Can you guess the story or scene?

Hint: It’s a NEVER-BEFORE-SEEN passage.

***

The stove was hot to the touch. Smoke filled the room.

I slapped at rising flames, trying to smother the blazing grease fire I had just started. Waving a dishtowel, choking on the acrid smell of carbon dioxide, I couldn’t believe how perfectly a kitchen accident was mirroring my life.

I was going to die.

I was going to die of smoke inhalation and a potential heart attack because the one person I never expected Bishop to tell… he told.

 I instructed Bishop not to tell anyone and he tells…him.

And now I’d stubbed my toe, dropped my food on a gas stove flame, and nearly singed my eyebrows off because in the middle of my lunch hour, during the one peaceful time I’d managed to sneak to myself all day, I’d been rudely interrupted.

And not just by anybody…

It had been ten years. Ten years since I’d seen Jackson Reed and he had waltzed right into my apartment as if he belonged there.

He was taller than I remembered—broader. His dark blonde hair was buzzed into a military cut, and a layer of scruff had covered the lower half of his face that hadn’t been there when he was just a teen.

I’d been just a teen… when I loved him. At twenty-seven, I should have been immune to his charms. I should have kicked him the fuck out. I should have done anything besides what I had done.

He smiled at me. He told me “Hi.” 

And you know what I did when I saw him…?

I said “Hi” right back.

And that’s when the phone rang.

My body was jolted, ripped from a dream that was more memory than anything else. I raised my head up off a pile of papers on my desk.

Dazed, confused about where I was, it took me half a second to realize that I was back in my office. That I wasn’t back in D.C. and that I wasn’t in the apartment that I had nearly burned down four years prior.

That was back in Washington. Back when I was just starting out.

Making it in D.C. had been a dream, and back then I felt like I was living it. The apartment I now lived in, in Manhattan, was much bigger than that… and ten more times more lonely.

I was only reminded of it on nights like this.

Nights when I secretly waited for his call.

And as had been customary for the past half of a week, my heart skipped a beat when I realized my phone was actually ringing.

I reached for it, clearing my throat behind my desk, as I prepared myself for what undoubtedly would be a hard conversation. I didn’t even check the caller ID.

If I had… I would have never picked up.

 18

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