This chapter is rated PG.
Welcome back to The Hunt Family Legacy. Where we last left off Grace finally got the nerve to leave her abusive husband and move half way across the country on her own to start a new life. With no source of income, was leaving California a huge mistake?
I slept like a baby last night, for the first time in 5 years I could sleep without fearing what the next day would bring. I had went to bed thinking It would take me hours to fall asleep due to the overcrowding thoughts and fears that swirled around in my brain. I was surprised that I fell asleep almost the instant my head landed on the soft feather pillow. I didn’t dream of Michael, in fact, for the first time I don’t recall dreaming at all…
When my eyes opened this morning I was greeted to the sounds of birds singing, and the sounds of the waves as they lapped onto the shore. I decided to eat my cereal out on the back porch. The sun was bright causing my eyes to tear and forcing me to squint as I shoveled my cereal into my mouth.
A knock on the door shook me out of my daydreams, my body froze, the spoon midway to my mouth. Impossible, I thought debating on jumping over the porch railing and into the aqua blue waters below and swim away. Michael couldn’t have found me so quickly, could he?
I dropped my spoon, the metal hitting the ceramic bowl making me wince. I stood up on stiff legs and crept over to the porch railing that faced the front of the house and leaned over to see who was knocking.
My knees felt like limp spaghetti noodles as relief flooded through my body making me dizzy. It wasn’t Michael. A dark-haired woman with a retro style hair cut and tattoos stood on my porch. I debated on pretending I wasn’t home. I wasn’t used to company. However I thought against hiding when I realized maybe it could be my landlord.
“Hello?” I said opening the door and giving the stranger a small smile.
“Oh hey, I wasn’t sure if anyone was home.” The dark-haired woman said. “I’m Tessa Haywood, I live next door,” She said pointing to the green house behind me. “I just wanted to stop by and introduce myself and welcome you to the neighborhood.”
I smiled despite myself, not used to people being so friendly towards me. It helped warm the walls of ice I had built up around my heart. “That’s nice of you.” I said smiling warmly.
“It’s good to see someone move in finally. This house has been vacant for over a year.” Tessa said. “The older couple who lived here previously were so sweet, great people. The older gentleman is in really poor health, and ended up in a nursing home. Too bad.” She shook her head sadly. “Do you know the family at all?”
I cleared my throat. “No, I’ve never met them. I’m not from around here. This is my first official day here.” I smiled.
“Oh yea?” Tessa asked shifting her weight to the other foot. “Where you from?”
“California.” I said simply
“Wow you moved half way across the country didn’t you?” Tessa laughed. “Brave girl. I would never have the lady balls to move like that. Sadly I’ve lived in Evensdale County my entire life. I’ll probably die here as well.” She laughed.
“So what do you do, sorry I didn’t get your name.”
“Oh sorry.” I said blushing. “My name is Grace. Grace Hunt.” I said giving my maiden name instead of Harris my married surname. As far as I was concerned. Grace Harris was dead and gone! “Well to be honest, I don’t have a job yet, I kind of moved in a hurry, do you know of any place that’s hiring?” I asked hopefully.
“Actually yeah. ” Tessa said. “The diner I work at is hiring wait staff and a cook. If you want I can put in a good word for you, or you can head there yourself and check it out if your interested. It’s not the greatest job in the world, but it pays alright. My boss Holden is kind of a flirt, but he’s a good guy. I bet a pretty girl like you, he would hire in a hot minute. Have you ever waitressed before?”
“Not since I was a teenager, but I’m a good cook.” I blushed. “At least I like to think so.” What I failed to mention was I had to be a good cook. Michael expected dinner to be waiting on the table when he would get home from work, and he demanded only the best. I had often thought he wanted more of a housekeeper/cook then a wife…
“Well I got to go get ready for my shift.” Tessa said smiling. “Lets get together and hang out sometime.”
“I’d like that.” I smiled and waved as she walked across the small space between our houses. I waved again as she disappeared inside her cute green bungalow.
Smiling to myself I hurried upstairs to get dressed to head down to the diner to see about the job. I would prefer to cook, I wasn’t exactly a people person, but I would do what I had to do to get some cash flow.
I didn’t have many clothes, for obvious reasons I had to pack light when I left Michael, but I did pack one suit. I put it on, and turned in front of the mirror and arranged my hair into a neat bun. I remember the last time I wore this suit. I had to accompany Michael to one of his charity functions, and I had to play the part of dutiful wife. Suddenly I wanted to rip the suit off and light it on fire. I remembered that night, he had thought I had smiled at another man, and had beat me so hard when we got home that I thought he had cracked a few ribs.
My good mood suddenly went south and I felt like crying. “Its ok, Grace,” I whispered to myself giving myself a little pep talk. “You are far away from Michael, he can never hurt you again.”
It sucks not having a car, I thought as I hopped on the old bicycle left by the previous owners. I could have called a taxi, but I didn’t want to spend the money. Besides, a nice bike ride sounded nice.
The bike ride was beautiful, and it did a lot to improve my mood. The bright sun was just starting its slow decent, and there was a slight breeze coming off the ocean, which was a good thing since I was wearing a wool suit, and sporting pit stains was not how I wanted to present myself.
Finally I reached my destination. I was exhausted, the bike ride over was longer with more hills then I anticipated, but great for cardio, I thought with a smile. The diner was bigger than I expected, and much nicer than Tessa described it. It was a cheery building with a cute 50’s theme. I could easily see myself sitting at the counter sipping on an old-fashioned milkshake.
swallowing my nerves, and demanding confidence, I held my head high and walked inside. The waitress, who was also sporting a 50’s hairstyle waved at me when I walked in. I hope the hair style isn’t part of the uniform, I thought to myself chewing on my bottom lip. Although the hair style looked cute on her, I couldn’t see my self sporting a boffaunt hair-doo, and as far as I was concerned, some styles should have stayed in the past.
“Welcome to Dons drive in.” The waitress said, her name tag read Gwen. “Just you tonight hun?”
“Oh I’m not hear to eat.” I blushed. “My neighbor Tessa said you were hiring, and I thought I’d come by to see if there were still any positions open.”
“Let me get Holden.”
“Hey Holden” Gwen waved. “This girl wants to see about a job.”
Gwen smiled at me and walked away taking a seat at the counter. Holden walked over, and looked me up and down in a way that made me feel like more than my waitressing skills were on display.
“Have you waitressed before?” Holden asked with a wide smile that was almost a leer.
“Yes.” I said honestly. “But I’m a much better cook.” I admitted.
“Cook position was just filled, but maybe you can fill in when needed. The waitress position is yours if you want it.”
“Wow thanks. Do you have any questions for me?” I was incredulous that he was offering this job to me so easily.
“You look trustworthy. But if it makes you feel better I can interview you, but the job is already yours if you want it.” He led me to the booth in the back, his hand on the small of my back. I tried not to cringe at the contact. The only contact I was used too from Men was in the form of fists.
“So where are you from?” Holden asked leaning back onto the vinyl booth, the material squeaking beneath him.
“Are you single?”
“Excuse me?” I bristled.
“Sorry, What I mean is, do you have any dependents, anyone who you can claim on your taxes?” He said quickly.
My heart sank when I realized I would have to fill out tax info. Michael could surely track me that way. I felt like crying.
Holden must have seen the look on my face when he asked the next question. “You are a legal citizen yes?”
“Of course, I guess I was just hoping that maybe I could be paid cash.” I said softly, looking down at the slightly chipped formica table top.
Holden was silent for a moment. “Alright. sure. We’ll see how that goes. When can you start?”
I could have jumped for joy.
“Thank you so much!” I said sliding out from the booth and turning to face Holden. “I can start whenever. Tomorrow if you need me.”
“Tomorrow is sunday, we aren’t open. But if you want to thank me, you can meet me down at the beach.” He spoke quickly when I was quiet. “Of course everyone from work will be there. Will be a great way to meet your co-workers.”
Tessa was right. Holden was a shameless flirt, and was obviously interested in me. However, I wasn’t attracted to him, and a relationship was the last thing on earth I wanted. I had a sinking feeling in my gut that this was going to be trouble for me down the line. But, I ignored my fears, because I really, really needed this job.
“Alright, I’ll be there.” I said finally.
“Great.” Holden said smiling like the Cheshire cat. “See you tomorrow.”
Thankfully most of the ride back home was downhill, because I was exhausted. I was glad Holden gave me the job, but also worried his obvious interest in me would spell trouble down the line. I yawned looking forward to crawling into bed.
My mind however was racing, and if I laid in bed now, I would stare up at the ceiling. I went and sat down by the beach. The sand felt cool on my heated skin.
I picked up a handful of small pebbles and tossed them in the water. The simple act of skipping stones reminded me of when I was a child. I felt some of my dark mood lighten.
Taking off the itchy wool suit, I stripped down to my bikini, loving the way the cool air felt on my skin. I dipped a toe in the water to test the temperature. To my shock, the water was warm, and it suddenly I was dying to dive in, and be surrounded by its comforting coolness.
I swam for a good 2 hours, the water felt amazing.
The night was clear and cloudless, the stars twinkling overhead like a million tiny jewels on a black velvet canvas. The bright lights of the nearby city shone brightly in the distance. Feeling better, and now suddenly exhausted, I went inside and toweled myself off, after a quick shower, I was ready for bed.
As I crawled beneath the blankets and turned off the lights I thought back to tonight. I was grateful to Holden for offering me the job, especially since he was letting me work for cash. I had a feeling he only allowed it because he was attracted to me. That worried me, what would happen if I turned him down?
Suddenly I realized I was crying into my pillow, I flipped it over to the dry side and willed myself to stop. Tessa said Holden was a pretty decent guy, I guess I would find out. He might be attracted to me, but surely he could understand that I wasn’t looking for a relationship, besides it was unethical to get involved with a co-worker, surely he would realize that, right? I had a feeling I was setting myself up for total epic disaster…I hoped I was wrong.
* * * * * * * * * * **
Well that’s it for chapter 1.1. I hope you continue on to 1.2 coming soon. D-aww Grace made a new friend in Tessa, and even scored a new job, although Holden’s interest in Grace might spell disaster! What do you think of the story so far? Sound off in the comments below if you’d like. 🙂