message popped up.
*Are you still researching*
*Of course.* Kei typed back. *Stop bugging me.*
*I have superior internet service, if you weren't so stubborn, you would come over and use this computer.*
*I like this one.*
*rolls eyes. Sure you do. Are you still coming over for dinner? I
make a mean salad, and then I can show you what I've been up to.*
Kei paused, her fingers rested lightly on the keyboard. She had
forgotten she had agreed to come over for dinner tonight. She was
supposed to bring Layla and Kit with her. But they had begged and
pleaded to be allowed to attend a slumber party, and she had agreed to
let them go. *About that,* she typed back, "I forgot about it, and Kit
and Layla are already at a Slumber Party.*
*So?* was his response. *They can come next time. Surely you aren't afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?*
Kei did roll her eyes. He was just too corny sometimes. She
hesitated, at war with herself. She should be able to handle a little
dinner with a friend. He was always the perfect gentleman, he never did
anything inappropriate. But sometimes, her eyes would meet his and she
would be drawn in against her will. They would accidentally brush
shoulders in the hallway, and she would feel a little jolt. Her body
was waking up, and was ready for something more, her heart, not so
much. Ethan had been gone for several months. Sometimes it felt like
minutes, other times it felt like years. The barest of smells could
bring him back to her, and she would lay in bed and cry, missing him so
much. But other times, she could go weeks without a single tear. Maybe
she should stay home, and play it safe.
She was finding it harder and harder to be around Chaine. He was
funny, thoughtful, respectful, he challenged her, he had many of the
same qualities she had so admired in Ethan. She could tell why they had
been the best of friends. She was vulnerable around him though,
longing for more, and yet equally hating the want. She didn't want to
forget Ethan. Ethan was her husband. Ethan was dead, whispered another
part of herself. That did it. She was staying home. She went to type
her decision, when she noticed the computer was smoking. Great
timing. Her computer just died. She sighed. Apparently she was going
over to Chaine's for dinner. She hoped she wouldn't regret it.
She walked up the path to his front door, and let herself in. She had
been over here dozens of times, and he over at her house. They had a
standing invitation to each other's homes to just let themselves in. He
told her what he could to help her with her plans, without breaking his
promise, but he mainly served as a great sounding board for her
ideas. The talked online as well. Over the phone. They talked a
lot. And not all of it was about Ethan. She frowned. That was
dangerous to her heart.
She walked into his little study, expecting he would be sitting there
on his computer, awaiting a response from her. She was right. He
turned his head,and their eyes met. Her heart jolted painfully in her
chest, but her body, blast it, seemed to enjoy the charge.
Chaine stood up and walked over to where she stood. "I see you made it over."
"My computer died."
"I'm glad then. You can stop using that old dinosaur, and use my
computer. It is much more efficient. You'll never go back once you are
used to it."
"That's what I'm afraid of."
"My Kei? Afraid? Preposterous! Now, sit down right here." He led
her to the chair he has just been sitting in. He gently pushed her down
into the chair. He leaned over her to use the mouse. Kei's heart
stuttered. She wished he wasn't so close. She wished he didn't smell
so good. She wished she wasn't so attracted to him. He did a few
clicks here, and a few clicks there, until he brought up a plan design.
Kei pointed to the screen. "What is that?"
"That, my dear, is a wonderful invention. It is going to take the
whole world by storm, and make me a millionaire." Kei looked up at him
like he was crazy. He grinned down at her. "Otherwise known as a
hypnotizer. Imagine, if you will, the possibilities of this little
machine. They would be endless! No more boring parties!"
Kei shook her head. "You are crazy, if you think someone is going to
buy that." She stood up slowly, and Chaine backed away. He pretended
to be hurt.
"Crazy! That's not crazy! That's pure Genius right there."
"Terrific Genius, how about you feed me this mean salad you promised me."
"As you wish! This way!" He took her elbow and led her to the
kitchen. She enjoyed dinner, she enjoyed his company more than she
wanted. They laughed and goofed around until Kei said she'd better head
"So soon? Frownie face here."
Kei smiled at him. "I've been here for hours." She looked up into his face, when had he gotten so close?
She didn't know who kissed who first, just that suddenly they were kissing each other, passionately.
The kiss went on forever, but not long enough. They pulled slightly
apart, their lips nearly touching, their arms still wrapped around each
other. "Kei." Chaine said her name, softly. Kei closed the gap
between them again and kissed him. Chaine responded. She had missed
this, this physical contact. He was so different from----
Chaine pulled back a little. "Kei, I am not Ethan."
"I know." she whispered.
"I won't be his substitute."
"I know that too."
They kissed again, until just kissing wasn't enough. "Kei are you sure?"
"No," she answered as she pulled his shirt off. She kissed him again.
He groaned. "Kei, I need you to be sure. I don't want you to hate me in the morning, or hate yourself."
"Chaine," she grumbled, "you talk too much. I say we play this by ear,
and I promise, I won't hate either of us in the morning."
"Good enough for me."
Much later, Kei slipped out from under his embrace, and called her
father. "Daddy, I won't be home tonight." Then she slipped back into
the bed beside Chaine, and pulled his arm around her. He nuzzled up
against her in his sleep. She sighed. She felt so many conflicted
things. But regret was not one of them. Even when she remembered they
didn't use any protection at all, and she could be pregnant again. She
closed her eyes and willed herself to sleep, tomorrow was a new day.
Next: Chapter 17: Second Chances