Who knows…maybe this could be a start of another story. I’m segmenting them into smaller sections for more postings. Interesting to see how I started out and ended up, though. I’ve changed all the names so it’s more ‘original.’ Enjoy, but remember, it is unedited and subject to change 🙂
Never Say Never
I took a big, long, deep breath as I smoothed down my simple green sundress before walking into the building. I straightened the cream, three-quarter sleeved sweater that covered thin straps of the dress. The shade of green I wore was my favorite color. I always thought the color made my skin a little brighter. I was wearing it to try and make myself feel better, a little confidence boost. At least, that was my hope. After one last look in the side mirror of someone’s oversized SUV parked along the street, I gave the charm on my necklace a good luck kiss and made my way to the entrance of the building. The words, ‘you got this’ repeated in my head as I opened the heavy reflective glass door.
The cold of the air conditioned building stunned my face and goose bumps instantly formed. Why did these offices think that they needed to crank the temperature down so low? It had been quite warm for spring in Montana, but there was no need to be reminded of the winter chill.
On the wall to my right, a large collage of pictures depicting what this particular station broadcasted and the faces of their news teams. A news van was pictured driving down a street of downtown Sanford at night. Some faces of the evening and morning anchors were scattered throughout. Various slogans of ‘start your morning off right,’ or ‘end your day with us’ were etched in the night sky. To my left were two plush leather couches forming a ‘L’ in the room around a large wood coffee table full of magazines. The roomy lobby was empty except for the receptionist at her desk who greeted me as I walked in.
“Good morning,” the short-haired, middle-aged woman greeted extra chipper from behind the mahogany desk. There was a huge silver ‘Channel 6’ logo across the front. “And how can I help you this morning?”
“I’m, uh, I’m here to see Frank. Frank Brown,” I stammered.
“Oh, well. Please, by all means, have a seat,” she instructed her tone turning cold as she picked up the phone.
I turned looking at the sofas before walking apprehensively to sit. Softly in the background, from a TV that was mounted inside the wall in front of the couches, I could hear the morning anchors going over the day’s weather and morning traffic reports. Not that there was much to the traffic in a town of less than a thousand.
Uneasiness consumed me, feeling the eyes of the receptionist on me. I turned my head back to her as I heard the phone hang up. My eyes met hers that were piercing, peeking over the top of her black rimmed glasses sitting at the edge of her nose. Her brow furrowed as her eyes narrowed and I smiled awkwardly as I turned back around desperate for something to break the tension.
“You must be the niece from California,” she stated flatly.
Surprised by her inquiry, I looked back to her, “Um…yeah. My name’s Sophie. It’s nice to-”
“Yeah, I know,” she added quickly pushing her glasses back up the bridge of her nose cutting me off. “Been hearing a lot about you the last few weeks.”
Her catty tone shocked me. I wasn’t sure how to respond. Back at home I would have just ignored her and taken myself out of the situation, but I couldn’t do that here. These were the people I was going to be working with. She would be answering and transfering calls to me one day. I stared at her trying to gather my thoughts wondering what would be the best way to respond. I opened my mouth to speak when the booming boisterous voice of my Uncle filled the lobby.
“Sophie, you’re here!” Frank practically yelled. He ran out and excitedly grabbed me into a giant hug before pulling away and looking at me. “My beautiful Sophie, it’s been far too long! How was your trip? Have you found a place yet?”
“The trip was fine. I got in last night. And your real estate agent is out scouting apartments now. I’m sure she’ll find a perfect place.” I explained.
I glanced over my uncle’s shoulder and noticed a man behind Frank leaning against the doorway his arms crossed holding the door proped open. He was snickering at my Uncle’s enthusiasm trying to cover his amusement with his hand over his mouth. Before I could look away, his eyes met mine. They were beautiful, bright blue eyes.
“That sounds great. My Linda is fantastic at finding the perfect place.” Lou said laughing, bringing my attention back to him.
I didn’t doubt it. I was sure that she was going to have me a place to sleep by the day’s end.
“Now, I see you’ve already met Vicki,” Frank said motioning toward the receptionist.
“Yeah, we sort of met,” I said shyly not making eye contact with her unsure of what to make of our conversation.
“Pleased,” Vicki said callously turning back to her computer screen.
“Now, I’d also like you to meet Ryan,” Frank turned around to the man in the doorway who raised his hand at the sound of his name. “Ryan is going to show you around the building. I’d do it myself, but I got called onto a last minute meeting just an hour ago. He’ll take good care of you, I promise.”
I swallowed, and my mouth became dry. It was still registering. Frank was going to leave me alone with him? I nodded, unsure of what else to do, as Lou walked me toward him, my palms became clammy. I was finding it hard to breathe. It had been years since I’d been around a man. At least, who wasn’t related to me. I’d been so wrapped up in my career the last five years, I hadn’t even had a single date. Well, that isn’t entirely true, but it had been fairly easy to do since my last experience.
The muscles in my face strained trying to force a smile as we approached Ryan. His light brown hair was tightly cropped and nicely complimented his bright blue eyes. His skin looked baby soft, his face freshly shaved; I could smell the aftershave lightly in the air. He stood about a foot taller than Frank, his shoulders broad, arms muscular, but not like a body-builder.
My Uncle let go of me as he turned to leave causing me to flinch. I was instantly assaulted with a wave of anxiety. My head felt foggy, my heart pounded, I started to hyperventilate. The thought of being alone with this stranger, this man, Jesus, why was I reacting this way? Maybe I’d made a mistake by going so far away from what I knew as home. My hand reached up finding the charm.
“Frank, I, uh…maybe I should just come back if this is a bad time.” I tried to keep myself composed, but my voice betrayed me cracking and wavering.
He paused and turned, a sympathetic look on his face.
“We don’t have to do this today,” I continued. “I’ll just call Linda and-”
“Sophie, Love, it’s okay,” Lou said softly interrupting my rambling with his hand on my shoulder. “Ryan is a good boy. I trust that you are in good hands. You know I wouldn’t leave if I didn’t think you’d be fine. Let him show you around, he’s been listening to me ramble on about you for weeks now. At least give him the chance to get to know you and give you the tour of the place.”
“Weeks? Ha! More like months,” Ryan interjected, his voice laced with playful sarcasm, startling me. I turned to see a smile playing on his face. “Couldn’t get the guy to shut up.” He finished shrugging.
I felt my face grow warm at the thought of my Uncle talking about me. Especially to this guy. A complete stranger. And it didn’t help that he looked like he’d walked off the cover of some romance novel. What exactly did Frank tell this guy about me?
“I’ll call you later today to see how things went,” Frank said to me but was looking over my shoulder at Ryan.
I nodded and gave him a half-hearted smile watching as my Uncle left the us alone and exited through the same door I had entered moments ago.
“Come on, Sophie,” Ryan said from behind me, his voice gentile. “Let me give you the official tour. I promise. I’ll protect you from the hyenas.”