I have a sick kid, and one trying to pass himself as sick, right now. So, here is chapter two of my way back machine story. :) Hopefully I've fixed all the odd tense changes. I do NOT know what it is with me and them. I still catch them on occasion. Sheesh!
I've made some changes to the characters in this. As I said, my MC sucked before. I'm trying to make him more bearable to be around. :) Even if I never do finish this.
When the Spirit Moves You - Chapter Two
The mall was packed with weary parents hauling around whining kids demanding everything and anything. Back to school shopping had started early and the roar of noise from the food court changed my mind about getting a drink after the drive. Better to get in and get out. I rarely came to the mall, never without an escort. Once I’d found a directory I discovered my destination was on the other side of shopping hell. A brief debate about the merits of driving around occurred in my heated brain.
The air conditioning won and I started hoofing it across the wasteland of commercialism to my destination. I’d only made it past three stores before some annoying kiosk drone tried to stop me, insisting I could take years off my looks with her moisturizer. I hadn’t shaved in two days so imagined I looked pretty hard, but that hurt. I wasn’t that close to forty. Instead of saying something mean to a poor girl only trying to make a living I kept walking. My momma always said if you can’t say something nice, shut the hell up. Although usually it was only shut the hell up. Especially when her soaps were on.
Ten kiosks and a mall cop later I made it to the jewelry store. Peering into the window for inspiration I let out a huge sigh. Lily would want something nice and I couldn’t spend the kind of money she would think was acceptable right now.
Maybe something simple. Simple seemed to be less expensive. The current trend was for ugly as sin to be more expensive. I’d never understand women and jewelry. Once inside, I was accosted by a shark with coiffed and shellacked blonde hair whose name tag told me she was Bobbi. I’m pretty sure before I’d said hello she smelled the desperation on me.
“I need something simple,” I told her before she could really get going. The light dimmed some as Bobbi took me over to what I was pretty sure was called the “cheap bastard” case by the employees when no one was around.
“Are you looking for something in gold, white gold, or platinum?” she asked without even a look at the silver jewelry on display. I might have gotten annoyed, but I knew Lily hated silver. So, I let it go. Better man and all.
“I’m looking for the right thing,” I told her and pointed to the first thing that caught my eye. “Let me see that.” There was no flicker of disapproval on Bobbi’s face as well manicured hands reached in and extracted a little moon pendant on a chain.
“An excellent choice, sir,” she told me even though the sir probably stuck in her mouth. To be fair to Bobbi, I hadn’t even thought to tuck in my shirt before leaving work.
Thirst was starting to get to me as she extoled the virtues of the pendant and my hurry to brave the hoards wound up with me agreeing to the matching earrings.
“Half-off,” she assured me rapidly as I started to show signs of awareness. As we waited together for the credit card machine to chirp my approval she carefully arranged silver and gold tissue paper in a little bag. Once that was completed to her satisfaction she set the little boxes in as carefully as a pharaoh was interred.
“Thank you, sir,” Bobbi said as I signed the slip. Approval of three-hundred-dollar purchase had given me a little more grace in her book. I smiled and left with my bag in hand. Gracious-like, as one would expect from a sir.
With my purchase in hand I made the second run through the gauntlet much slower. Slow enough that a sale at the movie store halted my steps. I dug my phone from my pocket and checked the time. I used to wear a watch, but I was forever losing it. I toy with getting a new one, but never do. There’s still time to beg forgiveness before lunch even if I did stop to check the sale. Streaming and digital were all the rage, but our internet was often spotty. I liked a hard copy.
Whistling I headed inside and waved to the woman behind the counter. At work, Mandy gave two damns about the way I looked. She used to work for me, before deciding a pay cut was worth air conditioning and screaming brats. There are still days I can’t fault her. Hopefully today wouldn’t turn into one of them.
I headed right for the clearance shelves and began to peruse them. Mostly, it’s summer blockbusters from a few years ago and tv series called the next great thing four years ago. Sometimes I got lucky, but today was not one of those days. I sure hoped it was no indication of things to come.
“Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose,” Mandy said behind me.
“Let’s hope later is a win. It’ll mean I can afford to not haunt the clearance shelves.”
Mandy’s laugh was loud and, to be quite honest, abrasive. She was teased about it a lot when she worked for me, but she’d never let it stop her from laughing. Which had made me like her immediately.
“I know you like to pretend you’re some broke ass dude, but we both know it’s not true.” Her eyes flicked downward to the bag and she laughed again. “Ohhh! Someone’s in trouble,” she sang in a loud playground voice. “Someone’s in trouble,” she chanted as she went back to the counter to ring up some pierced and tattooed dude buying Sleepless in Seattle.
I shook my head and waved with one finger as I left.
Another glance at my phone to check the time and I quickened my steps to dodge the old ladies doing their mall walk late. One of them muttered after me about rude kids today, but I didn’t let it slow me down. The heat assaulted me when I pushed outside and I remembered the drink I’d never bought. Needs warred with each other. On the one hand, I needed a drink. On the other, Lily was not getting any less pissed off. In the end, I convinced myself it was for the good of the company and trudged to my truck.
Besides, there’s a drive thru on the way to Lily’s.
I tossed the bag onto the seat of my truck without thinking. All of Bobbi’s hard work gone to naught. The traffic out was not as bad as in so I was back on the road soon enough. A quick stop for an iced tea, and a chance to make sure the bag looked presentable, and I was at Lily’s door in under ten minutes.
Her car was in the driveway alone so she had no clients. Thank God for small favors. I didn’t bother locking the doors and was halfway to the house before remembering the bag. A quick trip back for it and I knocked as the curtains twitched.
I knocked again. It was her game. I didn’t mind.
Although, I did tuck the bag behind my back. I mean, I didn’t put up with her occasional oddities out of sainthood. I’ve got my own share of dickish behavior.
When I was still outside after the third knock, I started to sing. Lily hated my voice, one could not blame her, so I made sure to sing nice and loud. I was on the second verse and the door opened.
She looked pissed. And hot. Not hot like I felt all sweaty from the mall parking lot. On a base level, I knew her hotness made me work harder on our relationship. A man would be stupid to give up someone as incredibly good looking as her. I knew it made me shallow to think it, but when you fall in love at fifteen there’s no getting around all the shallow.
“You asshole,” she began without missing a beat. “Don’t think I don’t know why suddenly you give two flying fucks about me. You’ve got a job.” Kursk might not be a small town, but it wasn’t exactly large either. I wasn’t surprised she’d heard about the Stevens’ job.
“You don’t know everything,” I tell her in a low voice.
Two steps forward and she took two back. Letting me in meant forgiveness. Eventually. I kicked the door closed behind me. Lily smirked, but my occasional brutish behavior amused her.
She stepped backward and I followed her down the hall. The bag dangled from one hand, but she didn’t lunge for it. Truthfully, for Lily, it was always the thought. I’d braved the mall, the jewelry store, and she’d know I picked it out myself. Her largesse only went so far, however, and woe to anyone who ever brought a forgive me gift from the dollar store.
Seeing her, dark blonde hair loose around her shoulders, and hazel eyes twinkling, I forgot why I’d come. Well, I forgot about the work aspect. It had been a week. A long week. Lily said it was fate, I called it pheromones, but whatever it was, when we were together we had a hard time keeping our hands to ourselves. So, when her back hit the bedroom door she opened it and I followed her straight to the bed. The clients would have to settle for our late arrival.