CHAPTER FIVE HUNDRED and SIXTY-TWO
Thursday afternoon — 3:44 p.m.
Carrying two mugs and a small thermos of hot chocolate, Noelle went out the Castle back door. She crossed the frost crusted grass to the garage where Mike had left the door open for her. She set the hot chocolate and the mugs down on the bench and got to work.
Noelle took her work as Mike’s apprentice very seriously. She picked up all of his dirty water and paint thinner containers and set them on the counter next to the big, deep utility sink by the door. Mike was really good about cleaning his brushes at the end of the day, but she liked to check them anyway. She went through his brushes picking up a few that could use a good scrub. She made a mental note to take a day to clean the brushes.
“Oh,” Mike said as he came from the back. “You know, you don’t have to do that.”
“I know,” Noelle said. “But it’s my job as your apprentice.”
“I like to help,” Noelle said. “Makes me feel like I’m giving back for all the help you’ve given me. Plus, I looked it up on the Internet. This is the kind of thing an apprentice should do.”
“Well, if it says so on the Internet. It must be fact,” Mike said.
“It is,” Noelle said.
“Hey! What’s wrong with these brushes?” Mike picked up one of the brushes she deemed not clean enough.
“Oh,” Noelle said with a sigh. “I just thought it could use a little attention.”
Mike scowled at her back.
“I can feel you scowl at me,” Noelle said with a laugh. She gestured to the bench. “Your scowl won’t scrape off this residue of paint.”
“It might,” Mike said vaguely.
“It won’t,” Noelle said. “I brought us some hot chocolate.”
“To scrape off the paint?” Mike asked.
“Funny,” Noelle said brightly.
He poured himself some hot chocolate and watched her work. He’d never been really comfortable with having an apprentice. If he didn’t like Noelle so much, he would tell her to stop coming. She was such a nice girl that he enjoyed their time together.
Nothing sexual, that’s for sure.
He simply enjoyed her company.
And more than anything, her work was improving by leaps and bounds.
To his surprise, teaching her had improved his work, as well.
“How was school?” Mike asked the same dumb question that every adult asks a child.
She laughed at his sarcastic tone.
“Heather and her grandmother came to talk to us about the six types of love,” Noelle said. “You know, like the Greeks defined.”
Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…
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