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Chapter 10

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Chapter 10

The next morning Stevie woke up to the sound of her phone ringing. She realized that she had never made it from the couch to her bed.

She reached across the coffee table and grabbed it. "Hello?"

"Good morning, sunshine." It was Margie. "I just wanted to call before your day got started and see if you wanted to go to lunch today."

"What time is it?" Stevie said, propping herself up against the arm of the couch. As she scooted her legs backward, she felt a sharp pain in her knee. It was so stiff. The fall really did a number on it.

"It's 9 o'clock. What's wrong with you? What did you do last night? I hope it was better than my night. I woke up this morning with my hand half in a bowl of popcorn, the cat asleep on my head and the DVD I was supposed to be watching on pause."

Stevie yawned. "I had quite a day yesterday. I can tell you more about it when I see you for lunch, but I had a date. Well, a sort-of date." Stevie stood up and limped across the living room into the kitchen to make herself a cup of coffee.

"With Mr. Photographer? Is he still there?" Margie whispered.

"No! And why are you whispering?"

"The newsroom has ears everywhere. Besides I don't want anyone else to know before I have a chance to tell them," Margie giggled.

"Margie, this is just between you and me. I don't want anyone else to know."

"Sure, sweetie. What did you find out about this guy?"

"He's from Chicago." The coffee machine began to gurgle and sputter.

"Chicago, hmmm. Uh, oh. I've got to go. The phones are ringing off the hook. We don't want to miss the next big story. I'll see you about noon and you can tell me everything. The Pfeiffer House."

Stevie hung up the phone. The coffee machine had filled the glass pot with its black goodness. Stevie poured herself a cup. She leaned against the counter and tried to collect her thoughts.

Maybe Margie can help me sort through whatever this is happening with Jason. The truth is she was scared. Talking with Jason last night made her think of things she had pushed from her mind long ago. Especially her father. He loved his job, but he never showed the same kind of love toward his family. Stevie wasn't sure if she knew what love really was, let alone whether she was ready to give it a chance.

Stevie found it difficult to navigate her stairs with a bum knee but managed to make it to the bottom without falling. She was concentrating so hard on walking that she didn't see Crandall come around the corner with his arms full of bags. They collided, causing Crandall to drop both his bags.

The contents spilled onto the ground. Stevie bent down to help pick them up. "Oh, Crandall, I'm so sorry," she said as she picked up a plastic bottle of liquid.

Crandall began scooping the items up and shoved them into the bags. "It's OK," he said, appearing agitated. "Just give me the bottle, please."

Stevie handed it to him. "What is that stuff?"

"It's for my work," he said, pushing his hair out of his eyes. The two stood looking at each other for a brief moment. Stevie started to turn and walk away when Crandall softly said, "I saw you had a friend over last night."

Stevie slumped. "Crandall, he came over unexpectedly."

"He doesn't seem like your type."

Stevie was taken aback by Crandall's observation. My type?

"I've seen him before," Crandall said.

"Really? Where?"

"Those kind of guys are all the same. They come and then they go."

Stevie could tell Crandall was hurt. She felt so guilty as she watched him pretend to organize the items in his bag. Before she had time to think, she blurted out, "Maybe I can come over this weekend and check out your work?"

Crandall stared at her. "I don't need your sympathy. I think I have plans this weekend."

He turned and briskly walked away.

Stevie watched him. Great! Nothing like an angry neighbor.

By Terri Richardson, assistant managing editor for features.