Home > Tossed Into Love (Fluke My Life #3)

Tossed Into Love (Fluke My Life #3)
Author: Aurora Rose Reynolds

Chapter 1



I hear the front door open, then listen as my sister Mackenzie tries to be quiet when she enters our apartment. The loud squeak of the hinges causes her to fail miserably. I roll over in bed and look at the clock. It’s early, not even five in the morning. I don’t know where she stayed last night, but I do know it wasn’t here. I also know that if I ask her where she was all night, she won’t tell me. She never tells me anything anymore, which is annoying as hell and highly frustrating. There was a time when we shared everything with each other, a time when both my sisters, Mac and Fawn, shared everything with me. That all changed around Halloween, when Fawn started dating her boyfriend, Levi. I don’t know why things changed then, but I know they did. I roll back over and close my eyes, ignoring her as she comes into the bedroom and fumbles around in the dark. I keep ignoring her as her bed squeaks as she gets into it. I hear her move around some more like she can’t get comfortable.

“Lib, are you up?” she whispers into the dark. I hold back a sigh of frustration. I’ve always had a problem getting back to sleep once I’m awake.

“Maybe,” I whisper back.

“Tony had a heart attack.”

“What?” I sit up and flip on my lamp, blinking as my eyes adjust to the light.

“Tony had a heart attack,” she repeats.

My heart sinks. Tony is the owner of Tony’s Pizzeria, just a couple of blocks from our apartment. When I moved to New York City to go to school six years ago, Tony’s Pizzeria was the first place that felt a little like home. The first time I walked into the shop, Tony welcomed me with open arms. Every time after that, he greeted me like he had known me my whole life, like I was a part of his family. He was always there with a warm smile and friendly hug.

Tony’s has become the place I go when I need a moment to think or someone to talk to—that someone being Tony’s wife, Martina, a woman I have come to care for deeply. She’s always, but always, given me her time, her ear, and her advice. She and her husband are two of the kindest people I know. They remind me of my parents in a lot of ways. Tony has a warmth about him, and Martina is sweet to the bone and generous with advice. Even when advice is not exactly what you’re looking for.

“When . . . ? Is . . . is he okay? Is Martina okay?”

“It was a few days ago. He’s okay. He had surgery. Antonio said he’ll be starting physical therapy soon. Martina is with him.”

Of course she’s with him. Martina is always at her husband’s side; where he goes, she goes.

“Oh god,” I whisper. “Who’s running the shop?” If Tony just had a heart attack, he can’t run it; Martina can’t because she won’t leave her husband’s side. And Antonio? Well, Antonio, their only son, already has a full-time job as a firefighter—and he hates the pizzeria. I can’t imagine him wanting to run the shop for his parents.

“Antonio’s been taking care of things,” she says.

I shake my head. Martina told me a while back, when I asked why Antonio didn’t work at the shop, that Antonio resented the pizzeria, that he felt like the business was slowly killing his dad. I’m sure his father having a heart attack has only made him hate the place even more now.

“He’s struggling, so I’m going to try and help out when I can.” Her words pull me from my thoughts. I look over at her once more.

“I’ll help, too,” I say instantly. It might be awkward, though, since I’ve had a crush on Antonio for three years and he doesn’t seem to like me much. Every time I’ve been around him, he’s growled or glared at me for whatever reason. Personally, I think he is a jerk—a hot jerk, but a jerk all the same. Still, I adore his parents and wouldn’t be able to look at myself in the mirror if I didn’t at least try to help them out in some way while they are dealing with such a difficult situation.

“I know Martina will appreciate that,” she says.

I notice that her eyes are tired and her face is red, like she’s been crying. I want to ask her what’s wrong, but I fight the urge, turn the light back off, and lie down. I’m not a heartless cow; I’ve tried talking to Mackenzie until I’m blue in the face, but no matter what I say or do, she refuses to open up to me. As the baby of the family, I’m used to people . . . well . . . babying me. Still, it’s frustrating when it happens. I might be younger than my sisters, but I’m a grown woman who has the ability to think, give advice, and help out when needed. I wish they would see that.

Twenty minutes later, with sleep evading me and Mac snoring softly, I get out of bed and head for the bathroom to get ready for work. Once I’m out of the shower, I wrap myself in my robe and go through my morning routine. I recurl my dark-brown hair, pulling the top of it back away from my face with bobby pins and spraying enough hair spray to hold it throughout the day. Then I put on a full face of makeup, including a deep-red lipstick. I leave the bathroom quietly to get dressed in the living room, where I keep my wardrobe. Our apartment is tiny. The bedroom is just big enough for our twin beds, Mac’s dresser, and our shared nightstand. The living room and small kitchen are separated by a wall with a cutout. Our couch sits under that opening, and our flat-screen TV hangs on the opposite wall, over a small black entertainment stand. My wardrobe is where the dining room table would be if we had one. Thank god we don’t, and I say that because I have an obsession with buying clothes, bags, and shoes. As it is, my bed is hiked up off the floor so that I have room to store my seasonal clothing in three plastic totes beneath it. After rummaging through my stuff, I settle on a pair of navy-blue wool slacks with a wide leg and a high waist, and a navy silk blouse with white polka dots. I pair these with navy-blue Mary Janes that have a wide, three-inch stacked heel. After getting dressed, I make myself a bowl of Frosted Flakes that I eat while leaning against the counter and scrolling through my phone for a flower shop near my job. I finish my cereal, rinse my bowl, and wipe down the counters before grabbing my black wool trench coat, my Coach purse—a gift from my parents when I turned twenty-one—and my keys. Not in the mood to take the train, I catch a cab to work.

I let myself into the Madison Avenue salon a little before eight and lock the door behind me. Palo, the owner, won’t be here for another hour or two, depending on his client schedule, and everyone else won’t be in until closer to opening. Two months ago, Palo promoted me to assistant manager. It’s my job to get things ready in the mornings, like starting the wax machines, making sure all the supplies are stocked, and letting in the cleaning crew.

Palo’s is one of the top-rated salons in the city, not only because some of the most talented people in the industry work here but because the space screams luxury. Before you even enter the shop, you know you’re going to get first-class service . . . just because of the Madison Avenue location. When you enter the salon, you see that the entire space is open, so clients can watch others get their hair or makeup done from one of the black leather couches in the front. We have one makeup station, which is mine, and six stylist stations. All the stations have white leather chairs in front of floating glass shelves and standing mirrors with black frames. There is no art on the walls, because who needs art when you’re creating it? At least that’s what Palo says. Personally, I would love to see some color around here.

I’ve worked at Palo’s for three years. I started as an apprentice right after I graduated from Aveda, which is, in my opinion, one of the best cosmetology schools in the world. My goal was to do theatrical makeup on Broadway or for one of the morning shows that tape in New York City. But since starting at the salon, I haven’t attempted to do either of those things; honestly, I don’t know if makeup and hair is what I want to do forever. I used to think it was. I always assumed that because I loved makeup and hair, I would love being a stylist for a living. Now . . . I’m not so sure. I like my job. I’m really good at it, the money is great, and I’ve made some amazing friends along the way, but I don’t feel fulfilled anymore. I feel like I’m missing something, only I’m too scared to figure out what that something is.

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