Chapter 2: Chapter

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 33

 “Miss Carter, I need to speak with you.”

She stopped shredding paper and turned toward her boss, who stood in the doorway to his office. Anastasia swallowed hard and took a deep breath. If there was anyone in the world who scared her as much as her own father, it was this man right here.

His eyes were dark, and he had no hair on his head. The mouth that was always pulled into a tight line somehow looked even more aggravated today.

Great.

She nodded and rose to her feet, then walked into his stuffy office.

The door shut gently behind him, and Anastasia took a seat in the chair across from his desk. She folded her hands in her lap and tried to calm the nerves that clawed their way to the surface of her mind.

She hadn’t done anything wrong; there shouldn’t be any reason to worry.

“So, Anastasia,” he began as he took a seat on the edge of his desk. “When I hired you, it was as a personal favor to your father.”

“Yes, sir. I understand that.”

Looking down his nose at her, he shook his head. “I’ve given you a flexible work schedule and as many hours as you can stand to work.”

“And I appreciate that, Mr. Fraser.” 

“Your father and I played nine holes this morning and he asked me to keep him apprised of your work schedule.”

Years ago, her father represented Phillip Fraser when the bastard had been accused of sexual harassment by one of his employees, and ever since then, they’d been golf buddies.

Anastasia frowned. “Okay.”

“I had to tell him about last week and, well, he was just as disappointed as I was.”

Her pulse sped, and Anastasia folded her hands together to keep them from shaking. “About what?”

He clicked his tongue and shook his head. “About the fact that you were nearly an hour late for your shift.”

Anastasia ground her teeth together. Because you scheduled me last minute when I’d specifically asked for time off to study. “I wasn’t aware you had scheduled me.”

“Is it my responsibility to make sure you check the schedule?”

“No, sir, it’s not.”

“I didn’t think so. If you continue showing up late, I’m going to have to start docking your pay, something I’m sure your father would be none too happy to hear.”

“With all due respect, Mr. Fraser, I am an adult. My business is mine, not my father’s.”

“Seeing as how he is the only reason you have this job, I will keep him apprised as I choose.”

Anastasia shook her head. She’d graduated, moved out, gotten a job, started college, and yet she was still somehow beneath her alcoholic father’s thumb.

“Are we done here?” She gripped the arms of the chair, ready to push up and leave this man’s office.

He leaned back, resting his palms on the desk as he narrowed his gaze. “That depends; are you going to continue being late for work?”

Anastasia clenched her fists and tried like hell to beat back the anger desperate to claw its way to the surface. Screw it. She rose to her feet. “I quit.”

 “Excuse me?” He pushed off the desk. “You can’t quit.”

“Oh, I can, and I do.” She turned to leave, but he gripped her arm.

“You aren’t going anywhere until we call your father.”

She looked at his hand around her bicep, heat rushing up her neck to her ears as adrenaline coursed through her veins, then looked up and met his gaze. “Please let me go,” she said, the words pushed out through clenched teeth.

 He raised an eyebrow in challenge.

Anastasia inhaled deeply. “I doubt my father will be able to get you off after another assault charge is placed against you.”

He tightened his grip on her arm. “Is that a threat?”

As Anastasia yanked free of him, a stack of neatly shelved books crashed to the floor.

Startled, he turned toward the bookcase. “What was that?”

Anastasia closed her eyes. Not now, please not now. She took a deep breath to calm herself before anything else out of the ordinary happened, and without another word, she stepped onto the sales floor of the dealership and headed to clear out her desk.

If she’d had any hopes of avoiding her father tonight, that jackass in there had just shattered them all.

Mitch Carter would be on the lookout for his insolent daughter tonight.

***

 

Anastasia stared blankly at the words on the computer screen, unable to focus on her schoolwork with the looming threat of having to answer to her father about quitting her job.Her phone buzzed, Dakota’s face lighting up the screen.

She smiled, relief filling her chest with warmth. “Hey, what’s up?”

“So, I just stopped by your work with a giant coffee delivery for you, and was told you no longer work there,” Dakota said curiously. “Care to share?”

She sighed. “It’s a long story.”

“Where are you now?”

“The library.”

“On my way.”

“Thanks, Dakota.” She hung up the phone and, after saving her document to a thumb drive and stuffing it into her pocket, Anastasia stepped outside.

Seattle was rarely sunny, especially this time of year, but as she stepped outside, a ray of sun shone down through the clouds. Anastasia turned her face toward the sky, closing her eyes as she let the sun warm her skin. Sighing deeply, she smiled.  She’d finally quit that horrible job, and while it definitely made things more problematic for her in terms of paying bills, and she didn’t know where to even begin looking for work, especially this close to the holidays, this decision—though impulsive—was one more step away from her father and the fear of his wrath.

After all, she was an adult now. There was not much he could do to her, right?

She opened her eyes, and her gaze landed on a man standing across the street from her. He wore a dark grey cloak that buttoned at the front and stared directly at her. Dark brown hair that was greying at the temples was cut short, and his mouth was slightly opened in surprise.

There was something oddly familiar about him… a feeling deep in her gut; something she knew but was just out of reach tugged at her mind. He raised his hand and waved, and she mimicked the motion, waving back at him without a second thought. 

Dakota pulled his Jeep up to the curb, blocking her view of the man.

“What’s up, quitter?” he joked. “Who are you waving at?” He looked out his window to the other side of the street, then back at Anastasia, his brows furrowed.

“There was a man”—she pointed to where the man had been standing only moments ago, but he was already gone—“That’s weird. He’s gone now.”

The smile fell from Dakota’s face. “Everything all right?”

“What?” She climbed inside and stuffed her backpack down at her feet. “Oh yeah, no, he just waved at me.” She shrugged, unable to shake off the feeling that she’d somehow known that man.

“I guess that’s what you get for being popular.”

Anastasia rolled her eyes. “Yeah, okay, Mr. Popularity.”

“Psht. I’m hardly popular.”

“Are you kidding? We can’t even go to a party at your campus without everyone stopping us to talk to you. Especially the girls,” she added, trying to hide the green-eyed monster that wanted to come out whenever it came to other women with Dakota.

“What about you and Gage? You two seem pretty close lately.”

Anastasia raised an eyebrow. “I’d hardly consider us close. The only time I see him is when I’m with you.”

“Not according to him. He says you two have a… what did he call it? Oh yeah, a connection.”

Anastasia’s lip curled. While he was hot, Gage was also painstakingly aware of it, and she’d only ever had eyes for one guy—which definitely wasn’t Gage Keesler. Because Gage was the son of Dakota’s dad’s partner on the police force, they’d known each other so long she’d been around the arrogant asshole more times than she cared to admit.

“Whoa, one guy who is way too full of himself thinks I’m cute. That’s hardly a reason to call me popular.”

Dakota shrugged as he turned down their old street. Anastasia swallowed hard; this entire neighborhood held some pretty shitty memories for her.

“We’re early; wanna stop off at the park for a bit? We can swing.” He grinned.

“How old are you?” she asked with a giggle, panic momentarily pushed aside.

“Not too old to love swinging higher than you.”

“You’re on.”


Submitted: May 27, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Jessica Wayne. All rights reserved.

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