Read Destined for love Online

Authors: Diane Thorne

Destined for love (page 2)

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“I appreciate it, but I’ll stay. I’d hate to disappoint anyone.”

Mr Williams stepped closer and put his hand on the back of her chair. He bent near her ear. “I don’t think you understand, and I don’t want to make this difficult.”

Her blood heated. Was he trying to tell her to leave, or else? What nerve.

She lowered her hands in her lap, under the desk where he couldn’t see them. Then she balled them into tight fists. “Are you telling me I should go before I’m escorted?”

“It would be wise if you gathered your belongings and left.”

Face flushed, she turned away. “All right. I’ll go.”

“Thank you.” He stepped back, then paused. “If there’s anything I can help with, don’t hesitate to ask.”

She gave him a fake half grin. “Thank you.” Her wealth of pleasantry was dwindling by the second, yet she remained respectable. In case she might need a recommendation or reference down the road, she decided it would serve her well to leave under good circumstances.

After he had left her cubicle, she gathered her purse and the few supplies she’d brought from her apartment. Everything fitted adequately in a plastic grocery bag.

“What happened?”

Hearing Terri’s voice, Val turned to face her. “He politely asked me to leave now.”

“What? Why?” Confusion masked her face.

Val rose and slid the strap of her purse over her arm. “It doesn’t matter anymore. I don’t want to cause any trouble, and neither should you.”

“This is crazy. I feel like I’m in the twilight zone.”

The description accurately reflected Val’s day. One thing after another had gone wrong, and she couldn’t have controlled any of it. Even the coffee spill hadn’t been her fault. She’d sat in the wrong place at the wrong time when her co-worker’s cup had tipped and the coffee had spilled all over her trousers. Her day sucked, plain and simple. To prevent further accidents or mishaps, her best course of action was to head straight home.

Val curved around Terri, then strolled down the centre aisle. She carried her bag in one hand and held her chin up. Her co-workers went about with their jobs, answering calls and typing on their keyboards. She’d miss seeing their cheerful faces.

“What are you going to do?” Terri asked quietly, walking next to Val.

“For now, I’m going home. I’ll work on updating my résumé this weekend, then file for unemployment on Monday.”

“Talk to Thomas. Perhaps he can help out, or you could move in with him for a while to save money.”

Val nodded in agreement with Terri’s idea. She hadn’t seen Thomas much in the last couple of weeks, but they’d talked on the phone a couple of times. Work kept him busy, so maybe he wouldn’t mind if she moved in with him. It couldn’t hurt to ask.

They stopped at the elevator and Val pressed the down button. “I’m going to miss you and everyone.”

Terri wrapped her arms around Val and gave her a tight hug. “This isn’t fair. You don’t deserve this.”

“Everything happens for a reason.” She tried to sound positive, but, without any doubt, this day had been the worst one of her life. For the first time since she’d left her parent's home, she was out of a job.

The ding of the elevator ended their embrace. Val stepped back.

“If you need anything, call me,” Terri said.

Val left her friend standing in the hall and strolled into the elevator. She hit the button for the main floor then faced Terri. “I’ll miss you.” She didn’t know what else to say. They’d worked and lived together for several years before Terri had committed to Sam. Surely, they would remain friends even though they would rarely see each other.

Terri stood in front of the closing doors with a look similar to that of a lost puppy dog. Clearly, her feelings matched Val’s. Neither one of them spoke another word.

After Val had left the office she’d worked at for six years, she slid behind the wheel of her Honda and headed home. The sun shone intensely in the California sky and heated her car to an uncomfortable temperature. She cranked up the air conditioner while she waited in stopped traffic on the interstate. Minutes passed, sweat trickled down the side of her face, and not a single bit of cool air had passed through the vent. In fact, the breeze flowing into the car felt warmer than the temperature outside. Her air conditioner had worked the day before, but apparently it had decided to fail on her when she needed it the most. And without a job she wouldn’t have the funds to fix it. Frustrated, she cut the flow of warm air off then dropped all the windows. An hour and ten minutes later, hot, and sweaty, she exited from the interstate.

She reached her apartment and parked on the side of the street. The old building sat in an area where small businesses popped up every other month. People who lived nearby walked and shopped without needing a vehicle. The up-and-coming neighbourhood gave a more modern feel and left her apartment building as one of the few eyesores with its crumbling concrete. Rumour had spread among neighbours that old Mrs Osgood was going to sell the building to developers since her husband had passed. That was over a year ago, and so far nothing had changed.

Val checked for mail then hurried up the steps to her third-floor apartment. Her neighbour, Melanie, was standing at the door across from Val’s unit with an elderly tenant, Theodore Buchanan, from downstairs. Both stopped talking and turned to greet Val.

“Have you heard the news?” Melanie asked.

Val’s heart skipped a beat. “What news?”

Mr Buchanan slipped his hands into his pockets. “Mrs Osgood sold the building. She left us all a note on our doors.”

“What?” Val turned to her door and found a small envelope wedged between the crack. She grabbed it then tore the envelope open. Melanie and Mr Buchanan stepped closer as she read the card.

“We have thirty days to find a new home,” Melanie said. “I can’t believe she sold the building.”

The card read exactly as Melanie had said. She had to vacate the premises within the time frame or she would lose all her property. If she had questions, Mrs Osgood had left the name and number of an attorney to contact.

“I contacted my daughter and asked if I could stay with them,” Mr Buchanan said. “Thirty days isn’t long enough to find another place to live.”

“I don’t know what I’m going to do. I have two kids to feed. Most apartments are twice the price as this one,” Melanie said.

Val looked from one neighbour to the other. “Maybe Mrs Osgood can extend the time.”

Melanie shook her head and her dark curly hair brushed over her shoulders. “I spoke with her and asked. She said the city has plans to tear down the building.”

Val wanted to throw her arms up and scream. She’d lost her only source of income, and now her home. Terri’s idea of moving in with Thomas was sounding better by the second.

“Then I guess we don’t have a choice.” Val unlocked her door then pushed it open.

Mr Buchanan shook his head as he headed for the stairs. “It’s a sad day. I’ve lived here nearly twenty years. Never thought I’d leave it.”

“It’s a sad day for all of us.” Melanie escorted him then stopped at her door.

Val stepped into her apartment. A sad day didn’t begin to explain everything she’d been through since this morning. “Have a good evening.” She shut her door and locked it.

Val walked into her apartment and stopped at the kitchen counter. What more could go wrong? The entire day had gone straight down the toilet.

She placed her bag and purse on the countertop. The red light on the answering machine blinked, signalling a message. She wanted to call Thomas and inform him of her miserable day, but opted to listen to her machine first. Finger over the play button, she pressed it.

“Val, it’s Thomas.” He paused and sighed into the phone. “I’ve been thinking and I’ve decided I want to date other women. I hate to do this to you, but I met someone else and I really like her. I think you’re a great person, Val, and I hope you don’t hate me. Good luck.”

The sound of his cold and heartless voice made it clear he had no sympathy for her feelings. He’d made up his mind about what he wanted, had ditched her, and had already moved on.Wow.

She tilted her head back and stared up at the ceiling.Why me? Why now?What had she done to deserve all this misery? Although she wasn’t much of a churchgoer, she still believed in God. Was this his way of testing her?Why?

She lowered her head. No job. No home. No boyfriend. Was there anything else she could lose before the day ended? She still had her health. Maybe she shouldn’t question any more in case it was the next item on the list.

Tears built in her eyes and her stomach tightened. She fought the urge to cry and throw up by thinking about Thomas. Kicking him in his balls would help comfort her.

What a lousy day this has been.Everywhere she went, trouble showed its ugly face. But there was one place where beauty thrived and the world was peaceful. She picked up her keys and purse from the counter. The drive to the beach would take half an hour. She could sit, watch the waves, and enjoy the sunset. It would be a perfect end to a shitty day.

She hurried from her apartment to her car. Within minutes, she was back on the interstate. The entire time she drove, she created a hefty list of items to do on Saturday.Need to touch up résumé, clean laundry, clean the apartment, make a grocery list of the bare necessities, search for a new place to live, and create back-up plans in the event I can’t find a job or a home in thirty days.

By the time she’d parked at one of the lots at the beach, a light headache had emerged. She’d never faced so many challenges at once, and frankly, she was frightened. After tucking her purse under the seat, she exited the car, locked the doors, then shoved her keys into her pocket.

The crashing of waves soothed her ears while fresh ocean air filled her lungs. Day or night, she’d always found tranquillity at the beach. Even with all her worries, she still found that sense of calmness. She walked near the water, inches from where it had rolled up on the sand. A jogger headed towards her, and not another soul was in sight. Most people were probably having dinner.

She’d walked well over a mile from where she’d parked before she sat to watch the sun setting. Seagulls squealed and the ocean lapped on the shore. In the sky, magic transformed. Beautiful shades of pink, blue, purple, and peach appeared. Her life was in the crapper, but, for the moment, she had a gorgeous sunset to reflect upon.

The clang of glass knocking against a hard surface stole her attention from the beauty in the sky. She scanned the area, searching for the source of the noise. The water receded and revealed a dark green beer bottle. Typical. Someone had left their garbage on the beach even though the city had placed plenty of trash cans near the parking lots. Since she believed in keeping Mother Earth clean, Val rose and headed for the bottle.

She waited for another wave to roll away before stepping on the wet sand and claiming the glass. As she walked to the dryer part of the shoreline, she inspected the beer container. Oddly, it had a cork wedged in the neck. The bottle felt light, and strange markings etched in the dark glass made her wonder where it had come from and whether it had contained any liquor. Curious to know if something was in the bottle, she gripped the round edge of the cork and tugged.

Following a loud pop, a whoosh of air tossed her hair in front of her face and blocked her vision. A gust of wind knocked her off her feet. She fell backwards, throwing the beer bottle in the air and flinging her arms to keep balanced, which didn’t work. Anyone walking by would’ve undoubtedly thought she was drunk. Her butt smacked on the sand then the rest of her upper body continued on a backward descent. A bright light flashed and she gasped, then her head landed on something soft. She blinked to clear her vision. When she could see again, she found a gorgeous hunk standing over her. He had blue eyes, blondish-brown hair, and the most beautiful lips she’d ever seen on a guy. He gave her a kind smile.

Her heart fluttered as one thought surfaced in her mind.I’ve died and gone to heaven.

 

Chapter Two

 

 

 

“Are you all right?” the innocent-looking man with blue eyes asked. He hovered above Val.

She stared into his dreamy eyes. “Huh?” She took in a deep breath and picked up a slight cinnamon scent. The pleasing aroma tickled her taste buds.

His light brown eyebrows rose slightly. “Are you okay?”

“I got it,” Val heard another masculine voice say.

She tilted her back and found a stranger walking towards her. He stopped on her side and held up the dark green beer bottle to Mr Blue Eyes. “It’s still in one piece.”

His charming smile, dark hair and hazel eyes warmed her skin. He wore a white, unbuttoned shirt, revealing a strong chest with solid muscles all the way down. Her heart picked up more beats. Two gorgeous hunks surrounded her. She had to be in heaven.

“Nice job,” said Mr Blue Eyes, hovering above her.

Val shifted her gaze to the cute guy with blondish-brown hair. “Who are you?”

The corner of his lips curled. “I’m James, and this is Mark. We’re…roommates.”

“In a manner of speaking,” Mark said.

Movement underneath her head made her jolt upright.

“Careful,” James said. “You took quite a fall. I managed to stop your head from hitting the ground, but you might have other injuries to your back or—”

“I’m fine.”

She looked around the beach. The sun had dipped beyond the horizon, which was a good indication she hadn’t blacked out. Except for a few birds, they were alone, which made her wonder where Mark and James had come from.

“I don’t recall seeing either of you on the beach a minute ago.”

James smiled, and her heart accelerated. “You found us.”

She couldn’t help but stare at the hunk. Like Mark, he wore an unbuttoned shirt and jeans. She glanced down and spotted light blond hairs on his chest. And, dear Lord, he had a six-pack to die for, too. Swallowing hard, she blinked and looked away.

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