This serial story is presented in draft (unedited) form. Each installment will be available for one week, and new installments will be posted every Friday. Enjoy!
Live With Me
The phone on her desk startled Candace when it rang, jarring her out of a daydream that she had no business having at work. Her client for the hour had cancelled and she’d started catching up on some paperwork, but her mind had drifted to that one day in high school when her whole life had changed.
And a certain tall, wiry basketball player that had managed to give her both the best and worst five minutes of her teenaged years.
Even though she understood now what had happened on an intellectual level, she still remembered the feeling of betrayal as if it had happened yesterday.
Probably because she’d had a crush on Emmett Archer since the day he’d moved in across the street and winked at her over their shared fence. The day he’d broken her heart was the day she’d learned to listen to her head instead of following her emotions.
It was also the day he’d kissed her. Angels had sung, fireworks had popped, and they’d lived happily ever after.
Or that’s how it went in her daydreams. Too bad things like that didn’t actually happen in real life.
The message light blinked at her, reminding her that she hadn’t actually answered the phone. Rolling her eyes at her own gaff, she pressed the button to get the message.
“Candace? This is Angela Archer, and I’m sorry to bother you while you’re working, but I was hoping you could help me with something. Be a dear and call me back when you get this, please. It is somewhat time sensitive, I’m afraid.”
Candace picked up the phone and dialed the number she knew by heart. Her cheeks heated a little at the timing – daydreaming about Emmett while his mother was on the line.
Emmett had eventually grown up, technically speaking, and gone on to play professional basketball. But his parents had stayed next door to hers. His mother had been Candace’s main source of help and support when her own parents had died in an accident two years before. They’d grown close, and Candace thought of Angela like a second mother. Whatever Angela needed, Candace would make sure she got it.
“Angela? It’s Candace. Are you okay?”
“I’m fine dear – thank you for calling me back. But I do need a favor, and you know I woudn’t ask if it wasn’t important.”
Candace could hear the smile and warmth in the woman’s voice, and it made her smile too.
“Whatever you need, of course. I just have one more appointment for the day, and then I’m all yours.”
“Oh thank you! I knew you’d come through. You have a spare bedroom, don’t you? Would you be willing to rent that out to me for a few weeks? It would really help me a lot…”
Candace frowned. Angela and Gary had always been a solid unit, one of those couples that rarely had problems. She couldn’t image what could possibly drive Angela out of the house.
“Of course you’re welcome to use the spare room. And I couldn’t possibly take your money – stay as long as you’d like. But if you and Gary are having problems, I could recommend a good therapist…”
Angela laughed, not the laugh of someone leaving her husband. More like someone who’d just told a hilarious joke that caught everyone by surprise. Candace sat back in her chair, dread pooling in her stomach as she waited for the punchline. Angela had mentioned Emmett getting hurt, and she’d seen on the news last night that he was being release from the hospital. She’d just forgotten in her fantasy-dream state, or she’d have caught on sooner.
She really needed to stop daydreaming at work.
“The room isn’t for me, honey. I’m sure you remember me telling you about Emmett getting hurt, and now he needs a place to stay where the press won’t think to look for him. Of course I thought of you, and I knew you wouldn’t mind helping out. We really appreciate it. He’s being released this evening, so we’ll have a cab drop him off. Don’t want to chance anyone following us, you know. Thank you again, dear – oh! That’s him on the other line, so I have to go. Talk to you soon!”
The line went dead before Candace could say one word, and she put the receiver down with a thud.
No, no, no. Emmett Archer in her house? Sleeping in her spare bed?
So. Not. Happening.
She picked up the phone and dialed Angela’s number, but no one answered. Of course not. Angela knew that something had happened with Emmett in high school, but Candace hadn’t told her what, and Angela insisted that she should let it go. That she’d be perfect for Emmett. That she’d always hoped Candace and Emmett would get together someday.
The woman just didn’t understand. Candace reached for her purse. She’d go over there and admit her humiliation. Surely Angela would understand why she absolutely did not want to see Emmett.
The intercom buzzed. “Ms. Wilson? Your next appointment is here.”
Closing her eyes, Candace took a deep breath and let it out. Clients. Work. Right.
Opening her eyes, she put her purse back in it’s place under her desk and took another calming breath. She would just have to find Angela right after work. There would still be time. She could still fix this.
Clearing her mind and looking at her client’s file for a moment to refocus herself, she pressed the intercom button.
“Send her in, Sarah.”
Sixty minutes. She could continue to freak out in exactly sixty minutes.