Today you get the third scene from Rick & Leann’s story. You can read the first two here.
Leann stepped into the kitchen and had to take a moment to compose herself. Why did even being around that man do this to her? It had been almost two years since she divorced Kenneth. And no man had made her want to go back on her promise to put Lisa first. She didn’t date. She didn’t even flirt. Not until the first time Rick had come into the restaurant.
And he had a son. So, he had to know how she felt about that. She’d never seen a woman. Just that one time, that first time, when they’d met another couple and Todd had gone with them. She’d figured them for the boy’s grandparents though.
She shook away those thoughts. It was none of her business. They weren’t hers. She had more to worry about now. Like whether or not Kenneth would “forget” to bring Lisa back at the appointed time again. He didn’t keep her long enough for Leann to do anything about it. Just long enough to send her spiraling into panic. Then, he showed up like nothing was wrong. She wanted to strangle him.
Rick’s salad was ready, but she didn’t think she could handle being so close to him. Not yet. Not when she was still so unsettled. “Lizzie, can you take this salad out to table 5?” She wouldn’t be able to keep avoiding him, but she needed a few more moments to steady herself.
“Leann.” Amber called her from the doorway of her office.
Leann cringed. She hoped passing off the salad to the other waitress wouldn’t get her in trouble. She’d just needed a minute. With a deep breath, she headed toward the office. “What is it?”
Amber just stepped back and let her enter the office then shut the door. This was bad. Amber never shut her door. Leann swallowed past the fear. She couldn’t lose this job. It was the only thing keeping her and Lisa in their apartment. She had another job, but it didn’t bring in enough money. She swallowed past the fear constricting her throat, ready to say anything to keep from being fired.
Amber spoke before she could even open her mouth. “Is that man bothering you? If he is, I can have Lizzie switch sections with you for tonight and let him know he’s not welcome back here again.”
She should be relieved, so why did this feel so similar to panic? “That’s not necessary. He’s not bothering me.” Why did her voice sound so frantic?
“We’re family here, Leann. I take care of my family.”
She shook her head. “Really, Amber, it’s fine. He’s not harassing me or anything.”
“Then why are you passing off his food to Lizzie? She has tables to see to as well.”
Leann let out a breath. “He just-”she blew out another breath. “He unsettles me. He sees too much. I just needed a moment to balance myself again. I won’t pass off my duties again though. I promise.”
The smile playing at Amber’s lips surprised her. What did the woman find so amusing? “Maybe you need someone who sees too much of you. I think it’s been too long.”
Leann shook her head. “The divorce hasn’t even been final for two years.”
“And how long before that since Kenneth actually saw you? You forget I knew you before.”
Leann sighed. She did forget. Amber was a very distant cousin of her mother’s. So distant they considered themselves more friends than relatives. And she was closer to Leann’s age than her mother’s. “You’re right. It’s been a long time.” Her gaze shifted to the door, and she swallowed. “You think that’s all this is? Just that he’s the first one who’s paid attention to me since Kenneth?”
“I think you’re going to have to figure out what it is. Now, go on and get back to work. Maybe you should let him see the real you.”
She wiggled her eyebrows and made Leann laugh. “I have a seven-year old, Amber. The last thing he wants to see is the real me.”
“What does that have to do with anything? He has a boy. I’m sure he’s seen what a mother looks like.”
That was just one more reason she should stay away. “And where is she? There has to be a reason we never see her.”
“Maybe you should ask him when you go ask him out.”
Leann nearly choked at that and shook her head. “No. No way. I can’t do that, Amber.”
“You two have been dancing around each other for weeks now. One of you will have to take the next step.”
“Why do either of us? Flirting isn’t a relationship. It’s better to stick to the first.”
“Isn’t that what I said? There’s nothing wrong with safe. I have a daughter to think about.”
“Doesn’t mean you can’t think about yourself as well. Now, go on. Get back to work. I’m not paying you to talk to me all night.”
Leann laughed and turned for the door. She did feel lighter after talking to the woman. She just hoped that feeling would stay throughout the night. It wouldn’t, but she could wish for it. Just like she wished being with Rick would be as easy as Amber assumed. She knew it could never be easy. Kenneth wouldn’t let it be.