Love at the Crossroads excerpts

Book 1: Stopping Traffic

 

“Come on eight o’clock.” Royce yawned. He was ready to go home.

After doing a twenty-four hour shift, he was beat. Usually, he worked twelve hour rotations, but he was covering for someone else. Thank You, Jesus for that, Royce whispered, referring to the fact that North St. Louis County had been quiet throughout the night.

While his brother finished up the new work schedule for the office, their chauffeur was checking the equipment for the morning shift. Stretching, Royce could hardly keep his eyes open as he studied for a promotion test at Hershel’s urging.

Royce had nothing but respect for his sibling, who had worked and studied hard to earn his rank as captain while rearing his two small boys, ages three and five, on his own. It was overwhelming, to say the least.

Maybe it was a blessing that their mother was deceased so as not to witness the demise of Hershel’s marital union. It would have broken her heart, but she would have pitched in to help, with the boys, especially. But Hershel had employed a faithful housekeeper who had been a godsend with her flexibility and genuine love for his sons.

The older generation of Kavanaugh men married for life, tracing back to his great-grandfather. Royce’s generation was questionable, though. Only their youngest brother, Trent, was still happily married to his wife, Julia.  The couple was blessed with an adorable baby girl.

“The engine’s ready to go,” Felix said, entering their shared sleeping quarters.

Snapping out of his musing, Royce did his best to look busy. Lately, every chance his colleague got, he ribbed him about going out on a blind date—no thank you. Definitely not with one of Felix’s referrals.

If Royce ever found the right one—she had to be pretty enough, sweet enough and Christian enough to complement him—then he could boast that blissful state. Exhaling, he didn’t know when that was going to happen. Although he wasn’t in a rush, God said it wasn’t good for man to be alone.

Thinking about the lack of intimacy, Royce smiled. Yes, Father did know best. Stretching, Royce rolled his shoulders and rubbed his lower back. In two long hours, he would be off work and not long after that, collapsed in his own bed.

 

Book 2: A Baby for Christmas 

 

Late Christmas Day

Solae Wyatt-Palmer choked back tears as she stared at one of the many gifts from Hershel Kavanaugh—Fire Captain Kavanaugh. He possessed mysterious brown eyes. Physically, Hershel was muscular with the unbelievable strength of a bear and a soul as gentle as a kitten.  She was in love with him.

Despite her hyphenated last name—courtesy of her father—she had never been married. It was a family tradition to keep the name of one particular ancestor who had been born in the 1860s alive. Although her relative had an interesting history, one that Solae couldn’t always remember, the name, Wyatt-Palmer, was requested to be a part of every generation, whether the baby was a boy or girl.

Sitting in her living room, Solae glanced out of the large window from her living room sofa. It had started to snow again. She was glad she had lit a log in her fireplace. The scene outside was surreal as she noted her neighbor’s decorations, lopsided snowbell and the cotton trees she always referred to as the snow of branches.

When her phone rang and disturbed her solitude, she checked the caller ID before answering. Candace Clark’s name appeared. They had known each other since childhood, and their bond was stronger than best friends. They loved like siblings and argued as sisters, but at the end of the day, they were always there for each other.

“I got a diamond for Christmas!” Candace screamed into the phone.

A tear slipped down Solae’s cheek. She wasn’t surprised. As a matter of fact, Solae expected it. They were dating two brothers.

Their life experiences had mirrored each other’s until Candace married Daniel. Candace made Solae a godmother when she and Daniel had a baby girl.  In the midst of joy came disappointment. That same year, at age twenty-six, Solae had a hysterectomy because of gut-wrenchingly painful fibroid tumors. There would be no next generation of Wyatt’s coming from her.

Candace had taken the loss harder than Solae, then heartache hit again. This time, it seemed to be her friend’s turn when Daniel was killed. Solae was just as devastated as if he had been her husband.

In Solae’s opinion, she didn’t welcome misery as her company. While Candace didn’t think love would ever find her again after her husband died, leaving her with an infant, she did. Solae also thought bliss was unobtainable because she couldn’t have children. But through a series of events, she and Candace wound up dating two firefighters, only Hershel had the rank of captain.

“Me too,” she said softly with less enthusiasm.

“We can have a double wedding! Can you believe Royce had Lindsay in on the proposal? It was so romantic...”

When Candace took a breath, Solae broke the news to her. “Hershel didn’t propose.” She took a deep breath and held it. She had just ended a crying spell after spending Christmas at Hershel’s house with his two adorable little sons. As a single father, he did an incredible job of rearing them.

 “He gave me the most beautiful teardrop diamond pendant I’ve ever seen.” Solae cleared her throat to keep her voice steady. “Of course, the boys gave me the sweetest little gifts…”

“Oh, Solae. I’m sorry.”

She refused to spoil her friend’s jubilation. It was a good Christmas. And a sad one if I believed in Santa Claus, because he had messed up big time by not delivering what was on my list. But she believed in Jesus and He had to remain her focus of the day.

 “It’s okay. We’ve only been dating for four months anyway.” The same amount of time as Royce and Candace. “Maybe, he needs a little more time,” Solae said, trying to convince herself and hoping her friend would believe her, too.

“Maybe.” Candace was quiet as the mood became somber. “Well, I know he loves you!” She bounced back.

“Yes, he even said as much in his card.” Solae smiled. She loved him, too. “I should be grateful, right? Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, right? I mean whether it’s around the wrist, neck, or ear—”

“The fourth finger is always better,” Candace stated what Solae was afraid to utter. “Are you going to talk to him?”

“And say what?” Solae wanted to scream, but it would have been directed at the wrong person. She lifted her chin in mock defiance. “You know, I’m not the one to directly or indirectly pressure a man to marry me. If so, I probably would have been a Mrs. a long time ago.”  She paused. There was no lying to her best friend. “Did I sound convincing?”

“Nope, not to me. I’m sorry, sis. I was really hoping we could’ve had a double wedding and everything.” Candace’s voice was definitely drained of excitement.

Shifting on the sofa, Solae pulled her sweater together as if the fire roaring in the fireplace wasn’t warm enough. “Well, you know how brothers are. Maybe he didn’t want to do it on Christmas because Royce was asking you. There’s always Valentine’s Day.”

“Y-yeah…” They chatted for a few more minutes until Royce called and she hurried off the phone, but not before voicing her opinion. “I hope my future brother-in-law doesn’t wait for Valentine’s Day.”

Me either, she thought as their call ended.

 

 

 

Book 3: The Keepsake 

After more than a week, Michael was no closer to knowing Desi’s whereabouts. He missed her so much. He hadn’t prayed this hard in his life for anything, but he needed Desi to forgive him and come back home where they could work things out.

“I’m trusting You, Lord.” Michael strolled out of his office to the sales floor that was teeming with customers, which meant a nice size quarterly bonus. To back up the sales team, Michael signed on to the nearest available work station and looked up. A man opened the door and glanced around. Michael smiled and nodded a greeting to the customer who walked toward him.

“Michael Bishop?” The gentlemen didn’t look familiar, but in a high traffic store, Michael couldn’t remember every face.

“Yes, may I help you?”

Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out an envelope and handed it to him. “You’ve been served to appear in court. Have a good day.”

Stunned, Michael’s heart dropped. The moment seemed frozen in time. He swallowed and remembered to breathe as the man turned nonchalantly and left the store as if he hadn’t just ruined Michael’s life. He fingered the package. Court? Had Zachary been right? Had he truly lost Desi to divorce?

He looked up and caught a couple of his employees watching him. Straightening his frame, he gave the pretense that all was well as he quickly logged off and retreated to his office in the back. Behind closed doors, he unsealed the envelope and opened the folded paper. The words seemed to leap off the page and slap him. Petition for Dissolution of Marriage in regards to the marriage of Michael Hunter Bishop and Desiree Marie Bishop. He gritted his teeth. Losing self-control had cost him everything.

The more he stared at the petition, his mood changed from hopelessness to anger. Desi never even gave him a chance to explain why he cheated, or did she read his messages and discard them? How could she just throw away their marriage without any forgiveness? One mistake and she was throwing in the towel. Well, he was going to fight this divorce. He loved her!

As he was internally venting, his business line rang several times, which meant his staff was too busy to pick up. He answered with the standard company greeting.

“Michael, this is Brenda—”

Not now. Michael huffed. “Listen—”

“No, you listen!” she snapped. “I can’t believe your silly little wife has the nerve to sue me! Is she crazy?” The woman was livid.

“Watch it. I was the crazy one to ever cheat with a woman that wasn’t worth breaking up my marriage.” Michael practically growled into the phone.

“It takes two, baby. Of all the married men I’ve had affairs with, not one of their wives took me to court because their husbands stepped out on them. If they’re not pleasing their hubbies, then men look elsewhere and I’m always available.”

So Brenda stalked her prey, and he had played the fool. How had he become so weak-minded that he fell for the bait? Michael was disgusted with himself. How many marriages had she destroyed? The more important question was how many wives forgave their husbands and took them back?  “Well, deal with it. She’s suing me for a divorce. So we’re even. Don’t ever call me again.” He disconnected.

Michael pounded his desk so hard with his fist that everything shook, including the forgotten bottle of water that splashed on his report.  Leaping to his feet, Michael reached for the paper towels. Not cooperating with him, the paper towels rolled across the floor, adding to his irritation. Michael berated himself as he cleaned up the mess.

But could he clean up the mess he had created when he failed as a Christian and a husband? Some drastic changes had to be made. His brother had been hounding him about a new franchise venture that had a better commission pay scale and would reduce his working hours from sixty-plus to fifty. That would give him more time at home to rebuild his relationship with his wife. Now was the time to act.

Taking a few minutes to regroup, Michael refocused on his pending divorce. He called Zachary. “I’m interested in the Baer Electronics franchise. Let’s make it happen,” he said without preliminaries.

“About time you came to your senses. You need to leave the scene of the crime anyway. Any word from my little sister?”

“Oh, yeah. I got a lot of words from her. I was served today.” Michael paused and took a deep breath. He had to hold it together. “She’s divorcing me.”

Zachary didn’t say anything right away. Seconds later, he began to pray. “Father, in the mighty name of Jesus, we come boldly to Your throne of grace. God, only You know Your will in this situation. Lord, I know my brother and Desi are hurting. God, please mend their broken hearts in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

“Amen.” The prayer had a calming effect on Michael. “Thanks, bro. I needed that.”

“You’re welcome. I’ll work on my end on the Baer opportunity. They need someone quick. With your credentials, you should be in charge of that new store in a few weeks. In the meantime, you concentrate on Desi.”

Michael nodded before they said their goodbyes. Next he tapped in Desi’s name on his smartphone, it began to ring. A custom text reply appeared: Talk to my attorney.

The peace he had moments earlier dissipated as he waited for her voice mail. However, he had to choose his words carefully, so as not to come off combative. “Desi, please don’t do this. Baby, I really am sorry. I’m determined to make this right, including leaving the phone store. I’m serious. I want to start fresh. I’m going for the franchise Zachary has been hounding me about, which means less hours and more time with you.” The pleading in his voice sounded pathetic even to his own ears, but Michael wanted to convey the extremes he was willing to go to for her.

Checking the time, Michael debated a confrontation with his wife. He didn’t want any guessing whether she’d heard his message. He jingled the keys in his pocket and went in search of his assistant manager.  He would recommend her for a promotion after he resigned. “Malinda, I’m going to be out for a few hours.”

She gave him a suspicious twist of her lips and rolled her eyes. “Right.”

He didn’t owe her an explanation for trying to repair the damage he had inflicted on his wife. A gamut of emotions revolved in his head as he got into his car and drove to the telecommunications building where Desi worked. After parking, he mumbled a quick prayer and got out slowly. Inside the lobby, Michael approached the reception desk and mustered a smile. He couldn’t remember the woman’s name, but she recognized him. “Hi, Mattie, will you tell Desiree, I’m here in the lobby for her?”

The receptionist smiled and picked up the phone and dialed an extension. “Sure, okay. Thanks.” She ended the conversation and looked at him. “She’s on another line, so have a seat over there.” The woman pointed, then dismissed him to take another call.

Michael worked up a sweat, while waiting, mentally rehearsing his spiel. He prayed that his wife would be civil, or at least act cordial in front of an audience. Then he considered the divorce petition and her refusal to take his calls. Michael braced for the unexpected.

After fifteen minutes had come and gone, Michael didn’t know who was more concerned with his waiting, him or the receptionist, so she called again. “Hi Katie, did Desiree get the message that her husband is here in the lobby?” she raised a brow and signed off before looking at him. “Katie’s on her way down.”

True to Mattie’s word, the elevator binged and out stepped Desiree’s team leader. “Michael, I’m sorry, I did tell her you were here. I thought Desi left with you for lunch, since she’s not at her desk.”

His wife really didn’t want to see him or talk to him. The realization of Desi’s rejection stung.   Katie frowned as if she was trying to piece together Michael’s puzzle. “I don’t think she’s coming back this afternoon. I’m sorry.”

Michael stood. “Me, too. Thanks.” To escape their curious stares, he strolled out to his car. Once he was behind the wheel, Michael sent his wife a text and hoped she read it: That was cold, Desi. He hit send.

Her reply was swift. If you show up at my job again, I’ll file for a restraining order too. You can communicate with me through my atty. Go back to your mistress!

His wife had never been so stubborn. Unfortunately, he had given her every reason to be. Michael pulled away from the curb. It was time to find himself an attorney.

 

 

Book 4: What God Has For Me

 

My life is getting out of control, was the only thought running through Halcyon’s mind as she sat quietly in the passenger’s seat. Yes, she needed another job, but not another relationship—not yet. Could Zachary—nothing more than her big brother up until…a few minutes ago—accept that?

She stole a peek at him while he steered the SUV on the highway. Judging from his soft humming, she doubted it. She tried to get past his handsomeness, but it was right there day or night, dressed in a suit and tie or in sweats. Stay focused, she chided herself.

By the time Zachary pulled up to the curb of her mother’s house, Halcyon was in a daze. Since professing his love, Zachary hadn’t said another word, but let the soft music fill the silence. “Goodnight,” she said before he could put the SUV in park, grabbed her purse and scrambled up the steps as if creepy crawlers were on her trail.

After letting herself in, Halcyon shut the door and leaned against it. She was panting, her heart was racing, and her vision began to blur with tears. Chancing a peep out the side window, Halcyon was relieved when Zachary drove away. She didn’t know who had her more flustered: Scott for not loving her enough to marry her, or Zachary for loving her so much, he had waited for her.

Turning around, Halcyon jumped when her mother stirred on the couch. Apparently, she was waiting up for her instead of asleep in her own bed.

Sarah yawned. “Thank God, you’re home. You had me worried.” When it came to her children, regardless that they were grown, she still fretted. And she would tell them in a minute that as their mother, it was her prerogative.

Squinting, her mother slowly stood. The relief she wore earlier was gone as her brows knitted together in worry. “Baby, you’ve been crying. Did something happen before Zach got there? No one tried to abduct you, did they? Did someone hit your car?”

Halcyon had to stop her mother before she created a world disaster centered on her car trouble. But as she opened her mouth to explain, tears she thought she had capped earlier, leaked out. “Yes, something happened. He loves me, Momma.” Halcyon fell into her arms and sobbed whole-heartedly. “Zachary,” she mumbled.

Her mother squeezed her tighter, then loosened her hold. “Ooh, I want to tell you, ‘I told you so,’ but I won’t.” She paused after she already said what she said she wasn’t going to say. “So he finally told you. ‘Bout time. You’re getting a good man.” She chuckled.

She looked at her mother as if she were an alien. “I just got out of a four-year”—she thought about Zachary’s calculations—“and three-month relationship. This is too soon. I’m still adjusting to it being just me and the children. Now Zachary is messing with my head and heart. He basically expects me to quit my job to come and work for him. Plus bring Ashanti and Jonathan.”

Sarah laughed, then covered her mouth so as not to wake her grandchildren. “Talk about perks. That’s why I love that young man. If your father was living, he would, too.”

“Momma, I’m glad you’re happy, because I’m confused. I’m not looking for a father for my children or love. If I jump back into the dating pool just because another man shows interest in me, it could be a bad recipe if my head’s not in the right place. That is how other women have different fathers for their children—looking for both. I won’t go back there. I’m done.” Halcyon threw up her hands. She didn’t care what Zachary had said, when it came to a job, she was a charity case, but she was determined not to be one in the love department.

“I believe you won’t be one of those women. Zachary is a young man with a heart to serve God. As a practicing Christian, you know he won’t touch you, and since you’re not looking for love, I guess you won’t be puckering up your lips for him either.” She yawned. “We better get to bed. It appears we both have to be at work in the morning. Just remember, what God has for you, is for you. The devil can’t have it.”

As if cued, her smartphone notified her of a text at this late hour. She pulled it out of her handbag, then groaned. Zachary.

See you in the morning, any time before noon. Night. Z.

Book 5: Every Woman Needs A Praying Man 

(unedited)

 

Monica Wyatt swallowed, hoping to calm her nerves as she gripped the steering wheel.  Her unseen enemy was back like powerful like jaguar locked on its target--her. She couldn't explain the fear devouring her on a path she had driven since she received her license at sixteen, but self-preservation was all that mattered. Although she had just maneuvered her Mazda6 into the fast lane on I-170 in North St. Louis County, something within her shouted, “Get off the highway now!” As her arms began to tingle, she jumped into the center lane without using her turn signal. “Hurry,” she mumbled.

Other vehicles were fast approaching. Monica dived into the slow lane and skidded unto the shoulder, almost clipping the rear end of a SUV.

With labored breath and a racing heart, she rested her forehead on the steering wheel, more like her head collapsed. Her heart thrashed against her chest as if it was clawing its way out to abandon ship. Her eyes blurred behind closed lids. Whatever was going on, Monica didn't have time for this, not when she had a pending job interview she desperately needed to snag. She was only three miles, maybe four away from her exit. Yet, she felt like her destination was hours away.  Maybe she was about to have a heart attack. But she was only thirty-one. “God, help me.”

She coaxed herself to get a grip, and wasn't referring to the steering wheel. When someone tapped on her window, Monica would have ejected from her seat if wasn't for her seatbelt. Startled, her eyes popped open. A magnificent looking man with a gorgeous shade of chocolate skin--came into focus. If he was her compact mirror, her anxiety was reflected on his face. 

“Are you okay?” he mouthed.

Cracking the window an inch, Monica shook her head at the same time her mouth uttered, “Yes.”

“Which one is it? Are you having car problems or is there a medical emergency?” Without waiting for her response, he began to scold her about her erratic driving.

She groaned at his depiction. “I was scared, okay,” she snapped as a tear fell. “But I'll be all right.”

“You don't look all right,” he pressed. “Can you open the door? Let me help you.”

“I may be having a crisis, but I'm not crazy. I don't know you!” Her hands still trembled. This wasn't how she envisioned starting off her Friday morning.

“You have to get off the side of the road. It's not safe.” His brown eyes pleaded with her.

“I need just a few minutes,” she lied. It would take a couple of hours to analyze what happened, but she wasn't dealing with numbers as she did as a market researcher, she was dealing with something she couldn't see. “I'll be fine.”

“I'm talking about me. It's not safe.” He looked over his shoulder and pointed. “There's a pack of semis coming at us, and I happen to like my life.” Despite the lines creasing his forehead, he actually smirked, which made her chuckle. His distraction was calming her nerves. “I'm sorry to put you in harm's way.  Please get back in your car.” Isn't that why she pulled over to the road, so she wouldn't be responsible for killing someone, including herself? No, it wasn't a good day for anyone to die, especially her.

A causality from downsizing at a non-profit health organization three months earlier and endless job searches, Monica had planned to wow this prospective employer with her skills. She hoped beyond reason to be offered the position on the spot.  Looks like that wasn't happening now.

“Listen...I don't even know your name?” he shouted as cars roared passed them.

Her name. What was her name? Her thoughts jumbled. The man gritted his teeth, then said, “Fine. I'll have it my way.” He disappeared.

Good. Monica exhaled. She glanced at the highway again--it seemed like an endless ocean. The tsunami of fear began to descend on her again and she sniffed. “I've got to snap out of this.” Monica Wyatt was a wimp. Her older brother made sure of that. While taking deep breath to regain control, she glanced in the rear view mirror and groaned. Apparently stubborn, the stranger was still there.

So was she. Monica could blame traffic on the highway as an excuse for her tardiness as her hands trembled and her deodorant was about to have a meltdown. But her scheming was thwarted when sirens pierced her ears until they blocked her escape. And the Good Samaritan was no where in sight. Monica sighed and braced herself for round two of embarrassment. If television crews showed up, she was done. Maybe, she would die today from embarrassment.

For the next twenty minutes, Monica answered their questions. “No, I'm not on medication...no, I don't want to be transported for evaluation...yes, I felt tinkling in my limbs, so I pulled over...yes, I'm fine now...no, I don't have any insurance,” she told them, handing over her driver's license. “No, you don't have to call someone...”

Once she convinced the first responders she didn't need medical attention, they released her to go on her merry way. The problem: it was too late to make a good first impression her interview. That was enough to make her depressed. But she wasn't one to waddle in self-pity.

Starting the ignition, Monica held her head high with feigned confidence and drove her car at a crawl car to the nearest exit, and returned home. In a daze, she entered her Olivette condo, replaying the fiasco she caused on the highway. Monica undressed and climb back in the bed. Maybe when she woke, it will have all been a nightmare.

Her best friend's ringtone chimed an hour or so later. She started to ignore it, but decided to answer. Veronica Lee was pulling for her to get the job too. “Hey.”

“Uh-oh. Sounds like you didn't get the position. Oh, Monica, I'm so sorry.”

“Me too.” Monica's shoulders slumped, scanning her spacious master bedroom decorated in warm fall colors of greens, rust and burgundy. If she didn't get a job soon, her condo would be back on the market. “I never made it. Girl, I freak out again...paramedics and the police--”

“What!!! What do you mean again?” Veronica's high pitch voice was proofed Monica had freaked out her friend.

Monica twisted her lips, realizing she never told her friend about the incident a week earlier. “Ah, well, I was leaving the hair salon, minding my own business...” She frowned as she racked her brain on how to describe it. “One minute, I was singing alone with the radio, then out of nowhere, I felt heart palpitations, became lightheaded.” She paused. “I had this sensation as if I was detached from everything around me like an out of body experience. It freak me out.”

“And you never told me. Why?”

Licking her lips, Monica swallowed. “That's not something I want to relive, even with my best friend.”

Veronica was quiet. Did she think Monica was going crazy?

“Did you have the same symptoms today?” Veronica asked in a no-nonsense tone, tapping on keyboards Monica could hear in the background.

Monica finger-combed her hair, giving it some thought. “I wasn't lighted headed, but my arms were tingling. I was feeling kinda out of control.”

“Mmm-hmm.” Veronica typed faster. “Sounds like you had panic attacks. I'm on this website called--”

“No thanks. I just lived through it. I don't need to read it.” Monica stood and padded across her carpet to her gas fireplace and turned it on. This amenity had been the selling point when she purchased the condo two years ago.

“Okay, maybe you need to go to the doctor,” Veronica suggested.

“You think? I don't have a job, remember? No health insurance. I can't even afford the premiums on the government subsidized coverage. I have a new car, a house note...” Thinking about her finances was exhausting. Leaning on the mantle, Monica stared into fire. Panic attacks, she repeated her friend's unconfirmed diagnosis. That wasn't logical.

If a person ate too much--they became over weight; ingest too much sugar--cavities; tanning stations--skin cancer; panic attacks? She drew a blank. Professionally, Monica dealt with numbers as a research data analyst. Things always added up. This... There was no family history. Her parents seemed normal and where rather healthy. Monica never knew them to take more than an aspirin. Her older brother, Alexander, was too smart for his own good.

“Which is why you need to call that guy and see if you can reschedule the interview,” Veronica pulled her wandering mind back. Although Monica balked at the idea, her friend didn't back down, “What do you have to lose? Tell him you had an emergency, which I'm sure the 9-1-1 tapes will verify. At least you had the mind to call for help.”

The stranger or was he an angel in disguise? “I didn't. This guy stopped to help. He had the kindest eyes.” His presence has temporarily calm her.

“What he cute?”

Monica sighed and walked back to her bed and flopped her behind on it. “I was in the process of dying? How do I know?” But she would never forget his concerned look.

“Hmm. Never know where you will meet your future husband.” She giggled.

“I hope not on the side of the road. Anyway, I'll keep searching on LinkedIn.”

“What about the girl who referred you? Can you call her to run interference? That job is paying too much for you to say forget it,” Veronica harped until she wore Monica down.

“Maybe, you're causing me these panic attacks.”

“Not funny. Just listening to what you went through is scary.” Veronica cleared her throat. “Since I know where you were interviewing, I have no problem calling with an excuse begging for another chance.”

“Oh, no you don't. The last time you did me a favor, it cost me a parking ticket.”

“Good. I'm glad we reached this understanding. Call the company and call me back. Bye.”

Seconds later, Veronica's ringtone played again. “Call him,” she ordered when Monica answered.

She already knew job interview protocol--Monica blew it, but to keep Veronica from hounding her, Monica got up and went to where she dumped her briefcase and retrieve the copy of the email that listed the company's contact number. “Here goes a waste of time.” Monica punched in contact number and waited. “Mr. Dyson please.”