Chapter 1

It was the fifth time she hit snooze that morning when she abruptly jumped out of bed. Her shift started at 8:00am. Binx was swatting his cotton toy mouse across her bedroom floor. There wasn’t much left of the toy, as Binx had a knack for ripping them apart. She had rescued the cat a few years back when she saw him alongside the local highway. 7:50am, she tossed her wet hair into a ponytail. “Thank God I get to wear scrubs Binx…” as she stumbled out of her bedroom, Binx running through her legs down the cold hardwood stairs. 8:27am “Good Morning Kate, long night?” asked Timothy. He was the front desk attendant at Cloverdale Senior Living where Kate worked.. “Overslept” she sighed…and the old volkswagen didn’t want to start. I have got to get her in the shop.” Timothy chuckled “you should run that thing off the bridge.” “Yeh Yeh very funny! Meet me at lunch, I need to start my rounds before Sheila has my head.” she uttered as she hurried down the hallway. Sheila was an exceptional boss, but being late, was unacceptable.

Kate was on her fifth room, her favorite room, number 106. “Morning Grandpop… sleep well?” Edwin laid his book on his chest. “Ahh Mornin’ my dear.. I see you are fashionably late.” he smiled, peering through his glasses. “Will you have time for tea with me today?” His voice still raspy from the cold he was getting over. “Of course Grandpop! Same time as always”. Kate winked at him. “I will come back after I finish delivering breakfast. Which reminds me.. Here is yours.” Pancakes were his absolute favorite. “Sugar free syrup this time.” He stared at her unamused. “I will be back in a few for tea”. She kissed his cheek and proceeded to the door where she had left her cart… knowing he had a hidden bottle of syrup he would grab as soon as she was out of sight. Probably Timothy’s doing. Edwin was one of the few residents who didn’t participate in cafeteria eating. Not by choice. Old age had gotten the best of him. His walking had declined rapidly over the last year. He did however go on the times Kate would drag him down there to gossip with Timothy. Edwins wife, June, passed away a few years back, not too long after their fifty third anniversary. He always joked that he would outlive her. Edwin was constantly pulling people’s chains and would do anything to put a smile on Junes face. He had a love for her that radiated for miles. The day she passed, his heart was shattered into a million pieces. It was that day, that Kate took it upon herself to care for her Grandpop. June and Edwin raised Kate since she was ten years old. Her dad had left shortly after she was born and her mother was a raging drunk with guys in and out of the house at all hours of the night. Cloverdale was a predominately small town. Last Kate heard, her mother had taken off with an oil driver from the local truck stop. Her grandparents were the only positive stable aspect of her life. Once Edwin received a room at the senior living home where Kate worked, she took over the mortgage payments and remained living in their house. For a twenty four year old, Kate had her life together remarkably well.

“Ugh this day is dragging” she rolled her eyes while Timothy made unpleasant noises from his mouth full of steaming hot food. “Did Sheila find out how late you were? I hear she is on a warpath of writing people up.” “I never saw her, thank God. Hey you never finished telling me about your date with Sam!” Timothy was one of the few gay people in this small town. He had recently met Sam through his cousin Shari. They were set up for a blind date that previous weekend. “Girl he is a hottie! And he works at the local fire station. How on earth did I not know about him!” he said with the biggest grin taking over his face. “Well,he did just move here last month.” answering his own question. “Ahh being a flirtatious smartass today are we Timothy?” Kates dry sense of humor was one to be reckoned with. “Hurry up and finish your pizza, I am late for tea with Grandpop.”

Edwin was asleep when Kate opened the door. She shut it softly behind her after resting the tea tray on his rustic homemade oak kitchen table. How the nursing home let him have the clunk of wood in there was beyond her belief. Edwin was the best carpenter in Cloverdale. Staring at the table, she reminisced of her childhood and growing up watching her Grandpop build canes and ? in the basement as she completed her homework. She could still smell the sawdust to this very day, like a crisp woodsy pile of leaves almost. Her homework nearly always covered with a subtle bed of wood shavings. Now the only thing the basement collected was dust. “A cup of tea solves everything my dear” Edwin murmured as he sat up in his bed. “Hi Grandpop. Hope I didn’t wake you.” Kate handed him his tea in one of Junes finest teacups that Kate kept at the nursing home. June had given Kate her china set, passed down from her mother before she died. “You didn’t wake me love. “Tell me” he said yawning. “How has your day been? Your face shows stressed.” Kate thought she was very good at keeping her feelings in...though at times like now, her body language chose otherwise. “I am having car trouble again and I don’t have the money to take it to a shop.” “My sweet Kate, don’t you fret. Austin Tisdale with Tisdales Auto down yonder owes me a long overdue favor. You stop by there and tell him this old geezer sent you.” Kate squeezed Edwins hand with bashful delight. She loathed depending on others or to appear needy but she couldn’t turn down her Grandpops request. The two spent the next hour how they always do for tea time; Edwin telling Kate war stories and his adventures with June, while she listened with a longing heart to find a love as deep as they had.

It was raining again. For August that was not too surprising. Cloverdale rained practically every other day. Kate pulled into her driveway and jolted for the garage. She kept telling herself that one day she would clean the garage out so she could park inside. Binx greeted Kate at the door, purring loudly, rubbing back and forth against her legs as she hung up her raincoat. “Come on sweet boy, let’s get you some dinner.” heading into her kitchen, Binx scurrying past her. The kitchen and living room were both adjoined in a giant space together. White open shelf cabinets built by her Grandpop filled the light grey kitchens top wall, giving it a warm farm house look. Her kitchen table was picnic style. Edwin and Kate built the table together when June was still alive. Beautiful sunflowers overflowed from a porcelain turquoise vase center piece. Kate had a weakness for sunflowers. She turned the TV on an Indies music channel and popped a frozen lasagna in the oven. Settling in on her oversized soft brown cotton couch with a glass of Bogle red wine, she picked up her favorite book After Alice to catch up on her reading. She spent the rest of the night sluggish on the couch, drinking too much wine, and eventually drifting to sleep there.

Kate had woken in a panic. Slowly coming to her senses she realized it was Friday and she was off work. Already being awake, Kate chose to seize the day and take her volkswagon down to Tisdales. With a slow start, she pulled out of the driveway, leaving Binx staring at her through the glass door. Rain was falling hard today and her raincoat was left hung up by the garage entry way from last night. Kate swung by Avenbury Market on the way to grab breakfast and fill up on gas. Avenbury was just over the railroad tracks about five minutes from her house. She preferred breakfast from The Steam Room Coffee, which was within walking distance from her house. They made the best homemade blueberry muffins around.

The last time Kate had gone to Tisdales Auto was at age seven with her Grandpop and she was going off memory to find the place. Her wipers kept leaving a smudge across the windshield as they whisped rapidly back and forth to clear the rain. Squinting, Kate saw the rustic sign beside the road directing the location of the auto shop. The gravel lot was filled with cars. “Well shit, this should be interesting.” She mumbled to herself. Finding a parking spot, she dashed to the front door. It was locked. Standing in the rain Kate knocked until a younger guy came to open it. “You know we ain’t open yet right?” He rants rudely with a deep southern accent. “I guess come on in and sit down.” Kate was drenched from the rain and immediately pissed off, cursing this hilljack off in her head. Thinking to herself that maybe he had a bad morning, she softly replies “I appreciate you letting me come in, I was unaware you were not open.” Pointing at the sign he dryly replied “Says it right there.” and walks away. Kate is fuming. What a complete jackass. She plops down on a old ripped pleather chair and waits for him to come back. The wait was thirty minutes. She watched him get his coffee, play on the computer, work on a truck, and fill out paperwork. All the while being mesmerized by how handsome he actually was. He was tall, brown hair in a military cut, muscular, and even though his hands looked rough, she was turned on by them. NO NO NO NO NO she screamed in her head. He is a conceited jerk. Justifying her confirmation of this conclusion after he finally asked her what she needed help with. “I am here to see Austin… my grandpop is an old friend of his and told me that Austin owed him a favor and to ask for him.” She rambled. Kate rambled when she was nervous. Chuckling he responded “Sorry to tell ya but Austin ain’t here for the next month so no favors will happen.” She stood there speechless. Who did this guy think he was and why was he being so mean. “Thanks anyways…” Kate turned around and headed for the door. “Miss wait!.” She let the door slam behind her, got in her car, and left.

Next Chapter: Chapter 2