Home > Kian(17)

Author: Tijan

I worked late mornings till early evenings at the restaurant. There’d been no more delivery jobs, and when Paul returned from wherever he’d been, I was immediately yanked off of training. Once that happened, my life settled into a small routine.

Erica was finally bringing up the other new habit that I had formed. And that was spending time with Jake.

Erica and I were walking to the local market held in the community park. It was the first time we really had to talk. She’d say hello and visit with Jake whenever she came home before heading to bed while he was watching movies with me. The first time, she had paused. I saw the confusion¸ but she let it go. The second time, there was more confusion. The third was when she began to grow wary.

“It’s just a friendship.”

She snorted, dodging around a couple holding hands. “And I love working for Susan with this interview thing. Try again, Jo.”

I grinned. “That is the truth. We’re friends. Only friends.”

“No mushy stuff, like those two?” She jerked a thumb over her shoulder, indicating the couple we’d just woven around.

“No. No touching. No holding hands. No back rubs. No hugs.” I stopped and shrugged. “Well, we do hug, but that’s it.”

The local market had grown since the last time I was there. Before, it had been three booths of food, but now, there were three lines of booths with four booths in a row.

As we got to the edge of the park that was situated between two brick buildings, tucked away in a corner, Erica paused beside me. “Damn,” she noted under her breath. “This has tripled.”

I nodded.

So had the clientele. Children were running around with their paper bags for groceries, ducking and dodging around older kids, parents, and a few grandmas and grandpas, too. The whole scene looked like an image torn out of a children’s book.

This…this was why I loved living in Hillcrest and going to their private university. I knew places like this existed, but after finding a community with a little park like this, a thriving local market, a new coffee place, my job only a few blocks away, and a liquor store where I wasn’t scared to go at night, I couldn’t leave this place. Somehow, someway, this had become my new home.

“You good?”

Erica had gone toward the market but paused when she saw that I hadn’t followed.

I broke from my little reminiscing moment, shaking off the feeling that this could be taken away from me. It couldn’t. I wouldn’t let that happen.

“You coming or what?”

“I’m coming.”

As I got to her, she teased, “Don’t tell me you’re having daydreams about your not-future boyfriend.”

I shot her a look as we came to the first booth of strawberries. “Was that sentence supposed to make sense?”

Erica laughed, moving around to the next booth where she picked up a container of blackberries. After paying for them, she said to me, “Not really, but your whole thing that you’re only friends doesn’t make sense to me either.”

I wanted to tease her back about Wanker, but I bit my tongue. Erica would get prickly on that subject.

She moved down the line and headed for the vegetable row.

She was in denial about Wanker.

I was in denial about…everything.

Hell, was everyone denying something?

Erica came back around and shot me a confused look. “You coming?”

I started forward. “Yeah.”

As I got to her, I stepped on something and glanced down. Kian’s face was looking back up at me. It was an old newspaper, and his story was on the front page. Someone had discarded it, or it had been brought to wrap items with it. I bent down and picked it up. I hadn’t allowed myself to read whatever the reports said about him, but the headline, “He Gave Up His Future,” caught my eye, and I couldn’t look away.

Erica came to stand beside me. “Uh, Jo? You know that thing was on the ground, right? You’re going to have to go to the hospital to get all those germs off of you.”

“Yeah,” I murmured. “Uh-huh.”

The paper was two weeks old. That was a week after I’d seen him, a week after he’d disappeared again from my life.

Kian Maston was released three weeks ago and given a new lease on life.

“Hey.” Erica stopped my reading, gazing down at the newspaper. “I shouldn’t tell you this, but you know that interview I’m doing in a few weeks, the one I’m working with Susan on?”

Oh, no.

My heart started pumping.

She continued, “It’s with him.”

“What?” My throat couldn’t work. That word had barely squeaked out.

She nodded, her eyes filling with excitement. “Can you believe it?”

“With this guy?” I had to be sure.

“I know. I can’t believe it either. I’ve been dying to tell you about it, but Susan and the senior reporter threatened us. If we say a word, I’m off the project. We’re not supposed to say anything, but, man, this interview is big. He’s only done one other interview. And get this”—her voice rose—“he reached out to us. I guess he always wanted to come to Hillcrest or something, so he offered to do an interview here.”

My mouth was so damn dry. “When?”

Her eyes got big. She shook her head. “I can’t say that but soon, very soon.” She moved closer, dropping her voice. “This could be huge for me, Jo. Huge.”

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