“Here let me help you carry those.” Curtis took the books out of Rachel’s arms and followed her up the walk to her parents’ house. She unlocked the door, which was always locked since she came to live with them, and stepped in the house.
The room smelled like onions, garlic and meat. A pot roast was cooking and Rachel’s stomach growled.
“Do you mind taking those on up to my room?” She asked Curtis.
“No, lead the way.”
They walked up the steps and put her books down then walked down through the living room to the kitchen. The crock pot was on the counter but her parents weren’t there.
“They must have gone to do some running before I got home.” She looked back at Curtis.
“It’s fine. I’m not in a rush to get home.” He said.
“You’re staying for dinner right?” She slid her arm around his waist and leaned in to him.
Curtis’ phone vibrated on his hip.
“You need to get that?”
He looked down. “Yes, it’s business.” He stepped out of the kitchen into the living room. “Hello Drew.”
Rachel took a few steps toward the doorway to listen to the conversation. She didn’t realize Drew and Curtis even knew each other.
“No it’s not a problem at all. I’m at my girlfriend’s parent’s house.” Curtis said.
There was a short pause.
“No, I didn’t get that paperwork. When did you fax it over?”
Another short pause.
“When did they want to close?” Pause. “That soon? I’m not sure if I can get that done in time or not. Let me see what I can get worked out from here and I’ll call you.” Curtis stopped for a moment. “Wait, let me ask Rachel something.”
He walked in kitchen. Rachel jumped away from the door where she was listening and opened the cupboard closest to her.
“Do you have a fax here?” He asked with his finger over the phone mouthpiece.
“No but I have a fax to email. You fax it to the number and it sends to my email. I can print it in .pdf.”
“Great thanks.” Curtis walked back to the living room then called back. “What’s the number?”
She grabbed a business card out and gave it to him. “It’s right there on my card.”
He nodded his head and she walked back in the other room. What a horrible time to have Drew call. She walked to the cupboard and pulled down four plates. She had no ideas they worked together on anything but her house. Curtis never mentioned Drew. Why would he? He hadn’t mentioned other co-workers before either. That meant she had to tell Curtis what happened with Drew.
She snuck back to the doorway.
“You remember the lady we first worked together with? Rachel. That’s my girlfriend.”
A short pause.“
A couple of months off and on.”
Drew don’t you dare say anything.
“Yes she is great. She has a fax I can use. Here is the number.”
A short pause.
“Oh you do?”
A longer pause.
“When?” Curtis’ footsteps in the other room stopped. Rachel tried not to breathe. “No, I didn’t know that.”
A long pause.
“Oh good you’re getting everything around.” Rachel spun around. Her mom was standing inside the kitchen. “I was going through some boxes in the basement and heard you two come in but you know what it’s like when you’re almost done with a project.”
Rachel heard footsteps behind her and she turned. Curtis was red-faced. “I won’t be staying for dinner tonight.” He focused on Rachel.
“Why not?” Her mom asked.
He continued to look at Rachel. “I just had a call from one of the real estate agents I work with. They have a last minute deal they need worked up for a closing.”
“Curtis.” Rachel stepped to him.
“Don’t.” He held up his hand. “Don’t, all right? I need some time to process all this.”
“I’ll call you in a couple of days.” He turned and walked out of the kitchen, through the living room and out the front door. She heard the door close hard and her feet unstuck from the floor. She scurried through the house and out the front door after him.
“What Rachel? What do you want?” He spun around and faced her.
“I was going to tell you?”
He shook his head and looked away.
“I was but we just got serious and I didn’t want to mess anything up.”
“Rachel, I’ve been serious with you all along.”
“I’m sorry.” She pleaded with him.
“Maybe we are too different to make this work.”
“No, we really aren’t.” She reached out and took his hand. “I love you Curtis.”
“I love you too but I can’t have a relationship based on lies.”
“I never lied.”
He pulled his hand away. “I can’t have one based on half-truths either. I have to be able to trust you, Rachel.”
“You can trust me.”
He walked to his car and before climbing in he called back. “I’ll get in touch with you in a few days. Don’t call me until then. I need to think.”
She looked back at her parents’ house. His engine roared as he backed up and sped down the road. Through the corner of her left eye she saw his tail lights move away from her. Slowly she made her way back up into the house then straight to her bedroom. She didn’t much feel like eating.
You are reading A Face in the Shadow by Tiffany Colter.
Tiffany is a writer, speaker and writing career coach. She is a frequent contributor to print and online publications in addition to her regular marketing blog at http://www.writingcareercoach.com/
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This story is copyright Tiffany Colter. 2007. It may not be copied, distributed, sold or included in any larger work without the expressed written permission of Tiffany Colter.
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