Amazon link: When Love Breaks
Read the first full chapter below!
Elora Foster and Logan Turner never met, until the day she showed up on his doorstep. After a simple, chance encounter, the two embark on a journey that will change both their lives forever.
With good intentions and a heart of gold, Elora has aspirations of being a nurse. But, when she’s hired to take care of Logan, a double amputee, she’s instantly put off by his grouchy demeanor and bad attitude. She’s not sure if taking this job was the right move, or the worst decision of her life.
Logan, who was recently released from the hospital, has no intention of letting anyone take care of him. He’s sure there’s nothing that could change his hopeless situation, so he resigns himself to his fate. When he meets Elora, instant friction begins, but soon, he realizes there’s something different about her. Try as he might to behave himself, he finds that his negative attitude upsets her frequently—and to his surprise, it bothers him.
As time moves on, the two become more acquainted, and strong feelings begin to grow, but a road block threatens to derail any relationship that might develop. Just when they think they’ve found a way around it, their lives take a turn for the worse, and they’re both faced with a gut wrenching decision which has the potential to tear them apart.
Can she save this lost soul? Can he get over the past enough to see she’s the one? Can they work through the worst problem they’ve ever known, or will the strain be too much?
“It’s an amazing story that I recommend 100% to people who love seeing if love is enough. I give this book 5***** all the way around and am so anxious to read other books by this author.”
“I loved this story! This was my first reading of Ms. Squires’ work and it did not disappoint!”
“LOVE ~ Have you read a book you didn’t want to end? This is one of those books for me. This story will take you on a ride of emotions.”
“This was an amazing story that makes you truly feel. I love the way Kate takes you on a ride with her books. You can always count on a range of emotions…”
“What an emotionally powerful story! It is so easy to become emotionally invested in these characters. I cried, laughed, had my heart broken and loved right along with Logan and Elora.”
“I highly recommend this book. When Love Breaks is a smooth sweet romance with that will make your heart soar. I loved every minute spent reading this book.”
Nervously, I pull my hair back, and fasten the rubber hair tie around my ponytail. Grabbing two fistfuls at the back of my head, I pull them in opposite directions to tighten its hold on my hair. I look in the mirror and blow out a steadying breath. This job is going to be difficult. Seven caregivers, in as many days, is not a good track record. Is this man some sort of sadist? I shake my head at my reflection, and test out my most sincere smile. Will this expression be enough, or will he see right through me, and send me running from the house, never to return…just like the seven before me? I slouch and roll my eyes. Why did I agree to take on this client? Surely, there were others I could’ve taken that would be a lot less stressful. A frustrated groan passes between my lips. “Well, it’s now, or never,” I say, resigned to my fate. I walk out on a mission to survive what could be my first, and last, day with this client.
The neighborhood is quiet, as I drive onto his street, although it’s still very early in the morning. The lawns are well manicured, and the landscaping looks professionally done. I assume the homeowner’s association takes care of most of that. The houses, which line the streets of this picturesque community, are the typical cookie-cutter variety. The only differences between each one are the colors of the shutters. As I glance down at my watch, I realize it’s seven o’clock on the nose, and I’m still trying to find the correct address. Damn it. The voice of my father pops into my head, uninvited. If I were you, I’d leave earlier, Elora. I’d rather be half an hour early, than five minutes late. Well, it’s too late for that now.
Finally, I spy Melanie’s car in a driveway a few houses down from where I’m stopped, so I speed up and park beside her.
“Sorry I’m not earlier,” I say, as I quickly exit the car.
“It’s fine. Let’s just get in there,” she says with a forced smile.
That can’t be a good sign.
“Do I need a gait belt to lift him? It’s in my car. I can go get it.” I begin to turn back in the direction of my vehicle.
“No need,” Melanie says. “He’s already got one inside. I brought you a box of gloves and the care plan. Once we get inside, I’ll do the introductions and go over the basics with you.” She smiles again, but the emotions she’s so obviously hiding from me, are worrisome. “Hey, don’t worry too much, okay? He just got discharged from the hospital a little over a week ago. He’s new to home health care…and his condition. It’s going to be tough for him, but I’m sure you can make it work.”
I nod, unsure of how I feel about all this and insecure about my capability of taking care of someone who’s a double amputee.
Melanie opens the door to the home and announces our presence. Apparently, we didn’t need to knock.
“Mr. Turner? I’m here with your new aide,” she says, as I close the door behind us. While waiting for some sign of an inhabitant, I scan the place for anything that could give me more information about the man I’ll be taking care of today. The house is neat and looks as though it could’ve been a model home at one time. That’s not what I expected from someone in his condition. I walk in farther and see a smartly organized kitchen to my right. The open-concept dining room and living room is to my left, with a set of stairs leading to a loft which overlooks the whole area. A noise causes my eyes to look straight ahead, then land on a darkened figure. The hall, which I assume leads to the bedrooms, is dimly lit, and it isn’t until he gets closer that I can make out his features.
Wheeling himself down the hallway, Mr. Logan Turner rolls toward us. His hair is a mess, and it looks as if he just got out of bed. His jaw is tense and in desperate need of a shave. The tight, worn t-shirt he’s wearing clings to him, and his hardened biceps inform me that he’s had to work way too hard for simple, daily functions, which most of us take for granted. I note that his amputations are just below his knees, and I’m relieved to know his knee joints are intact, which might possibly make both of our lives a bit easier. He stops just short of us and looks up. His eyes shifting from Melanie, to me, then back to her. His mood is hard to gauge.
“Hello, Mr. Turner. How are you doing today?” Melanie asks politely.
He looks down at his lap, then up at me.
“Well, I still don’t have any legs, so I’d say I’m pretty shitty.”
I swallow reflexively, not knowing how to respond.
“Other than that,” she continues.
He looks back at her.
“Just peachy.” His expression is sarcastic, as if his disability should’ve warranted a different question.
Out of nowhere, a small, nervous giggle bubbles out from my mouth. I try to cover it with a cough, but his narrowed eyes shoot straight to mine.
“Um, sorry, I think I just swallowed a bug,” I say quickly while patting my chest.
Still looking at me with a death stare, he turns abruptly, swinging his chair around, and heads for the kitchen table. Melanie walks behind him, and I follow.
“This is Elora Foster. She’ll be your new aide. If you need anything, she’s more than capable of handling it.”
He says nothing as he picks up his newspaper, but I think I hear a quiet grunt.
“Can she cook?” he finally says. His voice is gruff.
I clear my throat and take a step toward him.
“Yes. I can cook,” I say, trying to sound confident.
“Well?” he responds coldly.
“Um, I think so.”
He grunts again and shakes his head slightly.
“We’ll see,” he mutters quietly, but I’m not sure I was supposed to hear him.
Melanie goes over the care plan with me and points out where everything’s kept. She’s obviously done this a few times.
“Well, I guess I’m going to go now,” she says. “Walk me out, Elora?” I nod. “Have a good day, Mr. Turner.” She smiles at him, but he doesn’t even acknowledge her. I follow her to the front door.
“Melanie, I’m not sure if—”
“Elora, look, just do the best you can,” she whispers. “As you know, we’ve had a lot of aides come and go from this place, and I just need someone who can tolerate him for the ten-hour shift. After that, his brother comes home and can take over. Please? Do this for me. We’ve been friends a long time, and I need this placement to work.” She’s practically on her knees begging me to give him a chance. I sigh and roll my eyes.
“Okay, fine. I’ll do my best, but you owe me,” I say and mean it.
“Thank you.” She smiles, and gives me a quick hug, then exits, and I’m stuck with Mr. Happy.
I take a few seconds to gather my wits before reentering the kitchen. Logan sits in his wheelchair, still reading the newspaper, his back to me. I inhale, then blow out a ragged breath.
“So, what would you like for breakfast, Mr. Turner?”
His head turns slightly in the direction of my voice.
“Eggs,” he says gruffly.
I nod, although he can’t see me, then open the refrigerator to fetch the ingredients.
“Orange juice or apple juice?”
“What kind of question is that?” he says, clearly irritated.
I’m a little shocked at his tone.
“Um…I was just giving you options.”
“What am I, four? What grown man drinks apple juice?”
“Uh, sorry. Orange juice it is then,” I say apologetically. “Would you like that in a sippy cup?” I mutter begrudgingly under my breath. His head turns slightly, and I freeze. God, I hope he didn’t hear my last comment. He says nothing then continues to read the paper. I blow out another relieved breath and get to work.
Within a few minutes, I’ve fried two eggs, toasted two slices of bread, and poured a tall glass of orange juice. I walk over to the table and place the dishes in front of him.
“Yes. Sunny side up,” I reply.
“I wanted scrambled,” he says petulantly.
“I’m…sorry. I just thought…I assumed that’s how you wanted them.”
“Well, you didn’t ask me, did you?” he says acidly, and for the first time since my arrival, he looks directly at me. I shrivel under his scrutiny then open my mouth to say something, but I’ve got nothing. I’m literally speechless. Then, I watch as his expression changes. It almost softens momentarily. His tensed facial muscles relax, and his brow lifts slightly. But, just as quickly as it appeared, it’s gone, and he resumes his seemingly permanent scowl. “It’s fine. I’ll deal with it,” he says, and looks back down at his plate. I nod and make a hasty retreat.
After his breakfast, I clear the dishes and place them in the sink to be washed. Fearing his response, I ask anyway.
“Do you need help with anything else right now?” I try to keep my face passive. The last thing I need is for him to know how much he intimidates me.
“No,” he says curtly. “But, if you’re bored, you can straighten up a bit after the dishes are done. I’ll be in my room.” Without so much as a glance in my direction, he wheels himself out of the kitchen and down the hallway, disappearing behind a closed door. I sit in a nearby chair, sagging into it. I’m able to breathe again without him telling me I’m doing it wrong.
An hour or so later, I’m sitting at the kitchen table when Logan wheels himself into the room. I stand abruptly, unsure if I should look as though I was doing something constructive. He eyes me up and down, which makes me uncomfortable.
“Hi,” I say. My response sounds breathy.
“I need a pen. They’re over there,” he says and points to a drawer near me.
“Okay.” I walk the two steps it takes to reach the drawer and open it, hoping to find one right away. I rummage through for a few seconds, when my eyes land on one. Taking it out, I hand it to him. “Here you go. Are you writing a letter?” I ask, just to be polite.
His eyes narrow. Is he offended?
“What business of that is yours?”
“I was just trying to make small talk, that’s all. I thought we could get to know each other better.”
Not that I really want to.
“I’d rather not. I hate small talk. And, I’m sure there’s something else you could be doing besides interrogating me.”
My eyes brows shoot up. I did not expect that reaction.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t think asking about a pen was an offense.”
As soon as I finish my sentence, I realize I sounded a bit pissy. Even though I meant every sardonic word, I instantly look at the floor and hear him scoff.
“I don’t need to tell you a thing. This is my house, and you were hired to do what I ask you to do. If you’d just stick to doing your job, and keep your nose out of my business, we’ll get along just fine. Now, if it’s all right with you, I’ll be in my room.” He turns his chair around and starts back down the hallway.
And, I don’t know why, but something deep inside begs me to speak up.
“Well, thank God for small miracles,” I mutter quietly, knowing full well he might be able to hear me. He stops abruptly and turns back to face me with an angry expression on his face.
“What did you say?”
“Who me?” I say innocently while looking around behind me. “I didn’t say a thing.” I smile sweetly at him as he stares at me for a few more seconds. It’s almost as if he’s trying to read my mind. When he’s done trying to melt my brain with his heat vision…or whatever, he retreats back into his bedroom.
I slump into the kitchen chair, rest my head in the palms of my hands, and wonder how I’m going to get through the rest of this shift.
Lunchtime comes and goes, and Logan’s no different than he was after breakfast. Although I’ve learned to ask how he wants his food prepared, I feel as though it really doesn’t matter. He seems bound and determined to find fault with everything I do.
Before disappearing back into his room, for who knows how long, he stops in front of a fairly large pile of boxes and bags. They’re all but blocking the entrance to the living room, and I would imagine that they make it hard for him to get around. He shakes his head in disapproval.
“Dammit, Michael. How the hell am I supposed to get to the thermostat? Why the hell wouldn’t he put this shit in his room?” Logan says, clearly irritated.
“I could move the boxes…if you’d like.” I’m hoping my offer will cause him to lighten up a bit when it comes to my abilities to be helpful.
He looks back at me, and his eyes sweep over my small frame. Is he assessing my strength? I stand taller, with my shoulders pulled down and back.
“You’re really that bored?” I shrug, and he sighs. “Fine. I don’t think there’s anything heavy in them. Just move them to the bedroom, down the hall from mine, then shut the door. After that, turn the temperature down about five degrees.” I nod, and he heads toward his room, closing the door behind him again. I begin the task before me.
He’s right. The boxes aren’t heavy at all, and I’m glad I have something to do. If I had to guess, I’d say they’re probably filled with a bunch of his brother’s stuff, since the name ‘Michael Turner’ appears on most of them. I’m also assuming it’s his brother’s room I’m placing them in.
As I open the door, I’m shocked. This room looks nothing like the orderly, well-kept rest of the house that I’m used to seeing. No, this place looks like a tornado touched down. There’s a bed, which isn’t made, a dresser, that has clothes spilling out of it, and more piles of boxes. I find a clutter-free spot on the floor and stack the first two boxes there. I continue this process, until everything is inside. Looking around to ensure no one’s watching me, I take a few minutes to snoop a bit. The room is sparsely decorated, but that’s probably because his brother just moved in. I see a few trophies, which look as though they’re from his high school or college days. I pick up a framed picture and wipe the glass a bit. It’s a portrait of a handsome couple. They’re most likely in their late fifties or so. I squint to see if I notice a family resemblance, but the picture is too small.
The next one I pick up is a photo of two men. They have their arms slung around each other’s shoulders, and both are wearing military uniforms. They have huge grins on their faces and upon further inspection, I recognize one of them—it’s Logan. He’s tall, and his hair is much shorter than it is right now. His five o’clock shadow is nonexistent, which brings out his amazing eyes. His smile is bright and, for the first time since I met him, I find myself unable to look away. He’s stunning. I can’t help but feel as though I’m seeing a completely different person, both literally and figuratively. Then, I look lower and notice that his legs are intact. I stare at them, wishing I could go back in time, for just a moment, to see what he was like when this picture was taken. He looks happy. Then, something distracts me, so I look up.
“Are you done rifling through my brother’s things?” Logan asks. His face is expressionless. Embarrassed for being caught red handed, I quickly put the picture down.
“I—I’m sorry. I was just looking at this picture,” I say, pointing to it. “Is it you and your brother? I didn’t mean to—”
“I don’t care what you didn’t mean to do. I asked you to turn down the thermostat. Did you even get to that yet, or were you too busy snooping?”
Sheesh. What’s his problem?
He scoffs and shakes his head.
“Can you go do it now?” His tone is patronizing, and I’m getting a little fed up with his bad attitude.
“Sure,” I say curtly, then exit the room on my way to my mission. After I pass him, and with his back to me, I show him, with one finger, exactly how I feel about him at this very moment.
After a boring, isolated afternoon, I begin to prepare dinner for Logan and his brother. I look around the kitchen and ultimately decide on baked chicken, green beans, and mashed potatoes. Including prep time, it takes about an hour to cook, in total, which brings me almost to the end of my shift. I’m relieved at the realization that I get a reprieve from this hell for the rest of the evening.
Suddenly, I hear the squeak of a door as Logan exits his room, but he doesn’t come out into the kitchen. I listen carefully, then hear him say a few choice words, so I quickly go to investigate.
“Do you need some help?” I ask through the closed bathroom door. Then, I hear a bang and something fall to the floor. “Is everything alright?” I touch the doorknob, ready to rush in, if need be.
“I’m fine. Go away,” Logan’s muffled voice replies.
“Are you sure? I can help if you can’t—”
“I said I’ve got this! What part of that don’t you understand?” he snaps. His voice cuts through the door, hitting me directly. He’s really angry, more so than any other time today.
“Okay, okay.” I roll my eyes and sigh before walking away. This is my job. What does he think I’m here for?
Minutes later, Logan comes into the kitchen, a slight sheen of sweat is on his brow.
“I’ve cooked dinner for the two of you. It’s chicken. I hope that’s okay,” I say, trying to gauge his mood.
“Fine,” he says petulantly and without looking me in the eye.
“It’s almost time for me to go. Is there anything else I can do for you, before I leave?” He shakes his head. “Okay then, I’ll be on my way.” I grab my coat and head for the door. I almost expect him to say good bye, but then, I’m not dealing with the average man here. I’m right, when I walk out the door without so much as a ‘see ya’ from him.
Closing myself inside my car, I rest my head on my hand as I run through the events of today. As much as I don’t want to admit it, I’m disappointed by the lack of appreciation for the shit I put up with. I’ve never been made to feel so stupid, or purposeless, in my life. Clearly, this man has some issues. I’m used to caring for the elderly, not someone who’s bitter about the hand he’s been dealt, and who’s got a giant chip on his shoulder. I rub my face with my hands and sigh. I don’t want to go back tomorrow; I can’t go back tomorrow. What am I going to tell Melanie?
“What’s for dinner?” Daniel asks, lifting the various lids from the pots on the stove. I playfully slap at his hands, scolding him.
“I’m cooking several things, actually, none of which are ready yet.”
He smirks at me in the way he’s done for most of my life. I fist my hands on my hips, trying to appear angry, but it’s no use. I’ve never been able to stay mad at my one and only brother.
“It smells good. Is it some sort of holiday I don’t know about? Why are you cooking for a small army?”
I lift the lid off one pot and stir it.
“No, it’s not a holiday. I just figured I’d get ahead with making our meals for the week. I’m going to freeze them, so we can just pull one out as we need them.”
“You’re stress cooking,” he says.
“No, I’m not. Can’t a girl just cook to cook? Do I really need to be stressed out to get ahead for the week?”
“Most people don’t cook this much when there are only two people living in their house.” He knows me well.
“Well, that’s not why I’m doing it.”
“Okay, Okay. I get it,” he says, holding his hands up in surrender. “Feel free to vent about whatever it is when you’re ready. Besides, all this preparation will come in handy when your hours change with your new client.”
I stop stirring, remembering my earlier encounter with Logan.
“I already started that job, but I think it was a one-day deal.” I look up to his puzzled expression, and feel I should elaborate. “He’s a tough client, and I just don’t think we’re a good match.”
I sigh, not really wanting to get into too much detail, and knowing Daniel can be overprotective.
“Yeah. He’s had it rough recently. His current health condition has made him a little bitter and hard to please.”
“So, he pissed you off?” he asks.
“No. I just think he’d rather have someone else taking care of him, that’s all.”
He nods his head.
“Well, I’m sure you’ll find another moldy oldie to take care of.”
“Daniel! These people are human beings, and they’re usually very sweet. I’ve told you before, be nice.”
“All right. I guess I’ll never understand why you love to wipe ass for a living.” I reprimand him with my angry glare, so he backs off the subject.
My phone rings. Daniel picks it up, then hands it to me.
“Hi, Elora. How did it go today at Logan Turner’s house?” I excuse myself and walk out of earshot of my nosy brother.
“Hi, Melanie. It went okay, but I don’t think—”
“I’m so happy to hear that! I know he can be difficult, but I appreciate all your efforts.”
“But I don’t think I can go back there.”
“Elora, as you can imagine, this case has been particularly difficult to staff. As long as he didn’t ask for someone new, I’d like to encourage you to stay on it. Frankly, I’m running out of options for him.” The pleading tone to her voice makes me feel a certain obligation to her. Melanie’s my friend, as well as my supervisor, so I reluctantly agree.
“Ugh! Fine. I’ll just figure out how to stay out of his way as much as possible. But, if you hear about his murder, then have trouble finding me, you’ll be able to guess what happened,” I say wryly.
“I may help you bury the body,” she says.
We finish our call, then hang up. I drop onto the couch, thoroughly exhausted.
Although Melanie and I walked right in yesterday, today I feel I should knock, or ring the doorbell, before gaining entry into Logan’s house. I’m apprehensive about what his reaction will be when he sees me standing in the doorway and inwardly hope he’s in a better mood. It takes several minutes for him to appear, and it’s an obvious struggle to open the door, given his wheelchair is in the way. When our eyes finally meet, I witness a mixture of emotions wash across his face. He goes from shock, to, if I’m not mistaken, relief, but then quickly, and clearly, he shuts down into irritation.
“You’re back. You weren’t supposed to ring the bell. It’s hard for me to open doors. Remember that,” he says bitterly then rolls away from the entrance, allowing me to walk in.
I roll my eyes, knowing he can’t see me, and close the door.
What an ass.
“My apologies. I’ll make a note of that,” I say. For the next person who has to deal with your bullshit, is what I want to say, but I refrain.
He wheels himself up to the kitchen table and begins leafing through the newspaper. “I’ll have eggs again this morning,” he says gruffly.
“Okay. How would you like them?” My face is an exaggerated grin, complete with fluttering eyelashes and all. If there’s one thing I’ve got going for me today, it’s that I can make all the faces I want behind his back. It’s not professional, I know, but if it helps me get through the day, then so be it.
“Over easy. Yours weren’t horrible yesterday. Just put more pepper on them this time.”
I sneer. Not horrible? Is that his idea of a compliment? He really needs to work on his people skills. Then, it occurs to me. If he’s going to make me miserable with all of his negativity, I’m going to annoy the shit out of him with my best happy-go-lucky attitude. I smile at my new plan and open the fridge.
“Coming right up.”
A little while later, I lay his breakfast in front of him. He seems satisfied and begins to eat.
“It’s supposed to be a beautiful day today,” I say, trying to make small talk. He just grunts. “Do you ever go outside?” He shakes his head but says nothing. I guess it would be hard for him to get out there. I’m wracking my brain trying to come up with a topic that interests him. “Do you have any hobbies?” There’s no reply. He’s not much of a conversationalist, which is making this first half hour awkward and difficult. “So, your brother…what does he do for a living?”
Logan turns his head, enough to be able to see me.
“You know, it’s really hard to eat and talk at the same time. Would you mind keeping your questions and comments to yourself?” he says.
My brows knit together, involuntarily.
“Sure,” I say flatly, not even trying to disguise my frustration.
I start on the kitchen clean up.
An hour has passed. The dishes have been washed, dried, and put away. The kitchen is cleaned up, and the rest of the house has been straightened. As I turn away from the kitchen sink, I’m startled, as Logan has wheeled himself up right behind me. I have to grab onto the counter to keep from falling into his lap.
“When you moved those boxes yesterday, did you see a small wooden box?” he asks, a very angry expression on his face.
“Um, I’m not sure. Why?”
“Think. Did you, or did you not, put a small wooden box in my brother’s room?”
“I don’t remember.”
His sigh is one of pure frustration.
“I need that box. It has something important in it.”
“I’m sorry, I really don’t know if I moved it or not. Chances are good, that if it was near the rest of the pile, I did. I can just get it for you.” I step around him in an attempt to walk toward his brother’s bedroom.
“Forget it. He keeps his door locked, and I don’t have a key. Thanks a lot,” he says in a condescending tone. He then mutters some swear words and stalks off, back down the hall.
He doesn’t have a key? And, what the hell is so important about some stupid box that has his panties in a twist? This job is getting really old, really fast. I’m not sure how much longer I can take his ridiculous behavior. I’m here to help, not to be mistreated. I want to tell him off right now, but I decide to let him cool off a bit, before I rile him up again.
After about fifteen minutes of letting myself calm down, I walk gingerly down the hall, toward Logan’s bedroom. The door is ajar, so quietly, I peer through. I see him. He’s sitting at his desk. The laptop that’s in front of him is on, but he’s not paying any attention to it. I watch, curiously, as he exercises. With his arms on the arm rests of his wheelchair, he lifts himself up and down repeatedly. His shirtless back is toward me, and I get an uninterrupted view of his truly impressive physique.
Holy hell. He’s really ripped.
In awe, I observe him as his muscles contract with each extension of his arms. I expect him to stop after a few minutes, but he continues. A sheen of sweat that has formed, trickles down his back, as he pumps up and down, never once even pausing to rest. I can hear his labored breaths, and I know he’s been at this a while.
Suddenly, his hand slips off, no doubt from the perspiration of his palms, and he’s knocked off balance, almost falling out of his chair.
“Agh!” he exclaims, as he tries to right himself.
Automatically, I rush in, ready to catch him, or at least soften his fall. I grab him around the chest from behind and pull him back onto the seat. He squirms in my arms, and pries my hands apart.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” he barks. I back off immediately as he turns to face me. “Why are you in here?” His face is full of rage, and I know I made yet another mistake.
“I…I’m sorry. I thought you needed my help. You fell…you almost fell. I was just trying to help,” I say, desperate for some sort of sympathetic look. “I was just doing my job,” I say softly out of frustration.
“I don’t need your help or your pity. Save it for some frail, old lady!” he spits. “Were you spying on me? How long were you standing there?” His tone is accusatory, as if I was ogling him for fun, which in a way, I suppose I was. Tears threaten, but I hold them at bay.
“Only for a few seconds,” I lie. “The dishes are done, and the house has been tidied. I was looking for you to ask what else I can do.”
He sighs loudly.
“Nothing. You can go.”
“But, I still have most of my shift left.”
“I can take it from here.”
My puzzled look generates an expression of, are you stupid? from him, so I step back and bow my head. I hear another exasperated sigh.
“Look, I’m good. My brother hired your company to come and babysit me while he’s at work. I don’t really need you here. I’ll call and tell them I dismissed you, so you don’t get in trouble.” I nod without looking at him. “If you want, you can take the garbage out to the street before you go. My brother will practically wet himself with delight,” he says sarcastically.
“Okay,” I say quietly then back away from his room, until he’s out of my line of sight. I turn the corner and lean against the cold, hallway wall, feeling defeated as tears, once again, prick my eyes. I knew this job would be hard. I just didn’t think it’d be this hard.
Shit. I was too hard on her. Why am I such an asshole? She was just doing her job, like she said. I close my eyes and silently castigate myself for chasing another one off. Only this time, I feel guilty for it. I touch my chest where her warm hands just were and oddly, my skin has never felt so cold. Her touch was an automatic response to her training, yet it seemed different, sincere, kind. I rub my forehead in frustration. I feel bad that she has to put up with me but then, I doubt I’ll see her after today. Good. She doesn’t need the hassle, and I don’t need her help. But, even as I think it, I know it’s bullshit.
I throw my shirt back on and wheel myself out of my bedroom toward the kitchen. She’s still here, but not for long, as she’s putting on her jacket.
“I’ll need you to sign this, to say I was here, and that I did the tasks listed here.” She points to a line on the paper. Her face is sullen, and she doesn’t look me in the eye. I feel terrible for yelling at her. None the less, I take the pen from her hand and scribble my name. Our fingers touch briefly as I hand it back to her, and it’s as if an electrical pulse travels up my arm. I pull back immediately. Silence overtakes the room, and my need to fill it is unlike me.
“Thank you, for…um…breakfast, and…everything else.” My words come out awkwardly, as though I’m a nervous teenager talking to a pretty girl who’s way out of my league.
“You’re welcome,” she says softly, still not looking directly at me.
I want to see her eyes one more time.
“Hey,” I say sharply, and it works. She looks up. “Have a good rest of the day.”
The confusion on her face is evident. I’m sure she’s wondering why I would summon her attention to say something so random and so…normal. Hell, I’m wondering the same thing. She nods and turns to walk out the door. I want to say something else…anything, to make her turn back around, but I don’t, and my heart sinks as the door latches behind her.
Kate Squires, Author Contemporary Romance Novels That Kiss, That Promise, I Will Catch You, Tracing Hearts, When Love Breaks, and When Love Walks.