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The letter- Chapter 9 November 10, 2008

Filed under: NaNoWriMo08 — nikilyn @ 9:09 am
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Chapter 9

Tiffi

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. 

“Um-“

“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.

“So.”

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.”

“Yeah.”

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.

“Tif-“

“Hey-“

“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.”

“Okay?”

“Okay.”

“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

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.

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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?”

“Packers.”

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
Tags: , ,

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?”

“Twenty.”

Twenty?

“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.

“Oh!”

“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.

 

The Letter- Chapter 6 November 6, 2008

Filed under: NaNoWriMo08 — nikilyn @ 11:52 am
Tags: , ,

Chapter 6

Kat

I swung open the door and saw the one person I wasn’t expecting.

“Parker.”

He stood there with his long brown hair sticking out from under his stocking hat and his sad puppy brown eyes looked concerned.  I used to just melt when he would give me that look, but now I was just annoyed.  I wanted to yell at him to grow up or get over it or something.  I heard Tiffi discreetly go to the kitchen.

“What are you doing here?” I asked.

“Your mom called me.  She said you had an accident last night and she couldn’t get a hold of you.”

Dang!

“Oh, right, I was just getting ready to call her.  Well, I’m fine.”

He licked his chapped lips and I could see his breath.  I knew I should let him in to get warm.  He had to have walked here; he didn’t have a car.  We stood there a moment longer.  I was starting to get angry.  He didn’t try to stop me when I broke up with him two days ago, but here he was all concerned.  What gave him the right?

“What do you want, Parker?  We’re not together anymore.”

“Um, I was hoping I could come in.  We could talk.”

“Park…”  I was going to tell him to get lost, but my conscience got the better of me.  It had to be below freezing out there.  “Okay, I’ll get some coffee.”

I opened the door wider and the dogs were reduced to wiggle fits at seeing their old friend.  I walked back to the kitchen to pour coffee and saw Tiffi putting her boots on.

“I’m gonna take off, Kat.  I’ll go to the office and see if I can dig it out before Mr. Strogal tries to do it himself.”

“No!” I whispered. “Do not leave me here alone with him!  I’m begging you!”

“You obviously have things to talk about,” she whispered back.  She wrapped her self-knitted scarf around her neck and donned her coat.  “Just be strong and don’t fall for his charm.  Unless you want to-…”

“Please, Tiff…”

“Hey, Tiffi,” Parker said from the doorway, his arms full of Sylvie, the little tramp.

“Hey, Parks, got to go.  Time to shovel snow.”  And she was gone without glancing back.

He set Sylvie on the floor and picked up a cup of coffee.

“So, what do you want to talk about?”

“Don’t be flippant, Kat.  You know why I’m here.  I think I deserve an explanation.”

Did he know about Tom?  Why should I have to explain anything to him when we were broken up?

When I didn’t reply he said, “You never said why you wanted to split up.”

Oh, right.  This isn’t about Tom.  He couldn’t possible know.

“I just want different things than you do.  I don’t want to be in a life partnership.  I want to be married and I want to go to church with my husband.  I thought for the longest time that we could co-exist with different beliefs, but I can’t pretend anymore.  I was completely fooling myself and it wasn’t fair to either of us.  I’m not a vegan, like you either.  I’m not a vegetarian and I hate soy milk!”

He smiled at that, “I already knew that.  Every Sunday your breath reeked of bacon under the smell of mouth wash.”  He looked a little more confident as he walked toward me.  “I thought we were good together.  You forgave me for not going to church and I forgave for eating meat.  We both have a passion for animals and-,”

“Parks, stop.”  His hands were gripping my arms tightly and his voice was shaky.  “Why didn’t you try to stop me two days ago when I wanted to talk about this?”

“I didn’t know what to say.  I thought you would come back.  I thought you were just moody or starting a phase or something.”

“Starting a phase?  What am I, twelve?  I’m twenty eight years old.  I’m pretty sure I’m done with phases!  I know for sure I’m done with this one.”  Ok, maybe that was a little harsh.

Releasing my arms, his eyes filled with tears.  “You don’t mean that.  I love you.  I’ll never stop loving you.”

“I thought you already did.  You didn’t even try to stop me.  Think about it.  If you really wanted to stay with me you wouldn’t have let me leave.”

He reached up to touch my face and I backed away.

He looked broken.  “I’ll never stop loving you, “he repeated. Then he looked angry and started pacing.  “What was I supposed to say?  You just blurted it out and left before I had a chance to stop you.  We have made this work for so long.  We belong to each other.”

“No, we don’t, Parker.”

“Damn it, Kat!  You’re mine.”  He shook his finger and pointed at his chest.

I hugged myself rubbing my arms where he let go.  Feeling my own eyes stinging with tears I said, “I think you should leave now.”

He turned toward the door and I heard him mutter, “I’m not giving up on you.”  A moment later I heard him slam the front door.

Parker had never reacted with such anger about anything before.  I’ve never knew him to hurt anything or slam doors.  He was a passivist.  Feeling guilty about letting him have it I went upstairs to cry.  I will have to call my mother and ask her not to call Parker about anything to do with me anymore.

 

The Letter- Chapter 5 November 5, 2008

Filed under: NaNoWriMo08 — nikilyn @ 2:31 pm
Tags: , ,

Chapter 5

Tom

 

Her lips were so soft.  Her little body felt so right, so delicate under mine…  I closed my eyes and traced little kisses down her neck and up again, making my way to those hazel eyes.  Feeling her suddenly go rigid I opened my eyes to see hazel turn to blue, with the lids frozen open the skin started to char, turning black and dry.  Her mouth was open, lips pulled back in an unnatural grimace.

“Just let go…”

Tom sat up with a gasp.  Blinking and looking around the room he was thankful he was alone. He often called out during this one.  It always came when he was thinking of someone else.  It had been longer this time since the last one; four months at least, but those eyes still haunted him.  Would he ever be rid of them? 

But the voice at the end had been new.  Just let go…

He tried to think of something else.  Despite the chill in the room he decided he needed a cold shower.  He got up and looked out the window and saw a winter wonderland.  From the second floor bunk room he could see the sun coming up over the farmers’ fields in the distance.  The drifts looked to be about four feet and only Main Street had been plowed.  He could hear some guys in the kitchen having breakfast and the distinctive sound of snow shovels on concrete. 

Yes, shoveling snow is a great idea.

He made his way to the shower and caught his reflection in the mirror.    His left eye was puffy and the cheekbone under it was a distinct black and purple.  Great.  That’ll get the guys started again.  They made a big deal about his black eye last night when he got back, after they heard what happened.  Someone saw Kat’s Passport at the clinic and called Jack.  Then Jack called Tiffi.  He got a simple explanation from her but wasn’t satisfied with that.  He’d demanded to know everything from Tom.  It made an unpleasant confrontation at the firehouse.  He managed to tell Jack everything except about the kiss. 

He stared at the scar that ran from his right ear down his shoulder blade and partially down his upper arm.  The scar was tight and wrinkled, shiny like burn scars always were.  Turning away he thought just another reminder, like the nightmares weren’t enough.  He quickly showered, dressed, and snuck out the back door to head downtown.

As Tom picked his way around the drifts the only thing he could think about was how stupid he was to kiss her when she had just passed out and come to.  He was a certified paramedic.  He should have recognized all the signs for a potential head injury, but when they were laying there on that dusty floor all he could think about was the need to kiss her.  She had a great body.  She must be a runner.  But there was something about those hazel eyes.  When he first ran into her at the bank he though her eyes were a muddy green, but then when he saw her again they were a golden brown.  They were so… bottomless.  He could see right through them.   They revealed the exact moment she realized he was the same person from the bank and her stumbling embarrassment that followed.  Cute.

He needed to bury himself in work.  The only problem was he was on a mandatory ninety-six hours off.  He worked twenty-four on and twenty-four off for four days and now had four days off.  He looked at his watch.  Only seventy-two hours to go.  Being alone and sedentary got him thinking.  Thinking was not always a good thing when you’re trying to forget something.  Work was better.

As he walked closer to Main Street, across Kat’s street and through four foot drifts he figured he could volunteer to dig some people out.  That should get his mind off Kat’s warm body.  This is the first time in two years he’s felt this strongly about anyone.  And he had just met her.  She must think I’m the most presumptuous prick.

It was the first time he let his guard down a while.  All those walls he built for protection crumbled down when he saw that railing break.  It was like seeing the house burst into flames all over again. 

Tom shook the image away and passed another man walking in the opposite direction, almost colliding with him.

“Excuse me,” Tom said as they passed.

“No problem,” the man replied, turning down Kat’s street.

As he approached Main Street Tom decided to buy a shovel from McNicol’s Hardware, mostly because it was the only business up and running.  He walked in and immediately found the shovels right beside the entrance.  He strode to the counter where he wondered if the old man was Mr. McNicol himself.  He had no name tag.

“Who are you?”  The old man sounded like he had gravel in his throat.

Taken by surprise Tom replied, “What?”

“I said who are you?”

“Uh-…”

A woman in her forties with a red carpenter’s apron that said “McNicol’s Hardware” rushed out from the back of the store apologizing.

“I am so sorry, sir,” she turned to the old man.  “Calm down, Daddy. You don’t have to know everyone who buys a shovel.  Look, he’s got on a WFD hat.  I bet he’s the new hire over at the firehouse.”  She turned back to Tom and winked.

“Yes, mam,” Tom smiled.  “I’m Tom Booker.”

“Mary Neston.  This is my father, Willy McNicol,” she replied taking his offered hand.

“Nice to meet you, mam.” Tom nodded to the old man, “Sir.”

Mr. McNicol just grunted in his direction.  Progress.

“Just ‘Mary’.  Is this it for you?” she asked, indicating the shovel.

“Yes, mam.  Mary,”

“Aren’t you adorable?  The ladies will be fighting for scraps before too long.  How long have you been to town?  Where are you stayin’?”

Tom had a brief image of she-wolves tearing through loose clothing.

“I’ve only been here about five days.  Right now I’m just sleeping at the firehouse, but I’ll be moving to the Logan house before too long.”

“Oh, that was you?” she asked wide-eyed, handing him his change.

He asked warily, “What do you mean?”

“Are you the client that brought Kat Foster into town from the Logan house?”

Flabbergasted, Tom was finding it hard to close his mouth.

“News travels fast here.  It only takes one person to call a couple people and it just multiplies from there.  Everyone in here has been buzzing about it.  Kat’s mother is my sister.”  She turned to the old man again and raised her voice, “Daddy, this is the boy that brought Kat back to town when she fell last night.”

Mr. McNicol just grunted again and gave Tom the old once-over pausing at the shiner.  Tom could almost hear his thoughts; punk.

He could see the resemblances between Kat and her aunt and grandfather; same long face and wide hazel eyes.  He let out a puff of air, feeling sheepish.  If they only knew what really happened.  Great, now he’d have to get used to the small town quirks and busy-bodies. 

“Don’t worry, honey.  There’s new gossip everyday.  Everyone will forget about it tomorrow.”

“Good to know.  Thank you, mam.  Mary.”  He turned and walked out. 

Tom walked out from under the store’s canopy and surveyed Main Street.  There were already people at the bank digging out and there was a bobcat plowing the gas station.  There wasn’t anyone at the realty office.  He knew Tiffi was taking care of Kat and they wouldn’t be able to shovel today.  From what he heard about the business, the old owner shouldn’t even be walking to and from his car, let alone shoveling.  He’d start there.  The sooner he got it up and running the sooner he would be out of the firehouse.

 

The Letter- Chapter 4 November 4, 2008

Filed under: NaNoWriMo08 — nikilyn @ 1:17 pm
Tags: , ,

Chapter 4

 

Some time later I felt something warm lay beside me on my queen size bed.  It must be Nomad.  I didn’t bother pushing him off, he was so warm.  I’ll worry about the dog hair later.  Some time after that I remembered a voice talking to me.  Tiffi .  I must have responded because I had a bad case of cotton mouth and she gave me some water and more pills.

I must have slept through dinner and all night long, because I woke up to a horrible growling and the sun in my face.  My arm was at an awkward angle and Ernesto was curled in an unnatural ball in my armpit.  He’s such a heat-leach.  I hear some bowls clanging downstairs and sit up quickly, spilling Ernesto on the floor and making him hiss.       My head swims and there’s a pounding in my temples.  I ran my hands through my hair and felt two distinct lumps; one on the back of my head where it must have hit the floor and the other just inside my hair line on the right side of my forehead.  The previous day’s events come back like a swarm of bees, buzzing included.

            Carefully, I swing my legs around to side of the bed to stand when I get a hard throbbing in my head.  Tiffi was downstairs.  I better stop her before she goes all out on a huge breakfast.  She tends to overdo the hospitality when it comes to the food but not the clean-up.

The second floor was so drafty I grabbed my slippers before going downstairs.  Man, my whole body ached.  I got most of the way down before Nomad and Dingy clicked into the living room.

“Hi, there, boys.  How are you?”  I said in a high sing-song voice.

Nomad started breathing heavily with excitement and Dingy hopped on his hind legs like they were little springs.

I heard Tiffi call from the kitchen, “Kat, is that you?” She came walking out of the kitchen wearing my apron.  “Oh, you!  I was going to make you breakfast in bed.  Go back to bed.”

See what I mean?

“Oh, Tif, that’s okay.  I’m not really that hungry.  I think I’ll just have cereal and coffee.”  I’m lying, of course.  I’m starving, but I really don’t want to clean up the mess.

“Oh okay, then,” she said, disappointed.  Damn.  “How’s your head?”

“Better.”

“Good.  Your mom called.  Three times.”

I groaned.  My mom is the town busy-body.  She was probably wondering about the accident.  If I know mom she had her CB up and running during the storm and her contacts waiting at the ready.  It was an addiction for her.  If she wasn’t the first to hear something juicy she was devastated.  I was meaning to ask her about the letter since I found it.  I wonder if she knew of a couple named Danny and Beth.

We both walked into the kitchen and I let her pour my cereal and milk while I sat at the table.  She really is sweet, just, she tries too hard.  She sat down across from me and started eating.

“So,” she started to say, mouth full.  “Who’s the bad boy?”

“What,” I said incredulously.  “Who are you talking about?”

“You know, Mr. Gray-Eyes.”

“You mean Tom?  He’s not a bad boy, he’s a firefighter.”

“Oh, come-on.  I can spot them a mile away.  He walks with a chip on his shoulder and dresses all messy, but it’s real I-don’t-care messy, not on-purpose messy. 

“Give me a break, he just got off work.  He probably didn’t sleep all night. You should know better than anyone how that goes.  Besides, I saw him at the bank and I know he walked back to the station and it was really windy.”  I explained about my purse spilling.

“What does that mean, ‘I should know better than anyone’?” She looked affronted.

Ha!  I’ve turned the tables.  I paused and faked a thoughtful look. “Hmm, maybe…  Jack?”

 “Huh-uh!  Don’t try that on me, missy.”  She pointed a finger at me, smiling.  “I know all your tricks.  So what really happened at the Logan house.”

It was my turn to look affronted, “I told you.  An owl was in the second bedroom and it flew out and I stumbled into the rotten railing.  I started to fall, but Tom caught my arm and then the floorboards gave and we both fell.”

“So he fell on top of you.”

How did she know that?

“What?”  I’m stalling.

“He had a pretty big shiner, Kat.  He said he hit it on your head when you guys landed.”  She stared at me.

Will she think I’m some kind of hussy, now?  I mean, I’ve been with Parker for, well, forever, and as soon as I break up with him I jump the nearest single guy.  I guess I could tell her. She was my oldest friend. 

“Okay,” I burst out.  “Okay, after we fell and I came to, we kinda, sorta… kissed.”

Tiffi’s jaw dropped.  Then she frowned at me.

“I knew it!  I could tell something wasn’t right.”  Then she had the audacity to look smug.  “This is just what you needed after breaking up with Parker, Kat.”   

“Really?” 

“Of, course.  You haven’t kissed anyone else for how long?”  She leaned in close like she didn’t want to be overheard and whispered, “So, how was it?”

“It was really sweet.”  I described his lips and his hair.

Tiffi looked starry eyed and smiled.

“So, are you gonna go out with him?”

I thought for a moment.  “I don’t know if he’ll want to.  I was the biggest klutz, and then I didn’t even say thanks for taking me to the clinic.”

“I bet he will.  He was pretty concerned.  He actually wanted to be the one to stay with you over night, but I wasn’t about to let some strange guy in your house all night long after you had been injured.  I felt kind of bad for telling him no because he looked all wounded and insulted.”

“Insulted how?”

“You know, like he knew we couldn’t trust him or something.”

“Hmm.  Interesting.”

  I carried my empty bowl to the sink and looked out the window.  I could see the dog’s tracks in the snow drifts indicating that Tiffi had already taken care of the dogs.  We had a lot of snow last night.  I wondered when we’ll be able to dig out the office.  That’s when I remembered something.

“He’s buying the Logan house.  Cash.”

“What?  In full?”  She spun around in her chair.

“Yep.  He said he had a lot saved up in the last two years and he could pay cash.”

She whistled.  “I wonder how he got all that cash on a fireman’s salary.”

“Who knows?  People make all kinds of money with investments and the stock market and such.”

“Yeah, I guess,” she replied.

“Well, I’m going up to take a shower.  I’ll let you know when I’m out.”

I better get going to help shovel the town.  Maybe a couple of aspirin first.  And a shower.

 

*          *          *

 

This was heaven.  I stood under the hot water for a few minutes and thought about the previous day.  That was the kind of spontaneity I was looking for in Parker.  At least Tom is buying the house.  Now I won’t have to show it to anyone else while imagining Tom’s silky soft lips on mine and where else I’d like them to be.  It will save me some embarrassment and awkward silences. 

I wonder if he’s regretting what happened yesterday.  We don’t even know each other.  Maybe he would like to go out sometime.  There’s bowling or Maggie’s Grill n’ Pub or…  That’s about it until spring or summer.  The library has movie night once a month if we wanted to go out, but it costs the same to rent it and take it home.  That’s the problem with a small town.  We go to larger cities to do the typical fun things that city-slickers do.  When they move here they ask what there is to do, and we say go into the city.

When I gooped up my hair with conditioner I saw the side of the shower curtain slowly open.  I see Nomad’s nose poke through and I scold him for barging in.  Massaging my hair I imagine Tom slipping in with me and kissing me with that half cocked smile and lifted brow.  I was surprised at how muscular he was.  He looked lean, but when we were hip to hip, he didn’t feel boney.  He felt…

Okay, stop!  I need to cool my jets if I want to take advantage of single-hood for more than a day.  We should try to be friends first.  I don’t know how old he is, where he moved from, or if he’s ever been married, or if he has a criminal record, or if he goes to church…   

That reminds me, what is today?  Friday?  I need to call Claudia to let her know about me and Parker.  She won’t have to help me sneak meat into my diet anymore.  We’ve had an agreement that every Sunday I come over for breakfast as long as I helped her get her crew ready for church.  She has three boys, a husband, and a house in the country, a golden retriever, and she’s a stay-at-home mom.  She has a perfect, albeit frazzled, life.  Her husband, Richard, is always trying to set me up with his pompous co-workers; all lawyers.  As if.  I know ‘realty’ is just a stone’s throw away from ‘lawyer’ in reputation, but come on.  I don’t try to keep criminals running about the streets.

I padded into the bedroom, threw on some insulated sweat pants and a long sleeved t-shirt and dialed Claudia.

Richard answered the phone.  I could hear the boys cheering in the background.  School must be canceled.

“Hey, Rich, is Claud around?”  I shouted.

“Kat!  We’ve been wondering what happened to you.  Yeah, she’s here somewhere,” he shouted back and I heard call out, “Claud!”

I waited a few moments and I heard her say into the phone, “Hold on a sec, Kat” and she muffled the phone with her hand.

It didn’t do any good. She put on the air of a stern dictator and bellowed, “I will have peace in this house while I am on the phone!  The first boy to say a peep will be the first to start shoveling the drive-way!”  There was a silent pause and I heard her uncover the phone again.  “Sorry about that Kat.”  I heard a high pitched voice say, “Peep” in the background and some stifled giggles. She muffled again and I heard her say, “You.  Outside.  Now.”

“Sounds crazy over there.”

“Yeah, well, there’s no school so they’ve been chanting while I‘ve been in the shower.  So, come out with it.  Someone saw your Passport at the clinic last night.”

“Oh, no.”

  I told her everything that happened at the house, except the kissing, and then my concussion.  She made the appropriate gasps and then asked the right questions to make sure I was feeling okay.

“All right. What else?”  She asked.  She could always tell when I was holding back.  I wasn’t ready to tell her about Tom.

“I broke up with Parker.”

She gasped and said, “Shut. Up.”

“Yep.”

“Nuh-uh.”

“Yep.”

“Wow.  It’s about time.  I mean, why?”

“Well, you know the whole meat and organic thing. And, well, you know, the sex was getting kind of boring.  Actually, I just don’t think I was in love with him anymore.”

“So what happened?  What made you up and decide?”

I told her about walking in to tell him and his reaction.

“He just said ‘okay’?  Maybe he was just in shock.”

“That’s what Tiffi said.  I think that we just both knew it was time to end it.  We weren’t going anywhere and we all know his views on marriage.  I want to have kids someday, you know?  I can’t do that without being married.”

“Oh, honey, I know,” she said sympathetically.

“I want what you and Rich have.  I want a house out of town and rowdy kids on snow days and I want a husband.  I want to get married in church with a pastor and the whole legal marriage license.  Not a self-proclaimed life partner.  I am going to miss him, though.”

“I’m so sorry, Kat.  Well, we were all kind of expecting it.  You’ve been tip-toeing around more than usual lately so we knew it couldn’t last too much longer.  We knew you had to get fed up with it sooner or later.  I’m just surprised it took you this long.  And don’t worry; you’re hot and smart and financially secure.  It won’t be too much longer to find a new guy.”

“Well, yeah, I guess.”  There was silence for a moment.  I didn’t like that she used the word we.  It meant she and our mother were talking about me.  I debated telling her about Tom.  If I held anything back she would know.  Better to tell her.

“Well, I did meet a guy, but I don’t know what to do about him yet.  I made-out with him.”

“What?!  You hussy!  When?”

I told her about the bank and the kiss and filled in the rest of the blanks.

“He waited for you and helped you to the car and everything?  Kat, lock him in the basement.  Or at least ask him out.”

“I know, but I hardly know him.  I don’t know how old he is or where he moved from or if he’s ever been married, or if he’s just one of those sweep-you-off-your-feet-and-leave-you kind of guys.”

“Well, for goodness sake.  Don’t be stupid about it.  Take it slow.  Ask him out on a date before jumping his bones-”

“I didn’t jump his bones…” but I really wanted to.

“… – and ask Jack about him.  He’ll tell you if there’s anything fishy.”

“I am not telling Jack what happened; he’s like a brother.  He’ll get all protective and threaten the poor guy.”

I heard Tiffi coming up the stairs and into my bedroom.   I motioned for her to sit on the bed with me.

“No, I agree, but if you want to start seeing this guy you should definitely check him out.”

“Yeah, you’re right.” I was getting uncomfortable with this subject.  “Hey, I forgot.  I found this letter yesterday.  Let me read it to you.”

I ran downstairs to get it from my purse, Tiffi close behind, curious.  I read them the letter from Danny Boy.  Tiffi was dumbfounded and grabbed the letter from me when I was finished.

“Wow, I wonder what happened,” Claud said.

“I don’t know.  He’s obviously very sorry about it whatever it was.  I don’t think he cheated on her, because it says he was stubborn.  Couldn’t she forgive him for that?  I mean, if I would have broken up with Parker out of sheer stubbornness we would have been done years ago, but I stuck with it because I don’t believe in quitting when things get rough.”

Tiffi mouthed, what a bitch.  I stifled a laugh.

“Well, I guess it all depends on what he was stubborn about.  Maybe she couldn’t tolerate it anymore,” Claud said.

“If Parker had even an ounce of expressiveness as Danny Boy I would have entered into ‘life partner-hood’ a long time ago.”

Tiffi rolled her eyes.

“Well, maybe this new guy will have a couple of ounces,” Claud teased.

“Maybe.  Hey, I gotta go.  I think we’re gonna try to make it into the office.”

“Ok, well, I’m glad you’re not hurt.  Be careful in the snow.  And don’t forget to call Mom.  She’s driving me crazy.”

I hung up the phone just as the doorbell rang followed by two berserk dogs’ barking.

 

The letter- chapter 3 November 3, 2008

Filed under: NaNoWriMo08 — nikilyn @ 3:12 pm
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Chapter 3

“I’m sorry.”  He blinked hard and rolled away onto his back and we both stared at the ceiling. 

Damn!  I just made-out with my client on the floor of the house I was trying to sell him.  I’m pretty sure there’s a rule against that.

It was clear that the roof was leaky due to the yellow stains on the ceiling.  Great.  That means there might be mold in the attic to go with the owl on the second floor.  I secreted a glance at Tom.  He was staring at the stain, too.  I began to sit up.

Then he said something I would have never bet he’d say.

“I’ll take it.”

“What?”  My head hurts.

“I said I’ll take it.  I have a large amount of money I been saving for two years.  I can pay cash.”

“Cash?”  Stunned, I blew out a lung full of air and I lay back down.  “Oh.  Lovely.”

Cash.  This is great.  I sold a house.  I sold my favorite house.  This house had so much potential; it could be so beautiful!  It just needs someone to love it and take care of it.  I never had the means to buy it myself, which is why I lived in town.  Maybe someday when things aren’t so…  No. I can’t think that way.

I felt really awkward so I quickly stood up to leave, but I swayed.  I was embarrassed and still very light headed.  He noticed and stood up, too, placing a hand on my elbow.

“Well, we should probably get back to the realty office to work out a deal…”

I swayed again and he held tighter.  I felt a little sick.  I must have looked as bad as I felt because he raised that left eyebrow again.  I’m never drinking tequila again. Didn’t I already say that?

“Are you sure you’re okay?  You look a little… green.”

“I’m… sorry.  I’m not really thinking clearly.  I’m a little hung over today.”  Oh, yeah, that’s professional.  I looked around for some kind of diversion.  The wind was blowing snow across the road already.  “We should get going before the weather gets too bad.”

He followed my gaze and looked back at me.  “Right.  Want me to drive?”

I really didn’t feel so good so I said, “Sure.”

We started walking out into the frigid wind and snow to the Passport and I felt a little queasy.  He put his hands on my shoulders and looked into my eyes.  Wow, his eyes were something. 

“Damn.  You should go home and we’ll do this later.  Now that I look at you, you might have a concussion.”

I kept my mouth shut, not trusting what would come out, and I just nodded.  Big mistake.  I felt my stomach lurch and I wrapped my arms around my middle.  What is wrong with me?

I just want to get to my bed so I concentrated on the walk to the car.  I climbed into the passenger side and Tom closed the door.  I reached over and started the car.  My eyes were closed before he started driving.

 

 *         *          *

 

“Kat, honey.  Wake up.”  Tiffi’s voice rang shrill to my ears.  “Kat.  How are you feeling?”

Sleepily I open my eyes.  

“What? Where am I?”  I looked around and saw that I was sitting on a gurney in a small area surrounded by a curtain.  Tiffi was standing next to me.

“You’re at the urgent care clinic.  Tom Booker brought you here and called me at the office.  He said you fell off the second story of the Logan house.  Are you all right?  What happened?”  She was talking very quickly.  Obviously he hadn’t gone into details.

“Owl flew out of the second floor bedroom and scared me.  The railing broke.  I think I’m fine.  I’m just really tired and still pretty hung-over.  Don’t call anyone else. I think I just need to go to home.”

“Well, then it’s a good thing you have me as your first emergency contact in your cell.  Your mom would be going nuts if she knew.  He said it looked like you were going to be sick and then you let him drive.  Kat, you don’t let anyone drive your car- not even Parker, and you dated him for six years.  He thinks you have a concussion.”

 “Crap.”  I just wanted to go home.

“It’s okay.  Do you want me to stay?”

“No, no.  You should go home before it gets too bad out.  Jack’s worried about you driving, anyway.”  I smiled.

She rolled her eyes and said, “Oh, poo.  I live three blocks away.  If the roads were too bad I would just walk.” 

“I’m fine.  Just go home and I’ll call you later.” 

“No, I stay.  Screw Jack.  If he’s so concerned he can tell me himself.”    

“Katrina Foster?”  A female voice came from the other side of the curtain and a tall fifty-something woman peeked in carrying a chart

“That’s me,” I sighed.

I received a thorough examination and an x-ray at the and with a sheet of instructions for someone to watch over me for the next twenty-four hours.  Tiffi took the sheet and put it in her purse and started to follow me out the door of the examination room.  Tom was sitting in the waiting area, a row of three chairs near the door, with an ice pack on his eye.  Dazed, I stopped at the counter to give the receptionist my co-pay when Tom appeared beside me with his hand on my elbow again                   .

“Let me help you to the car.”

I glance to Tiffi and she briefly widened her eyes to imply I should accept.

I nodded to Tom, “Thanks.”

I let him help me in the front seat, even though I was perfectly able to do it myself, and he climbed into the back and Tiffi into the driver’s seat.

“Be careful, Tif.”  I say automatically.  Really, this car is my baby.  My first ever new car.  Everything before this was a junker so I’m really particular about who drives it: Me.

“I know, honey, just relax.”

I close my eyes and doze, briefly waking when she dropped Tom off at the firehouse.  I barely remember getting home and up to my bed.