This is the final week 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:
The next day, Codie was at work and thought off and on about the newspaper article. She knew several copies of the paper floated around the center each day, and she just had to wait until she found one. She was so busy throughout the day, though, that she didn’t have much of a chance to look. So, when she left at the end of her shift, she snagged one off one off a table in the lobby.
It would never be missed.
When she got to her car, she unfolded the paper. Typical of Dalton, it was on the front page—because a suicide might just get an obit, but a murder was a big deal. They just didn’t happen that often in Codie’s small town.
She quickly scanned the article about the suspected murder of Michelle Dinsmoor, a former CNA and nursing student at the local community college, and then started up her car, intending to run to the grocery store for a few fresh veggies, and then she planned to read the article in more detail—but, as she drove down the main highway through town, her mind started connecting dots. While her car idled at a red light, she picked the paper off the passenger seat so she could stare at the grainy wallet-sized color photo next to the article.
Holy shit. Did she know this woman?
She was pretty sure she did, but she wanted to ask Matthew’s opinion. She’d parked her car in front of Slade’s office without even thinking and didn’t even question her judgment until she was walking up to the tinted glass door and saw in the reflection that she was still wearing her scrubs.
She didn’t give a crap.
When she walked in Slade’s place, she noticed a couple of things. Not having been there since last Christmas, she was surprised at how much had changed in that short time, but it had. Matthew, normally attending to the front, was nowhere to be seen, but a cute girl who’d probably just graduated high school the year before sat at the front desk and beamed at Codie as the woman’s eyes adjusted to the indoor light.
It was then that the rest of the details surfaced. The entire place had been renovated. That in itself wasn’t a huge deal, but the fact that Matthew had never said a word about it seemed strange. Or maybe he had and she’d just missed it…but she was beginning to wonder if she’d walked in the right place. Before she could ask, the young lady said, “How can I help you this afternoon?”
Ah…an employer’s wet dream. Attentive, proactive, friendly without being overly so, open question to the client. And, from what Codie could see, the girl wore a sharp suit to boot. Codie took a deep breath to ease herself out of the disoriented feeling and then said, “I’m looking for Matthew.”
The girl’s brow moved ever so slightly but the smile remained in place. “I don’t have him down for any appointments…” She turned to the computer screen and began tapping.
“It’s not an appointment. I’m his roommate and just wondered if he had a minute or two.”
“Oh.” The girl looked up again, smile cemented back on her mug. “Of course. He’s in with Mr. Sheppard at the moment, but let me see if he’ll be available momentarily.” She pressed a button on her phone and in seconds was speaking through the headset she was wearing. “Matthew has a visitor. A—” She paused and looked up at Codie. “I’m sorry. I didn’t catch your name.”
Codie felt her lungs deflate. If she was on speakerphone in Slade’s office—and Codie would have bet a thousand to one that she was—then her ex would also know she was there…and she knew he wouldn’t resist the opportunity.
Especially after tucking her in a couple of nights earlier.
But she was already committed. It wasn’t like she could just walk out now—not without drawing attention. “Codie.” The girl raised her eyebrows and Codie stifled a sigh as she added, “Snow.” Did the girl not get that she was Matthew’s roommate? Sheesh.
The young woman repeated Codie’s name into the mike on her headset and, after a few seconds, looked up at Codie. “He’ll be out in a few moments. If you’d like to take a seat,” she added, glancing over at the small waiting area that Codie noticed had also been rehabbed with plush stuffed gray chairs and accessories of highly polished wood—but not so polished that potential clients couldn’t appreciate the natural grain.
Definitely felt like Slade with a side of Matthew.
But Codie didn’t even have a chance to plop her butt into one of the comfy-looking chairs before Matthew was rushing into the lobby. “Codie!” His voice was just shy of a yell and, as Codie turned around to greet him, he swept her off her feet and into a bear hug.
Yep. A typical Matthew greeting. How could she not love this guy?
She grinned, hugging him back as much as her trapped arms would allow. He set her down and said, “What are you doing here, girlfriend?” He took a second to assess her before saying, “You’re still wearing your work clothes. What’s going on?”
Well…maybe to Matthew, wearing work clothes when not at work might have been a cardinal fashion sin, but he knew Codie didn’t give a shit. It still didn’t stop the guy from trying. She swallowed and took his cue as he started walking back toward the room from where he’d come. “Do you remember Michelle Clark?”
Her roommate blinked a couple of times, his lips pursed. “A grade younger than us?”
Codie struggled for a moment, trying to remember the girl in school and answered, “Maybe,” but Matthew was already forming his next question.
“Went through CNA training with you?”
She nodded. “Yes.” As they paused in the doorway, she asked, “Do you know if she got married?”
“I don’t know. We could find out in two shakes, though.”
Before she could form her next question, she noticed someone approaching her as she and Matthew walked through the door. She knew, before she even turned her eyes to him, that it was her charismatic ex, because for some reason, she could sense his raw sexuality today more intensely than she had in a long time.
Probably thanks to her recent rejection.
No matter. Slade had often affected her female parts in strange ways. Today was no different. “Good to see you, Codie,” he said, a slight smirk on his face.
Maybe this hadn’t been such a good idea after all.
Or maybe it wasn’t so bad. Only time would tell.
UP NEXT: Z is for ZIGZAG