THE ART OF FALLING GRACEFULLY
The rain began as soft as velvet; it was calm and refreshing. It was as if the rain was cleansing her soul and washing away all the pain and heartache she had endured over the sum of her twenty-two years. She looked now toward the future; whatever it held in store for her she was ready. She was ready to live she had been dead inside for far too long.
She said a silent prayer of thanks to God for opening her eyes to what had been right in front of her all along and for giving her a second chance at life, love and happiness. Thinking back she had never thought she would be given this hope for a second chance. How crazy was it that only a few weeks ago she had been so sure that true happiness would never be hers and love was only a fantasy for little girls. Of course that t was until she found a friend so true that the very thought of what had transformed her life brought tears to her eye. Was it possible that her search was finally over? Did she dare believe? She wanted to oh she really wanted to believe in happily ever after but she didn’t want to be hurt again; the scars were still too raw and she never wanted to hurt that way again.
Sydney Jordan was a quiet, sheltered young lady. She did not make friends easily, spoke only when spoken to. She always seemed to be looking over her shoulder as if she expected someone to be sneaking up behind her. When she smiled there was always a trace of sadness etched around her mouth and if you looked closely enough you could see the ghosts hiding in her eyes. Sydney Jordan was a very mysterious young lady.
BLAST FROM THE PAST
Trent Isaac sat in the corner of the crowded restaurant, slowly drinking his coffee. He could see her over the rim of his cup as she ran in a hundred different directions. He secretly admired this woman; she was responsible for everything that happened in this bustling café from the cooks to the waitresses. If something was broken she would fix it, if someone was sick she would make them feel better or send them home and fill in, if something was misplaced she would find it. He smiled thinking about it, there didn’t seem to be anything that she couldn’t do. He was amazed by her.
He never came in when she wasn’t here of course if her car wasn’t on the parking lot he usually drove on by. He continued to watch as she refilled drinks, boxed to go orders and answered the phone. It never seemed to matter how busy she was she always made time to chat with the regulars and prepare their usual orders. Trent loved to watch her as she worked the floor because when she interacted with the customers was the only time he got to see her smile. She was always beautiful but this was different it was as if an angel had came down to fill the café grace and beauty with just a simple smile. He wondered why she didn’t smile more and he wondered what it would be like to be the one to put a smile on her angelic face.
Trent wasn’t sure what had made her so unhappy, shy and scared. He had known her for ten years or longer, he honestly couldn’t remember when he had first met her. They had attended the same high school but she had been a year older and not his type or at least that had been his excuse for never asking her out. She had been so smart, graduating as Valedictorian of her class with scholarship offers from all over the country and yet here she was working at a minimum wage job. He could still recall how kind and caring she had been and so full of life. She always seemed to have this glow about her that seemed to radiate and light up the whole room whenever she walked in. Wherever she went she brought laughter and happiness with her. He wondered again about her smile she had always smiled easily and it had been contagious soon everyone would be laughing and having a good time too. She had always gone out of her way to make everyone feel included, always giving but never expecting anything in return. She was just a caring and giving person and found himself wondering what had happened to her over the last ten years. What had changed her so drastically? The thought of it all bothered him more than he cared to admit. He had found himself thinking a lot about Sydney. In fact since that day six months ago when he had seen her through the Café window he had been able to think of little else.
“Daddy what are you staring at?”
“Kelsey I am not staring.”
Trent had almost forgotten that his six year old daughter was with him today. His mother had had a doctor’s appointment so he had had to ditch work early.
“What is you thinking about daddy?”
“The correct question is what are you thinking about daddy and the answer is what are we going to do this afternoon, any suggestions?”
Kelsey Isaac was the picture of innocence in its basic form. She was petite with blonde hair and blue eyes topped off with dimples designed to make any attempt at telling her no almost impossible. She had the cutest little turned up nose with just the right amount of freckles. She was the mirror image of her mother. Her mother had been the center of Kelsey’s life; Trent had never imagined that she would ever have to live without her mother. He had never entertained the idea of being left alone to raise their little girl alone. He knew he was ill equipped for such an important job.
“Daddy can we go to the park and feed the duckies?”
“The ducks not the duckies.”
“Can we go to the park and feed the ducks, please daddy.”
Trent grinned at his daughter and gave in without much of a fight, “I think that sounds like a terrific idea.”
Trent could see Kelsey fidgeting and glancing at the front counter. He wondered if she was as infatuated as he was with Sydney. She stood on her tiptoes and watched as Sydney handed an ice cream cone to a little boy about her age.
“Kelsey what’s the matter honey?”
She looked back toward Sydney and then smiled at her Trent, “Daddy may I ask Ms. Sydney to go with us to the park?”
“Honey I don’t think Ms. Sydney can just leave work to go to the park with us.”
Trent watched Kelsey as her face fell and she looked down at her feet. He hated telling her no but he and Sydney had never been friends, they never spoke more than the casual hello or hi all through school. He could see the disappointment settling in Kelsey face and her slumped shoulders broke his heart. He sighed he knew she would say no but what the hell, maybe Kelsey wouldn’t take it so hard if she at least got the chance to ask her herself.
“Daddy please I just want ask her. She is my friend and she is super nice to me. Please Daddy?”
Trent thought about it a moment longer, what would it hurt? After all Sydney was always nice to Kelsey, giving her treats and candy when she came in. Who knew she just might say yes.
“Well? Can I please just ask her?”
Trent could never say no to Kelsey, “Okay fine go ahead.”
He watched as Kelsey ran to the counter and began to talk to Sydney. He could see a smile on Sydney’s face as she leaned across the counter and patiently listened to Kelsey. He watched as she began nodding her head and saying something in return. In a few short minutes Kelsey was back at the table with a balloon and ice-cream in hand.
“Look what Ms. Sydney gave me.”
Trent watched her cheeky grin as she took a bite of the cold vanilla cone. He watched as the ice-cream covered her nose.
“That’s great honey, now are we ready to go?”
“Daddy we can’t leave yet, we have to wait for Ms. Sydney.”
Trent was frustrated how was he supposed explain why Sydney wasn’t going with them? He wished he had taken her to Burger king to eat.
“Kelsey sweetheart, Ms. Sydney is very busy and I am sure she has more important things to do other than spend a lazy day feeding the ducks with us.”
Trent could see the disappointment and hurt filling her sweet face and it almost brought him to his knees. She had been through so much and he hated seeing her upset.
“Honey we need to go.”
“What you’re going to leave without me?”
Trent looked up to see Sydney standing behind him with an impish grin on her face. He was utterly shocked to say the least, honestly he wasn’t sure what to do or say. He realized he must look like fool with his mouth gaping open. He tried to regain his composure.
“Sydney you’re really going with us today?”
“Well I couldn’t disappoint this beautiful little girl here, now could I? That is if you don’t object.”
Trent knew he was smiling like a fool but he was pleasantly surprised that Sydney was even talking to him.
“Object, of course not. I’d be honored to have you join us. I’m just surprised that you can leave like that? We aren’t going to get you in trouble or anything?”
Sydney tried to hide a smile as she rubbed her hand on Kelsey’s back. She looked at Trent and wondered what he was doing back in Cole County. He had been one of those who talked about getting out and never coming back; but she had been one of those too and here she was right back where she started.
“No worries I have connections with the boss. I was just filling in for a couple of hours this morning. One of the girls called in and you know me I rushed right over to help out. I guess that’s what happens when you own the place.”
“Yeah I guess that’s what happens when…..You own this place?”
Once again Trent looked over to see that impish grin playing on her lips. He caught his breath as he watched the light filtering through the window making it look as if she had a halo framing her head.
“Well mostly seventy five percent belongs to me and the other twenty five percent is held by my brother I run the day to day running of the place Brett just sees the bottom line.”
“So that’s why you’re here all the time.”
“That would explain it.”
Trent was even more intrigued by this woman standing beside him. He couldn’t help but think that there was a lot more he would like to know about her.
“So how long have you owned this place?”
Sydney leaned on the table top as if she were thinking back to another time and place. She straightened back up and looked a little embarrassed.
“Sorry I was wool gathering. Brett and I bought this place about six years ago, right around the time I got married.”
Trent had taken a drink of his lukewarm coffee and almost chocked. He thought he must have heard wrong, “Did you say married?”
By the look on her face she had most definitely said married. “Yeah I got married a couple years after high school. I tried to stay in college but it was too hard. We were trying to start a family, trying to get this place up and running and college something had to go. Not to mention Rick was a few years older and he had graduated that spring before we got married in June. So anyways I dropped out. I only had two years left and I just walked away.”
Trent knew the look on her face well one of regret. He could see it her eyes and ached to tell her it was okay. “Sydney you could still go back and finish what you started.”
“Well I am taking night classes right now and hopefully by Christmas I’ll be finished.”
“That’s really great Sydney.”
“Thanks so subject change, your turn on the hot seat. So Mr. Isaac inquiring minds want to know what you have been up to.” Sydney could see Trent’s face filling with embarrassment as she teased him. She wasn’t sure what had gotten into her but it was as if she could just be herself with him. “Seriously, I haven’t seen you in ages where have you been hiding?”
“I haven’t been hiding. I just moved back about seven months ago. I bought the old McGee place, you know on the outskirts of town. I’m still working on the renovations but I think it’s coming along really good.”
Sydney nodded her head as she listened to the timber of his smooth soft voice. She found herself staring at his lips as he spoke and she began to wonder how they might feel against her skin. She shook herself out of her random daydream and tried to follow the flow of the conversation.
“I wondered who had moved in over there. It’s funny I usually hear all the gossip but no one as even mentioned you yet. Do you mind me asking what made you decide to move back here? I can remember back in high school all your talk about getting out of town and never coming back.”
Trent shifted uncomfortably in his seat and glanced at Kelsey, who was totally absorbed in her ice-cream. He lowered his voice, “Well after Meg died I needed some help with Kelsey. My mom came to live with us for a while but then dad got sick and she had to come home. I tried daycare and sitters but nothing fit then mom called and volunteered to help if I agreed to come home and run the family business.” Trent paused for a moment to let Sydney take his words in. He was actually surprised that she remembered him at all. “I didn’t want Kelsey growing up in the city. I wanted her to grow up in the same small town that Meg and I did. A place where she could play outside without having to worry about drive by shootings or drugs on the playground. I guess I decided Cole County wasn’t so bad after all. Besides all that Dad was forced into retirement after his heart attack so I took over Isaac Construction.”
Sydney had heard about Megan St. John’s death and she had wondered how Trent had handled it. She could see the demons nipping at his heals and she knew she couldn’t go down that road yet. She decided to try to change the subject.
“Wow I didn’t know your dad retired. So you are now the owner/operator of Isaac Construction Company; no wonder your house looks so good.”
Trent was brought out of his melancholy by the sound of her gentle voice and he smiled at her compliment. “Thanks I am trying to do it on my own mostly on the weekends. Of course Ryan is helping me out, when he’s not out wooing the women of Cole County.”
Sydney laughed as she remembered the tall athletic guy with the green eyes and blonde hair, “I suppose that would be Ryan Harper your infamous partner in crime.”
“Hey I was home asleep when Mr. Varner’s house got toilet papered, that was all Ryan and Conner.”
Sydney felt the laughter bubbling up her throat as she envisioned Ryan and Conner with a dozen rolls of toilet paper, “I guess you’ve forgotten that you were pretty good at wooing the ladies of Cole County too.”
Trent could feel his face flushing at the barb, “Nah not me, you must have me confused with someone else.”
“Maybe but I don’t think so.”
“Okay enough about me, let’s get back to you. How long have you and your husband been together?”
Sydney nervously looked down as if she were studying the floor beneath her feet. She finally looked up and smiled weakly in Trent’s general direction, never making eye contact.
“We would’ve celebrated our sixth anniversary last week, if we had stayed together.”
Trent felt like an idiot as his eyes looked at her ring finger and saw the white circle where her wedding band had once been.
“I’m sorry I didn’t realize you were separated.”
Sydney avoided making eye contact by wiping a spot of ice-cream from Kelsey’s cheek.
“We’re not we’re divorced.”
She turned and threw the napkin away taking a moment to gather her runaway emotions. She still found it hard to believe that she was a divorced woman.
“I’m still sorry for bringing up what must be painful memories.”
Sydney shrugged her shoulders, “Don’t be it happens, divorce I mean. Trust me I am fine with it.”
Trent wished he could believe her but he could see a single tear on the bottom of her eye, threatening to start a tidal wave at any moment. He could almost see the ghosts trying to come out. The awkward silence stretched on for an immeasurable time until Kelsey’s voice sliced through tension filled room.
“Ms. Sydney can we go feed the ducks now?”
Sydney looked down at Kelsey; she was such an adorable child. She wanted to reach down and pull the little girl into her arms. Sydney took the little girl’s hand and headed to the door. She turned toward Trent with that grin on her face again, “Hurry up Mr. Isaac we have a date with some very important ducks.”
Kelsey chimed in a sing song voice, “Yeah, come on daddy.”
Sydney and Kelsey were already outside before he could even think to move. What was wrong with him today? What kind of affect was Sydney having on him? He had learned a little more about her in the brief conversation at the café but oh how he wanted to know more about this lovely lady. He wanted to know everything about Sydney Jordan.
Once outside Sydney realized what a beautiful day it was. The last couple of weeks had been unbearably hot even for July. The temperature had dropped off and it was actually a nice day with a breeze. It reminded her of a late September day, why hadn’t she noticed how pretty it was before?
“Sydney do you want to leave your car here?”
Sydney shook her head, “I would really like to go home and change if that’s okay with you guys.”
Trent nodded, “Sure that’s fine.”
“Great if you want to go on to the park I’ll meet you there.”
Trent thought about that for a moment, now that she had said yes he didn’t want to let her out of his sight. He was very afraid that she might change her mind.
“Why don’t we just follow you home and wait for you? Then we can all go together?”
Sydney hesitated for half a second, “Okay as long as you don’t mind waiting a few minutes.”
Trent felt the air he hadn’t realized he was holding rush out mixed with the words, “I could wait forever.” He could feel his face turning bright red, he hadn’t meant to say that out loud, “What I meant to say was Kelsey and I are in no hurry so take as long as you need.”
Sydney watched as he buckled Kelsey in her booster seat. She quickly opened her door and slid behind the wheel. She hoped that Trent hadn’t noticed her staring at him. She couldn’t believe that she was going to be spending the whole day with Trent Isaac and his daughter.
She tried to convince herself that she had only accepted because it had been Kelsey who had asked her to go. She was such a sweet kid and she had been through so much losing her mom at such a young age. Sydney ached for the void that must have filled the place her heart had once been, poor Kelsey. Sydney would do anything for her, but she also knew in her heart the real reason was Trent.
Trent seemed to be such a funny and down to earth guy had he always been like that? Had she failed to notice how great he was until now? She had thought she had known him in high school, but he had never even known she was alive.
He was tall, athletic and very good looking. He had short black hair and amazing green eyes. The first thing she had noticed about him all those years ago had been his eyes. She had found herself lost in a sea of green and she had wondered what was hiding behind those guarded orbs. Of course he hung out with the basketball players and cheerleaders which had never been Sydney’s crowd; it wasn’t that she had anything against them but she didn’t drink or swear. Sydney was comfortable in her own skin and she didn’t feel the need to make others feel small in order to make herself feel big.
Sydney had been involved in almost every club and after school activity but somehow she never crossed paths with Trent, maybe because she headed the opposite direction anytime he was near. She had played softball from the age of five and she loved it. She had been really good at it o, she had loved being on the field with the smell of the fresh cut grass and the feel of the dirt under her feet. The feeling of standing on the pitcher’s mound and making eye contact with the batter and then hearing the simple words “Strike three, you’re out!”, what a rush that had given her as if she were invincible and nothing could touch her. She sometimes wished she could still play but that had been a lifetime ago.
Sydney still remembered the first time she had met Trent; it had been the summer before her sophomore year. She had practically lived at the ball park playing on an all-state team and coaching a younger team. One of Sydney’s best friends, Marley Timmons had been helping with the team. She had been going on and on about some new guy, who had just moved to town apparently to play basketball. He would be starting school in the fall. When Sydney heard he had transferred to play ball that was all she needed to hear to know he would be out of her reach. She just didn’t mesh well with jocks and girls who wore clothes two sizes too small. Sydney listened as Marley rattled on and on endlessly about Trent Isaac. It really didn’t matter if Sydney liked him or not because it was beyond obvious that Marley had a thing for him. Sydney knew her friend well enough to know that what Marley wanted Marley got. She loved her friend but everything seemed to come so easily to Marley and it wasn’t that she was jealous; she just wished that guys noticed her like they did Marley.
In the Jordan family Sydney had been the only girl with three brothers and seventeen cousins all of whom were boys. She had grown up following the guys she had been a tomboy and they just treated her like one of the guys. She had always insisted on doing whatever they were doing , baseball, basketball, football, go-carts, camping, hiking, fishing , hunting you name it she could do it. Growing up as one of the guys had been so much fun and she had loved every minute of it. She had taken pride in the fact that when teams were picked for sports everyone wanted her on their team. She was better than all of the guys put together and they all knew it. It had driven her mother crazy, she had wanted Sydney to be lady like and pristine but she would no part of it. She had refused to wear dresses except for church and chose to wear jeans and hand-me down t-shirts the rest of the time. She had never stopped to think that one day her mother would be proven right. Then one day it happened the guys started taking an interest in girls. They had started dating and Sydney couldn’t very well tag along on dates to the movies and dances. So the guys had grown up and left her behind.
When Marley had brought Trent to the ball park to watch her play Sydney had been swept away. She had never seen anyone who made her melt—until she laid eyes on Trent Isaac. She however seemed to have no affect on him at all. He had smiled and been polite but all of his attention had been on Marley. Being the new guy in town had given him an advantage no other guy had, mystery. Everyone wanted to know about Trent Isaac and everyone wanted to be his best friend. The romance was short lived and by the time school started every girl in Cole County wanted to date Trent Isaac. Sydney had comforted Marley after the break up but seeing Marley so upset made Sydney think little of Trent Isaac. That had been the end of her dreaming about Trent Isaac.
Sydney came crashing back to reality as she turned on to the road leading to her apartment. She had to stop this insane daydreaming, enough of memory lane for today. Trent might be older and more mature but he was no more interested in her now than he had been in high school. Trent Isaac was, is and would always out of her reach. After all until today he had never said more than two words to her, hello or goodbye. He hadn’t even known she had existed. He was only letting her tag along today because of Kelsey. Well she was with them for today and she would enjoy it while it lasted and only God knew how ling that might be.
Sydney pulled her mustang in slowly and killed the engine. She almost ran to unlock the front door. Trent and Kelsey pulled into the parking space next to her.
“Ms. Sydney can we take your car to the park?”
“Sure if it’s okay with your daddy.”
Kelsey looked hopefully at Trent, “Well can we daddy?”
“What’s wrong with my truck? Do you two lovelies think your too good to ride in my old work truck?’
Sydney could see the mischief twinkling in his eyes. He stood with his hands on his hips, staring down at Kelsey and glancing in Sydney’s direction. Sydney couldn’t help smiling at the pair.
“Nothing daddy, but I like Ms. Sydney’s car. We can ride with the wind in our hair like the people on TV.”
“Okay I have to admit that I have been dying to ride in Sydney’s new car ever since she got it. Who knows she might even let me drive.”
Trent flashed her that perfect smile that made her want to melt into a puddle at his feet. She realized that right about now there wasn’t anything she wouldn’t do for him.
“Maybe who knows? Stanger things have been known to happen in Cole County.”
Sydney tossed her keys on the table and ushered her guests in. She talked over her shoulder as she left the room, “Make yourselves at home. There are sodas in the fridge and the remote is on the coffee table.”
“Syd we’ll be fine, just go and get ready.”
Hearing Trent call her Syd almost made her stop in her tracks. She felt tears fill her eyes, how long had it been since a man had been in her house? How long since a man under the age of fifty had called her Syd? She was being silly and far too emotional. She told herself to get a grip as she scolded herself, “Gees you would think I was back in high school and the captain of the basketball team was sitting in my living room. Come Syd Trent is no longer the captain of anything; he is a friend waiting for you with his six year old daughter.”
Sydney hurried in and out of the shower to her walk in closet. She searched for her Capri pants, red tank top and old comfortable sandals. She began to hurry she hated the thought of Trent getting impatient or simply changing his mind and leaving without even saying goodbye. She brushed her hair and applied a touch of makeup. What was that commercial if it took longer than five minutes you’ve got too much on? Sydney studied her reflection in the mirror and knew it would have to do. She slipped her feet into the worn but comfy sandals and headed for the stairs. Would he still be waiting or had she taken too long? She held her breath as she turned the corner and looked over the railing. She descended the steps two at a time. She stepped off the landing and entered the living room. She could feel her lips forming a smile as her eyes took in the sight of Trent and Kelsey lying in the floor watching her favorite Disney movie Beauty and The Beast.
“It looks like you two are doing alright and I was afraid you’d be bored.”
“Hey I didn’t even hear you come down...” Trent wasn’t able to finish his sentence when his gaze fell on Sydney. He found himself speechless; she was breathtaking in a clean pure sort of way. She had very little need for makeup for she had a natural beauty that radiated filling the room with a glow, “Wow you look great and it only took you ten minutes I’m impressed. I’m also amazed it always took Meg at least an hour to get ready to go to the grocery store….” Trent caught himself and an awkward silence filled the room.
Sydney saw the look of sadness flicker in his eyes as he spoke of his deceased wife. She wanted to reach over to hold his hand and take some of his pain and grief she saw reflecting in his eyes on to herself. She wished she could be the friend that he seemed to need; she just wasn’t sure how to go about being that friend without crossing the unseen line around his broken heart. She had never been very good at relationships even platonic ones she always seemed to inevitably screw them up. Impossible relationships seemed to be her forte.
She cleared her throat, “Thanks it usually takes me longer but I hated to keep you guys waiting so here I am.”
Trent pushed his feelings of guilt away and smiled at Sydney. She was always thinking of others and never seemed to think of herself or what she needed. He didn’t think she ever considered what she wanted or needed. Like today for instance he was sure she could’ve found a hundred other things to do today but here she was agreeing to spend the day with them. Well with Kelsey, he was sure that if it wasn’t for Kelsey Sydney would never have agreed to spend the day with him alone.
Trent couldn’t imagine what a loser her ex-husband had been or what could have possible made him leave such a wonderful woman. He had to be crazy or blind if he hadn’t realized that he had had the prettiest, sweetest and smartest wife in Cole County. Trent found himself wondering what had gone wrong for Sydney just didn’t seem the leaving type. Trent looked at the pillow in his hand to see he was clutching it so tight his knuckles were white. The thought of anyone hurting Sydney made him so angry he couldn’t even think straight. He would gladly make anyone who hurt her pay dearly for their transgressions.
Sydney’s voice pulled him out of his troubled thoughts, “Well are we ready?”
She and Kelsey were standing at the door waiting for him. Sydney looked so nervous that she might run up the stairs and hide under the covers if he didn’t say something. Kelsey’s excited voices chimed in breaking the uncomfortable silence, “Come on daddy let’s go!!”
Sydney grabbed her key ring off the table by the door and waited for Trent to follow them outside. She caught his eye and playfully tossed him the keys, “Heads up Mr. Isaac.”
Trent looked from the keys now in his hand and back at Sydney with confusion clouding his handsome face. He continued to look from the keys back to her as if he truly had no idea what to do with them.
“Syd I was only kidding about driving. I honestly didn’t expect you to let me drive your new car.”
“I know that but I feel like being pampered today so you get to be our chauffer today Mr. Isaac.”
Sydney climbed in the backseat and buckled Kelsey in beside her. She rummaged around in her bulky straw bag and pulled out two pair of sunglasses. She put one pair on Kelsey and then slid the other pair on preventing Trent from seeing her eyes.
“Are you sure about this Sydney?”
“Absolutely now come on Sir time is wasting let’s go.”
Trent shook his head as he grabbed Kelsey’s backpack out his truck and tossed it in the vacant seat beside him. He laughed at the sight of Sydney and Kelsey sitting in the back with their sunglasses on and singing some kid’s song at the top of their lungs. He slid in the seat and turned the key in the ignition and sighed at the purr of the engine. One thing was for sure Sydney had excellent taste in cars.
“Okay everyone buckled in and ready for takeoff?”
Sydney checked Kelsey’s car seat and then fastened her own, “Ok captain ready for takeoff.”
Trent slowly backed out of the parking space and pulled on to the road. He was a little nervous driving her new car, “Syd are you sure this is okay, what if I have a wreck? You would probably hate me and never speak to me again.”
“First of all my insurance covers anyone driving as long as I am in the car. Secondly that is just the silliest thing I have ever heard. You will not have a wreck and if you did I would still have to talk to you.”
Trent watched her in the rearview mirror but the dam sunglasses made it impossible to see her eyes. He could hear the teasing in her voice, “Really and why is that?”
“I always talk to the regulars at the Café so you see problem solved.”
Trent laughed at her ridiculous reasoning and shook his head, “Okay then we have a date with some ducks!!”
Kelsey cheered and raised her hands in the air as he pulled on to the main highway. She looked at Sydney and tried to talk so that she could hear her soft voice over the wind whipping around them.
“Ms. Sydney will you slid down the slide with me?”
“Sure I will sweetie.”
Kelsey clapped her hands excitedly, “Great daddy won’t he says he’s too big.”
“Maybe he’s just scared. We’ll work on him.”
Trent could see the smile on her face and knew she was teasing him unmercifully. He felt his heart skip a beat she was beautiful and he knew he was falling for her. The question now was what was he going to do about it? He would not let her slip away from him again. He knew he would have to take a risk but he had to find a way into her heart because his was lost to her the day he walked into the café six months ago. He listened as his two favorite girls sang off key and he wondered exactly how someone falling in love manages to fall gracefully.
How frustrating that you have to post this again. I can't see any reason why it would have been deleted the first time - there was nothing that was against regulations in it - just a beautiful love story. Anyway I am glad that you are posting it again because it means that we get to comment again :)
Loved the intro - I love the characters and like I told you last time I am just a little but in love with your Trent. Swoon. Kelsey is such a cutey and I look forward to you continuing this story.
Thank you so much Michelle! I still don't know why it was taken down but I thought I would try again. I am so glad you like it and I am going to repost what I had up before and the new chapter will be up too.
Thanks for the support!!
Thank you so much and I am so glad you liked it.
ONE FINE DAY
Sydney sat quietly watching Trent out of the corner of her eye. She wondered what in the world he was thinking about. He had this intense look on his face, as if he were in deep thought about something. She began to chew on her fingernails afraid that he had changed his mind about letting her tag along. She just knew that he must be embarrassed to be seen with her, afraid that people might get the wrong idea. Sydney wished she could read his mind and see what had marred his handsome face with such a troubled expression. She replayed every moment they had shared since she walked up behind him at the cafe; she couldn’t think of anything she might have said or done to cause him to worry.
Sydney was lost in her own thoughts and only half listening as Kelsey chattered nonstop beside her. She asked dozens of questions but never waited for an answer. Sydney was glad that Kelsey was here otherwise she and Trent would be in complete silence. She couldn’t imagine what she would do without her constant chatter. Then again without Kelsey she wouldn’t be here at all. Sydney was sure that without Kelsey he would never have noticed her. She was well aware of the fact that the chances of Trent Isaac asking her out were slim to none.
Suddenly Sydney could feel tiny pin pricks behind her closed eyes as tears threatened to fall. She was thankful for the sunglasses shielding her eyes from Trent’s watchful glances. Whatever had she been thinking? How could she have been so stupid and what was she doing here? She had almost let herself believe that maybe he wanted to spend the day with her; she knew she was naïve but not that naïve.
Trent glanced at Sydney in the rearview mirror and wondered what was going on behind those glasses. He could see her gnawing on her fingernails like a dog with a bone. He was ninety-nine percent sure that she was upset about something.
Sydney had been so deep in her own thoughts she hadn’t even noticed the car had stopped moving. They were at the park and Trent was helping Kelsey out of her seatbelt.
“Come on slow poke.”
Kelsey was trying to pull her out of the car. She unbuckled her seatbelt and swallowed back her unshed tears.Kelsey was staring at her with apprehension on her face, “You are coming aren’t you?”
“Of course, I was lost in a dream for a minute.”
“You were dreaming with your eyes open?”
“Yeah I guess I was daydreaming.”
Kelsey wrinkled her little nose, “What’s a daydream?”
Sydney knew she would have to choose her words very carefully, “It’s when you let your mind think about something other than what you are doing. Like thinking of what you want to be when you grow up or imagining running away with the circus. A day dream is whatever you want it to be.”
Kelsey smiled as if she got it, “What were you dreaming about Ms. Sydney?”
Sydney looked at the inquisitive little girl. She could feel her face turning five shades of red, what exactly was she supposed to say now? She couldn’t very well tell her she was obsessing about why her father might not like her or want to be seen with her. Nor could she say ‘I was thinking about your daddy having hot, mad, passionate sex with me. No she couldn’t say that.
“Trust me it wasn’t important.” Sydney had to find a way to change the subject to a safer topic that wouldn’t get her all tangled up and tongue tied. She could feel Trent’s electric pull and she raised her eyes to see him staring at them intently. She looked back down at Kelsey, “So Kelsey what do you want to do first?”
“Feed the ducks.”
Sydney, Trent and Kelsey ran to the bridge that extended over the lake with a gazebo in the center. It was beautiful and it had a calming effect on Sydney. Kelsey seemed to be having fun as she laughed and skipped along the bridge.
Sydney reached in her bag and pulled out a bag of bread crumbs, she had grabbed them from the Café. She opened the bag and took out a handful, “Here are some bread crumbs Kelsey.”
She took a fistful and began dropping them in the murky water. She loved to see the ducks race to see who would get to the bread first. She stood on the ledge with her tiny hands on the railing she cheered for the smallest duck and would throw her head back and laugh as they fought over the crumbs floating on the water. The ducks gobbled up the bread faster than she could drop it in Trent and Sydney laughed at her sweet upturned face and soon they were dropping crumbs in the water too.
Sydney watched Kelsey as she ran and laughed so carefree and full of life. She hoped she never lost that feeling and that no matter what this life brought her she would always remember who she was and the feel of the sun on her face and the wind in her hair.
The afternoon passed far too quickly. Kelsey talked constantly so there were no prolonged moments of silence. Sydney and Kelsey had slid down the slide, they couldn’t persuade Trent to join them. They swung in the swings while Trent pushed them toward the sky; they walked along the trails and made a sand castle in the sandbox. Sydney was exhausted and by the look on Trent’s face he was tired too. They sat down on a bench to rest and in mid-sentence Kelsey was sound asleep. Trent carried her to the car.
“Sorry about that she missed her afternoon nap.”
Sydney rubbed her head, “Poor thing she’s worn out.”
“Well thank you so much for coming with us, it really made Kelsey’s day.” Trent wished he had the courage to say and mine too but he didn’t want to move to fast and scare her off.
“Are you kidding me? You guys made my week.”
Trent shook his head in doubt, “Come on Syd you could’ve done a lot of more interesting things today besides babysit us.”
She smiled shyly, “Well babysitting is my life’s goal.” Trent could hear the smile in her voice and the way the pink lightly dusted her cheeks, “Seriously I haven’t had this much fun …Well along time so thanks for including me.”
Trent smiled back at her embarrassed face, “Anytime, you have an open invitation.”
“Okay thanks and who knows maybe I'll take you up on that.”
Trent and Sydney talked endlessly the entire drive back to her apartment. When he parked and killed the engine he wished the night didn’t have to end. He glanced at his watch it was only six o’clock. He wondered if Sydney had plans for dinner.
He looked at her sitting beside him and wondered if he should ask her out? He felt as if he had finally found that one person that he was meant to be with forever. He wished he could tell her exactly what he was feeling and how much he hated to watch her walk inside and close the door. He was afraid that it was too soon for that and he didn’t want to scare her away. He had no idea how long she and what was the loser ex-husband’s name, Rick had been divorced. He knew she might not be ready for a new relationship. He heard her clear her throat in the silence of the car.
“Trent would you like to come in?”
He wondered if she could read minds or if he was just that easy to read. He smiled at her and nodded his head, “That would be great if you don’t have anything going on.”
She opened the door and grabbed her bag and Kelsey’s backpack, “Oh nothing much except a movie and a pizza.”
He climbed out of the car and picked up a sleeping Kelsey. He knew she would be out for hours if not the rest of the night. He followed Sydney up the walk to the front door. She unlocked the door and tossed the keys on the entry way table. She then walked down the hall to a bedroom and opened the door to a child’s room. He followed her in and laid Kelsey down on the bed. Sydney turned on a night light and they quietly walked out of the room leaving the door slightly ajar.
“Sydney do you have kids?”
Trent could see a brief flicker of pain flash in her eyes before she turned and walked to the living room. He followed her and listened as she talked softly as not to wake Kelsey.
“No I had a miscarriage and well I just never got over it so I didn’t try again for reasons that are too painful to think about.”
He nodded his head and cursed himself for bringing up yet another topic that brought her pain. She regained her composure and continued to talk in her feather soft voice, “That used to be my office but I rarely used it so I made it into a nursery before I even got pregnant. Then Andy came along and I just never redid it.”
“Hold on didn’t you just say you didn’t have kids?”
“Sorry, sometimes I start talking and I just ramble on and on. Anyways, Andy is my nephew he’s Brett and Taryn’s son. He just turned three and he stays her e a lot.”
“Wow you are an extraordinary lady. Andy’s a lucky kid.”
“I told you my goal in life is babysitting.”
Trent nodded his head as he sat down on the sectional sofa beside Sydney. She sat cross-legged on the seat and turned cattycornered to face him. He turned slightly to see her face. He wondered what a safe topic of conversation would be.
“Trent I am going to order the pizza what kind of pizza do you like?”
He really wasn’t picky he’d eat whatever she ordered as long as it had sauce and crust, “I’m easy surprise me.”
She looked at him skeptically and watched as she grabbed the cordless phone off the coffee table. She hit a number on speed dial and tapped her foot while she listened to the music while she was asked to wait. He heard her clear her throat and then begin to order.
“Hey Joey,” she listened to whatever Joey had to say on the other end of the line, “I’m good and you?” He watched her face as she listened to whoever Joey was. “I need a large pizza half with Canadian bacon and pineapple and the other half meat lovers.” She paused again and finally said thank you and hung up the phone.
“Ok the pizza will be here in twenty minutes so what would you like to do talk or watch a movie, both?”
He was watching the way the light seemed to attach to her and make her face light up. He began to wonder who Joey was. She stared at him and waited for an answer. He realized that she was still waiting for him to say something else.
“Whatever you want to do doesn’t matter to me. I was just kind of wondering how they will know where to deliver the pizza you never gave an address or phone number.”
Sydney laughed at the perplexed look Trent’s face, “Oh I have a thing with the pizza guy so he knows my voice.”
Trent raised his eyebrows at her and frowned, “That doesn’t sound the like the Sydney I remember.”
She grinned “You see the pizza guy is none other than Mr. Varner’s grandson and I used to babysit him.”
Trent laughed so hard he was shaking. He looked over at Sydney who was smirking in his general direction. He had never known what a funny girl Sydney Jordan was. He wondered yet again how he had never known how great she really was. He had always wanted to get to know her better and to maybe ask her out but she had always kept her distance and the signals she put off were don’t bother. He had no idea what he had done but he hoped he didn’t make the same mistake again.
Trent was about to say something when the phone rang and Sydney excused herself to take the call. He began to think back to high school and why exactly he had never asked Sydney out. He had noticed her that first summer at the ball park; he had spent most days there watching her play. He had wanted to ask her out but she had seemed so aloof that he had thought she was a snob but then he realized she was Marley’s best friend and it was against the girl code to date your friend’s ex. He wished he had had the guts to tell her that he and Marley had never dated. Marley’s parents had been friends with his parents and she had offered to show him around and introduce him to her friends. He had tried to be nice to her but he finally had to tell her that he only wanted to be friends.
Trent could hear Sydney talking as she paced the floor by the fireplace. He let his mind drift from one random thought to another. He just couldn’t figure out how he was going to handle this attraction to Sydney. He wasn’t even sure what all these mixed up emotions were but he liked it. He was excited and nervous all at the same time he felt like a coke waiting to explode. He had never felt this way before; no one had ever made him feel like this, not even Megan. Meg had been his friend and eventually his wife but love had never played into the equation. They had started dating in high school but it had never been more than a casual relationship and they had decided they were better at friendship. Meg had become his best friend next to Ryan. Meg had started dating college guys and running with a fast crowd and he tried to warn her. He told her that she was in way over her head but she had been too hot tempered to listen. She had left for school that fall and sworn never to speak to Trent again.
The next summer when Meg came home from school she was pregnant. She was so devastated with on one to turn to. She had seemed so fragile, scared and completely alone that Trent had to help. He had married her and accepted her unborn baby as his own. Trent had never told anyone ---only he and Meg had known the truth. Even now after her death he would never tell another living soul because despite the circumstances of her birth Kelsey was his daughter.
He heard Sydney ending her phone call as the door bell chimed. He jumped off the couch and went to the door. He reached for his wallet as Sydney slipped past him to answer the door. He saw a tall skinny kid around seventeen and he knew it must be Joey. Trent reached around Sydney and handed the guy a twenty dollar bill.
“Joey do not take is money.”
Joey looked from Sydney to Trent unsure of whose money to take.
“Come on Syd I owe Mr. Varner for the TP so let me pay for the pizza and tip the young Mr. Varner.”
Joey started to laugh as he looked at Trent. He had heard the stories about the Halloween his grandfather’s house was toilet papered it was a running joke in the family.
“That was you? No way1”
Sydney nodded her head, “Joey meet the one and only infamous Trent Isaac.”
Joey shook Trent’s hand, “Nice to meet you.”
“Likewise, tell your grandfather I said hi.”
Joey stuck the money in his pocket and said goodnight. Trent carried the pizza to the living room while Sydney grabbed cokes, plates and napkins from the kitchen. He grabbed the remote and turned on the television. He knew he was in way over his head and he wasn’t sure what to do. He had married Megan but he had never loved or longed for her like a husband should long for and love his wife. He had never shared his intimate secrets or his dreams for the future with Meg. He had never been more than her friend and he had endured a loveless marriage for Kelsey’s sake. He had been out of the game for so long he had forgotten how to play. He couldn’t go through the motions only to find out that Sydney didn’t feel the same. He ached for Sydney and he was almost a hundred percent positive that Sydney thought of him as nothing more than a friend who happened to be a guy. Trent was a smart guy and he knew he should just stay away from her, but his heart wasn’t listening to his head. Life, why did it have to be so complicated?
As the sun rose the birds were singing in the tree outside. The sweet smell of summer flowers and fresh cut grass drifted through Sydney’s open window. She lazily pulled herself out of bed. As she passed her full length mirror she saw that she was smiling. She, Sydney Erin Jordan was actually smiling. She realized that she might actually be happy, what a new concept. She couldn’t remember how long it had been since she had a good night sleep. How long had it been since she woke up feeling rested and alive four or five years?
Sydney’s thoughts immediately turned to Trent. He was responsible for her happiness and overall good humor. She had a wonderful time with Trent and even though they hadn’t done anything special it had been so nice just being with him. They ate pizza and watched old movies, laughing and talking for hours. Sydney had found out that they had more in common than she had realized. The more time she spent with Trent the more she wanted to get to know him better.
She found herself wondering what Trent was doing, had he enjoyed himself, more to the point had he enjoyed being with her. He hadn’t hesitated to stay but was he only being polite? She couldn’t imagine Trent every being insensitive or hurtful. He had probably stayed to keep from hurting her feelings by refusing.
Sydney began her morning ritual aerobics, in and out of the shower, threw on her clothes and applied a touch of make-up. She had her toast and coffee while reading the morning paper. She had become so predictable but she found security in routine. She hated change because change was always followed by pain and she had endured her fair share of pain already.
The ringing phone interrupted her reading. She glanced at the clock 6:30, it had to be the café someone had probably called in sick. She grabbed the phone, “Hello.”
“Hey Syd what’s in the paper this morning?”
Sydney dropped the newspaper and started screaming in the phone, “Marley is that you?”
“Well actually I’m an alien clone who has taken over Marley’s identity, but don’t tell anyone or I’ll have to Kill you.” Marley paused for half a second as Sydney laughed, “Of course it’s me.”
“Where and how are you?”
Marley laughed at the excitement in Sydney’s voice over the phone line,” I’m home; believe it or not I’m back.”
Sydney almost dropped the phone as Marley’s words hit her full force. Marley was home and so was Trent. She pushed the nagging thought out of her head. “Are you serious? What happened did the city life get boring?”
“Yes I am serious and no but a great job came open here. You’re talking to the new resident at County Hospital.”
Sydney was happy for her friend but a little sad at what this might mean for her friendship with Trent.
She tried to focus on having Marley home, “That’s great and I am so happy for you Marley.”
“Oh Syd believe it or not I am happy to be home. I have missed you like crazy. I swear when I first got to school I cried myself to sleep every night.”
“I understand I was the same way. I couldn’t believe that it was just me by myself facing the big bad world. I mean really how was I supposed to get along without you and Alana? Then again I always was the one left behind.”
Marley didn’t like the direction this conversation had taken, “What are you talking about?”
“Well you and Alana started cheerleading and hanging out with the elite of Cole County High and I was never into that. Then of course you guys started dating and having the time of your lives and I was at home curled up with a Stephen King novel. Of course I was never interested in any of the guys at C.C.H.S except…Anyway you guys took a hundred steps forward and I was still at the starting line. I guess I was smart enough to be in high school but I was still too young to fit in.”
Marley could hear the sadness in Sydney’s voice and she could see her sitting with her hands fisted in her hair, “Syd the only reason you didn’t make cheerleader was because you didn’t try out. As far as dating goes you just weren't ready to date but by senior year you could’ve went out with any guy in school. Of course you always turned down every guy who asked you out. Finally the guys just quit trying and I hate to say it but some of the guys called you the ice queen.”
“What?” Sydney wondered if Trent had been one of those guys and if he had called her that too.
“Well you never dated except for Logan and let’s just say if anyone else asked you weren’t very friendly. So they just started referring to you as the ice queen.”
“Wow I wasn’t aware of that and how come you never told me this before?”
Sydney could hear Marley’s sharp intake of breath, “Syd you were and are my best friend and I knew what they said wasn’t true and they did too. Hell they all wanted to date you and it was just bruised egos talking. You were always nice but you let them know straight up that you weren’t interested.”
Sydney felt mortified to know what they had thought of her back then, “Why are we talking about this anyway? That was a very long time ago. I hope that we’ve all grown up since then.”
Marley sighed heavily, “You were the one who brought it up but your right we’re all grown up now.”
Sydney knew she was right, “Ok subject change, where are you staying?”
“I don’t know yet. I just got into town and I haven’t had time to look for a place yet. I know I could stay with Mom or Dad but since the divorce things have been kind of awkward. If I stay with Mom then Dad gets mad, if I stay with Dad then Mom gets mad so what exactly am I supposed to do?”
“That’s easy you stay with me.”
Marley knew Sydney was being sincere but she hated to intrude, “I couldn’t do that, it would be such an inconvenience for you.”
Sydney held the phone in her hand and waited for Marley to stop protesting, “Don’t be silly. I have more than enough room. There are two extra bedrooms upstairs, this place is huge. Besides since the divorce this place has seemed way to big and lonely.”
Marley hesitated for a minute before giving in, “Well if your sure, I don’t want to be a bother.”
“Trust me you could never be a bother. Listen just come by the Café this afternoon and get the keys. We can have lunch and catch up.”
“That sounds great oh and have you heard from Alana?”
Sydney smiled into the phone, “I got an E-mail yesterday and she’s good.”
“That’s good I haven’t talked to her in ages, just the occasional text.”
“She’s actually coming down this weekend.”
Sydney waited for the sequels to erupt over the phone “Seriously?”
“Yeah she got a couple of week’s vacation before she starts her new job.”
“I can’t believe it!!” Sydney could hear the excitement bubbling over the line, “You do realize what that means?”
“The three of us together again since the horrible wedding debacle.”
Marley could the fall of Sydney’s voice and the hurt she was trying to hide, “Well I wasn’t going to mention that. I was going to say this is the first time the three of us have been together since your wedding. Wow the three of us in the same house after six years.”
Sydney tried to shake off the chill that had crept up her back at the thought of Rick, “I know Marley we are going to have so much fun.”
“Yes we are. Listen I gotta run so I’ll see you later.”
“See you then and Marley I’m glad you’re home.”
Sydney laid the phone on the table and tried to forget about the last time she had seen Alana... It had been her wedding day and she wished she had taken Alana’s advice that day. She knew this was pointless so she thought of her best friends. She couldn’t believe it, all of them here together again. She hadn’t seen Alana in six years, where had all that time gone? Marley on the other hand was always making unannounced visits home but this was different now she was coming home to stay. As she thought of Marley she briefly saw Trent’s face flash through her head but she didn’t want to think about the complications the two of them in the same town again might imply.
Trent had a restless night and even in his sleep he couldn’t find rest or peace. Sydney’s face entered his dreams to torment him. She was like an angel on a cloud so beautiful and perfect but no matter how he tried to reach her he couldn’t get close enough to touch her. She was always just out of reach. He had awaked in a cold sweat and he wondered what the hell was going on with him. He had been having this crazy dream for weeks but the angel had never had a face until now. What was that supposed to mean? He worried that maybe it was a sign that he and Sydney weren’t mean to be together. Maybe he should move on and try to forget she ever existed. However Trent knew in his heart that he might move on but he most definitely would never be able to forget Sydney. He was very much afraid her name and face would forever be stuck in his head. How could forget someone who had touched his soul with just a smile?
He glanced at the clock it was already seven, he had better hurry. He had to get Kelsey up and dressed, as well as himself. If he were even a minute late his mother would be worried sick. Carolyn Isaac was always sitting on the porch swing waiting for her granddaughter to arrive. He knew he was lucky to have his parents their love, support and encouragement but he could do without the over protectiveness.
Trent showered and got dressed in mere minutes. He would have to take Kelsey in her PJ’s, he knew his mother wouldn’t mind bathing and dressing her when she woke. He berated himself for spending far too much time daydreaming about Sydney and he wondered if ever crossed her mind at all.
Trent hurried to the truck and placed a sleeping Kelsey in her booster seat. He then tossed her backpack on the seat. He then placed their black cocker spaniel Candy in the garage and locked the front door. He told himself he wouldn’t think about Sydney anymore today. In fact he would go to work and concentrate on business and not Sydney. He wouldn’t even be tempted to have lunch at the Café; if the guys chose to have lunch then they would go without him.
Trent made the short trip to his parent’s house and waved at his mother as he pulled in the drive. She was sitting on the porch swing waiting as he knew she would be. He climbed out of the truck and walked to the passenger’s side to retrieve a still sleeping Kelsey. He carried into the house and placed her on the sofa before returning to grab her bag.
He joined his mother on the porch, “Hey mom I was running a little late this morning, and you don’t mind getting Kelsey dressed do you?”
Carolyn smiled at her son, “I don’t mind at all, you just go on to work and let me take care of Kelsey.”
“Thanks mom you’re the best.”
She smiled at her son, “I love you both so no worries.”
Trent returned her smile, “I know mom, what would I ever do without you and Dad??”
“I am sure you would manage but let’s not rush to find out.” She stopped to look at her son he looked so tired and worn out. She could see that something was weighing heavily on his mind but she knew he wouldn't want to burden her with it. “Son is something wrong?”
‘No of course not, everything is fine. I just haven’t felt well this morning. Maybe I’m coming down with a bug or something.”
Carolyn continued to watch his face not believing him for a minute but she would play along for now, “Well take care of yourself if you feel any worse go see Dr. Davis.”
She watched his nose wrinkle at the sound of the family doctor, “I will Mom. I love you and I’ll see you guys later.”
Trent kissed his mother’s cheek before going inside to kiss Kelsey goodbye before running to his truck. He felt bad for lying to his mother; she always could tell when something was bothering him. He just hated dumping all of his problems on her; she already gave up so much for Kelsey wasn’t that enough?
She deserved some time for herself and besides he knew how to make himself feel better---Sydney.
So much for not thinking about her. Trent knew he was coming down with a bug alright a love bug. He had all the symptoms couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t concentrate and the undying need to see her all the time. Sydney invaded his thoughts dozens of times throughout his day. Where was she? Was she okay? What was she doing? This was driving him mad and he knew he had to see her.
“Hey boss were going to lunch you coming?”
Trent looked up from his desk to see Ryan his best friend leaning in the doorway. “Where are you guys going?”
“I think Craig wants to go the drive-in so we won’t be gone too long.”
Trent nodded, “You guys go ahead I’ll grab something later.”
Ryan grinned at his friend, “Ok boss oh and say hi to Syd for me.”
Trent jerked up and looked questioningly at Ryan. He could see laughter in his eyes, “Come on I am not blind or stupid contrary to popular belief.”
“What are you talking about Ryan?”
“It’s so obvious every time you see her, your whole face lights up. If you don’t see her car you always suggest eating somewhere else and I still remember the lecture I got in high school.”
Trent spun his chair around to face the door, “I never lectured you.”
“Oh I beg to differ. It was junior year and I wanted to ask Syd to the prom but you got so upset I thought you might blow a gasket. If I hadn’t known any better I might have thought you had a thing for her, but you were with Meg. Anyways you told me what a great person she was and not to hurt her or I’d have to answer to you." Ryan shrugged his shoulders, “After that all the guys were scared to ask her out; I have to say you did nothing to help her social life.”
Trent shifted uncomfortably in his seat, “I can’t believe you remember all that.”
“Admit it Trent you were and still are crazy about Sydney.”
Trent rose to his feet and crossed the room and looked at Ryan eye to eye, “Ryan listen to me very carefully, I like her. I like her a lot and that scares the hell out of me. I don’t want to screw this up so please don’t say anything to her about this.”
Ryan grinned, “No problem I think it’s great and thanks to you I won the bet.”
Trent narrowed his eyes, “Bet what bet?”
“Well the guys and I have had an ongoing bet on how long it would take you to ask her out.”
Trent groaned, “But I haven’t even asked her out yet.”
Once again Trent could see the cocky grin on Ryan’s face, “Well Sam and Jena took the twins to the park yesterday and they saw you and Sydney together so we just assumed.”
Trent sighed life in a small town, “Yes she was with me but only because Kelsey invited her. I ‘m not so sure she would’ve gone with just me.”
Ryan pounded Trent on the back, “Just ask her out already. Don’t analyze the situation or think so much; just follow your heart and ask the girl out. Besides I could really use that fifty bucks.”
“Go on get out of here, if your late I’ll dock you fifty bucks.”
Trent could still hear Ryan’s booming laughter as he climbed in to his truck. Trent filed a few papers and went over a couple of floor plans. Then he knew he couldn’t put it off any longer he had to see her and despite his best efforts he was having lunch at the Café on the corner. He just had to remember to breathe in and breathe out and he would be just fine or so he hoped.
Hi Jeri thank you so much for reading and so glad you liked it.
So glad you liked it!!
SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY
Trent knew that Sydney’s car was parked in the usual spot; he had seen it early on his way to the office. He parked his truck next to her shiny new mustang. He could see her through the front window and seeing her caused his heart to start beating like a hammer against his ribcage to a strange new beat. He found himself smiling as he began to breathe in and out and force his feet to walk. He could see that she was sitting close to the door and she was talking to someone but the person was blocked by the curtains. Trent slowed his pace as his mind began to overanalyze the situation. He had an awful feeling in the pit of his stomach and by the time he reached the door he was frozen with dread.
Who was she having lunch with? He feared that it might be Rick her loser ex; word around town was that he had shown back up and he wanted her back. What if she was seriously considering giving him a second chance? With a heavy heart Trent pulled the door open and entered the Café, but he couldn’t make himself look Sydney’s way. He pretended he didn’t see her and slipped into a booth along the back wall. He deliberately sat facing the wall; he didn’t want her to see him. He was tempted to turn just enough to see who she was sitting with but he knew that who it was really didn’t matter because all he knew was it wasn’t him. Trent was very afraid that he might have missed his chance again.
Across the room Sydney and Marley were deep in conversation. They were laughing and rehashing old times; funny how they both had a different version of whose idea some of their stunts had been.
“Syd do you remember the time we made valentine cards for Ryan Harper?”
“Oh I only wish I could forget that. Poor Kate you made her run them across the street, lay them on the porch and then knock on the door.”
Sydney and Marley began laughing at the memory, “I know I have never seen her run that fast again, however as I recall it was your idea. I think you said something about ‘you and Ryan need to hook up!’ so it was most definitely your idea.”
Sydney leaned back against the seat to catch her breath from laughing so hard at the memory. Marley twirled her straw around her watered down coke, “Do you think he ever figured out it was us?”
Sydney shrugged her shoulders to Marley’s question, “I’m sure he did for many reasons 1) you lived right across the street, 2) Kate doesn’t run that fast and 3) He sat by me in Home EC and after that he always seemed to look at me differently almost like he was scared of me or something. Maybe he heard about my reputation as the ice queen.”
“Oh that’s not it trust me.”
Sydney looked across the table but Marley refused to look at her. She was staring intently at what little ice was floating around in her soda. Sydney had heard the tone of her voice and she knew that Marley was leaving out a vital piece of information.
“Marley what did you mean by that? What other reason was there for his sudden fear of being anywhere near me?”
“Maybe because he wanted to ask you out.”
Sydney knew her mouth had fallen to the floor, “He did not.”
“Oh but he did.”
“Then why did he ask you out that same year?”
Marley looked up from twirling her melting ice, “Do you want to know why he asked me out?” Sydney nodded her head for Marley to continue, “He wanted me to help him get a date with you.”
Sydney sat staring at her friend in a shocked silence. She had always thought the Marley had really liked Ryan; so later that year when he asked her out she had said no. She would never hurt a friend like that.
“Marley if he wanted to ask me out why did he wait so long to do it?”
Marley paused for a moment, “Well the rumor I heard was that Ryan was going to ask you to prom but supposedly someone informed him what a great girl you were and that if he hurt you he would have to answer to him. I think that was the reason he never asked.”
Sydney could feel her senses reeling from an overload of information, “Marley he did ask me but I said no. I thought you liked him and I didn’t want to hurt you like that. I had already talked to Logan and he was coming home so we agreed to go together.” Sydney paused to gather her runaway thoughts, “Marley who would’ve told Ryan something like that?”
Marley really wasn’t sure but she had always thought it must’ve been Trent. He had been the only one close enough to Ryan to get by with saying something like that. She was reluctant to tell Sydney that because she had always held out hope that he might ask her out. As if by magic she saw Trent sitting in the back of the crowded Café.
“Sydney isn’t that Trent Isaac hiding back there in the corner?’
Sydney turned around to look over her shoulder, “Yeah that’s him but he usually comes in earlier than one. I wonder if something is wrong.”
Marley careened her neck to look past Sydney, “I haven’t seen him since high school, man he looks like hell. I think you hit the nail on the head, something is definitely wrong with Mr. Isaac.”
Sydney wasn’t really listening to Marley she was studying the intent look of pain that was evident on Trent’s unshaven face. “The last time I spoke to him he seemed fine but something must’ve happened. Marley will you excuse me for a minute?’
Marley nodded her head never taking her eyes off of Trent. Sydney hurried to the safety of her office. What was wrong with Trent? He never sat in the back; he always sat at the front counter. She hadn’t even seen him come in and he always said hi to her, no matter how busy she was. She was afraid he was deliberately ignoring her. She glanced at her reflection in the mirror and reapplied a touch of lipstick. She would not hide out in her own Café. She headed to the kitchen and placed Trent’s order on the grill. She then grabbed her and Marley’s lunch, “Rob let me know when Trent’s order is ready.”
“No problem boss lady.”
She pushed the swinging door open and headed to the table by the door. When she reached their table, she almost dropped the tray she was carrying. There sitting with Marley was Trent. He was talking, laughing and he certainly didn’t look like hell now. Sydney wondered what was hell supposed to look like anyway.
Trent reached over and took the tray out of her hand. He sat it on the table while Sydney composed herself as best she could. She looked thoughtfully at Trent she just knew that she should excuse herself and let him enjoy lunch with Marley. She sat the plates on the table and grabbed Marley’s empty glass.
“Trent would you like coffee or Cherry Coke?”
He couldn’t help the smile that was suddenly on his face just being so close to Sydney. “Surprise me.”
Sydney took the now empty tray to the counter she refilled her and Marley’s sodas and grabbed Trent a Cherry Coke. Rob was placing Trent’s plate on the pick-up window, “Thanks Rob.”
“Add it to the list of IOU’s.”
Sydney grabbed the plate and laughed at Rob’s teasing. She wondered why she couldn’t love someone as easy going and nice as Rob. Oh yeah because he was her brother’s best friend. She could feel Trent staring at her and she avoided making eye contact. Trent watched Sydney as she loaded another tray and headed back to the table. He barely heard Marley as she rattled on endlessly. He continued to watch as she walked back to the table and placed Trent’s plate and soda in front him. She then sat her and Marley’s sodas on the table.
“Here you go Mr. Isaac one plain cheeseburger with extra cheese, onion rings and a cherry coke.”
Trent was amazed, “How did you know that?”
Sydney laughed, “I own the place it’s my job to know what the regulars order. Did I mention I have a photographic memory?”
Trent joined her laughter. She was so darned cute especially when she got nervous like that. The way she just rambled on.
“Sydney I was wondering if…”
Trent never got to finish his question. He was interrupted.
“Sydney I need to talk to you.”
Sydney could feel her smile fading as quickly as it had appeared. She would know that voice anywhere but why was he here? She flinched as he tried to grab her hand and suddenly she was running for the door. Rick quickly followed her into the glaring sunlight.
“Syd wait please talk to me.”
Sydney turned around to glare at this man. This man she had once loved trusted and supported. He seemed to be a stranger to her as if she had never known him.
“What do you want?”
“Syd I love you and I need you back in my life.”
“What!?” Did he really just say that? She was so confused, what was going on here?
“Please Sydney I’ve changed. I would never do anything to hurt you. I love you please just give me one more chance?”
Sydney began to shake uncontrollably. She couldn’t believe he would even think she would consider letting him back in her life.
“NO RICK NO.”
“Why Sydney? Why can’t you forgive me? Why is it that when two people separate they forget all the good times? Why do they forget they were ever happy together?”
“Rick it’ easy for me to forget. One night of heaven in your arms was erased by the three years of hell I spent living with you, that was living hell. Everyday being so scared of you, afraid of making you angry and of the wrath that would bring. Having you come home from work drunk, being thrown across the bedroom. Then you apologizing and promising you’d quit and then wondering how long you might be sober this time. Being told I was fat, ugly and worthless that no one else would ever want me. But the worst part of it all was being pushed down the stairs, ending up in the hospital and waking up to find that I had lost my one reason for staying our baby. Then to be told I might never be able to have kids well you had taken everything from me. So guess what? Maybe no one will ever want me again but I don’t want you now or ever again. You are a monster Rick Wells and I don’t love you maybe I never did. Please understand I don’t want you in my life so just leave me alone.”
Sydney was physically and mentally exhausted and she began to cry so hard she couldn’t see. She felt her legs give way and she slid down to the curb and just cried.
“Sydney I have changed and I would never hurt you like that.”
“But you did and I hope you have changed but Rick it’s over. Please leave>”
Sydney prayed he wouldn’t say anything else and then she heard a stern hard as steal voice, “You heard the lady so I think you should go.”
She wasn’t sure how long she had been sitting there time had slowed to a standstill. She waited as she tried to stop her tears but they continued to fall.
“Who the hell are you?”
“A friend and Sydney asked you to leave.”
“Look I’m her husband, so I think maybe you should leave.”
Sydney could hear the venom dripping in Rick’s words. She was afraid that he might try to start a fight with Trent and she didn’t want him to get hurt. She waited and then she heard Ryan’s voice,
“Hey Trent you need some help taking out the trash?”
“No guys I think Syd’s ex-husband was just leaving, right Rick.”
He mumbled something and Sydney could hear his voice fading into nothing. She felt Trent’s strong arms picking her up and carrying her across the parking lot. He gently placed her in the front seat of her car. She could hear him talking to Ryan.
“Ryan will you follow me to Syd’s in my truck and have Craig pick you up there?’
“Sure Trent no problem, did he hurt her? Is she going to be okay?’
“Do you think if had laid a hand on her he would still be standing?”
Ryan shook his head, “No we would’ve been picking him up off the ground.”
“He just scared her and tried to intimidate her. I am going to take the rest of the day off; I don’t want to leave her alone.”
“Ok no problem see you later.”
Trent slid in the driver’s seat and pulled the keys Marley had given him out of his pocket. He looked over at Sydney and the sight of her so small and frail broke his heart all over again. How could anyone hurt another human being like that especially someone who you were supposed to love? He could hear her soft sobs as she cried herself to sleep.
I know he's easy to dislike but hopefully Trent will keep him in check???
Thanks for reading.
WHISPERS IN THE DARK
Trent sat alone in the quiet of the late afternoon and watched Sydney’s uneven breathing. He knew she was trapped in an unending nightmare and tormented by a face she had thought she had known so well but had never really known at all. He ached for her as he watched her toss and turn in a fitful slumber. She had cried herself to sleep in the car in a matter of minutes and he had laid her on the couch so he could be with her when she woke. He hated what that ass had done to her; how dare he just show up as if everything was ok and he had any right to speak to her at all. Trent felt the sting on his palm as he relaxed his fist to see where his fingernails had almost pierced the skin. He was restless and ready for a fight but he knew that violence wouldn’t solve anything and he needed to be near Sydney to hear her random sleep induced whispers and to see her sweet face.
Trent ran his hand through his disheveled hair and paced absentmindedly in front of the bay window. He felt his body stiffen as he heard soft footfalls outside the door and the rattle of the door knob. He walked quietly to the door and peered out the peephole, he almost hoped it was the ass so he could punch him in the face just once, well maybe twice. He felt the air rush past his lips as he saw Marley about to knock. He quickly opened the door and ushered her in. He raised his head as a general greeting.
Marley glanced at Sydney’s sleeping form and pointed toward the kitchen. Trent followed pausing to cover Sydney with the blanket that had become tangled around her feet during her twisting and turning. He leaned over and pushed the hair out of her eyes tucking it behind her ear. She stirred slightly and her check seemed to fit perfectly in the palm of his hand. He dropped a feather soft kiss to her exposed forehead and straightened to see a thoughtful Marley just inside the kitchen door. He knew he should be embarrassed at having been caught in such an intimate moment but oddly enough he wasn’t. He honestly didn’t care what Marley thought. Of course if Sydney had been awake he was sure the moment would have passed him by. He gave her one last look before he straightened to his full height; she was like sleeping beauty so close yet so far away. He wondered if she had any idea how she touched his soul in ways he had never thought possible. He turned and walked into the kitchen with Marley.
Trent leaned against the counter with one ear listening for any sign that Sydney had woken. Marley sat at the table and looked worriedly in his direction, “How is she really?”
Trent raked his hair out of his eyes he wasn’t sure what the right answer to that question was. He shrugged his shoulders and began to pace the floor again.
“She’s hurt and scared. She fell asleep in the car so I haven’t really got to talk to her yet. Marley what can you tell me about Rick?”
Marley shuttered at the very mention of the jerk’s name, “I’m not sure how much I should tell you, it’s really Sydney’s place to give you the gory details.” Marley could see the intense look of frustration on Trent’s unshaven face, “What she shared with me was in confidence and I can’t break that but I can tell you that he is not a nice man. He slowly began to change and over time he had separated her from her family from her friends and all she had left was him. Well I’m sure you can do the math and figure what happened.”
Trent cringed at the thoughts that filled his head. He had heard part of what Sydney had said to the ass in the parking lot but he couldn’t bear to think of her broken and hurt at the hands of such a sadistic monster. He was sure that Rick had played on her goodness and kindness until she was devoted to him and then he had let his true colors show after he had isolated her from every shred of her former life.
“Come on Marley you can give me more than that. I want to help her but I feel like I am walking on eggshells here. I don’t want to say or do the wrong thing. “
Marley could see the look in Trent’s eyes and she was afraid that he was falling for Sydney. She wasn’t really upset about that she knew Trent would be good to her and take care of her but would he love her like she deserved to be loved?
“Look Trent I can see that you care about Syd a lot. May I ask you a question?”
Trent stopped his pacing and looked over his shoulder at Marley. He had known her his whole life and he didn’t like the look on her face now, “Sure what is it?”
Marley sighed, “Well the thing is I love Sydney she is my best friend in the entire world and I think you have a thing for her.”
Trent wasn’t sure where this was headed so he just nodded his head and waited.
“Well have you always had a thing for her or is it something that just happened recently?”
Trent walked to the table and sat down across from Marley. He could see her gnawing on her lip a sign that she was worried about something. He reached across the table and took her free hand, “Marley I have always had this unexplainable desire to keep her safe and to be close to her.”
Marley knew that he was avoiding the word love but she could hear it in his voice in his words. She could see it in everything he did.
“Trent I am afraid that Sydney may be under the false impression that we, you and I had a thing in high school.”
Trent stared at her not comprehending the extent of her words. Why would Sydney have ever thought that? He and Marley and been friends since they could walk. His grandparents had lived next to Marley’s grandparents and they had always seemed to migrate to each other during holidays and summer vacations. He thought of her as the little sister he had never had.
“Marley why on earth would she think that?”
Marley looked up at Trent, “Well when you first moved to Cole County I was so excited and I had hoped that maybe we could be more. Sydney could always read me so well so she assumed that there was something there. I never told her that we were just friends.”
Trent spoke in a soft yet firm voice,”Why would you do that?”
From her downturned eyes Marley looked up at him sheepishly, “I was the it girl and I was devastated when you didn’t seem to want to go out with me so I never told her. How come you never asked me out or picked up on the vibe I was sending you? Was I not good enough for you, not pretty enough what was it?”
Trent shoved his chair back and walked to the kitchen door to check on Sydney. He could see her eyes still closed and that her breathing had finally evened out. He walked back to the table and looked at Marley.
“Look Marley I loved you but it was like a kid sister love. You were and still are beautiful but there was just never anything more there for me but the love of a friend.”
Marley nodded her head, “I guess you think I’m silly and your right. I always got what I wanted and you were the first and only guy who got away. I know how silly that sounds but after talking to Syd today I think maybe I did more damage than I realized.”
Trent raised an eyebrow and gestured for her to continue, “Well at lunch before you came in she mentioned something about not dating Ryan because she thought I liked him. She said she would never hurt a friend like that.”
Trent’s ears perked up he had never known that Ryan had actually asked her out. He wondered if Marley was the only reason she had refused.
“Ryan asked her out?”
“Yeah but he asked me out first but only because he wanted me to help him get a date with Syd. The funny thing is she never even told me he asked her out until today so maybe…”
As the unspoken words hung in the air he wondered if that was it. Had Syd thought she was betraying her best friend by being friends with the guy who she thought had broken her heart? Had she felt something for Ryan? These thoughts ran like wildfire through his head. Marley and Trent sat quietly for several minutes each lost in their own thoughts.
As Sydney woke in the living room she was a little disorientated; her memory was foggy as if she was stumbling through a thick haze. She tried to remember what she had been dreaming about and what had woke her up. She desperately tried to sort things out in her mind; the last thing she remembered was having lunch at the café. Then Rick had been there; it wasn’t a dream at all it had really happened. Slowly her head began to clear and the fog rolled away. She looked around, she was at home but how had she gotten here? Things were fuzzy again. She heard muted voices like soft muffled whispers in the dark coming from the kitchen. She gingerly sat up and rose to her feet and softly walked to the kitchen door and listened to what was going on behind the closed door.
“Marley enough about what happened ten years ago do you think she will be okay?”
Sydney listened with bated breath, “I’m not going to lie to you Trent she’s been through hell this last year. She had a very rough time with Rick. I would have thrown him out on his butt, but not Syd. She listened to all his flimsy excuses and she tried so hard to make their marriage work. She gave him so many chances because she wanted the happily ever after so badly. Rick well he never even tried; every time she forgave him he just got worse. He reminded me a spoiled little kid always pushing her like I got by with this what else can I get by with. I would say asking him to leave was the hardest thing Sydney has ever had to do. I admire her so much; she is the strongest, bravest woman I have ever met. So yes I think she’ll be okay.”
Sydney clamped her hand to her trembling lips as tears threatened to fall. She waited still as a mouse to hear more.
"I just can't believe that ass could be so stupid! What was he thinking?" Trent shook his head in frustration, "He was such a jerk. You have no idea how much I wanted to pummel him into the ground back there for hurting her like that. She deserves...Well she deserves so much more than he could give her."
Sydney was beyond mortified. Trent and Marley were not only talking about her but her monumental failure as a wife and her inadequacies as a lover that had resulted in a failed marriage. Sydney could think of no other reason for Rick's behavior. She was frozen in place terrified to move. A voice in the back of her head reminded her it was wrong to be ease dropping but this was her house, she could stand here if she wanted too.
"Trent Syd's a very private person. If she knew we were talking about her she would be furious. I feel like I would be betraying her trust by saying any more about her relationship with Rick. It was bad if you want details you need to talk to her."
Sydney decided it was time to make her presence known. She walked back to the couch and made as much noise as possible to let them know she was awake. She walked through the kitchen door and ran into Trent's chest. She stumbled but his hand snaked around her waist and steadied her. She rested her head on his chest and let the slow rhythm of his heart calm her frenzied nerves. She took a deep breath in and her senses were immediately assaulted with the smell of ivory Soap, cinnamon and sandal wood. She regained her balance and smiled weakly at Trent's anxious face.
"Syd are you okay?"
Sydney nodded her head as he led her to a chair. She was grateful for the help as her legs were still trembling.
"Hi you guys, sorry about early but there's really no need for a fuss."
As the words came out of her mouth she could see the storms brewing in Trent's flashing green orbs. He looked dangerous and that was not a word she would have ever associated with laid back Trent Isaac. She watched as he regained control of his features and offered her a brilliant smile.
"I really am embarrassed at causing such a scene back there. I mean really I shouldn't have let my emotions runaway like that."
Marley quickly came to her defense. "You weren't the one making or causing a scene. You have nothing to be sorry for."
Sydney smiled gratefully at Marley, “Thank you Marley and thank you Trent for driving me home."
Trent nodded his head and smiled."No problem I'm glad you’re okay. I was getting a little worried about you."
Marley remembered that Sydney hadn't eaten any lunch, "Hey Syd are you hungry? You didn't even get to eat earlier thanks to long legs."
"To who?" Trent looked puzzled.
Sydney spoke softly, "Long legs is a nickname my dad gave Rick I guess because he's so tall and after the divorce I couldn't stand to hear his name."
Trent nodded in understanding, "I guess that makes sense."
Sydney looked at Marley. "Food sounds really good right now."
Sydney and Trent were left alone as Marley left the room to order pizza.
Trent studied Sydney's pale cheeks and sad eyes she didn't look ok. "Syd are you sure you’re ok?"
“Honestly I’m not sure anymore.” Sydney paused to gather her thoughts before continuing, “When I heard he was back in town I thought I could handle it. Now I’m not so sure.”
Trent spoke in a whisper, “Do you still have feelings for him?”
Sydney sat up straight and stared at Trent as if she had no idea who he was. She wondered how he could ask her such a question. “Absolutely not, the last thing I want or need is Rick Wells. He never loved me; if he had he would have never done those terrible things to me. Everything he did was for show.”
Trent wasn’t really following, ‘What do you mean for show?”
Sydney tried to explain it so he would understand, “He always went overboard for Christmas, Birthdays, anniversaries and every other holiday in between. He would buy expensive gifts, plan exotic vacations all over the world and he made sure everyone knew about it. He wanted both of our families, co-workers and friends to think he was this devoted, caring, loving and perfect husband.”
Trent could see the pain shining in the unshed tears swimming in her eyes and he wanted to make it all go away but he had no idea how to do that, “But he wasn’t.”
Sydney shook her head adamantly no, “No he wasn’t. I never cared about any of those things I just wanted to be with someone who loved me for me. Those things were nice but they weren’t given out of love. Besides no one knew who he was behind closed doors. They didn’t see him when he was drunk. They didn’t have to clean the walls when he threw his dinner across the room or pick themselves up off the floor after….’ Sydney’s voice cracked as the tears began to fall and the words refused to come out past the lump in her throat.
Trent was by her side in a heartbeat and he gathered to his chest and held her. He let her cry as he stroked her hair and dried her tears. She felt like a fool standing in her kitchen crying like a baby over a man who didn’t deserve the tears that refused to stop falling.
That was the picture Marley saw as she entered the kitchen. She hoped that Sydney would give Trent a chance; she just knew they would be perfect for each other. She cleared her throat as she entered the room.
“Sorry to interrupt but the pizza will be here in ten minutes. I swear I had no idea that Mr. Varner’s grandson worked at Villa Pizza. Oh and by the way Joey has a thing for you.”
Sydney could feel her face turning a dozen shades of red, “No he doesn’t and why would you even say such a thing?”
Marley smiled smugly, “First he answered the phone with Hey Syd instead of Thanks for calling Villa Piazza, second he wanted to know who I was, third he asked if Rick was still in town and four he wanted to know if you were okay. It was very personal.”
“Marley he’s just a kid.”
Marley feigned surprise, “Really and how old is he because my dear he had a very old and well sexy voice.”
Sydney could feel her face burning as bright as a thousand suns, “Well he starts college in a month.”
Marley did the math that mean he is at least eighteen. He really wasn’t that much younger than Sydney. “Syd you may feel old but in reality he isn’t but four years younger than you.”
Trent didn’t like the direction this conversation was taking, “Marley he’s at least seven years younger than me. I graduated a year behind you guys and I’m twenty-five.”
Marley laughed, “Well actually you’re older than Sydney.”
Trent looked bewildered at Sydney, “Syd just how old are you?”
Sydney blushed she hated talking about her age, “Honestly I will be twenty-two in a couple of months.” She then gave a pointed look at Marley, “And Joey is starting his second year at the University of Kentucky on a basketball scholarship so he’s nineteen.”
Marley was impressed, “Why did he pick Kentucky?”
Sydney shrugged, “They have a tradition of bleeding blue basketball is life in the bluegrass state. They have the best record in the country for basketball and he wanted to be part of that tradition.”
Trent was tugging at the collar that suddenly seemed to be suffocating him. “Sydney how the hell is it even possible that you’re not even twenty-two?”
Sydney avoided making eye contact with Trent for fear of what might be staring back at her. “I started school when I was three and I skipped kindergarten so I graduated the summer before I turned sixteen.”
“How is that even possible?”
“I was unusually smart and when you have my parents they can make anything happen.”
Trent knew Sydney’s family came from old money and they had friends in very high places. Wow he had never realized how young she was and that explained her naïve loyalty to her friends in high school. “I always knew you were smart but wow.”
Sydney shook her head and realized that he might think she was misguided and childish. She had always been wise beyond her years but most people looked at her like a kid playing dress-up. Marley interrupted her thoughts, “so Sydney really Joey is only three years younger than you and I detected some serious vibes over the phone line.”
‘He’s nice but we’re just friends.”
Marley was going to press the issue but the ringing of the doorbell cut her off. Sydney welcomed the escape from the rising temperature in the too small kitchen.
“If you guys will excuse me I am going to get the pizza.”
Sydney dashed out of the kitchen and ran to the front door expecting to see only Joey; what she hadn’t expected was a bouquet of flowers that was sitting on her landing.
“Hey Joey thanks for pizza but you didn’t have to bring flowers”
He handed the boxes to Sydney and shook his head from side to side, “I wish I could take credit for the flowers but they were sitting there when I pulled up.”
Sydney felt a cold chill run up her spine and settle in the pit of her stomach. She handed Joey a twenty and he tried to refuse, “It’s on me.”
Sydney barely heard his muted protests as she folded his hand around the money, ‘Well you keep it then it’s your tip.”
Joey stuffed the money in his pocket and wished Sydney a good night as she was closing the door. Once inside Sydney looked at the dozen blood red roses surrounded with baby’s breath. She could feel her hands trembling she walked on shaky legs the table by the door. She sat the roses down and walked slowly to the kitchen. She paused at the door and drew a deep breath as she composed herself. She pushed the door open with her free hand.
She plastered a smile on for the benefit of her friends. She placed the boxes on the kitchen counter while Marley grabbed plates from the cupboard. Sydney’s stomach was rolling and she couldn’t even think of eating now. She opened the fridge and passed out sodas.
“If you guys will give me a minute I need to run upstairs. I’ll be right back.”
Trent and Marley watched her retreating back as she turned and fled the room. Trent could see her attempt at pretending to be calm but he heard the slight hitch in her voice as she tried to sound upbeat and perky. It appeared that Sydney was a terrible actress.
Sydney grabbed the roses and took the stairs two at a time. She ran down the hall and closed herself away in the sanctuary of her room. She sat on her unmade bed and stared at the crystal vase and the beautiful flowers; with unsteady hands she pulled the card from the vase. She could feel tears filling her eyes as she read.
My Dearest Sydney,
I love and miss you so much. You have no idea how
hard this has been on me. I can’t stand to be apart.
I want you to know that I have forgiven you for everything.
I know you couldn’t have meant all those terrible things you said.
I am longing to have you in my arms again, to be with you again.
Sydney it’s time to come home.
Love your husband
Sydney dropped the card and let the tears fall. Why couldn’t he leave her alone? It had been a year and she hadn’t seen or heard from him; not one letter, not one phone call just blissful silence. It was like he had just disappeared, as if he had never been a part of her life at all. Now he was back and she had no idea why.
Sydney knew Marley would come looking for her soon and she couldn’t stay locked away in her room forever. She really did need to eat but she just needed a few moments alone. She pulled herself off the bed and forced her feet to move. She stopped in the bathroom and splashed water on her washed out face. She then walked down the stairs and joined her friends.
“Hey did you guys save me some pizza?”
She could see Trent and Marley were sitting at the snack bar talking and laughing. They hadn’t even noticed she had left. Sydney knew she was letting her emotions cloud her judgment but it hurt her to see them so chummy. She pushed the word jealousy to the back of her mind. She was not jealous.
“Of course we waited for you. I put the pizza in the oven on low. We always did like left over better remember?”
Sydney nodded her head, “How could I forget all the late night sleepovers and left over pizza for breakfast.”
Trent shook his head, “It’s official you guys are crazy, pizza for breakfast?”
Marley cut him off, “Don’t pass judgment until you try it, it really is better.”
“Fine I’ll try it but I can’t see how it could be better.”
Several hours later Trent finally admitted that they had been right. The three friends had laughed and talked about old times. They had lost all track of time. Sydney had sneaked the flowers outside and thrown them in the trash, she didn’t want Trent or Marley to worry unnecessarily.
“I guess I should clean up the kitchen before calling it a night.”
Trent jumped to his feet, “I’ll help you.”
“Thanks but there’s really not that much left to do.”
Marley followed them into the kitchen, “Then with all of us helping it’ll be finished in a snap.”
Trent grabbed the broom and began to sweep the floor, Sydney put away the leftover pizza and Marley gathered the trash and took it outside. Sydney realized her mistake as soon as she saw the back door close; she knew what Marley would see in the trash dumpster.
Sydney braced herself on the counter as she heard the creak of the backdoor. She raised her head to see Marley as she came through the door carrying the discarded roses. “Syd I take it that the ass isn’t taking the hint.
Sydney looked up and shook her head no, “Obviously not.”
She couldn’t contain her emotions so she ran from the room and to the safety of her room. She threw herself across her bed and dissolved into tears. She cried for the monster that Rick had turned out to be, the essence of the girl she had once been and the love she hid in her broken heart for Trent. She heard footfalls outside her door and a soft knock. She grabbed a Kleenex from the bedside table and called out softly, “Come in.”
She expected to see Marley but instead it was Trent. He walked cautiously into the intimate and private world of Sydney.
“Sydney I’m sorry for intruding but I needed to see that you were okay.”
“I’m fine I just have a headache.”
Trent looked at her sympathetically. She didn’t sound okay her voice was like a faint whisper in the dark. He could see how dejected and sad she was in her big brown eyes. How dare that ass do this to her again.
“Of course you have a headache and his name is Rick.”
Sydney felt a bubble of hysterical laughter climbing up her throat. She gave into it and felt some of the tension in her shoulders loosening just a bit.
“Thanks I needed that.”
Trent shrugged, “What?”
“A little touch of normalcy, everything seems so surreal as if I am watching all of this happen to someone else.”
Trent could see the ghosts hiding in her eyes trying to come out. He wished she would let him help her but she was so stubborn and insisted on handling everything on her own. He couldn’t leave Sydney and Marley here alone tonight. He had this gnawing feeling in his stomach that Rick wasn’t finished terrorizing Sydney yet and he wouldn’t rest knowing they were here alone.
“Syd I am about to run home for a minute but I will be back.”
Sydney looked up surprised, “Why would you come back?”
“I don’t even want to think about what might happen if Rick showed back up here tonight. I will not leave you and Marley alone.”
Sydney hated to trouble Trent like this but she would feel better if he stayed. He had scared her earlier today and now she was shaken to the core by his attempts to break her. She looked at the card that still lay on the floor by the bed.
“I think that’s a good idea considering everything that has happened today. “ As the words left her mouth the bedside phone rang shrilly through the room. Sydney picked up with a shaky breath. Trent watched as her face grew even more pale in the lamp light.
Sydney hadn’t said a word and he had no proof who was on the other end of the line but it didn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out it was Rick. Her face was a white as a ghost and her hands were trembling so hard she almost dropped the phone. He could see her growing more agitated by the second.
“No, I don’t want to see you much less have lunch with you.” Sydney remained silent as she listened to the voice before speaking, “I don’t have to answer to you about what I do and if I am seeing someone its none of your business. So just leave me alone.”
With that Sydney slammed the receiver down on the cradle. She was shaken to her very soul; she couldn’t find enough strength to speak. She wished she didn’t let that man get under her skin so much.
“Syd it’s going to be okay.”
“I know it’s really no big deal.”
‘Sydney I think that it’s a very big deal. You should file harassment charges against him tomorrow.”
“Trent I really don’t think calling your ex-wife and pleading your undying love for her would be considered harassment in the eyes of the law.”
“Well maybe not but I don’t like it.”
Sydney heard the accusation in his words;”Oh and you think I do?”
“No that’s not what I meant. I just don’t think Rick’s intentions are entirely honorable.”
“Neither do I. I am glad you offered to stay tonight so thank you for that.”
Trent smiled, “It wasn’t an offer it was a fact and your more than welcome.”
Sydney walked with Trent downstairs where they met a frazzled Marley, “Hey you guys I have to get a couple hours sleep before I start my midnight shift at the ER.”
“Speaking of sleep I have to run home and grab a few things but I’ll be back.”
Marley raised her eyes in a suggestive manner at Sydney. Sydney ignored her, “Marley Trent has offered to stay with us tonight.”
“Sounds good to me. I really don’t like the idea of Sydney here alone if he comes back in a drunken stupor.”
Trent looked at his watch, “Ok lock the door behind me and promise not to let anyone in until I get back.”
Sydney followed Trent to the door. She thanked him again and gave him a quick embrace. She watched him through the window as he climbed in his truck and pulled away from the curb. She could feel her eyes filling up with unshed tears as his taillights disappeared around the corner. She knew Rick was back and trying to turn her life upside down but she still dared believe that there was a light at the end of the tunnel.