Risking Heartbreak

Chapter Six

Melanie felt a presence beside her and nearly jumped out of her skin. It was Friday morning and her nerves had been acting up since she'd opened her eyes. She was planning on seeing Richard that night but what had her on edge was the plan to tell her parents. She looked over and saw the familiar smile on the face of one of her co-workers. "What do you need, Crystal?"

"Just wondering what you're doing for lunch." Crystal had gotten along with Melanie from the first day she'd began working at the spa.

A sigh escaped from Melanie's lips. "I've got to go talk to my parents about something."

"Is everything alight? I don't think I've ever heard you sound like that when you're talking about seeing your parents."

"Yeah, everything's fine. I've just got some stuff to tell them that I'm sure they aren't going to be thrilled about."

"Well then I'm stuck with Savannah for lunch. Any plans for dinner?"

Melanie laughed. "I've got a date. You looking for someone to hang out with?"

"Yeah, kind of. But its Friday night and everyone is either busy or staying home. Looks like I'm flying solo."

Melanie's eyes went to the clock on the wall. "I'll give you Angela's number when I get back from lunch. She's looking for something to do tonight. I've gotta get going to my dad's shop so I can talk to him and mom and get something to eat."

"Good luck with what ever you're telling them."

"I'm going to need that," Melanie mumbled to herself as she walked out of the spa's front door. She'd decided to tell her parents what was going on before seeing Richard again so it would be one less thing on her mind. Her stomach knotted up as she drove towards Michael's shop and she couldn't stop the nagging voice in the back of her mind from questioning if it was a good idea.

When she parked in front of the shop she had to take several deep breaths just to get out of her car. She didn't know what to expect when she told her parents but the feeling in her stomach told her it wasn't going to be good. Not feeling like dealing with James or Kevin, she went in through the front door and headed directly towards Michael's office.

By the time she turned the knob of the office door her heart was racing and she'd begun to sweat. She was sure that the look of apprehension was clearly written on her face but that didn't bother her. She wasn't planning on dragging out the conversation any longer than necessary and just wanted to get it over with.

"What's wrong with you?" Michael asked as soon as Melanie walked into the office. He'd only seen that look on her face once before and it had been when she was in high school.

"Everything okay?" Catherine's voice was laced with concern.

"Eh I don't know. Lets see how this goes first and I'll get back to you on if everything is okay. Dad, do you have a bottle of water?"

Michael grabbed a bottle of water out of the mini-fridge next to his desk and handed it to Melanie. "So I'm guessing whatever you wanted to talk to us about is something you think we aren't going to be happy about."

Melanie took a gulp of the water. "I'm sure you aren't going to be happy about it. Promise you won't overreact?"

"I promise I'll try. I'm sure it can't be that bad."

"We'll support you no matter what. You know that." Catherine gave Melanie an encouraging smile.

"Yeah I doubt you'll be saying that when I get done. I uh have a date tonight, same guy as on Sunday, and..." Melanie trailed off in need of a moment to think about how to phrase what she was about to say.

"You aren't going to marry him on the second date are you?" Michael's voice was joking.

"Its with Richard." Melanie's attempts to break the news gently worded way failed when it all flew from her lips and she was unable to stop it.

Catherine's eyes went wide and her hand flew to her mouth, which was hanging open. At first she thought she'd heard wrong or she'd misunderstood. She was sure she hadn't actually just heard that. "With some guy you met named Richard?"

"No with Richard, Richard." Melanie didn't look over at her mother and kept her eyes trained on Michael.

Michael's posture had went stiff and his lips were set into a hard line. She'd seen that look before, when James had gotten kicked off the basketball team and got suspended in high school, but it seemed more intimidating now that it was directed at her. "Do you want to explain to me why?"

She fiddled with the waterbottle in her hands. "Because something happened and-"

"What happened?"

"Well you remember last month when we all celebrated your birthday?"

Michael's eyes went dark. "Yes. What did the two of you do?"

"Not what you think, Dad. He helped keep me from falling and something just happened and changed things and then we kissed. Then I tried to get him out of my mind and it just didn't work and then he went with me to look at houses and after that I avoided any situation where I might be around him to put a stop to whatever the hell was going on and then Saturday we went to get the mustang and we got back and we kissed again. So we're going to give it a shot." Melanie rushed through her explanation, barely taking a breath the entire time.

"Son of a bitch!" Michael picked up the phone book off his desk and threw it across his office, causing his daughter and his wife to jump. "Of all people, Melanie!"

"Its not like I planned it this way, Dad. It just happened."

"That doesn't change the fact that Richard is a family friend and more importantly someone you've known your entire life."

"And who's nineteen years older than me? Do you honestly think I'm not already well aware of all that?"

"Well you're the one going on a date with him!"

"That's why I'm aware! What do you want me to say, Dad? I'm sorry and I'll call it off? I'll call him and tell him I can't date him? Because that's not going to happen. I've been trying to squash this for a little over a month now and guess what, it ain't workin'!"

Michael let out a frustrated sigh. "Well what do you want me to say?"

"I was good in high school. I didn't get into trouble, I got good grades, and I dated guys you approved of. I went out and got my job and my apartment and my car by myself. I'm getting a house by myself. I haven't bothered you for anything since I moved out. I haven't gotten my ass in a crack and needed you to help me out. I've done my best to not ask you for anything. Now I'm asking you for something. I'm not asking you to be happy about this. I'm just asking that you understand this is something I want to, no I feel like I should, give a try. I'm not asking you to understand why or support me or anything like that. I'm just asking you understand that I'm doing this as an adult."

"She's right, Mike. She hasn't asked us for much since she was sixteen. She's done her best not to let us down. Don't we owe it to her to at least try and understand? I don't like it either but there isn't much we can do. She is an adult."

"I'm probably never going to see things your way," Michael said as he looked Melanie in the eyes. "But I guess I can try and understand this is something you feel like you need to do."

"That's all I'm asking for."


Melanie took several deep breaths and reached for the glass of tea that was on the table in front of her. Her heart hadn't slowed down since they'd walked into the restaurant, her stomach was almost in knots, and her eyes kept darting around restaurant as if she was searching for something. Finally her eyes landed on Richard and she noticed a faint trace of something she hadn't seen before in his eyes. "Okay, this time feels awkward."

A smile tugged at Richard's lips. "You just saved me from saying it."

"You think its the date its self or where we are?" Melanie's eyes darted around the upscale restaurant once again.

"I think its the restaurant. Maybe we should have stuck to casual. I'm pretty sure the fact that the people two tables over keep looking over here has something to do with it too."

"You mean disapproving diner number one and disapproving diner number two?"

Richard chuckled. "So you noticed."

"While we were still looking over the menus. I'm guessing you noticed around the same time."

"Your guess is right. Do you think its where we are or do you think its just setting in now?"

Melanie thought for a moment. "I'm pretty sure its the setting. Why? Do you have a theory to test out or something?"

"I do have a theory actually. You in a hurry to get home after dinner?"

"Not really. What do you have in mind?"

"You'll see."

Their conversation continued throughout their meal but most of it had little real substance. Neither one of them felt completely comfortable and they were both aware of the looks coming from the coupe two tables over. When they walked out of the restaurant Melanie wanted to release a sigh of relief but stopped herself from doing so.

Once back in Richard's truck, things felt much easier between them. The awkward feeling that had been suffocating both of them throughout dinner seemed to melt away as Richard pulled back onto the road. They were once again comfortable and in the relaxed atmosphere they'd experienced the previous times they were together had returned.

It didn't take long before Melanie was aware of where they were going. For a moment she pondered telling Richard that she'd already figured out where he was taking her but decided against it. Instead she alternated between focusing on the road and focusing on Richard.

It wasn't long before he pulled into the small parking lot in front of his shop. Melanie had been at his shop before, mostly in high school when she was either working at her dad's shop or when she'd tagged along with her dad, but it wasn't somewhere she'd spent a lot of time. Richard parked the truck and killed the engine before looking over at Melanie with a grin. "I thought where better to test out the theory than somewhere we're going going to be comfortable."

"Good thinking. But I knew where you were heading five minutes after you pulled back onto the road."

"Damn. Oh well at least it wasn't really supposed to be a surprise or anything like that."

Melanie laughed and opened the truck door. "No kidding."

Once inside the building, Melanie followed Richard to his office. She vaguely remembered the few times she'd been in his office in the past. She remembered one time when she was thirteen and was tagging along with her father for the day. Another time had been when she was sixteen and had been working for her dad for the summer and he'd sent her over with a check. The clearest memory she had was when she was nineteen and had came by to deliver a basket of baked goods from Catherine around Christmas time. The final time was the only time she could remember having a real conversation that wasn't centered around business with Richard in his office.

"Surprised at how much crap I've amassed over the years?" Richard asked.

"No," Melanie laughed. "I've got just as much stuff sitting in boxes in my living room right now. I like the display of model cars you've got going on over here though. I can't believe you still have the sixty-seven GTO."


"It was a model car assembled by two fourteen year olds, one twelve year old, and a seven year old under the supervision of two parents that thought it was absolutely hilarious to watch four children argue over how to put it together. James and Keven wanted to assemble it without looking at the directions because they just knew everything and Steve wanted to give it a race car paint job complete with sponsor stickers."

Richard laughed, remember the year he'd gotten the GTO model. It had been his Christmas present from the Watkins children and he'd been impressed from the moment he'd opened it. "It was cool when you guys gave it to me and it still is. Plus considering it was put together by four children its as close to perfect as it can get. Your dad was so proud of you guys for doing it too. How'd the idea for it to be a Christmas present come along anywauy?"

Melanie laughed. "Mom and Dad challenged us. They said we had to come up with presents that were personal that year. The only thing we knew about you at the time was you liked cars. I'm in shock you still have it." Melanie's eyes traveled away from the GTO model and onto the others on the shelf. "It's definitely a little strange to think about now given our situation."

"I guess it is. This still doesn't feel awkward though."

"No, you're right. It doesn't. Its still comfortable. So I guess we should avoid fancier restaurants for a while if we're going to keep doing this."

"I guess so. Did you tell your parents today?"

"Yeah. They weren't happy about it but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I told them not to tell my brothers yet though. I don't want to open that can of worms just yet."

"I could have told them, Melanie, if you didn't want to deal with it."

"No, they needed to hear it from me. Its out of the way now anyway. Besides I had to tell them today because I didn't want it hanging over my head all day tomorrow."

"What's going on tomorrow?"

"I'm moving into my house. They're going to help move stuff over tomorrow morning."

"You need any more help?"

"Nah. Between my parents, Steve, and my friends I've got more than enough help." Melanie turned around so that she was facing him. A smile spread across her lips and her eyes twinkled. "If you want to come over tomorrow night for dinner though that would be pretty awesome."

Richard laughed. "I think I'll take you up on that invitation."

"Fair warning though there will probably still be boxes everywhere."

"That's not going to bother me at all." He moved closer to her. "Now that your parents know we aren't going to have to hide what is going on between us right?"

"I see no point in it. I'm not going to go around telling everyone I know but I'm not going to hide it either. I'm not ashamed of what we're doing. Are you?"

"Not at all." Richard placed his hands on Melanie's sides and gently pulled her closer to him.

She let out a laugh and wrapped her arms around his neck. "That's good."

"I'd say its very good given the position we're in." He lowered his lips to hers.

"I'm really glad we're giving this a shot. Its so much better than just trying to fight it."

"No kidding. I'd still like to know what happened though."

"Yeah me too."

Richard glanced at the clock on his wall. "Any specific time you'd like to be home or would you like a tour of the shop?"

After suffering through the awkwardness at dinner, Melanie wasn't ready to give up on the night. Now that things felt easier between them and Melanie was able to fully enjoy Richard's company she wanted to savor it a little bit longer. The idea of the shop tour, and more time with Richard, was far too tempting for Melanie to turn down. "Oh I'm down for a tour."

Richard laughed and opened the office door. "Lets go then."