HOLIDAY INTERNET ROMANCE NOVEL
The Monday morning traffic heading towards Dulles airport was even more horrendous than usual, but that was to be expected on the Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday. At the airport, Oliver immediately tried to phone Sara at home, but there was no answer so he called her office.
Much to his chagrin, another woman, with a more prounounced Southern accent than Sara's, answered the phone.
"Hi. Is Sara there?" he asked hopefully.
Cindy raised an eyebrow, wondering who the deep sexy voice belonged to.
"She just went into a meeting. Can I give her a message?" she offered.
Oliver sighed in frustration. He was getting a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach that his trip to L.A. was a mistake, but he made the commitment to be there and knew he needed to honor it. Already running late, he also realized that he missed his last chance to talk to Sara for at least the next six hours.
"Yes. Could you tell her Oliver called? I have to go to Los Angeles. It's sort of a last minute thing and I wanted to explain it to her. I'm late for my flight right now. For business. I can't see her today or tonight. But, could you tell her I'll call her when I get a chance? When I get to the airport I mean - I don't have a cell phone. I'll call her tonight after she's back from class for sure, " he finished breathlessly in a rush.
Cindy blinked in delighted surprise, glad that Sara obviously enjoyed an interesting Thanksgiving. The man sounded absolutely frantic and totally smitten.
"Sure, I'll tell her. Anything else?"
"Yeah. Uh, please tell her I'll be back Friday night. And that I don't want to go, but I have no choice. It's a work commitment I made a long time ago. Before I knew her. Thanks a lot."
"No problem. Have a safe trip!" Cindy added, smiling as she hung up the phone, fully intending to grill Sara unmercifully when she returned to her desk.
When her best friend did emerge from her meeting, however, Cindy realized the only thing Sara needed was a shoulder to cry on. She wasn't crying, but Cindy could see her friend was completely upset and distraught and deathly pale.
"What on earth is the matter, Sara?" she asked with genuine concern.
Trying not to cry, Sara closed her eyes. "I'm suspended. Without pay," she answered flatly. "And so's the rest of my tuition reimbursement for this semester."
Cindy realized it took every bit of strength Sara possessed to talk normally and not burst into tears.
"But, you had nothing to do with that grade screw-up and John knows it!" Cindy replied furiously.
Sara shook her head.
"It doesn't matter. All he needs is a good faith belief that I was the one responsible. Since I was the one who told him about it on Wednesday, he reported me right away before I could explain. Then, he reprimanded me in front of some of the other professors and I didn't contradict him. So that looks bad, too."
"What are you going to do?" Cindy asked with concern, as Sara started to gather her things on top of her desk.
Sara shrugged. "What can I do? I'll go home and wait for my hearing, I guess - 'til January."
She didn't have a lot of money, but she had enough in savings, with the money from her parents' estate, to tide her over for at least a few months.
It was only then that Cindy remembered to relay Oliver's message to Sara.
"So, he's gone too," Sara responded, her shoulders sagging. For the first time, Cindy thought she saw tears in her best friend's eyes.
"Yeah, but he sounded like it was the end of the world for him, too, Sara," Cindy said gently, then added, "Is that your Writing.Com guy?"
Sara nodded, her eyes brightening just a bit at the thought of Oliver not wanting to leave her. In spite of all that, obviously he did leave town right when she needed him most.
"So, how did this happen?"
As she organized her things, Sara briefly explained the whole Ollie situation to Cindy.
Cindy's eyes opened incredulously as Sara finished her glowing description of the stranger with the sexy phone voice.
"He's nice and shy. And he has no idea how cute he is. He's not stuck up at all, just like he's been with me online."
"So, he owns the video store here in Shannon?"
"Wow, I'm gonna sign up with Writing.Com today! Remind me to rent more videos too!" Cindy teased. "He sounds so awesome!"
"Oh, he is and he's cute too!" Sara agreed, smiling a little at the thought of Ollie. "And nice....and considerate and genuine and so sweet."
"Wow," Cindy exclaimed again. "Sure seems odd that he travels so much to the West Coast, though, doesn't it? You'd think he'd be here to run the store," she mused out loud. "On such short notice too."
Sara frowned again, and Cindy was instantly sorry she said it. For just a moment, her friend seemed genuinely happy, despite all her job troubles.
"I don't really get why that's such an emergency," Sara agreed, adding, "He didn't really go into that too much. I thought he said it was his choice whether or not to travel. But then he said he might have to go back, so I don't think it was a complete surprise for him."
"His choice? Oh, Sara, he sounds like a millionaire or something," Cindy reasoned skeptically. "Are you sure he said it was his choice? Maybe he was exaggerating - you know - trying to impress you. He told me he had to go for work, but he didn't want to."
Sara shook her head.
"I don't think Ollie would say something just to impress me. He didn't tell me who he was at first because he was afraid of my reaction, but I don't think he'd deliberately mislead anyone. I'll just wait for him to call tonight and I'll ask him."
The two women hugged and Sara left for home, clinging to the two remaining positives in her life - Cindy's friendship, and of course, Oliver's.
Her job and education remained a sad question mark thanks to John Miller.
Continued in "Sara's Port, Ch. 23"