The consensus was: “Go ahead and post. Not everyone can hate it.” Hard to argue with that right? Plus the other people said that you all love me and even if you hate it you’ll lie. So there’s always that. Eh.
In any case. Here goes nothing. Or rather here goes the first chapter. I hope you enjoy.
“He’s here.” Sadie hissed at Jo as she struggled to hoist her overstuffed duffel bag out of the back of the hotel’s airport shuttle. “He’s here. Right now. In the hotel.”
Jo ignored her for a moment as she looked around to see where the driver had gone. Sweat poured down her back, pooling in the dip just above her cotton capris. What had she packed that could possibly weigh so much? She tugged some more before realizing that the strap had snagged itself on a hook in the back of the seat. Jo leaned into the van to free the bag and finally called back to Sadie.
“Who’s here? What are you talking about? And why are you whispering?”
“Shhhhhhhhhh!” Sadie said, “He’ll hear you!”
“Who? Who is here and going to hear me talk about him.” Jo asked more quietly as she finally managed to yank the dark green canvas bag out. It hit the ground with a loud THWACK, causing a few hotel patrons to gaze their way.
“Shhhhhhhhhh!” Sadie hissed again.
“OK! What is the big deal?” Jo asked, finally turning to pay attention to her plump best friend. Her curly red hair was completely disheveled, exactly the same as always, though maybe a bit more frizzy than usual, probably because of the ridiculous heat and the humidity that hung in the air. Jo pushed back her own sticky hair and wiped some of the sweat from her forehead. A dip in the hotel pool would feel heavenly. Maybe Sadie’s hair looked like that because she’d already been swimming. Jo would have asked her, but her friend’s usually relaxed and happy face was creased with concern making the freckles on her forehead mass together in an alarming way.
“What’s going on?” She asked again, looking deep into Sadie’s worried eyes and reaching for her shaking hand.
“He’s here.” Sadie said, as though that explained everything.
“Who? Jordan? No, he’s not, he doesn’t get here until Thursday.” Jo turned her attention to the porter who had just materialized take her bag to the front desk, she had no idea who Sadie was going on about, but she really didn’t want the man to lose her bag. Her bathing suit was in there and right now all she wanted to do was hit the pool.
“No. Not Jordan. Andy. Andy is here. Right here. In the hotel.”
Jo stumbled, reaching for Sadie’s arm to steady herself. Her chest constricted, and she struggled to take a breath in. She gasped, her hand flapping uselessly at her throat, wedding ring clinking against the locket nestled in the hollow. Jo looked at Sadie, eyes rolling wildly.
Her throat unclenched, letting in a thin stream of air and letting out a strangled whisper. “What do you mean, he’s here? How is that even possible? What is he doing here?”
“I don’t know.” Sadie said. She shrugged and shook her head. “ I spotted him at breakfast this morning. At first I thought I was mistaken, but then I saw him again in front of the elevator bank. There’s no mistaking that hair. And that voice. It’s definitely him.”
Jo listened to Sadie and concentrated hard on breathing. She was not going to pass out here in the hotel lobby. She just wasn’t going to.
“His voice? I thought you barely saw him? How did you manage to hear his voice?” Jo could hear herself getting shrill, but couldn’t stop the hysteria from breaking through. Shrill seemed inevitable, plus it was still better than fainting and making even more of a scene.
His voice. There was a time Jo would have done anything to hear his voice again. Now the mere thought was sending cold sweat cascading down her back. And yet, it was all she could hear – his voice in her head. And, oh, his voice behind her!
“No Emily! Freeze! You cannot run into the parking lot like that. Come hold daddy’s hand right now!” The familiar rich timbre shook Jo to the pit of her stomach, but the words caused both her eyebrows and Sadie’s to shoot straight up.
“Daddy?” They both mouthed at each other? “Daddy?”
“Emily?” Jo thought to herself. “He named his daughter Emily?”