Today is the last day of the A-to-Z April Blogging Challenge, and I’m writing a story about a character named Codie Snow. If you’re just joining me, you’ll want to start with these earlier posts so you’re not completely lost:
Codie sat in a black leather chair in Matthew’s office. He’d told her a couple of months ago that his office was moving as he’d been acquiring more duties, and Slade had given him a budget to redecorate.
It was definitely Matthew. Accents of black here and there, two pieces of abstract art on the walls and a three-foot vase in the corner, but the centerpiece was his desk. What was striking was that the desk looked more like a dining room table, save the computer and phone on one side and the paper tray in the other corner. But, typical of her bestie roommate, what struck her most about the room was its simplicity and cleanness.
Oh…and feeling of money. Lots and lots of money.
She had no idea how much Slade had let Matthew spend on making the room his own, but it felt like a lot. And that was when Codie figured out that Matthew would likely continue working for Slade as long as her ex would let him.
By all accounts, Slade was a good employer. He was lax with time when he could be (like if Matthew wanted to leave early once in a while or take a long lunch) but that was probably because Matthew didn’t abuse the privilege—and he earned it. Matthew had started with Slade when the attorney had been fresh out of law school, and he’d pretty much been Slade’s Girl Friday—his everything and everyone. But, as his practice grew and his wallet fattened, he’d begun having Matthew take online courses (all paid by Slade) and had been giving him more and more duties. Matthew had told Codie all this, but she hadn’t realized her roommate had all but become Slade’s right-hand man. From what she could tell, her ex now had four or five more employees.
Slade and Codie sat in the leather chairs across from Matthew while her roommate tapped on his computer keyboard. She could feel Slade’s eyes on her and it made her feel uncomfortable and hot all at once. She knew how to handle her ex, though, and that was to keep him off balance—if she could. Often, that involved either doing or saying something completely inappropriate or broaching an unexpected subject.
She wished she could do both in one fell swoop, but she was grasping at straws.
So she blurted out what was on her mind. “Looks like you’ve moved up into the big leagues, Slade. I didn’t know Dalton had this kind of money floating around.”
If she’d jostled Slade, there was no telling from his dark eyes. As always, the man looked cool and collected. “Codie, I’ve told you more than once that anywhere you go, there will always be someone holding some fat purse strings. Even shit holes have kings who are collecting taxes.”
Yes, she had heard that one before.
“Okay. Fair enough. I just didn’t realize the kings had hired you.”
A slight smirk moved Slade’s lips, but it felt calculated, as if he were holding back. “Let’s just say that I’ve acquired as clientele some big Dalton players.”
Yeah, it showed. Not that Slade looked any different. The man had always played the part, and having a rich father hadn’t hurt at all. Codie was trying to prepare a smart ass comment when Matthew said, “Aha! Yep. Michelle Clark married Caleb Dinsmoor almost three years ago.”
“So that’s her?”
“Yes.” Matthew turned his monitor so that she could see the screen. Somehow, he’d found the wedding announcement that had been printed in Dalton’s daily back when it had happened. She imagined Matthew had access to more information than she’d ever need. “You gonna be okay, girlfriend?”
God, Matthew knew how she was going to feel even before she did. Yes, this upset her. Greatly. Michelle had never been a best friend to Codie, but they’d had a lunch or two together, and Codie remembered the young woman as vibrant and caring—a real sweetheart. In fact, at their pinning ceremony, one of their instructors had said Michelle embodied the spirit of Clara Barton more than any other student she’d ever had the honor to teach. Codie swallowed and gathered her thoughts. “Yes, I’ll be all right. I just…” She shook her head. “It’s so hard to believe that Michelle would be murdered, much less would commit suicide—which is strange too, that someone would set it up to look like she’d killed herself.” Codie regretted not having kept in touch with the woman, not that she could have helped her, but she couldn’t stop that thought from crossing her mind.
“Stop it right now, Codie. You couldn’t have done anything.”
Matthew, always spot on. “Get out of my head, weirdo.”
A big grin crossed her roommate’s face. “I love you!”
“Love you back.”
Slade tolerated the way the two of them interacted, not that they would have cared what he thought. Codie was going to bring the subject back to Michelle when Matthew’s phone started talking.
Well, it was actually the receptionist out front talking through his phone. “Matthew?”
“There’s a Mr. Strong here to see you.”
Slade sat up, but there was nothing urgent about it. “You need the two of us to clear out of here?” Why did that sound to Codie like they were a couple again?
“No, I can just take him into one of the interview rooms.”
Matthew said into the phone. “I’ll be right there.” He looked at Codie. “Don’t make dinner tonight. I have a new recipe I want to try out.”
Matthew grinned and looked at Slade. “I love this girl.”
Why Codie had never figured out before that Matthew had been part of why Slade probably continued to pursue her, she’d never know. Of course. It was all a big matchmaking game for her friend. That was why she’d been at dinner with the two of them and—
“Will you be okay?”
That…that was unlike Slade. He didn’t usually worry about feelings or emotions, especially girly ones. Somehow, though, he was sensing just how upset Codie was over Michelle’s death, and maybe it was because, even though the young, vibrant woman was unlike Codie in more ways than they were similar, she had always felt like one of the good ones—pure and sweet. She should have been shining her light on people until it was time for her to pass…much like Mother Teresa. Those were Codie’s thoughts as she absentmindedly answered, “Yeah, I’ll be fine.”
But she wasn’t going to be. Not by a long shot.
And so that was how she found herself in Slade’s arms, letting the man kiss her with unbridled passion while a tear fell down her cheek.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading the story so far and watching how I develop it as I go. This story is, perhaps, half finished–for the rough draft, that is. There will be plenty of revision to do after that. For now, I’ll be “closing the door,” meaning I’ll finish writing the story without sharing, but I want you to know if you’ve enjoyed it, I do plan to share it on Wattpad next, so you’ll be able to read the polished product when it’s done and before I publish it. I do believe I might be changing the title (and I think I’ve finally written the blurb), but if you’d like to follow along, you can find me here: https://www.wattpad.com/user/JadeCJamison
I don’t want to leave you completely high and dry, wondering what will happen next. I don’t want to give it all away, but I do want to kind of give you a sneak peek into what will happen next (also part of my writing process–having an idea of where I’m going but having no clue how I’m going to get there):
- Codie attends Michelle’s funeral and continues to follow the investigation in the news.
- She feels frustrated that the investigation seems to stall and does a little investigating herself–which, in turn, frustrates the hell out of Pete.
- She and Slade toy with getting back together, but she’s not ready. He still refuses to make any kind of commitment. Besides, there’s Pete…
- Codie realizes that investigating Michelle’s murder has given her the zest for life she’s been looking for (ah…so Z is also for ZEST! 😉 ), and decides to make several life changes–including going under cover as a zealous (did you see that? 😀 ) new member of the International Congregation of the End of Days.
- OH! And something this crazy writer did…it’s all in my head and I would have caught it upon revision, but you as a reader might be asking WTF??? Michelle was believed to be murdered–but she actually committed suicide. That’s what is freaking out Codie the most, but as I was writing this week in a haze, I confused the “facts” of my story. No worry–that usually always gets fixed either in rewrite or when my betas scratch their heads. And that, my friends, is why your books should always be revised, edited, and beta read!
Anyway, if you have enjoyed the story thus far, warts and all, I do hope you’ll read the much better, polished, revised, congruent version I plan to put on Wattpad in the next few months. Thank you for following. It has been a pleasure participating in this challenge and also peeking in on other blog writers in the challenge this month. I wish I could have continued to follow some of the ones I peeked in on here and there, but the idea was to visit new ones and so I lost track of some of the folks I checked in on. I hope they were also able to finish out the challenge strong! What a month this has been. 🙂