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The Letter- Chapter 14 May 22, 2009

Filed under: NaNoWriMo08,Uncategorized — nikilyn @ 9:42 am
Tags: ,

Chapter 14

I borrowed in the sheets, warm slippery, and felt her touch. She traced her finger from my ear to my lips and placed a kiss there. She must think I’m still asleep.
“I know you’re almost awake,” she said. “I can feel it.”
I took a deep breath and smelled her; clean, fresh, like she just came from the shower. There was a something in the background, though, like someone else was there.
“You’re not listening. You have to wake up,” she whispered.
What did she mean? I am awake. Wait, what was that? I ignored the sound that tickled my awareness and focused on her smell, her voice. I cracked my eyes open and there she was, enclosed in light. No, not light, a glare. The sun shone in the window behind her and surrounded her face like a halo, making it hard to make out her features.
“Beth…” I said and reached to pull her back to me, to the warm sheets.
“Wake up, Danny. Let go.”
And then she was gone. I felt for her, but the sheets were cold.

“Wake up! Let’s go!” Jack shouted over the fire alarm.
Tom flew out of bed shaking off the remnants of his last dream with difficulty. At first he wasn’t sure where he was, but the moment it came back to him he was running to pole right behind Jack to get their turnout gear. The chief was shouting orders and men were scrambling.
A few minutes later they were on a call to a burning barn outside of town near the interstate, just a few miles from the truck stop. It was an old building, no livestock, no people, no electricity, no gas; just a lot of old straw and wood. By the time they got there the damage was done so they secured the area and put out what was left of the barn.
The day was getting warm and all the snow had melted overnight so the ground was soggy. Their boots left deep impressions in the mud and grass.
“Old barns go up like this and they’re gone in minutes. Like matchsticks,” Jack was saying. As they walked around watching the last of the smoke rise from the rubble. “It doesn’t take much.”
Tom just nodded. He knew too well how old buildings went up in flames and the shadows of last night’s dreams, nightmares rather, kept him from commenting. The chief was talking to the Deputy Smithson and pointing toward the roadway then back to his clipboard, and the deputy was nodding and writing his own report.
“… no accelerants,” they heard him say, “but this fire was started intentionally and the culprit’s tracks lead to the roadway over there.”
Tom and Jack headed in the direction Chief Crider pointed.
“Hey, boys!” the chief yelled, “Don’t contaminate those footprints.”
Jack waved that he heard him and they kept walking.
“Hey, I wanted to get you away from the other guys to ask you something.” Jack said.
“Ask away,” Tom replied.
“Are you… alright?” Jack asked haltingly.
Warily, Tom said, ” What do you mean?” Does crazy show that easily?
Jack leaned closer and said “You talk in your sleep, dude.”
Tom nodded and sighed, “Yeah, I know.” He had been dreaming of Beth and Kat a lot lately, sometimes one, sometimes both. Sometimes he relived the details of Beth’s death. “How much do you hear?”
“Just mumblings, mostly, but sometimes it gets a little… scary. A lot of thrashing. Who is Beth?”
Tom didn’t want to talk about Beth again, explain everything all over again. It was painful enough to dream about it, but forcing himself to relive it while conscious was a dangerous thing. He had to answer the questions so many times after it happened to the police, to the doctors, the shrinks, his parents, her parents. When he started talking about it the guilt showed through. He didn’t want the people in his new life to see that. He decided to keep it simple.
“She was my wife. She died a few years ago.”
Jack chewed on that for a minute before he asked the inevitable question, “How?”
Tom was prepared with simple answers.
“House fire.”
Jack blew out a low whistle.
“It was quick. She broke her neck; didn’t feel anything.”
Not for long anyway. Nobody knows what anyone feels in that split second when the initial snap happens, before oblivion, but she never felt the burns. He didn’t go into the details of the con man that got away; the gas leak, the arguments about inspections, first with her and later with his own father.
They had an old gas stove and when Beth had said she smelled gas he thought it was from the burner she was about to light. He was standing in the open front door, just getting home. The next thing he knew he was on the front walk and his jacket was on fire. It didn’t register, though. All he could see was the house in flames, the open doorway laughing at him, smoke spewing out in mockery.
He heard the sirens down the street. Why weren’t they in there? How long was he out? What was taking so long? He sat up to go in the house himself and was held down by something. It was on fire, too, heavy. The door? Using all his strength he flung it off himself and literally peeled his melting jacket off his skin. The smell made him want to gag, the pain was blinding, but he took three deep breaths to push down the gorge and surged to the house.
“Beth!” he shouted.
The heat coming up from the floor was blistering. He looked toward where the stove used to be, but she wasn’t there, either. The roof was caved in and everything was on fire. He stumbled toward the living room, the opposite direction of where she was. If the blast blew him out the door maybe she was thrown clear, too. The smoke was choking him, his throat dry and scratchy, and he thought back to grade school. Stop, drop, and roll. Crawl below the smoke.
He dropped to his knees, was breath rasping.
“Beth!” he choked.
Feeling with his hands he found something soft and warm and tried to roll it over or lift it, but it wasn’t her. He was losing his vision, his eyes far too dry to tear up, the inferno was hot, taking him. His back, arm and shoulder felt oddly cool where he peeled off his jacket.
He kept creeping along the floor and he finally found her. He could hear shouting outside, far away. He rolled over her body, black with smoke, her eyes were wide open, face charred. His heart broke.
“No, Beth,” he whispered, and felt at her throat for a pulse, listened for a breath, but the roar of the inferno drowned out everything. He wanted to get her out of there, but he was afraid of hurting her, afraid to touch her burns again. He lied down next to her and tried to yell for help but the air just rasped in and out of his throat, unable to make a sound.
“Is anyone here?” the voices said. He turned toward the sound but the fire was blinding.
He tried to answer but just choked. At least choking was a sound, he thought and choked again. He raised his arms tried to get someone’s attention.
“Is anyone in here?” the voice shouted again.
He was choking, rasping, trying to make sounds. He was falling, floating, slowly spinning.
He didn’t know how long he lay there holding her arm. They weren’t going to find them. He thought he should close his eyes and just let sleep take him, but his eyes were already closed.
He thought he felt something squeeze his chest and he groaned.
“I’ve got a live one!”
No, you don’t. We’re dead.
He later woke up in the hospital, a tube down his throat, bandages covering his right arm, shoulder, and part of his neck. His mother was there holding his hand, making soothing sounds and pushing back his hair. It was brief, but he registered that Beth wasn’t there and gladly gave himself over to unconsciousness again, praying for death.
The next time he woke there was no tube, but the bandages were still there, an IV coming out of his left hand dripped clear fluids. The lights were low, and his mother was asleep in the arm chair converted to a bed. He didn’t want to wake her so he just lay there, trying to remember exactly what happened. Was Beth dead? He knew she was or she’d be here with. Unless she was too injured to come, she would be there. He knew she was dead. He will never forget the perpetual look of horror on her face, the eyes permanently open and the skin charred around them, the frozen, unnatural grimace of her lips.
“Hey, man. Where’d you go?”
Tom shook off the memory, “No where.”
“You spaced out there for a second.”
Tom nodded and said, “Yeah, well, it was a few years ago and I got a fresh start and some therapy. I’m fine. I just have dreams sometimes. Not much I can do about that.”
“Is that how you got that scar? The one on your neck?”
“Yeah, my jacket caught on fire and when I went to take it off it had melted to my skin. No other burns though. It was a gas explosion in the kitchen. We had just bought this old house to flip and had it inspected and everything. I was standing in the front doorway with it still open when it happened so I was thrown from the worst of it. Unfortunately, my wife was the one who was lighting the stove.”
“Yeah. I found out later that the entire house should have never passed inspection. We got conned by a phony inspector, but he was long gone before it happened so nobody ever found him. In fact, we never even found out his real name.” Tom decided not to go into the details that followed. His father blamed him because he hadn’t taken his advice on which inspector to use. Tom went with the cheaper one he heard about from the realtor; a new one in town trying to get more business. He needed a clean slate here, no animosity, no blame.
“Damn,” Jack said again. “So now you’re here playing hero? Is that why you went into the fire business?”
Tom chuckled. “Something like that, yeah. A constructive obsession, I guess.”
“Or unhealthy, depending on which way you look at it. You’re not going to do anything stupid are you?” Jack asked.
He had heard that question before. “No. Like I said, it was a couple of years ago and I got therapy. I’m fine.”
They kept walking toward the area the chief pointed near the road. sure enough there was a set of footprints. They looked like they were made from a men’s set of snow boots. They led to a spot in the gravel at the side of the road and where fresh tire tracks marred the smooth gravel.
“Can I ask you another question?”
“What’s that?”
“Who’s Danny?”


The Letter- Chapter 11 January 7, 2009

Filed under: NaNoWriMo08 — nikilyn @ 10:19 pm
Tags: , ,

Chapter 11

“Look, I don’t think anything was taken, just some damage done, so can I go now?”  I pleaded with Deputy Smithson.  He was a young guy for a deputy, at least I thought so.  He had dark brown eyes and hair and looked like he spent too much time in the sun for a cop.  That’s the impression I would have got if hadn’t known him as “Little Jason”, the youngest Smithson with five older sisters.  It was just weird to see him in this authoritative position. “I have to look for my dogs.”

“Just a couple more things.  You said you were on your way here with one Tom Booker, on your way to look at some property…”

“Oh, my gosh! We’ve already been over this-“

“Yes, but why were you stopping by your house?”

He must have noticed my blush the first time I explained it.  I was thinking about the second reason Tom and I had for coming here.  The first being that I needed my snow boots for slogging around Tom’s newly purchased property, the second reason being… well, a good reason for blushing, anyway.

“I was wearing the wrong shoes for showing the outside property in the snow.”  I lifted my foot to show him my backless kitten heels.  He looked down at them with raised eyebrows as if to question their practicality, but then again, he did have five sisters.

“Right,” he said.  “Okay, I think I’m done here.  If you notice anything missing or out of place just give me a call.”

“I will.  Thanks, Jason.”

I noticed Tom standing over by Jack’s truck.  Talking to him through the driver’s window.  I jogged over to him and said, “I going in to grab the leashes and my other shoes.”

“Are you sure they won’t just come back?” Jack asked. “I mean, you walk them the same route everyday, right?”

“Well, that’s what I’m going to try first, but Dingy always wants to run away.  Thanks for coming by, Jack.  Really everything’s ok.  It’s probably someone just looking for cash or something.  Don’t worry.”

I turned and ran back to the house.  I made note that Ernesto and Sylvie were still in there and I sat down to change into my boots.  While I was tying the laces Sylvie rubbed up against my back and made a little sound between a purr and a meow.  She was such a social little being.  She probably did the same thing to the person who broke in.  Traitor.  I felt that little sting of panic in my chest that I had been holding back for the last couple of hours.  I pushed it back down.  I had to keep it together long enough to find my dogs, then I could curl up in a ball and cry it out.

I wondered what they were looking for.  My desk had been ransacked and the wastebasket beneath had been dumped and little ripped papers and notes were everywhere.  My computer was still in place along with all it’s equipment.  The dresser and nightstand in my bedroom had been rummaged through, also.  But no prints had been left behind.  The only evidence at all was the mess and the shredded door jam.  I don’t keep anything in my trash that has any kind of personal information that someone could use for identity theft.  I shred everything at the office.

The office!

“Wait!” I shouted out the front door hoping to catch Jason before he left.

Now he was standing by Tom talking to Jack through the truck window.  He turned at the yell and started walking up to me.  I met him in the street halfway.

“Did you notice something else?” he asked.

“No, but I had a bunch of personal information and bank records that I took to work today to shred, but I left them in my desk.  Do you think someone is trying to steel my identity?  Can you check out the realty office?”

“Are you sure you locked it up?”

I nodded and said, “Positive.”

“I’ll check it out, but my bet is that it’s fine.  We would have had a call already, being that’s it’s right in the center of town.”

“Ok, thanks a lot.  Well, I’m off to find my dogs,” and started jogging to the park.  I pulled out my cell phone to call Parker at the same time.  I used to run to the vets office to visit Parker on occasion.  There was no answer.  I will just have to run there after the park.  That would be a total of four miles.  I could do it, but I am going to be sore.  I got a little ways down the road when I heard Jack’s truck pull up beside me.

“You wanna ride?” Jack asked through the passenger window.

“Can’t,” I replied, losing my breath.  I’ve never been good at running and talking at the same time.  “If I… don’t follow… the same path… then I… might… miss ’em,”  I panted.

“Honey, you’re gonna kill yourself.  They’re just dogs.”

I stopped in my tracks to look at him wordlessly.  Tom sat in the passenger seat, silent.  At least he knew when to keep his mouth shut about my dogs.  And I’ve only known him for a few days.

He continued, “Well, what I mean is that they’ll come back right?  And if they don’t, well, everybody in town has seen you with them.  If someone finds them they’ll bring them to you.  Don’t ya think?  It’s pretty cold out for running…”

“Shut up, Jack,” I said and started running again.  My anger was feeding me raw energy now.  Jack was right about one thing.  It was pretty cold out.  Nomad is getting pretty old and Dingy has only three legs and one eye for goodness sake.  How would they fair over night with only each other for warmth instead of my soft warm bed.  They would think I abandoned them.  What if Dingy completely loses his way and runs clear back to New Orleans?  We’ve all seen the movie ,”Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey” right?  Nomad is totally Shadow, that old Golden Retriever, and Dingy could so have the voice of Michael J. Fox.  If only they had Ernesto or Sylvie with them…

Jack pulled ahead of me and stopped.  Tom got out and closed the door, Jack pulled away.  Tom waited for me to catch up with him.  I didn’t stop.  If I stopped again there would be no way for me to get my momentum back up.  To my surprise Tom easily fell into step beside me. 

“What are… you doin’?” I asked.

“I thought you could use another set of eyes,” he said easily. 

Show off, I thought.  But he was being really sweet so I said, “Thanks.”

When we got to the park we ran along the usual path, the twists and turns following the small creek that cut through town.  It was blacktopped so the city would plow it with a riding mower when the rest of the town was already dug out.  We were silent except for our breathing; mine was a little faster than his.  Then again, I probably ran about a half mile more than he did.  Not one to be out done by anyone, I probably ran a little faster than usual.  I was really going to be sore tomorrow.  He had a long stride and seemed to move like fluid, his muscular arms pumping easily with his stride.  I felt awkward and lanky next to him.  I was so engrossed by his physique that I almost missed the turn to get to our little tree.

“Here,” I said, and pointed to our left.  Along the split a little ways I saw Nomad sitting in his usual spot by our old tree.  He got up and loped over to us with his big dumb lab face and tongue rolled out to the side as if to say, It’s about time you got here!

I couldn’t help but mother him all over.  “Hi, baby! Oh, my goodness, what a good boy!  Look at you, my big man!” I grabbed his ears and big head and rubbed him down making sure he wasn’t hurt by whoever broke in to my house.  Knowing Nomad, he probably didn’t give a damn so the robber let him go.

I looked around waiting to see if Dingy was around, but there was no barking or little toenails clicking on the pavement from his insistent hopping.  He would have come running if he had been in the vicinity of the sound of my voice.  I sat down as I snapped the leash to Nomad’s collar.  I was hot and sweaty and needed to catch my breath.  Nomad sat next to me, laying his head on my feet.

I looked up at Tom; he wasn’t out of breath at all, just looking at the old tree, all cool and calm, probably wondering why anyone would pour cement over the roots.

“You know, you didn’t have to come,” I started, “but thanks anyway.” A lump started to form in my throat.  I wondered if my chin was quivering; I could never feel it, but people always told me it did.  He must have noticed the change in my voice because he turned around and looked at me.

He gave me a worried look, but he said, “I just wanted to be sure you found your dogs.” 

“Thanks,” I croaked out.  Nomad started licking my hand as if to say, Come on, let’s find Dingy.  I was starting to get cold and achy now that the sweat had left my clothes a little wet around the neck.  This still was not the time to cry so I swallowed the lump and said, “Well, I was going to run to the vets office if I didn’t find them here.  It’s about a mile from here.  Are you up for it?”

He didn’t even hesitate.  “Of course,” he said and reached down to help me up.

We started back to the main path and turned left toward the vets office.  We had to run at a more steady pace now that Nomad was with us.  It was a little easier to talk now that we weren’t pushing so hard.  I asked him about running and he said he had to learn when he was training to become a fireman.  He tried to run in at least two charity runs in Columbus every year.  I told him I sort of did the same, only I just run in the Race for the Cure in Columbus.  In our town a lot of people run in the fundraiser for the cross country team every Fall and the Fourth of July Race the Lutheran church sponsors.  I told him I used to run in high school, but now I just do it to burn energy and stay healthy.  He talked about playing football in high school and the going to college to study construction management and then work for his father.  He got most of the way through his degree when he decided he didn’t want to do that any more.

“Why?” I asked.

“Well, you know.  Things change.  People change.  I didn’t want to be put into something just because someone wanted me to.”  I could tell he was hiding something, and I knew what that something was. 

We were on the sidewalk along the narrow street that led to the vets office just on the edge of town.

“Is that why you moved away, too?”

“Part of it.  I just needed to get away from…. things.”

“Oh,” I said.  I guess he wasn’t ready to tell me.  Well, I would just wait for him to open up.  That’s when I saw footprints in the snow beside the sidewalk.  They hadto be Dingy’s! “Look!”

I stopped and pointed at the prints.  Nomad sniffed and got an excited wag to his tail.  “It has to be Dingy.  We’re almost there. It’s that white building on the right.”

We picked up our speed, almost a sprint now.  By the time we got to the front door I heard Dingy’s frantic barks.  I burst in and saw Parker holding a very wiggly, very ugly, Jack Russell terrier.  It was Dingy.  I burst into tears.


Read my lips! No new chapters! November 17, 2008

Filed under: NaNoWriMo08 — nikilyn @ 8:55 pm

For those of you checking to see if I’ve posted any more chapters, I’m so sorry to disappoint.  My husband had afall at work last week and broke his ankle in several places and has been off work.  I have been driving to so many appointments for tests, and I had to learn to give him shots of blood thinners, plus I still drive my kids to school and back everyday/half days.  (And who can concentrate when we are only three days from the premier of “Twilight”?!)  Unfortunately, that means I haven’t written a single sentence more than what you see here.  Free moments are hard to come by at this house, and when they do the hubby is on the computer emailing his assistant making sure his projects aren’t screwed up.  I haven’t given up my goal of a fifty-thousand-word novel by November 30th.  Keep checking back; maybe I’ll post next week…  Until then, check out the artwork the kids and I have bestowed upon his cast:

... Like the Ducks Unlimited symbol?

... Like the Ducks Unlimited symbol?


The Letter- Chapter 10 November 11, 2008

Filed under: NaNoWriMo08 — nikilyn @ 1:05 pm
Tags: , ,

Author’s Note:  Well, I’ve finally caught up with myself.  The posts will probably be fewer and farther between as it usually takes two days to write a whole one.  I won’t be posting partial chapters.  I hope everyone is enjoying it so far.

Chapter 10


I’m going into the office today.  I have a little headache and bad case of cabin fever.  I’m so sick of winter that one day in my house has driven me to craziness.  I’ve already shoveled my walk.  The snow began to drift again last night so there were icy streaks of snow rippled across everyone’s walks again.  The day was already warmer than it was two days ago.  Maybe Spring will finally come. 

I also managed to walk the dogs, do the dishes, sweep my living room, and gather up my papers that needed shredded and the mail.  I didn’t need to be in the office until two so I was making the most of my day.  I was happy and excited.  I was selling a house today.  Tiffi had called early and told me that Tom had made an appointment with Mr. Strogal this morning to buy the Logan House outright.  Mr. Strogal had suggested that I come to the meeting.  It wasn’t necessary for me to be there since the place was technically owned by Mr. Strogal’s business and he would be the one negotiating.  This was probably the real reason for my excitement.  I was going to see Tom for the third day in a row.

While I was cleaning out some things of Parker’s to take over there I thought about my look.  I bought in to so many things Parker stood for, including my hair, so I called the salon and made an appointment with Jenna.  That’s where I was heading now.  I wasn’t sure what I wanted done, but I wanted something to symbolize my change, my growth, my new found independence.  I parallel parked right in front of the salon and strode in, determined to say goodbye to my long hair… or something.

“Hey, Kat, I’ll be with you in a second,” Jenna called from sweeping under her chair.  Jenna was scary-skinny girl who was twenty-two years old, but looked much younger.  Her mother didn’t work and he little brother was in high school.  Jenna worked two jobs to support her family, and sometimes took the odd cleaning job.  Her mother has had bipolar manic depression since Jenna’s father left about ten years ago.  Jenna practically raised herself and is now raising her brother.  Her mother stays home and watches TV.

There weren’t any other customers in there so I picked up a hair style magazine and looked through the pictures.  There were so many cuts it was mind-boggling.  I liked to be able to pull it back when I jog, but I guess if I didn’t have enough to pull back I wouldn’t need to.  I flipped to the color section and saw girls with all sorts of chunky sections of bright colors spiking out at odd angles.  One actually looked like she patterned it off of a skunk.

I began to have second thoughts when Jenna was ready.  I sat down in the mechanical chair and she started putting the cape around my body.

“So, what do you want done?”

“I’m not sure,” I bit my lip.  “Just something different.”

“Well, on the phone you mentioned cut and color, do you have any ideas?”

“Um, well, definitely some highlights, but nothing too bright, you know?  I’m not sure what to do about a cut.  I want it cut, though.”

“Hmm,” she started and then walked over to the counter.  She came back with a color swatch book.  “Here’s some colors I think would look great on you.”  She pointed to a light brown and a medium auburn.  “We could alternate small strands in with your natural color then if you don’t want it keep re-doing it, it will blend pretty well when your hair grows out.  and as for the cut, if you don’t mind going kinda short you could donate to Locks of Love.  You only need ten inches of unbleached hair and I could cut off at least fifteen and still have plenty to work with.”

I closed my eyes, debating.  My hair could always grow back if I didn’t like it short and Jenna has never given anyone a bad cut that I’ve heard of.  The colors?  Am I the same prude that went all natural for so long? I didn’t want to be her.  I wasn’t her.  The thought of giving my hair away to charity was a plus side.  At least if I didn’t like the cut I could say I did my good dead for the year, or however it took to grow it back out again.

“Okay, Jenna.” I nodded.

“Okay?”  She wasn’t sure what I meant because my eyes were closed tight and I’m sure that wasn’t a good sign to her.

I took a deep breath.  “Yes.  Locks of Love.  Highlights.  Just do it.  I want something new and cool and I don’t want to watch.”

She laughed quietly and said, “Okay.  If you’re sure?”

I nodded again.  She pumped up the chair and I felt her gather my hair into a ponytail at the nape of my neck and I heard something that started the tears rolling.  I thought there would be a quick snip and it would be gone, but it wasn’t; it took several rough, hard cuts to get through the thick bunch of hair.  Then it was gone.  I opened my eyes and it looked… okay, I guess.  Then she turned the chair around from the mirror.

“You said you didn’t want to watch, so don’t watch,” she teased.  “You can trust me.  Would I still be working here if I didn’t do a good job?”

“I guess not.  Okay, Jenna, I trust you.”

“Good,” and she began mixing the color.


*          *          *


Hours later, Jenna turned my chair to face the mirror.

I gasped, as cheesy as it sounds.  I had gone from a girl with long, plain Jane, brown hair to a stylish chic.  My hair was still dark brown, but it had subtle strands of light brown and auburn mixed in.  I turned my head from side to side and Jenna fetched a hand held mirror to show me the back.  It was cut in a bob starting at my chin and angling back to my neck where she had put a small amount of gel to spike it out.   She had puffed it up a little on the crown of my head and parted it on the side and angled my bangs.  She cut it knowing my hair was straight as a pin and I needed it to be easy to manage.

“And you can still pull up the sides if you need to for running and stuff,” she said.  I didn’t know what to say.  “Don’t cry, please don’t cry.”

“No, it’s great,” I said, and I wasn’t lying.  I really liked it.  “Thank you so much, Jenna!  I really needed this.  I love it.”

“Oh, good.  I always get nervous when someone cuts all their hair off.”

I looked at my watch and it was later than I thought.  The meeting with Mr. Strogal and Tom was in a few minutes.

I paid and gave Jenna a huge tip, Lord knows she needs it, and walked out to my car.  The wind wasn’t blowing today and the sun was already melting the snow.  I decided to walk to the realty office.  It was across the street and over a block in the opposite direction of where my car was heading, so I just grabbed the papers off the seat that needed shredded in the office. 

When I got there Tiffi had left a note saying she was off showing houses and Mr. Strogal’s office door was open.  Tom was already inside filling out papers.  He must have gotten there early, so I stuffed my papers in a desk drawer and went in.

 The reactions I got were not what I was expecting.  I’m not used to people staring.  “Hi,” I said and sat in the only chair available, next to Tom.  He didn’t take his eyes off me the whole time and I could see a flash of heat in his eyes. 

Mr. Strogal grunted and cleared his throat, and Tom looked back at his contract.  “Let’s catch you up, Katrina.  We’ve already agreed on the price and signed an agreement. You’ll get your usual commission.  Since he has offered to pay in cash and I have verified the finds are there, all there is to do is make an appointment at the attorney’s for the closing.

“Oh, great,” I turned to Tom and said, “Have you looked at the whole property?”

“Not in person…”

“You can take him out to do that in a bit.  I’m going to take off for the day,” Mr. Strogal said and got up to put his coat on.  “I’ve signed everything I’ve need to sign, you can do the rest, Katrina.  Feeling better I hope?” He seemed to notice my hair for the first time and frowned a little.

“Yes, much better. And yes I’ll be able to show him around today.” I turned to Tom, “Is that okay with you?”

“Sounds great.”

Mr. Strogal shook Tom’s hand and left leaving me to look over the forms already piled up.  I usually skim over the personal information because I usually know something about the people already.  I didn’t know hardly anything about Tom so I took my time. I didn’t get far when I froze.  I stopped reading at the second line where it said ‘marital status’.  He had checked the box marked ‘Widowed’.

I felt an overwhelming sadness for him.  I didn’t know what to say.  I pretended to read further but nothing was sinking in.  I had perceived him as single, as someone who put on the farce of a rebel but was actually quiet and shy; the old expression ‘still waters run deep’.  They were deeper than I thought.  Is he still grieving?  How long ago did this happen? What had happened? Was it something like a disease, or a car accident?  Was she hurt by someone?  I remembered the burn scars on his ear and neck and wondered if she had been in a fire.  How horrible.

I started to feel the sting of tears in my eyes and got angry with myself for overreacting.  I got up and got a tissue from the corner of the room.  I kept myself turned away and dabbed my eyes before the tears spilled over and left streaks through my makeup.  I made a show of blowing my nose so as not to reveal the real reason I needed a tissue.

His sudden voice startled me, “You got a haircut.”

I whirled around and planted a smile on my face. “Yeah. I needed something different.”  I went back to my chair and quickly picked up the forms and turned the page.

“It looks nice.”

I couldn’t look at him again so I kept skimming the information on the forms.  I just said, “Thanks.”

Everything on the forms seemed to be in order, including the explanation of the life insurance policy he had on his wife, so I signed the witness lines and got up.  He followed me to the front room where I filed the papers in a folder.  I decided not to bring it up his marital status and open old wounds.  Besides, it must have been a while ago if he was looking at me like that.  And he kissed me.  And we’re going back to the scene of that kiss today.  Actually I was supposed to show him the property; he’s already seen the house.  That’s when I realized I was wearing the wrong shoes.

“Oh, dang!  I just remembered I left my snow boots at my house.  Do you mind if we…” I had turned around to tell him and he was right there, our faces inches from each other.  I swallowed and tried to finish what I was saying.  “… stop… by my… house…and…”

And he kissed me.  I leaned back on the desk as he leaned toward me, his hands on my wrists.  He slowly ran his hands up my arms to my shoulders and wrapped them around me.  Mine had a mind of their own as they under his arms and pulled him tighter against me.  There was an urgency in his kiss that left me breathless.  He ran one hand into my hair on the back of my neck, a feeling I wasn’t used to and I shivered.  His other went around my waist.  He started to kiss down my neck to my collar bone and then reached down and to lift me onto the desk.  He settled in between my legs and I felt one of his hands begin to go inside my shirt.  Unfortunately, reality sunk in.

“Wait,” I said, breathless.  “We can’t do this here.  It’s a storefront.”

His hands stilled and he whispered, “Your house?”

I nodded and we parted.  I rushed around to shut everything off and close the office.  We went outside and I locked up.  We walked briskly across the street and down a ways to my car.  He didn’t’ hold my hand.  I wanted him to but he seemed to know that we couldn’t do that without causing a whole lot of gossip.

He was very still in the passenger seat in the few minutes it took to get to my house, but he wouldn’t stop looking at me.  I pulled up in front of my house and got out  with my keys ready.  I looked around to see if anyone was around (I really hate the gossip in this town).  I didn’t see anyone, but something wasn’t right.  Tom was right behind me and grabbed my hand and stopped me.  I wouldn’t need my keys.  My front door was already wide open and Ernesto was sitting on the first step.  Had I left in such a hurry that I didn’t shut it all the way?  I started to rush for the door and call for the dogs, but Tom pulled me back.

“What are you doing?  I have to see if my dogs are still here.”

“Look.” He pointed to the door jam and I saw the frame looked like it had been chewed.  Someone had broken into my house.


The letter- Chapter 9 November 10, 2008

Filed under: NaNoWriMo08 — nikilyn @ 9:09 am
Tags: , ,

Chapter 9


Tom got into Jack’s pickup, squishing Tiffi closer to Jack.  She felt a spark where their legs were touching and she grinned while looking down at the floor.  She cleared her throat.

“So, Tom, you like my girl?”  Yeah, that didn’t sound like high school.

He looked back and forth between the two of them.

“Jeez, Tiff, don’t badger the guy.  He’s only known her for a day.”

He doesn’t know what I know, though, Tiffi thought.

She kept looking at Tom who didn’t answer the question.  He met her eyes and knew immediately that she knew what really happened.  She just kept staring at him, not letting him get away with not answering. 


“You don’t have to answer that Tom.  Kat just broke up with her boyfriend two days ago.  Tiff’s just trying to set her up with someone already.”

Tiffi wanted to defend herself but it was obvious that Tom didn’t want Jack to know.  Maybe because Jack was so protective of his friends or maybe he saw Jack kiss her forehead and thought it meant something more. 

“Well,” she said. “She’s been with Parker for so long and she got so tired of him I thought she would be ready for something… different.”

Jack sighed and shook his head.

“What?  I’m just saying.”

There was an awkward silence.  Tom didn’t seem like a real talkative guy.  He was selective with his answers when Kat asked him those questions about his career- probably just more of a quiet type.  He can’t be a bad guy; he is a firefighter.

Tiffi’s leg felt like it was burning where it touched Jack’s.  She was always so aware of Jack.  He was always so close.  Well, they were friends, right?

She remembered when he and Kat used to date in school.  They both had a crush on him their junior year; the big jock, good looking despite the freckles and red hair.  There was something about him that made all the girls want him.  Well, he showed an interest in Kat at some point, Kat being more out-going and fun than herself.  Kat had long legs and long straight hair and she ran like a gazelle.  Tiffi was short, fuzzy haired and tried to hide her curves behind baggy shirts.  Not overweight in the least, but big boobs that were a little embarrassing.  Back then it wasn’t unusual for her to nab her brother’s sweatshirts when he wasn’t looking.  Kat and Jack only dated a few times before they realized that they had to just be friends and call it a night, so to speak.  They never slept together and Kat always said there was something missing in his kiss.  They only kissed twice.  The first kiss was kind of awkward so they tried again.  They both busted up laughing and came back that Monday to school the best of friends, next to Tiffi, of course.  They became a threesome and the rest was history.

These last ten years or so have been building, though.  She tried to find excuses to be with him without Kat and longed for him to touch her.  It was funny.  He was so affectionate with Kat, always putting his arm around her, or like tonight, kissing her forehead in a brotherly way.  He was affectionate with Tiffi sometimes, but it was stiff and quickly removed, like she was on fire. 

His cell phone buzzed in his pocket against her and he reached for it pushing against her hip.

“Sorry,” he said. and jerked it out only to see it was from his mama.  “Oh, hell.”  He sighed and opened it. “Hi, ma.” He pulled the phone away from his ear while Brenda, his mother, rambled loud enough for Tiffi to hear every word.  Brenda thought you had to yell to be heard on a cell phone.

“…make sure you check on her.  Do you remember what happened to your Great-Uncle Bob?  He had that minor concussion that resulted into a coma.”

“Yeah, ma, Tiff and I just checked on her and he’s feeling much better.  The first twenty-four hours are the most critical, but she’s feeling pretty good.  And Uncle Bob didn’t have a minor concussion, he had a minor stroke.  There’s nothing to worry about.”

“Well, I suppose.  Anyway, honey, drive safe, and tell Tiffi I said ‘hi’.”

Tiffi piped in, “Hi, ma!”

Brenda laughed.  “Oh, goodness! Well, I’ll let you go.  Take care of her, Jacky.

Tiffi wasn’t sure if Brenda meant her or Kat, but she wasn’t about to ask.

“Bye, ma,” he replied and hung up.

Tom spoke up, “Jack, do you mind dropping me at Maggie’s for a drink before you take Tiffi home?  I’ll walk back to the firehouse.”

“No prob.”

He swung left at the stop sign and pulled up to Maggie’s.  Tom got out into the swirling wind and jogged to the door.  Tiffi started to scoot over to the passenger side and immediately felt the burning spot on her leg get cold.  She put her seatbelt on as Jack pulled ahead to make a u-turn in the main square.  She sighed inwardly.  Was she the only one who felt it?  Was he awkward around her because he knew she was madly in love with him and he didn’t want her that way?  Maybe he was worried of ruining their friendship.  No, she wouldn’t give herself false hope.  He probably didn’t want to lead her on since he didn’t have the same feelings for her. 

What was this awkward silence?  He mind raced to think of something to say before they got to her apartment building.


He glanced over to her.  “So?”

“Erm, Tom seems nice,” she stuttered.

“Yeah.  He’s okay.  Seems to know his stiff on the job.  Kinda quite, though.”

“Yeah, I noticed.  He’s not too revealing, even when you ask him something.”


More silence. 

Well, she thought, if he was so comfortable with the whole situation then she would be too.  Who cares if he didn’t see her that way.  Isn’t it better to be friends than to be away from him?  She tried to look relaxed in her seat and watched Jack from the corner of her eye.  He looked very tense.  He was rubbing the back of his neck. 

They both started talking at the same time.



“You go ahead,” Jack said.

“No you go.  It wasn’t important.”  She hoped his was.

“Well,” he started.  “I’ve been thinking… lately.  About, well…  I’ve been wondering…”  He stopped.  He pulled into her parking and put the truck in park.

Tiffi’s heart swelled.  Was he going to ask her out? “What?” she asked.

“What are you doing on Friday?” he asked quickly?

“You know me, Jack.  Nothing special,” she replied.

He rubbed the heels of his palms into his eyes and groaned.

“Why is this so hard?” he muttered.  Then he stammered out, “I’ve been thinking… about… us… a lot.”

Tiffi could only nod, wide-eyed.

“Well, do wanna go dinner me?” he mumbled.

“Huh?”  Really, what?

“Damn.  I said, do you want to go to dinner with me?  On Friday?”

She fetl such delight that she began nodding before she answered, “Sure.”



“I’ll pick you up at five?  We can go to Columbus.”

“Sure.”  She was still nodding like a bobble head doll.  It was all she could do to kept from bursting.

He smiled at her and she smiled back and let out a breath.  He seemed to relax, too.

“Great, I’ll see later,” she said and opened the door and got out.

“See ya.”

She closed the door and she felt him watch her go up to her second floor apartment before driving away.



*          *          *


Tom walked into Maggie’s Grill n’ Pub to sounds of country music and people laughing.  He’d only been here once when he first got to town and that had been a lunch crowd.  It had been a crowd of various business people on lunch break, a large party of construction workers, and moms meeting for lunch with removable baby car seats and messy toddlers.  It was a different crowd now.  Not much rougher, seeing as it had to cater to everyone being the only restaurant you could sit down and eat in.  The pizza place on down the street didn’t count because was pick-up or delivery only.  Maggie’s was also the only bar in town.

He sat down at the far side of the bar to people-watch.  You could learn a lot about people just by watching them with an indiscernible eye.  He caught a flash of blonde hair out of the corner of his eye and thought…  crazy things.  He closed his eyes and turned to the direction of the flash.  When he opened them he let out a breath of relief.

She was a young server running around taking orders at the little tables who couldn’t be more than nineteen or twenty with long blonde hair, faded jeans, and skinny t-shirt and tan skin.  She was almost too skinny, but swift way she moved indicated a healthy body.  He turned back toward his original destination, the bar.

The bartender was a big guy with a long dark beard spattered with grey wearing a black leather vest named ‘Ziggy’.  He was busy watching the waitress and a table in the corner and filling drink orders.

He looked toward where Tom sat and said, “What can I get for you?”

“Beam and Coke?”

“Comin’ right up.”  Ziggy turned to fill a glass and said, “You starting a tab?”

Tom thought for a moment then removed his card from his wallet.  “Sure.”  He knew it wasn’t the best idea, but he had already tried the conventional ways of getting rid of the nightmares and hallucinations.  Time to try drowning them.

Ziggy finished mixing the drink, took Tom’s card and glanced over at the corner booth again.  He handed the drink and card back at the same time.

“Thanks,” said Tom and followed his glance to table, too.  There sat two men, one looked real young, with a messy mop of blonde hair.  The other was a contrast to himself.  He was wearing clean business-casual clothes, including a tie and jacket, but his hair was slicked back and oily, and his face was full of pockmarks and scars.  Tom thought he saw a portion of a tattoo on his right hand.

“You the new firehouse recruit?” Ziggy asked, indicating his hat.

Tom turned his attention back to the bartender.

“Yep,” Tom replied nodding.  He needed to stop wearing this hat.

“How ya like it?”

“It’s okay so far.  Nice town.”

“It’s a good town; a close one.  Almost everybody knows everybody else’s business.” It was clear Ziggy wasn’t just making small talk.

“Yes.  I have found that out very quickly,” he replied leaning back.  “Have you heard anything I should be concerned about?”  He was trying to judge if Ziggy was another of Kat’s family members.  He didn’t show any resemblance to the family, but looks were deceiving.  He waited to see if he had a sawed off shotgun under the counter like Mr. McNicol. 

Ziggy just chuckled.  “Working in a bar you hear some really interesting things.  Probably a little exaggerated given the alcohol, but usually true.  A little thing can spread like wildfire, so just watch yourself.  This town lives for gossip.”

“Good to know.”

The bartender moved to another customer and left Tom, returning only to ask if he wanted a refill.  He noticed a family getting up to leave and thought he should make it back to the firehouse before it got too frigid outside. 

The skinny blonde server walked up to the bar near Tom and whispered to Ziggy, “I swear, if those two over there don’t leave I’m gonna have a permanent hand print on my ass!  They asked for more beer.  I think you should cut them off before I cut that creepy one’s hand off!”

Ziggy and Tom both looked over at the far table again to see the two men arguing.

“We close in a half hour, Jenna, can you survive until then?  Tell them it’s last call.”  He looked at Tom and said, can I get you a last drink?”

“No thanks, I’m heading out after this one.”

“I’m afraid to go back over there.  They better tip me good.”  She took the two mugs over to the table.

Tom paid his bill, and got up to walk out and swayed a little.

“Take it easy, chief,” Ziggy said, a little concerned.  “You alright?”

“Thanks, man.  Just walking to the firehouse.”

He made his way through the tables to the door and over heard the two men who were also making their way out.

“… don’t see why I can’t go now.  It would save so much time,” the young guy said.

“Because the snow’s drifting.  It’s not safe,” the ‘creepy one’ said, as Jenna had called him.  He didn’t looked too concerned about the kid’s safety, though.  What wasn’t safe?  The roads weren’t too bad.  The sun had a chance to dry up what had melted earlier so the roads weren’t icy. 

Although that had struck him as odd, Tom didn’t concentrate too much on the two men.  He had to concentrate on his feet instead and it seemed like multitasking was a bad idea.  He walked the direction of the firehouse and the two men went the other way.  A few minutes later he noticed them drive by in a light blue sedan and then turn to go out of town toward the truck stop.

The air outside was frigid and the wind was biting his ears.  He wished he had thought to wear his stocking hat instead of his WFD one.  He rubbed his hands together and jammed them into his jacket pockets.  He tried to think warm thoughts as he picked his way among the drifts that were blowing across the sidewalks again.

He tried to imagine he was walking through a burning, building, the baking, the waves of heat that seem to block your path, smoke billowing through windows.  It didn’t help.  It was such a contrast to what he was actually feeling it made it worse.  His thoughts drifted to his evening at Kat’s house.  It was warm there.  He was tempted to turn onto her street and get warm, but he knew the alcohol was lubricating his brain.  

They had agreed to be friends.  That was a good start.  He hadn’t had feelings like this for a long time.  In fact, he hadn’t had feeling like this for nearly two years, not since that last night before…

He could not think about that now.  That was what the bourbon was for; to drown the nightmares.


The Letter- Chapter 8 November 8, 2008

Filed under: NaNoWriMo08 — nikilyn @ 6:38 am
Tags: , ,

Chapter 8


I was bounced awake by Nomad shifting position every ten seconds; he probably had to go outside.  I grudgingly rolled off the bed putting my feet down on the drafty wood floor and walked on my tip-toes to reduce the feel of the cold to the carpet of the stairs.  Nomad and Dingy barreled down and were in the kitchen in a flash spinning of circles, their toenails sounding like hail on a tin roof.  It was dark out so they were probably starving.

“Alright, outside first, then the food.”  I unlocked the doggie door and they rushed out leaving the flap to push icy air back in.

I glanced at the clock and it was a little past seven at night.  No wonder they’re hungry.  Now that I think about it, I’m pretty hungry.  I hadn’t eaten since breakfast this morning.  I really didn’t feel like cooking, though.  Pizza sounds good.  Then my door bell rings.  I start walking towards the door, again, when whoever is out there starts pounding on the wood.  I was there in a second and swung it open to see Tiffi there looking frazzled.

“Tiff, what-“

“Oh, thank goodness,” she said breathless and flung her arms around me.  I caught a brief glimpse of two sets of broad shoulder behind her.  “I was so worried.  I’m so sorry.  I thought your mom or your sister would come over or something, but when I talked to them and nobody had heard from you I panicked,” then she whispered, “Sorry.

I strained out of her arms and looked to see who the shoulders belonged to.  It was Jack and Tom.  I inwardly groaned.  Tom was looking yummy in his leather jacket and WFD hat.  He hadn’t shaved but he smelled like that spicy soap from yesterday.  His eye looked pretty bad underneath.  I winced inwardly.

“I’m fine.” I said to Tiff.  “What did you think was wrong?”

“Well, someone was supposed to watch you for twenty four hours and when I left I thought you and Park-”

“Do not finish that sentence.  I’m fine, he left, and I slept all day.”

“Who shoveled your walk then?  You didn’t, did you?”

“No, I paid some college kid.  I’m sorry, guys, come on in.  I was just thinking of ordering a pizza.”

I backed up and held the door open for everyone.  At the same time Dingy rushed in, barking at the newcomers, followed closely by Nomad.  Dingy bypassed Jack and Tiffi and went straight to Tom to circle him once and head back to the kitchen.

“What was that?” he asked

“That was Dingy.”

He better not insult my dog. 

Instead he looked me over, probably assessing my vitals or something.

“How’s it goin’?” he asked quietly.  I felt a prick of electricity run up my spine.

“I’m fine.  How’s the eye?”

“It looks worse than it feels.”

If it feels like my head I bet he’s wishing for a pain killer.

I wasn’t sure what else to say so I turned to Jack and Tiff and said, “Well, if you guys are all here to baby sit me we might as well order some food.”

We all walked to the kitchen where I kept the menus and they decorated my chairs with their coats.   After much discussion between Jack and Tiff about which side the anchovies and pineapple went, we went to the living room and Jack turned on the tube.

My couch and matching loveseat were an antique set from the seventies with upholstery that looked like weaved yarn in various shades of brown.   My house was pretty drafty despite the new insulation I installed last year so I kept plenty of throws folded over the backs of everything.  I grabbed a warm chenille and wrapped myself in it before flopping in the lazy-boy, carefully tucking in my feet.  Tiffi did the same with a weaved throw of embroidered Labradors and flopped on the loveseat stretching out her feet.  That left the men to sit at opposite ends of the couch, Jack closer to Tiff and Tom on my side.  They didn’t wrap up in blankets, but Jack did stretch out his feet in front of him.  He knew he could make himself at home here and did on occasion when he didn’t feel like staying at his mom’s or got too drunk at the bar.  He always stayed on the couch.

“Hey, Kat, you got any beer?”

“Help yourselves, guys,” I replied.  I grabbed the remote and flipped between all the channels.  There was nothing on so I left it on Comedy Central.  “So how does the rest of the town look?”

“Pretty good,” Tiff started.  “The fire department did a lot of shoveling so most of the businesses opened up.”

I heard Jack mumble something about girly beer in the kitchen.  I only bought the light beer with lime.  He came back in with three beers and a water bottle. “Actually, Tom here had half of Main Street shoveled before the rest of us caught on and went out too,” he handed water to me and the beers to Tom and Tiff.  “Can’t have the new guy making us look bad.”  He nudged Tom’s shoulder before sitting down.  “Hey, can I have the remote?”

Since I wasn’t finding anything interesting I started to hand it to him when Tiff piped up.

“Nuh-uh, do not give it to him.  He will turn it to ESPN or the History channel and we’ll never get it back again.”

Jack made a grab for it.  I let him have it staying out of the fight that followed. 

Tom leaned toward me, “Do they always act like this?”

“Yep.  They’re like a bunch a junior high kids.  Did they act like this on the way over?”

He nodded and said, “How do you stand it?  Why don’t they just get it over with?”  I knew what he was indicating.

“They’ve been acting like this for years.  You get kind of used to it.”

He nodded and relaxed back taking a swig of beer.  Nomad loped in and sat next to my chair, putting his head on my leg and wagging his tail.  This chair was the only piece of furniture he was allowed on so I was in his spot.  He knew not to climb up on me though.  I was the pack leader.

“Go lie down, baby,” I said and patted him on the head.  Tom seemed impressed when Nomad loped over to the corner where he had a bulky pillow all to himself.  Dingy was anxious as ever and paced around the furniture.  The cats were nowhere to be found, but it was just a matter of time.

Jack somehow won the fight and had the TV turned to March Madness.  Tiffi looked angry, but I knew it was a put-on.  She had filled out a bracket like the rest of us and was curious as to who was winning. 

“So, Tom, where are you from?” I asked.  I know it sounds lame, but where else am I going to start?

“I moved here from Columbus, but I’m originally from Akron.”

“Oh, so are you a big Lebron James fan?”

He gave a rye smile and said, “Not a Cavs fan, actually.  You?”

“Actually, I don’t usually follow basketball, but I follow the news so I heard about him.  I’m more of a football fan.”

“Really?”  He sat forward a little with a very serious look on him face and said, “Browns or Bengals?”


Stricken he said, “No.  No way.”

“Why?  Don’t tell me- Cowboys fan?” I feinted devastation.

He gave the slighted nod.

“Ugh,” I replied.  That just figures.  I just couldn’t find a guy with the same likes as me.  At least none I was attracted to.  Parker wasn’t any kind of sports fan.

“Maybe if Farve hadn’t gotten hurt they would have had a chance at winning the play-offs, but it wasn’t meant to be.  At least, not by beating the Cowboys.”

“Actually Rodgers did better than Farve did in that game, before Farve was hurt, so at least we have some hope for next year when he retires.”

“No way.  Romo is in his prime.  It’s not happening this year,” he smiled smugly.  He was sitting on the edge of the cushion with his elbows resting on his knees.

Jack piped up, “Don’t get her started, man.  She was devastated when Farve thought about retiring.  I’ve been trying to bring her home to the Browns for years, but she won’t let it go.”

I stuck my tongue out at him. “You’re just jealous.  And he’s not retiring!  The Packers said nothing was serious.”

Tiffi faked a snore from across the room and then the doorbell rang.  “There’s the pizza.”

I got up before anyone else could offer.  I grabbed my purse and nearly sprinted to the front door.  I really was feeling better.  The delivery kid reminded me of the squeaky-voiced teenager from The Simpson’s who is always at the fast food place or the movie theater.  I gave him a nice tip for coming in the bad weather.

I placed the pizzas on the coffee table in the living room and passed out napkins.  Jack got his signature anchovies with bacon and peppers (ugh!) on half, Tiffi got the other half ham, pineapple, and almonds, and the other pizza was just plain pepperoni lovers.  That was me.  I watched Tom to see which kind of pizza he would eat and he grabbed some of Tiffi’s half and some pepperoni.  So he wasn’t averse to trying bizarre things, but still stays away from the scary.  That’s good.  And why am I over analyzing his pizza likes?

I had no doubt that Jack could finish his half on his own.  I don’t know what it is with him and disgusting fish combinations.  My stomach turned just watching him chew it.  I turned my focus back on Tom.

“So, how long have you been a fire fighter?”

Everyone turned toward him still enjoying their food and he made a production of swallowing a large bite and said, “Well, not too long.  About a year or so.”

“What made you get into it?”

He didn’t say anything for a moment and I wondered if he heard me, but then he said with a rye smile, “Oh, you know the old story.  Something happened in my home town and I felt obligated to join, so to speak.”

I got the hint that he didn’t want to elaborate on what happened so I said, “Do you like it at the WFD?  Jack’s not giving you a hard time is he?  I could fix that for you, you know.  I know his mama real well.”  Jack threw a pillow at me.  I threw it back at him.

He looked relieved, chuckled and said, “No, that’s alright.  Nothing out of the ordinary.”  Sophie walked over to him and rubbed back and forth on his legs then proceeded to rub on Jack’s, then meowed because nobody gave her any attention.

“Well, you let me know.  I’ll take care of it.”

Jack said, “What, you part of the mafia now?  The Wallace mafia?”

“Ha-ha.  Very funny.”

I started to clean up the mess and headed back to the kitchen.

I walked over to the dogs’ bowls and gave them the uneaten crusts and pick up my sexy kitty.  I scratched her ears and thought about what Tom had said.  Or hadn’t said. Surely that wasn’t such and unusual question.  People ask me from time to time why I got into realty.  It’s always the same answer: I like it and I wanted to make money.  But he looked so… vacant when he mentioned his hometown.  He moved here from Columbus, but he’s from Akron.  Something happened in Akron to make him want to become a fire fighter, but why didn’t he want to serve in his own town?

Tiffi came in with some wadded up napkins and empty bottles.

“Hey, you shouldn’t be cleaning up.  Go lie down or something.”

“I’ve been lying down all day.  I needed to do something. Besides it’s done enough for tonight.”  Actually I was tired again and when I thought about it I had to hide a yawn.

“We’re gonna get going.  It’s late and you need to go back to sleep.”

I followed her into the living room where the guys were already donning their coats and we all walked to the front door.

Jack leaned over and kissed my forehead and said, “Feel better, sweetie.”

“Later.” And he left followed closely by Tiff.

She called back “Bye!”

“Be careful on the walk!”

Tom stood beside the doorway looking at me silently.

“So, um, thanks for hanging out with me.  It was…”

“I’m sorry about yesterday,” he almost whispered.

“Don’t be.  I’m fine.  I’ll be back to work tomorrow.” I shrugged my shoulder.  I knew he hadn’t meant the fall.  He meant the kiss.

“Well, I just wanted you to know that I don’t have a habit of kissing every person I fall on.  I don’t know why I did it, I should have been assessing your injury or…”

“Stop right there.  Don’t ever apologize for kissing someone unless they slap you, alright?  Besides, I’m fine.”  He was looking down at his feet and his hands were in his jacket pockets.  I wanted him to look back at me.  I think he’s actually kind of shy.  Cute.

Then he said, “I met some of your relatives today.”

“Well, there’s plenty around.  Please don’t judge me because of them.  Who did you meet?”

“Uh, your aunt and your grandpa at the Hardware store.  She was really nice.”

“You met Grandpa Mickey?  And you’re still alive?  Impressive.  You know he keeps a loaded sawed off shotgun under the counter?  You’re one of the lucky ones.”

He laughed at that.  His eyes crinkled a little and he finally looked back up.  I wanted him to kiss me again right there.  I think he wanted to kiss me, too but just then I heard an impatient honk from Jack’s pickup.  The wind was picking up and I noticed the freshly shoveled snow start to drift.

He stepped outside and waved back at Jack. He turned back to me and placed his hands on either side or the doorway and said, “Well, anyway, um, I hope we can be friends.”  But he had such and unfriendly look in his eye, if you know what I mean.  He wanted to kiss me again.  I wanted to kiss him again, badly. 

I took a step toward him and leaned on the door jam. and said, “Hmm.  I’ll think about it if your football loyalties come back from the dark side.”

I had him smiling again.  Oh, baby.  I could stare at that smile all night.  I felt a shiver, but I wasn’t sure if it was from him or the open door.

“Okay, Kat.  See ya around,” he said and left.

“Later,” I called and closed the door.  I felt giddy from head to toe and tired, unfortunately.  Stupid concussion. 


The Letter- Chapter 7 November 7, 2008

Filed under: NaNoWriMo08 — nikilyn @ 8:20 am
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Chapter 7

            “Yes, mom, I’m perfectly fine.  I told you- my client took me to the clinic and it’s just a mild concussion.  No worse than what the football players get at the games and they all still play football.  I think I’ll be fine to shovel my walk.  Don’t send Dad.”

“Well, what about Parker?  I’m sure he would shovel your walk for you,” she replied.  Obviously she hadn’t paid any attention to my football player explanation.

“No, mom, and please, please, don’t call him again.”  I paused, not really sure how to tell her that I dumped him.  She would take it harder than he did.  I settled for the Friends version, “Parker and I are on a break.” 

She gasped.

“Oh, honey, are you okay?  Why?  What happened?”  I could hear her voice dripping in sympathy but it made me wonder if she was intentionally laying it on thick.  Was I the last person to realize Parker and I weren’t meant for each other?

“It’s okay, mom.  We just want different things.”

“Well, I was never sure about the whole vegetarian thing; so unnatural.  That’s too bad,” she continued.  The she lowered her voice the way she does when she has a juicy piece of gossip, “You know, my sister called me this morning from the hardware store and said that your client was in and bought a shovel to help dig out the town.  Apparently he started his shoveling at the realty office.  What’s he like?”

And, here we go.  No way was I going to tell her about our encounter on the floor of the Logan house- it would be all over town faster than you could blink. 

“Um, he’s a fireman and he just moved here from Columbus and he really liked the Logan house.  In fact he’s probably shoveling out the office so he can put in an official offer.”

She a small hmm and then said, “Maybe he would shovel your walk for you-“

“No way, mom.  I’m fine.  Really.  Don’t send Dad and for goodness sake do not call my client or Parker to shovel me out.  If I really want help I’ll call Jack, he’s just around the corner.  No need to send Dad out in four feet of snow when you’re ten miles out of town.”

“Oh, I suppose, honey.  You be careful.  I worry about you in town all by yourself.”

I know she just worried about me so I let it go.

“I know, but seriously, don’t worry.  I’m not going anywhere today so it’s not a big deal if my front walk isn’t shoveled.  Okay?”

“Okay, honey.”

Then I remembered the letter.  I explained it to her and asked if she knew of couples named Danny and Beth.

“No, not a Danny and Beth.  There’s a Billy and Bethany over in the Bloomwood Estates, but they’re married and have probably twenty kids, the way she pops them out.”

I remembered hearing about them.  The Bloomwood Estates was the only town trailer park.  Billy and Bethany were three years ahead of me in high school.  He got her preggo their junior year, got married immediately, moved in with her mama and had two more babies by the time I graduated.  They’re doing pretty alright for themselves now, though.  They have their own trailer next door to her mama and three more kids.  They seem very happy.

“I’m pretty sure it’s not them, ma.  Well, if your hear anything let me know.”

“I will, you can be sure of that.  I love you.”

“Love you, too.”

We hung up and I flopped down on the bed, exhausted.  The headache, then Parker, then my mother: at least I got mom out of the way.  Hopefully Parker won’t come knocking again.  Maybe Tom will…

No! I cannot allow that thought to finish.  It’s time for a nap and to clear my head.  It was only ten thirty, but it felt like evening.  I walked to the bathroom from my bedroom, downed three aspirin with some water from the tap and headed back to my room.  That’s when the doorbell rang.

“You have got to be kidding me!”

I ran to the front door ready to strangle whoever it was so I could have a few hours of peace.  It was probably Jack or Tiffi, hopefully not Parker.  I paused a second in front of the mirror on the wall perpendicular to the front door, just in case it was…  never mind.

I opened the door to a young guy in his early twenties.  He was only a couple of inches taller than me and pretty stocky, and he wore a thin coat and no hat, but he had enough bushy blonde hair on his head to make up for it.  He also had a shovel in his hand.

“Hi, mam.  I was wondering if you needed your walk shoveled.”

I looked at him carefully.  “Did my mother send you?”

“Uh, no, mam.  I was just walkin’ through the neighborhood lookin’ for people who need shoveled.”

“Oh, well, okay.  How much?”



“Really?  That’s a little steep don’t you think?  How about ten?  It’s a pretty short walk.”

“Oh, I do the front sidewalk, too.”

I thought for a moment. He looked about college age and it was Spring Break.  He probably really needed the money.

“Okay, then.  Let me get my purse.”  I left the door ajar and went to get my purse.  I rummaged through my wallet to find enough money to give him when I noticed the bank envelope.  The gas mistake seemed like a one time thing and I already got my money back.  No need to give myself another headache when I’ve already balanced the past months anyway.  I tossed the envelope into the pile of papers I need to take to the office to shred and turned around to go back to the front door and smacked straight into the man.


“Sorry, sorry.  It’s pretty cold outside.  I hope you don’t mind I stepped in a minute to get warm,” he said looking sheepish.  He back away and stepped out the open front door.

“Uh, no problem.  My fault.  I should have asked you in.  Well, here’s the money.”

I handed him the ten and ten ones I scrounged from my purse and he looked at it confusingly for second, and then flashed a wide smile.

“Thanks a bunch, mam.”

“No, thank you.  You’re saving my mom a big headache thinking I’m snowed in.”  Then I added, “Keep warm,” before I shut the door, locking it.

I scrambled upstairs, Nomad and dingy hot on my heels and we all jumped into the bed, falling asleep to the sound of metal scraping concrete and thoughts of grey eyes and silky lips.