She kept walking not wanting to take the time to offer greetings or salutations.
“You are Melissa Southern- right?”
Melissa turned at the mention of her maiden name. “I’m sorry.”
“I’m not, but then you don’t remember me.”
“Look,” Melissa held her purse tighter not wanting to admit that she actually did remember him. “I have an interview and. . .It’s not Southern anymore.”
Melissa stared at the man that was talking to her, slowly nodding and shaking her head at the same time. “I hafta to go; it was nice running into you, umm. I’m sorry; I don’t recollect your name.”
“That’s a shocker,” The smile brightened his face while he stood just a few paces away from her. “It’s Paul. I was working on my internship when you started school.”
“Umm,” Melissa glanced at her watch. “Yeah, I have to go, Paul.”
Paul glanced over Melissa’s shoulder and smiled. “You’re in good hands, Melissa.” Smiling he waved at the woman that was standing behind Melissa.
“Well, stranger. I was wondering about you this past week.” Claire Hopkins motioned for Melissa to join her and waited until Melissa was in the office before closing the door. “You know good nurses are really hard to find; especially with your ethics.”
“Doctor Hopkins, what are my chances here?” Melissa sat down in one of the chairs across from her but never made eye contact.
“Melissa, we used to be friends before,” she paused, shaking her head slowly, “call me, Claire. You know the drill, you have three interviews and hopefully we can place you. Now I expect I remember your work from before when you worked here. Now that is over, I want to know what’s been happening with you. It has been about two months since I’ve talked to you last. How are Richard and the girls?”
Melissa stared at her without saying a word. Thoughts about the girls saddened her, and she knew that she wouldn’t be able to hide that from Claire.
“Melissa, did something happen?” Claire pushed away from where she had been writing notes and stood. “I know that Richie’s disappearance was bound to put some stress on the marriage.”
Melissa squirmed in her seat under the older woman’s scrutinizing stare. “I don’t think that I would want to talk about that.”
Claire continued to study Melissa before she sat down beside her. Her gray eyes showed a storm of stress, and the black circle under her eyes told the tale of sleepless nights. She had lost weight, not to the point to where she looked sick. Claire actually thought it was flattering. “Something happened and I thought that I was a friend. Are you going to tell me or what? He left. Hey, I think that’s great news.”
“You deserved better than Mr. Know it All. He didn’t listen to anybody and always treated you like the dirt he walked on. Don’t you try to tell me any different, Melissa. I’ve watched you for the past ten years. I saw the change.” She smirked at the startled stare before she continued. “You can’t hide everything, girlie, especially from an old battle ax like myself.”
“I never told you about how he treated me.”
Claire reached out and took Melissa’s hand. “You didn’t have to, Melissa. Even your mother was worried.”
Melissa stood quickly and pulled her hand away. “You’ve been talking to my mother? About me?”
“Your father was a patient here, so, yes, I talked to her out of respect for you.” Claire pointed towards the chair. “We still have about fifteen minutes left for this interview.”
“He took the girls.” It was spoken in a barely audible whisper.
Claire raised her eyes. “Like he hasn’t put you through a lot of crap before now.”
“I can handle it as long as I can get a job.”
“You need money? Your husband is a CEO bringing in the big bucks.”
“I know that.”
“Dear, if you need help, you come to me.” Claire stood and shook her head. “I’ll have to mention this to Paul. Maybe if. . .”
“You seem to have made an impression on him. Not many people that walk in this office grab his attention. Always in a rush, but he stopped to talk to you. How do you know him?”
“He knew you.”
“So he said, but I can assure that I’ve never talked to him before today.” It wasn’t a lie, Melissa thought.
“He’s a great guy; one that I would want in my corner. Actually, he is in my corner.” Claire smirked while walking to the other side of her desk. “Not that bad to look at either.”
“I guess not.” Melissa asked relieved that the conversation was away from her.
“Thought about setting him up with my daughter, but after seeing the way he. . .” Claire twisted her lips without completing the sentence. “I’ll arrange for your next interview in a couple of days.”
Melissa narrowed her eyes before straightening. “I’d like that, Claire.”
Claire watched Melissa walk to the door. “Melissa, hon, do yourself a favor and try to get some rest. Maybe, it would help if you would see your doctor so that he can prescribe a sleeping pill.”
“That won’t be necessary. Really.” Melissa opened the door and stepped out to see that Paul was standing at a desk talking to several of the nurses. She nodded and walked out of the office without speaking and certainly not letting on that she remembered him.
Reese woke up the next morning; moaning from the headache that had exploded the minute she opened her eyes. She glanced around her, frowning as she thought she had been in a hotel room. She sat up in the tent and heard whistling just outside the nylon walls.
Lowering the zipper, she crawled out of the tent in enough time to see Bo walking away. She grabbed her tennis shoes and zipped the tent back up. She looked towards where she had seen Bo, and took off in the opposite direction. Hopefully, Bo wouldn’t realize that she had left.
She saw the hotel that they had stayed at the day before and ran into the building. “I need to make a phone call.” She managed to say in between the deep breaths that she was consuming, “Please.”
“Reese Carter?” The attendant asked looking at her puzzled. “Crap. Follow me now.” He urged her into a room that had Manager engraved on the door. “I’m leaving you in good hands. I’m going back out to tend to the desk. Hopefully, nobody else noticed you.”
“Miss Carter, would you care for something to drink?” The manager asked before he picked up a paper and called the number. “Anything you want.”
“A cup of coffee would be nice.” She finally spoke calmly. Reese looked down in her hands and noticed that she was still carrying her shoes. She closed her eyes tightly. “Sir, I don’t want him to find me.”
“We are high in keeping confidences.” Glen Gardens smiled before he handed her the cup of coffee. “You’re brothers are on the way as we speak.”
She smiled with relieve as she listened. “Thank God!”
“And there is somebody else.” The manager studied her face. “I believe the young man that you painted last night.”
“Somebody found it.” She murmured.
“They did.” He noticed that Reese was starting to relax. “They wanted to give it to you, but not until they fix it up. It seems to have sustained a little damage on the way down.”
“They can have it.” Reese smiled happily for the first time since Bo had held the pistol to her at Janice’s birthday party.
“Not until I see it,” Tyler said as he walked in the door. He was surprised when Reese jumped up and ran into his arms. “I. . .”
Reese hugged him before she saw her brothers standing behind him. The sigh could be heard by all of them. Tyler released her so that she could hug both of her brothers. “I want to go home now.” She whispered stepping away from Reed. She looked over at Anakin puzzled. “Have we met?”
“I’m Trisha’s fiancé.” Anakin answered as he walked completely into the office. “I’ll put a call into the pilot, and we can all go home.”
“I think he has more diamonds hidden here.” Reese sat down and placed the tennis shoes on her feet. “The dulcimer?”
“Diamonds and money,” Ridge answered. “We turned them in when we found them.”
“We want to thank you for leaving clues, Reese.” Anakin walked over to the chair where she was sitting and knelt in front of her. “It would’ve been a lot harder if it weren’t for those notes.”
“You’re just not Trisha’s fiancé. Are you?” Reese studied him after Ridge stepped up beside her.
“I’m also a FBI agent.” Anakin answered her honestly. “The director was surprised when I told him about what was going on after I was released from the restaurant.”
“We never went into the office.” Reese mumbled as she stood.
“We can talk about this later.” Tyler had been studying her the whole time wondering if Bo had laid a hand on her. “Married?” He lifted her hand upwards and frowned at the ring. “For somebody that made his life stealing diamonds, he went a little skimpy there.”
Reese pulled the ring off and handed it to Anakin. “I don’t think I want this.” She had tears in her eyes as she glanced back at Tyler. “When we get home, I need to talk to you.” She walked off to the private restroom in the manager’s office.
Kenzie couldn’t understand why Holden was knocking on her door. She’d already told him that she would be staying with Paula and Scottie.
“Open the stupid door, Kenzie, before I kick it down.” Holden shouted through the door. “I’m serious.”
“Go away, Holden, and I’m serious. I told you I wasn’t going to move into your house.” Kenzie walked away from the door and leaned against the wall while he continued to knock.
“Kenzie, I just want to talk.”
She didn’t say a word, but walked back to the bedroom where she could muffle the noise he was making. She sat down on the bed and stared at the portrait of Trent that she kept on the cardboard box she used for a nightstand. “You’re friend’s a jerk, Trent.” She whispered into the air. “And certifiable.”
“I’m going to show you certifiable.” Holden was standing in the doorway. “Your landlady let me in. I told her that I was worried with your due date being so close.”
“What do you want?”
“I’m taking you out.”
“So wrong,” Kenzie spat as she remembered the conversation that she had earlier with her boss. “Because of your company, I’m out of a job.”
He leaned against the door frame. “What has my company got anything to do with your job?”
“You don’t know?” She asked while she stood and stepped over to him. “Your company bought Dillionport. Your company reviewed my work history and decided they didn’t like the way that I worked after Trent died. Your company, Holden. How can you sit there and look like you haven’t a clue as to what I’m talking about?”
“Caviness Corp bought Dillionport?”
“That’s what I said.” Kenzie pushed past him as he took his cell phone out of his pocket and dialed one of his uncles. “I need that job.”
“You can work for me.” Holden mumbled while he waited for an answer on the other end. “What is going on around here?”
“You really didn’t know.” Kenzie turned and stared at him dumbfounded. “How is that?”
“It seems that my uncles have neglected telling me they played dirty while I was out of town.” Holden shoved the phone back in his pocket after not receiving an answer. “I’ll get to the bottom of this. I’m the major stock holder.”
“A lot of good it’s doing you.”
“Chill out, Kenzie. You’re not losing your job.” Holden walked over to her land line and dialed his uncle again.
“The decision was already made.”
“But not with my input. I’ve never wanted to buy little mom and pop operations. It’s not the way we’re supposed to operate.” He slammed the receiver back into its cradle. “Forget that. Let’s celebrate you not having a job.”
“Now I know you have a screw lose.” Kenzie frowned after he grabbed the coat that had he had placed on the card table. “What is there to celebrate about losing my only source of income?”
“You’re better off. There wasn’t any advancement there.” Holden informed her. “You’ll have plenty of room for advancement at Caviness Corp.”
“I think that you’re forgetting something, Holden. That being the fact that it was your uncles who had me dismissed. Get it?”
“I have more say than my uncles. I have the power to veto anything that they’ve done.” Holden handed her the jacket and her purse. “Now you’re getting out of this dismal apartment and going somewhere festive.”
“I’m not feeling festive.”
“Do you mind if I crash that party?” Holden asked tilting his head. “I mean like really, Kenzie. I’m sure that there are people out there worse off than you.”
“I don’t understand the way you think.” Kenzie decided that she’d had enough of the apartment while she put the coat on and glanced at him. “I’m not sure I ever will.”
“And that’s why people want to be me.”
“Oh, gee. Did you pay for that arrogance or was it handed down through the generations?” She asked with amusement.
“Hum, remind me to ask my mother. I’m sure she’ll know.” Holden glanced at her and grinned. “By the way, I love the smile. I believe it’s the first time I’ve seen it since I’ve been back.”
“It hasn’t exactly been a party, Holden.” Kenzie informed him. “This has been the worst day since Trent. . .”
“Let’s not go there- okay?” Holden pointed towards his car and opened the passenger door for her. “Let’s just go have a nice dinner in a pleasant atmosphere and talk baby.”
“You mean like goo goo ga ga?” Kenzie asked after buckling. “I’d prefer not to talk baby.”
“You need to start.”
“Don’t go there.” Kenzie hissed the warning. “I thought you wanted to take me out so I could relax.
“I do want you to relax.” Holden said as he sat behind the wheeled and pushed the start button. “I also want you to start thinking. . . .Never mind, tonight is for relaxing.”
“Thanks,” Kenzie stared absently at the Christmas lights.
“You’re not very excited, Kenzie.” Holden glanced towards her. “I mean, I thought women grew excited when it came time for the baby’s birth.”
She shrugged her shoulders and continued to watch the flashing lights. “I guess.”
“What is it? Are you worried?”
“I don’t want to get into it; especially with you.” She narrowed her eyes after he pulled into the Babies R Us parking lot. “Really?”
Megan twisted her lips watching Haley toss a couple of the messages in the trashcan beside the desk and stepped into the office. “She’ll be in tomorrow which is good because Tristan,” she noticed that Haley glanced down at the desk at the mention of her brother, “will be here, in the office, in the morning.” Megan stepped towards the door. “So I thought you were in a hurry to leave.”
“You are sooo fishing.”
“I forgot to bait the hook, but you could tell me about this relationship of yours.”
“Hmm,” Haley glanced towards her and smiled. “I’d much rather you get involved so I can hear about somebody other Kenny. It’s getting a little boring.”
“You advised her to give it a chance.”
“That’s right.” Haley walked away from her desk and Megan followed her. “I’d hate to think that she killed off a relationship based on how miserable I was. Everybody is different. Every relationship is different.” Haley waited until Megan stepped out and then locked the door. “It might work out for her.”
“I don’t think you know what you’re talking about right now.”
“Think about it like this, Meg. What if Shelby and Kenny work this through and find that the distance actually made their relationship stronger? It could be that they’ll be the couple that has a marriage that lasts a lifetime.”
“You don’t believe in marriages.”
“Because I don’t believe doesn’t mean that they fail to exist.” Haley frowned, thinking about her childhood. “I have every reason to knock marriage and commitments. They’ve never existed in my life.”
“Yet we’ve been friends since we were five.”
“You wouldn’t leave me alone.” Haley laughed. “I do appreciate that.”
“Bullies loved you.” Megan reminded her. “So since your plans have changed, I’m thinking that maybe you can have dinner with me and Tristan.”
“No,” Haley answered quickly, causing Megan to glance at her curiously.
“And why not? Your date cancelled.”
“And I’m not going to make my evening worse by spending it with your brother. It’s bad enough he called a meeting that you insist that I need to attend. Thanks, but no thanks.”
“For Pete’s sake, Haley, it’s just supper.”
“And he’s going to talk business the whole time.” Haley glanced at her watch while they waited on the elevator that she called to their floor. “I should go home and rest anyway. I was about to fall asleep talking to Sheridan.”
“There’s something about Tristan that has set off some rather odd reactions from you.” Megan watched the elevator open and stepped inside. Holding the door, she stared at Haley who had remained in the hall. “I’ll drop it.”
“I’d appreciate it.”
“But I wonder if you would confess to whatever happened between the two of you. You’ve never acted like this before now.”
“Nothing so-called happened, and I believe that you were going to drop it.” Haley stepped in and punched the button for the lobby. “And I’d really, reallyappreciate it if you did.”
“Something happened,” Megan sighed, blowing on the bangs that had settled in front of her eyes.
Haley rolled her eyes before laughing. “Nothing happened. I just don’t care much for your brother’s insistent and annoying intrusion into my life or my relationships. Your brother doesn’t understand that our social life, be it good or bad, is really none of his business.”
“He does have the habit of butting in.” Megan conceded right as the elevator came to a silent and complete stop. Placing a hand on Haley’s arm, she studied her friend thoroughly. “How’s the relationship between you and McCauley?”
“Were you really going to butt out?”
“I only agreed to drop talking about Tristan.” Megan reminded her. “Come on, Haley, you’ve been going out with him for at least three months now.”
“Mac is fun to be with.”
“Is that it?”
“I need fun, Megan.” Haley smiled at her happily before stepping away from the elevator. “And it wouldn’t hurt for you to allow yourself some much needed time with a man.”
“Maybe,” Megan frowned thoughtfully and then grinned. “Men are intimidated by me.”
“Gee, I wonder why.” Haley wanted to laugh but kept a straight face knowing that Megan insisted on being the one in charge and that just didn’t fly with some of the men they knew. “Maybe if you took a back seat every once in a while. . .”
“So not going to happen. I don’t like being told what to do.”
“I was just saying that sometimes a man likes to think that something is his idea, Meg.” Haley glanced down at her watch after they had walked into the parking garage. “I’m sure that your brother is waiting on you.”
“He can wait.”
“Tristan? Wait? I haven’t seen that.” Haley laughed as she unlocked her. “Have fun, Megan.”