Dangerous to Know & Love(10) by Jane Harvey-Berrick

She was surprised into motion when she felt his strong fingers around her wrist.

“Come on,” he said, with a smile. “IV coffee coming up.”

Lisanne followed him out of the library, grateful for his caffeinated intervention, but more astonished by the way his hand had felt on her skin – almost as if his touch burned. She was also horribly aware of the surprised stares that followed them across the campus.

Again.

If Daniel noticed, he didn’t say.

As before, his bike was waiting for them in the student parking lot.

“Miss me, baby?” he said, his tone soft and loving.

Lisanne couldn’t help laughing at the blissful expression on his face.

“Are you really talking to your motorcycle?”

“Sure! She’s the only woman in my life, aren’t you, baby?”

Was it unreasonable of Lisanne to feel jealous of an inanimate object? Because at that point, she wanted to push the bike to the ground, stamp all over its shiny bodywork, and laugh like a hyena while she did it.

Daniel ran a loving hand over the polished chrome and grinned up at Lisanne when he saw her shaking her head.

“What can I say? She’s beautiful – and she doesn’t talk back. Or eat all my chips.”

“I did not!” huffed Lisanne, guiltily.

Daniel smirked at her, then turned back to the bike.

“Don’t be jealous, baby. She’s only a human.”

“What sort of motorcycle is this?”

He shook his head in disbelief at her ignorance.

“She’s a 1969 Harley Davidson XLCH Sportster,” he answered. “Rebuilt her myself – one thousand cc engine. V2, four-stroke… Too much information?”

Lisanne nodded, looking amused. He swung his leg over the saddle and held out his hand.

“Come on. Sirona doesn’t like to be kept waiting.”

“You named her?”

“Of course. She’s too beautiful not to have a name.”

Boys and their toys.

“Does it mean anything?”

“Sirona is a Celtic goddess. She rules over healing.”

He shrugged, and Lisanne felt a pang. Did that mean Daniel hoped he’d be healed? Was he awaiting some miracle that would restore his hearing? She watched him carefully. Whatever pain he suffered, he held it inside. How strong must he be to do that? She didn’t know. She couldn’t imagine.

In silence, he passed her the spare helmet and fastened his own. He nodded, and she latched her arms around his waist. This was, by far, her favorite part of riding with him. She snuggled into his solid warmth, tightening her grip.

A short trip later, and they were back at the diner.

Lisanne was a little disappointed; she’d imagined they were going somewhere different – somewhere fresh and exciting. But then she realized that she was being stupid and selfish. It was no surprise that Daniel preferred to go somewhere he knew. He had enough challenges in his life without wondering if he’d be able to lip read a new waitress in a new coffee shop.

He led her to the same booth as last time, and like last time Maggie sauntered over to serve them.

“Back again, Danny. You just can’t get enough of my coffee, huh, kid?”

He winced slightly at the diminutive of his name, but didn’t bother to correct her.

“Hey, Maggie.”

“And if your girl is going to be a regular, you ought to darn well introduce her.”

His girl?

“Yeah, sorry. This is Lisanne. Lisanne, Maggie.”

“Hi, Maggie,” she said, feeling shy.

“You treat him good, honey,” said the waitress. “He’s a royal pain in the ass, like most men, but he’s one of the better ones. I’ll get you two of the specials.”

Lisanne had no idea what the ‘specials’ were but she found Maggie too daunting to ask. Instead she watched as the woman poured them each a coffee – black – ruffled Daniel’s hair, and wandered away.

She couldn’t help giggling at the chagrined expression on Daniel’s face.

“I can see why you keep coming here, Danny.”

He groaned. “God! Don’t you start! I was just beginning to like you.”

A warm glow heated Lisanne from the inside and damn it if she didn’t feel her traitorous cheeks turn pink.

Daniel sipped his coffee, then looked up and smiled again.

“Roy says rehearsals are going well.”

“Um, yeah, I think so. I mean, they seem pretty pleased. I don’t know. I’m sure I’ll be a bag of nerves on the night.”

“Nah, you’ll be fine. He says you’re a natural. He’d know.”

“I’ll probably make a complete fool of myself, trip over the cables, electrocute everyone, and break a leg – all before the opening chords.”

Daniel laughed. “At least no one would ever forget it.”

“Oh no,” she moaned. “It’s going to be a nightmare. And Kirsty – my roommate – she’s getting up a group of people from school to come. I wish she wouldn’t but it’s too late to stop her.”

For some reason Daniel didn’t look pleased, but he twitched a shoulder and said, “She’s just being a friend.”

“Yeah, she’s pretty awesome.”

“Is she the girl you sit next to in Business class?”

“Yes.”

“Huh. She’s hot.”

Lisanne’s heart shuddered. Was this the reason why he was being so nice to her? He was really interested in Kirsty? Yeah, and why was that even a surprise to her?

Lisanne stared down into her coffee. “She’s got a boyfriend,” she blurted out, even though it wasn’t strictly true since Kirsty had only had one date with Vin so far.

“Yeah?” said Daniel, without much interest.

Lisanne closed her eyes. He was probably the kind of guy who didn’t care whether a girl had a boyfriend or not. He could still have whoever he wanted.

By the time Maggie returned with the specials – chicken-fried steak with gravy, mashed potatoes, and biscuits – Lisanne had lost her appetite.

“Guess you filled up on chips, huh?” said Daniel, watching her push the untouched biscuits across her plate.

Lisanne didn’t reply, and continued staring at the ruins of her meal.

“You could have had anything from the menu,” he said, gently. “Maggie just knows what I like. I’m sorry – I should have told her to wait and see what you wanted.”

“No, it’s fine,” she said, quietly. “Actually I’m kind of tired. I think I’ll grab a taxi. You don’t have to take me back.”

Daniel frowned.

“It’s no problem. Besides, I was the one who brought you out here.”

“It’s fine,” she said again, not meeting his eyes.

“For f**k’s sake, Lis!” he said crossly. “What’s crawled up your ass?”

“Nothing!” she said, hotly. “I’m fine.” Which was a big fat lie. “I told you. I’m tired.”

“Whatever,” he muttered, coldly.

He ducked out of the booth to pay the check before Lisanne could say anything.

Lisanne was miserable. She felt 33% angry; 33% hurt; 33% dumb; and 0% surprised. She didn’t know what happened to that last 1% – she really hated math.

She tugged on her jacket and dug out her cellphone to call a cab. But long fingers reached over her shoulder and pulled it from her hand.

“What are you doing?”

“I said I’d take you back and I will,” said Daniel with a tight voice.

“No thanks.”

He growled with frustration.

“Why are you being such a bitch?”

“I can’t imagine,” she said coldly.

She knew she was being unfair – it wasn’t like she was his girlfriend or anything. But, come on! He was talking about checking out her roommate in front of her. Did he think her feelings didn’t count even a tiny bit?

He tried one last time.

“I’m guessing I’ve done something to make you mad, but I have no f**king clue what it is.”

“Give me my damn phone, Daniel!”

Looking furious, he tossed it back to her. She fumbled and came close to dropping it on the floor.

Now she was pissed as well as upset.

“You could have broken it!”

“I didn’t know you couldn’t f**king catch for shit,” he snarled back at her.

“You’re such a jerk!” she hissed, tears leaking from her eyes.

He stopped suddenly.

“Are you crying?”

“No!”

“Yes, you are.”

“Leave me alone, Daniel,” she said, her voice shaky.

Lisanne stormed out of the diner, ignoring the curious or concerned stares of other customers, and turned her back on Daniel, not wanting to see him or talk to him.

He grabbed her by the shoulders and spun her around.

“Will you just tell me what the f**k is wrong?”

Lisanne stuck out her lip mulishly and Daniel dropped his shoulders in defeat.

“Just get on the damn bike, Lis.”

Wondering whether it was worth arguing the point, Lisanne stood with her arms wrapped protectively around her body.

Daniel’s face morphed from anger to resignation.

“Do what you want. I’ll wait till your cab gets here.”

Mentally, Lisanne was giving herself an ass-kicking for being so damn stubborn. Victory in the battle of wills had come at a very high cost. She scrolled down to the number of a local taxi firm and dialed.

“They’ll be here in five minutes,” she said in a small voice. “You don’t have to wait.”

Daniel didn’t speak, just leaned against his bike, gazing off into the distance, his face an unreadable mask.

Lisanne stood in awkward silence, fiddling with her phone just to have something to do with her hands.

She was both relieved and resentful when the cab arrived. Then puzzled and confused when Daniel opened the door for her and handed the driver two ten dollar bills to pay the fare.

Lisanne didn’t even have a chance to thank him before the driver pulled away.

She replayed the afternoon in her head. It had been fine until he’d admitted that he thought Kirsty was hot. Lisanne knew that her little temper tantrum had been nothing more than plain old jealousy. Daniel hadn’t done anything wrong: she, on the other hand, could probably have won the bitch of the year award.

She chewed on a lip, wondering what to do – wondering if there was any way of salvaging the situation.

After writing and deleting at least four different messages, she finally picked one that said enough but not too much.

* L: thank you for paying for the taxi *

There was no reply.

Chapter 5

Lisanne didn’t see Daniel at all the following day – and he didn’t text her back.

Kirsty had accepted her explanation of being ‘tired’ without question, although she’d thrown Lisanne several penetrating glances. She’d shown her support by plying Lisanne with candy and cookies – no questions asked.

It wasn’t until Friday that she saw Daniel again. It was just before their shared Business class. Lisanne was keyed up, her apology prepared and practiced so she was sure she wouldn’t mumble, or have an embarrassing episode of word vomit.

But all her thoughts were sucked out along with the air in her body, when she saw him outside the lecture hall in a steamy liplock with a blonde girl.

Someone yelled out, “Get a room!” and Kirsty gave Lisanne a sympathetic look, squeezing her arm gently. But she didn’t say anything and Lisanne was grateful for that.

Kirsty led them to the back of the hall in the two empty seats next to Red T-shirt guy – Vin – then made the introductions.

“Hey, baby,” he said, gazing with warm eyes at Kirsty.

She kissed him quickly on the lips.

“Vin, this is my extremely talented and wonderful roommate, Lisanne.”

“Good to meet you, ‘extremely talented and wonderful’ roommate,” he said with a smile. “Me and the guys are looking forward to hearing you sing on the weekend.”

Lisanne pinked up rapidly, throwing a desperate look at her friend.

Kirsty grinned back and Lisanne managed to mutter a strangled, “Thanks!”

Vin winked and hooked his arm around Kirsty’s shoulder.

Lisanne had to admit that he was kind of nice and, for a football player, not at all cocky. There were those dratted stereotypes again.

And he was obviously nuts about Kirsty. It would have been sweet – if it weren’t for the fact that it made Lisanne want to commit an act of violence on the nearest piece of furniture. But the innocent chairs blinked back at her with the benign air of planks of wood. Instead, she confined her violent impulses to stabbing the keyboard on her laptop as she set up a new doc file.

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