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from Frienemies by Aleta Kay

Chapter Fifty-Five

In spite of his best intentions he met Angel again. Due to the rumors that had been brought to his attention, he refused to be seen with her at the Hound’s Ear. They met instead in a clearing in the forest in Sun Valley. What was he doing here? He should already have left Lerona.

Look Angel, if we’re going to do this, I have to go to the Wiley’s tomorrow night. You’re really getting out of control, you know.” Even to himself he sounded like a petulant child.

“Just remember who your best paying client is,” she purred. “And Joel, be careful how you treat me. I know how to hurt a man,” Angel responded.

Joel had forgotten that she apparently did not know he was no longer employed. Just as well. Her eyes reminded him of two lumps of coal—hard and cold. Why can’t I deliver myself from this vixen?

##

Joel arrived the next evening dressed in a navy blue suit, bearing flowers, one bouquet for Deanna as the hostess, the other for Fawn, who looked like a breath of springtime.

Deanna welcomed him in with a sisterly hug. Michael came up behind her.

“Burgundy roses for my two matched chestnuts,” he said with a boyish grin. “What’s for supper tonight, Deanna?”

“One of my famous surprises. Would you like coffee or tea while we wait?” She accepted the both bunches of flowers so they could be put in vases of water.

“Coffee, please.” Joel took both of Fawn’s hands in his own. He felt the pulse quicken in her wrists as he said, “My, you are lovely tonight. How do you like it here so far?” He tried to keep his voice light, but it sounded forced, unnatural.

Deanna had already returned from giving the flowers to the housekeeper and setting the heat under the coffee pot. She and Fawn exchanged glances over the strangeness of Joel’s voice. Deanna shrugged her shoulders and shook her head slightly, indicating Fawn should not worry about it.

Fawn replied to Joel. “It’s been a breath of fresh air. I keep thinking something must go wrong, because life cannot be this good.” It was true, Fawn realized with a start. She really had not had a happy life up to this point. There had been much hardship and feelings of inadequacy had been a continual companion during her seventeen years.

Yet now, in spite of losing her parents, her grandfather, her brother, and her first teaching position (note to reader: this will be made clear in the revision process), she found herself hopeful of the future.

Surprise showed on Joel’s face as he beheld the look of wonder in Fawn’s hazel eyes. He had never seen such a look on anyone before. It tugged at his heart.

Michael lightly clapped Joel on the shoulder. How about you and me go into the parlor and wait for the ladies to return with the coffee? A vague feeling of unease nibbled at the edges of Michael’s spirit. He began to pray silently for Joel and Fawn. Something seemed off.

The women returned with a tray laden with four cups of coffee, cream and sugar. Fawn spilled her coffee while her mind wondered how she could be so drawn to Joel,yet so uncertain of him.

Deanna handed her a towel to wipe up the spill, a twinkle in her eye as she teased Fawn about not being able to keep her mind on her work with so handsome a young man around.

I’m just being silly, Fawn told herself. I’ve been let down so many times by so many people, I’m afraid to trust anyone—anyone except Jason, she surprised herself at the thought. Why had Jason popped into her mind? Her next thought was even more out of place as she wondered what it would be like to held in the arms of Joel and be kissed by him. Her face burn...






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