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Chapter Seven: Readjustments

Tuesday morning came bright and early and Castiel was outside, wiping sweat from his brow. Nathan had convinced him to join him for a morning run. They had just made it back to the house and Cass was having a difficult time trying to catch his breath. He couldn’t understand how Nate did this every single morning. It irked him at how effortless this seemed to be for Nathan. Cass spoke in between gasps,

“I’m beat!”

Nathan smiled at his brother as he too wiped the perspiration from his face. “Give it time. It gets easier. Better start cutting back on the brews and cigars, mate. You’re the one who said you wanted to get in shape.”

“Woah, there! I never said I was giving up. It’s just been a while. I have to readjust.” Cass hunched over and braced his hands on his knees, “Give me a minute.” He started to take deep breaths, sharply inhaling and trying to exhale slowly to calm his racing heart.

Nathan managed a laugh, “You’ll live.” He gave his brother a hard pat on the shoulder. Cass finally succeeded in lowering his pulse, caught his breath, and turned to walk inside with his brother.

They were already up the walkway and heading toward the door when they heard a voice,

“Good morning, neighbors!”

Cass turned to see an eager-looking Ellie walking across the road.

His smile was immediately ignited at the sight of her, “Why, hello, Miss Ellie. How are you this morning?”

“I finally have a day off, so I couldn’t be better,” She approached them and gave her radiant smile. Cass felt something shift in the pit of his stomach. Nathan gave her a small wave and walked on into the house without a word. Ellie gave an almost guilty look. “I haven’t upset him, have I?”

Cass scratched his head, “Why would he be upset?”

Her cheeks turned that same lovely shade of pink as they had when she introduced herself. “He’s not the, uh, jealous type is he? He seems rather protective of you. I don’t think he likes me too well…of course, I don’t see why he would worry over a woman like me...”

Cass processed her words and when he realized what she was inferring, couldn’t contain himself. He burst out laughing, “Oh God. No, Ellie. That’s my little brother. I guess we don't look as related as I thought.”

If she wasn’t blushing before, she definitely was now. Her face went from a soft rose to fire engine red. “Oh my God. I am so, so, SO very sorry. I just assumed…oh, I am mortified. I apologize!” She put her head in her hands to cover her obvious mortification.

He held up a hand, retaining his smile, “It’s okay. No harm done. I can see how that may confuse some. I should’ve been a little more informative with our introduction.” So that would explain her odd behavior, previously. He couldn’t help but laugh. “No, my brother doesn’t dislike you. Not at all. He’s probably just run to beat me to the water heater. We’ve just finished a morning jog.”

“That sounds like a good way to start off the day.” She looked eager for a change of subject. “So,” she cleared her throat and continued, “how do you like Pleasantview so far?”

“I’m actually very fond of the place already,” he replied. “Would you like to come in for some lemonade? Or coffee? We finally made it to the grocery store, so now I can be a bit more hospitable.”

“That would be lovely.”

Cass held out his arm motioning her forward, “Ladies first.” She grinned and walked ahead of him into the house. Ellie took a moment to look around. She had never been inside when the Marsh’s lived here. Her eyes darted from the plants, to the furniture, and then to the color of the walls, as Cass watched her.

“You have a beautiful home.”

“Thank you very much. I’m quite fond of it, myself. So tell me, Ellie, do you prefer coffee? Or would you like some lemonade?”

“Lemonade will be perfect. I’ve already had my morning Joe. That’s the only way I’m functioning right now. It’s weird to be up so early on a day off.”
He poured two glasses of lemonade and continued to talk, eager to make conversation.

“So what do you do for a living?”

“I’m actually a waitress at Main Street Cuisine. We’ve had poor luck with employees, lately. I’ve been getting loads of hours. It gets tiring, but it pays the bills. I can’t complain. What about you?” She took a small sip of her beverage.

“I was in construction before I moved here. That’s actually how I found this place. We did a remodel here in town and I fell in love with it. I decided it was time for a fresh start. And here we are. I’m actually trying to find a job as we speak. I still have my blogs, but it doesn’t cover all our expenses. I’ve been trying to keep my eyes open for any ads in the paper, but---“

“Well, if you like to cook, we’re hiring for the grill. I can put in a good word for you, if you’d like?”

“I actually enjoy cooking. It’s kind of a hobby of mine. I may take you up on that offer. Thank you very much.”
She took another sip of her lemonade and pursed her lips at the tart flavor, “It’s not a problem at all. We really need the help. I’ll give Sandy a call, the woman in charge. She owns the place and works pretty much all the time.”

He nodded in understanding. He pressed on.
“So…are you originally from Pleasantview? Do you have a family here?” He was curious to know more about her.

“Born and raised. So were my parents, and their parents, and so on and so forth. I have a brother and a sister, both older than me.”

Cass nodded. “Do you have any children...or?”

“Nope. Just me and Fozz. He’s my furbaby--Maltese-mix. I adopted him last spring. And this must be yours!” She looked down at the Persian who had just strutted into the room. Ellie immediately abandoned her lemonade, went over to the cat, dropped to her knees, and started stroking her fluffy silver coat.

“Yes, ma’am. That’s my Jazzy. She’s a big baby. Poor thing was dropped off in an alley by our old apartment in Twikki Bay. I took her in when she was a tiny little thing, nursed her to health, and she’s been with us ever since.”
Jasmine was enjoying the attention, emitting loud purrs as Ellie scratched behind her ears.

Ellie looked up, “She’s beautiful! Poor thing. I don’t see how people can abandon little helpless creatures…”

“I’ve always been somewhat of a softy when it comes to animals,” Cass admitted just as he heard a cellphone chime. Ellie looked down and reached into her pocket.

“Oh! That’s Jenna. I better be off. I almost forgot I was supposed to be meeting her downtown. Thank you for the lemonade and the good company!” She arose and made her way back into the kitchen. Cass followed her to the door.

“Drop by any time. And thanks for the tip about the job. I’ll come by and put in an application. I’ll see you around, Miss Ellie.”

“Bye, Castiel.”

He smiled at her as she made her way out the door, “Please, call me Cass.”
She returned a smile and nodded while waving as she walked back across the street. Cass returned inside.

At that moment Nathan walked into the kitchen. He was now clean, fully dressed, and wearing a knowing look, “You two seem to get along well enough.”

“I just met her, Nate.”

“Get to know her--have her show you around, go get coffee, go to dinner–she seems nice. Plus, you can’t seem to wipe that smile off your face when she’s around. Take the plunge and ask her out, brother.”

Cass just shook his head and headed for his shower, though he couldn’t deny, he liked the idea his brother had just planted in his head.

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