A to Z Challenge: P is for PETE

posted in: Various Musings | 3

For the A-to-Z April Blogging Challenge, I’m writing a story, aiming for 1000 words a day (every day except Sundays). Continuing today with the next part of the story about the character Codie Snow.

If you’re new to this series of posts, you might want to start here:

Codie rolled her eyes. Matthew was the reason why she and Slade had ever met in the first place. Slade Sheppard—attorney at law, one of Dalton’s best—had hired Matthew as a receptionist/paralegal when her friend had been a freshman attending the local community college. One night a few months later, Slade had been celebrating a big win with his staff of two, and Matthew had invited Codie. It had been calculated, Codie had learned later. He’d been certain Slade and Codie were soulmates.

She wasn’t convinced…although, when they were together, it often seemed like magic.

But Slade could be a bit of a dick. And Codie was tired of putting up with it. They were currently not dating—so she could play the field with a clear conscience. “I don’t give a shit what your boss thinks.”

“Ooh. Bitchy, girlfriend. You sure you had a good time?”

“It was weird, Matthew. It felt like the most natural thing.”

Matthew finally picked up his sandwich. “Sex is a very natural thing. If we could get that through these Puritans’ heads, though…” Having grown up in the smaller Colorado town of Dalton, Matthew had felt more eyes on him than he likely would have if he’d grown up along the Front Range where all the state’s big cities huddled. The fact that he was gay might not have bothered him or a lot of his classmates, but there were a few people in town who still thought he was an abomination. Yeah…they’d used that very word. They’d both planned to leave town after they’d graduated with their associate’s degrees—but Matthew was already working for Slade by then and Codie…well, Codie had been caring for her sick grandmother and had dropped out of school, not sure what she wanted to do.

It turned out that Slade was the perfect boss for Matthew. He was well-dressed, well-groomed, and well-spoken, three things highly valued by the man who soon became the lawyer’s paralegal. By now, a few years later, Matthew had become Slade’s right-hand man. So, even if the “Puritans” didn’t appreciate her friend, his boss most certainly did. “Yeah, well, good luck with that,” Codie said, taking a bite of her sandwich.

“I’m still waiting,” Matthew said, a pinched grin on his face, his blue eyes alight with mischief. Codie was almost surprised he wasn’t drumming his fingers on the table to emphasize his displeasure.

“Waiting for what?”


“There’s nothing to tell, Matthew.”

Her friend threw his potato chip back in the basket with a flick of his wrist while whispering as loudly as he could muster, “Oh, my God!

“What?” Codie was in no mood for Matthew’s dramatics this morning. Okay, it wasn’t morning anymore. Today. Not today.

He began swirling his finger around, as if trying to describe the motion of a hurricane to someone. “This…this is a heart thing, isn’t it?”

“What the hell are you talking about?” Feeling a little nervous now, Codie picked up her cup and began sipping furiously, drawing harder on the straw than she should have. If Matthew was saying what she thought he was saying…

“You care about the ex, don’t you?”

Codie tried to act casual. “Eh.” She shrugged her shoulders and sucked harder on the straw. Damn. The tea was almost empty.

“You do. Holy shit! Does he know?”

“I need to refill my tea.”

“Oh, girlfriend, not at a—”

“Be right back.” She slid out of the booth and skedaddled over to the drink station, knowing she’d barely escaped a sweaty situation. How Matthew could read her so well and so easily, she’d never know. Hell, he’d figured out her feelings for Pete before she’d had a chance.

But she barely had her lid off and had set her cup underneath the spigot before Matthew stood next to her. “Codie, seriously, you cannot walk away just when we got to the bottom of things.”

We? The bottom of things? What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

Fortunately, Matthew dropped his voice, probably sensing that half the restaurant was now staring at them. They must have looked ridiculous—Codie wore a pair of skinny jeans paired with a Motionless in White t-shirt while Matthew wore a designer suit. Codie could never remember the name, because every time Matthew got a raise, the name of the designer changed. Her friend’s philosophy was that his wardrobe should get nicer as his paycheck did—his clothing should reflect his pay. His boss and her ex, Slade, was not that way. He was wearing four-digit suits from the start. It’s how his dad had operated and he was following in the old man’s footsteps.

Ah, but thinking about Slade at a time like this was dangerous. And confusing.

Matthew took one of Codie’s hands as if leading her back to their booth, and he didn’t sit down until she’d slid her own butt back in place on her side of the table. “How long have we known each other?”

Codie furrowed her brow, trying to do the math. They’d known each other since they were children, but she suspected he was wanting to know how long they’d been friends, and that had happened in high school. So, doing the math—

But Matthew was impatient. “A long time. And we’ve talked hot dates how many times?” She shrugged again. That number would be even harder to calculate than the previous one. “But the couple times where you haven’t wanted to talk have been when your heart was invested in the guy.” Codie sucked air into her lungs through her nose. She was afraid of opening her mouth. “Am I right?”

Before she tossed out an answer, she really gave it some thought. Pete Olson, former high school sweetheart, quarterback of the almost-state-champion Dalton Tigers, now a law enforcement officer in their little burg, a nice guy except when he had to be a bad ass. Just thinking about him made her warm—especially when she thought about last night.

Yes, Matthew was right. One-hundred percent on the money.

“Nope. Don’t know what you’re talking about.” Codie picked up the paper cup and sucked more tea through the straw. If she were a judge, she would have banged a gavel, forcing Matthew to move on…because she had to, right this second.


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