Chapter Twenty Five – One Call Changes Everything
by Laura Breck
Mitch’s phone rang once then silenced. Major opened one eye from his prime spot in front of the fireplace as Mitch picked up his cell. A New York area code. “Huh.” Probably another one of his father’s tricks to get him to answer the phone, dialing from a new number.
He checked the number again. It could be Candy. He could Google the number…
No. He’d been the one to let her go. If she wanted to contact him—decided she wanted her clothes or something—she would call. He wasn’t going to jump at every wrong number, hoping it was her. Replacing the phone on the table, he picked up his book and went back to reading.
After staring blankly at the paragraph for ten minutes, remembering the last afternoon he’d spent with Candy in his bed, he grabbed the phone. “Damn.” Accessing the last call, he got up and walked toward the back of the house.
In the office, he fired up the computer and plopped down in his ergonomic chair. Why couldn’t he get her out of his head?
He typed in the mystery number and came up with unlisted cell phone. On his phone, he saved the number, just in case whoever it was called again. While he sat at his computer, he checked e-mails, local weather, and sports scores.
Hell, who was he kidding? He only wanted to check one thing. Bringing up a search engine, he typed in Candice Wright.
A lot of results popped up, but none were the Candy he knew. He tried Candice Wright New York. There she was. A screen full of articles on her and her advertising agency, The Wright Way, followed by six more pages. He read a few of them, but they only discussed her business acumen and successful rise to the top of New York’s advertising world. He wanted more, wanted to understand what made Candice Wright Candy.
On page three, a few articles talked about her philanthropic projects. He searched again, adding philanthropy to the hunt. Four pages came up with pictures of Candy in formal gowns standing next to dignitaries and stars.
Her company provided advertising services to charities for kids, and she personally donated a lot of money to a number of causes dealing with children. Homelessness, domestic abuse, literacy. She’d never mentioned this side of her business when she’d been here. Of course, she barely spoke about her company.
He read her mission statement. Even though the objectives focused on the usual, customer service and employee integrity, the last line stood out. To share our talents and treasures in areas that will make a difference in a child’s life.
Mitch sat back and read the sentence again. Was it because of her difficult childhood that she chose to include such a personal goal in her business model? Her way of helping kids in similar situations?
A cold, wet nose nudged his arm. He turned toward Major’s expectant face and wagging tail. “You want to go out?”
The dog whined and stepped back, his tail double-timing, his eyes wide. As Mitch stood, Major ran to the back door, then retraced the path until he opened it.
The night was clear and cool, the stars overhead shone in an inky sky. He and Candy had lain in his bed, looking out the window at the constellations. He’d gotten some wild notions that night. Wanted to keep her in his bed forever. Imagined them building a life together.
Major barked and Mitch whistled him back.
A chill rattled through his body. Could he have kept her? If he’d been able to talk about the demons of the past? Hell, those demons still took a run at him from time to time.
She’d had a lot of pain in her own life. Maybe she would have understood. Maybe he’d underestimated her. She might have been the perfect person to open up to. Instead, he’d shut her out.
He looked at the sky. So cold and lonely. It wasn’t right. This wasn’t what he wanted for his life. Candy. He’d let the best thing that had ever happened to him slip away without a fight. When had he become a coward?
Major ran toward the house, and Mitch opened the door for them to enter the warmth of the kitchen. He walked toward the table where he’d shared intimate meals with her.
He braced both hands on the table and let his head hang down. He’d made a mistake. He’d let her go when everything inside him told him she was the one. He’d lost…everything.
A voice in his mind shouted, No! His head came up as he straightened his backbone. He wouldn’t give up that easily. He could fix this. He could make it right.
Major stood at his bowl of kibble, eyeing Mitch, as if sensing something odd happening.
Mitch pulled his phone and dialed. “Jeb, can you watch Major for a few days?”
“It’s about time, dumbass.” The older man’s quiet laugh eased through the phone. “You book yourself on the next flight to New York, and I’ll drive you to the airport.”
Mitch grinned. “How do you know I’m not going to Allatoona for some fishing?”
Jeb snorted. “You’re a smart man. Slow, but smart. You’re not gonna let Candy get away.”
“I should have stopped her—” Mitch huffed out a breath.
“Don’t waste time pissin’ and moanin’ about what you should’ve done. Just get your ass up north. And Mitch?”
“Uh huh?” This ought to be good.
“Prepare to grovel.”