Authors: Jennifer Ketchum
Copyright © 2013
All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be copied, reproduced in any format, by any means, electronic or otherwise, without prior consent from the copyright owner and publisher of this book.
This is a work of fiction. All characters, names, places and events are the product of the author's imagination or used fictitiously.
Danna Evans tapped her fingers nervously on her desk. Getting this new account would cement her position at McNalley & Associates, and she might just find herself as a Senior Marketing Executive when all was said and done. She’d worked her way up in the company over the last three years, and this was the final leg of what she hoped would be her fast track to promotion.
Danna had always been someone who wanted to succeed. Maybe it was because of her family background - being raised by a single mother who struggled to make ends meet for her three daughters - or maybe it was her desire to make something of herself and get out of Dallas Springs. The tiny Georgia town nestled in the north Georgia mountains wasn’t exactly a hotbed of activity as she was growing up. Her sisters, Emma and Olivia, had been her main playmates, although the three of them couldn’t be more different.
Danna had always been the renegade in their small family. She loved to get into trouble any way she could whether it was racing four wheelers or jumping out of barns into big bales of hay. Her tomboyish ways had driven her mother crazy as she’d hoped each of her daughters would love to wear frilly dresses and big hair bows. The girly one of their bunch had been Emma who loved to enter beauty contests and wear the latest fashions, even when their mother couldn’t afford them. Olivia had been the bookworm who made straight A’s and was always teacher’s pet.
How the three of them had turned out so differently was unknown, but one thing was certain. All three sisters had completely struck out when it came to love. Danna was already divorced at only twenty eight years old. Her ex-husband, Peter, had been her college sweetheart. When she found out that he was cheating on her with his co-worker, the marriage had quickly ended after only two years. Deciding that she would be permanently single, Danna had opted not to date in the last three years, instead focusing on her career. And now was the culmination of that dream. As she waited for her boss to deliver the news as to whether she’d sealed the deal with the tire company account, Danna could feel her stomach churning with anxiety.
“Danna?” she heard her boss, Steve Ideman, speaking to her from her office doorway. This was it. The moment that she’d find out whether or not she got the big account for Sparkman Tires which would hopefully lead to a big promotion.
“Oh, hi, Steve. Any news?” she asked as she stood up behind her desk.
“Actually, yes. I just heard from Sparkman. I’m sorry, but it’s not good news,” he said shaking his head as he sat down across from her with a big sigh. Danna slowly slid down into her chair.
“How is that possible, Steve? I created a fantastic plan for their marketing, and our bid came in under the other two bids…”
“I don’t know, Danna, but this doesn’t look good. You know as well as I do that this is the third account you’ve failed to get since Ronald moved you into the position four months ago. I really pushed for you to have this chance, Danna, but you’re making me look kind of bad.”
“Look, I need to just get to the point. Ronald has asked me to let you know that Sylvie Hampton is going to be taking over your position.”
“What?” Danna gasped, putting her hand over her heart. “Are you kidding? Sylvie is just out of college. She has no experience!” Danna had always been challenged with keeping her anger in check. She wasn’t one to mince words, and it was even harder at the moment.
“Danna, you’re being put on leave. Ronald is giving you two weeks to take a mental rest so that you can hopefully come back strong.”
“So, I’m basically being suspended?”
“Basically. But, the company will pay you for the two weeks. Look, I suggest you get away from here and take some time for yourself. You’ve been burning the candles at both ends for so long, Danna. Maybe you just need a rest.”
“And what about my job when I come back?” she asked softly, trying to keep her anger in check.
“I’m sorry, Danna…”
“I’m being demoted, aren’t I?” she asked looking him in the eyes.
“Forget it,” she said standing up as she started opening her drawers.
“What are you doing?” Steve asked.
“Packing. Tell Ronald that I quit,” she said through gritted teeth.
“You’re not serious…”
“Oh, yes. I’m dead serious, Steve,” she said leaning across the desk giving him a glare before continuing to pack her desk.
“Why don’t you take the two weeks and get some space to think before making any rash decisions?” Steve urged her.
“I’ve made my decision, Steve. If Ronald doesn’t think more of the work I’ve put in here than that, it’s time for me to move on.”
“What will you do, Danna?” Steve asked with a look of concern on his face.
“I don’t know, but this is just going to have to be my new beginning, I suppose.”
After loading up her office and saying her goodbyes, Danna got into her car and looked up at the ten story building in the heart of downtown Atlanta. She wasn’t sure what she was going to do now, but she’d always loved a good adventure and maybe it was time for one. After playing it safe and working like a “normal” person for years, maybe it was time to try something totally off the wall and new, but first she would have to do the one thing she wasn’t planning on anytime soon - go back home to Dallas Springs.
As Danna drove into Dallas Springs, she had that sense of familiarity. She’d lived in Dallas Springs her whole life until she went off to college, eager to get started in the working world. Although her mother really didn't want her to go, and much preferred for Danna to go to the local community college, she had a sense that she needed to get out of the small-town atmosphere and really experience what city life had to offer.
Even though she missed her sisters, because they had always been pretty close, Danna felt like she needed to go out into the world and make something of herself. She’d always been very competitive, even in school. Participating in several different sports from running track to playing softball, Danna was a competitor at heart.
She was never the one who got the best grades. That was her sister, Olivia. However, she did well enough to get herself a scholarship to Georgia State University in Atlanta. Once she went to college and got her marketing degree, she really thought it'd be smooth sailing from then on. She imagined herself living in a luxury apartment being able to afford all the finest things in life.
One thing that she did leave behind and regretted even to this day was Jack Swanson. Jack had been her best friend all through middle school, and they began dating in her senior year of high school under unfortunate circumstances. He was her senior year high school sweetheart, but she left him behind to figure things out in the world. It broke Jack’s heart, and he was especially upset when he found out that she was dating someone else at college that she eventually married. That had been one of her biggest mistakes in life.
She knew when she got married that it was the wrong thing to do, but she was getting a bit lonely in the big city and wanted to make a family for herself. Although the marriage didn't last that long, it had broken her heart when her husband had cheated on her because she felt like she’d been betrayed. Jack would've never done that to her, and she knew it. The deep sense of regret had plagued her all these years thinking about how she left him behind to work on his family's farm while she went out and pursued her dreams.
She’d heard in recent years that Jack still worked on his family's farm, but he hadn't been in contact with her since she was in college. She thought it would be best to try to avoid him while she was staying in town because she didn't want to open up any wounds for him or for her. Plus, she had to admit that she was still a little upset with him for never trying to contact her and for not fighting for her when she left home. She wanted that knight in shining armor to fight and keep her there, even though she knew that wasn't the right thing for her at the time.
And she drove down the main road in Dallas Springs, her stomach started to churn a little bit at the thought of seeing her family and friends again. What would she tell them? How could she make herself not feel like such a failure coming back home after all this time? A failed marriage, a failed career. This certainly didn't look good for the girl who was once the most competitive person in town.
Pulling into the driveway of her mother’s Victorian-style home, she could already see that her sisters Emma and Olivia were there. Her two sisters had stayed in Dallas Springs even after Danna had left. They had their own lives and careers going in the small town. Sometimes, Danna wondered if she'd made a mistake leaving. Maybe she should've stayed there, married Jack and trusted that he could run his family's farm and make ends meet. But her concern over making sure that she always had enough money to support herself had forced her into leaving and pursuing something bigger.
Before she could even get her car parked, her mother, Carla, and her two sisters came running out the front door. She'd seen them last Christmas but it had already been six months. She was so glad to see familiar faces who weren’t going to judge her over the loss of her job. She explained to her mother on a phone call exactly what had happened, and of course her mother was very welcoming for her to come home. In fact, she’d be staying in her old room which was still decorated just the way she left it.
“Hey guys!” Danna said she got out of her car with her duffel bag. She hadn't brought much for the trip, fully expecting go back home in two weeks. However, she did wonder how she’d pay for that expensive apartment without her job anymore.
Danna spent the whole evening reminiscing and chatting with her mother and sisters. They made a big dinner together as they had always done as children. Smelling the southern pot roast cooking brought back a lot of family memories, both good and bad. Carla had become a single mother after their father passed away when they were very young. Danna, being the oldest, remember those times with fondness and sadness. She remembered playing ball in the yard with her father until he passed away when she was six years old. It was really sad for her two younger sisters because they would never have the chance to have those memories with their father.
Of course, she always assumed that her mother would get remarried one day. But she never did. Carla said that the love of her life was their father and that she didn't think there was anyone else on earth that would be able to make her feel the way he did. She never really dated and instead threw herself into the role of mother. She worked long hours doing odd jobs to make sure that she had money to support her three girls. Now, she was able to work and have a life outside of being a parent since her girls were grown. Danna hoped she might finally start dating, but she knew better than to pressure her mother about it.