Authors: C. C. Wood
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental. Pinkie swear.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions. Otherwise the author may pay a voodoo priestess to put a curse on you that will keep you from experiencing orgasms for the rest of your life.
Copyright © 2014 by Crystal Wood Wilson
Jena Brignola at Bibliophile Productions
The author acknowledges the copyrighted or trademarked status and trademarked owners of the following wordmarks mentioned in this work of fiction: The Adolphus Hotel,
August: Osage County
, Keurig, Louis Vuitton, Paciugo,
Pretty Little Liars
, SpongeBob Squarepants, Starbucks, The French Room,
The Vampire Diaries
ancy, I need
you to…” my new coworker, Charles, came to a sudden stop in the doorway when he saw me standing at my desk, gathering my things. “What are you doing?”
“I’m sorry, Charles, but it’s after five and I have to go.” I had errands to run and Carolena’s babysitter needed to leave by six-thirty.
“We really need to discuss these numbers, Nancy.”
I sighed as he, yet again, called me by the wrong name. I’d corrected him several times since he began working here nearly a month ago. Obviously, listening skills were not high on his list of priorities.
“Unfortunately, I have somewhere I need to be so we will have to talk tomorrow.” I kept my voice pleasant but firm.
“No, you work from home tomorrow and I’d rather do this face-to-face. We need to take care of this as soon as possible, so let’s just do it right now.”
I bristled at his attitude. He was a project manager, like me, not my superior. My sensitivity might also have something to do with the fact that he couldn’t be bothered to learn something as simple as my name.
“I told you, I can’t. If you want to meet with me in-person, you’ll have to wait until Friday.”
“Look, Nancy, this is important and it won’t take long. Surely, you can spare me thirty minutes of your time?”
His impatient, condescending tone took me from annoyed to straight up pissed off. The fact that he called me Nancy again just added fuel to the fire of my temper.
I slung my bag over my shoulder, grabbed my name placard off my desk, and marched over to Charles.
He was a good looking man, handsome in an All-American sort of way. His light brown hair was streaked with blond, as though he spent a lot of time outside, and he had beautiful blue eyes that had hints of green. He had chiseled features, including cheekbones I would kill for and a sharp jaw line that flexed as he looked down at me. His full mouth was currently flattened with annoyance.
If he wasn’t such a jackass, I might have been attracted to him. I ignored the quiver in my belly as I stared up at his face and told myself it was irritation, not desire. Though considering my track record with men, it would figure that I would be attracted to the first jerk I met after my divorce.
I lifted up my name plate and pointed to my name. “Listen,
, my name is Yancy. Sounds like Nancy but starts with a ‘Y’. ‘Y’ as in yellow. Or how about ‘Y’ as in
You’re an asshole
. To answer your question, no I cannot spare thirty minutes of my time because I have an eighteen month old daughter to get home to. Incidentally, she is the reason that Judith,
allows me to work from home two days a week, which, last time I checked, wasn’t against company policy! I realize you’re new here but let me give you a little piece of advice. It’s incredibly rude to continually call a coworker by the wrong name and then walk into their office after hours and expect that they’d happily stay late for you.” I slapped my name plate against his chest. “Now, I have to get going because my babysitter needs to leave by six-thirty.”
I went to move around him, but hesitated when I remembered one other thing I wanted to say. “Oh, and in the future, if you want to meet with me, schedule it before the end of the work day, or at least try to give me a couple hours notice if it’s an emergency so I can make alternate child care arrangements.”
Then he had to go and make things worse. “I don’t see why your husband can’t watch her for a few hours if you have to work late,” he scoffed.
I thought my head was going to explode from the incessant pounding as all the blood rushed up into my skull. I hadn’t been this worked up since before my divorce over a year ago. He had no right to speak to me this way. “Not that it’s any of your damn business,
, but let me bring you up to speed on a few things. I’m a single mother and not by choice. My ex-husband decided that parenting a sick child was not what he signed up for when our two month old daughter was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis so he just up and left us. Judith was kind enough to look into company policy and see if I could spend a little more time at home with her given we haven’t seen or heard from the bastard since. You have a nice day now, ya hear?”
With that, I nudged him out of my office, locked the door, and stormed off. I hated that I had been forced to explain myself to him. What I detested even more, was that I lost my temper. I almost never yelled and certainly didn’t go around calling people assholes. Even when my ex-husband left, I didn’t scream or throw things. This kind of anger was completely atypical for me, but, for some reason, Charles Faulkner managed to kindle it with very little effort.
It took the entire drive home for me to calm down. Typically, the commute only took around thirty or forty minutes, but, today of all days, traffic was horrendous. I had plenty of time to stew.
I despised getting worked up over someone like Charles. He was obviously married to his job and expected everyone else to be as well. I was dedicated, but I also had a life outside of work.
When I pulled into my driveway, my blood pressure was still high, though I was a lot calmer. I climbed out of my car and hauled my purse and laptop case out of the back seat. My temples throbbed with the remnants of irritation and stress. My front door opened as soon as my foot touched the first step and Kathy, Carolena’s babysitter, stood before me with my baby girl in her arms.
Carolena smiled and giggled, clapping her hands. “Mamamamama,” she babbled, her chubby limbs stopping their motion to reach for me.
Immediately, the headache was muted by the sheer joy that radiated from her sweet face. I jogged up the last two steps and hurried into the house. After I dumped my bags on the bench by the front door, I took my baby girl from Kathy and hugged her tightly. As her arms wrapped around my neck, I forgot all about Charles Faulkner and his rude behavior. Everything that mattered to me most, I held in my arms.
I buried my face into her neck, inhaling the fresh scent of baby lotion and shampoo. She giggled and squealed as I blew a raspberry against her skin.
“Did you already have a bath?” I asked her.
She threw both arms in the air. “Ducky!”
Kathy smiled at me over Carolena’s shoulder as she closed the front door. “She got a little excited at dinner time and decided that spaghetti sauce made good hair gel. We also did her nebulizer treatment after she was done in the bath.”
“Nummy,” Carolena muttered, burrowing her head into my shoulder.
It was obvious my baby missed me during the day and I resented the guilt I felt, even as I smiled at her words. If Coop had continued to pay child support, I could have taken a job that paid a little less but allowed me to work from home all the time.
“Thanks for bathing her and handling her breathing treatment, Kathy.”
Honestly, I was a little sad I didn’t get to give Carolena her bath, even though I appreciated that I would have one less chore that night. I felt as though I spent so little time with my baby as it was. Bath time was a pleasant part of our routine since my little girl loved the water and enjoyed her lotion rubdown after even more.
Lena and I waved good-bye to Kathy. She would come in for six hours tomorrow and I would do most of my work during the time she was there or while the baby slept. Working from home had its advantages, but it could get a little tricky if Lena decided to throw a fit while I was on a conference call or pound her sticky fingers all over my laptop, but it worked.
After Carolena was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis and Coop left, I didn’t know what I was going to do. One day, I broke down in my office, sobbing, and that’s how Judith found me. She brought me a cup of tea and handed me tissues as I told her the whole story. Not just about Carolena being ill, but also about how Coop decided that parenting a sick child wasn’t in his life plans.
Judith calmed me down, sent me home, and then called me into her office the next day. I was certain I was about to be reprimanded but she explained that, while most employees worked on site, there was flexibility in company policy to allow some to work partially from home. I couldn’t believe the opportunity she was offering me.
It was working. I still hated that I wasn’t home with Carolena every day, but someone had to pay the bills. I got the best of both worlds.
“Mama!” A little hand smacked my shoulder to punctuate the word.
I blinked at my daughter and smiled. “Baby.”
Lena grinned back at me.
Hefting her higher on my hip, I walked through the house toward my bedroom. “Alrighty, let Mama change out of her work clothes, then we can play.”
Clapping, she parroted, “Play!”
After I changed and pulled my hair up into a ponytail, I spent the next hour on the floor with my daughter, playing with dolls, reading books, and singing songs. Then I rocked her before bed, her little head resting on my bicep and her eyes on mine as she fingered the small silver medallion I wore around my neck. It had her name engraved on one side and her birthday on the other.
My heart was full of love as I stared down at my sleepy girl. I looked forward to these times, when I could hold her close and enjoy the cuddles and sweetness. I also looked forward to my days at home with her. They were sometimes stressful, but it was nice to be here with her all day, even if I had to spend part of that time in my home office.
After I kissed her and put her in her crib, I took the baby monitor and went into the office. I wanted to get as much work done as possible so that my day tomorrow would be mostly answering emails and taking phone calls. It made it easier for me to eat breakfast and lunch with Carolena and maybe even play with her a bit before her naps.
I just hoped that my argument with Charles didn’t jeopardize my ability to work from home. As I thought more about the situation, I wondered if maybe I had overreacted just a bit. I mean, it was annoying that he couldn’t remember my name after four weeks of working in the same office, but calling someone an asshole at work, well, that wasn’t exactly professional either. His inappropriate comments were no excuse for me to sink to his level.
I treasured my flexible work schedule since it allowed me to spend more time at home. If I lost it, it would just be one more thing that made me want to smack him every time I saw him. I decided I had to apologize to him, even if his arrogant attitude and constant need to call me Nancy drove me crazy.