Friday, May 18, 2012

PLD Chapter 1


New story that's been floating around in my head for a few days. I hope you all like it. 

Either way, let me know what y'all think? :) 

Chapter 1

Keeley sat in her car outside the coffee shop ready to bang her head against the steering wheel. She knew this meeting wasn’t going to go any better than the last—especially when Brent had emailed her and suggested that they meet for coffee before discussing their affairs. He was going to bring his significant other and he’d invited Keeley to do the same.

As if.

She was ready for the damn house to sell already so that she’d never have to see Brent Heatherton again.

Her ex-husband was a piece of work. Charismatic and handsome with blonde hair and blue eyes (and a very fit body, she begrudgingly added to herself), he could tell you that the sky was purple and pigs could fly and you’d believe him as if he were speaking the gospel truth.

And she did believe everything he said, never adding a grain of salt until one day he ruined it all. But, she thought as she shook her head, best to not dwell on that, lest you get too worked and want to go in there and wring his neck. And his cute little girlfriend’s too. She smiled wryly at her awful thoughts (and the fact that they made her laugh) as she grabbed her purse, straightened her skirt, locked the door and headed inside the coffee shop.

She spotted Brent and his girlfriend immediately, sitting at a window table, both epitomizing preppy, with their coordinating colors. So that was her. The other woman. From afar she could guess the new girl had hair that wasn’t naturally that blonde and probably perfectly manicured nails—much different from Keeley’s own dirty blonde hair and nails that were covered in dust and dirt most days from digs. And she was wearing a headband with a flower on the side. For the love of Pete, what twenty-something year old woman wore headbands?

She took a deep breath and walked over towards them, steeling herself for introductions. Brent and Kelli both stood up as she approached. “Hi Keeley,” he said a little too pleasantly. “You look good.”

“Hi Brent,” she replied coolly, trying to be cordial but ignoring the compliment. He was just being typical Brent, trying to look good in front of his girlfriend, and trying to get a rise out of Keeley. She stuck her hand out to the woman standing beside her. She was even more perfect and pretty looking up close. “I’m Keeley.”

“Hi Keeley! I’m Kelli and let me just tell you, it is a pleasure to meet you,” the girlfriend answered with startling enthusiasm. Keeley flashed Brent a look that clearly said, “Are you serious?” and he just shrugged. “Brent’s been telling me all about you. He said you’d probably be sort of distant but it’s all a farce, you’re actually a very nice person.”

Keeley gave Brent the look again. This time, instead of being flippant, he tried to change the subject and launched into telling her that Kelli was a first grade teacher and that he had the bar exam in a few weeks, but never once asking her how her life had been going in the past six months.

Keeley found her mind wandering as Brent talked. That’s how most of their marriage had been. He’d talked and talked, but never ever did he listen. Quite frankly, she didn’t care much about how he was. She wasn’t here to catch up and hear all about his perfect life with his perfect new girl friend, who reminded her too much of that character Barbara Jean off Reba to be taken seriously. No, she was here to hear why Brent was insisting on getting a third appraisal on their old house and why he thought they couldn’t just put it on the market already.

“So,” Brent said segueing into yet another subject. She wondered what he’d been rambling on about while her mind had wandered. “Where’s your boyfriend Keeley?”

Ah, knew it’d come up sooner or later. Oh what I wouldn’t give to wring your neck, she thought as she glanced desperately out the window, wishing she’d at least thought up a half-decent lie as to why an imaginary boyfriend couldn’t be there.

While she was contemplating what to say she watched a black truck that had slowly been circling the parking lot finally find a space. She sighed, making up her mind, swallowing her pride, knowing what she was about to do and realizing that she'd just hit the crazy point. “Um, you know what? That’s actually him right there pulling up. I’m just going to go out a meet him real quick,” she finished with a sweet smile. “Excuse me.”

She sort of ran/walked out of the coffee shop. Once she reached the parking lot she broke into a full out run as lady-like and gracefully as she could. She cursed the fact that she’d chosen to wear heels today and laughed at the look on the driver of the truck’s face as she yelled “Excuse me, excuse me! Sir?”

The driver looked at her in surprise. “Yeah?” he hollered back.

She held up a finger, to indicate she needed a moment, and then took a deep breath. Now that she was closer to the truck, she counted her lucky stars that the probability fairy had been kind to her. She could’ve run up to a snaggle –toothed eighty year old man; as it was, the guy behind the wheel slightly took her breath away. With green eyes, a sun tanned face with a shadow of a beard combined with shaggy dark brown hair that was just long enough to fall barely into her eyes (and what she could tell from one word) a deep and sexy voice—he was everything Brent wasn’t, which would just gall him. And, there was something comfortingly familiar about him as well. She smiled as brightly as she could and steeled herself for the next part.

“Hi,” she said holding her hand out for him to shake through the open window of his truck. “Now, you’re going to think I’m crazy, but please just hear me out. I’m Keeley Burns and I was wondering if you’d pretend to be my boyfriend for the next, oh say, hour and a half?”

The guy cocked his to the left and grinned slightly, ignoring her hand. “Excuse me?”

She sighed. “You see, I’m meeting my ex-husband in that coffee shop right there next to the bookstore. He’s sort of a self-entitled asshole and suggested we both bring dates to hopefully finish up whatever business we have left together. You know, instead of meeting in a lawyer’s office like normal people.” She paused and rolled her eyes. The guy wasn’t driving away yet so she continued. “Anyways, I unfortunately am hopelessly single at the moment and I’d really appreciate it if you’d be a stand-in boyfriend for me. To make it worth your while, I’ll even pay you—a hundred bucks.”

He bit his lip and looked like he was trying hard not to laugh. He thinks I’m crazy. “Please?”

“Why me?” he asked.

She smiled sweetly and shrugged. “Well, it was between the next car that pulled in the lot or texting my gay neighbor to come rescue. Figured Brent might actually believe this.”

That earned a hearty laugh. He stuck his hand back out the window for her to shake and with a lopsided grin said, “I’m Clay Whitlow, turn twenty-nine next month, and I majored in architecture at USC. Nice to meet you.”

She smiled with relief as she shook his hand, which she noticed was rough and calloused, wanting to give him a hug instead. “I went to USC too,” she said, backing away from his door so he could get out. “Majored in anthropology, with a focus on archaeology.”

“That’s a lot of –ology there,” he laughed as he opened the door. “But yeah, small world, huh?” he replied with a grin as he rummaged around in the cab of the truck. “I mean, only like seventy-five percent of the people that live in Charleston probably went there.”

She resisted the urge to roll her eyes, lest he decide she actually was crazy and leave. “Well, I could’ve easily been one of those twenty-five percent of people who went to—”she stopped suddenly as she realized what he had pulled out of the backseat. Two wheels. And he’d popped them onto a frame of some sort and now placing a cushion in the seat of the frame. Oh. My. God. Looks like the probability fairy wasn’t my friend today after all, she thought as he grabbed the door of his truck with one hand and planted the other one firmly on the driver's seat. 


He slid into the wheelchair quickly and pulled his legs onto a footplate looking thing and quickly adjusted his legs, which Keeley noticed weren’t moving on their own. He looked up at her with eyebrows raised and a wry grin on his face. “You were saying?”

“Right, um, I could’ve easily been of the twenty-five percent of people in Charleston who went to Clemson. And then where would you be, huh?” she said, cursing the probability fairy who was laughing at her somewhere. A little part of her ashamedly wished she could take her offer back. Being alone would probably be better than being with a guy in a wheelchair, probably. Brent would have a field day.

She quelled that thought as he laughed. “Well, if you’d been one of those people, I would have immediately rescinded my acceptance of your offer.”

Keeley laughed lightly, not being able to help but like him as they started towards the coffee shop. Nice shoulders, she couldn't help but think as she walked briskly and half a step behind him to keep up with the wheelchair. He grabbed the handle as they reached the door and allowed her to go in first. She went and assumed he was following behind her as she led them towards the back of the shop. As she approached she saw Brent’s eyes grow wide in surprise and then a cocky smile spread over his face.

He and Kelli stood up again for introductions. “Clay, this is my ex-husband Brent Heatherton and his girlfriend Kelli, Brent this is my boyfriend Clay Whitlow,” she said, trying not to choke on the word boyfriend, which felt foreign on her tongue. That would’ve ruined the façade.

Clay oriented himself towards Kelli first. “Nice to meet you Kelli,” he said shaking her hand. Keeley smiled, good ole Southern boy, it seems, paying attention to the women first. Then he shook Brent’s. “Nice to meet you too. I’ve certainly heard an earful about you,” he finished with a wry grin at Keeley.

She shrugged when Brent looked at her questioningly. “I might have told him a thing or two about you.” In the parking lot. They all took their seats since introductions were done, Clay sliding the chair next to Keeley around to the head of the small table and rolling beside her.

Brent made small talk for a little while longer, talking mainly to Clay about mundane things such as the weather and SEC football. After forty-five minutes Keeley could take it no longer. 

In a brief break in conversation, somewhere between which team would go to the championship this year and whether it'd be a good weekend for trout fishing, Keeley interrupted Brent and launched into business mode. While she and Brent grappled over appraisals and prices, Clay and Kelli politely excused themselves and wandered over to grab the coffee they'd ordered but never received. After they’d been gone about a minute Brent interrupted Keeley in the middle of her sentence and with a cocky grin said, “So, where’d you find him? The parking lot?”

“What on earth are you talking about Brent?” she asked, stalling.

He rolled his eyes. “Oh come on Keeley, I could see you propositioning him from here. Clear vantage point of his truck,” he said and motioned towards the window. “Besides, he was way too nice to me. Good try though.”

“I think we should really be discussing an appropriate price to sell the house at Brent, not my personal life,” she shot back through gritted teeth.

“Poor guy, being in that wheelchair, no wonder he said he’d go along with it. He probably thinks you’re nuts—ballsy, yes—but nuts. But this is probably the most exciting thing he’s done in a while,” Brent said chuckling. “Although, if you’d asked me like that in a parking lot, I’d probably gone along with it too. You’re looking really good these days Keeley.” He placed a hand over hers and gave her a suggestive look.

She stood up abruptly and jerked her hand back. “Oh, go to hell, Brent.”

Brent simply leaned back in his chair and smiled, the fact that he’d just hit on his ex-wife while on a date with his girlfriend apparently not bothering him at all. “You know what?” she said continuing. “Just sell the damn house for whatever price you see fit so we don’t have to have any more of these 'meetings'.”

She walked briskly over to where Kelli and Clay were still waiting on their coffee and chitchatting pleasantly. Kelli seemed like a little bit of an idiot, but nice enough. The only thing that kept Keeley from liking her was the fact she’d had an affair with her husband. “I’m leaving; it was nice to finally meet you Kelli.”

“I’ll call you as soon as we have a potential buyer Keeley,” Brent said coming up behind her. He slipped an arm around Kelli, “it was good seeing you again. And meeting you Clay.”

“Same here Brent, same here,” Clay said politely and then turned to follow Keeley out the door.

They walked in silence back towards his truck. “That woman was an idiot.” Clay said incredulously, finally breaking the silence.

Keeley felt a smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. “Obviously. She did sleep with a married man.”

“Well, besides that she seems like a ditz. And, you’re right--he does seem like an arrogant douche. If you don’t mind me saying,” he added.

She smiled. “Nope, not at all. Especially because I agree whole-heartedly.” Keeley stopped and got out her wallet. “He figured it out by the way. That I picked you up out of the parking lot.”

“Well, damn him,” Clay said good-naturedly.  Keeley laughed as she put her wallet back and pulled out her checkbook instead. “What are you doing?”

She looked at him and smiled. “I promised you a hundred bucks for being my date.”

He shook his head. “No way. No way am I actually taking your money.” When she persisted he rolled backwards slowly. “You write that Keeley and I’m tearing it up.”

“Well fine. Is there anything I can do to repay you?” she huffed.

He grinned crookedly. “Nah, I’m good. That was sort of fun. After all, it’s not every day a good-looking woman asks me out on a faux date in the Barnes&Noble parking lot.”

Keeley had to laugh at that. Well, at least he doesn’t think I’m too nuts. “Thank you again Clay.”

He shrugged. “Like I said, it was fun. And nice meeting you.”

“You too Mr. Whitlow, you too.”

He gave her a stunning smile and then turned and wheeled back in the direction of the bookstore. She put her wallet back in her purse and made her way over to her car. She grabbed her phone, threw her purse in the back and collapsed into the driver’s seat. She quickly dialed a number she knew so well she didn’t even have to look at the key pad. “Well, that was a disaster,” she said without preamble.

“Oh babes. What happened?” her best friend Jan asked concernedly.

Keeley quickly gave her a rundown of everything—meeting Brent and Kelli, Brent hitting on her, Brent being difficult about selling the house, and her picking up that guy Clay from the parking lot. She saved that part for last, knowing that Jan would give her an earful about that.

Sure enough, “Keeley Burns! You randomly picked a man out of the parking lot to play your boyfriend to impress Brent? Are you out of your ever-living mind? He could’ve been an ax-murderer or something!”

Keeley laughed. She could see Jan’s face turning red and her pointing a scolding finger in her mind’s eye.  “Jan, we were in a parking lot and had he pulled an ax out, I truly feel the other twenty or so people milling around would’ve at least called the police.”

“Hmn…maybe,” Jan conceded. “Well in that case, tell me, was he cute?”

Keeley grinned. “Ruggedly handsome. Very outdoorsy looking.”

Her best friend sighed on the other end of the line. “Sounds dreamy.”

“Oh. He was.” Minus the wheelchair.

“Did you exchange numbers?” Jan asked eagerly, apparently having decided he was not an ax-murderer.

“Jan, how long have you known me? What do you think?” Keeley replied.

“Keeeeeley—why not?” Jan whined.

“Oh please, what am I going to say? ‘Oh, since you just played my faux boyfriend and I just exposed you to pretty much all my baggage, want to have a shot at being my real one?’ Yeah, that’d be hard to turn down.”

Jan laughed. “No, but you could just tell him to give you a call sometime. Write it on a napkin! I know you’ve got one in that messy car of yours.”

Keeley laughed sheepishly. “Shut up,” she said as she looked. Her car was cluttered with textbooks and undergraduate papers she needed to grade; the backseat was currently housing a fine layer of dirt and a potted bonsai her grandmother had given her. She checked her glove compartment. Finally she found a Wendy’s napkin, “Eureka.”

She picked her cell phone up off the dashboard where she’d laid it while she’d looked. Quickly she scribbled a note. “Okay, here’s what I wrote. I can’t believe I’m actually going to do this—”

“What? Erase that.”

“Jan, you didn’t let me finish. That wasn’t part of the note. ‘Hi, thanks for bearing with me in there. Realized I never gave you my number. So here it is, Keeley.’”

Jan sighed heavily on the other end. “Keeley that sounds awful. Just put ‘I’m single’ and your number. That sounds better.”

“No, that sounds like ‘I’m desperate’”.

Jan just mumbled something sounding like “whatever”.

“Okay, how about this?” Keeley said marking out the previous message and scribbling another one down. “‘Thanks again for earlier. I just realized we never actually had coffee while we were in the coffee shop. I owe you big time, so if you ever want to go grab some, give me a call’ name and number. Good?”

“That’s good. Now go stick it on his windshield.”

“Can’t believe I’m submitting to your peer pressure and actually doing this…”

“Oh shut up and just go do it Keeley. Worst that’s going to happen is he doesn’t call. He already thinks you’re crazy for asking a perfect stranger on a date, it’s not like his opinion of you can get any lower probably.”

“Gee, thanks.”

Jan just laughed. “Go do it girl. I’ll talk to you later.” And the line clicked.

Keeley took another deep breath and headed over to where his truck was parked. She glanced around and made sure he wasn’t anywhere in sight. She laid it on the windshield and walked away. She made it about five steps before she turned around and ran back and snatched it off. She started towards her car again, but before she’d gotten very far she turned around again. Keeley was putting the napkin back and tucked it under a windshield wiper, hoping he’d be able to reach it somehow, when she heard a familiar voice behind her say, “Excuse me, can I help you?”

She spun around. Clay was sitting there with a coffee between his legs and a Barnes&Noble bag on his lap. He had an amused expression on his face. “Um,” she said eloquently. “I was just leaving you a note.” Thank you, Captain Obvious.

Clay smiled that smile. “Aw, Keeley. If you wanted to leave me your number, you should’ve just said so.”

She groaned inwardly and flushed outwardly at having been caught. “Har har, Mr. Whitlow.”

He just grinned as he leaned back and dug in his pocket, pulling out his wallet. “Here,” he said handing her a business card. “Give me a call and we’ll go have coffee or something sometime. I’d like that.”

“Me too,” she said. “Except, I don’t call guys.”

Clay chuckled. “You’re serious, aren’t you?”

Keeley, what are you doing? He’s flirting with you! “Um,” she said, using her signature phrase again. Whether it was his good looks, easy attitude, or the wheelchair—which she found hard to ignore—something about Clay Whitlow made every coherent thought fly out of her mind.

He smiled widely. “Well, in that case, I hope you left your number on your note.”

Keeley just smiled, feeling slightly lightheaded, embarrassed, and confused from his obvious attempts at flirting and her awkward responses. She was a little out of practice. She quickly said goodbye before she could embarrass herself anymore and headed back to her car. She felt his eyes on her the entire way across the parking lot.

When she reached her car she wrenched the door open and collapsed into the seat again. She laid her head against the steering wheel. Well, now that was a doozy and a disaster she thought wryly as she softly banged her head against the steering wheel. 

Entire story

18 comments:

  1. I am really happy to be the first one to say, I LOVE this, your writing style is as wonderful as usual, I can not wait for more.

    I will be lurking the site for an update...

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  2. Flappen awesome! Love it! Give me more baby, more!!!
    P.s. Im serious. Haha!

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  3. What a way to meet someone new. A greaat idea for a new story, sort of sounds as the Keeli has never meet her "dev" side, as well as being old fashioned. Awesome way to start a new story, Brent and Kelly are just fluff.
    Can't wait for more.

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  4. I love, love, lvoe it! Me neither I can't wait for more and am very much looking forward to seeing where they are going!

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  5. loved it!!!please write more!

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  8. Great story!!!!! Update soon please!!!!

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  9. Great start to a new story! You really have a gift at writing. Can't wait for more (and not forgetting Kyle and Lauren too:-))

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  10. You KNOW some of us love those rugged guys! He sounds absolutely delicious. Love this -- especially since some of the other big stories have been wrapping up!

    Definitely looking forward to the next update.

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  11. This story is already so much fun! Love it, and can't wait for an update!

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  12. Wonderful! I loved these new characters and I thought how you got them to meet was very original. Like everyone else, I can't wait to read more of this.

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  13. I really enjoy your writing style and the unique beginning to this story - love it so far! Can't wait for the next chapter. Thanks for sharing.

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  14. OMG, I totally love this story already. I'm reading The Paris Wife now, but I'd rather read this! :)

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  15. WOW! Thank you everyone for your encouraging comments!Y'all are AWESOME! Glad you all are enjoying it so far :) I hope the next update lives up to everyone's expectations!

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  16. Please please make a table of contents for this story. I haven't finished it yet and trying to scroll through it all to find my spot is just daunting! Great story!

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