Go To Chapter 2
Thursday, September 6, 2012
Sadiya sat in silence; numb with horror and disbelief. Her lawyer had taken care of everything, which was good because she wouldn't have been able to arrange a handful of ingredients into a meal – much less an entire funeral – on her own at this point!
Two days ago – was it only two? - Sadiya had felt like the happiest girl in the world. Her parents were awesome and literally let her do anything she wanted. Now... they were dead...
Their lawyer, a good friend of the family, was the one who had gotten the call when Sadiya's cell phone went to voicemail. She never answered unknown numbers, and thought nothing of it at the time. So, Edward Harris found himself in the heartbreaking position of having to inform her that she was now an orphan.
“Sadiya... There's been an accident...” He'd told her in person. The tears in his eyes stated more than anything that he wasn't just playing a joke on her.
Even so, she'd refused to belief it until she saw their mangled bodies with her own eyes. They were just barely recognizable as her parents, so she tried to tell herself that they were other people. People who just happened to look remarkable similar.
Then Edward placed their wedding rings in her hands. She stared at the matching custom made rings in silence for a few moments. The gold bands were both carved with a vine and leaf pattern; one thicker and otherwise plain; one thinner and adorned with an emerald.
Tears stung her eyes as she remembered once again that moment when the certainty that her parents were truly dead hit her and there was no more denying it. She tried her best to resist crying yet again, her eyes drawn to the rings – which Edward had had clean and re-sized – which she now wore together on her right ring finger.
The crowd of mourners mostly left her alone. They had all tried to comfort her, but she hadn't spoken a word since that moment in the morgue. She simply sat staring at her parents wedding rings, or – alternatively – nothing at all.
“You are being silly, you know?!” Her mother laughed in her head. “We taught you not to mourn death! Rather than sitting there numbly, you should be singing about our lives. Tell everyone how much you loved us!”
Sadiya looked to her shoulder where she would swear she felt her father's hand trying to comfort her. She even went so far as to touch her shoulder to confirm that nothing was actually there.
“If you can't bring yourself to sing, then at least find the strength to talk. Let everyone know how wonderful our family was,” her father said.
Sadiya lost the battle to not cry. “I can't daddy! I'm too sad!” She whispered emotionally. Sobs wracked her body, but she wasn't the only one crying over the loss of two sincerely loved people.
The funeral home was positively packed with people who had come to honor John and Candice Carlin. They all took turns sharing stories as hours passed. Each story made Sadiya laugh, cry, smile, and shake her head.
“See?!” Her mother prompted. “This is a day of celebration!”
Sadiya nodded, but said nothing. Eventually, the mourners moved from the room where the funeral had been held to the room which allowed everyone to sit and eat. Everyone but Sadiya – who wasn't hungry in the slightest, despite not having eaten a bite since she found out what had happened.
“Sadiya!” Her mother barked sharply enough that the girl flinched. “Pay attention, this is important!”
Sadiya looked up at Edward and a small group of people standing behind him. She didn't know them, and wondered why her mom thought they were important.
Edward cleared his throat. “Usually, I would wait until tomorrow – or until after you've eaten at the very least – but I think maybe it's best to do this now.”
He gestured for the people to sit, and then noisily pulled a chair out in front of Sadiya so that he faced the entire group. A moment later, he took a single piece of folded paper out of his breast pocket and unfolded it.
“I John and I Candice – both of us sound of mind – hereby write down our last will and testament, as advised by our lawyer Edward Harris. Everything we own shall be given to our daughter, Sadiya Carlin. In the event we die before Sadiya turns 18, we wish her to have full access to her inheritance – under the guidance of Edward Harris. Also, it is our wish that in this – hopefully unlikely – event, Sadiya be cared for by the only family she has left; Candice's brother, Jeremy Blackledge.”
I have an uncle?! Sadiya thought in astonishment. She glanced at the older man who sat somewhat next to her. He looked almost as astonished as she felt.
Edward continued, also looking at the man. “Jeremy Blackledge, do you accept responsibility for your niece?”
“I,” he paused to clear his throat when he realized that almost no sound could be heard from him. “I do. I'll care for her as if she was my very own daughter.”
Edward couldn't stop a sigh of relief. “Good.” Intuitively understanding that they could use some time alone, he excused himself, going to the dinning room to fill a plate.
Sadiya stared at her uncle in silence for several long moments, and he returned her stare equally as silently. Finally, the sole woman of the group cleared her throat significantly as she nudged him.
“Right!” He gasped as if suddenly remembering his manners. “Sadiya, this is my wife Hayleigh, her son Hunter, and my son – your cousin – Joss.”
Sadiya nodded, still too numb to speak.
“I guess you're coming home with us tonight,” Hayleigh stated cheerfully, as if trying to make her niece feel better.
Sadiya shrugged. At 16 going on 17, they couldn't make her stay with them for too long. On the other hand, she really didn't want to be alone right now...
Joss surprised her by taking hold of her hand and squeezing it firmly. “I lost my mom when I was 6, so I know exactly how you feel.”
Hunter placed a hand on her shoulder. “And I lost my dad when I was just a baby...”
“Thanks,” Sadiya croaked, grateful for the sympathy.
“Do you want to get something to eat?” Jeremy asked.
Sadiya shook her head but then her head turned in crazy circles a couple of times before nodding. Her stomach growled in confirmation that she was in fact hungry. They all walked to the dinning room.
Sadiya took one look around, and then sent a small grateful smile to Edward. He caught her look, nodded, and then held up an ear of corn as if saluting her. This was his way of saying that he honored her parents lifestyle when planning their funeral.
She went to grab an empty plate, and then sliced a juicy and fatty hunk of meat off of a pig that had been roasted yesterday at Edward's house, cut into sections, and then set out on display on large platters on a long table. The rest of the food was simple items – such as corn on the cob and mashed potatoes.
There were at least a hundred guests, and they helped celebrate John and Candice's life by feasting and turning this into the party that the couple always wanted. Sadiya remained mostly silent, but was eventually able to smile a little. The spirits of her parents patted her almost tangibly, happy that she was finally getting over her shock.
“The boys simply can't share a room,” Jeremy blurted out rather suddenly during the car ride home. “They tried that once already and it was a disaster!”
“I know,” Hayleigh agreed.
Sadiya wondered why, but didn't bother asking.
“It's alright dad,” Joss stated with a smile. “Sadiya can share a room with me.”
Jeremy took a second to think this over, and then slowly nodded. “If you don't mind sharing... then I guess that will work.”
“Otherwise I can give up my office,” Hayleigh offered.
“No offense mom,” Hunter snorted in amusement. “But your office is barely big enough for your desk. I doubt even a small bed could fit in there!”
“We're here,” Jeremy announced, calling Sadiya's attention to the fact that they were now at her house. It was simply a courtesy stop so that she could pick up some of her belongings.
Since she sat between Hunter and Joss, she waited for one of them to get out. Hunter did because he realized that he was closer to her front door. After he helped her out of the SUV, Sadiya looked around, almost numb again.
“Can you drive?” She asked Hunter.
“Yeah, I've got my license,” he admitted.
“Can you do me a favor then?” Sadiya asked, handing him a pair of keys and a remote control from her much larger bundle. “Can you park the blue car in the garage. It was mom's and I don't want it sitting out...”
“Sure, I can do that,” Hunter agreed. “What about the purple car? I think I could squeeze it in the garage too if you want.”
“No, that one's mine... I plan to bring it with me,” Sadiya informed him.
“I don't think you should be driving right now,” Jeremy protested in concern.
Sadiya nodded in agreement. The thought that she too might die in a terrible crash almost made her want to sell all three of her cars – since they were all technically hers now – and never drive again. Practicality won out though; she knew she'd need a car to get to school and work and back.
“I'll drive it for you,” Hunter offered.
“Thanks...” Sadiya murmured. “The garage door opener is in the glove compartment, and please be careful not to scratch daddy's baby...”
She turned and walked to her house before anyone could think to ask how there were three cars here if her parents had died in a car crash. She felt it was a bit embarrassing that her dad had owned two cars; his main car and his baby. They had died in his main one...
Hunter used the remote to unlock the blue car, and then leaned into the car and pushed the button to open the garage. He swore in appreciation as Sadiya fumbled to unlock the door and let herself in. Everyone else had gotten out of the car by this time, and were now torn between admiring the vintage car in the garage and following her into her house.
Sadiya didn't mind in the slightest that they chose to admire the 1976 Corvette Stingray rather than come in and bother her. She started by pulling out a large, insulated, bag-style cooler, and filling it with her absolute necessities. Just as she was zipping it closed, Hayleigh and Joss entered her house.
“Your house is bigger than ours,” Hayleigh remarked. “I hope you don't feel claustrophobic living with us.
Sadiya tilted her head to the side in confusion. “How can my house be bigger than yours? It's only a two bedroom with an attached garage...”
“She means that they are about the same size, but our house has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a den/office. It feels smaller because your house looks so open and airy,” Joss explained.
Her parents had built her house as simplistically as possible. It literally had only 4 rooms: a kitchen, a living room, and two bedrooms. Each bedroom was fairly big because of the design, with a common bathroom nested between them. Other than the garage, that was the entire house. No basement, no attic, nothing.
Sadiya shrugged; unless they lived in a small, one room tent, she'd be fine.
“Wait here please,” she insisted, then disappeared to throw a few things in a backpack. It didn't take her long to rejoin them in the living room. They hadn't expected her to return so soon, so she heard them whispering from just inside her bedroom door.
“So this is how my sister lived,” Jeremy remarked, obviously having come in from the garage. “I always assumed that she was living somewhere one step removed from the streets.”
“What do you mean?” Hayleigh asked him.
“Well, my sister ran away with a man – her husband, Sadiya's father – just a month or so after I got married to my first wife. My parents were furious with her for choosing a penniless, hippie dreamer. They disowned her and refused to speak to her ever again. I completely lost tract of her, never able to find an address or a phone number for her, so I also haven't seen her or talked to her since she left. I figured that I couldn't find her because she and her husband were homeless, or something very close to it...”
Sadiya stepped out of her room. “To my knowledge, my parents never went without a place to live unless they wanted to. Mom never talked about her family, and everyone in dad's immediate family died, so I was honestly shocked to learn that I had an uncle...”
Jeremy blushed, embarrassed to be caught talking about her mom behind her back – even if not maliciously. “Are you ready to go?”
Sadiya readjusted the backpack hanging off one shoulder, then slung the strap to the cooler over her other shoulder. She took a last look around at all the pictures on the walls – there really wasn't many since her parents liked to keep things simple, just a single picture of each of them, and one family portrait – and then nodded.
Hunter's mom smacked him upside the back of his head, and pointed at Sadiya's bags. He got the hint and took them from her. She half protested until he handed her back the keys to the blue car. Then, she occupied herself putting them back on her clip.
Next to the door, there was a big wooden key with hooks for the various keys. Sadiya liked to keep a set for all the cars with her – her parents often called her to come rescue them if they locked themselves out of their cars – but there was still at least one spare set of all the keys hanging on the wall. Her parents had lost one too many keys over the years, and had developed a motto that one could never have too many spares!
She grabbed the set for her car, and then tossed them at Hunter. “You said you were going to drive my car home...” she reminded him.
“Yep,” he confirmed.
The sun had set while she was in her house, which made her car look black. She watched Hunter get in it, and then held out her hand as if casting a spell over on him.
“Drive extra carefully!” She commanded. “I don't want to know anyone else in a car accident ever again!”
He nodded solemnly, realizing that it may be a long time before she stopped being afraid of an accident taking more people from her.
Her uncle drove the rest of the family home in near silence. They all couldn't help but think about accidents, and kept an eye on Hunter through the rear-view mirror. He was a perfect driver to their relief.
The drive was only about 20 minutes, which surprised Sadiya. “If you lived so close, I wonder why my mom never ran into you or stopped by for a visit!”
Jeremy shrugged. “She probably thought she was avoiding our parents. I never could find her to tell her when they died a few years back.”
A minute later, they were all safely in the house, and Sadiya felt that strange numbness coming over her again. She looked around the house. It wasn't tiny – as Hayleigh had made her think it would be.
Instead, it was a typical three bedroom house; Sadiya supposed. It had a kitchen, living room, den/office, master bedroom, and a fairly large bathroom on the first floor. The second floor was just big enough for two bedrooms with a bathroom wedged between them.
“Come on, I'll show you where you'll be sleeping,” Joss said, holding a hand out to her with a smile.
Sadiya managed a small smile in return, then placed her hand in his. Hunter handed the cooler to Jeremy, pointing at the counter before following his step-brother and cousin up the stairs.
It occurred to Sadiya that she would have to come back downstairs to unpack her food later. She paused to look at her uncle, wondering if she could ask such a small favor of him.
“Do you think you can just shove the whole thing in the fridge for now?”
Jeremy nodded. “No problem! Lucky for you that we aren't planning to grocery shop for a few days. There's plenty of room in the fridge at the moment.” He was being purposefully cheerful for her, and she appreciated it.
As they ascended the stairs, Sadiya studied her cousin Joss carefully. He was tall and just a hair too thick to be called scrawny. He was wearing a suit appropriate for a funeral, but somehow exuded an air of girliness that not even Sadiya could pull off.
A subtle glance over her shoulder proved that Hunter was almost the opposite of Joss. He was also tall – a couple inches more than Joss – but he was thicker; like an athlete. She had no trouble picturing him out hunting like his name suggested.
She was shorter than both of them, but they seemed like they could all be the exact same age. This might have confused her if she hadn't remembered that her uncle had introduced Hunter as his wife's son, which indicated that the two boys were not related. They themselves had confirmed that assumption by telling her that they were each missing a parent.
“How long have your mom and dad been married?” Sadiya asked as Joss opened his door to reveal a definitely girly room.
Aha! I was right! Sadiya smiled when her sense that he was was not a typical boy was confirmed. No wonder my uncle doesn't mind me sharing a room with him.
“About two months,” Joss answered, and then pointed to a chair. “That reclines, and will probably work as a bed until we can redecorate.”
Sadiya stroked the plush, soft-brushed leather chair, moaning softly in appreciation. Hunter set her bag on the chair, and then hastily left the room. Sadiya watched him go, and smirked as she realized that he had a hard time being in this well decorated and overtly feminine room.
It wasn't tacky, Sadiya noted. The walls weren't pink and it's not like there were flowers or hearts everywhere. It was decorated in shades of cream, gold, and brown, but it had a sophistication that most men – let alone high school boys – couldn't appreciate.
“Is that your mom?” Sadiya asked, pointing to a gorgeous black and white portrait of a woman in a long, elegant dress.
“No!” Joss admitted with a laugh. “That's my favorite Broadway actress!”
“Oh...” Sadiya murmured.
Encourage by her apparent interest, Joss rambled on about his favorite musicals for a few moments before noticing that Sadiya looked like she was about to cry again. He understood completely, and pulled her close for a hug. He was almost certain that no one had simply held her and let her cry until she felt even a tiny bit better.
Sadiya cried on his shoulder until she ran out of tears, and then simply held him tight as if afraid that she might disappear without him to anchor her. At some point, he got tired of standing, and helped her to sit on his bed with him. She fell asleep on him, and when he realized this, he simply yanked his blanket aside, settled her in comfortably, and then changed into his pajamas before snuggling up to her and covering them both.
At 4 in the morning, Sadiya sat up in the pitch blackness. She could just barely make out her sleeping cousin next to her. She sighed, grateful for his support, and then kissed him on the cheek.
“Thank you for letting me cry on your shoulder,” she whispered, and he responded with a sleepy murmur.
Getting out of bed, she tucked the blanket back around him, and then changed out of the dress she had worn to the funeral. Now in a pair of yoga pants and a tank top, she felt wide awake and ready to start her day.
Grabbing her cell phone, she turned it on, and then used its light to walk down the stairs to the kitchen. She looked around just enough to determine which light in the kitchen wouldn't shine on her uncle's bedroom door. A moment later, the one small light in the kitchen nearly blinded her like a tiny sun.
She groaned, rubbed her eyes, and then pulled her cooler out of the fridge.
“What are you doing? Silly girl!” Her mom laughed.
“It's hard to tell if you two are really here or not,” Sadiya whispered.
“Oh we're here, but only for another couple of hours,” her father informed her. “Then we're going to cross over.”
“How will I talk to you if you leave me?” Sadiya whined.
“Easy!” Her mom stated cheerily – as bubbly as always. “Just find somewhere quiet and talk to us. We'll hear you and answer if we can.”
“Why didn't you ever tell me I had an uncle and a cousin?”
Sadiya imagined that her mom shrugged. “I always assumed that Jeremy didn't want anything to do with me. He usually agreed with our parents about everything.”
“Ugh! All they have is tap water,” Sadiya complained. “But at least it's filtered...” She filled a small pot with about an inch of water, and then set it on a burner to boil.
As it heated, she pulled out a bag of organic black – Irish Breakfast – tea, and set the bag in a mug she found in a cupboard. Then she searched through all the cupboards until she found an electric griddle. Her water was ready just as she set the griddle on the counter, so she turned the burner off and poured the water over the teabag; letting it steep for a few minutes before adding a slightly more than equal amount of cream to the mug.
Out of her cooler came a slab of bacon. It was nitrate free and came wrapped in the wax paper that bore the mark of her parents' favorite butcher. Each slice was thick, and had plenty of fat.
Sadiya moaned in anticipation. As the bacon cooked to crispy perfection, she made little patties out of ground sausage that was seasoned just the way her parents liked it. The butcher was now a good friend of theirs, and had their usual order ready to go each week when they stopped in to chat with him for an hour or so.
Her tea tasted excellent, and helped improve her mood.
“Do you plan to feed an army?” Her father's ghost asked.
“Nope, just me,” Sadiya replied, her stomach growling to let her know how angry it was that she had only ate a little of the succulent pig yesterday.
When she had enough grease to fill the bottom of a small frying pan, she set it on a burner and then quickly friend up a couple thin strips of pork liver – to go with the theme, she mentally laughed. It smelled wonderful as it fried, which made her lift her nose to breath it in deep.
A spot of light hit her eye and made her look out the window. The sun was just barely sending out rays over the horizon. Sadiya checked the time to find that it was two minutes to 5 am.
A loud yawn startled her, making her jump and spin almost guiltily.
“I'm usually the first one up,” Jeremy informed her, marching to the coffee pot like a robot. “I like to get to my shop early so that I can have some time to work in peace before customers start calling me up and pestering me.”
“What do you do?” Sadiya wondered.
“I own my own garage where I repair cars.”
“Oh...” Sadiya murmured, wondering how much he made. A good mechanic was practically worth his weight in gold! That would explain why he drove an expensive SUV.
“That smells sooo good!” Hayleigh complimented as Sadiya pulled the lightly fried liver out of the pan and set it aside to cool. The bacon and sausage were still on the griddle, but it was turned down to very low, and the food was covered by pot lids to keep it from drying out.
“Sorry If I woke you,” Sadiya apologized as she grabbed two largish bowls out of a cupboard and set them on the counter portion of the center island.
“Nope,” Hayleigh assured her. “I'm used to waking up with my husband and making breakfast for everyone. Then I work in my office while the boys are at school.”
“Mmm,” Sadiya remarked noncommittally.
She pulled a basket of brown eggs out of her cooler, and busily separated them into the two bowls. The whites went into the bigger bowl, and the yolks went into the smaller bowl. Hayleigh wanted to offer to help, but had no idea what Sadiya was making, so she simply shrugged and sat with her husband at the table to wait.
Once all 12 yolks were separate from the whites, Sadiya measured a cup of cream into the small pot she'd boiled her water in, then added a splash of vanilla and a slightly bigger splash of maple syrup to it. Heating it gently until it was almost ready to boil, she tossed the yolks in and stirred the whole thing over medium-low until it thickened, then set it aside to cool.
Lastly, she located the beaters, added a dash of salt and a splash of maple syrup to the egg whites, and then beat them on high until they formed stiff peaks. To that she added finely shredded coconut, folding it in by hand until it was well mixed.
This was formed into small mounds and stuck in the oven to bake. It was then that she noticed that the entire family was staring at her from the table.
“Good morning...” she greeted hesitantly, biting into her warm-but-not-hot fried liver. “I'm sorry if I am in your way, I can totally move if you need to make something.”
Hayleigh laughed. “You're joking! ...Right?”
Sadiya looked around at all the food she had made, and then shrugged. “I guess I really did make enough to feed everyone...” She dished up her plate, and then carried it and her remaining tea to the table.
Joss sighed in lamentation. “My father suffered a heart attack a little over six months ago...”
Jeremy quickly cut him short. “I'm sure that one breakfast won't hurt!”
“I agree,” Hayleigh purred, patting her husband sympathetically on the back.
Everyone dished up – carefully declining the fried liver – and then sat around the table once more. Hayleigh graciously programmed the oven to automatically turn off when the timer did on her way back to the table.
After the initial moans of surprise and profuse compliments were over, Jeremy paused to ask Sadiya a question.
“Do you plan to stay home from school today, or are you going to drive to wherever you go?”
Sadiya finished chewing her mouthful of liver, and then shrugged. “I hadn't given it much thought.”
“I suppose that it's probably too close to the end of the year to transfer you, but it'll probably be easier to send you to the same high school as the boys next year,” Jeremy mused.
“High school!” Sadiya gasped, staring at him as if he had just spoken an alien language.
“Yes...” he stated, wondering why she considered this strange.
“I'm PSEO... in college,” she explained to him as if this was what all 16 year-olds did.
“Huh?” Her uncle grunted, scratching his head.
“Yeah, my parents homeschooled me until I qualified for free college, and then I enrolled at the nearby branch of the state university. Most of my classes are online,” Sadiya explained.
Joss frowned. “I thought that Post Secondary Education Options were only allowed to students still in high school.”
“Well yeah, but as a homeschooler, my time is focused on learning whatever I want,” Sadiya informed him through a mouthful of the custard that she'd made. “Last month, I decided to learn all about Japan. I started with the language, then I found a Japanese girl my age to Skype with. She taught me a lot about the Edo period – which is her favorite era in history. We bonded over Anime and she now sends me her favorite mangas when they come out. She's invited me to go live with her for a year or so when I turn 18.”
“Wow!” Joss exclaimed softly in appreciation.
Sadiya decided that he was being genuine, and grinned at him. “I'm so excited about going! I may even decide to go to the prestigious Tokyo University! Only the best of the best can get in there! It's going to be almost as much fun as the time I decided to learn Portuguese and was invited by a girl living in Rio to stay with her for two weeks around Carnival!”
Since she was done eating, Sadiya jumped up to carry her plate to the sink. “You have not lived until you've learned to dance the Samba in Rio!” A small demonstration helped her to completely forget her tragedy for a few moments.
Until she sighed in depression. “I guess I'm going to have to cancel my trip to France in August...”
“France?” Hayleigh asked with interest.
“Oui,” Sadiya confirmed. “Mes amies Isabelle et Genevieve me demandent de venir leur rendre visite sur la Côte d'Azur.”
“Then why cancel your trip?” Joss wondered. He had taken just enough french in class to get the gist of what she had said.
Sadiya washed her plate and then set it in the rack to dry before turning to answer him. “I've already been to Paris with my parents. I've heard that the Riviera in August is overcrowded with tourists anyway. I think I'd be too sad to enjoy myself. To think, my mom will never again get to see her favorite city...”
No one knew what to say to that, so Hayleigh cleared her throat and changed the subject. “So... what do you plan to do today?”
Sadiya shrugged. “Pull out my laptop and see if I have any homework I haven't finished yet.” She looked at the clock, which told her it was closing in on 6 o'clock. Not normally such an early riser, she felt like she might want a nap soon. First, she planned to clean up the mess she'd made.
Her cell phone rang unexpectedly. It was sitting on the counter where she had set it while cooking. This meant that the vibrate function made it slide towards the edge. She caught it just as it nearly plunged to the floor.
The caller ID announced that it was someone she knew.
“What's up?” Sadiya asked in concern. The caller began to wail from the terrible tragedy she faced so loudly that Sadiya had to hold the phone slightly away from her ear.
“What do you mean that Gina quit? Why would she quit?!” Sadiya demanded. The woman roared that she wasn't a mind reader, prompting Sadiya to sigh. “Well, how many appointments does she have this week?”
This time, the woman managed to speak at a normal level, and Sadiya had to actually put the phone next to her ear to hear it.
“Yep, yep, dad trained me on hot stones. I can totally take on her clients until we manage to hire a replacement. Yes I know you're sorry to bother me on today of all days. No, I don't want to lose any more clients either. Heather! Stop whining already! I said I'll do it! … Yeah, I was going to come in later today or tomorrow to make sure the payroll got done anyway. Yep, see you in a few hours.”
Sadiya firmly pushed the end button on her cell phone and then huffed an aggravated sigh. “I should have known that Gina would quit the first moment she could just to spite me.”
“You have a job?” Jeremy asked curiously.
“I do now, I guess,” Sadiya muttered, rubbing her temples. “I don't want to sell dad's business, but I also don't want to spend all my time giving massages. I guess maybe I'll have to stop offering hot stone massages until we can hire someone new, or maybe I can train somebody...”
Sadiya's cell phone rang again, and she glared at it murderously. “What?!”
This time, the caller was polite enough not to wail into the phone.
“Well if the shipment hasn't arrived, there's nothing we can do about it. Put up a sign apologizing for the lack of Gt's Original Kombucha and then mark the other flavor's 10 percent off to encourage the customers to try them.”
This soothed the caller, who gushed praise at her quick thinking.
“Oh and Scotty? When the shipment does arrive, call me right away. I need to come in and grab a couple bottles...” Sadiya stated sheepishly, scratching her head as if trying to hide her suspicious tone of voice. “Oh... I rather hastily took out my frustrations on my homemade jar of 'boocha...”
Scotty made a joke that had Sadiya laughing. “Yep! Anyway, I promise I'll come in and work on payroll tomorrow or the next day at the latest. If I'm lucky, mom'll have already gotten them ready to print, and all I'll need to do is sign them. Yep, thanks!”
She hung up her cellphone with a sigh.
“More massage business troubles?” Hayleigh wondered.
Sadiya shook her head. “Nope, that's my mama's baby. She owned an all organic foods store. Sacred Earth Foods.”
Jeremy shook his head in amazement, standing to go since he'd taken longer than usual and was running behind his own preferred schedule. “I'd advise selling the massage parlor and the health nut store and concentrate on going to school and getting a useful degree!”
Sadiya glared at him. “Shop! Massage Therapy Shop! And no, I'm not going to sell either unless I have no other choice!”
Jeremy held up his hands in a gesture of apology. “Sorry! That was insensitive of me!”
“Yes, it was!” Sadiya agreed angrily. “I had assumed that I was going to wallow today, but if you'll excuse me, I think I'm going to go to my yoga class! After that I'll be working for a few hours. Then I'm going to stop by my house to grab some more of my stuff and possible start on the huge task of sorting through everything my parents owned. If I'm not back in time for dinner, feel free to call me on my cell.”
Sadiya wrote the number on the first spare piece of paper she could find, and then grabbed her purse with all her keys in it from the small table near the door where she'd set it last night and stormed out of the house.
Jeremy sighed in mild depression. “I'm not used to having girls around...”
His wife and son each placed a hand on him to try and comfort him.
“Just give her some time,” Hayleigh advised.
Hunter ruined the mostly somber mood a moment later by muttering petulantly. “Darn! I was hoping to borrow her car today...”
His mom rolled her eyes and shook her head. “What's wrong with riding with Joss?”
“Nothing,” Hunter mumbled, and then left the room to grab his stuff for school.
Jeremy grabbed Joss by the arm to have a serious chat. “Is he still being mean to you?”
Joss shook his head. “Not at all! We've always been pretty good friends. He simply had a hard time adjusting to the idea of you two getting married. I think he just wants a car of his own so that he can give his girlfriend a ride to school in the mornings.”
Jeremy bit his lip in contemplation. “Hmm... I'll see if we can't find something suitable for him.”
Hayleigh wasn't thrilled with the idea, but kept her opinion to herself.
Go To Chapter 2
Go To Chapter 2