“Jesus H. Christ!” Cory howled when she finally could take a breath and exhale. In her coat and boots, she now resembled a Dalmatian. A big patch of dark spread out over her hip and the rest of her was sprinkled with a random pattern of dark mud.
This was the cherry on a sundae of all-too-messed-up! In the middle of her trek to a meltdown, her phone buzzed. She stepped back onto the sidewalk, adjusted her carry-on, and pulled out her cell. “Brett,” she wailed. “Hey, babe!”
“Corinth McLemore, for the love of God, please tell me you’re at the airport, preparing to board your flight!” he semi-hollered.
Cory scissored her legs faster along the icy sidewalk, flailing her free hand at cab after cab. None slowed let alone stopped. “I’m running a little bit behind,” she panted, heading for the Métro entrance.
“Darlin’, are you or are you not at the airport?”
Her target lay up ahead: the wrought iron doorway and circular sign housing a capital ‘M,’ leading to a subterranean staircase and mass transit. She’d be at the airport lickety-split and although she disliked this next part, she had no choice but to own up. “I’m going to have to book a later flight.”
“What happened?” Brett’s voice dropped into a husky whisper. She could tell he was keeping himself in check, and the idea of him being angry made her stomach plummet.
“A problem with the computer directory and I couldn’t just get up and leave.” Oh she hated how this was coming out.
“Oh no? Were you chained to your desk?” he asked, the sound of his words were sharp. Cutting. This wasn’t his usual mode of talking—not with her—not with anyone. “Cory, you promised you’d get to the airport. I spoke with Dr. Peterson and she said you were right behind her. Your advisor left, why’d you stay? I thought coming back to me meant more than anything. Isn’t that what you said?”
“But what? I’m here, counting the minutes until you get here, and you’re doing what? Too busy to stop. Or call. That’s twice, darling.”
She’d pushed his buttons, something awful at times, and all the while he was the one to maintain a presence of mind. From the day they’d met, fell head over heels in love in a whirlwind romance, he’d been the one with the ever-present calm demeanor. Her rock. Her anchor. How could she explain this wasn’t a choice between him and her career?
“Please, Brett. I just got caught up…in a problem.”
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A huge thank you to Natasha Blackthorne for arranging the hop.