|This is only the first two chapters of a novel I am writing.
Need opinions please! Is it interesting? Does it make you want to keep reading? Is it realistic so far? Do you feel any attachment to the characters?
Please help me out! Even with criticism. Thank you!
Life is full of choices. Small choices, big ones, even ones that seem insignificant. But, they are all important and lead us to where we are in life now. Life is also full of things that just happen, that we have no control over. But we do have control over how we react to those things, which is our choice. So…it all comes back to choices.
Addison mulled over these things in her mind.
She thought about her choices. She’d made so many small ones; she did every day. But it was the big ones she reflected on now.
What if she hadn’t hidden under the bridge that day?
What if she hadn’t of broken up with Tyler? Or been with him in the first place?
What if she never accepted Jesus into her heart, and turned her life around?
What if she hadn’t decided to go jogging a different direction that one day?
She didn’t quite know the answers to those questions, and wasn’t sure she wanted to. Besides the only thing that mattered was where she was now, today. She thought about how far she had come and where the Lord had brought her. Which brought another question to mind……
Did all my choices lead me to God, or did God lead me to all these choices?
Addison awoke with a jump. Staring straight into the blackness she leaned over, fumbling frantically around her night stand. Feeling the beaded cord, she yanked, flooding the room with light. Giving her eyes a moment to adjust, she sat up slowly. She glanced around the room self-consciously; eyes darting from the window to the door, though she knew she was being silly.
Going to brush the hair from her face she realized first, that her hands were shaking, and second, that her hair was sticking to her face and forehead. She was soaked with sweat. Using the hair tie already around her wrist she pulled her hair up into a messy bun and kicked the sheets off her legs, wanting to cool off.
Reclining her pillow up against the headboard she fell back with a heaving sigh. She didn’t understand. She thought she’d stopped having these dreams a long time ago, yet here she was again, unable to escape them. This one wasn't as long or vivid as they used to be, but that didn't make it any more welcoming. Her body shivered and looking down she saw that she was covered in goose bumps. She didn’t know though if they came from the sweat cooling on her skin, or the thoughts running through her mind.
Wanting to rid her mind of those thoughts she reached for the bible she always kept right next to the bed. She held it in both hands for a moment, feeling the soft leather with her thumbs. Just looking at it she was thankful for the relief it brought her now, as it did so of-ten.
Flipping through the delicate pages she stopped at se-cond Timothy.
She read, "For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind....."
Pacing herself, Addison inhaled slowly and deeply, until her lungs were full. She held it for only a second and then released, breathing back out through her nose. She had to continue with this breathing pattern or she would tire too quickly. After years of jogging she no longer had to concentrate on keeping the pattern, it came naturally.
She loved jogging. It was her release from life’s stresses.
She had started about six years ago when she was sev-enteen. She'd been going through a very rough time in her life and needed an escape, something to pour her emotions into. Jogging had been that escape and now she didn't know how she had ever gotten along without it. It had become a sort of addiction. She knew that was-n't good, but the exercise allowed her to clear her mind temporarily and release aggravation and tension. After-wards she could come back to her thoughts with a more rational outlook on things. It scared her to think of some of the decisions she may have made if she’d done so un-der so much stress.
She followed the city sidewalk lined with shops and businesses, staying to the outer edge to avoid the crowds of people and random swinging doors. She could feel the hot sticky air on her face and smell the exhaust fumes of the backed of taxi cars lining the streets. The park would be easier for running, but she enjoyed the sights and sounds of the busy city life. Sometimes, if she was extra stressed, she would have her earphones in. Music put her in her own little world. But today she let the sounds of beeping horns, sirens, and phone conversations surround her.
She was headed north in the direction of the bay. There was a building near the shore, about a mile and a half from her townhome, where she always went to be alone. This was her usual route while jogging but she wanted a more rigorous workout today, so she took a detour. Tak-ing the long way, west through the city and then coming back northeast to her destination. This course would grant her an extra mile and a half.
Coming up on two and a half miles she got her second wind. She loved the burst of new found energy that pumped through her veins, as if she had the strength to do anything she wanted. It was her favorite part of the sport.
With only half a mile to go she arrived about four minutes later. No need for a cool down, she still had the climb.
Sneaking down the side alley between buildings, she stopped at the ladder. She grabbed hold of it with both hands and started up. The ladder would normally feel hot because of the summer heat, but this side of the building was cast in the shadows this time of the day. The cold metal combined with the shade and sweat on her chest gave her a chill.
She had to be quiet. The building was a business, and she had no connection with the owners. It was one of the few buildings she had been able to find where the ladder was constantly left down. Most others had the bottom part folded up and locked with a padlock. Apparently the owners weren't too concerned about people getting on their roof, so she felt less guilty doing it.
When she reached the second floor level the ladder turned into a ladder cage; creating a sort of tunnel to get her safely to the fifth floor.
Reaching the top she swung one leg over, turned, and climbed down about four feet onto the enclosed rooftop. Wind off the bay welcomed her, whipping lose strands of hair from her ponytail.
This was her favorite place. She loved coming up here to be alone, to think, and to pray. Resting her elbows on the concrete railing, she gazed out over the San Francisco Bay. The sight was beautiful. From up here she could see the water and Golden Gate Bridge northwest of her, and down the shoreline in either direction. Her south view was mostly blocked by buildings that grew taller and tall-er farther into the city. The bridge was magnificent. Its’ construction was finished back in 1937, and sixty-nine years later it was one of the most internationally recog-nized symbols of the USA.
It was evening and the sun had started casting shadows on everything. Soon the sun would be setting and the lights on the Golden Gate Bridge would come on. She longed to see the bridge at night, all lit up; the buildings along the shores twinkling with a thousand lights. She never got that opportunity. She knew better than to be alone in the city after dark and as soon as the sun set she would head back. It only took her about eleven minutes to get home. She had it down to a science.
Here she was on the roof of a five story building and she felt exuberant. Just being up here made her feel free and alive. She wished she could look down at the city at night and see what God could see. She imagined the possibili-ties.
After a few moments she brought her thoughts back to the present. She remembered her dream from the pre-vious night. It had disturbed her, though she'd tried not to let it. It was a fragment of the dreams she used to have as a child. She'd had them for years, even after she’d gotten born again. They became less and less frequent over time until she no longer worried about them. If she could remember correctly, the last time she had one of the dreams she had been about fifteen. Now, out of nowhere here they were again. She had thought they had gone away for a few different reasons. First of all being the fact that she was a born again christian. She had prayed for a long time that God would rid her of the dreams, the reminders. She had also assumed that the older she got the more her memories faded, leaving less and less details for her subconscious to feed off of. After all that time she really felt as though she had gotten past everything, and that the ceasing of the dreams was a re-flection of that.
After seeing how last night had affected her, she doubted herself.
The question that came to her now was 'why? 'Had something triggered them? Was God trying to tell her something? She didn't know, and she wasn't sure she wanted to find out. She just didn't want them to start again. She desperately wanted that part of her life to be over and done. She had prayed about it several times since last night. Hoping it had been a random occurrence.
Unfortunately, only time could tell. So, she willed herself to think on other things. Her eyes drifted over the water, past the Golden Gate Bridge, and down the shoreline. Glimpsing a building that stood taller than the rest, she thought about the day after tomorrow. It would be her first day at her new job, and the office she would be working in was in one of the biggest buildings in the city. She was so excited that she had driven and jogged by it several times over the past two months.
She would be working for the city newspaper as a col-umnist. More specifically, she would be working as a columnist's assistant for now.
Addison wanted to be a writer ever since she was a little girl. Poems, short stories, writing in her journal; she did-n't care. She just wanted to write, filling several journals over time. She'd taken a few college courses over the past few years specifically targeted towards improving her writing skills and technique. She had never actually done anything with her passion. After being born again she had felt God pulling her to use writing as a ministry. Ever since, she had been trying to get her foot in the door at just about any place that would look good on a resume for journalism; but no one wanted to hire inexperienced writers with no references. She’d had no luck until recently, during one of the courses she had taken; her professor had been intrigued by her work. Nearing the end of the course, he had pulled her aside and asked if she planned to do anything with her talent. Turns out he had extensive connections at the city newspaper.
After he’d talked to the editor in chief, she’d gotten a job offer; a job offer with stipulations. After six months of being an assistant columnist, they would analyze her progress and go from there. They’d given her the basic conditions of the job, and a forty-eight- hour response bracket. Sarah Riley, a well known journalist, would be her overseer. Addison would be shadowing her every move; attending all her interviews, pre-editing all of her articles, helping with research.
She prayed fervently for those two days, and in the end she felt an overall peace about the offer set before her. She had been ecstatic! After informing them of her deci-sion she had done non-stop research on the woman Sa-rah Riley. She wanted to know her background, her writ-ing style, and genre if she was going to be spending so much time with her. She had also familiarized herself with most of Sarah’s recent articles.
Two months later, she was ready and eager.
She had thanked God continually for this opportunity; as she did now for the beautiful sunset displayed before her.
It was time to head back.
Standing at the ladder she spared one last backward glance at the view, then swung her leg over and started down.
On her way home she prayed for a good night’s sleep; hoping desperately that her night wouldn’t be interrupted again with persistent memories.
Addison spent half of the next day looking through old copies of SF Weeky, the local San Francisco newspaper. Reading random articles and studying the layout of the newspaper. She wanted to familiarize herself with it as much as possible. To be honest, she wasn’t really inter-ested in the news itself and very rarely read the paper. Bur she didn’t want to offend anyone and seem un-grateful for this job by not knowing anything about it.
After many long hours she decided that she needed to get out of the house. She could go jogging, but the weather wasn’t that nice, but she wanted to do some-thing that would give her thoughts a break. Picking up the phone she called her friend Heather and invited her to their usual hangout.
She slipped into a strappy, floral summer dress. It criss-crossed over her back, leaving her thin, toned arms re-vealed. It was fitted around her chest and waist, and then flowed loosely down to her ankles. After adding a pair of tan flip flops she grabbed her purse and keys and headed out the door.
The café was only five minutes from her townhouse. She found a parking spot up the street and walked back down.
When she went in she saw that Heather wasn’t there yet so she found a table near the window where they nor-mally sat .The café was larger than it looked from the outside. It was decorated to have a very contemporary feel with lots of colorful art on the walls and boxy, sym-metrical furniture. It was divided in half. One half was used as a lounge with couches and coffee tables, while the other side was the restaurant.
Heather Downing was the same age as Addison. They had met when they were fifteen while both trying to get a job at the same café. This café. There had been so many applicants that the manager was having a group interview. Neither one of them made the cut for the job, but had really hit it off giggling about the manager’s ob-viously fake wig.
After that, they had been inseparable at the hip; going everywhere together and sharing everything. One of the main things they had in common was their christian morals.
A few years later, after making some bad choice she had put some distance between her and Heather. Addison was confused about many things and needed time to make some very important decisions. It didn’t take her long to decide that she needed to get more serious about her walk with the Lord. She immediately started making changes in her life. After talking to her friend about her decision the two girls slowly drifted further apart. Heather had been mad about being shut out for several months and hadn’t wanted to make the same changes as Addison.
Heather had not been the first, but was one of the hard-est things Addison had had to give up after dedicating her life to God. She’d confronted her friend on many oc-casions about the life choices she was making. She’d wanted desperately to see Heather truly commit her life to Christ. But every discussion had led to a disagreement; severing their relationship.
About nine months ago Addison had gotten a pleasant surprise when Heather had shown up at her door. She hadn’t known how to get in contact with her anymore. After going to her Aunt Susan’s, where Addison grew up, she’d been sent to her townhome.
Her friend had gotten farther and farther away from God since they last spoke. During one crazy night, there was an accident. One of her friends was killed. The tragic in-cident had shaken her, caused her to really re-evaluate her life. They’d talked so long that day she had showed up that Heather had ended up staying overnight. By the next morning Heather had decided to truly commit her life to Christ and Addison had been helping her since then.
She had come a long way, though she had been so far gone that a long way was still very far from where she needed to be.
Heather struggled in many areas still, but was trying. The important part was that she was moving forward, and Addison was here to make sure she continued doing so. Her friend had no good connections in her life except Addison, and that made their friendship not only wanted, but needed; she was glad to have her friend back and glad that she had finally made the choice to live for Christ.
Addison looked up; seeing she was heading that way she got up to meet her. “Hey you!” They hugged. “You look cute!” she commented, noticing Heather’s thin, tucked in blouse and shorts.
“Aw, thanks!” she glanced down at her outfit. “I went shopping yesterday.”
“Shopping again….you shop so much you probably need two closets.”
Heather laughed a guilty laugh. “Actually.…three. I have mine, my sister’s old closet since she went off to college and the linen closet in the hall.”
They both laughed and sat.
“Well, I will encourage you to keep shopping as long as it keeps you from hanging with your old friends and getting in trouble.” Addison smiled kindly, bringing the conversa-tion to a more serious level. “I will even shop with you!”
“You hate shopping!”
“Well hate is a strong word. I just prefer to only do it oc-casionally and when necessary. But, I would hate more to see you back in your old ways.”
Heather just smiled while she seemed to be thinking, and then finally agreed. “Me too.”
Addison let the moment linger then tried easing the ten-sion that always came when Heather thought about her past, especially because it wasn’t that long ago. “So! How have you been? What’s been going on? Anything new?”
“Mmm….things have been good! Just been working full time now, and shopping…” she giggled, “and trying to adjust to the move.”
Heather had moved back in with her parents after the accident. She had been sharing rent with the girl who died that night and couldn’t afford to keep up with the rent alone. Other friends had offered to move in and take up the other half, but she had wanted to get out of that crowd and away from temptation. Her parents had been more than happy to take her back and help get her life on track.
“Yeah, I know it’s been hard. At least you don’t have to share a bathroom with your sis anymore. And your job is so good now you should be able to move out again on your own soon, right?”
“Yes, but I’m not sure what I will do. I know I should save as much money as I can, not blow it on rent if I don’t have to. Besides….” she looked at Addison knowingly, “I should be glad I have parents I can move in with.”
Addison gave her a thankful smile and nodded. Her friend had always been sensitive and thoughtful to the fact that Addison’s parents had died a long time ago.
“So.. ..yeah,” Heather continued. “I may just stay there for a while.”
“Well good! You should be able to save quick then. How is the job going? You’ve been there almost four months.”
Heather worked as a nurse’s assistant at the hospital. She was waiting for an opening to come available at a nearby nursing school so she could get her degree and be a nurse on her own. “Good! It’s been good.”
“Yeah, I’m actually really liking the work. Those random anatomy classes I took in college are paying off,” she laughed.
Addison knew Heather well enough to know she was avoiding the subject. Especially because when she first started that’s all she talked about. But the last few times she’d seen her she hadn’t brought the subject up at all, and now Addison was having to. “Have you made any friends? Maybe ministered to some of the patients?” she tried pushing the topic to figure out why Heather would be avoiding it.
“Oh, well my supervisor is pretty cool actually, she just has a bit of a potty mouth. I’ve been trying to minister to her….”
“That’s good!” But she still wasn’t satisfied. “Heather, is there something you want to talk about? You seem to be avoiding the topic.”
She hesitated. Looking at Addison’s face she could tell there was no use. She always knew everything! It was something she loved and envied about her. “Well, there’s a new doctor on our floor. We’ve just been talking at work for the past few weeks. Aaaannd….he’s really nice and cute and he asked me out to dinner.” She put on a big cheesy grin.
Addison raised both eyebrows in surprise. She had been expecting something, but not that. Guys wasn’t one of the hurtles they had come to yet since Heather had started changing her life around. She could understand her reasons for not talking about it.
Heather’s grin fell. “Okay, I know what you’re going to ask. Is he a christian? And the answer is I don’t actually know because I haven’t gone to dinner with him yet.”
“Yet? So you are planning on going?”
Heather nodded. She felt like a little kid admitting to taking the cookie she wasn’t supposed to. Except, this cookie was a man.
“Well, actually,” Addison started. “I was going to say, christian or not you shouldn’t be going out with any man. You need to be focused on your relationship with God right now and building a foundation with him. A man is only a distraction, and then a temptation also if he isn’t a christian because he won’t have the same morals as you. I’m just not sure that’s a good idea yet.” She took her friend’s hand to show she meant no offence.
“Oh, I hadn’t thought of it like that.” She thought for a moment. “Oooh, but he’s so cute! And I’ve already agreed to go out with him. It’d be embarrassing and awkward at work if I went back and said no.”
Addison couldn’t argue with that fact. “Well, I really don’t think it’s a good idea for you yet. Maybe just go this time but make sure you tell him nothing can happen right now, if it turned out to be serious it only makes things more complicated.”
After studying her, Addison realized this was a lesson Heather needed to learn rather than be told. Heather thought now that she was a christian she could withstand anything. She didn’t understand how easy it was to let things come in between a new relationship with God. It was so easy to get distracted from his plans for us.
“My advice is that it’s not a good idea. But, you have to listen to the spirit and think about what God’s telling you to do.” She decided to drop it and hoped desperately that this wouldn’t turn into something bad.
“Alright, I will think about it.” Neither of them spoke for a moment. “But what about you?! When are you going to try and meet someone?”
Addison laughed nervously. “I’m not.”
“Oh, come on. That stuff with Tyler was such a long time ago! You are a completely different, stronger person than you were then.” She looked around. “Besides, every other guy that sees you stares.”
Addison hadn’t noticed. She’d stopped paying attention to guys a long time ago. After some practice, that is. “If God wanted me to be with someone he would show me, and he hasn’t. Plus, after Tyler I don’t see why he ever would anyway. I wouldn’t blame him if he never trusted me in that area.”
Seeing how it affected her, Heather relented.
Addison stared out the window pretending to watch a bird on the sidewalk. Though what she said may have been true, she knew the real truth of the matter was that she was too afraid to ever trust herself again.
Addison woke up the next morning thirty minutes before her alarm went off. She hadn’t slept the best, too anxious and nervous for the day ahead of her.
But at least she hadn’t dreamt.
After waking up in twenty-five minute intervals since 3:00 AM she decided to get her day started. It was 6:00 AM now and she had to be at the office at 8:30; she had two and a half hours.
Isabella lay curled up at the foot of the bed. Addison scratched her head on the way by. She had moved out of her aunts’ and uncles’ and on her own about two years ago. After two weeks alone she had gone out and gotten Isabella as a kitten. She had long hair; her coat was light grey with white under her chin that ran down to her chest, and three of her feet were white as well. Addison had chosen her because she had emerald green eyes that matched her own.
Her bedroom was on the second floor of the townhome. She walked over to the large window off the balcony and threw the curtains open in both directions, letting the faint light from the sunrise stream in. The ceiling-to-floor windows off the balcony and along that wall were one of the main reasons she had chosen this townhome.
Isabella made a squeaking noise in protest of the light, stretched out all four legs and rolled over, facing her back to the window.
Addison went straight to the bathroom to brush her teeth and splash cold water on her face. Heading back towards the window, she grabbed her bible off her nightstand and went out on the balcony. It was a decent size; enough to fit two over-sized, cushy patio chairs with a side table in between and walking space around the edges. From up here she could see up and down the street quite a ways and over the houses across the street into the next neighborhood. Not much of a view, but beautiful when the sun was setting and all the trees were full and green.
She wore loose-fitting, silky pajama pants. They were black with the same grey kitten cartoon placed sporadi-cally all over. She had found them shortly after getting Isabella and couldn’t help herself. She paired them with a simple, tight, grey tank. As well as a pair of grey, fuzzy slippers with a black cartoon cat face top and center. She only wore the pants to sleep in; and hid the slippers under her bed. She would be petrified if anyone saw her like this; she looked like a child.
The sun was just starting to come up and the morning air was still a little moist and nippy on her skin. She went back in for her charcoal, woolen sweater and returned. Plopping down in one of the plush chairs she brought her knees up. Her thoughts swimming with expectations for the day, she laid her head back and closed her eyes. After taking a moment to clear her mind she opened her bible and read.
It was a while before she stopped. Turning in the chair, she peaked over the back to spy out her alarm clock in-side. The digital face read 7:00AM. She said a prayer and went inside.
She took a quick shower, curled her hair, did her make-up, and went to her closet. She picked out a black, knee length, form-fitting dress and some black, closed-toe heels to match. It wasn’t her favorite choice but she thought it would do well for the office environment she would be in. Normally, she would prefer something with more color, but she definitely didn’t want to draw atten-tion to herself today. This was her first real job, but she didn’t want everyone else to know that. She wanted to blend in and look the part.
Walking over to the full-length mirror she did a quick in-spection of herself. Her long, chocolate brown hair fell in long curls over her chest. Her make-up looked good. She stared for a moment at her dress. She loved dresses be-cause they reminded her of her mother. She used to make her wear them when she was little and she’d hated it. Now she wore them all the time, wishing her mom could see her, though she knew that could never happen.
She smiled sadly and decided the outfit would have to do.
Going downstairs, she made a breakfast of two eggs with a piece of whole wheat toast. No butter and all natural grape jelly.
She kissed Isabella on the head and left the house at ex-actly eight o’clock.
Outside the front door were steps and one small path leading straight to the sidewalk, and another to the driveway.
Sliding into her VW Jetta she headed south farther into the city. The drive was only about ten minutes, but she’d left early to give herself extra time. After finding that the parking garage was a block away she was glad she had.
Finding her way to the front of the building she stopped and looked up. The building was enormous, stretching fifty stories high. The exterior was covered in reflective glass windows that displayed of all its’ surroundings. She squeezed through the revolving doors as two other peo-ple were going out. Inside the lobby was huge. It con-tained a large seating area with couches surrounding a fountain, and a cafeteria for all the employees to come down to on their breaks. She headed towards the recep-tion desk, taking it all in and trying to contain the over-whelming feeling welling inside of her.
“Excuse me, hi,” she smiled at the receptionist. “Can you tell me on which floor I can find SF Weekly?”
The woman glanced down at a clip board and flipped through a few pages. “Which department?”
“Oh, um…” she was suddenly glad she had done so much research yesterday. “Editorial, please.”
Addison stopped for a moment. Forty-five?!
She thanked the woman and walked away, trying to hide her surprise. She didn’t want to act like a child, but the thought of working on the forty-fifth floor of any building intimidated her. This was a real job; no more playing around.
There were five elevators along the side wall. She headed towards them trying to look like she knew where she was going. After a moment one came available and she entered with a man that looked to be in his late thirties.
“What floor?” he asked.
“Uh,” forgetting, she hesitated. “Forty-five,” she said quickly, then looked at the floor, embarrassed and frus-trated with herself. Pay attention! If I can’t remember a floor number how am I supposed to remember anything else today?!
He punched in the number and the doors beeped before they closed. She’d forgotten to say thank you, but figured saying it now would only makes things more awkward.
The elevator was quiet besides the soft, ambient music playing on the speakers. After twenty long seconds an-other loud beep sounded and the gentleman got out on the thirty-fourth floor; taking the awkwardness with him. She relaxed as a woman took his place, punching in her destination. The woman turned her head to look Addison up and down judgingly. She gave the lady a smile and got a scowl in return. Thankfully, she got off on forty-three; leaving Addison to wonder what she had done wrong.
Finally alone, she sighed and closed her eyes. Lord, I’ve been looking forward to today, please let it go well. Help me to calm down….and don’t let me forget anything im-portant!
There was a loud beep for the last time as the overhead screen read forty-five. She held her breath, unaware she was doing so, as the elevator doors opened to a daunting scene. The sounds of beeping fax machines, humming printers, and ringing phones greeted her as cold air hit her face. The office where Addison would soon be spend-ing so much time was exhilarating! Directly before her was a large sea of black and white. She took one step forward into the entry hall; enough to be out of the ele-vator but not enough to be noticed by anyone in the of-fice. The first thing to catch her attention was the floors; black marble with little sparkling flecks all throughout. Her eyes traveled upward. All the desks were white, off-set by all the black accessories methodically placed on them. They were arranged in four sections. The main walkway went straight down the center of the room from the elevator, cutting the room in two. Then a second walkway cut directly across the middle in the other direc-tion, like a plus sign, cutting the two sides in half again. The office was designed to have a structured, modern look while being efficient at the same time.
The only color in the room came from the people; which Addison realized she was just now noticing for the first time. They were all walking briskly in different directions, from one fax machine to another printer and back to their desks. The office extended on both sides of her to the left and right. Farther than she could see without stepping out and looking around the walls that enclosed the entry hall.
She decided to take the chance.
Stepping just beyond the constricting walls, she caught her breath; the scene was breath taking. Both exterior side walls of the office were nothing but glass! The win-dows stretched about one hundred fifty feet long, and fifteen feet high! She remembered studying the building from the outside and knew she should have expected this, but she hadn’t. It was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. The view from her roof top was nothing compared to this. She wanted nothing more than to stand with her nose to the glass and gaze out over the city. Without thinking, she turned to her right and started for the window, but was pulled from her reverence by a hand lightly clasping her upper arm.
Turning, she saw it was a young woman.
"Hi there! You must be the new girl?! Addison, right?"
Caught off guard, she stammered. Then pulling herself together quickly she relaxed and smiled big. "Yes, I'm Addison. Nice to meet..."
The woman pulled her in the opposite direction to a long desk right off the main walkway.
"Look at you! All dressed up for your first day!" the woman remarked.
Addison glanced around the room and noticed that all the men were in dress pants and button-ups, their suit jackets draped over their chairs. The women all wore dress slacks as well, with blouses. She looked down at her dress, feeling insecure.
The woman noticed the effect her comment had made. "Oh don't you worry your pretty little head. You look great. My name is Abigail Fox. But everyone calls me Ab-by," she held out her hand.
Addison smiled warmly; finally feeling somewhat com-fortable. She looked Abigail over for the first time; she was short and thin with short brown hair and a big smile. "Thank you. It's nice to meet you. I'm Addison Monroe," she said, taking her hand. "You rescued me, this office floor is huge; I wasn't sure where to go."
"Is that why you were going to jump?" she smirked.
Confused, she remembered the window. "Oh, right." She blushed and smiled sheepishly. "The view; It's the most beautiful I've ever seen. I bet it's even better at night,” she explained as she glanced towards the window again.
Abigail studied her for a moment. Thinking how sweet and gentle she was. She was nothing like what she'd ex-pected; which made her like her. "It is," she smiled. "Now let's get started. This is the front desk. This is where I work. I'm not one of those important journalists," she teased, smiling. "I take all of the calls and transfer them out, schedule meetings, make sure deadlines are met, and do coffee runs. Blah, blah, blah. Point is, I'm here if you need anything. There is actually a meeting going on now with the publisher and some people; my phone has been dead for about an hour so I'm going to go ahead and give you the tour."
They walked around the large floor as Abby pointed to various machines, explaining what they were for, how they worked, and which computers they were hooked up to. There were different stations for the different types of articles that were written. Along the back wall, straight across from the entry hall, there were a few small, pri-vate offices.
They returned to the front desk as a young lady ap-proached. She looked to be just a few years older than Addison. She was tall and thin, perfectly curved, with long blonde, flowing hair. Handing some papers to Abi-gail, she gave her instructions as to where they needed to go.
Looking to Addison, "This is Rebecca. She's in charge of marketing for the magazine."
"Hi! It's nice to meet you. I'm Addison, I just started tod...."
"I know who you are," she interrupted pointedly, staring for a few moments. "Gosh, you're prettier than I ex-pected!" she added with disgust.
Shaken by the crude greeting, Addison didn't know how to reply.
"…..Not that he will notice,” Rebecca continued sardoni-cally, rolling her eyes. "How did you get to work with Carter anyway? I’m sure it wasn’t his idea. I guess I should have taken up writing a long time ago if that’s all it would take!" She looked Addison up and down conde-scendingly, turned, and left.
Addison was confused for more than one reason. She didn't understand why Rebecca had been so rude to her for no reason. She hadn't said anything wrong, had she? And who was Carter?! "I don't understand. I'm supposed to be working with Sarah Gordon. "
Surprised she hadn't said anything about Rebecca being so rude, Abigail paused. There was something different about this girl. Anyone else would have returned the rude behavior and taken the first opportunity to gossip about it. "Um, Carter....," she replied, coming out of her thoughts. "Yes, his name is Carter Bradley. You are going to be his assistant. Mrs. Riley transferred about a month ago. No one told you?"
"…No," she replied, bewildered. “I was told I would be working with her about 2 months ago when I accepted the job. I've done a lot of research on her work. I'm not prepared to work with …….Carter. Besides," she paused, "he's a man."
Abigail smiled, amused. "Yes, he is. You say it as if he's an alien." She laughed. "Well either way he's a very cute alien and you are working with him. Hence the reason for Rebecca's cold behavior towards you.” She tried bringing the subject back up to see what Addison would say. “She's done everything she knows possible to get him to notice her. He just won't give her the attention she wants….. or any other girl either for that matter; and you saw her!” She paused. “Hmm, maybe he is an alien." She looked at Addison and giggled at her own joke; too inter-ested in the gossip of the situation to notice her new friend's concern.
Addison could only bring herself to force out a strained, half convincing chuckle. But inside she was much less amused.
"Oh Lord! Why would you put me in this situation? You knew what was happening! I can't work with a man!" She wondered if she should quit. Was there a way out that didn't seem too obvious? She didn't want to expose her weakness to Abby or hurt this guy’s feelings for running out after learning she’d be working with him. Then a verse came to her mind:
“God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above what you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it.”
She sighed heavily, torn.
"Well anyway," Abigail glanced at her watch, "he just got off a phone interview about fifteen minutes ago; should be ok to show you in."
"Show me in?"
"Yeah, his is the last office on the corner there," she pointed.
Okay, I’m working with a man. Apparently I’m working with a cute man. I’m working with a cute man that has his own office! What does that mean? Why doesn’t he have a desk out here like everyone else? Addison looked around, starting to panic. Okay, Lord. Where’s that es-cape?! She had just thought moments ago that she’d be working with Sarah Riley, and now she was headed to meet some man. It was happening too fast.
Be still, she felt the voice inside of her say.
Before she could say anything Abigail was up and headed that direction. “Come on,” she said over her shoulder.
Feigning composure Addison followed reluctantly. As they headed in that direction she tried to calm her nerves. The last thing she needed was to act a fool and embarrass herself. This job was still important to her af-ter all.
Just as they neared his office door the front desk phone rang. Abigail hesitated, and then gave in. “I need to get that. Normally people just leave a message but everyone in the executive office is in today; it’d be bad if I missed their call. Just go on in.” She started to turn then looked back at Addison. “He won’t bite,” she added teasingly and giggled as she walked away, leaving Addison alone. This just kept getting worse.
She cautiously entered the room, staying near the open door. Carter was standing with his back to her, looking out the huge glass walls. They continued all the way around the floor, and since this office was in the corner, it had a panoramic view. But she was too nervous to pay any attention. Instead, she studied him.
He was tall. She noticed his broad shoulders that tapered down to his waistline. He was strongly built, standing straight with his hands in his pockets. The baby blue dress shirt he wore was tucked in and hugged his shoul-der blades perfectly; then fell away from his torso. He had black slacks on that she noticed fit nicely……
She quickly closed her eyes and took her thoughts cap-tive; then opened them again in the direction of the win-dow, not wanting to get caught standing there with her eyes closed.
Allowing no more room for her thoughts, she was going to get this over with. Taking a deep breath, she cleared her throat loudly. Startled, he turned quickly, eyes wide.
"I'm sorry if I interrupted you. Abigail told me you were ready for me,” she stated as quickly as possible, wanting to explain her intrusion.
He had opened his mouth to speak at first. But instead he only stared, lost in his thoughts.
When he didn't answer she continued, "I'm Addison. I just found out that I'll be working with you."
This was worse than she'd feared. She looked down at her hands, hating the awkwardness. "You seem as sur-prised as me."
He shook his head, coming out of his daze. "Uh, no; I'm sorry!" He was surprised, but not for the same reasons as her. Feeling stupid, he tried to think of some excuse. "It's been a rough morning. I have been expecting you." He hesitated, then walked across the room and held out his hand. "My name is Carter Bradley." He didn’t smile, just a straight face.
Standing across from her, he was considerably taller.
She took his hand and looked up into his eyes. They were a beautiful dark, hazel brown. For a moment she thought she saw something darker in them, and then it was gone; they were gentle again. Her hand felt small in his and she tried to smile. "It's nice to meet you,” she replied stiffly.
Releasing her hand, he quickly turned and walked back to his desk. She felt his tension; but why? Maybe she shouldn’t have barged in, maybe she should have knocked.
"You said you didn't know you would be working with me," he said in a questioning tone.
"Yes, I was told quite some time ago I would be working with Sarah Riley. Abby just now informed me that she transferred." She thought to herself how she never would have taken the job if she knew she would be working with him, but she kept that to herself.
"I was only informed yesterday myself," he kept his eyes down, fiddling with some papers.
There it was; she understood now. They had thrown her on him last minute, and he wasn't happy about it either.
Oh no, he doesn't even want me here! I was so excited about this job, but it's all turning out badly. She didn't get to work with Sarah, after all the research she had done. She had to work with a man who didn't want her around, and Rebecca already hated her.
Of course, she couldn't blame him. He was moving along in his career just fine; then he gets told he has to babysit.
Shuffling things around his desk he interrupted her thoughts. "I apologize; but considering the circumstances I'm…..” He looked up at her and paused, “..…very unpre-pared to have you work with me.” He quickly looked back down. “I have a very busy couple of days and I will need to work a few things out. I think it would be best if you shadowed Abby for a while. Watching her will help you to get a feel for how things work around here. If you get familiar with that it will help me greatly when we actually get started on an article.”
She opened her mouth to speak but he continued. “Over the next few days you will need to pick up a daily plan-ner, a notebook, and a small handheld recorder. Be sure to write down all of your contact information to give to me the next time I see you. On second thought, give it to Abby. Get all of mine from her for yourself; have it somewhere accessible.” He looked up at her again and studied her for a moment; then back down, continuing with his papers. “And make a note on all the other wom-en’s attire in the office.”
She glanced down at her dress and crossed her arms self-consciously. "Got it," she responded confidently; as though nothing he’d said had affected her.
"Alright then, I will let Abby know when I am ready to have you start with me; she should be able to answer any of your questions for now. Will you please shut my door on your way out?"
Aware of how bad he wanted to get her out of his hair she turned and grabbed the knob. With the door halfway closed, she paused. "Have a nice day, Carter," she said softly. Then closed the door quickly, not wanting to be any more of a bother than she already was.
He looked up immediately, but the door was already shut. He stopped pretending to be busy. Putting the papers down, he rested his forehead in his hands and sighed.