Fifth Wednesday – serial story time. Can you believe tomorrow is DECEMBER? I can hardly. Yesterday’s temp was up to 70º F. We had storms come through, but they weren’t bad in our area. Today’s temp is supposed to be 62, but tonight will be 29–or so they say. 😀
Please see the POLL at the end of this post for input on next year’s blog topics. I want to write/post what you want to read.
In case you missed the first four chapters, here are those links:
And now to the next chapter …
Todd’s gaze traveled over the things in the workshop. He should have gotten rid of most of this stuff years ago. When they moved, he didn’t have the time or energy, and after that, ignoring the memories was easier. The old saying “out of sight, out of mind” was true. At least in this case.
He grabbed the first box. Kaitlyn stood next to him—minus Harold who had been left in the house to stay clean—manning the three empty containers he would use to sort through everything. A bag for trash. A storage box to keep for Kaitlyn someday. And a box for donations.
God, please help me get through these things without breaking down.
Lifting the lid, Marissa’s scent filled his nostrils. A box of clothes. Kaitlyn wouldn’t want any of this, but he had to go through the box to make sure his friends, who’d packed Marissa’s things for him, hadn’t put anything else in the box. He focused on handing Kaitlyn the clothing to put in the donations box without taking the time to remember when his wife wore the items.
Until he came to her wedding dress. Tears burned his eyes. He transferred it, careful to keep it folded, to the storage box. Kaitlyn may not want it, but he’d let her make that decision when she got older.
Two hours later, he found his daughter asleep, tucked into a corner on an old sleeping bag. He decided to leave her until he finished for the night, which wouldn’t be too much longer. Going through Marissa’s things wasn’t as hard as he imagined in some aspects but harder in others. He didn’t miss his wife as much as he missed his daughter’s mother. It sounded weird, even in his own mind, but he and Marissa had grown distant with the passing weeks of their marriage and even more so during her pregnancy.
He picked up another box and opened it. Baby clothes. Hmmm. He didn’t remember bringing these out here. Mrs. Rosenblume must have done it, though he couldn’t decide why. He’d probably never have another child. He couldn’t even imagine marrying again.
Ellie’s image popped into his head. Maybe.
He shook his head. No.
Time for bed. His brain had started going places it shouldn’t. Of course, if he was really truthful, his brain had gone there hours ago when he’d called her his fiancée and kissed her, even if it was only on her head. Having her tucked next to him had reminded him of what he missed by not having a wife.
After finishing two more boxes, which were the last ones, he picked up Kaitlyn, turned out the light, and left the rest for the next day. Ellie would be able to move in tomorrow. He’d just have to find some furniture and a bed. Or they’d bring hers. He doubted the dump she lived in provided furnishings to their tenants.
Once he had Kaitlyn in her pajamas and in bed, he called Jonathan Rosenblume, Mrs. Rosenblume’s son. When the man answered, Todd got right to the point. “Would it be possible for me to borrow your truck tomorrow? I’d like to move Ellie into my workshop as soon as possible. I don’t know what kind of furniture she owns, if any, but I want to be prepared, just in case.”
“How about if I just meet you there and help you get things moved? Mom told me about her plan. I’m a little surprised both you and Ellie agreed to it, though.”
“Well, your mom didn’t leave me a lot of choice. She told me she was getting too old to care for Kaitlyn, and I needed to find someone else. Ellie is available. I just hope she works out.”
Jonathan chuckled. “If Mom has anything to do with it, Ellie will be exactly what you and Kaitlyn need. One way or another.”
“Well, some things a person just can’t force, no matter how well intentioned.”
“True, true. Mom says Ellie lives in Dunedin Terrace.”
Todd grimaced. “Yeah. In the back.”
“Oh. Now I see why you’re in such a hurry to get her moved. Not a great place to begin with, but I’ve been back there doing repairs. It’s the pits. Literally.”
“I know. Is seven-thirty too early?”
“Nope. I’ll meet you there.”
“Thanks, man. I appreciate it.”
The call ended, and Todd headed downstairs to clean up the kitchen from earlier. Mrs. Rosenblume didn’t mind doing it, but he hated leaving his kitchen dirty.
Todd woke with an expectancy for the day that he couldn’t name. He’d sent an email the night before, letting his CEO know that he wouldn’t be in, so he could get Ellie settled. Even if she didn’t work out as a housekeeper and nanny, he would still let her live in his workshop. He couldn’t let her move back to that place. Ever.
He got up, dressed, woke Kaitlyn, and went downstairs to fix breakfast. They’d have pancakes today to fortify them for the work day ahead. He’d break down some of the boxes he’d emptied last night to take to Ellie’s so they could pack her stuff and move her in later in the day. That way she’d never have to go back to the apartment complex, and Demarco wouldn’t be an issue. Todd wouldn’t relax until she was away from there.
Kaitlyn wandered down a bit later, dressed and ready for school. “Pancakes?”
“Yep. Ellie and I have a lot of work to do today so she can move in and take care of us. I need extra energy, and I had time.” He winked at her as she climbed onto the stool.
“I love pancakes.”
Todd smiled. His daughter was easy to please.
Ten minutes later, he ushered her out the door. He’d drop her at school and head straight to Ellie’s. He hoped she was ready for him to invade her space. He also hoped she understood his intention of moving her into his workshop today.
Pulling up outside Ellie’s apartment building, which looked worse in the daylight, he noticed Jonathan had already arrived and waited in the cab of his truck.
Todd exited his car and headed Jonathan’s way. “Thanks for taking time from your day to do this for me.”
“Hey, when the boss asks for a favor, it’s always best to say yes.”
“Technically, I’m your boss, yes, though you’re not supposed to know that.” Todd frowned. “How do you know that?”
“A little digging on my part when you hired my mom. You did your checks. I did mine. She may be my mother and not my child, but I love her and didn’t want her in an unsavory situation. I came upon the information quite by accident.”
“And you haven’t said anything?” Todd asked, flummoxed by the man’s discretion.
“Why should I? Mr. Anderson does a good job, doesn’t cause us undo stress, and gives us the freedom to do the work assigned us. You prefer doing the work we do versus the work he does. I get it. It’s not my place to out you for running your business how you prefer. And I like working with you, but I do have to go in at some point today to work, so let’s get Ellie moved.”
Todd nodded and headed up the walkway. He stopped and scratched his head. “I don’t know which one she lives in.”
Jonathan chuckled. “Good thing you brought me along.” He headed up the stairs, hugging the brick wall as he went since the stairs wobbled with every step. He knocked on the door at the top across from the stairs.
“Ellie, it’s Jonathan and Todd,” Jonathan said through the door.
The locks clicked, and the door opened a fraction. “What are you doing here?”
Jonathan looked to Todd to answer the question.
“To get you moved into the workshop. I managed to get most of the stuff cleared out last night. It’ll still need a good scrubbing, but it’s livable.”
“No buts, please. Jonathan agreed to come with his truck, and I brought boxes. I want you packed and out of this dump today.”
She opened the door, allowing them inside. “Could I speak to for you a second, privately?”
Todd swallowed and nodded. This didn’t sound good. He followed her down the short hall to her bedroom. He swallowed again. His thoughts strayed for a moment, but he wrestled them into submission before facing the woman who glared at him from across the room. “Is something wrong?”
She huffed. “Men.”
“What did I do?”
“You barge into my home, such as it is, demanding that I move out today, and you don’t know what you did?”
“I thought we agreed yesterday that you’d move into the workshop.” He scratched his head in confusion. “Did I misunderstand your agreement to take the job?”
“No, but I didn’t realize you wanted me to move today.”
“Don’t you want to leave here?”
She nodded and sighed. “Yes. I just wasn’t expecting it to be today. I haven’t done anything to get ready to move.”
“Laundry, packing, cleaning.”
“We can get a lot of that done in a few hours with the three of us working.”
“I don’t expect you to help me. What if you leave the boxes and come back this afternoon?”
“No.” He crossed his arms over his chest. “We’ll work on it together.”
Wariness appeared in her eyes. “Why do you care?”
“I wouldn’t want my worst enemy living in these conditions. You are not my worst enemy. And despite your belief to the contrary, Demarco is not harmless. I saw the way he looked at you as you walked past him last night. I prayed for your safety all night. I need sleep. I can’t go through another night worrying about you.”
“I’ve lived here for over three years. He’s never done a thing other than talk.”
“Not yet, but last night’s look wasn’t of a man with a lot of patience left. Trust me. He has plans. He just hasn’t executed them yet. I don’t want you here another day.”
She sighed again. “All right. You’re right. He was a little over the top yesterday. It made me nervous. Let’s get the boxes.”
Jonathan eyed them as they emerged from the bedroom. “Everything okay?”
“Yep. Just a little miscommunication. Ellie, how much of this furniture is yours?”
“All of it, though I don’t care to keep everything.”
“Good. It all won’t fit in the workshop. Your bed and dresser are a must. We can probably fit the couch and chair, too.”
“Do you have a dining table?”
He nodded. “I’ll get the boxes. You and Jonathan decide what to take and what to leave. You also need to inform whomever is in charge that you’re leaving.”
“I’ll do that later. He’s a late sleeper and gets upset if we disturb him before noon.”
Todd raised his eyebrows but said nothing. He went to his car and grabbed the packing tape and a pile of boxes. Once inside, he set his mind on the task of taping the boxes. Jonathan and Ellie chatted in the kitchen as they packed the boxes he’d already assembled. Once he had them all done, he took a longer look at the room. Ellie didn’t have many decorations to pack — no knick-knacks or pictures. Why didn’t she have any photos of her family?
Have a blessed day, y’all.