Chapter 9

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Brooke stirs the cake batter in front of her so harshly that it splatters all over the counter and down the front of her apron. "Ugh! I'm not going to have a cake left if I don't stop doing that."

"Just put it in a pan and don't burn it," Jeremiah hollers from the living room.

Rolling her eyes Brooke gives in. "Fine, I'll put it in the oven. Hopefully it's not too tough since I stirred it so much."

"Brooke! Seriously, put the cake in the oven set a timer and come watch Chip and Joanna with me already. Gary will call you when he can, until then you need to relax at least a little bit."

Sighing she slides the bunt pan into the hot oven and trudges to the worn couch in the homey living room. Yes, Jeremiah is very much an older brother that teases her and tries to intimidate any guy that might look at her side ways, but he is always there when she needs him most and she wouldn't want it any other way. "You are right Jere, I'm just worried for him."

He lays his arm around her shoulders and lets her rest her head on his shoulder. "How about a bed time story so that you can take a nap," he suggests with a childish smirk.

"If that is your horrible way of getting rid of my whining then carry on," she tells him barely able to keep her giggle from bubbling up from inside her.

Wiggling around get comfortable Jeremiah takes a deep breath and sets his phone on the coffee table near by. "The princess was very scared for her beloved prince-"

Brooke quickly pops her head up and moves one hand in the 'cut it' motion across her throat. "That is enough with that one. No one is a princess here and I don't see any princes so don't even start down that road. Besides I need to stay awake to check the cake."

Jeremiah gets to his feet and runs his hands through his hair. "Brooke this is ridiculous. Go to Jaelyn's or to the store or get your nails done. Anything! Please, you are driving me slightly insane."

With a very amused chuckle Brooke holds up her hands in surrender. "Okay, okay, just make sure that we still have a kitchen when I get back and I wall go do something with myself."

"Thank you!" He yells plopping back down on the couch with a sigh of relief.
***

Gary can't help that his feet move him back and forth in front of his utterly shocked audience. His hand rubs the back of his neck until he is sure he has rubbed the skin right off of it! Indeed, God has answered his prayer to keep watch over the doors of his lips. So much so that he has uttered all of one word, "Enough!"

Now he takes a deep breath and evens his tone out to a much more polite and respectful tone, although his teeth are so tightly clenched that it feels like they will all bust and fall out. He stops directly in front of Janet and sticks a harsh index finger inches away from her nose. She shrinks her head back a little. "Now, you listen to me and you listen well. I will not stand here and listen to you not only lie, but bash my best friend who gave you his heart, soul, and practically his mind, only for you to rip it to shreds. If you are trying to get to me it ain't going to work. Now, if you will excise me I have a few phone calls to make."

It is not until he is outside in the cool night air that he breathes in or unclenches his fist for fear that if he did before he would explode and say things he would regret.

Father, I know there are millions of better ways I could have handled that, but thank You for not letting me raise my voice.

He pulls his phone from his pocket and surfs the mounds of recent calls until he comes across Brooke's name. Closing his eyes he fills his lungs with the suffocating city air and lets his thumb touch the six letter name. As if he is in slow motion he brings the phone to his ear and lets the grueling noise ring in his head. It rings forever before it goes to voicemail. With a very defeated sigh he slips the phone in his pocket and trudges off into the lighted parking lot with no specific destination in mind.

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