For Life
Chapter 2

Copyright© 2011 by Catharina's FS

"You sure are tall," she noted before she passed Wolfgang in the shop and looked over her shoulder at him with a smile. "The office is this way," she said as she went to a solid door and opened it before stepping inside.

The tidy little office had a single little desk in the corner and across it were shelves built grid-style against the wall. It was filled with files and folders and a few bric-a-bracs and Davey's 3rd and 4th place trophies. The moment Wolfgang stepped into the office, she felt as if it had shrunk to claustrophobic dimensions.

Danielle stepped behind the desk and when Wolfgang turned to shut the door, she stopped him. "That's okay. Leave it open."

He looked at her as she bent and opened the file drawer in the desk.

"Why?"

His query made her look up at him, seeing him staring at her without revealing his thoughts.

"Why, what?" she asked.

"Why do you prefer the door is left open? Is it because of me?"

Danielle popped eyebrows as she took her seat. "Because of you?" she asked, curiously. "Ohh ... I get it," she finally understood. "Well, yes, it is because of you, but not in the way you're thinking." Then she hid her rising apprehension behind a smile. She didn't like it that he basically brought up the worry she relayed to her father earlier. He could, after all, be dangerous.

"The way I'm thinking? What exactly am I thinking?" he asked, curiously.

"That I might feel threatened by you."

"Is that what you thought I was thinking?" he asked.

"Just leave the door open, Mr. Jaeger," she said with soft laughter, waving it off. "And then have a seat, please, so we can get your paperwork ready." She swept a hand toward the chair on the other side of the desk, and he nodded as he turned away from the door before he took his seat. "Here are the forms I'll need you to fill out," she said as she set the small stack of paperwork on his side of the desk. Then she looked at him as he took up the stack and read. "I don't know what you did, Mr. Jaeger—"

"—Wolfgang," he said without looking up from the boilerplate forms.

"—but Daddy seems to really trust you," she finished, undisturbed. "You need to know how surprising that is for me since my father isn't the most trusting guy."

He didn't respond. He set down the forms and perused the questions.

"So, can I ask what you said or did to make him feel comfortable with you?"

"Nothing out of the ordinary," he said, saying nothing at all, really. He leaned off to the side and pulled out his wallet from his back pocket without lifting his eyes.

"You don't like to talk much, do you?" she asked with a curious look.

"I talk when I have something to say." He raised lazy eyes to her curious face. "Actions speak louder than words, Danielle."

"Good mindset," she noted, nodding. "Because you're going to find out you're going to have a lot of action here, with very little say-so with my dad as your boss. He loves to do all the talking." She smiled.

But he didn't respond. She made a mental sigh.

"Do you have a pen?" she asked, and he looked at her and shook his head. "Okay," she said with a perky smile before she opened a narrow drawer in front of her, chose a pen, and closed the drawer before she leaned forward handing the Papermate pen to him.

He looked down at it and the slender fingers holding it before he reached to take it. When he did, she rose out of her chair and turned to the buffet-style permanent shelving behind her where books and car manuals stood neatly between bookends, not seeing how his lazy gaze roamed down her back then up again before he bent his head and began filling out the forms.

Danielle checked the usual spots for the key to the tool shed, but her father was right. The key wasn't there which meant she'd have to go upstairs. Or maybe she could call the house phone? That would save her a trip up those stairs...

A bell in the shop rang, and she turned her head to the open door before she looked over her shoulder at Wolfgang Jaeger's bent blond head. She noticed he filled out his paperwork in bold hand which spoke of a bold personality. She turned and he looked up, and she smiled.

"Customer. Be right back," she said in passing as he watched her pass through the open door and slip out already smiling at an unseen customer. "Hi there, Mr. Stevens!" he heard her greet before she disappeared out his view, but not out of his hearing range. For that, she would have to go much, much further away...

Jim Stevens was a tall, rather thin, narrow-shouldered guy with short, sleek, dark hair that always looked as if it needed a really thorough shampooing even though she knew he showered every morning—according to his pudgy wife. Jim always wore ties no matter what kind of shirt he chose, even dress shirts with short sleeves which, she believed, was a strange way of dressing. But that was Jim Stevens for ya!

"Hi Danielle," he greeted back with his worn wallet in hand as she went behind the counter while his dark eyes followed her bright smiling face.

"What can I do for you today?" she asked.

"Two packs of Marlboro Ultra Lights 100's, and three Snickers bars, please." he said, and she nodded, and got him his items before she rang him up.

"How's Margy doing these days?"

"Cranky what with the baby on the way," he answered as he handed her some bills.

When she looked up, she saw his attention was drawn to something behind her, and she looked over her shoulder to find Davenport's Auto & Stop 'n' Shop's newest employee was leaning against the doorjamb in the open doorway of the office. He had his big arms crossed over his wide chest as he stared at Jim Stevens with lazy blue eyes from under windblown locks.

"That's our new guy. Just hired him. Wolfgang Jaeger, this is Jim Stevens, one of our most loyal customers," she said, chipper. "His wife, Margy, has a Jetta that's being worked on as we speak." She nodded as she handed Jim his change and he smiled at her then slipped the change into his pocket as Wolfgang merely stared at him until Jim felt uncomfortable—as his uneasy, flickering smile proved. He quickly said good-bye and left as Wolfgang's staring eyes followed him until he was well out the door.

"Now why did you go and do that?" she asked, twisting around to look at him.

He slowly turned his attention back to her. "Do what?"

"Intimidate the poor man," she answered, but he didn't respond. She sighed. "You know," she began with jaw a little more rigid, "you really need to break that habit."

"What habit?" He watched as she walked up to him.

"That staring that you do," she answered, standing in front of him now. "People don't like people staring at them in East Elmhurst, Queens. It started a lot of unnecessary brawls in town in the past. Ugly bloody, brawls," she noted. "And I don't think you'd want that if you want to remain gainfully employed with us," she advised him as he silently looked down at her while she moved and slipped by his bulk back into the office.

He pushed himself up and moved aside for her before he turned his attention back out the windows of the snack shop to watch Jim Stevens get into his VW Golf. Then he turned and went inside too ... closing the door behind him.

"There it is!" Danielle exclaimed, finding a ring of keys in one of Davey's 4th Place trophies. The ring held keys in different sizes and different colors, and happy she'd found them, she turned around and lifted the ring before rattling the keys with a bright smile. "Found them!"

She rushed behind the desk and opened a drawer, taking out a waiver form so he could sign for the keys. "I'll explain each color coded key when you're done reading and signing the waiver," she said, removing some keys from the ring before pocketing them as she walked to the door, opened it, and left it open while he raised his head to watch her do this in a very casual way before he took the waiver and signed it without reading it.

Danielle took his filled out forms and went to the copy machine. She opened the top and laid the first form flat on the glass surface before she checked the other forms he'd already filled out. "You sure do travel a lot, don't you, Mr. Jaeger?" she noted seeing the long list of places of employment he'd filled out on his form.

She saw he'd even been out of state, from Florida to Georgia to Louisiana and Mississippi and even upstate New York. It was clear he was being modest about his work experience if everything he filled out proves to be accurate ... something she was surely going to check out later on.

"You don't seem bothered by it," he finally spoke, and she raised her head to look curiously at him from over her shoulder.

"What?"

"My staring."

She laughed softly as she shook her head, making her ponytail sway. "I'm surprised you're even owning up to it. You're not even trying to deny it."

"Why should I deny it when I've been pretty open about it?" he asked behind her.

"I dunno." She shrugged as she continued making copies of his paperwork. "Some people might think staring is pretty rude and they don't want to offend people unnecessarily."

"Then why bother staring?"

"Good question, Mr. Jaeger," she said.

"Did I offend you unnecessarily?"

"I wasn't referring to myself," she said with a smile over her shoulder. "I was referring to Rob and Mr. Stevens." She gathered his paperwork and the copies, and returned to stand behind the desk as he quietly watched her. "These are yours. Rob says it's the smart thing to do to offer copies for your personal records. That was the only reason why Daddy bought a copier, even though it's tax deductible." She smiled sassy up at his stoic face. "So now you know we've got the originals just in case you wanna sue us or something."

"I never resort to suing people."

"Good to know."

"I have other ways to deal with my problems, and they're much more effective," he said.

She paused and frowned as she looked up at him. "Meaning?"

He suddenly smiled. "Staring."

She smiled and laughed as she nodded. "Oh yeah, it's very effective!"

"But not with you," he noted.

She merely smiled as he stared at her with his own smile waning, but she didn't notice as she looked down at the ring of colorful keys she was holding. "Okay," she began, "now I'm going to explain the keys to you."

He folded his papers and slid them down the back of his jeans while twisting his head to look at the keys in her slender fingers as she began holding them up, one at a time.

"This gray one opens the main lock to the bays. Gray doors. Gray keys. Basically, all doors are color coded to make things easier." Then she looked up at him and smiled. "The yellow key is for the yellow entry door to the shed out back and the red key belongs to the tool cabinets in the shed since they're all red. You can use those as cabinets for your what-nots." Then she motioned with her head to the closed door leading to the back lot. "Come on. I'll show you to your temporary quarters."

She turned and went to the wide door that looked over the sunken back lot, and used the blue key to unlock it before opening it, letting the sun pour in. She squinted eyes as she stepped out onto the back rise and lithely jumped the four concrete steps, leaving him to close the back door before he followed.

She headed toward the cedar block "shed" with the faded green roof that had, once upon a time, been transformed into a small multi-room building. She walked up to the yellow door where she stopped and showed him the yellow ringed key before she stuck it into the deadbolt, unlocked it, and swung open the door. The moment she had, her nose wrinkled up.

"Eeuw!" she fanned a hand in front of her face, catching the horrible musty smell of the dusty shed. "Okay. So I'll need to do some major cleaning in here," she noted as she stepped inside as he followed, his gaze roaming around the small building where there were tables and chairs, a cot that was pushed up against the wall on its side, and two windows with blinds pulled down and closed, flanking the door they'd just entered.

"I'll get this cleaned up for you in no time. Or, at least before I take Davey to soccer practice," she said as he stopped in the middle of what was supposed to be a living/dining area, and he quietly let his gaze roam. "It's also got a small bathroom with shower, sink, and even a toilet. Daddy was thinking of transforming this thing into a home for me so I wouldn't move out, but I kind of like my room and I'm not moving out until I get married anyway, so," and she shrugged.

Danielle turned and went to the blinds of one window, and she twisted the stick until the blinds opened. Then she took the string and pulled up the blinds in order to open the windows, but when she unlocked the latch and tried to shove the window upward, it wouldn't budge.

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