🙂 Tuesday is upon us once again!! Let the #Blogbattle begin!!
#BlogBattle is a weekly short story challenge using a single word for inspiration. Hosted by the talented Rachael Ritchey. Feel free to join in, or click here to read the current week’s stories and vote for your favorites.
This week’s word: Eye
I really wanted to do something else, but just couldn’t. Here is part four, maybe I can stop here for awhile 🙂 If you want to start from the beginning click on the links below, or you can start with the summary.
Summary: Nicole has taken over the Bed & Breakfast Inn for Carol, who is off to travel Europe. Nicole finds herself alone at the Inn during a raging blizzard, with one of the regular customers, Anthony Thompson. Over breakfast, he shares with Nicole how his wife died, and how he feels her presence at the Inn so strongly that it’s as if they can communicate with each other. He explains to Nicole that his wife told him she was the special person that could help him move on with his life. Nicole is just about to freak out, not knowing what to think of this guy, when Tucker, the maintenance guy, and his dog Cody comes in to check on her. Tucker assures Nicole that Anthony is not a bad guy, and that there’s more to his story. Tucker suggests she let Anthony tell her about it from the beginning. Anthony tells her about his wife a little more. Nicole still questions, why her. They take a break to have lunch, and that is where this story begins.
The Healing Tear
Nicole begins to empty the fridge of what is needed for soup and sandwiches. She motions for Anthony to sit down at the island in the middle of the kitchen. “Have a seat, I’ve got this.” She says with a mischievous smile.
With a nod of approval he sits down, and says, “So Miss Nicole, what made you decide to manage this Bed and Breakfast?”
“Oh, gosh…it’s been a dream of mine for a long time. I enjoy taking care of people, making things comfortable for them, preparing good food for them to enjoy, giving them a place to relax and unwind. The plan was for me to open my own once I received my degree in Hospitality Management, but then…” Nicole hesitated for a moment, catching herself before she says too much, “But then this opportunity presented itself, so I took it. My cousin is a good friend of Carol’s and we connected through her.”
Anthony notices how there is a distinct sparkle in her eye, evidence of her passion. But there is also a hint of something else, he isn’t sure what. He can’t help but smile as he gets caught up in her enthusiasm. “Well I have to say, you are very good at the food part.”
“Why thank you, Mr. Thompson.” She says with a little bow. “So, what about you? What is it that you do?” She asks as she starts to stir the soup.
“I am the CEO and founder of a national organization for domestic violence.” Anthony responds matter-of-factly.
Nicole is grateful that her back is turned to him, because she stops stirring as a shiver runs up and down her spine. Hoping he hadn’t noticed, she turns to look at him and calmly asks, “Oh…I thought women usually started those types of organizations.”
“Yes usually, but women are not the only ones that are affected by domestic violence. I witnessed it with my parents as a young boy, and I’ll never forget how it affected my mother, not just physically, but as a person. I felt so helpless as a child, I wanted to protect her, but instead she protected me. I never wanted to feel that way again. We were lucky to get out of that situation, but I knew that is what I wanted to do, to help other women and children.” He shrugged as he took a sip of coffee.
As he talked, Nicole saw something in his eyes. She realized as he spoke that it was the same pain, sadness and loss that were mirrored in her own. But there was also a kindness and warmth residing there. She warred within herself whether or not she could trust him. But hearing what he said, and seeing how he wasn’t ashamed to share his story she knew she needed to tell him.
“ Oh, Anthony, I never thought of that, thank you for being so open and honest with me.” Nicole said, her words laced with compassion.
“Well that is one thing I learned from Tara, sometimes we go through things to help other people, and it’s best to be honest.” Anthony replied emphatically.
Nicole smiled and nodded her head in agreement. They sat for a moment enjoying their lunch. Nicole savored the last of her coffee, willing its warmth and familiar flavor to strengthen her to be honest with him and tell him.
“Anthony, I must be honest with you too. I was also married before. The real reason I am here is because I needed to get far away from my husband. He was born into a life a privilege, because his family was very wealthy so was he. But he had a problem with drinking and a bad temper.” She self-consciously continued, “I was usually on the receiving end of his drunken rants. When he sobered up, he was apologetic and showered me with gifts, and promises of buying me whatever I wanted, like my own Bed & Breakfast Inn. His family never saw the extent of his drinking, they considered it social drinking, since they all did it at the various functions they were obligated to attend. I was far away from my family, so I didn’t have the support that I needed to leave. I knew I needed to the first time it happened, but I just didn’t know how. It wasn’t until I started talking to my cousin, that I was able to leave and not look back. I came out here and stayed with my cousin, until this opportunity came up with Carol.”
Anthony reached over and squeezed her hand. He didn’t have to say anything, she knew he understood, she could feel it, so she continued.
“Being able to stay here at the Inn has been my safe haven. I desperately needed time to myself and distance from him and his family. Staying busy helped, and being able to do what I always dreamed of, has been the best healing balm. There is just something about this place, the atmosphere. At night after putting in a long day, I would go to my room, and I started to journal, I would just write and write and release all the hurt and pain. As I did this each night, it was as if I was actually talking with someone. I felt such a peace and comfort come over me, it felt like a warm embrace, it was almost tangible.” Subconsciously Nicole pulls her sweater together tighter and folds her arms in front of her.
Anthony stands up and walks over to where Nicole is sitting, takes her hands and says, “Come here,” standing in front of her with his hands resting on her shoulders, and a resolute look in his eye he says, “Nicole, Tara was with you. She told me about your writing, she said she could only make out bits and pieces, and knew why you were hurting, she not only felt your pain, but she saw it, by the one tear that always seemed to escape from the corner of your eye. She wanted to comfort you and even though she knew that you couldn’t actually feel it, she said she would drape her arm over your shoulders to try and comfort you. I think she realized that you needed me just as much as I need you.”
Nicole looked down; she couldn’t look him in the eye any longer. Closing her eyes and shaking her head, perplexed she says, “Anthony this is all too much.”
He slowly wraps his arms around giving her a chance to step away, hugging her he says, “I know Nicole. Sometimes the heart can see what’s invisible to the eye…what does your heart tell you?”
Nicole looks up at him and says, “I don’t think I can trust my heart yet.” As one lone tear escapes from the corner of her eye.
He rests his forehead against hers, using his thumb to gently wipe away the tear he says, “If it’s alright with you, I’d like to wait until you can.”
© 2015 Carrie Ann