“Hey Mama, can Cassidy come over Friday? We don’t have homework over the weekends and my room is clean.” Grace smiled.
“I don’t know if I have to work.”
“Will you find out? Please.”
Grace nodded. “I’ll find out. Now go to school.”
Hailey grinned as she got out of the car. “Bye Mama. I love you.”
“I love you too, baby.”
Grace drove on to the diner. She clocked in and already Cal had a scowl on his face.
“Good morning Cal!” Janice sang. “You’re looking mighty chipper this morning.”
He snorted. “Janice you are always too happy. It’s so darn annoying.”
Janice squeezed his cheek. “Aw, I have to, you big baby. I don’t want your grumpy mood to bring me down.” The diner opened in thirty minutes and they still had a ways to go.
Janice set the chairs right side up. “Hey Gracey girl, turn on some tunes.”
Grace turned on the radio that resided by the cash register. An oldies song came on and Janice began to dance. “Come on Grumpy Butt, come dance with me.”
She grabbed Cal and spun around the ‘dance floor’. Grace had never laughed so hard in her life.
“How are you sweetie?” The man looked up and smiled. He was cute. That much Grace noticed. He had black hair with violet blue eyes. “Hi, I’m fine. Thank you.” Accent! Even cuter. Grace blushed.
He pushed the glasses up on his nose. “Can I get a cup of coffee and some apple pie?”
Grace nodded. “Sure thing.” She turned and finally let herself breathe. She grabbed Janice and pulled her to the side.
“Look at him. He’s so cute.”
Janice nodded. “Mhm. He’s adorable. Want me to get his number?”
“No! I…” Thoughts of Allan bombarded her. “I’m not ready for that.”
Grace felt like crying. It had been a few weeks since she’d cried over Allan. She felt her eyes fill with tears. “I need to go. Take care of him for me, will you?” Janice squeezed her hand and nodded.
Janice went back to the man. “Here’s your coffee, sweet cheeks. The pie is on its way.”
“Where is the other girl? She was my waitress.”
Janice sighed. “She just had a tragedy in her life. She needs a little time to compose herself.”
The man frowned. “Well, will you give this to her please?”
Janice took the card. “Sure thing Doctor.”
He stood. “I’ll take my pie to go if you don’t mind.” Janice nodded. “Tell her I’m sorry.” Again she nodded. “Have a nice day.” He smiled.
“You too,” Janice replied.
As soon as he was gone she raced to the bathroom. “Grace, Gracey!” Janice grabbed her. “He’s a doctor. And he’s clearly interested in you. He gave me his card to give to you.”
Grace took it. “Doctor Brian Duncan, Pediatrician. I’ve never heard of him. He must be new.”
Janice laughed. “Who cares? He’s cute!” Grace laughed under her breath.
“Yeah but I’m not going to call him. Not now anyways.”
Janice shrugged. “Just take it. You may need him for one of the kids.”
Grace considered this and stuffed the card into her apron. “Thanks Janice. I appreciate you covering for me.”
Grace came around the corner to get back to work. She stopped dead in her tracks when she saw him. He was having breakfast with that girl again. He waved her over. That was the last thing she wanted to do. She was not going to say hi while he was having breakfast with his new girlfriend.
“Hi Paul.” Grace forced a smile.
“Hey Grace, you remember Tabatha right?” Tabatha shook her hand.
“Yes. It’s nice to see you again. Here. With him.”
Paul frowned. “You okay?”
“Yeah of course. I’m better than okay, super even.”
Paul chuckled. “Okay then, I guess I’ll have a sweet tea, Tabatha?”
“Water for me please.”
“Oh, I’m not your waitress. No, Janice is. I’ll get her your drink order though.”
Grace caught Janice by her arm. “Take them, please. I can’t deal with him today. Not with her.”
Janice sighed. “Baby girl, you need to get your priorities straight. Sometimes, in this world, you have to deal with things you don’t want to.”
“Yes I know. And I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. But now, I have an amazing friend who will take them off my hands.”
Janice laughed. “Flattery will get you no where.”
“Yes it will and you know it.”
“Alright girly, I’ll take them today. No more.”
“Deal!” Grace hugged the woman. Janice carried the two their drinks.
As they were leaving, Paul stopped Grace. “Hey, what’s up? You were acting weird today.”
“I was just a little preoccupied. Nothing’s up.”
“Do you still want me to bring the kids by for dinner?” Grace nodded. “Okay, I’ll see you tonight.”
“Bye Paul.” He smiled and nodded.
Tabatha took his hand as they walked out. “What was that all about?”
Paul shrugged. “I don’t know. She was acting weird. I just wanted to know if she was okay.”
Tabatha smiled. “Such a gentleman.” He grinned.
“Thank you.” Paul opened her door.
“No, thank you.” Tabatha leaned up and planted a kiss on his lips. “I’ll see you later.” She slid into the driver’s seat and shut the door. “Call me.” Paul nodded.
Grace’s jaw hit the floor. She had kissed him! And he let her. Grace folded her arms. She felt hurt for some reason. It wasn’t like she was dating Paul. For heaven’s sake, her husband had just died! But she couldn’t stop the feeling of loneliness. Paul was obviously able to move on faster than she was.
“Today’s a great day Myles.” Paul stuffed nails into his pack and grabbed his nail gun.
“Why is that?”
“The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and I got a kiss from a gorgeous girl this morning.”
Myles laughed. “Grace? Kiss you?”
“No, Tabatha, the girl that came to get me for lunch yesterday. We had breakfast this morning too.”
“Well, sounds like you’ve had a good couple of days.” Paul chuckled and climbed up to the roof.
“Hey girly, guess what?” Grace replied as Hailey got into the car.
“I don’t have to work until next Monday.”
“So you have Friday off?” Grace nodded.
Hailey squealed and squeezed her mother’s neck. “So Cassidy can come over?”
“I’ll have to talk to her Mom first.”
“She doesn’t have a mom. But I wrote down her dad’s number. Here. It’s somewhere in my book bag.” Hailey dumped out her whole book bag.
She sifted through papers until she found the one she wanted. “Here Mama, call him now.” Grace looked at the number. It was oddly familiar. She picked the card from her apron and studied the two numbers. They were exactly the same. Doctor Brian Duncan was Cassidy’s father.
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