Don’t miss this week’s exciting chapter, written by Cathy MacKenzie. Check out her books of short stories available on Smashwords for only $1.99 and $0.99. https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/camack. There you can read the first story in each book for free. Her books of poetry are available there, as well.
Next week’s chapter will be written by Deborah Dera. Deborah traditionally ghostwrites articles and stories but is in the process of finishing up her first eBook to be released on the Kindle platform later this month. Keep your eyes peeled!
There are more exciting chapters to follow, as we continue with this serial novel.
The Spot Writers’ blogs appear at the end of this story. Don’t forget to check them out.
And now…Chapter 17:
Remy slammed the car door with more force than she had intended. Drat that Irene. Who does she think she is?
Before she had time to ponder more on her co-worker, she glimpsed a flash of blonde rush into the complex and couldn’t help but notice the protruding belly.
“Jeepers, she’s sure showing,” Remy mumbled. “Where did that come from?” Well, that was a stupid question, she thought. From Jeremy, of course.
Granted, Remy hadn’t seen Barbara for several weeks and definitely not during the recent “calm before the storm” week, but Remy figured it was time for things to explode again, after experiencing the day’s unpleasant events.
First, Irene had decided to call her out on her so-called “sneaking out of the office as soon as the clock struck five.”
“It’s not sneaking out, Irene,” Remy had protested. “My work day is over.”
“Well, perhaps I’d like to leave on time, too.” Irene’s dark eyes flashed and her hands waved in front of her.
Remy reconsidered. Perhaps she was wrong in leaving as abruptly as she had been. “Okay, you’re right. Sorry. You leave on time all next week, and I’ll stay behind and close up.”
Irene calmed down.
“But I have to leave at five tonight. I’m not feeling well,” Remy said in a rush of words, trying to get them out before Irene went off on a tangent again.
“No biggie.” Irene seemed contrite then, as if she wanted to take back her words, which was unusual for her.
Then, later, Dr. Kendrick had stopped by her desk. “Come into my office when there’s a lull, Remy,” he said.
Not wanting to rekindle anything with Sam, at least not in the office, Remy waited as long as possible before going to this office. What can he possibly want? She thought. “A lot,” she mumbled to herself, glancing around to make sure Irene hadn’t heard her.
Remy needn’t have worried. Dr. Kendrick was all business, which both mystified and stunned Remy.
“Did you get the matter of the phone calls taken care of?” he asked.
“No, I didn’t. Haven’t gotten any for a while, so I think the problem’s solved.”
Sam looked at her with that same stare he had given her previously. Remy knew there was something more on his mind than telephone calls.
“Okay, then. Just wondered.”
“I’m not feeling well, so I’m leaving a bit early. Irene’ll close up.”
“Yes, I noticed Irene’s been hanging around lately and you’ve been gone.”
“We’ve discussed it already. She’s gonna leave on time all next week,” Remy said.
“Well, good. I don’t need bickering among my employees.”
Remy had felt like saluting him and saying, “Yes, sir. Understood, sir,” in as gruff a voice as she could muster, but she remained calm and slipped out of the office before Dr. Kendrick could say anything further.
Remy paused at her car, putting Irene and Sam out of her mind. Barbara had entered it, and Remy couldn’t concentrate on three personalities at once.
Before Remy had a chance to lock the car, Barbara appeared again. Jeremy must not be home, Remy thought. Barbara’s long blonde hair pulled tight into a pony tail made her face seem slimmer than it really was. Remy noticed her belly again. Although Remy hadn’t had much personal experience with pregnancies, she did see the occasional pregnant women in the waiting room. Something didn’t seem quite right with Barbara, but she couldn’t determine what it was.
Was it her face? Her face should be a bit plump, shouldn’t it, being pregnant and all? Instead, it seemed wan and thin, not at all like the glow of pregnancy. And her belly. Something not right there. Off kilter? Something flashed through Remy’s mind that the pregnancy was make-believe, but it was a passing thought she didn’t dwell upon and then it was gone from her memory.
Remy watched her get into her car, which was parked on the road and not in the parking lot where she stood. Remy let out her breath when Barbara disappeared down the street, none the wiser that Remy had seen her.
While unlocking her condo door, a noise behind her made her pause. She turned around to find Jeremy staring at her.
“Jeepers, you scared me,” Remy said.
“Sorry. Didn’t mean to.”
“I didn’t think you were home.”
“Why would you think that?” Jeremy said.
“I saw Barbara walk in, then walk right back out a couple of minutes later.”
“Yeah, I know. I heard her at the door. I pretended I wasn’t home.”
“Oh.” Remy turned back toward her door.
“Hey, I’m sorry about the other night. I really am. That wasn’t like me at all. Drinking, knives, filthy mouth. Not me.”
Remy faced him. “Yes, you should be ashamed of yourself. That was rude. And scary.”
“I had just heard my mother’s cancer returned. I lost control. Instead of hiding in a corner like a child, crying like a baby, or talking things out like a reasonable adult, I acted like a jerk.”
“Oh, Jeremy. I’m so sorry.” Remy’s thoughts of Barbara disappeared as fast as Jeremy had shown up behind her.
“Yeah, she’s been through hell. I’m certain she doesn’t have much time left. I’ve been putting off visiting her, thinking if I pretend it’s not real, it’ll go away. I hate a god that does this to us, disrupting lives, causing death. Not right. My mother doesn’t deserve this. No one does.”
Remy saw the tears in his eyes and watched him avert his head, as if something was happening in the courtyard that he couldn’t miss.
“Sorry, Remy. I can’t believe I acted like that. Most of it was the booze. I do drink, of course, but I went overboard, trying to drown my sorrows, so to speak. I don’t usually carry knives. I don’t usually treat a woman that way. Never, in fact. I’ve never done anything remotely that cruel before. I’m so sorry.”
“It’s okay. No harm done.” Remy knew there was harm done – harm to her emotions. But, she supposed he had a good reason. And he did apologize. He was contrite – and she did feel bad for him.
“I’m leaving this afternoon. She’s in Des Moines. Dad says the end is near. I have no choice now. I have to go. I just wanted to apologize before I left.”
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Catherine A. MacKenzie