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No Matter the Time, II...an Alternate Love Story
There weren’t many people in the grocery store when they arrived nearly an hour later. Casey picked up a hand basket, which Daniel took from her, and they made their way down the aisles as she picked up the items she needed to make him breakfast. Her heart was fluttering, she had butterflies in her stomach, and she couldn’t stop grinning. She was going to make breakfast for Daniel. The first of many, many breakfasts.
He sat at the small table and watched her, sipping on the cup of coffee from the pot she had started as soon as they walked in the door. They shared a caffeine addiction, and he already loved her coffee. She made the process of making an omelet appear easy.
"Do you like butter on your toast?" she asked, taking two slices from the toaster.
"Yeah, I do."
She nodded, carefully buttered the still hot bread and put it on a small plate beside his cup of coffee. "I prefer just jam on mine," she said. She popped two more slices of bread into the toaster, then moved the omelet she had made for him from the skillet to a plate. She watched him take a bite, her lip between her teeth.
He closed his eyes. He’d never had an omelet this good! He wasn’t sure what it was, but there was something different…something that made it absolutely delicious. "Babe, if this is your idea of average cooking, I’m going to have to have a strenuous work-out routine to keep from gaining weight! This is amazing!"
She smiled happily. "I’m glad you like it."
He ate hungrily, couldn’t remember if he had had lunch the day before or not, and dinner had been a sandwich on the plane. He ate the toast she had made for him, plus two more pieces. She peeled an orange and shared it with him, gave him the apple from the fruit bowl when she found out that they were one of his favorite fruits. Satisfied, he leaned back and patted his stomach. "Babe, that was really good. Thanks."
"You’re welcome. I’m going to call Ricky, then we need to get to the mall for your ring, and while we’re there I need to stop in Vic…" she broke off, blushed, glanced over at him.
"Stop where?" he asked gently.
"Victoria’s Secrets," she said softly, her blush deepening.
"Anything particular?" he asked, a wide smile on his face.
"As a matter of fact, yes. But you can’t see it until our honeymoon." She giggled at the look of disappointment on his face. Maybe she’d pick up something special for their trip. She grabbed the phone and the phone book, made her call, found out that Ricky had an opening within the hour, and that they could get a loaner car while he was looking hers over.
A A A A A A
Ricky was a tall man, thin like his sister, with the same fiery red hair. He shook Daniel’s hand, sizing the man up, taking note of the look of love in his eyes every time he looked at Casey. Her eyes were so full of light and love that it was impossible to look at her and not smile. "Don’t know how long this is going to take. Shouldn’t be more than an hour. No rush for you to get back though."
Casey nodded. "Good. We have to go to the mall and get Daniel’s ring sized, and I don’t know how long that will take."
"I’ll be here when you get back. Take that little red Focus over there," he said, handing them the keys.
He watched them walk away, Daniel’s arm around her possessively. He had figured out early on that she would never see him as anything more than her best friend’s older brother. It was disappointing, but, well, that was life, and he had been lucky enough to become a good friend. He was glad that she had found a decent enough guy, one who seemed to be head-over-heels for her. If this guy hurt her, though, he’d be making a trip to Colorado to kick some ass.
The salesman at the jewelry store remembered them, and gave Casey’s ring a free cleaning. It was going to take about an hour for the band to be ready. She led him to Victoria’s Secrets.
He felt a little awkward going in at first. Then he found the perfume and body lotion section. He held her arm out, tried the sample bottles, spraying a bit on a small area of her arm, found one fragrance that he loved on her, and grabbed a bottle of the perfume and the lotion of the same fragrance. When he saw that there was a two-for-one sale, he told her to get a few things, and that he was paying. She found three teddies, four bras and four thongs. The salesclerk helped her find short robe, and Daniel nodded his approval on all of the items. He couldn’t wait to see her in the teddies …and take them off her! She decided to wait and buy that ‘special’ teddy…or whatever it was she would decide on, when he wasn’t with her.
Her heart was doing flip-flops as they walked back toward the jewelers. He was being so generous, and he seemed to delight in buying her things. She would have to be careful, she didn’t want to spend all of his money, she wasn’t sure how much he made, or how much he had, but she was not going to be seen as a gold-digger!
They drove back to the garage. Casey felt her heart drop into her stomach at the look on Ricky’s face.
"Case, I’m sorry, but I just can’t recommend driving all the way to Colorado in this car. The tranny needs to be resealed, the U-joints are shot, and the catalytic converter is on its last legs. Not to mention that it needs new brake pads and tires. I can get it fixed, but it will take at least four days to get the parts in and get the work done. The parts and labor will cost more than the car is worth."
Daniel crossed his arms over his chest, tapped a finger against his lips. "How much do you figure we could get on trade-in?"
Ricky looked at the blonde man and smiled. He had been bugging Casey to get a new car for months now. Here was a chance to force her into it. "Probably not much. I have a buddy who will give you $1500 sight unseen just for the parts."
Daniel nodded. "Okay, see if he wants this one. We’ll need it long enough to get another car."
"No problem," Ricky replied.
Casey was staring at the two of them, slack-jawed. "Daniel…what is your middle name?"
He gave her a puzzled look. "Melburn, after my Dad. Why?"
"Daniel Melburn Jackson, you cannot seriously be thinking of buying a new car!" she exclaimed.
The two men exchanged an amused look. "Babe, if the car won’t make it to Colorado, we aren’t taking it. As bad of shape as it’s in, I don’t want you driving it, even around town. It could be dangerous. I’ve been thinking about a new car anyway," he told her.
She studied him for a minute. "What kind of car were you looking at?"
"Jeep Renegade," he replied.
She nodded slowly. "Ricky, where's the Jeep dealer?"
"Down this street about eight blocks," the redheaded man replied.
"Wait a minute. What kind of car do you want?"
"Daniel, I don’t have the money to buy a new car. So, since you’re the one who is buying the car, it’s only fair that you get what you want."
"Babe, this is our car, and we should agree on it."
She smiled. "Good, we agree that you should get what you want."
He shook his head stubbornly. "Casey, what kind of car do you want?"
"Daniel, I’ve never even thought about it. A Jeep Renegade sounds fine to me."
He looked at her. "We’ll test drive one, see how you like it."
Ricky was nodding his approval. Yep, this guy was in love. And it looked like he was going to treat Casey the way she deserved to be treated.
The salesman at the Jeep dealer was friendly…but not overly pushy. He let them look at the Renegades that were on the lot without too much hovering. Daniel found a red one, sat down in the driver’s seat. The salesman climbed in the back and they took a short drive. He insisted that Casey drive it, also.
"This was a special order, then the buyer backed out. I can give you a sweet deal on this beauty, the boss wants it off the lot," the salesman said, once they were back at the sales lot.
"How sweet of a deal?" Daniel asked, once again sitting in the driver’s seat. He had already been looking at Renegades on the ‘net, he knew about how much the jeep should cost with the options that were listed on the window sticker. He was also well aware of the fact that the dealer didn’t pay the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, he got it wholesale.
"Well, the way this vehicle is equipped, the price comes in at $30, 550. I can let you drive it off this lot today for $28, 750."
Daniel shook his head. "Not sweet enough."
The salesman studied him. "The lowest I can go, and I do mean the lowest I can go is $27,500."
He nodded. That was right in the ballpark of what it should cost. "Okay, here’s the deal. We’re getting ready to move to Colorado. Hope to leave in the next couple of days. I can get it registered there, right?"
"Sure. You’ll have to pay sales tax, probably when you get your tags. No problem on our part. I can have you qualified and the loan ready by tomorrow afternoon."
He looked over at Casey. "What do you think, babe? Do you like it?"
She was sitting in the passenger seat, looking around with awe. She never dreamed she’d be driving a brand new vehicle, at least not at this point in her life. She looked at him, pulled her bottom lip between her teeth.
"Can we have a minute?" Daniel asked.
"Of course!" the salesman said with a smile. He stepped away from the jeep, looked out at the traffic passing by on the street.
"Don’t like it?"
"Oh, Daniel, it’s beautiful! But my god that’s a lot of money!" she replied.
"Babe, I’ve been looking at these online for awhile. It’s really a pretty good deal. If you don’t like it, we walk out of here and go find something else."
"The question is, do you like it," she said softly.
He grinned. "Yeah, I do."
"Okay," she smiled. "Let’s go sign your life away."
Daniel insisted that her name be put on the paperwork as well, and by the time they had finished signing all the necessary forms, she felt as if she had writer’s cramp. When he offered to take her out for dinner, she refused, telling him that he had spent more than enough money for one day.
She went to the store and bought chicken breasts, and when she found out that he liked green beans, she bought the ingredients for her green beans and ham dish. A package of linguine and a small block of Parmesan cheese and heavy cream for Alfredo sauce, and she was ready to head back to the apartment.
Again he sat at the table, his chin in his hand while he watched her. He offered to help her, but she had refused with a smile, and poured him a cup of freshly brewed coffee.
"When we’re at your place, if the kitchen is big enough, you can help," she teased.
"Uh, babe, it’s our place, now," he reminded her gently.
She smiled. "I guess it is, huh?" she said softly.
Kelley was thrilled to find Casey cooking when she came in from work.
"How long are you going to be working overtime?" Casey asked her best friend.
The tall redhead shrugged. "Until they replace you, I guess," she replied.
"Geez, Kells, I’m sorry," Casey said.
"Casey, don’t worry about it. You have the best reason in the world to be quitting," Kelley grinned. She looked over at Daniel and winked. "Darn cute one, too."
Casey giggled, then told her roommate about her car, and the new jeep that they had just purchased.
Kelley stared at Daniel. "You’ve dropped a lot of money in the past week or so," she said somewhat suspiciously.
"I make decent enough money from the Air Force," he replied. "Haven’t had much to spend it on lately, nobody to…spoil." He winked at Casey.
The redhead nodded. "With all of those degrees of yours, I’ll bet you do at that," she said softly.
Daniel was again impressed…no, he was awed by her talent in the kitchen. He had never had green beans that tasted as good as what she had prepared, the chicken was incredible, and the fresh linguine Alfredo was out of this world. "I am definitely going to have to work out everyday," he groaned, leaning back in his chair.
"Wait ‘til you have her lasagna," Kelley said. "Your taste buds will think you died and went to heaven!"
"She said she was just an average cook," he said.
"Yeah, I’ve heard that one, too. Just about as average as her looks," Kelley confided.
"Excuse me, I’m sitting right here. At least wait until I’m in the other room to talk about me," Casey said, blushing brightly. "Daniel, I really need to get the rest of my clothes packed…is there something you’d like to watch on TV?"
"I’ll find something, babe," he replied.
Fifteen minutes later, when Casey came out for the masking tape, he was stretched out on the sofa, sound asleep. She smiled, kissed his forehead, and covered him with the afghan.
"Wow, he’s sexy asleep, too, isn’t he?" Kelley asked softly.
Casey smiled. "Yep, he is. He’s sexy just standing there breathing."
"I’m really happy for you, Case. I know that you and Daniel are going to be really happy together."
"Thanks, Kells," she said, hugging her friend. She knew that they were going to be happy, too.
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