1.3 Good News…
This chapter is Rated PG
Author’s note: This chapter might seem a little slow and boring compared to the last two, but there is a lot of things happening in this one that are important to the story. I hope you like it. 🙂
Credits: Bookstore from The Sims Resource.
Coffee shop from Wibs and The Sims
Thank god for low paying minimum wage job at the book store for getting me out of the house. I had finally started my first day on new job, and it was as boring and thankless as I imagined it to be. As much as I loved to read, being surrounded by books wasn’t as exciting as I imagined it to be, and found out that customer service wasn’t my strong suit. As boring as my job was though, I was grateful to get out of the house and away from Zoe, who I avoided like she was a carrier of the black plague. When I wasn’t working my miserable job at the book store, I was hunting for an apartment, which proved difficult. Everything in this city was just too damn expensive, unless you wanted cockroaches as pets. I was still looking, but I was pretty much stuck with Zoe until I found something I could afford, and that hopefully didn’t include cockroaches, or mice.
“I’ll see you tomorrow.” I said to my coworker Janice, a nice older lady, who was a bit chatty, and loved to gossip about our other co-workers but seemed to be friendly, and have a good heart. I was still hesitant to open up to her though, Zoe had pretty much ruined the idea of friendship for me, making me leery to trust anyone else for fear of once again getting stabbed in the back. Janice looked up from her register and smiled, waving at me as I headed outside, taking a deep breath of fresh air, to clear my head. I loved coffee, but the smell of roasting coffee beans was quickly becoming a smell I could no longer tolerate.
I sat down on a bench across from the bookstore and sighed. I just wasn’t ready to go home and face Zoe. Even though she had been the one who had destroyed our friendship, she acted like I was public enemy 101. If Zoe didn’t need my rent payments so much, she would have tossed me out on my ass, I was sure.
Instead of heading home I pulled out a paperback I had bought from the store and began to read. I couldn’t focus on the pages, and found myself reading the same chapter over and over again. I gave up, and looked up and down the street, watching people live their lives. Everyone seemed to be filled with purpose, like they knew exactly where they fit in the world. I felt like a puzzle piece that didn’t fit anywhere, like it was manufactured wrong, or placed in the wrong box. I didn’t seem to fit anywhere or with anyone.
I sighed and shoved my book back into my purse beside me. I was ready to give up and head home, and lock myself in my bedroom for a long night of absolutely nothing. I stood up nearly colliding with someone on the sidewalk. I didn’t look up, simply stepping around them mumbling an apology.
“Madeline?” A deep voice asked. I spun around, my eyes widening in shock. It was the guy from the bar, the one who had put me in the cab and made sure I made it inside safely. How embarrassing, I thought. I’m surprised he can even recognize me without puke in my hair. I felt my face flush ten shades of red, and debated on running, when my conscience kicked in.
“Well this is awkward.” I said honestly, clutching my purse. I looked down at my feet, praying I would stop blushing. “Thank you for the other night, making sure I got home safely. That was nice of you. Of course I’ll pay you back for the cab fare.” I reached into my purse, and he held out a hand, as if to say it wasn’t needed. I smiled tightly, not used to such kindness.
“Well thank you very much.” I said lamely looking down once again.
“I’m just glad you made it home safely.” He smiled at me. “You didn’t strike me as the type to pass out in a bar.”
“A friend dragged me there, I don’t drink, it was a bad night and I had one to many. Lets just say I learned my lesson.” I pressed my lips together tightly.
“It’s not my scene either,” he said. “A couple of work buddies dragged me out after work, you really did me a favor by passing out, so I had an excuse to play the knight in shining armor and leave.” He laughed.
He scratched his chin absently, as our conversation came to an awkward pause. “So, I’m sorry if that letter was a little awkward, I’ve kind of been off my game lately.” He laughed lightly, his brown eyes sparkled.
“Letter?” I asked confused.
“I thought maybe the flowers I left scared you off, when I never got a phone call I kind of just assumed…” His voice trailed off. He smiled sheepishly.
I looked at him blankly, wondering what the hell he was talking about.
“You didn’t get the flowers or the letter did you?” He asked. I shook my head. “Well that makes me feel a million times better.” He smiled widely, then shrugged. “I could have sworn it was your house I left them at. I probably left them on your neighbors porch by accident. It was dark when I brought you home, whoops.” He smiled again.
“Would you like to go have coffee with me?” He asked, changing the subject so quickly that it made my head spin.
I was slightly taken aback. I didn’t know how to respond. I hadn’t had a date since…well a very long time. I spent each day smelling coffee all day, but going out for coffee with a perfect stranger seemed way better than heading back to the house to face Zoe, or sitting alone in my room like a complete loser.
I looked up, and met his gaze directly. “Coffee sounds nice.” I smiled. “I’m sorry, you probably told me this already but your name is?”
“Riley.” He said.
I smiled, the first genuine smile in a very long time. “It’s nice to meet you Riley.”
I followed Riley across the street to the coffee shop. My palms were sweating, and I wiped them on my jeans. You’re pathetic Madeline, I thought as he held the door open for me. He’s going to think you are a bumbling idiot.
I don’t know why I was so nervous around Riley. Maybe it was because he had seen me at my worst moment, smelling like a men’s public toilet, and urinal cakes, or maybe it was because he was devastatingly handsome and I haven’t had a date in years. I had to admit that it was probably a little bit of both.
“It’s on me.” Riley said as I opened up my purse to purchase my coffee. I blushed. I had to admit it was nice, but it felt like too much of a date to me. “Please, what kind of gentlemen would let a girl buy her own coffee?”
I laughed, inhaling the aroma of fresh ground coffee grounds, and various pastries, that made my stomach gurgle. I had been living off fast food and microwave dinners like a college student.
We sat down at a seat near the window. And here comes the awkwardness, I thought. When he figures out you are a complete boring loser he’s going to run for the hills.
“So, your new in North Port aren’t you?” Riley asked taking a sip of coffee.
“Does it show?” I laughed lightly.
“A little bit.” He laughed, his eyes crinkling in the corners. I was hypnotized by the golden flecks in his eyes, I had to admit he was handsome, and it threw me off a little.
“So what brings you to town? Family, school, work?”
If it was one thing Zoe taught me, is that you can never trust anyone, even if they seemed trustworthy on the outside. Riley looked friendly enough, and his question was ment to be friendly so he could get to know me, but I knew my answer most likely would fill the rest of this….date with awkwardness. There was never an easy way to tell a complete stranger that you were looking for your drug addict prostitute of a mother who abandoned you when you were one years old, so I lied. “Work.”
“What do you do Madeline?” He asked.
“I work at a bookstore.” I felt like a loser uttering those words out loud. Not that there was anything wrong with working in a bookstore, but it didn’t make sense for me to move to a big city for such a low paying entry-level job. I blushed, feeling like a complete tool. I didn’t mention that I wanted to be an author some day. I’ve always been secretive about my passion for writing, not because I was horrid at it, but because people just didn’t seem to understand, and thought It was a waste of time. Getting your work published was extremely difficult, and the odds were always stacked against you. “What do you do?” I said changing the subject quickly taking another sip of coffee to fill in the awkward silence.
“I’m in construction.” He smiled. “Yeah I’m that guy who likes to work with his hands and build stuff.” He smiled.
“Well its good to do something that makes you happy.” I smiled.
“Well come winter time, I wont be so thrilled about working outside. I’ll bitch and moan the entire winter, just you wait.” He smiled broadly at me.
My cell phone vibrated in my pocket. I looked at who was calling under the table. The private investigator. I rejected his call, and sent him to voice mail. I wasn’t about to take a call from the private investigator in front of Riley. My heart began to beat faster. Maybe there was some news about my mother?
Riley was easy to talk too, and his laughter was contagious. We talked until the sun began to dip below the horizon. My cheeks were starting to hurt from smiling, those cheek muscles hadn’t been getting a whole lot of exercise lately. As entertaining as Riley was, I found myself focusing on the cell phone in my pocket, and I was dying to check my messages.
“Would you like to do dinner sometime?” Riley asked suddenly. “I hope that wasn’t too forward of me.”
I bit my lip, wanting to say yes, but afraid to get close to someone who could turn around and stab me in the back like Zoe.
“No pressure–just friends.” Riley smiled, resting his hands on top of the table, his expression was open and friendly.
“Alright.” I said finally. What was the harm?
As soon as Riley disappeared around the corner on his way to a work meeting I took out my cell phone and ducked into an alley on the side of the building for some privacy. Anxiety chewed at my guts like rats in an attic waiting for the phone to be answered.
“This is Jake Hardy.” Detective Hardy answered the phone. He had a very business like voice, and spoke quickly, like he was always right in the middle of something.
“This is Madeline Drake returning your call. Any news?” I asked breathlessly, feeling my hands start to shake and my palms start to sweat. My heart was racing like I was running a marathon.
“I interviewed a woman who works at the shelter at Cass and Division, she’s been there for many years. I showed around your mothers photo, and the lady recognizes her. She said she used to visit the shelter every day, but got kicked out once for showing up high and causing a scene. She fled before cops could be called. She hasn’t shown up since. However, recently she swears she saw your mother the other day, passing her on the street.” My breath hitched in my throat, a whistle of air escaping. I felt faint. I was right, my mother still was in town!
“Are you sure?” I asked hopefully, closing my eyes leaning against the brick wall for support. I felt myself inflate like a balloon full of hope, I let out a gasp of air and said, “Is she positive its her?”
“The woman is pretty sure. I asked her that question as well, she said it was many years since she’s seen your mother, but she never forgets a face, evidently your mother was very memorable. She did mention her hair was darker. Dark brown, but she swears it was your mother. She says she waved and the woman froze like a deer in the headlights, she was with an older man, seemed to be well to do.”
My heart sank. I don’t know why I was surprised my mom was still hooking, I guess I had hopes all along she had changed her ways. I was stupid for thinking people could change. “So what happens now?” I said blankly, my mind whirling with this new information.
“I do everything in my power to track her down. This is good news Madeline. She’s in town. It will only be a matter of time before I locate her. I’ll keep you updated.”
I hung up the phone leaning my head back against the brick closing my eyes. This was good news. So why wasn’t I more excited?