aradescent

Chapter 10

In Uncategorized on February 11, 2011 at 4:05 am

Jessica spent the rest of the day relaxing.  She reluctantly answered the phone when Diana called.
“Please tell me you are almost finished with Jen’s photos.  The woman is driving me nuts.”

Jessica chuckled into the phone.  It was more than obvious Diana’s hatred for the blond-haired brideacula,  though technically she was no longer a bride.  She was now a wife.  Surprising.

“Almost.  I’ll work on them some more tonight and possibly have them finished by Tuesday afternoon.”

“Bring them to me when you finish.  I have to sift through them first and assure she won’t deny the charges when she gets them.”

Jessica had never thought of that.  Jen was hard to work with but she didn’t think anyone could back out of paying for photographs.  “Okay Diana.”

Jen demanded over three-thousand photos be taken at her wedding.  Jessica had taken four-thousand just to be on the safe side.  Thankfully a lot of them needed little editing.  Two-thirty.  Delilah would be coming off the bus in another thirty minutes given it was the first stop the bus driver would make after the last bell of the elementary school rang.

Jessica stormed up to her office feeling stubborn.  Her mood matched Delilah’s from this morning.  She really didn’t want to work on Jen’s photos.  Not after the day she had trying to convince conceited Elliot to do his job and that she wasn’t looking for a date.  Not with him anyway.

Fifty pictures later and she heard a knock at her door.  Instinctively she glanced at the clock on her bedroom wall.  3:10 p.m.  Delilah should’ve been off the bus and in her room downloading some more music already.

She opened the door to find a tall blond standing on her porch.  “She missed the bus.”

Delilah walked past her mom without explanation.

“Natalie Porter.”  The woman stuck out her hand.  “I’m Brandi’s mother.  Our daughters have a class together.”

Jessica nodded her head.  “Jessica Wiler.”  She took Natalie’s hand.

“Hey, if your daughter ever needs a ride just let me know.  I gave her my number.  I don’t work so I’m always available.  Maybe we could even arrange a sleep over for the girls.”

“Sure.  I’ll talk to her about it.”  Jessica thanked Natalie for bringing Delilah home before heading up the stairs to her room.

“What was that about?”

Delilah already had her backpack off and was laying on her bed.  “Nothing momma.”

Jessica moved towards the bed and sat on the edge of it.  “Nothing always means something.”  She said gently.  “Tell me what’s wrong.”

Delilah rolled over onto her back, her neck craned to look in her mother’s direction.  “This boy.  Jeremiah.  He’s a jerk!”

Jessica didn’t react.  She remembered what it was like to go through school with boys that wouldn’t give you the time of day.  She figured this was what Delilah was going through.  It seemed like the only logical conclusion.  “Honey, when a boy is being a jerk it usually means he likes you back.”

Delilah shook her head and stared at the ceiling.  Jessica could have sworn she saw a tear.  “No.  I don’t like him.  At all.  But Brandi told him I did and now he won’t leave me alone.  He keeps throwing things at me in the hallway.”

Jessica sighed.  What could she say to diffuse the situation?  She had been there at one point.  “Is that why her mom drove you home today?”

Delilah sat up.  “Yeah.  Brandi felt bad and told me that if I wanted I would never have to take the bus again.”  She fidgeted, twirling her fingers around one another.

“I will talk with Brandi’s mother and if you want she can pick you up and drop you off at school.”

Delilah’s face lit up.  “Really?”

Jessica let a smile creep across her face.  “Yes really.  Now do your schoolwork.  I’ve got a ton of pictures to finish editing.”

Maybe if she were lucky she would finish by Tuesday.  If she didn’t have any more distractions.  With that thought lingering in her mind as she sat down at the computer she turned off her cell phone.  Cade might call her but she would call him back, after Delilah went to sleep.  Any other distractions could wait and only one person had her home number.  Diana.  She was hoping to get a wedding lined up once she was finished with the pictures but knew that would be near impossible until she got approval from Jen that her pictures were worthy.  By Diana’s word they were.  The real test was pleasing the one woman she hoped to never speak to again.

An hour after starting the editing process Delilah peeked her head in the door.  “I’m hungry.”

Jessica rubbed her fingers against her temples.  She hadn’t even though of what she would make them for dinner, assuming maybe a hot pocket would be satisfying enough.  “Spaghetti?”  She suggested.

Delilah thought for a moment.  “Okay.”

Jessica was puzzled.  “That’s it?  No argument from you?”

Delilah started for her room when Jessica got up from the computer.  “No.  Spaghetti sounds okay.”

Jessica shrugged.  She turned back on her cell phone while she cooked.  It rang not five minutes later while she was unloading pans from their usual places.

“Hello.”

“Hello beautiful.  So, I was thinking we could get dinner Friday night.”

Jessica couldn’t help but smile at the sound of his voice.  “I might have to check my schedule.  I should be free.  Maybe.”

“Sounds like you are hard to bargain with.”

“Not really.”  Jessica responded.  “Just keeping my options open.”

To this she heard Cade laugh a little.  “Oh is that so?”

“No I just like to see if I can get a rise out of you.”

“Well accomplished then.  So really are you busy Friday night?  If you are maybe I could just come over there and hang out.”

Jessica had let Cade into her life, more so than she had let anyone since Matt’s death.  Still, she wasn’t sure she could allow him to be in Delilah’s life too.  At least not yet.  She had promised herself the night she hooked up with Cade that she would date a guy for at least three months before allowing them to get connected with Delilah.  She could recover from a broken heart but people couldn’t just keep coming in and out of her daughter’s life.  She would protect her better than that.

“For now it’s kind of up in the air.  I was thinking of spending some time with Deli.  She’s been going through a rough time lately.”

“That’s understandable.  Well call me if something changes.”

“Will do.”  She agreed.

“Bye beautiful.”

She couldn’t shake the feeling she got every time she heard his voice.  She couldn’t deny that in the short time she had moved to California and met him that she was falling for him.

“Who was that?”

She hadn’t noticed Delilah standing in front of her.  “No one.”

Delilah smiled crookedly.  “Didn’t sound like no one.”  She dug some silverware from on of the drawers and a few plates to set the table.

Jessica tore apart the hamburger meat, letting it sizzle on the skillet.

“Monica says you are dating a guy named Cade.”

Shit.  What else did Monica tell her?

“And Cade is no one.”  Surely she could get out of this one.

“I think it’s good.”  Delilah sat at the table, complete view of the kitchen.  “You’ve been a little lonely since daddy.”

Jessica felt a twinge in her heart.  She still missed Matt but at least Cade was helping her not be so obsessive over him.

“That’s not true.”  Jessica countered.  “I have you.”

Delilah rolled her eyes.

God she is becoming more and more like a 16-year-old. Jessica thought.

***

“I can’t believe she loved them.”  Jessica shook her head in disbelief.  Diana had just told her that not only did Jen buy every photo that Jessica took but that she actually loved them.

Diana leaned back in her chair.  “Looks like we have a new favorite photographer.  I only worry there won’t be any work for the rest of the people on my payroll.  Speaking of which one of Jen’s friends requested you do her wedding.”

Jessica let herself relax.  She hadn’t noticed how nervous she had been when Diana called her this morning.

“When is that one?”

“November 16th.”

She had plenty of time to get to know the bride and to know specifically what she wanted.  “Great.”

“I did hear about one photo though.”

Jessica felt her throat tighten.  “About that..”

“Don’t worry.  I told Elliot to keep his mouth shut.  We can’t let word getting out about this and as long as it doesn’t you have a secure future with me.”

“So if people do find out?”

“They’ll consider your work tainted.  You and I know it’s not but that won’t sway people from thinking you are a bad luck charm when it comes to their weddings.”

Jessica considered it for a moment.  That’s what she was afraid of.

It was Friday and Delilah had asked to stay the night with Brandi.  Jessica would have the entire house to herself.  Unless she accepted Cade’s offer of going to dinner.

“Cade?”  She gave in.

Who in their right mind would want to sit at home all night?  Alone.  Monica was too busy with her new boy toy so they hadn’t talked much in the past few days.  They had agreed on setting a lunch date for Sunday.

“Looks like my Friday is open.”

“Good.  Is take-out okay with you?”

“Perfect.”

Jessica snapped the phone shut.  She had plenty of time to clean up her house and get a ten-minute exercise in before he showed up.

She had talked with Natalie the night before about Delilah spending the weekend with Brandi and while she didn’t particularly like Natalie she wouldn’t stop her daughter from hanging around the only friend she had made.

Guilt washed over her.  Guilt of taking Delilah away from her home and the many friends she had.  Guilt of leaving Justin and Jasmine behind after a tragedy.  Guilt over having to move states away just to start a new life.  She knew she couldn’t have prevented her mother’s death even if she hadn’t moved away but a part of her wondered if things would have turned out a little different.

She was happy wasn’t she?  Of course she was.  She had Delilah who seemed to be adjusting as quickly as she could.  Her work was providing them everything they needed with plenty of money left over.  And she had Cade…

“Hello Beautiful.”

He had showed up right on time.

“Is Chinese okay?”  He held up a plastic bag that looked as though it might burst at all sides.

Jessica gave him a peck on the cheek and stepped aside to let him in.  “Chinese is perfect.”  She decided.  “Plates?”

“No.”  A smirk crossed his face as he pulled out chop-sticks.

“Please tell me this is a joke?”

Cade shook his head and placed them beside the bag.  “Does this face look like I’m joking?  I figured you had never eaten Chinese food with chopsticks so I thought I might give you Chopstick Anatomy 101.”

Jessica bit her lip.  “Okay but if I drop anything on my carpet YOU are cleaning it up.”

They sat in front of her big-screen television, Styrofoam cartons sitting on front of them.

“I wasn’t sure what you would like so I ordered you what I usually get.  Hawaiian chicken.”

Jessica eyed the chicken and little lumps of pineapples that seemed to peer above the noodles.  It smelled delicious but the sight was something she could pass on.  Cade was showing her how to pick something up with the chopsticks.  She would starve before learning how to eat with chopsticks so he let her cheat and get a fork from the kitchen.

Cade was handsome.  When she was around him she caught herself staring on several occasions.  It seemed uncontrollable.  And yet if she could control it she wasn’t sure she wanted to.  The question still remained.  Were they a couple?  Would he object if she went on a date with Elliot.  The thought made her nose twitch.  Diana had suggested she go on a date with Elliot in order for him to keep his mouth shut.  She still hadn’t said yes and would definitely say no if Cade considered them an item.

“Is it that disgusting?”

She hadn’t noticed that he had been watching.  “No.  Sorry just thinking about that detective.”

“I know, can you believe the nerve of him?”  Cade continued to eat, the chopsticks seeming to form to his fingers as though it was first nature for him to eat with two pieces of wood.

“Actually Diana asked me to go out on a date with him.”  Before she knew it she didn’t have time to think if it would be a good idea for him to know.

Cade stopped eating and turned to her.  “Why?”

She still hadn’t told him of the photograph.  She had made up some random story about how she met him in a coffee shop the other day.  She knew well enough it wouldn’t be a good idea to let everyone know, especially if her job meant anything to her.  After her confrontation with Diana she knew this was a wise decision on her part.  Still Cade had a right to know didn’t he?  I mean they had already had sex together.

In reality she wanted to forget about the whole ordeal.  Go back in time and reverse her decision to turn the photograph over.  Jasmine had already made it clear that she wouldn’t have bothered with it.  She would have erased it as though it never existed.  But did that mean the possible murder scenario didn’t exist?

Jessica knew it would have made her life easier.  She wouldn’t be having this conversation with Cade now.  She wouldn’t have had her job threatened by Diana.  And, most importantly, she wouldn’t have to give dating Elliot a second thought.  She wouldn’t even know he existed.

Too late.  Everything was happening.  All because she was trying to bring the man in the photograph justice.

A headache was threatening her evening.  Her eyes burned from lack of sleep and her stomach was churning.  She felt overwhelmingly nauseous and something told her it wasn’t going away for a while.

 

Chapter 11>>>>

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