The Best of Friends Ch. 03byCocoa Sashimi©
Chapter 3 is very short. True love conquers all, right? ;-)
Immediately after the seatbelt light was extinguished by the captain, almost all the passengers stood to retrieve their jostled belongings from the overhead compartments. Keely, however, was not one of them. With her cell phone to her left ear and her finger in her right ear, she told Darbie that her plane had landed.
Most travelers would have friends or loved ones waiting for them in the airport, but Keely didn't see the point in having anyone waste time waiting for her, especially if the plane arrived late.
Whenever she flew, she always waited until the plane landed to notify whoever was picking her up that she had arrived. She would then wait for that person to pick her up from the airport. In her opinion, it was better for her to wait than inconveniencing anyone.
Grabbing her small carry-on, she exited the plane and made her way through the jet way. She had been in this airport so many times that she was on autopilot as she navigated the concourse towards the baggage claim. Her thoughts were on Craig. It bothered her that he hadn't returned her call. That's why she didn't notice the proximity of the man standing next to her; until his fingers closed around her upper arm.
"What the hell are you doing, buddy?" Instinctively, she wrenched her arm back, looked up, and was startled.
"Keely, its okay, it's me."
"Craig, are you trying to give me a coronary?" she uttered as her hand fluttered over her heart.
"No," he uttered sheepishly. "I didn't realize you were so deep in thought and so unaware of your surroundings. I'm sorry."
"No, no, you're right. I'm usually not so oblivious. Wait, what are you doing here?"
He grinned. It was the grin that Keely had aptly named as his mischievous grin because people only saw it when he was up to something. She had seen it many times over the course of their friendship.
"I thought it would be obvious. I'm picking you up."
"Darbie was supposed to pick me up."
"You're right she was, but since you deigned it okay for me to be back in your life, I wasn't going to give you a chance to change your mind. I called her and asked if she minded if I picked you up."
Keely cocked her head to the side and gave him her stern face, which never worked on him.
"Why didn't you call me on my cell then?"
"When I got your message, I realized you were most likely asleep."
He noticed that she was about to interrupt and added, "Don't even argue with me about calling any time. You forget that I know that you don't function well the following day when your sleep is interrupted and that you have a hard time falling back to sleep. Work is so hectic that I haven't had a free moment to call from there either."
Spying her only checked bag, she effortlessly grabbed the handles and pulled it off the baggage carousel. Craig took it from her and asked if she had any others despite knowing that she always packed light. Once she confirmed that his old instincts weren't wrong, he led her to the parking garage.
As they walked through the garage, they caught up on the last sixth months. After he explained that business was booming for him, she brought him up to speed on how she taken a sabbatical from teaching to focus on her massage therapy business. She also added how it had allowed her to stay grounded during her divorce.
Keely tried to explain why she didn't contact him, but Craig told her that he knew her reasoning. He also reassured her that her divorce from Paul wasn't creating a division within the family.
In fact, his parents still expected her to play the same role in the family that she had prior to marrying Paul. That was the role of best friend to him.
Since Paul was never big on family functions, their mother had proclaimed that Keely was still expected to attend them. She felt overjoyed at the statement because she had always adored Craig and Paul's parents; they were good people.
En route to her house, she asked him how his relationship with Cat was going. He and Cat had been going out for the last two years, and she was still shocked at their mismatched pair. Craig was a driven man who headed a company with his partner, Eli. His company ran like a well-oiled machine, but at the same time, he and Eli showed the utmost compassion for their employees.
On the flip side of that relationship was Cat. She seemed like a ruthless business shark with an icy demeanor who would do anything to get to the top of her company. This was the polar opposite of Craig, and Keely surmised that the old adage of opposites attract must be true when it came to relationships. It certainly was in this case.
"How do you feel about being my best man?" He glanced over at her while he drove and grinned.
"Well, actually, I guess it would be my best woman."
A blanket of confusion slid over Keely's face as she asked him to clarify.
"While we weren't speaking, I proposed to Cat. I'm asking you to stand up for me and be my best 'man' now that you're back in my life."
She stammered, "Yes," but at that moment, for some unexplainable reason, she felt like someone had punched her in the stomach. Chalking it up to the shock of seeing her best friend, the proverbial bachelor, get married, she smiled at him.
"I know it must be shocking, but what can I say? I'm in love."
Keely said, "I remember that feeling."
As he pulled into the driveway, he turned to her and his face was graven. "You can't let what Paul did cloud your opinions of love. You used to celebrate other people's engagements."
She didn't have the heart to tell him that she was still a hopeless romantic. How could she tell Craig that Cat had made her skin crawl since the first day they met? There was no way she would ever burst his bubble when he looked so ecstatic.
"Don't worry, Craig. I'll be okay in time."
Realizing he was examining her, she opened the door and asked him to pop the trunk. "I've really got to catch up with my clients and appointments. I'll call you tomorrow."
She waved as Craig pulled away and wondered why she felt so empty.