No Runs, No Hits, No Errors

By Jane Greensmith
www.janegs.com

Copyright 2004.
 All rights reserved.

Chapter 9

 

Saturday morning Kathleen woke up to the harsh jangle of a ringing phone. It was Harry.

"I didn't wake you, did I?"

"Of course not, it's...um...where's the clock..."

"Nine-ten, Kathleen. It's nine-ten. The day's half over already. You were still sleeping, weren't you?"

She hated it when he grinned over the phone. "Is there something I can help you with?" she asked through pursed lips.

"I was talking to Jack this morning and he's feeling guilty about not being around much over the past couple of weeks because we've been working late and he wants to take Colleen out for a nice, romantic dinner, without the kids..."

"And they asked you to ask me to babysit?"

"No, it's just that Jack isn't going to use his ticket tonight after all, and Colleen thought you might like to go instead."

"With you?" A pause. "Tonight?" A longer pause. "Did you lose your little black book?"

"Actually I've memorized all the numbers I need out of it. Look Kathleen, much as I love this banter, Jack's ticket is available and Colleen thought you might like to go. This is the first Saturday I haven't had to work in a month and I'd like to go fishing before it gets too hot instead of wasting my time playing twenty questions with you."

"You needn't get huffy. Okay, I'll go. I imagine this will be a mind-broadening experience anyway..."

"Fine, then. I'll pick you up at seven and we can get some dinner before hand."

"Why don't we just eat there?"

"Well, I need more dinner than the snacks they'll serve."

"But you're always raving about how great the food is..."

"Then I exaggerated..."

"You? Exaggerate? That's a first."

"Will you be ready at seven?"

"Yes. I promise I'll be ready at seven."

A long pause.

"What are you going to wear?"

"Oh for God's sake, Harry, what does it matter what I wear? I'll probably just get beer spilled all over me and whatever I wear will end up ruined."

"Does that happen to you a lot?"

She could tell he was grinning again.

"Oh, put a sock in it. Now go fishing and leave me alone."

"Sweet dreams, Kath."

Kathleen hung up the phone with slightly more force than was necessary. Of course she was not going to go back to sleep at nine-ten in the morning. The nerve of the man, she thought laying back and staring at her ceiling. Still, going to a Rockies game might be fun. 

Kathleen smiled -- what a sweet brother-in-law she had. It was so like Jack to decide that the best gift he could give his wife was to not go to a ball game that night. Colleen would be so pleased -- the early stages of a pregnancy had never been easy for her and Kathleen could tell that her sister was already feeling peaked. But why would Colleen think that Kathleen would like going to the game? Harry would have found a more appreciative companion in Rob Haskins or Rob Martin or even Maggie Obermann. Oh well, with Phil out of town she might as well get a major league baseball game under her belt. One was sure to be enough!

Besides, Harry was surprisingly fun to be around these days. Just last night they had had a great time at the Riverdale B&G Club. True to his promise, he had taught his baseball team and Maggie's karate class how to fold cranes while Kathleen taught her arts-and-crafts girls how to salsa dance. Harry, of course, had felt the need to make a competition out of it and so his baseball team was now ten cranes ahead of her girls. Kathleen tried to point out that they still had more than  eight hundred cranes left to make together, but Harry waved her off and somehow the crane-folding dissolved into an all-club dance party in the gym. Kathleen smiled to herself, remembering Harry dancing to Wimoweh and trying to hit the high notes, causing the kids to double over with laughter. Later, in the car on the way home, Harry had quietly told Kathleen that Connie was thrilled with the energy she was bringing to the center.  Glowing with pleasure at his praise, she told him her idea for a fundraiser.

"Folding cranes helps the kids focus, but we still need to come up with cash for the playground," she had stated as a matter of fact.   "I can organize a silent auction at the country club to raise the money.  I am an excellent organizer, and lots of people will pay major money for autographed cookbooks and that kind of thing, especially if they get to write it off. You tell me how much money we need, and I'll raise it."

Harry told her he would have a figure for her by Monday, but how about if they held the auction at Kenwood and made it a party as well. Lettie Bridges and Gail Hawkins had been badgering him to host a real party instead of just the free-form annual picnics he held every year. Then Harry reminded Kathleen that she was going away to grad school in August--was six weeks really enough time to organize and hold the auction? Kathleen's heart sank. She had been so caught up in the idea that she had forgotten that her time in Juniper Hills and at the Riverdale Club and even at K-B-K was so limited. And then she rallied. Of course, she had enough time. She reminded Harry that he wasn't the only one who performed under pressure. They would have the auction the third weekend in August, she declared. But then he reminded her that most of K-B-K would be heading off to southern Colorado for the company's annual rock climbing trip that week.

"So we'll have the auction the second weekend in August, and you can take off on Monday."  

And so it was decided.  Kathleen would organize a silent-auction at Harry's mountain retreat, and Harry was not to criticize or in any way interfere with her plans. He would be the host, foot the bill for the spread, smile nicely at all of Kathleen's country-club friends, and try to keep his dog from slobbering on their guests.

#

Saturday evening, Kathleen stepped out of the shower to hear the doorbell ringing. She quickly wrapped a towel around her head and another around her body, and peeked out the curtained window to see Harry's black Porsche parked in front of the house. The Porsche? He never drives the Porsche. Followed quickly by...It can't be seven already! It wasn't. Kathleen checked the clock and then cracked open her door in time to hear her father letting Harry in.

Kathleen quickly pulled on a pair of denim shorts and a black tank top, tied her wet hair back with the purple and black Rockies scrunchy that Jack had put in her stocking two Christmases ago, pinched her cheeks and declared herself ready for her first major league game.

She walked downstairs to find Harry looking like a centerfold from GQ.

They stared at each other for several seconds before Harry started to laugh.

"Good thing I thought to pick you up half an hour early," he chortled. "Just where do you think you're going dressed like that?"

"To a Rockies game. You invited me to a Rockies game," Kathleen almost shouted, her blood pressure rising with every passing second and her cheeks reddening as Harry walked entirely around her, inspecting every inch of her casually-clad body.

"I invited you to the Civic Center opening, Kath. Now go and put on something pretty, and make it snappy."

"I don't wear snappy clothing, thank you. And why didn't you tell me you had tickets to the gala?  I've been crazy to go, and now I don't even have a new dress and my nails are chipped."

"You know I bought tickets for the gala for me and Jack to hobnob with clients. Why on earth would I waste Rockies tickets on you? Besides Maggie and Bob are using them."

"Maggie Obermann and Bob Martin?"

"Do you know another Maggie and Bob?"

"Why does she want to hang out with Bob? He's always in such a bad mood..."

"Just around you. Now go and get dressed. We have dinner reservations for seven-fifteen."

"I have nothing to wear."

"You have a closet full of clothes. Wear that black dress you wore to Jack and Colleen's anniversary party."

She glared at him. "You know I wore it last weekend. It's still at the cleaners."

"It takes a week to clean that dress? There's so little material that I would think it wouldn't take more than ten minutes."

In the end, Kathleen wore her royal blue silk sheath. Harry knocked discreetly on her door at five minutes after seven. She opened it with her toe and instructed him to make himself useful by fastening her diamond choker for her. He said he was hers to command. They left for dinner.

#

Kathleen was as happy as a beautiful twenty-two year old with a gorgeous man on her arm could be. Of course, she had no idea that Harry was, in fact, gorgeous. He was still barely more than the obnoxious surrogate brother who scolded her and praised her, teased her and flirted with her. She had no idea until she saw women's heads turning, first at the upscale restaurant where he took her to dinner, and later at the gala itself.  Kathleen, woman that she was, walked a little lighter, laughed a little louder, and clung to his arm just a shade more than she would have had she not noticed the female sharks circling.

And then she spied Dorie and Mike Eastman. They were all the way across the gallery, chatting with Mike's lawyer friends and Dorie's ballet patrons, sipping wine and appreciating the artwork that graced Boulder 's new Civic Center . Kathleen steered Harry in the general direction of Dorie and Mike.

"Kathleen, you look fabulous," were the first words out of Dorie's mouth when she spied her best friend. "Harry, you are too sweet, you brought Kathleen just because you knew how much she wanted to come." She turned back to Kathleen, "And you thought he was taking you to some old ball game."

Harry nodded benignly to Dorie and shook hands with Mike and introduced the Rockies home stand into the conversation because he really didn't want his date with Kathleen to be discussed by Dorie any further.

Dorie was undaunted. "Kathleen honey, I am so sorry about Friday night."

Harry paused in his conversation with Mike, as if waiting for Kathleen's response. But Kathleen discreetly shook her head at Dorie and bit her lip, praying that her dearest friend would please, please keep her mouth shut.

Dorie didn't pick up on Kathleen's non-verbals. "I was so mad at Phil for standing you up. Matthew Dixon says 'jump,' and Phil says 'how high.' A little ambition is good, but, in my opinion, he didn't need to go off to New York a day early. Just didn't want to say 'no' to Matthew, and so broke a date with the prettiest girl in Juniper Hills..."

Kathleen died inside a thousand times during Dorie's soliloquy. She didn't dare look at Harry's face, but mid-way through her friend's speech she noticed that he let go of her hand, saying "Excuse me, Kathleen. I need to see that man about..." and he was gone, across the gallery, and out the door of the Civic Center into the night.

Watching him walk away from her, Kathleen couldn't remember ever feeling worse than she felt at that very moment. Her first impulse was to slap Dorie, but it wasn't Dorie's fault that Harry would now think of her as lower than a garden slug. It was her own fault.

She followed him instinctively, out into the night.  Glancing wildly around, she tried to see where he had gone but was still blinded by the glare from the gala. Then she saw a familiar shape, leaning over the railing, looking out across the man-made lake that fronted the Civic Center .

Kathleen stood a few feet from Harry and tried to find her voice.  She felt her eyes well up.  She walked over to him and laid a hand on his back. He shrugged her off. Her voice bravely stepped up to the plate, and she clenched and flexed and clenched the empty hand he had rejected.

"I'm sorry."

"When were you planning on telling Connie that you weren't going to show up? Or were you even going to bother to tell her?" He continued to stare at the lake, his hands gripping the railing as he spoke evenly.

"I was trying to find a substitute when..."

He turned and looked at her. His eyes were cold and his mouth was a thin, hard line. "Let me guess, when he called you Thursday night at Kenwood to cancel?"

"Yes."

Harry turned away from Kathleen and resumed staring into the black void that was the lake. Kathleen could hear ducks calling to each other in the night, and an occasional splash punctuated the soft summer air.

"Maggie will do the auction with me," Harry finally said. "Great idea, though."

His sarcasm cut her. "Don't you dare take that away from me," she said, her voice rising. "It was my idea and I'll do it."

"Unless Phil wants a playmate the night of the auction. You think I'd let you let Connie and the kids down?"

"You're just mad because you don't like Phil."

"I'm just mad because...oh God, Kathleen. You made a promise. You told Connie and those little girls you would be there for them..."

"And I was. I was there for them."

"You wouldn't have been if Phil hadn't cancelled on you."

"You don't know that. You don't know that I would've let them down. You always want to think the worst of me," she concluded with a sob.

The sob brought his arms around her, instinctively. He had never hesitated to embrace her when she needed comfort, and he didn't now. He kissed her hair and held her next to his heart and let her bury herself in the soft, rich folds of his tuxedo. When her tears were spent, she pulled away and looked into his eyes soberly.

"I know you don't like Phil," she said quietly, "but I want to fall in love with him so much. Can you understand what he could mean to me? He's everything I've ever wanted and I've been so afraid that I'd never really fall in love, and then he came along. And he's perfect." She smiled through her tears, and sheepishly took the handkerchief he offered and dried her eyes and blew her nose. 

He started to turn back toward the lake, but on an impulse, she stayed his shoulder, then reached up and gently stroked his cheek.  He closed his eyes for an instant and then covered her hand with his own, ending her caress so that she couldn't feel his jaw tighten as she went on, "Harry, I know you're my friend and I'm asking you to trust and respect my judgment.  Phil's really awfully nice, and he listens to me and treats me like I'm the most wonderful woman in the world. That's all I've ever really wanted. He's the one, Harry. I really think we're right for each other."

As she spoke she felt stronger and stood straighter, and now looked Harry full in the eye.

"I know I was wrong to make a date for Friday night when I had already committed all my Friday nights this summer to Connie and the Club. I was wrong, and I'm sorry, and I won't do it again. Please, don't me mad at me anymore. I couldn't bear it if you were mad at me for keeps."

Harry pulled her to him once again and kissed her forehead, and then hugged her for a long time. Finally, when he had banished the faraway look in his eyes to a place from which it couldn't venture forth again and felt sufficiently in control of himself, he stepped back, held Kathleen's sweet, young face in his hands and told her that he only ever wanted the best for her.  If she thought Phil was the best, then she should have him.

 

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