Friday, February 26, 2016

Only a Kiss ~ Part 40

Just as Ana was about to turn and give advice to the young woman, a scream pierced the front of the store.
“He can’t breathe!” screamed a woman, whose face was so red Ana wondered if she was also having problems breathing.
Ana rushed to the front of the store and sure enough a man sat on the edge of the shoe display window gasping for air.
“What happened?” asked Ana. “Did he eat something?”
The woman shook her head. “I think he was stung by a bee.”
Ana crouched in front of the man. “Where you stung?”
The man managed a nod as his hands locked onto the ledges of the display window in panic.
Immediately Ana started patting the man’s pockets.
“What are you doing?” asked the woman.
Ana ignored her until she found what she was looking for. She slid her hand into his pocket and pulled out a long device that resembled a pen. She pulled off the safety cap and stabbed the pen into the man’s thigh, causing the woman to release another scream as she wilted to the ground.
Releasing her own breath, Ana relaxed as the man’s breathing started to become normal. She pulled out the pen as he released his grip on the ledge of the window and placed his hands on his knees, taking in deep breaths.
“You okay?” asked Ana.
The man took another deep breath. “I think so, thanks to you. How did you know?”
“My sister, Cindy, is allergic to peanuts,” said Ana. “Fortunately, I’ve only see that happen to her once, when our other sister gave her a brownie with peanuts in it, and I had to inject Cindy with her EpiPen. I knew if you had one on your person, you needed it.”
“Well, as sorry as I am that your sister is allergic to peanuts, I’m very glad you knew what to do,” said the man. “I’m afraid I went into a panic when I saw the bee and was unable to help myself. Thank you.”
Ana smiled. “I’m happy I was here to help. Would you like me to call an ambulance or take you to the doctor? Maybe you should get checked out?”
The man waved her off. “I’m okay now, thanks to you.” He reached out his hand. “I’m Phillip Stanley and you are?”
Ana shook his hand. “Anastasia Durrant, but you can call me Ana.”
Phillip stood and Ana took a good look at the man whose life she had just saved. He had a full head of thick dark blonde hair and icy blue eyes. His white button up shirt, clung to his chest showing off his masculine physique. She guessed he was a person who took advantage of hiking San Francisco’s many hills.
“Do you work here?” asked Ana.
Phillip smiled. “I own this store and please, pick any shoe you’d like to take home, on the house. It’s the least I can do for someone who just saved my life while others just stared.” He gave the woman who was now sitting on the floor being fanned by the two young women Ana had almost approached before the bee sting.
“Actually,” said Ana, “I could use something else if you don’t mind.”
She walked over to the register where a small black and white sign sat. She picked it up and pointed to the “Help Wanted” written in cursive. “I could use a job.”

“Okay,” said Phillip. “What do you know about shoes?”

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Only a Kiss ~ Part 39

Jeffery opened the car door. “Shall we go home?”
Home sounded nice to Ana, but it also sounded foreign. Could she really call the beach house her home? She definitely didn’t have a home with her mother any longer and the home she thought she would have with Brett was just thrown out the tallest skyscraper in California.
“I’m sorry, Jeffery, but I think I would like to walk some more,” said Ana.
Jeffery gave Ana a sympatric smile. “All right, Miss, just text me your location when you’re ready and I’ll be there to give you a lift home.”
“Thank you,” said Ana.
Jeffery gently grabbed her arm before Ana could walk off. “If you ask me, he’s not worth your frown, Miss.”
Ana gave a thankful nod before Jeffery dropped his hand and Ana walked toward the ocean. She couldn’t see it due to the skyscrapers, but could hear the gulls and the fog horns of ships coming into the bay so she knew it was close.
She wanted to feel the salty wind on her face and prayed it wouldn’t be wiping away unwanted tears. She didn’t want to cry over Brett. It just seemed silly. She had barely known the man, regardless of the connection she felt, it wasn’t as if they had been a couple or even dated for that matter. But she knew she saw all the possibilities in a new life with Brett and none of the downfalls. She had been living in a fairy tale.
As she approached Drumm Street she spotted a park and decided that would be a good place to sit and think. Just as she turned toward the park, something caught her eye. She turned and quickened her pace as she approached the shoe store. The window was lined with the summer’s latest fashionable flip flops, perfect for a beach or deck party. Bedazzled backless heels flacked the flip flops for anyone looking to upgrade their beach look. P.S. Shoes was written in fancy lettering across the center of the window.
Ana pushed the door open and took in the smell of leather and vanilla. Shoe stores had always been her happy place and Ana couldn’t help but feel excited at the prospect of a new show for her collection, or at least some inspiration for a new design.
She walked through the displays and gently touched the shoes.
Two young women walked behind her, eyeing a display of classic black heels. “So we’re going to the symphony at the zoo. Which sounds really romantic, but I have no idea what to wear. It’s going to be hot and you know how my feet swell when I get to hot. Plus, I have no idea how far I have to walk before we get to where in the zoo they’re actually playing. There’s a good chance that my feet will just puff right out of any shoe I wear before the symphony has tuned their instruments.”
Just as Ana was about to turn and give advice to the young woman, a scream pierced the front of the store.

“He can’t breathe!” screamed a woman, whose face was so red Ana wondered if she was also having problems breathing.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Only a Kiss ~ Part 38

Ana hurried to the revolving doors, feeling stupid. The guard was right, Brett had had many opportunities to get back with her. He wasn’t interested and she was acting pathetic.
Tears blurred her vision as she pushed her way out of the building and ran smack into the back of a man standing near the door.
Ana stumbled back as the man turned and caught her arm, keeping her from falling. Ana looked up and into the dazzling molasses colored eyes of Brett Morrow.
“Anastasia?” Brett’s eyes grew wide.
Ana nodded as she got her feet back under her and gently pulled her arm from Brett’s saving grasp. “I was in the neighborhood and thought I’d drop by. Seems foolish now, you’re a busy man.”
Ana waited for Brett to respond, but he just stared at her, making her feel even more foolish. Ana wasn’t even sure how that was possible. “Take care, Brett.”
She turned to walk away and he caught her hand again. “Anastasia, sorry, I was just surprised to see you.”
He wrapped her in an awkward side hug and then flashed his winning smile at his colleagues. “Please excuse me for a moment, if you would like to go on up to the conference room I’ll meet you up there in ten. Let my assistant know if you need anything.”
Ana watched as the men walked inside without giving her so much as a glance. “I’m sorry, Brett, it’s just that I’ve moved to San Francisco and you’re the only person I really know in the area, so I thought I’d look you up. I tried calling, but couldn’t get past your assistant.”
“You moved here?” Brett shook his head. “Why?”
Because of you silly, sat on her tongue, but Ana bit it back. “Honestly, I took your advice, stood up to my boss and then quit my job.”
“You did what on my advice?” Brett again shook his head. “I never met for you to …”
Ana waved him off before he could finish his sentence. “Honestly, I needed a new start away from my mother and you just gave me the courage to stand up for myself is all. Cindy and Charles offered me up their beach house until I get on my feet here and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.”
Brett glanced at his watch. “I’ve got to go, but give me your number and I’ll call you.”
Ana could hear the pity in his voice. “Your assistant has it.”
Brett pulled out his phone. “That might be true, but I’ll put it in my phone right now and I’ll call you later, promise.”
Ana rattled off her cell phone number with little hope that Brett would actually call her back. She had been living in a fairy tale and it was more obvious than ever that Brett was not her Prince Charming.







Chapter 7


“Miss Durrant?”
Ana almost walked right by Jeffery without noticing him. She had forgotten that he was picking her up. She walked to the car. “Oh, Jeffery, sorry. I forgot.”
“You all right, Miss?” asked Jeffery. “You look like you’re carrying the world on your shoulders.”
Ana smiled. “Not so big as the world.”
Jeffery opened the car door. “Shall we go home?”

Home sounded nice to Ana, but it also sounded foreign. Could she really call the beach house her home? She definitely didn’t have a home with her mother any longer and the home she thought she would have with Brett was just thrown out the tallest skyscraper in California. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Only a Kiss ~ Part 37

She squared her shoulders and marched toward the door. She entered and was met with a mosaic of marble and light. Everything was white, grey or black and Ana wasn’t surprised. The whole place spoke of professionalism and class, even the contemporary black sofa and chairs reeked of business.
She looked around the lobby, hoping to spot Brett. Her heart dropped, he wasn’t in the lobby. In fact, very few people were. Ana was sure they were just all working in their offices. She walked to the security desk, sure they would call Brett and he would hurry down to great her.  
“Hi,” said Ana as she approached the desk.
“How may I help you?” asked a female security guard.
“I would like to see Brett Morrow, please,” said Ana.
“Do you have an appointment?” asked the guard.
Ana shook her head. “I’m afraid not. I’m a friend of Mr. Morrow’s and was in the neighborhood, so I thought I’d drop by.”
“Mr. Morrow doesn’t do drop bys,” said the guard with a smirk. “You’ll need to make an appointment with his assistant.”
Ana thought of the numerous times she had called Brett’s office and spoken to his assistant. Never once did she mention her making an appointment, but Ana fully conceded that she hadn’t asked for one either.
She bit her lip. “Maybe you could call up there and see if they could squeeze me in, it’ll only take a moment. I really just want to say hello and let him know I’m in town.”
The guard crossed her arms. “Seems to me if you were that good of a friend the A. you would have his private number and 2. You wouldn’t need to drop in.” The guard dropped her arms and leaned forward giving Ana a sympathetic smile. “Look, I’m sure you and Mr. Morrow had a very nice time wherever it was you met. But do yourself a favor and run along before you make a fool out of yourself.”
Ana felt her face flush hot and knew she was blushing, but she didn’t know if it were more out of embarrassment or anger. “Well I never …”
The guard straightened. “Never what? Been played by a dashing millionaire? Welcome to the club. Go on home now or I’ll have to escort you out.”
Ana turned and felt her mother’s wicked words on the tip of her tongue. She wanted to give the guard a piece of her mind, tell her how she’ll be in the unemployment line once Brett heard of the way she had treated Ana. But as those words rushed through her head, all Ana heard was her mother’s voice, and the countless times she had heard Tilde threaten a person simply for not allowing Tilde to break the rules.
Of course, Brett didn’t want drop bys. Ana felt fresh heat rush to cheeks and this time she knew it was embarrassment. He was a professional and couldn’t have women just waltzing in whenever they pleased.
Ana hurried to the revolving doors, feeling stupid. The guard was right, Brett had had many opportunities to get back with her. He wasn’t interested and she was acting pathetic.
Tears blurred her vision as she pushed her way out of the building and ran smack into the back of a man standing near the door.

Ana stumbled back as the man turned and caught her arm, keeping her from falling. Ana looked up and into the dazzling molasses colored eyes of Brett Morrow. 

Friday, February 12, 2016

Only a Kiss ~ Part 36

“Would Bayside Enterprises be one of those fancy smacy offices?” asked Ana.
“Let me check,” said Katie. She tapped a few more keys on her phone. “Yes, and actually not that far. It’s on Battery Street. Looks like a fifteen minute walk.”
Ana bit her lip.
“What are you thinking?” asked Katie with a sly smile.
“That a walk sounds really nice after all those dumplings,” said Ana, looking at the ceiling.
“And what else?” pried Katie.
Ana tried to look innocent. “Well if I’m literally ‘in the area’ maybe I could just drop by and see if Brett is available?”
“Girl.” Katie shook her head at Ana. “Well, I can tell you one thing, you’ve got nerve. I’m not sure he deserves it, but you’ll probably just keep wondering if you don’t try. You want me to go with you?”
Ana shook her head. “You’ve done so much already. If you’ll just text Jeffery and see if he’ll be around long enough to drive me home. I would appreciate it. If not just tell me what buses to take and I can make my way home.”
“If he’s not available,” said Katie. I’ll just stick around Chinatown until you’re done and then take you home. I have some shopping to do and at the herb store.”
Ana left Chinatown and started toward the financial district after Katie confirmed that Jeffery would meet Ana at Bayside Enterprises in an hour. She appreciated the walk after eating so much food and could smell the savory aroma of Chinatown mixing with the California sea breeze. She loved the city all ready and had only seen a fraction of it.
Her thoughts turned to Brett and her heart raced at the anticipation of seeing him again. She hoped he wouldn’t be upset with her just turning up and felt a little bit like a stalker, but she was in the neighborhood.
She shook her stalker thoughts away. Of course, he would be happy to see her and he would probably appreciate her gumption. Hadn’t he been the one to encourage her to stand up to Tweets and get the promotion she deserved?
She imagined herself walking into the huge skyscraper, bright with sunshine coming through the large windows. Brett would, by chance, be in the lobby. He would turn and see her walk through the doors. A smile a mile wide would caress his face as he forgot about everything else. He would excuse himself politely and then hurry to her, wrapping her in a hug, before planting a passionate kiss on her lips. He would then turn to his business associates and tell them he was taking the rest of the day off to spend with her.

Butterflies raced in her stomach as she found herself staring at the large skyscraper. “Okay, Anastasia Durrant, it’s now or never.”

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Only a Kiss ~ Part 35

“It was yummy and I loved every minute of the process,” said Ana. “Even cleaning up afterwards. I swear when I got to the meeting and watched people dig into my dip, I was giddy. You would’ve thought that I had just won a James Beard award. So after that, I started helping Cindy with the meals and she taught me how to cook.”
“How did you mother feel about that?” asked Katie.
“I told her it would help me get a good husband, so she was fine with it,” said Ana, causing Katie to belly laugh.
“Now that is something Jeffery would have agreed with your mother about,” said Katie. “I swear that man put a ring on my finger right after tasting my pot roast.”
Now it was Ana’s turn to belly laugh. “It sounds like you and Jeffery have a wonderful marriage.”
“We do,” admitted Katie, “but it’s not without drama. We have our disagreements and even go to bed mad at each other sometimes, but the next day all is right. He is my biggest supporter and incredibly passionate about our marriage both in an intimate and non-intimate sense. He knows nothing is more sacred than our relationship.
Ana sighed. “I want that.”
“You’ll find it,” said Katie. “You’ve got a good vibe. I can’t imagine you not finding someone passionate about you.”
“Well, I thought I already had,” said Ana, looking at the phone. “But since he hasn’t returned any of my calls, maybe not.”
“Forget about him,” said Katie. “Here you are starting a new life in an exciting city. How about I show you around today? We could go to the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz, then to Chinatown for some lunch?”
“That would be wonderful,” said Ana. “Jeffery said you were a good tour guide.”
“Great,” said Katie. “I’ll meet you out front in half an hour. Jeffery’s running errands in the city for Dr. Windsor, so is my car okay?”
“Unless you want to go tandem on Mrs. Windsor’s bike,” joked Ana.
Katie laughed. “We had better save our leg strength for walking across the bridge.”

#

Ana threw her napkin on the table. “I surrender. I can’t eat one more dumpling. You’re gonna have to roll me out of here. In fact, just roll me home, I don’t think I’m going to be able to fit in the car.”
“I told you,” said Katie, throwing her own napkin down.
Ana let out a happy sigh. “This city is beautiful. I can see why people move here.”
“It’s not for everyone,” said Katie. “But there are those of us who just feel it in our blood. We’re called to the cliffs, beaches, and waves. It’s like it’s in our soul.”
Katie’s phone beeped and she looked at it. “Jeffery is downtown and would like to know if we need anything? We’re practically downtown, he must think we’re sitting on the beach with our toes in the sand.”
Ana shook her head. “I don’t think so. Is there anything of interest?”
“Mostly skyscrapers with fancy smacy offices,” said Katie nonchalantly, tapping on her phone.
“Would Bayside Enterprises be one of those fancy smacy offices?” asked Ana.
“Let me check,” said Katie. She tapped a few more keys on her phone. “Yes, and actually not that far. It’s on Battery Street. Looks like a fifteen minute walk.”
Ana bit her lip.

“What are you thinking?” asked Katie with a sly smile. 

Friday, February 5, 2016

Only a Kiss ~ Part 34

“Hi,” said Ana. “You must be Katie.”
The woman nodded. “And you must be Ana, or at least I hope you are or we have a seriously awkward situation here.”
Ana laughed at the joke and instantly knew she’d call Katie a friend. “I am, please sit. Would you like some coffee?”
Katie sat and nodded, as Ana poured Katie a mug of coffee from a silver carafe.
“I hope you like the blend,” said Katie. “When I grocery shop for other people I spend an obscene amount of time lamenting over which type of coffee they would like. Remember the good ol’ days when you just bought coffee. No dark blends, winter blends, summer brews, light roasts … just coffee. And don’t even get me started on all the fancy creamers.”
“It’s wonderful,” said Ana, taking a sip. “It reminds me of the kind Mandra used brew, so I’m glad you bought it because I would have been clueless and thank you for all the groceries. You and Jeffery have made me feel quite at home.”
“We are just glad to have someone in the house,” said Katie. “I was just telling Jeffery last week that the house seems sad when it’s empty. So, is Mandra your sister?”
Ana shook her head and smiled. “Mandra is our housekeeper, and God bless her, she always had the coffee and breakfast ready as I stumbled out of bed.”
Katie gave her an ornery smile. “Sounds like an outstanding woman.”
“She really is,” said Ana. “I don’t know what my mother would do without her. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t even know how to make a grilled cheese sandwich.”
“Do you?” asked Katie.
Ana couldn’t help but laugh. “I do, but only because Cindy taught me. I’ve always lived at home, even during college. My mother insisted on it. After Cindy’s father passed and before Mandra, Cindy did all the cooking and cleaning.”
Ana’s face fell. She wasn’t certain if she should tell Katie the details, but figured she already knew since Ana had broken down in front of Jeffery the night before.
“Anyway,” continued Ana. “Cindy didn’t know how to cook any more than the rest of us, but she taught herself by watching the Food Network and reading cook books. Now she’s an excellent cook. But I watched her struggle the first few months, knowing my mother would be cruel if the food was not palatable and I wanted to help, but I, like most of us, was scared of my mother.”
Katie nodded. “Cindy has shared some of this with me. I know it wasn’t an easy place to grow up.”
“Especially for Cindy,” Ana said, she desperately wanted Katie to know that she was nothing like her mother and understood the wrongs that she had been a part of. “Anyway, during college I had a group study project and we decided everyone would meet and bring food so we would have a pot luck marathon session and just get the project done. I wanted to contribute without just ordering something so I asked Cindy to teach me how to make spinach artichoke dip.”
“Yum,” said Katie.
“It was yummy and I loved every minute of the process,” said Ana. “Even cleaning up afterwards. I swear when I got to the meeting and watched people dig into my dip, I was giddy. You would’ve thought that I had just won a James Beard award. So after that, I started helping Cindy with the meals and she taught me how to cook.”
“How did you mother feel about that?” asked Katie.

“I told her it would help me get a good husband, so she was fine with it,” said Ana, causing Katie to belly laugh.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Only a Kiss ~ Part 33

Ana looked around the beautiful room. She knew Jeffery was right, Charles would be upset at Jeffery if he let her leave and Cindy would be upset at her for leaving. She needed to stay and follow her plan. If she worked hard, then she would be able to find herself a place in no time.
Ana woke up the next morning feeling a lot better about things. The night before she had taken a long stroll on the beach, then a hot bath in the largest tub she had ever seen, and then allowed herself to open one bottle of wine from the Windsor’s impressive stock, with the promise of replacing the bottle.
As she drank her coffee on the small deck outside her room, she had to admit there was something about the California air that made her feel refreshed. She looked at her watch and saw it was a little after eight. Grabbing her cell phone she called Brett’s office, hoping she would catch him before he ran off to appointments.
“Bayside Enterprises,” came the receptionist’s voice.
“Hi, yes, I’m needing to speak with Mr. Morrow,” said Ana, feeling the desperation in her voice.
“May I ask who is calling?”
“Yes,” answered Ana. “I called yesterday, Anastasia Durrant. I’m a friend of Mr. Morrow’s and I’m in town. I was hoping to touch base with him.”
“Oh yes, Ms. Durrant …”
Ana pushed the annoyance away at the receptionist’s disapproving tone.
“… Mr. Morrow is very busy I’m afraid and will be in and out of the office today.”
“Okay,” said Ana. “Please let him know I’ve called, let me give you my number.”
“I have it,” said the receptionist, “and I will relay the message.”
“Thank you,” said Ana hanging up the phone. She couldn’t help but feel as if the receptionist, or maybe it was Brett, was giving her the ol’ brush off.
Ana’s mind fluttered back to their night on the beach. I was only one night, but the kiss had been fantastic. She knew Brett felt it too, she could see it in his eyes and sense it in his body. Why wouldn’t he want to give her a call?
Ana decided that she was reading way too much into a few seconds of conversation with a receptionist who was probably very busy with business calls and had no patience for Brett’s personal life getting in the way of her getting her work done. Brett was a successful businessman and probably had a slew of unread messages sitting on his desk. When he got a minute he would look at them and call her. Ana was sure of it.
“Hello there.”
Ana looked up to see a short red-headed woman walking from the blue and tan house Jeffery had pointed out as his own. Ana knew the red head must be his wife Katie.
“Hi,” said Ana. “You must be Katie.”
The woman nodded. “And you must be Ana, or at least I hope you are or we have a seriously awkward situation here.”

Ana laughed at the joke and instantly knew she’d call Katie a friend. “I am, please sit. Would you like some coffee?”