Saige Ingalls works in an architectural firm. She’s the personal assistant to their top man, Malcolm Brody. Tall, blond and dashingly handsome, Brody is a threat to Saige’s fiance, Ben. When things fall apart, will Brody be the one to pick up the pieces? Or is there an undercover lover waiting in the wings?
Saige Ingalls slammed the door behind her, tears of anger and frustration making black rivers out of her mascara. Her head ached from crying, her throat sore after all the shouting. Her strawberry blonde hair was a mess, her green eyes bloodshot.
“Stupid, selfish, inconsiderate, insufferable PRICK!” She screamed, kicking the heavy wooden door. “I hate you!”
“Good!” Ben’s deep voice bellowed from inside. The door flew open and he stood there with a huge armful of her things. “Forgot something.” He said with a nasty smirk. “The rest is waiting for you out front.”
“What? What are you doing? Benjamin Watson!”
“Don’t get that tone with me, Saige. You don’t control me anymore.”
“Not according to my mother.”
“I hate you!”
He dropped her clothing on the floor. The door slammed in her face.
“Hey! Why am I the one having to leave? Ben? Ben!”
She beat on the door as their neighbors stuck their heads out of their apartments, curious about the noise.
“Mind your own business! Nosy busybodies.”
Her neighbors weren’t really all that bad, she was just angry. Wondering where she was going to go, she hurried down the steps to find her belongings falling from the sky onto the pavement. Several of her neighbors were gathering them into neat piles by the building.
“Here, love,” her downstairs neighbor Mrs. Cross said. “I got all I could til me back gave out. But Maude and Sally are still at it. The boys will load it up.” She waved to three young men across the street.
“Oi, lads, Saige needs your help.”
“One moment, Gran,” the tallest said, grinding out a cigarette. “What’s up?”
They dashed across the street, grinning down at Saige.
“Ben and I had an argument. I guess I’m leaving.” She started crying again, sobbing and hiccuping noisily.
“Oh, love,” Mrs. Cross held her and let her cry. “It will work out somehow.”
“I don’t know. I just don’t know anymore. He’s so distant, so changed.”
“Boys, help get her things, eh? She needs a good hot cuppa. Come on then, love.” She led Saige into her apartment.
As she puttered around her kitchen, Mrs. Cross chatted about this and that, keeping conversation light and general. She set a cup of aromatic tea in front of Saige and offered her cookies.
“What was it about this time? I heard it start, but I didn’t ever figure out what he was upset about.” She said quietly.
“That’s the problem with living in an apartment,” Saige took a sip of her tea. “Everyone knows everything that’s going on. He got angry over the food bill,” she said sadly. “I swear, I do
the best I can. I know I spent more this week, but it was for our anniversary. I was going to fix a nice meal at home. We can’t afford to eat out.”
Mrs. Cross nodded, sipping her own tea. “Still not got a job?”
“No. I’m working, but it makes him crazy that I’ve got a good job and he has nothing. He can’t even get on at McDonald’s. They tell him he’s too overqualified with a Master’s degree. I told him to lie on his next application, but he refuses to dumb it down.”
“It’s hard for a man to see his lady working to support him. Mind you, Mr. Cross was on disability for the last ten years, God rest him. It nearly killed him to see me working. But when you’ve bills to pay and not enough money coming in, you do what you have to.”
“He’s had a few consultation jobs, but none last over six months. The last one ended two weeks ago and he can’t find anything else. He’s so good at what he does, but most people use their own staff for computer security these days.”
“He can’t get anyone to hire him?”
“No. His years in the military don’t count as work experience most places. They want someone with documented experience.”
“I’m sorry, love. Have you a place to stay?”
Saige nodded, wiping her tears. “I’ll go to my mom’s.”
“You could stay here.”
“Thank you, but I can’t be this close to him. If I am, it will be a constant reminder and make him angry. It’s better if I’m far away across the river.”
“Whatever you think best, love. But call me every day.”
“I will. I promise.”
They hugged, both crying. Julia Cross had always been more like a grandmother than a neighbor.
“I’m going to miss you,” Saige said quietly.
“Me too, love.”