Chapter 3.28 – Adulting

When Reagan got up the next morning, she finished straightening up and moving the last of the empty boxes to the garage.  Everything was almost in order. But Ryan and Evan were wrong. She really didn’t have a lot of shit to unpack. But there was a fair amount of new or gently used furniture to put together and move in. Ryan’s apartment had been furnished and she figured Evan’s probably was too and maaaybe she had a few more clothes. More than Ryan, but she wasn’t so sure about Evan.

She went back into her kitchen.  The thought made her smile.  She began to wash the few dishes they had missed the night before.She couldn’t stop thinking about Evan and that kiss.  As badly as she would have loved to wake up with him in her bed this morning, she was glad she stopped things between them before they got out of control. First, if they got involved, she would eventually have to explain her mother to him and she didn’t think he would understand. Secondly, she knew very little about him and had no idea what sort of baggage he had.

That thought made her think of Archer. He always said people’s baggage made them unique. She realized she hadn’t thought of him for quite a long time, and tried to picture his face.  She hoped he had found someone to love and he was happy. Even as she thought it, she felt a small pang of jealousy.  Both men could kiss, but Evan’s were amazing.  God, she seriously needed a boyfriend. Sadly, it just couldn’t be Evan. Evan was simply too complicated, even without knowing his baggage.

Reagan was finishing up the dishes when the doorbell rang. She hoped it might be Evan and then mentally kicked herself. That was just inviting trouble. She dried her hands and was shocked to find her dad, Dannie, and Connie standing in the doorway with a bag of groceries. “Come in!” she said, surprisingly happy to see them.

When she opened the door, Connie launched herself at Reagan.  “Hey, I’ve only been gone one day!” she said and laughed.

“We came to see if you need any more help,” said Connie trying to be all grown up.

“That, and I bought some groceries to help stock your pantry,” said Dannie with a sweet smile. “I sorta took note of what you might need when Connie and I were putting things away yesterday. I hope you don’t mind.”

“Not at all! Thank you soooo much Dannie.  I knew I was going to have to shop today because…. no Dannie coffee this morning.”  Reagan was truly moved by the gesture and looked around to see what still needed to be done. The boxes were all unpacked but she could use some help hanging pictures.

Dannie grinned. “No worries. Coffee is one of the things I picked up.  You should make it the night before, so it’s ready when you wake up. I’ll show you how to set the timer, but I can make a pot now if you like.”

“Okay, that’s be nice,” said Reagan only because she seemed to want to do it.  She sat next to her father while they waited for the coffee to brew.  “Almost everything is done Dad, but I do need to get the pictures hung.”

He looked so happy to be able to help.  “On it,” he said, “So, how was your first night as a homeowner?”  

She wondered if he thought Evan stayed?  “Great!  I’m still pinching myself to be sure it’s not a dream. Evan left right after you guys, then I crashed and didn’t wake up until a couple of hours ago.”

“Which pictures need to be hung?” asked her dad.

Reagan pointed to a few pictures leaning against the wall. “I have them sitting where I want them. I also have some family pictures and I want to put on the wall in my bedroom.  Dannie, maybe you can help me decide on an arrangement while Dad hangs the ones laying around…not too high though, Dad. They have to be eye level.”

Cole saluted her with a huge grin and got up to get started.

Dannie and Connie followed Reagan to her bedroom where she had the family pictures stacked up on the wall.  There were photos of the wedding. Her siblings. Pictures of her grandparents and even her great grandparents. And she even found one of her mother in her wedding dress. It was the only one of her mother that didn’t include her father.

“Ohhh – there’s me!” exclaimed Connie, “but who’s that? She’s pretty!”

Reagan looked at Dannie before responding. Dannie gave her a sad smile, and she felt a little guilty for having the picture in a collage along with Taylor and Connie.

“It’s my mother,” replied Reagan softly.

“That’s not Mommy,” said Connie.

“No, sweetheart it’s not,” said Reagan, wondering how to explain this. She always assumed Connie knew.

Thankfully, Dannie stepped in. “She is Reagan and Ryan’s mother Connie. You remember when Daddy and I got married a few years ago? We were both married before and she was Daddy’s first wife.”

“Ewwww. I don’t want another mother,” said Connie clearly confused.

“Oh baby, she’s not your mother. I am, and always will be. But, I’m also not Reagan and Ryan’s birth mother, I’m their stepmother. But that’s almost the same as being their mother. You know, some people have children and then get divorced. That’s what happened with Daddy and Reagan’s mother.”

“Is she my stepmother? Where does she live?” asked Connie pointing to the picture of Avery.

“Connie!” called out Cole from the doorway. “Wanna go get ice cream?”

Reagan jumped, he either had impeccable timing, or was listening.

“Ice Cream! Yes Daddy!” squealed Connie, apparently no longer interested in the woman in the picture.

Reagan looked up. Her dad had a pained look on his face that he tried to hide when he caught her eye. He’d heard. Things had been going so well between them. Would all of that change once her mother was released? She’d been thinking about asking her mother to live with her until she found a job and a place of her own. That’ll probably go over like a lead balloon, she thought sadly.

“You guys go on, I got the rest,” said Reagan, when in truth, she would’ve loved to go. But she wasn’t ready to discuss the dark haired other mother. Reagan felt like she had her family back, and now she was going to lose them again. She could see it in their eyes when they saw her mother’s picture.

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Willow Creek Gym that same day…….

Ryan was going over the chart for his next client. He found he really enjoyed working in the gym. As far as hooking up went, there were a few regulars that had caught his attention. But he was spending so much time learning the ropes, he hadn’t done anything about it – yet.

He looked up when he heard the soft tone that indicated someone had come through the door. It was Evan. “Hey man, how’s it going?” called out Ryan, “Coming to work out the sore muscles from moving my sister’s shit?”

Evan chuckled. “Yes. I guess. But I wanted to talk to you about said sister. Get some advice from you.”

“Okay, but I want to thank you for helping us move her. I’m sure Reagan appreciated it too,” he said and waggled his eyebrows laughing.

“Yes, well, that’s what I wanted to ask about. You see, I’m sure she’s into me, but she pushes me away every time we get close.  She’s not seeing anyone else, is she?”

Ryan was confused. He thought Rea and Evan would have wound up putting her bed to good use after they left. “Reagan’s complicated,” he said with a small sigh, “but actually, I’m shocked she’s doing that. She’s not dating anyone. Hell, I thought the sparks between you two were going to catch the house on fire. That’s why I went with the folks, to give you guys some alone time.”

“Fuck. This is awkward. Forget it,” said Evan, “I’ll figure it out.” He turned to go and a young woman was walking towards them.  Evan let out a low whistle only he and Ryan could hear.

Ryan got up to greet her and laughed at Evan. “She’s my client, but if you’re looking to hit on her, forget it man. She’s getting married in a month and wants to have “buff arms” in her pictures,” he said using air quotes.

“Damn, all the hot ones are taken or reject me. Sucks,” groused Evan. “Listen, no need to tell Reagan about our chat. I don’t want to make her uncomfortable. I’m gonna hit the treadmill. Later.”

Ryan guided his client to the weight machine and they began their work out. While she was going through her reps, a very attractive woman he hadn’t seen before walked in. “Excuse me,” he said to his client, “I need to wait on the customer. Continue like you are and I’ll be right back.”

“Can I help you?” said Ryan as he walked up to the woman.

She looked him up and down and smirked. “I bet you could,” she said, obviously flirting with him.

Ryan swallowed hard, ignoring the innuendo. “Are you looking for a gym?” She wasn’t dressed to workout so he wasn’t sure what she wanted.

“Yes, and a trainer. I understand a Ryan Murdock is an excellent trainer. Do you know if he has any openings,” she asked coyly.

“Well, I’m Ryan. And you are?” he asked trying to keep it professional.

“Ohhh,” she cooed, “Hi. I’m Mirabel. So, Ryan, do you have any openings?”

Hell yeah I have openings, he thought.  “I can check my calendar.  I’m with a client right now.  I’ll get you the paperwork and we can go over it when I’m done, if you have time. It’ll be about 30 minutes.”

“Sure,” she said, so Ryan handed her a tablet to fill out the questionnaire and went back to finish up with his client.

A few minutes later, Ryan glanced over where Mirabel was sitting to make sure she was still there.  He saw Evan talking to her. He must be a horny bastard, thought Ryan, maybe it’s good thing Rea pushed him away. But then, he supposed if someone pushed him away, he would look elsewhere too.

Barely a minute later, Ryan laughed to himself when Evan stalked off.  0 for 3 good buddy, he thought. Sorry about that. Maybe Evan just came on too strong. Once Ryan got Mirabel to go out with him, he’d have to give Evan some pointers. Unless she’s married, but he didn’t notice a ring, and she was flirting with him.

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Meanwhile, in Paris …..

Taylor finished the summer term with top scores. It was a lot of classroom, but with only two classes, it wasn’t so bad. Elliott took her to dinner to celebrate, something they rarely did.  “This is lovely Elliott.  Thank you,” said Taylor.

“It is nice,” he said as he lifted the wine glass to his lips for a sip, then gently sat it down. “Taylor, I think it’s time we discussed arrangements for the end of the upcoming semester.”

He looked incredibly sad, so Taylor knew exactly what he wanted to happen, but she’d been thinking about it too. “Elliott, it’s okay,” she said warmly, “I will get a job in Paris, and we can stay together until you graduate. Then I can help you in London with your restaurants. We can do it together.”

“No. You have to go home and just let me do this alone. You can’t move to London on a hope and a prayer. Plus, you won’t be able to live with me in Paris, or in London either. I live in a dorm and our flat in London’s too small.  I literally have nothing to offer you.”

“Stop. I’ve thought about it Elliott. When you walked out, I was empty inside. I don’t care how small. I’ve lived in that tiny studio for more than three years. I don’t need big. I need you.”

“I’m sorry,” he said, looking miserable, “But I’m trying to be realistic. If the situation were different, I’d be proposing to you right now on bended knee.”

Taylor laughed sarcastically. “That’s supposed to help? Damn Elliott. So, instead of asking me to spend the rest of our lives together, you’re sending me home? To maybe wait for you until you get your shit together enough to have ‘something’ to offer?” Taylor was getting angry. She didn’t understand why he didn’t want her around.

“Taylor, love, you know I have to get my parents sorted. All they have is me and the restaurants. I’m the only one that can help.”

“How long Elliott?” Taylor wanted an answer.

Elliott fiddled with his glass. “I don’t expect you to wait for me Taylor. You’re young, beautiful, smart, sexy as hell and very talented. When you go home, you have to forget about me, because Taylor, I can’t tell you how bloody long.”

Taylor was livid and it was all she could do not to shout at him in the restaurant. Now she knew why he waited until they were in a public place to broach this sensitive topic that they had both so skillfully avoided all summer. “That’s bullshit, Elliott Gray,” she said under her breath. “I can tell how miserable you are, so why Elliott? I love you. You said you love me too. So what you said just now, it makes absolutely zero sense.”

He looked at her hard. “God, I do love you Taylor. I love you so much I have to let you go. I don’t know if I can save the restaurants. And in the process of trying, I would hold you back from being something great. You might grow to despise me, and that would be worse than losing you to another.”

“Stop trying to protect me from you. You’re the kindest man I’ve ever met. You love your parents. Family is important to you. I admire what you’re doing. But we have something special. We can’t just throw that away. I refuse. So buck up buttercup. You’re bloody stuck with me.”

The corners of Elliott’s full lips turned up slightly at her outburst and he shook his head. “You deserve so much better than a poor restauranteur from the bad side of London. I can’t give you the life you’re accustomed to Taylor.”

“Elliott!” she said grinning at him, “Check the year. It’s the 21st Century. I’m not some little woman that needs to be taken care of!”  Even as she said it, she knew he would work nonstop to that do just that so she added, her tone lighthearted, “Well, unless I’m getting attacked in a bar because you left me. There is that, but if you don’t leave me, I’m good.”  That’s one of the things she loved so much about him. If she stayed, he would try to be there for her. He would already be burning the candle at both ends with the restaurants and it would slowly destroy him

She picked up her glass and took a drink to give her a minute to think.   There had to be a middle ground. He was sending her away so he could focus. Tears clouded Taylor’s vision when she finally accepted she was probably going to have to leave, but she’d be damned if she would stay gone.

“Okay Mister,” she said, “there will be a time limit on this – pile of dog crap. I’ll go live with my parents at the end of this term and wait for you to finish the next term. Then you have one year … oh god, that’s almost two years from now … so no, make that six months.” She pointed her finger at Elliott and narrowed her eyes. “Then I’m coming home, to you, to London. While I’m in the states, I’ll get a job and save my money. When I get here, I’ll invest it in the restaurants.”

Elliott smiled warmly, as his adam’s apple bobbed up and down with the effort to stay composed. “It appears I have met my match. But, that’s why I love you Taylor. You’re so selfless and determined – in addition to what I’ve already stated. You’re a dog with a bone, while all this bloody dog has is a pile of dog crap.” He paused and chuckled softly, “Six months huh?”

“Not one week more.” She loved Elliott and his sweet ways. She could see him being a wonderful father to their children. That thought took her by surprise. She hadn’t thought that far into the future before. But sitting here, she just knew, Elliott needed to be a father. He had so much heart to give. He deserved a chance at happiness. She sucked in a breath as a few tears managed to leak out. “Elliott, you are it for me,” she said, “I can’t even imagine a life that doesn’t include you.”

Elliott reached over and took her hand. “Please, don’t cry Love. Let’s enjoy the last few months together before we have to part.”

“I can’t help it.”

“Should we go then? No dessert?”

Taylor just shook her head.

He paid the check and they left for the short walk back to her apartment. He slid his arm around her. Taylor relished the warmth of his body next to hers. In the chilly night air, she came to a realization – she would go home. But she may not wait the full six months, but he didn’t have to know that. With that decided, she felt better the rest of the way to her apartment.

When they arrived at her door, he kissed her cheek and turned to leave. “No, Elliott. Stay. We didn’t have desert …”    He cut her off with one of his amazingly gentle, yet passionate kisses.

Then he swooped her off her feet and carried her into the tiny apartment, kicking the door closed with his foot. He stopped at the bed and she slid down his body never stopping the kiss as she reached for the buttons on his shirt. She needed to feel the warmth of his skin. Of him.

He stopped and pulled it off and tossed it on the floor, then helped relieve her of her dress. “You’re so beautiful … how did I ever get so lucky? I love you,” he said, his voice thick with emotion.

She almost giggled through her lust induced haze. He was the beautiful one, both inside and out and he had no idea. No, she was the lucky one. “I love you too, Elliott Gray,” she whispered between kisses, and added in her head, now and forever.

To be continued…

Go back to Chapter 3.27

A/N:  Thanks to SimsLegacyStories for submitting Maribel Warner ... This actually wasn’t her first appearance… she may have been lurking in the background in an earlier chapter.

 

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Chapter 3.27 – The Closing

One month later……

Reagan had never been more nervous in her life.  She was going to become a homeowner today, and live on her own.  It had only been a month since Evan helped her make the offer.

She and Evan sat in his office waiting for the loan closer to arrive with the paperwork.  The seller had closed the day before and had moved out of the house.  Now it was Reagan’s turn.

Her dad insisted on accompanying her to the closing even though Ami was there, but having them both really helped calm her nerves, especially as far as the paperwork was concerned.

Finally, the closer arrived and they were called into the boardroom to sign the documents that would make her a homeowner.

An hour later she walked out with keys to her new home, her smile a mile wide. Evan was waiting outside the door. “Congratulations,” he said. 

“Thank you Evan! You helped make it possible. I’m so excited!” said Reagan and threw her arms around him.

“Why don’t you two go check it out?” suggested Ami, “Take the rest of the day off? Unless you have appointments.  Start your weekend early.”

“I’m game. Let’s go!” said Evan.

“Congrats sweetheart,” said Cole, “I’m so proud of you.”

“Thanks Dad. I appreciate you being here,” she said and hugged her father. Something changed in that instant, it was as if her heart softened towards him a little.

“I’m glad I could be. Tomorrow is moving day huh?” he asked, working his jaw and swallowing hard. He was trying not to cry and her heart softened a little more.

She smiled and began to get emotional too. “Yes, the truck will pick up my things and all the boxes.”

He grabbed her and hugged her again. “I love you Reagan. In always have and always will.”

She laughed through her tears. “Dad – I’m moving 20 miles away, not across the country.”

“I know…it’s just, I still worry about you … I … just be careful. And, if you need anything, I’m here for you.”

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“You okay Cole?”  asked Ami as they watched Evan and Reagan walk out of the office,  chattering about moving boxes and cable TV.

“I’m worried Ami,” confessed Cole after the kids were out of earshot, “Avery’s parole hearing is in just 4 months. I’m afraid Reagan’s been talking to her and she’ll try to take advantage of Reagan if it’s granted.”

Ami blew out a slow breath as they walked down the corridor, making their way back to her office. “I know. I got a letter from the parole board. Surely she’ll stay away from Willow Creek.”

“I wish she would, but I doubt it. Dad told me the twins went to see her a few years ago. Reagan asked if she could see her back then, and I said no. But it was before I knew she had already been.  Reagan never asked again, so I assumed she gave it up. Now, I’m not so sure. She was so emotional that day. Looking back, I can’t believe she just accepted my answer, but I was getting married and…Taylor was leaving for Paris…”

“I’m so sorry Cole. I had no idea. Avery gives me the creeps – sorry – and I know Reagan used to think about her a lot.  But I also thought she had given it up.”

“Ami, what if Avery seeks out Reagan?”

“If the twins have been seeing her, she might.”

Ami took a seat on the couch in her office, so Cole sat next to her before continuing.  “Ami,” he started, “We have to keep them apart. She’ll use them up and leave them broken. Especially Reagan. That poor girl finally seems happy.  She and I are getting close again. Maybe we can appear at the hearing, and make a case for keeping her locked up?”

Ami sighed softly and shook head. “It took me years to stop having nightmares about Spencer running me down.  I know Avery didn’t drive the car, but she knew and pretended she didn’t. I hate her Cole. I really don’t want to go. I’m sorry.  Besides, it probably wouldn’t do any good anyway. Unless, maybe, you think it might.”

“Seriously, no, but I’m going to try anyway.  I have to Ami – for my babies.  But, if we can’t keep her locked up, then maybe we can at least make it clear she needs to stay away from our families. We’ve finally healed the wounds and rebuilt our lives, and it took years. We don’t need her coming back now and reopening them again.”

“Maybe,” replied Ami, “But it will be difficult to see her.  Just the letter alone triggered a few nightmares.”

“Noah can go with you, and I’ll be there. Don’t let her win Ami,” pleaded Cole.

Ami sighed deeply and offered a sad little smile. “I’ll talk to Noah.”

“Thank you,” said and Cole and pulled her into a hug to comfort her. “I’m sorry Ami, for everything.”

“Not your fault brother,” she said softly, “she had us all fooled.”

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The next morning……

Evan, along with Reagan’s entire family arrived bright and early to help her get moved in. The men assembled and then placed the furniture where Reagan directed, while Connie and Dannie put away dishes and hung up clothes.

By dinner time, they had made a sizable dent. There were still a few things strewn here and there, along with a fair amount of empty boxes.

Ryan was the first to complain. “Reagan, how in the hell do you have so much shit. I didn’t even have half this much when I moved! Why don’t we take a break? Order pizza and beer?”

“Sounds good,” agreed Evan, and grinned at Reagan. “He’s right, you do have a lotta shit!”

“Guys – keep it clean, Connie’s right here,” reprimanded Dannie.

“Sorry Mrs. Murdock,” said Evan, looking embarrassed.

“Moooom, I’m not a baby,” Connie quickly replied, her bottom lip stuck out.

“I think I saw some beer go into the fridge,” said Cole obviously trying to redirect the conversation.

“Yep. I put some of it away,” said Connie, “but I don’t want beer, ewww, even though I’m NOT a baby!”

“We’ll pick up some soda on the way to get the pizza,” said Cole, “Come on Connie, you can help hold stuff.”

“Is Ryan going?” she asked.

“Yeah squirt, I’m going,” said Ryan and winked at her.

“Reagan and I’ll get the table cleared off while you’re gone,” said Evan.

The foursome filed out and Reagan and Evan started clearing off the table and putting away the last few items.

She climbed up on the step ladder to put away the stemware. Evan handed one to her and when their hands touched, Reagan sucked in a breath. She had managed not to touch him again since the dance, until she impulsively hugged him after her closing yesterday. She had to work hard to pretend the hug didn’t mean anything more than friendship.

She looked down at him. “Evan, I can’t thank you enough for helping. It was really nice of you. This isn’t a fun job.”

Evan smiled back, holding his hand out to help her down.  “l did it because I wanted to, and actually, I am having fun. Your family is great. In fact, Ryan and I have become pretty good friends.” Reagan took his offered hand, and once again, shivers of want raced down her spine.

When she was on the floor Evan didn’t let go of her hand. “You feel it too, don’t you Reagan?” he asked, his voice soft, yet his hand burning hot on her skin.

Reagan swallowed hard. “What?” she asked and licked her lips, suddenly imagining kissing him.

Evan somehow read her mind.  He leaned in and lightly brushed his lips against hers. “That,” he said, his eyes smoldering.

“Oh….that,” she replied on a sigh, and Evan smirked at her.

“Yes,” he said slightly amused, eating her up with those eyes, “That. I’ve wanted to do that for awhile now, even before we went dancing.  And I’m pretty sure, Reagan, you want to do that too. Don’t you?”

She swallowed hard trying to formulate a reply, but nothing came out, so ever so slightly, she nodded her head. Her body was betraying her.

Evan pulled her closer to him, and then, he kissed her again. Her eyes fluttered closed as her arms went around his neck.

Reagan took in the feel of his lips moving against hers, and the sensation of his tongue gently teasing her to open to him.  She did and they began a slow dance with their tongues, gently exploring each other. It was the most sensual thing she had ever experienced. The man was making sweet love to her mouth.

Finally she had to move away and catch her breath or her legs would have given out.  Nobody had ever kissed her like that before. She swallowed hard before speaking in a breathless voice she barely recognized. “We should probably find the plates….”

Evan crossed his arms, holding her in place with his eyes as he studied her for what seemed like forever, but was probably only a couple of heart beats. “On one condition, we talk about this after everyone leaves.”

Reagan stood there trying to decide what to do when a car door slammed, breaking the spell he had over her. “Oh, they’re back,” she said, letting out the breath she was holding and now almost able to breathe normally again.  If he kissed her again … no, she couldn’t think about that anymore. It was messing with her head. She wasn’t sure how she felt about kissing him. Well she knew how she felt, but the risk was too high. For both of them.

Everyone came in talking and laughing.  They all sat down with pizza, beer and a soda for Connie. Reagan felt warmed by the normalness of it all. This was her family.  And it really was okay. Evan was right. She found she was enjoying herself, but wasn’t sure what changed. Was it Evan’s presence, the absence of Taylor or just that she was sitting in her own home that made the difference? Maybe it was all three.

Her dad and Evan began to tease Ryan about being buff. Now that he was working at the gym every day, he had definitely bulked up.  Ryan shot back that it was better than having a ‘dad bod’ and Dannie reached over and poked him in the gut.  Everyone laughed.

Then they discussed Connie’s gymnastics class, also at the gym. In the end, Reagan, Dannie and her dad agreed to sign up for a membership at Ryan’s insistence. Evan was already a member. Seems the gym was becoming a regular hot spot in Willow Creek.

Finally everyone’s belly was full and the trash bin was overflowing with empty beer bottles and pizza boxes. “Guys, I can’t thank you enough for your help,” said Reagan as she put away the leftover pizza. “I can finish the rest this weekend, no need to stay longer.”

Everyone hugged everyone else. Dannie, Cole and Connie left in one car and Ryan in his red jeep.

That left Evan. He turned to Reagan after the door closed. “That was nice. You really do have a great family. I used to think families were always dysfunctional. But you guys get along well. I’m jealous. All that was missing was Ami’s bunch and your grandparents. I’m actually surprised they weren’t here.”

Reagan rolled her eyes. “Well I told them we had enough help. As far as being dysfunctional … you don’t know the half of it. I think everyone was on their very best behavior. Although, since Taylor moved to Paris three years ago, it has been getting better.”

“Taylor? Your sister?” asked Evan curiously.

“Yes,” she replied, “My half sister. But if you want to see a real functional family, that’s Ami and Noah. They are so cool and have it all figured out.” She was trying her best to avoid the elephant in the room. The kiss.

“Come, sit down, you look like you’re about to drop,” said Evan motioning to the couch in the living room.

He was right, she was worn out and groaned as her muscles protested when she lowered herself to the couch. “I can’t believe how out of shape I am. I guess the gym membership was a good idea!”

“Nah, you’re just using muscles you don’t normally use. You’ll feel fine tomorrow. Want me to rub your neck and shoulders? Might help?”

Suddenly all of her aches and pains disappeared with the prospect of having Evan’s hands on her, even as alarm bells began to sound in her head. “That sounds nice.” She hoped she managed to say it without sounding breathy.

Evan chuckled, “Turn around,” he commanded.

Embarrassed, she immediately did as he asked. When he began to knead her neck and shoulders it was heaven and she moaned. Again, he chuckled. She could easily get used to hearing that sound. It was a damn sexy sound.

After a few minutes, not nearly long enough, he stopped and she sighed contentedly. “Better?” he asked.

“Mmmm. Much, thank you,” she said and turned to face him. When their eyes met, her stomach lurched. It was the same look he had given her earlier when they kissed.

“I should probably go and let you get to sleep,” he said, his voice husky.

Her shoulders slumped. “Oh,” she said, unable to hide her disappointment, even though it was the safest option.

Evan smirked at her. “That is, unless, you want me to stay and continue our conversation.”

Reagan couldn’t form any words. Instead of waiting, he leaned in and gently sipped her lips. Evan knew exactly how to kiss. Even that little bit of a kiss was full of promise.

He sat back and looked at her, the unasked question on his face, leaving the decision to move forward completely up to her.

She licked her lips again and leaned in to kiss him, but pulled back before their lips met, as her desire battled with her common sense. “Evan….maybe this isn’t a good idea,” she said, and died a little bit inside.

Several emotions quickly danced across his handsome face before he finally settled into one of concern, or maybe it was suspicion. “Why Reagan?” he asked simply.

Reagan had to take a deep breath to say the words she really didn’t want to say. “I don’t want to put your job, or mine, in jeopardy. If we do this,” she paused and motioned back and forth between them, “and it goes south, it’s going to make it weird at work. It could make it weird anyway. I would feel like we couldn’t tell anyone. Right now we work so well together. If that changes, one or both of us might lose our job.”

Relief then frustration crossed his face. “You mean I would get fired. You have connections.”

She felt terrible, like she was leading him on. A relationship with him seemed complicated, even though she wanted this so badly, at least her body did. “Evan…” she said, knowing he was probably right, “I’m really sorry. I didn’t mean to lead you on.”

“You didn’t,” he said and shrugged, “But honestly Reagan, I really do think you feel this thing between us too.” He paused and let out a deep sigh, “I do need my job, but for what it’s worth, I don’t think it would go south, because you’re right, we do work well together. So this is it then?”

She nodded her head on the verge of tears.

“So, I guess I should go,” he said and sighed softly.

“Can we forget this happened? Please?” asked Reagan.

Evan stood up to leave. “Of course,” he said and gave her a sad smile. “See you Monday, at work. I promise not to make it weird. If you need any more help with the house, let me know.”

“I’m good,” she said. There was no way she was having him at her house alone again. She wouldn’t be able to say no. It took everything she had not to tell him to stay right now.

“Yeah, well, if you change your mind then,” he said, then turned and walked out of the door.

Reagan could finally breathe again once the door closed. She walked the few steps into the kitchen and grabbed a beer out of the fridge. She flopped back on the couch remembering his kiss and the way his hands felt on her neck. She took a long drink and closed her eyes. A lone tear escaped beneath her lashes. She suddenly felt very, very alone instead of free.

Go to Chapter 3.28>>>>>>

Go back to Chapter 3.26

Chapter 3.26 – Dog with a Bone – Part 2

Taylor woke up and crawled into her pajama’s.  Then she checked her phone.  No Elliot. She laid back down and fell into a restless sleep again, phone in hand, hoping he would call.  The soft buzzing of the phone roused her the next morning.  

Taylor quickly checked to see if it was Elliott and was disappointed to see the text wasn’t from him, nor were there any she’d missed.  The text was from her friend Renée, who lived next door:

“Voulez-vous prendre un verre avec nous ce soir pour fêter les vacances d’été?”  (Do you want to go with us to have drinks tonight to celebrate the summer break?)

Might as well, thought Taylor and texted back:  “Oui. Quelle heure?” (Yes. What time?)

Renee’s reply was instant:   

“OMG! Vous allez! Je me suis dit que je devrais vous éloigner de votre Britannique!  Nous partons à 20h00.  (OMG! You are going! I figured I’d have to drag you away from your Brit! We are leaving at 8:00.”)

She wished she was going with Elliott instead, but he walked out and hadn’t called her back. She’d ruined it by pushing him when he clearly wasn’t ready.  A fresh round of tears rolled down her face.

****************************************************************************

When the girls arrived at the nightclub, Taylor’s friends went off to dance, leaving her to hold the table.  She ordered a drink and downed it in one long chug.  Then she promptly ordered another.  She didn’t need to be able to walk and dancing wasn’t on her to-do list. Forgetting about Elliott was.  

Even with the alcohol flooding her system, she found forgetting Elliott was harder than she thought.  All she could do was think about him. She screwed up by saying those three little words. Now she’d lost him forever. He was protecting his heart. She should’ve done the same. She forced them to get invested in each other. Now they both were paying the price with broken hearts – at least she was.

A few minutes later, a guy came over and sat down in the empty chair across from her. “Hey Blondie,” he said and winked obnoxiously at her, “whatever you’re drinkin’, I’m buyin’.”

“I’m not interested. You can leave now,” she said curtly, and tried to ignore him.

He got up, but instead of leaving, he walked around and pulled her out of her chair. “Come on Barbie, let’s dance, you might change your mind.”

“NO!” she said through gritted teeth, and tried to walk away, but he grabbed her arm and yanked her back – hard.

“Why are you here if you’re not looking to hookup,” he growled, “Don’t be a tease Barbie. Get that pretty little ass on the dance floor and let me show you a good time.”

“Let go of my arm!” said Taylor, trying to claw his hands off of her. She was beginning to panic, and looked around for her friends, but they were dancing clear across the room.

“Didn’t the lady just tell you to bloody bugger off?” It was Elliott. She was never so glad to see anyone. The asshole let go and she ran into Elliott’s open arms.

“Who the hell are you?” challenged the asshole glaring back at Elliott.

“Her date. I was held up. So, I suggest you move along, now.”

He looked between them. “She’s a bitch. Good luck mother fucker.”

“Apologize to the lady!” demanded Elliott as he turned to walk off.

“No, Elliott!” said Taylor, “just let him go. He’s not worth it.”

Elliott sat down and Taylor could breathe again. But the alcohol and the adrenaline rush began catching up with her and she started to get a little light headed. “Shit, I’m gonna be sick, I think.”

“Aww Taylor, let’s get you outside. The cool air will help,” said Elliott.  Taylor leaned on her rescuer and allowed him to lead her outside.

Once outdoors, she inhaled deeply and the cool night air instantly relieved her vertigo. “Better,” she said and turned to go back.

“Bloody hell Taylor. You aren’t seriously going back. You’ve had your fill. Let me take you home.”

Taylor was too drained to argue, suddenly feeling very sleepy. “Fine,” she said and let him lead her to his car.

*****************************************************************************

Taylor must have fallen asleep in the car because when she felt Elliott’s soft full lips on her forehead, her eyes fluttered open to see his gorgeous face and that she was in her own bed.

“Good, you’re awake,” he said, and handed her a glass of water. “Here, drink up Love. You’ll be thankful in the morning.”

Taylor drank the offered water. “I’m sorry for making you rescue me. I owe you omelettes,” she mumbled and laid back down.

Elliott sat by her bed and gently stroked her hair as she quickly fell back to sleep.

*****************************************************************************

Taylor woke to the smell of coffee and food. Elliott was here? He stayed?  She looked over and sure enough, there he was, as dark and mysterious as ever, drinking coffee on the couch, watching TV with the sound turned low.

When he noticed her stirring, he walked the short distance to the bed. “Morning love, how do you feel?” he asked.

Taylor exhaled loudly. “I’m fine. I really didn’t have that much to drink. I just didn’t eat or get much sleep. I was . . . upset. What were YOU doing there?” She felt herself getting angry and defensive all over again.

“Looking for you,” he barely managed to get out.

“Why? You walked out on me,” she snapped, near tears again.

“I was a bloody fool,” he said.

“Just stop right now! If you are going to say we are a mistake, then just get out. You already said that, and I don’t need to hear it again. Once was more than enough!” Taylor was shouting now and shaking.

“No Love …. we’re not a mistake. It’s just, I have obligations, and until those are fulfilled, I can’t make any commitments.”

Tears were streaming down her face now. “Why can’t you just tell me how you feel about me? Why!”

Elliott’s expression was pained. “Taylor…you have to go home to your family in a few months. It’s bloody killing me that I can’t follow you,” he said, his voice thick with emotion.

“Wait … you want to go back to the States … with me?” she whispered, afraid to say it out loud in chase she misunderstood.

“Very much. But I’ve obligations. I can’t. I’m sorry Love,” he said, his voice full of pain.

“Elliott….” she swallowed hard before continuing, “I could stay,” she offered, even though he didn’t say he loved her, she knew he must if he wanted to leave his family behind.

NO! I can’t ask you to stay with me when I have no way to support us, and I’ll be working 18 hour days. It’s not fair to either of us,” said Elliott.

“I don’t need you to support me. I could get a job,” she stated as calmly as possible while searching those bottomless eyes for any clue they might give.

He shook his head slowly.  “No Taylor … we literally would never see each other. I can’t fucking do that to you.”

“So, we’re back where we started and I have no say?” she asked as hot tears welled up again.

“No Love … I’m apologizing for being an ass.  See…I made Omelettes. After we eat, we should make a decision – together.”

“Can we have them later?” she asked and licked her lips. She didn’t want omelettes she wanted Elliott.

The corners of his mouth turned up slightly as he stood up and held his hand out to her.  “Omelettes first love.”

Once she was in his arms, she looked into his chocolate eyes. “Elliott, please, tell me how you feel. I need to hear it.”

Elliott shook his head again, but he this time he was smiling. “Bloody hell woman. You’re like a dog with a bloody bone.”  He sighed softly and ran his hands over her face as he studied her. Finally, he spoke. “Taylor, darling, I do love you, more than anything. But I’m pretty sure you knew that already.”

 It was such a relief to finally hear those words from him.  Tears of happiness rolled down Taylor’s cheeks as she wrapped her arms around her sweet Brit and hugged him tight. “I love you too, so much. Don’t you ever walk out on me again! Now, where are those Omelettes? We have business to take care of afterwards.”

To Be Continued….

Go Back to Chapter 3.25

Chapter 3.25 – Dog With a Bone – Part 1

Paris…. End of Taylor’s Junior year.  

“Taylor?” said both of her parents at the same time when they answered her call.

“Hi Mom, Dad!” she said cheerfully to both of them because they had her on the speaker.

“It’s good to hear from you,” said her mother, “is everything okay?”

Taylor laughed and rolled her eyes. Of course they would think something was wrong if she called.  “Yes! Everything is fine,” she said, “but…I do have news to share – good news and some not-so-bad bad news. Not-so-bad news first….I’m not coming home at all this summer. I’m staying in Paris and taking summer courses.”

“What?” they both said in unison, then her father added, “I thought your classes were going well.”

“Let me tell you the good news before you both have a stroke. I met with the counselor and I only needed to take two classes the last semester.  Two of the classes I need are offered this summer, so I can finish a semester sooner.”

“But we won’t see you until after Christmas,” said Cole. The disappointment in his voice made her sad.

“I know Dad. But there is a bright side – I won’t have to leave again when I do come home.”

“But, when will graduation be?” asked her mother, “I was thinking we would all come to Paris next May to attend since the twins haven’t been.”

Taylor sighed. She had hoped for cheering instead of complaining. And the twins, they should have come the first time. They had practically cut off their noses to spite their faces. “Maybe you all can come to just enjoy the sights. There’s no need to spend that much money just to watch a boring graduation ceremony. I’ll simply have them mail my diploma.”

“Okay… if that’s what you really want,” said Dannie, resigned, but still unable to hide her disappointment.

Taylor laughed. “Moooom, you just wanted an excuse to come back to Paris!”

“We really did want to see you walk across that stage,” added her father, “You earned it sweetheart. You’ll be the first of my children to get a college education. Ryan dropped out and Reagan is just taking online classes for her job. I doubt she’ll go for a degree. At least they are both employed.” He went straight from proud to sounding disappointed again.

“He dropped out?” asked Taylor. She was shocked.

“Yes. He decided he didn’t want to go back after his knee surgery. He has this grandiose plan to open a chain of gyms, starting in Newcrest,” said Cole.

“Ooooh, that’s a great idea!” said Taylor excited now because it gave her an idea, “if I can get some experience, maybe I could open a restaurant there in a few years too!” Then she laughed. “Everyone can eat at my restaurant, then go work it off at Ryan’s gym!”

Both of her parents laughed and thankfully the mood changed. Taylor realized how much she really did miss them. “We’ll have a whole family of entrepreneurs!” commented Dannie after their laughter died down. “When you get home maybe you should talk to Ami.”

“Mom, that’s just a bit premature. But certainly a goal,” said Taylor as the buzzer sounded in her tiny studio apartment. “Someone’s at the door, I need to go. I’ll call you later. Love you both.” She made a mwaaa sound and hung up.

Taylor ran to answer the door because she knew it must be Elliott.  Sure enough he was  standing there with a bag of groceries and a bottle of wine. When he flashed her his trademark bashful smile, her heart did a little flip flop. Elliott had made her decision to take those last two classes this summer very difficult. Instead of another year together, now they had about 7 months.

“So love, how did they take the news?” asked Elliott, his sexy British accent sending warm chills down her spine.

“They were okay, but disappointed that they won’t see me this summer. Mom was planning a trip with the whole family in May. I think Mom and Dad really just wanted a reason to come back to Paris,” she added and huffed out a laugh.

Elliott laughed too as he pulled her close and kissed her forehead. “Well, bloody hell Taylor, it’s not like you won’t still graduate magna cum laude. Didn’t you tell them that?”

Taylor sighed and pressed her forehead to Elliott’s. “No, I didn’t, just in case I don’t make it. I don’t want to disappoint them more.”

Elliott tweeted her nose. “That’s rubbish! You know that won’t happen and you could never disappoint them.”

“Well, even so, it won’t really matter. When I go home in 7 months, I’ll be jobless and homeless, while my brother and sister already have jobs and their futures mapped out.”

Elliott brushed her hair over her shoulder. “Don’t be jealous love. You’ll be wildly successful one day. I know it.” He paused and looked towards the kitchen. “Speaking of…that smells delicious!”

“Ohhhh – dinner!” she exclaimed and reluctantly pulled herself from his embrace to rescue it from the oven. He followed her over, and poured the wine he brought while she plated their food.

Once seated, she continued their conversation from earlier. “Your future is already laid out for you after graduation. You have insider experience, plus you get to take over an established chain of restaurants.” She knew she was whining and shouldn’t have been.

“Three bloody restaurants, on the verge of failure, all in London,” corrected Elliott pointing his fork at her for for emphasis.

“Still a chain. When I get home, I’ll be a line chef, if I’m lucky,” groused Taylor and began to concentrate on her food, as did Elliott, both lost in their thoughts.

She stole a glance at him while they ate. She didn’t mean to fall in love with the quiet, seemingly self-absorbed older man. They both started the academy at the same time and she immediately gravitated to him. They shared a language, and he was very sweet and safe. He didn’t hit on her like most of the other guys she was constantly fighting off.

She took a drink and thought about their history.  Elliott hadn’t been an easy nut to crack. It took nearly a full year for him to finally open up to her. He answered her questions but folded back into himself with his own personal agenda, that he clearly did not want interfered with. However, once he finally gave up trying to ditch her, they became the best of friends.

Taylor remembered the day it happened like it was yesterday. She’d managed to get him to agree to go for coffee after class at the beginning of their second year of college. ‘I’m not going to rid myself of you am I?’ he’d asked and grinned, ‘You’re like a dog with a bloody bone and I suppose I’m that bone.’ She had almost spit out her coffee when he said that. He laughed at her, and it was the most glorious thing to see that sweet man let down a few of his walls and enjoy himself.She loved his melodious accent and no longer found it hard to understand him. She could listen to him talk for hours. But talk was something he rarely did, until they were alone together. That’s when he told her about his reasons for being at the academy. About his parents, their declining health and their failing restaurants.A year after becoming best friends, Taylor began to gradually fall in love with him. She craved his affection, and found she wanted intimacy. She noticed him stealing longing glances at her, or whenever he touched her, he lingered a little longer than necessary. But her sweet Elliott had an inherent sadness about him that seemed to keep him from taking that next step. His walls were high. When he did smile it melted her heart. He was beautiful both inside and out, and he had no idea.Finally she couldn’t stand it any longer, and when they were together in her apartment, she finally took the initiative, determined to knock down the last of his walls. At first he held back, but she didn’t allow that to stop her. Once he gave in, their passion ignited like someone threw fuel into a smoldering fire – as a year’s worth of pent up desire was finally satisfied.It wasn’t like it was in high school. It wasn’t simply sex. Elliott had made love to her that night. Maybe it was because he was 27 and experienced and she wasn’t.  Her only other partner was Darnell back in high school. He was sweet, but they both knew it was just experimenting.  With Elliott, it meant something much deeper. Laying in Elliott’s arms after they had made love made her incredibly happy.  She could feel the love he had for her just in the way he held her close.  She felt that together, they could do anything.  Taylor tried her best to make sure she gave as much as she took, so there would be no doubt in his mind how she felt about him, lest he start building his walls again.Elliott stayed with her that night. He got up first and made the best omelettes she’d ever tasted. Maybe she was just starved from their extra curricular activities, but she was in heaven. He said it was a peace offering in case she changed her mind. Silly man. She was hopelessly in love but dared not say it out loud.  Instead she laughed and told him he better hope the omelettes were good or he was outta there.  He laughed and her heart sang. She loved seeing him laugh. Something he didn’t do nearly enough.  Since then, serving  omelettes to each other has become their code for an apology.

Even though they’d been intimate many times since, they still had yet to verbalize or name what they are to each other, and it made her sad. She couldn’t get past his last wall. He seemed to want their relationship to be a sort of friends with benefits, however, it felt like anything but that. She knew he was not the kind of man to give easily of himself.  And certainly not a one night stand kinda guy. She often wondered if he’d had a serious relationship before her and had been badly hurt.  Maybe that was why he kept that last piece of his heart closed off from her.

“Taylor,” he said, pulling her out of her reverie, “I was thinking, since you aren’t going to holiday in the States this summer, maybe we could have a short holiday together, before you have to begin your studies again.”

Taylor’s heart melted and a smile formed. “Of course Elliott. What did you have in mind,” she asked, holding her breath in anticipation.

“How about we holiday in Venice? We can take the train and spend a couple of nights. If I can find a deal, we can take a gondola through the city.”

“Really? That’s awesome!” Taylor was surprised she wasn’t a puddle of goo. That was the most romantic thing he’d ever proposed. Her mind was working overtime hoping this meant he was going to tell her he loved her and ask her to stay in England after she graduated. It was all she could do not to jump across the table and straddle him, placing kisses all over his sweet face.

Taylor knew Elliott’s primary focus was his family and their restaurant business.  He’d made that very clear, so he had never discussed a future beyond school. But, she had to believe, since he’d allowed her to accompany him to London and introduced her to his parents a few months ago, that meant something.

Elliott’s shoulders slumped slightly at Taylor’s exuberance. “Calm down love,” he said, “I have to secure reservations first.”

“Baby,” said Taylor, “You know, we don’t have to get a gondola. They’re expensive. Maybe we can just sample the cuisine at a sidewalk cafe and watch everyone else go by. Live vicariously through them.”  She gave him a little laugh so he’d know she wasn’t upset. She knew he couldn’t afford it. His money was going to his education, and the rest, back into the family business. She had no money either. Not really, just what her parents provided.

“You’re sure?” he asked looking relieved, yet pensive.  He obviously didn’t want to disappoint her. 

Taylor was glad she’d declined a gondola. He was definitely worried about the cost. Elliott didn’t have to spend money to win her heart, he already had it. She got up and walked over to him and put her arms around him. “Why don’t we just stay here and hang out in Paris? There are Paris things I haven’t done yet. Let’s just do that instead.”

“If that’s what you really want…” he said.

Taylor kissed him. “Mmmhuh. One hundred percent. As long as I’m with you, I don’t care where I am.”

“You’re amazing,” he replied, but still looked sad.

“Elliott? What’s going on up there?” she asked tapping his forehead.

“I can’t bear the thought of losing you,” he whispered and kissed her again.

“That will never happen,” she assured him, even as her dream of professed feelings and living with him in England dissolved into thin air. She should’ve known better than to dream.

“You’re going back to America after next semester,” he explained, “I have to stay for my final term and then head back to London to help Mum and Dad. We’ll have a bloody ocean between us darling.”

“So, what do we do about it?” Please say you love me….please – just say you love me…. she chanted to herself over and over, waiting for him to respond.

“I….we shouldn’t have gotten involved …” he muttered and hung his head in shame.

What?! thought Taylor, now enraged. Of all the things he could’ve said, he said that.

She pulled away from him and pointed her finger in his face. “How dare you Elliot Gray! First you offer me a romantic weekend in Venice, then say you shouldn’t be with me!  God Elliott, I don’t know what you want from me. I love you……”  Taylor gasped as the words escaped and clapped her hands over her mouth wishing she could stuff them back in.

Elliott got a weird, sad look on his face like he might get sick. She could see his walls clicking back into place as he pushed her away from him. “I need to leave. I’m very sorry Taylor. Please forgive me.”

Taylor stood there in shock as Elliott calmly turned around and left. Just like that, he was gone. He didn’t get angry or fight back.  He just left. No amount of omelettes could ever make up for him walking out on her like that.

When the door softly clicked shut, it pissed her off even more.  He could’ve at least slammed it!  She threw herself on the bed and cried herself to sleep.

Go to Chapter 3.26>>>>>>>>

Go back to Chapter 3.24

Introducing another hot guy courtesy of Maladi777

Meet our resident Londoner, Elliott Gray.

Chapter 3.24 – The Offer

Reagan could tell Ryan wasn’t happy to be at the prison, but seeing the way their mother lit up when she saw him was well worth putting up with his grumpy ass for the 45 minute drive over.

“Ryan!” exclaimed Avery as she hugged him, “it’s so good to see you. Your sister told me what happened. I’m so sorry. But you’re looking great!”

Her mom hugged her too, and then they sat down.

“Rea helped me figure what my vision is for the future,” explained Ryan, sweetly giving her credit for the idea. “For now I’m gonna work in the gym and be a personal trainer. But then later, I plan to build a gym in Newcrest.”

“That’s great Ryan,” she said proudly,  “Don’t be ashamed of that.  First hand experience is oftentimes much better than sitting in a classroom.”

“I hope so,” he said and smiled slightly. “That’s my plan.”

“So, Mom, any news on your parole?” asked Reagan.

She took a deep breath and smiled. “In six months I will have my final hearing. They said it looks good. So I’m counting the days. I’m afraid to believe it’s actually happening.”

“That’s wonderful. What can we do to help? Do we get to come and put in a good word?” asked Reagan, unable to stop the huge grin from covering her face.

“You can write a letter of recommendation to the parole board.  You may be able to sit in as an observer. I’ll get you the information. You guys are so sweet to want to help me.  I love you both so much!”

“We love you too Mom,” said Reagan, close to tears at the thought that she might soon be out.

“So tell me about yourselves. Anyone special?” asked Avery.

Reagan chuckled. She asked that every single time she saw her. Such is a romantic, thought Reagan, even as her cheeks began to burn. Evan was hot and they were clicking.  She hoped he might ask her out. She hadn’t had dated anyone since Link back in high school. Maybe it was just that she was really lonely, but there were times when it seemed like the air between them was electrically charged.

While she thought about Evan, Ryan had answered her mother, telling her he no longer had a girl friend, but hoped the gym would be a good place to meet someone. Then she turned to Reagan expectantly.

“Oh. No one special. I work too much,” said Reagan defensively.

“I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” said Avery with a small laugh, “All work and no play will make Reagan a very boring girl. So maybe a gym membership might be a good thing for you to get out and meet new people. Just try not to work too much baby.”

“Mother!” she said embarrassed, “Stop trying to hook me up! I’ve got plenty of time to find someone.”

“So, you both are still living at home?” asked Avery.

“Well, I am now,” answered Ryan, “but as soon as I get a little money saved, I’ll be moving into an apartment. There’s a place in Willow Creek close to the gym. I’ll probably put a deposit down next month.

“I’m still at home too,” said Reagan, “But . . . I’ve been saving for a down payment on a house since I started working for Ami. It’s actually Dad’s old house. I think that’s so cool. It’s coming back on the market and Evan’s working on a deal with the owners. I might make an offer very soon.”

“Oh…doesn’t that one have just one bedroom and a tiny office?” asked Avery frowning, “It doesn’t leave much room for growth. You know, we had to sell it when we got married.  It was way too small. You should always think about the future when making a purchase like that.”

Reagan forced a smile.  “The current owners added on, so now it has two bedrooms,” she said, hoping it would meet her mother’s approval.

“Oh.  Then, I suppose that’s perfect!” replied Avery and smiled warmly, “I couldn’t be more proud of the both of you.”

Reagan smiled in relief and looked at Ryan. Even the grumpy sourpuss looked happy as he chatted with their mother.  She was very glad she insisted he come along.

**************************************************************************

“Reagan!” called out Evan when she walked into the office. At first she thought something might be wrong, but then she saw the grin on his face.

“What is it?” she asked hoping it was about the house.

He motioned to the chair in front of his desk. “Sit down,” he said and waited until she was seated to continue. “Your dad’s old house is finally on the market. You will need to make an offer – today.”

This was going to come true. She got huge butterflies in her stomach. “How much are they asking?” They had been waiting for the owners to officially put it on the market.  The good news was they were building a new larger home in Newcrest for their growing family so Evan would be able to help with both sides of the deal.

“I’m one step ahead of you Missy,” he said with a satisfied smirk, “They called me after you took off yesterday.  Since they’re building their house here in Newcrest, I made them a deal.  They’ll sell you their house for less than asking price because we’re going to give them some free upgrades on their new home, which, as you know, has been a sticking point with them.  It’ll offset the price difference.  It’s yours Reagan, you just need to formalize the offer. But they need it today, before offers above asking price start rolling in. It was already a good deal since they wanted to sell quickly.”

Reagan jumped up. “Come here! I need to hug you!” She threw her arms tightly around him. “Evan! Thank you so much! I owe you big time.  They’ve been wanting to upgrade the flooring and fixtures! Now they can and I’ll have my first home! Win, win! Wait! Did you clear it with Ami?”

He grinned at her when she finally released him. “There was plenty of room. I just cut my commission a little and the rest was approved by the boss lady. I told her who it was for and she quickly agreed.”

“Oh…I’m sorry you had to cut your commission,” said Reagan feeling guilty. “I need to make it up to you, pay you back somehow.”

“I won’t take any money from you,” he said, and gave her that charming smile that she thought about when she was in bed all alone. “But, if you’ll go dancing with me this weekend to celebrate both sales, I’ll call it even.”

Reagan felt her neck and face turn red. She very much wanted to go dancing with Evan Conner. “Of course! Thank you so much!” she said and hugged him again.

Reagan floated back to her desk, unable to keep the silly grin off her face. Not only did she just get the home of her dreams, she had a date. And not with some random guy, with Evan. She hadn’t had a date in two years and was nervous, but excited.

Ami must’ve seen her at her desk, and came out of her office, a huge knowing grin on her face.  “I see Evan told you the good news!”

“Yes. Thank you. I owe you both so much. I’m so happy right now I can’t stop smiling. My cheeks hurt! Now I know how our clients feel. It’s scary but satisfying.”

Ami laughed at her. “You earned it. You work so hard and do such a great job. The two of you are a great team.”

“Evan is sweet. He cut his commission a little so we could make the numbers work. He asked me to go dancing to celebrate this weekend.”

Ami’s eyes twinkled. “He won’t miss it. Trust me. And a date?”

“No…” she said quickly.  “Just two coworkers celebrating.  Um…you and Noah should go too.” Damn, what did she just do? Evan would think she didn’t want to be alone with him. But maybe it would be better if they did go.  That way if she was wrong, and it wasn’t a date, it wouldn’t be awkward.

“Hmm. That sounds fun actually. We haven’t been dancing in awhile. I’ll tell him we’re going,” she said confidently and winked.

Reagan couldn’t help but laugh at Ami. She knew she had Noah wrapped around her little finger. She loved watching them together when he was in the office.  They were so comfortable with each other. It was sweet, sort of like her grandparents.

“Oh, speak of the Devil!” said Ami as the man of the hour walked in.

“Now what didn’t I do?” asked Noah, rolling his eyes even as he kissed his wife on the cheek.

“We’re going dancing to celebrate Reagan’s new house,” said Ami her eyes sparkling.

“Congrats Reagan! But dancing, I don’t know…” he said.

“There’s beer, and Evan and Rea are going too,” she added leaving him no way to refuse.

Reagan knew that Evan and Noah had hit off. Evan always consulted with Noah before promising anything on a build or change for a client.

“Looks like we’re goin’ dancing,” said Noah with smirk.

*****************************************************************************

Reagan had already tried on three different dresses and couldn’t decide which one when Connie walked in. “Whatcha doing Reagan?” she asked.

“I can’t decide which dress to wear.  I’m going dancing,” she said smiling.

“With a boy?” asked Connie wide eyed.

Reagan chuckled softly. No, with a man, she thought.  “Yes, with a boy. Ami and Noah are going too.”

“Ohhhh. A double date!”

“I guess so. So, what do you think about this one?” she asked and twirled around for her sister.

“You look like a princess. I hope I’m as pretty as you when I grow up.”

“Oh…you’re already beautiful.”   Connie grinned at the compliment.   “But, I’m not sure princess is exactly the look I’m going for.  Let me try this one,” said Reagan and changed into a different outfit.

“Yes! I like that one. It’s pretty and lacy!”  said Connie.

“Okay, it’s settled.  This is the one.  Thanks for helping.”  Just as Reagan finished her sentence, the doorbell rang.

“I’ll get it!” yelled Connie and took off downstairs before Reagan could stop her.

When Reagan got downstairs, there stood Evan in all his hotness talking to Connie. She wondered if the man had any idea how much he turned the heads of women and probably men too. Then realized, he probably did, and used it to his advantage at work. She was pretty sure Reuben would have drooled over him just as much as she did.

“Hi. I see you’ve met Connie,” said Reagan.

“I have. And Connie, you are just as lovely as your sister,” said Evan smirking.

Connie giggled. “I helped her pick out her dress,” said Connie proudly. “She had on a princess dress first and took it off.”

“Connie!” said Reagan wanting the floor to swallow her up.

Reagan could tell Evan was trying not to laugh.  “You did great Connie, ’cause she looks fantastic,” he said.

“So, charming 10 year-olds?” accused Reagan. 

“My mistake. I thought you were at least thirteen!” he said, and earned another round of giggles from Connie as Reagan groaned and pushed him out the door.

*****************************************************************************

Ami and Noah were already seated when Reagan and Evan arrived. Noah saw them and waved them over.

“Hi. We just ordered drinks. Why don’t you go to the bar and order?” suggested Ami.

Reagan sat down and watched Evan saunter over to the bar. She had never seen him wear jeans. He wore them well. She noticed a couple of girls begin to flirt with him and a pang of jealousy stung her.  She had no right, but when he walked back over, carrying their drinks and grinning at her, she felt a smug sense of satisfaction that his grin was for her.

After he sat down and they had their drinks, Ami offered up a toast.  “To Reagan’s new home!”

“And to Evan for helping make it a reality,” added Reagan.  Everyone clinked glasses and took a long drink.

“We’ll have to have a housewarming party,” said Ami and laughed, “you’re going to need so much ‘stuff’!”

“I haven’t even began to think about that,” replied Reagan, “Not just furniture but kitchen and bathroom stuff.   I don’t cook, so maybe kitchen isn’t a priority. Dannie’s an excellent cook and Taylor has been cooking since she was 12 so I never really learned. Guess I need to be prepared to live on take out.”

“Welcome to my world!” said Evan.

“When is Taylor coming home?” asked Ami.

“She has one more year,” said Reagan, “So next summer I think, unless she’s fallen for some french guy and stays.”

“She has a boyfriend?” asked Ami.

“Yeah, I think so. I heard Dannie talking about it to Dad.”

“Hey, Reagan,” said Evan, “wanna dance?”

Reagan caught her breath. Hell yes! she thought but only said ‘sure’.

Evan took her hand and led her to the dance floor, making butterflies swarm in her stomach.

She hadn’t been dancing in a very long time and forgot how fun it was.  They danced and laughed until the DJ took a break, then sat back down.

“I’m sweating from that workout,” said Reagan as she held her hair off her neck and fanned herself.

“Want to walk outside,” suggested Evan, “The breeze should cool us off.”

“Sure. For a minute,” replied Reagan.

He took her hand and once again, and Reagan’s heart rate skyrocketed as they headed for the door.

He released it to open the door and her hand felt empty. He was right, a cool breeze blew across her sweaty skin and it felt nice. “Wow, much better, and look at that view!” said Reagan.

“It’s nice up here.  Having fun?” asked Evan.

“Yes.  This was a great idea. Thanks for suggesting it,” said Reagan and shivered as another gentle breeze blew through her hair.

Even turned to her and put his hands on her arms. He briskly rubbed them up and down warming her. “You ready to go back inside already?” he asked.

“Yes. It’s colder than I thought,” said Reagan, and moved away from his touch. She had to get his hands off of her before she did something stupid – like try to kiss him.

“Yeah,” he said.  Reagan could hear a note of disappointment in his voice as he stared off into the night.  Did he want to kiss her as much as she wanted him to? She wondered if she totally missed her chance.

They walked back inside and the music was playing again. They watched from above as  the couples danced below.  This time it was a slow song and the floor was filled with lovers and wanna be lovers, including Ami and Noah.  She was envious, wishing she had someone that loved her like Noah obviously loved Ami.

“Want to dance?” asked Evan softly.

He probably noticed her longing gazes. “Sure,” she said, hoping she didn’t sound desperate.

Once again he took her hand to lead her to the dance floor. She wanted him, and he was sending signals that he wanted her too, so why was she so afraid?

He pulled her to him and chuckled. “Relax Reagan,” he whispered in her ear, “I don’t bite, unless you want me to.”

She might of let out a little squeak, because Evan laughed again as her legs almost gave out. She didn’t know especially about the biting thing, but the way he said it turned her legs into two quivering masses of jello and had her considering it.  If he hadn’t had his arms around her she would’ve been a puddle of goo on the floor.

“Sorry,” she choked out as she stumbled a little. It had been too long. Last time she had sex was with a horny teenage boy. Evan was all man, but if they had sex….what would that mean? She couldn’t do casual sex, especially with someone she worked with.

The song was over before they barely got started and Reagan was thankful. She wasn’t sure she was strong enough to resist Evan’s charms.

“Let’s eat … you seem like you could use a bite,” he said as the walked back to the table.

“Okay,” was all she could muster.

After they ate, Ami and Noah left, leaving them alone.  Reagan felt awkward. At work they talked nonstop. But here, where it was personal, it was different. She thought about asking him about himself. Maybe if she got to know him better she wouldn’t be so afraid. She knew so little, other than he lived in the same apartment complex Ryan just moved into.  “So, what did you do before you started working for C&M?” she asked trying to start a conversation and make him stop looking at her with bedroom eyes.

“I was a Real Estate agent in San Myshuno. Dealt in high dollar homes.”

“So why did you decide to move to Willow Creek?” she asked.

Evan sighed and looked troubled for a minute.  At least the bedroom eyes were gone. “I got tired of chasing deals. It was never enough … it was too stressful and I didn’t need the money.”

“I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to pry.”

“It’s okay. Why did you decide to work for your Aunt? I mean, you could’ve moved out and gone to college, yet you stayed.”

She wondered if he knew about her mother.  Maybe not, if he lived in San Myshuno. It had been years ago and he would’ve been young too. Just not as young as her. He was 25 to her 20. But still a kid back then. Finally she said, “Ami noticed I had an eye for color and design. She took me under her wing as a summer intern and I loved it, so here I am.”

“I’m glad,” he said, bedroom eyes fully back in place.

“Me too,” said Reagan. “I love working with Ami,” she said, trying to get the subject back to work. Personal was too personal. She sighed and tried to suppress a yawn.

Evan laughed.  “Not a night owl huh? Let’s get you home.”

“Sorry.  I was up early,” she said, relieved, yet not relieved.

To be continued…..

Go back to Chapter 3.23

Chapter 3.23 – Work

18 months later…….

Ages: Twins 20, Taylor 22, Connie 10, Cole and Dannie, 45

When Reagan walked into the offices at C&M to begin her day, Ami was already there. She was going to say hi, but Reuben was sitting in there and they were deep in conversation.

Curious, she thought, they must be having a meeting without me.  Reagan sat down at her own desk and tried to put it out of her mind, and work on the final quote for the Jackson’s design choices for their new home.

She loved her job. Reuben was funny and insightful. He taught her so much. However, listening to him talk about his husband George’s antics made her realize she had no life outside work. At first she didn’t mind, but after nearly two years, she missed the closeness of a boyfriend, a friend and certainly her brother. Reuben was definitely her friend, but he was a work friend. So he didn’t really count.  And since all of her classes were online, she hadn’t met any college students to hang out with, and no way she was going to a club alone.

After a few minutes Ami came out and asked her to come into her office. She wasn’t smiling and Reagan’s stomach lurched. Something was wrong. She tried to think of anything she had messed up and couldn’t.

She sat down in the chair next to Reuben, and Ami got right to the point. “Reuben has given his resignation.”

No way! thought Reagan and looked at Reuben who only looked at his hands.  It was true. She couldn’t believe what she was hearing.  She still had so much more to learn. What if he was leaving because of her.  But they got along great.  She held her breath and tried to stop the panic inside while Ami continued on.

“He thinks I’m going to let him go sooner rather than later since you are doing so well. I assured him that wasn’t the case.  There is plenty of work to go around especially with retail finally moving in. But it seems he and George have already made plans to relocate to Windenburg.”  She paused, looked pointedly at Reuben and said, “Without discussing it with me first I might add.”  

Then she turned her attention back to Reagan. “There’s a developer there that wants him. In his defense, he did approach Reuben and made him a handsome offer, and I simply can’t change his mind. What I want to discuss with you Rea, is your readiness to take over for both sales and design. Reuben seems to think you are there.”

Reuben finally looked at her, guilt all over his face. “Reagan, you know what to do,” he said reassuringly, “Girl, you just need to own it.”

Reagan was relieved. But was now panicking for a whole new reason.  There was no way she could handle everything. She relied heavily on Reuben’s expertise. Granted, she was very comfortable with the design part, but not the sales side so much. “Reuben,” she said, trying to keep her voice steady, “that’s so sweet of you to say, but that’s an awful lot of responsibility.”  She shook her head slowly while addressing her aunt. “Ami, I don’t know if I’m confident enough to take all of that on, not just yet, plus I still have classes I’m juggling.”

“Rea, I understand,” said Ami, “If you really feel you’re not ready for all of it, what would you be able to take on?”

Reagan felt relief flood her body as she let out the breath she’d been holding since she walked in.  She didn’t have to think long.  “I would love to continue with the design, but I’m not sure I’m ready for sales yet.”

“Okay then.  That’s perfect. We will hire someone for sales.  That shouldn’t be too hard.”  She turned and addressed the fidgety man next to Reagan. “Reuben, I can’t thank you enough for the work you’ve done here. You were an absolute lifesaver when everything was turned upside down. You helped get everything back on track. If you and George ever decide to move back to Newcrest, just call me. Now, I will need Reagan to help train whomever we do hire, so I would appreciate it if you would make sure she knows where we are with everything. I’ll certainly help too, if needed.”

“You’re welcome Ami,” said Reuben sweetly and then looked at Reagan. “So Miss Reagan, let’s get to work.  Looks like there’s a few more things I need to get you up to speed on before this butterfly is bye-bye.”

*******************************************************************************

It only took Ami three weeks to find someone to replace Reuben as Head of Sales.  Evan Conner, Reuben’s replacement, had been doing a similar job in San Myshuno for several years and came highly recommended.  Reagan would be the Design Consultant, and she and Evan would work closely together with the new home buyers.

Evan was handsome and charming. Very different from the flamboyant John. Evan, just being Evan, had the women eating out of the palm of his hand. But he was also a man’s man, being able to talk sports, politics or business, winning them over as well. It was most certainly part of what made him so successful.

Even though Evan oozed confidence and probably knew he was hot as hell, he was unusually quiet and serious.  He intimidated Reagan at first with his silence.  However, little by little, she began to see past his work persona and relaxed around him.

Over the next couple of months, he began to let his guard down and be himself around her.  She began to understand his business mode, and how he operated. Once that happened, she and Evan clicked and became a team to be reckoned with.  They were easily able to play off of one another with prospective clients to get them sold.

Working with Evan helped Reagan’s confidence begin to soar. They bounced ideas around and made decisions together, comfortable around each other.  It gave her a feeling of accomplishment and worth that she never had before.  Even with Reuben she didn’t feel she contributed as much as he did.  Maybe it was because she felt she was still learning with him.

She enjoyed Evan’s company, very much. But because he continued to be a very private person, she still knew next to nothing about his personal life, unlike Reuben who had been an open book, and never ceased entertaining her with the antics of his husband.

Evan and Reagan had been working together for two months now. His current client just left so Reagan went to let him know she was leaving early.  Ryan’s basketball team was playing SMU at San Myshuno and she couldn’t wait to see him. She was so proud of her brother.

When Evan looked up and gave her a crocked smile, it did a little something to her insides. “Sure. Have fun, see you tomorrow,” he said pleasantly.

“Bye Evan, be prepared for picture spam tomorrow!” she called over her shoulder. She  heard a low chuckle as she walked out and found herself wishing he was going with her. Then she wondered, not for the first time, if maybe he had a girlfriend. He never mentioned one, nor did he have any pictures on his desk like Reuben did. Maybe he was gay and just didn’t want anyone to know.  She didn’t think so, but she truly didn’t know.

*******************************************************************************

Reagan ran upstairs to her room and took off her work clothes to change for Ryan’s game.  She still lived with her dad and stepmother. She often wished she lived on her own, but then she truly would be alone. She and her dad had been getting along really well lately.  Maybe it was because she was so busy with both work and school.  Regardless, it made it easy for her to continue to live at home.  Plus, she was able to save almost everything she made because her dad wouldn’t let her pay for anything.  She’d already managed to save enough for a sizable down payment for a house when she was ready.

Reagan realized, after working with Evan for these past few months, that maybe it was time for her to be on her own. She had a real job now since she was no longer ‘in training’ and should be living on her own. She mentioned her desire to Evan last week, mostly hoping he might share something about himself.  But he didn’t reciprocate.  Instead, he lit up excitedly and told her he had a lead on a small house that would be perfect for her.  She hadn’t thought much about it since. She made a mental note to ask him tomorrow when she spammed him with pictures of Ryan.

Reagan pulled on her jeans and jacket and ran downstairs.  Everyone was ready to go, dressed in BBU Silver and Black.  The old lab, Mousse, looked at her like he should be going too.  Connie was jumping up and down excitedly.  The whole thing made her smile. Everyone was excited to see Ryan.  Taylor was all that was missing.  I wish she was back from Paris and could be here, thought Reagan, suddenly feeling a little ball of guilt wash over her.  

They all headed for the door when her dad’s phone rang.  He stopped and looked at it. “It’s Ryan,” he announced as he brought the phone to his ear grinning proudly.

“Hi Ryan, we were just leaving.”

” . . . ”

“Oh no! Which one?” asked their father, his expression suddenly changing from happiness to distress.

” . . . ”

“We’ll be there in 45 minutes. I’m so sorry son,” said Cole and hung up. He looked sick.

“Cole! What’s going on?” asked Dannie at the same time Reagan said, “What happened?”

“During warm ups, Ryan jumped up to shoot a routine basket and came down on his knee wrong. He tore his ACL and sprained his ankle.  They took him to the ER.”

“Oh no! He was starting! He’s going to be devastated,” said Dannie. Reagan could hear real concern in her voice and it surprised her a little.

“I know,” said Cole, his distress was evident as well, “we need to go get him. Reagan, you wanna stay here with Connie?”

Reagan was near tears. There was no way she was staying home. “No! I need to see him!” she said.

“Okay. Connie, you’re going too,” said Cole and let out a long breath. “Come on.”

“Is Ryan gonna be okay?” asked her not so little sister, big tears welling in her eyes.

“He’ll be fine,” said Reagan choking back her own emotions. “Let’s go. Ryan’ll be happy to see you.”

*******************************************************************************

Ryan was furious. He sat on the ER bed with his knee and ankle wrapped and iced, waiting for his dad to get there and take him home. Not back to college, but back to freaking Willow Creek.  He should be starting in one of the most important match-ups of the season. Fuck, fuck, fuck! His scholarship and future was toast.

When he came down from a routine shot, his ankle twisted and he heard his knee pop and wound up writhing in pain on the gym floor.  Ryan knew immediately what happened and wasn’t surprised when the trainer said his ankle was sprained and he likely tore his ACL.  The x-rays confirmed both. At least there wasn’t a fracture.  Regardless, he needed surgery on his knee, so he wouldn’t go back to school for at least a month or more, missing the last part of the season and semester and maybe the next season too.

Ryan heard familiar voices and looked up as his dad came in followed by Dannie, Reagan and even Connie. They all crowded into the small ER exam room.  “Damn Dad.  Did you have to bring the the whole crew?” he asked.

Connie walked up to him. “Are you okay?” she asked, with the beginning of tears in her eyes.

Ryan forced himself to sit up on the edge of the bed to show her he was okay. No sense in upsetting her. “Yeah C. I’m good, just busted my knee. The docs will fix it good as new.” The week that he and Reagan watched her had somehow bonded them together.

“Oh good. I was so scared,” she said and hugged him.

“Hey,” said Cole, “What do we need to do to spring you?”

“I think they’re done. They want to talk you about the surgery and sign some papers and we can go.” Ryan pressed the call button. “You know, this is the end of my fucking scholarship. I doubt anyone will want me after this. Coach said they’ll redshirt me next season so I won’t get hurt. But then there’s no way to I’ll be able to fight back and get my position. I’ll be through.”

“Ryan,” admonished Cole, “Its not like you to give up. Let’s just take it one day at a time. And if it is over, then we’ll just pay for your last year. At least you’ll get your degree. It’s gonna be okay.”

Whatever, he thought and caught his sister’s eye. She was looking at him with pity and it pissed him off. Before he could say anything to her, the doctor walked in and looked at the crowded room and smiled.

“Okay, looks like the whole fam is here,” said the Doctor and chuckled. “Hi. I’m Dr. Williams.  Ryan you’re good to go.  You’ll need to call the surgeon and get things scheduled. We’ll send over the test results.  Any questions?”

*******************************************************************************

Two months later……

“Rea, I’ve already thought about it. I’m not going back,” said Ryan, as he used the weight machine to work on his legs. “Basketball was my ticket out, even if I played fucking semi-pro, I could work as a personal trainer during the off season. Now, I’ll be nothing but a personal trainer.”

“Hey, lots of people pay good money for a smokin’ hot trainer,” said Reagan as she licked her finger and touched him making a sizzle sound. “You’ll be very much in demand I suspect.”

“Dad’s gonna be pissed, but I don’t give a shit,” he said ignoring her, continuing his workout and rant, “It’s decided. I’m dropping out. I’m going to work at this fucking gym right here in Willow Creek. It doesn’t pay shit unless I get clients. But it’s the only decent gym around. Then I’m moving into an apartment. After being on my own, there is no fucking way I can live at home anymore.”

Reagan sighed.  “Sounds like your mind is made up. I’m glad to have you back in town at least. I’ve missed you –  and Mom has missed you too.”

Ryan cringed inside. He didn’t bond with his mother like Reagan had seemed to. He simply didn’t get it.  Maybe once she was out of prison, it would be easier. He knew her parole was coming up at the end of the summer. “What did Mom say when you called her?” asked Ryan.

“That she really wants to see you. Maybe we can get away this weekend. It’s been over a year since the last time you visited.”

Ryan groaned internally. “Rea, I hate that place. Do I have to go?” he asked. God he was whining.

“Ryan! Of course you do. She said she might have more news on her parole!”

“Really?” he asked, and thought to himself, and if she is paroled, where will she live? Not with me, that‘s for damn sure.

“Maybe in 6 months, possibly less. Isn’t that exciting!”

Reagan was practically glowing. Why she wanted a relationship with someone she barely knew, he had no idea. Somehow he couldn’t picture his mother in anything except that damn orange jumpsuit. Finally he answered his twin. “Yeah, that’s good news,” he said without conviction. “I’m gonna shower and then go tell Dad my good news. That his only son is a fucking college dropout loser, just like he thought he would be. Joy.

“Ryan Murdock…” scolded Reagan, “you know that’s not true. You will own a string of gyms across the country one day.”  She held her arms out in a flourish as she spoke.  “Oh….I know! Not now, but eventually, you can build the first gym in Newcrest! Ami has been talking to Evan about starting up retail sales again.

“Actually, Mom was trying to bring in retail but Grandpa didn’t think Newcrest was ready for it,” she said and grimaced before continuing. “And then, well, it took years to repair the damage to the company due to the trial and get things back on track. But it’s definitely ready now.  The upscale homes are in demand again. So keep that in the back of your smokin’ hot little head.” Then she giggled.

The light bulb went off.  It was brilliant! He didn’t even mind her calling him smokin’ hot anymore.  “I love you Rea! That’s a great idea. But I need to get experience first. I’ll work  here to learn the ins and outs, what works and what doesn’t.” The wheels were turning now that Ryan had a vision. He felt immensely relieved that his future might not be as bleak as he thought. At least now when he talked to his father, he would have a goal to share with him. The thought of seeing the look of disappointment on his father’s face when he told him he wasn’t going back had Ryan in a really bad mood. He hoped this idea would be enough for him, but he doubted it. His dad had high standards and Ryan felt that, at least until he got the scholarship, he had never lived up to them.

To be continued……

Go back to Chapter 3.22

A/N:  Thank you to CandyCottonChu for submitting Evan Conner in my Casting Call.

Evan Conner