A Matter of Trustby LazyDay Publishing / Romance & Love
Table of Contents
About the Author
A Matter of Trust
Digital ISBN- 9781612580081
Print ISBN- 1612580084
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Copyright © 2011 Elaine Dyer
Cover art by Bret Poinier
This book is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, any events or locales is purely coincidental. The names, characters, places and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination and are not to be construed as real.
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission from the publisher LazyDay, with the exception of quotes used in reviews and critical articles.
Dedicated to the Lunch Bunch:
And especially, Trish the dish (the real one)
A MATTER OF TRUST
“Sweetie, are you sure you can’t come with us? You’ve been burning the candle at both ends for so long now. You need to take a break sometime.” Trish’s mother’s worried gaze swept over her with pleading eyes.
Trish hugged her mother then said, “I know, Mom, but I just can’t get away right now. The Lit Center is only now starting to take off, and the girls are depending on me to make a profit.”
“The girls are on my side, Trish. They both wanted you to take a break and offered to tag in for you for a couple of weeks. You’re working yourself into the ground, baby. If you don’t want to go for the whole trip, just come for the cruise.”
“Another time, Mom. Maybe next year. The fact that you’re taking the kids will be a nice little break in itself. I love them to death, but … “
“You don’t have to explain to me, honey. Your dad and I always tried to take a quick trip by ourselves at least once a year just to be a couple … oh gosh, that’s terribly insensitive of me, Trish. I’m so sorry.” Trish’s mother covered her mouth with both hands as she shook her head.
“No, Mom, that’s okay. I’m not sensitive like that. Please don’t feel bad. It’s been over two years since Pete’s been gone. You better get going, or you’re going to be driving all night. Trevor, Lexie, give Mommy one more big hug and slobby kiss before you leave. I’ll miss you bunches. Be good and mind Gram.” Trish pulled each of her children in for one more hug and kissed them both.
“We will, Mom. Love you. Come on, Lex.” Big brother took his little sister’s arm and yelled out that he got to choose the first movie they watched.
Trish watched as her seven year old son and three year old daughter climbed into her parents’ van. She would miss them terribly, but it would be nice to be Trish instead of Mommy for a short while. She waved goodbye to her parents and her children and headed back inside and closed the door.
What a novelty, and what an unusual occurrence. Trish didn’t turn on the TV or the radio or any other noise making machine. She simply enjoyed the silence for several minutes, before she broke out her work for the day. As much as she liked the idea, she couldn’t afford to take even a day off, much less a whole month for vacation. Eva and Callie were counting on her to make the Lit Center a success, and she planned to do exactly that. So far, so good. They weren’t making much of a profit yet, but they were meeting expenses, and for a less than one year old business, that spoke volumes, if she did say so herself.
Trish had signed up several kids for tutoring in the last couple of weeks, and she’d done several other reading diagnostics as well. She needed to do the write ups on those latest tests and prescribe a regimen to address the strengths and weaknesses in reading that would improve the kids’ performance in school. Most of her clients were kids who’d attended her summer camps, which were a great success. Lately, though, she’d been getting kids in whose parents had heard of the miracles which had been worked for kids behind in school due to difficulties in reading. Business increased steadily.
Trish got busy with the half dozen diagnostic reports and intervention plans, and before she knew it, it was after midnight. Although she knew she had to get at least a few hours of sleep before she started another work week, she still hated to stop when she still had so much work to do. Sighing, she packed up her materials and reports and set them by her purse and went to bed.
She fell into an exhausted sleep for a good couple of hours, but awoke abruptly due to the same nightmare she’d been having regularly. Pete was in bed with her, and he was nuzzling her neck, trying to get her in the mood. She opened her eyes to look at him and smile, only to find him covered in blood. His blood. She sat up, short of breath, and turned on the light. At this point, she usually got up and checked on the kids, gaining some peace seeing them sleeping soundly, but since there were no kids in the house to check on, she turned the light off again and lay back down. Sleep eluded her for hours before she fell back asleep. When the alarm rang, she groaned, so tempted to hit the snooze button, but instead rolled out of bed and hit the shower.
An hour later, coffee mug in hand, she drove to work. No longer a luxury, coffee now qualified as a necessity unless she planned on falling asleep at her desk.
As she headed to the office, her mind strayed to the past and how she’d ended up here. She’d lost her home, her cars, had to sell all of her things and declare bankruptcy, and she hadn’t been directly responsible for any of it. Bitterness and betrayal spread through her like a cancer, and she struggled to push it back. No sense wasting any more time hashing through all that again. Water under the bridge. She’d survived, and she would continue to do just that, despite her ruined credit and having to move in with her parents, which came with its own distinct humiliation, despite their unwavering financial and moral support. Even they didn’t know the whole story. No one did, and she had every intention of keeping it that way.
Trish pulled into the Lit Center parking lot and went inside. Always the first on the scene, she habitually got to work at least an hour early. Rather than sleep in later with the kids gone, she got up even earlier to get more done without having to get Trevor ready for school. No rest for the weary. Or was that the wicked? No rest, either way.
Diana Taylor, her receptionist and secretary walked into her office to say good morning sometime later. She looked edgy, and Trish stopped her before she could leave.
“Hey, Di, is everything okay?” Trish smiled at the other woman. “You look a little stressed.”
“I’m fine, Trish, thanks for asking. Just tired, I guess. Monday came awfully early this morning.” The woman smiled hesitantly.
“You can say that again. You’d think I’d be raring to go since I have the house to myself, but I didn’t sleep well. I guess the quiet got to me.”
Diana smiled sadly. “No such thing as too much quiet. You’ve just forgotten what it’s like. You should enjoy the alone time, Trish. God knows when you’ll have it again.”
“Are you enjoying your alone time, Di? It’s been almost a year now since you left your husband. How are you adjusting?” Trish looked at her employee and friend and thought again how she really did look tired and edgy.
Diana looked at her then away. “I’m doing okay. It takes awhile to get used to being alone, and it’s hard financially, but it’s so much better than walking on eggshells and feeling scared to death my husband would go into another rampage and land me in the hospital again. I’m going to counseling and that’s helping, but I guess it just takes time. Eva’s Saturday classes have been a real boost to my self-confidence. It’s so sweet of her and Callie to volunteer their time at the battered women’s shelter. Between the three of you, I feel much more hopeful about the future.”
“Yeah, Eva and Callie are great, aren’t they? They sure helped me get back on my feet again, although I hadn’t been in the kind of abusive marriage you were in. I can only imagine how terrible it was for you, Diana. I’m so glad you were able to get out.”
“I have you and this job to thank for that, Trish. I don’t know what I would have done without it. I could never have gotten my own place, even with a roommate. Thanks again.”
“If you thank me one more time, I’ll fire you! Enough! Let me know if anyone new walks in, okay?”
“Will do, boss. I’ll make some fresh coffee.”
Trish was hard at work on her projects when she heard someone walk into the center. She listened to a muted conversation in the lobby and smiled once she heard a familiar giggle headed her way.
Her two best friends and business partners, Callie and Eva, walked into the office and took the two chairs in front of her desk. “Well, good morning, ladies. What brings the two of you in this morning? Making sure I’m not slacking off?”
“Like that’s likely to happen any time soon, despite our best efforts. Today, however, we are not going to take no for an answer.” Callie took that stubborn stance that always signaled that whoever she talked to didn’t have a chance of overriding her.
“Regarding what exactly, Callie?” Trish looked at her cautiously.
“You, me, and Eva are going out on a girls’ night this Saturday. And before you even think about turning us down, you might as well know that my mind is made up. You’re officially childless for awhile, and you need to let your hair down for once.”
Trish chewed on the end of her pen. “I don’t know, Callie, I’m working on some expansion plans for the Lit Center, and I’d planned on ironing out some details this weekend. How about a rain check?”
“Did you not hear her, Trish? Callie has made up her mind, and you know how she is when that happens. There’s no stopping her. The work will still be there, and you can’t use the kids as an excuse. No more argument. We’re going.” Eva stood next to Callie, her look daring her to try to resist the invitation.
Trish looked from one woman to the other and finally smiled in defeat. “Alright, alright, I know when I’m outnumbered. I’ll go. Where are we going anyway?”
“First to Carlos and Mickey’s for happy hour and Margarita’s. They also have live Mariachis. Then, we’ll see. Maybe we’ll go out to Sunland Park Casino.”
Trish nearly croaked. “No way, ladies, no casino, okay? Anywhere else is fine, but I work too hard to gamble away my money. Not my kind of place. At all.”
Eva and Callie both shrugged and went on with the conversation, getting her promise that she wouldn’t try to back out at the last minute and left.
Trish went back to planning and would have worked through lunch had she not had another visitor. Callie’s brother, Jake, cruised into the office with takeout.
“Well, hey, Jake. What brings you this way? And whatcha got there?”
“I’m working on a job not far from here, and knowing what a workaholic you are and not having anyone to eat lunch with today, I thought I’d swing by with Chinese. You game?”
“Always game for Chinese. That was sure nice of you. Thanks.”
“You bet. And I’m a nice guy.”
“Yes, you really are. Lexie asked about you before she went out of town with my folks. She wanted to know when she would see her “Zake”.”
Jake took out the food as Trish cleared a space on her desk for them to eat. “She’s my number one girl. I forgot you were on your own for awhile. That’s gotta be a nice break.”
“I guess. It seems weird not having the kids under foot. They only left yesterday, and I already miss them. Ooo, beef and broccoli.”
“And orange peel chicken. How about some of each?”
“Sure. Looks delicious.”
“So, how long will they be gone?” Jake took a bit of the chicken.
“Nearly a whole month. I don’t know how I’ll stand it or what I’ll do with myself.” Trish forked in a piece of broccoli. “Oh, this is so good.”
“You should take advantage of the break and solitude and relax a little bit. You work too hard. Here, don’t forget your fortune cookie.” He reached over and put one in front of her.
“You know how it is when you start a business. It takes awhile to get things off the ground. Didn’t you have to work a lot when you started your construction company?”
“Yeah, and I still work hard, only instead of trying to get more business, I’m trying to juggle the business I have lined up. Gives a whole new meaning to ‘be careful what you wish for’. In the beginning, I worked so hard to get established, and now I’m turning business away, I’m so busy.”
“You need to hire some more help. Until you do, I don’t want you barking at me about being a workaholic. It takes one to know one, buddy.”
“I’m thinking about it, hiring a foreman, maybe even two. I just hate to give up control. I know if I supervise a job, it’ll be done right. I don’t know that I want to turn that responsibility over to someone else. It’s my name and my rep on the line.”
“I can understand that. The girls have been trying to get me to hire more help, but I feel the same way you do. I know I can count on myself. I’m not going to let me or the girls down, but I’d just as soon not trust anybody else with that kind of stuff.”
“For a new business, yours is doing really well. Ever since you opened last summer, you’ve been in the black. That’s unusual and a great testimony to all the hours of hard work and planning you’ve put into the Lit Center.”
“Thank you, kind sir. I have so much more that I want to do. I want to expand to include teacher training and preschool instruction, and I’m going to look into whether or not there’s a market for adult literacy classes. I’ve got all these ideas running through my brain. Sometimes, I can’t sleep for thinking about it all.”
“So, that’s why you look so exhausted. And here I thought it was the Lex-meister waking you up at night.” Jake watched her closely as he took another bite of chicken.
“Oh, she does that plenty, only sometimes, I’m awake already.”
“It must be hard being a single mother. You do such a great job. You make it look effortless.”
“Wow, you’re just full of compliments today, Jake. It’s not even my birthday. I don’t really think about it that much. I just do what needs to be done, that’s all. I can do anything for the sake of my kids. They’re still so little, they need a lot of attention, but I don’t mind.”
“Don’t you ever miss going out and being a grownup from time to time? I mean, I know you take motherhood seriously and all, but I’d think taking some time for yourself would be good for the kids in the long run. What is it that Dr. Phil says? ‘When Mom’s not happy, nobody is happy?’”
Trish smiled around her chicken. “Something like that. I am happy. And the girls came by earlier and twisted my arm to go out with them this weekend for a girls’ night, so, see? I get out.”
“When was the last time you went out on a date?”
“A date? I have no desire whatsoever to go out on a date. Ever.”
Jake looked at her carefully. He’d been watching her for the last six months waiting for an opportunity to ask her out, and he wasn’t any closer now than he had been when he started. The woman was downright anti-social, and she didn’t seem the least bit interested in him as anything more than a friend. Hell. He hadn’t been this tied up in knots over a woman in … he’d never been this tied up. Trish was happy to be friends, and she trusted him around her kids, but she didn’t trust him as a man or even think of him in romantic terms at all. It was damn frustrating.
“You’re young, single, and good looking. Don’t tell me you never think about men. You must.” Jake watched her take a swig from the water bottle on her desk.
“I guess it’s like trusting someone to help run the business. I know I’m not going to let my kids or myself down. I guess I don’t trust anyone else where we’re concerned. What about you, Jake? You were a real ladies’ man when we were younger. Do you have someone special in your life?”
“Nope. I think about settling down from time to time, but I haven’t ever dated anyone I wanted to settle with. If I ever get married, I want what my grandparents and my parents had together, a lifelong partnership through the good and the bad. It was hard losing my parents as a teenager, but I sometimes think it’s a blessing they were at least together. Neither of them would’ve wanted to live without the other. They would have for our sake, but they never would’ve gotten over the loss. Granddad still pines for my grandmother. He makes the best of things, but he’ll never stop missing her, and I doubt he’ll ever remarry.”
“I’m with him, although probably not for the same reasons.”
“What do you mean?”
Stupid, stupid, stupid. I need to watch what I say. “Oh, nothing, really. It’s just that I have my kids, and I don’t have any intention of sharing my life with anyone else much less ever getting married again. Been there, done that. Don’t need to do it again.”
Jake looked at her carefully. There had to be more to it than that, but he didn’t press. He finished his lunch and stood to leave.
“Thanks again for lunch. I owe you one.”
“True. How about cooking me dinner one of these nights? I’m not picky, but I’m also not much of a cook outside grilling. What do you say?”
“I don’t know. I’d hate to think a bunch of women might start stalking me, thinking I’m moving in on their territory.”
“No need to worry about that. I’m in between relationships at the moment. Hence, the bumming of the meal.”
Trish smiled. “I guess I could manage a meal. I have girls’ night on Saturday. Would Friday or Sunday work better for you?”
This time, she laughed out loud. “Sure, why not? Of course, this means I’ll expect another lunch at some point. Fair is fair.”
“You’ve got yourself a deal, lady. I’ll check you later.” He tossed his trash into the waste basket as he stood to leave.
As he walked away, Trish continued to smile. Jake was such a nice, good guy. Whoever ended up with him would be a lucky girl. Too bad she hadn’t fallen for him instead of Pete, when she’d still believed in marriage and spending your life with someone, trusting them to always be there for you. Life had taught her not to believe in any fairytale endings, and it was a lesson she’d never forget.