Home > Falling Fast(12)

Falling Fast(12)
Author: Aurora Rose Reynolds

“I will.”

“All right, I just got home, so I’m going to hop in the shower then watch the newest episode of Claws.”

“Claws?” I prompt, taking a seat across from Grandma, who looks at me and smiles.

“Girl, this show is crazy! You need to check it out sometime. It’s about a group of girls who work at a nail salon and use that as a front to launder drug money.”

“Sounds interesting,” I reply sarcastically.

“You have to watch it to understand exactly why it’s the fucking bomb.”

“When I have cable put in next week, I’ll check it out.”

“You don’t have cable?” Nat gasps, sounding horrified.

“Grandma doesn’t have it, and since I spent most of my money taking care of things that were a little more important than cable, I’ve lived without it. But I have an appointment to get it next week.”

“Do you also ride a horse to work to save on gas money?”

“Shut up,” I laugh while listening to her giggle along with me. “I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow, and remember what I said. And if you can, snap a pic of this Colton guy so I can check him out.”

“That’s not going to happen.” I smile, picking up a piece of the puzzle and putting it in place. This puzzle is one of a garden and cottage—one of three we have completed since I’ve been here.

“Come on, I need to see what he looks like.”

“I’ll think about it,” I mutter, knowing there is no way in hell I’m going to snap a picture of Colton unless it’s a picture for only me, to keep me company at night.

“Fine. I love you.”

“Love you too,” I reply before hanging up and dropping my cell to the top of the table.

“I feel like taking a walk,” Grandma says after a few seconds of us sitting in silence.

“It’s still cold out,” I remind her, since earlier today I had a hard time getting her out of the house to go with me to the store because it was so cold.

“That’s okay. I’ll bundle up.”

“All right.” I push back from the table then help her stand. Grabbing her coat, hat, and gloves in the living room, I help her put them on then do the same with my own before taking her arm and leading her out the door and down the steps. It’s not completely dark out, but it is getting dark, making it difficult to see since there aren’t any street lamps on the road. “We should get a dog,” I tell Grandma, squeezing her hand in mine when we pass a couple walking theirs.

“We have a dog already, Gabriella, and your father had a hard time even accepting Roofus. I doubt he’d be happy if we got another animal,” she replies, looking at me with a smile.

“You’re right,” I say quietly through the pain expanding throughout my chest. I don’t correct her; I haven’t been, because when I do, it just leaves her more confused and upset.

“Maybe I could talk him into it though when he gets off the road, since he always takes Roofus with him when he goes. It would be nice if we had a dog at home with us when he’s gone.”

“That would be nice,” I agree.

My grandfather was a truck driver. He drove long-haul forever, and my mom had a box where she kept the little trinkets he brought home for her after each trip. When I was a kid, I thought that would be the coolest job in the world. Driving a huge truck all over the United States, seeing new places, and sleeping in the back when you were too tired to drive. Mom also told me about Roofus. He was a German Shepherd mix, and the reason she never let me get a dog. She didn’t want me to have to deal with getting attached to a pet that would end up dying someday. She obviously had no idea that losing her would be a bigger blow than losing a dog.

“I’ll talk to him,” Grandma states more firmly, and I give her hand a squeeze, not answering because I can’t. Seeing headlights cast a shadow on the trees ahead of us, I move us further over to the side of the road and out of the way of the car coming up behind us. I then turn to look over my shoulder when I notice the car has started to slow down enough to pull up alongside us.

My muscles tense as the passenger side window lowers, and then I relax when I see it’s a girl about my age behind the wheel, maybe a few years older, with long blonde hair sticking out from under a red knitted cap. It makes her already beautiful face that much more striking.

“You’re the new girl, right?” the woman asks, and since I know she’s not talking to Grandma, I nod.

“I’m Lisa,” she says like I should know who she is. “A friend of mine saw you at Ted’s with Colton.” I continue to stare at her, not sure why she’s stopping to tell me about her friend seeing me. “We kinda have a thing, and you work at his parents’ place.” Her words are like a punch to the gut, but I fight off the flinch I feel from their impact. “I guess I just wanted to stop, introduce myself, and say hi.”

No, she didn’t want to stop and say hi and introduce herself. She wanted to make it clear that Colton was hers.

“Who’s Colton?” Grandma asks from my side.

“Just my boss’s son, Grandma,” I say for both of them, and Lisa, who I’m still looking at, smiles a smile of triumph.

“Well, it was nice meeting you. I’m sure I’ll see you around.”

“Sure,” I mumble, hoping I never have to see her again.

Rolling up her window, she drives off slowly.

“She seemed nice,” Grandma says as I turn us around to head in the direction of the house. “She’s also very pretty.”

“She is,” I agree, because she really is pretty, which totally sucks, because I can tell she is a complete bitch. “Do you want to have hot cocoa when we get home?” I ask, needing to change the subject, and also needing chocolate like my life depends on it. And since I can’t just leave Grandma alone to go into town and buy all the chocolate the store has to offer, hot cocoa is my only option.

“That sounds nice,” Grandma answers.

After getting us back to the house, I make us each a hot cocoa that we drink at the kitchen table while working on the puzzle. Then I help Grandma get into her PJs and into bed before going to my room and doing the same. Lying in bed, it takes forever to fall asleep, because all I can think about is Colton and Lisa and how perfectly they fit each other.

~**~

Scrubbing one of the high-top tables in the middle of the room, I spray some more of the cleaner onto my rag and scrub harder. The table is already clean—all the tables are, along with the bar, the floors, and the bathrooms. I’m just cleaning them all again so I can avoid Colton. Colton, who showed up twenty minutes ago telling me to let him know when I had a minute to talk to him about my Jeep. I don’t want to talk to him. I don’t even want to be around him after tossing and turning most of the night. I came to the conclusion I just need to focus on Grandma; that’s why I came here.

“You scrub that any harder you’ll take the paint off.”

Hearing that, I look up at Colton who somehow snuck up on me. I didn’t even hear him coming.

“It’s wood.”

“All right, you’ll scrub the stain off it then,” he says, taking the towel out of my hand and dropping it to the bucket of cleaning supplies at my feet. He then does the same with the bottle of cleaner I have in my other hand.

“What are you doing?” I ask, watching him pick up the bucket and walk toward the office with it.

“The place is clean, Gia, probably cleaner than it’s ever been. You won’t lose the job if you take a break,” he states, dropping the bucket onto the floor instead of setting it down, causing things to bounce out. “Do you want a coffee or a soda?” he asks, walking past me.

“Neither right now. I was kinda in the process of doing something,” I state, and he pauses to look at me.

“What’s wrong?”

“Do you mean besides the fact you are stopping me from doing my job… again?” I accuse, and his lips tip up, which I want to hate, but can’t. He looks gorgeous all the time, but when he’s smiling like that, he looks boyish and cute and, okay, still totally gorgeous.

   
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