Eddie: Crystal Lake Firefighter Romance Serial - Chapter Eight

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Happy hump day!!

Okay, you ready to really dive into Eddie and Sarah's romance? It's time, y'all!

Remember: This book has not been edited yet, this is just for us right now. When it's time she will get prettified by my editor.

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Sending Love, Terra


Chapter Eight

~ Eddie ~

One month later…

“I’ll see you later, cutie pie.” I bent down to kiss the top of my daughter’s head.

“You work lots, Daddy.” My daughter was four, but that sentence took me by surprise.

“I’m sorry, sweetie. Daddy has a busy schedule lately.”

“I miss you.”

My daughter’s words were ringing in my ears as I walked into the station. She was right though, I had been working overtime for the last month. Maybe to avoid Sarah, or maybe to keep my wife from popping up in the shower again. I tried to act normal at work, well, I thought I was.

“There’s Mr. Sourpuss,” Jackson said and handed me an envelope.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked and ripped the envelope from his grasp.

He put his hands up in surrender. “Don’t shit on the truth. You know you’ve been grumpy for several weeks now.”

We had a communal desk that was the station dumping ground for all things mail related, paper, and empty wrappers. I walked by the desk and threw the envelope on top of the pile. Any mail that arrived for me at the station was usually junk mail.

“I’d read that now if I were you,” Jackson said and picked it back up to hand it to me again.

“Why am I getting important mail here?” I ripped open the envelope and pulled out the single sheet of paper. I noticed beautiful handwriting and Sarah’s name at the bottom. “What the?” I sat down on the nearest chair to read the contents.

Dear Eddie,

By the time you read this, I will be gone. It means the world to me that you let me stay in your home. I mean, I was a complete stranger, and you felt comfortable enough to let me use your wife’s special room. Thank you. Over the last several weeks I have noticed that I am in the way. So I let Jan know I was leaving, and I gave Kelsey a goodbye kiss, too.

Thank you again for your kindness,

Sincerely, Sarah

I lifted the letter up. “Wait, how did you get this?”

Jackson shrugged his shoulders. “Some lady dropped it off this morning.”

“Not Sarah?”

“Nope.”

Now I was confused. I said goodbye to her this morning. She seemed fine. Then I let my mind replay the morning over a few more times. I could remember Sarah staying in her room longer than normal. Usually she sat with Kelsey and they talked about silly stuff over breakfast. Today, she didn’t do that. How could I be so stupid to not notice?

“I need to go.”

Jackson waved me off. “I figured.”

I pulled back into my driveway in record time. Taking two steps at a time up the porch, I threw open the front door and found Jan with Kelsey in the living room.

“Where’s Sarah,” I asked.

Jan’s smile fell at the mention of her name. “She’s gone.”

“To work?”

“No, she left this morning with her bag.”

I sat down on the edge of the chair. What was happening right now? This had to be a joke. I had gotten used to her being in my house, and I was for sure not ready for her to leave.

“Why?”

Jan sat on the arm of the chair next to me. “She never said. Just that it was time, and that she didn’t want to over stay her welcome.”

“Shit.”

Kelsey gasped. “Daddy, you said a bad word.”

“I did. That was bad of Daddy.”

My wife used to have me put a dollar in a jar every time I swore. The jar was packed full of dollars the first year, then the next year it was only half full. With my wife gone, my old habits reemerged. Thank goodness my daughter had a stellar memory. Soon she would man the swear jar and I would have to pay up.

I glanced at Jan. “Did she leave a number or address of where she would be?”

“No, I’m sorry.”

“I’ll be right back.”

“Where are you going?”

“I need to run to Marv’s.”

Jan almost pushed me out the door. “We’re fine, go.”

The moment I parked at the grocery store, I knew she wasn’t here. I just knew. There was one woman working the register and her line was empty at the moment. “Excuse me,” I said and stepped up beside her.

“Oh, Eddie.” The woman seemed surprised by my presence.

“Do I know you?” I felt bad I didn’t know her name.

“Sarah told us all about you.”

“She did. Well, that’s who I’m looking for. Do you know where she’s at?”

“Oh, she left this morning. Said she needed to find herself…whatever that means.”

Now I felt confused. “Find herself?”

“Yup, then went on and on about how she needed to stop bothering people and just do this on her own.”

“Shit.” There I was swearing again. Now I was at a whopping two bucks I owed the swear jar. “Did she leave a number or address?”

“No, I’m sorry,” she said and then paused. “Wait, our boss has the number I think, so we can give her last check to her soon.”

Suddenly I felt hopeful. “Could you get the number?”

“No.”

I felt a little surprised at her answer. “No?”

“I’m sorry. She gave that number to my boss and asked him to keep it a secret.”

Now what was I supposed to do? I needed that number. “If you change your mind and are willing to share the number, can you call me? Do you have a piece of paper I can write my number on?”

She grabbed a small piece of paper and a pen resting on the register. “Here you go. I’ll give it to my boss.”

I cursed one more time, three dollars now. Then made my way out to my truck. As I opened the door a woman yelled my name from behind me. I turned to find the same woman I was just talking to in the store running toward me.

She was out of breath. “Here.”

I looked down at the small piece of paper. “What’s this?”

“She gave me her number before she left. I couldn’t give it to you in there.”

“I don’t want to get you in trouble.”

“No, she needs you.”

Now I was confused. “What do you mean?”

“Sarah is lost. Her father made her feel like an outsider. I think when you took her in, something changed.”

“Then why would she leave.”

“Because she said you have not been yourself lately. She was worried she was bothering you and decided to get out of your way.”

I wanted to scream, maybe punch myself. “Thank you.” I glanced at her name tag. “Jackie. I’ll find her.”

“And bring her back here?” she asked.

“I’m gonna try.”

~ Sarah ~

For about a month now, I have felt in the way at Eddie’s place. Plus, after my dad made his grand entrance at the grocery store, I decided it was time to go. Over the last week I had researched Mackinac Island which was about three hours from Frankfort.

My decision to leave was difficult. I cared about Kelsey as if she were my own, which also freaked me out. When I talked to Jan about leaving, she tried to sway my decision. I asked her why I should stay. All she would answer, “Trust me, you’ll want to stay.”

I’m not sure what she was trying to say, and it was hard to look past the way Eddie avoided me over the last month. When I told my boss I needed to put in my notice and I would leave in five days, he was not happy.

Jackie had gone to lunch with me that same day I turned in my notice. I knew I could trust her, so I passed my cell phone number to her and asked her to keep it a secret. For the first time in a long time, I felt like I had a friend. I wasn’t ready to lose that.

Now, as I drove down the quiet two-lane road, my mind replayed the last couple months and the time I spent with Kelsey and Eddie. I wanted that life and questioned if it was even possible for me.

The sky had a reddish hue and was fading to dark fast. I had arrived in Mackinac City and wanted to find a motel to stay for the night. Then I needed to look for a place to store my car while I stayed on the island. Just as I was about to step out of my car the phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number but answered it, anyway. Maybe it was the woo factor in me that was telling me it was someone important.

“Hello.”

“Sarah.”

“Eddie. How did you get my number?” I changed my phone number before I left Frankfort.

“Jackie.”

My heart sank, I trusted her.

Eddie didn’t wait for me to respond. “Sarah, please don’t be mad at her. I needed to talk to you.”

“Eddie, you made it clear it was time for me to leave.”

“How did I do that? I never said it.”

“You didn’t have to.”

I heard him exhale. “Sarah, can I come see you? Just let me explain.”

“I don’t know, Eddie.”

“Please. I promise I will leave you alone after but please give me a chance to explain.”

There was a man walking in front of my car, the look he gave me made my skin crawl. I realized at that moment I didn’t want to be here. I didn’t want to be alone anymore.

“Okay.”

“Tell me where you’re at and I’ll come to you.”

I paused for a beat. “Mackinac City.” He didn’t say anything for about fifteen seconds. “If it’s too far I understand.”

“No. I’ll see you soon.”

What just happened? He seemed upset which confused me. For the last thirty days it was like walking on egg shells around him, now he was begging to explain. Explain what? I sent him a text message with the name of the hotel, my room number, and the zip code. Grabbing my purse from the passenger seat, I made my way to my room and locked it.

About four hours later I heard a light knock at my door.  Then I heard Eddie. “Sarah? It’s me.”

I fell asleep about two hours ago. “Hold on.” Pushing back the covers and turning on a light, I stumbled to the door.

The moment I opened it my heart skipped a beat. He was so beautiful. I stopped myself from thinking that way. He didn’t need to worry about my emotions. I knew he was still dealing with his wife’s death.

“Hi,” he said with a half-smile.

Stepping back to let him come in. “Hey.”

“Should I let you get some rest and we can talk in the morning?”

“Yeah, maybe. It’s late.”

“Okay, I already got a room. I’m two doors down.”

“You didn’t have to do that. You can stay here.” The words popped out of my mouth before I had a chance to think about it all. Having Eddie stay in my room. Yeah, that was a bad decision. I noticed him turn his head to the side, my admission must’ve taken him by surprise.

“No, thank you though. It looks like they have continental breakfast, want to connect around nine?”

“Sure.” My thoughts stopped for a moment. What was happening? “I’ll see you in the morning.” I watched him leave and then I locked the door behind him. Resting my back against the wood surface, I thought about Eddie and Kelsey. Did he come here because Kelsey asked him to? Or did he have feelings for me, too?

I got into bed and tried to fall back asleep, instead I tossed and turned all night. Having Eddie two doors down from me made my mind wander in the wrong direction. What I needed to do was focus because I needed a new job and fast. My savings was looking sad, and I worried it would dry up soon. Finally about four-thirty I must have dosed off because the next thing I remember is my alarm blaring next to me.

Grabbing my phone to turn it off, I noticed a text message from Eddie. “Good morning.”

Maybe he did care but then why did he ignore me for the last thirty days? Letting my thumbs fly across the screen. “Good morning. Am I late for breakfast?”

“Yeah, want to go somewhere like a pancake house instead?”

“Sure, give me twenty minutes.”

***

“So, why are you here?” I asked after placing my order.

He bent his head and lightly laughed. “You get right to the point.”

“I’m just confused.”

“By what?”

“You haven’t talked to me for thirty days. If you talked you avoided eye contact and rushed your answer.”

I was tired of hiding my feelings. If I was going to make a change, the woman at Marv’s was right, I needed to fight back.

Eddie moved his fork back and forth between his thumb and index finger. “Sarah.” He stopped for about thirty seconds. “This isn’t easy for me to say.”

“Should I help? You don’t want me around. I’m in the way.”

He reached for my hand. “No, stop, please. That’s not it.”

“Then just say it.”

“A month ago,” he said and cleared his throat. “I realized I had feelings for you and that scared the shit out of me. You are the first woman since my wife I have thought about romantically.”

Well, that took me by surprise. He had feelings for me.

“So you stopped talking to me.”

“It was a bad decision, I know,” he admitted. “Can I share something with you and please don’t freak out?”

When someone tells me not to freak out, I usually start freaking out. “I’ll try.”

He took a drink of his coffee and cleared his throat again. “When I realized I felt something for you…that day, I could’ve sworn I saw my wife.”

Did he say he saw his dead wife? I didn’t know how to process that.

“You saw her? Like a picture or video?”

“No, I mean she was standing in the shower with me. I know it sounds crazy.”

A few years ago, I had a similar experience. I promised myself I would never tell anyone because it sounded too crazy. Now, here we were at a diner in Mackinac City having breakfast together and I was about to share my secret.

“It’s not.” He didn’t say anything, so I continued. “A few years ago I met a woman who inspired me to move out. My dad was getting worse and I couldn’t take it anymore. I was working as a certified nurse’s assistant at the time. The woman had cancer and tried with all her might to fight the horrible disease. She passed away about six months after I met her but fought until the bitter end.” I needed to stop for a moment. It was difficult to talk about Cheri without feeling emotional. “While she would have lunch we talked about where I was with my dad and if it was time to let go. When she died, I struggled with the loss because I wanted more time to talk to her. Which probably sounds selfish.”

“No, you don’t sound selfish at all.”

The waitress arrived at our table. “Triple stack blueberry pancakes.”

I raised my hand and shrugged my shoulders. “I’m starving.” I cut a piece off and moaned at how good they tasted. “Long story short, I adored her and miss her dearly. About a year after she passed I was training for a half marathon. There was one particular day where I needed to complete a six mile run and I was dragging. My body felt spent. Then Cheri appeared in front of me with her hands on my shoulders pulling me forward. She had the most beautiful smile, I can still see it today. I was afraid to share my experience because seriously, that sounds crazy, right?”

Eddie had his mouth full. He swallowed quickly. “Not to me.”

“I’ve never shared that before because I didn’t know how it would be received.”

“Did you complete the half marathon?”

“I did. Well, I ran half of it and walked the other half.”

“That’s amazing. Was Cheri with you then, too?”

“She was. I felt like she was telling me to keep fighting. You know how you just need that confirmation. I felt she gave me that.”

I noticed Eddie’s smile fall. He stayed silent for several minutes. Finally, he lifted his head and looked directly at me. “Maybe my wife was letting me know it was okay to move on. I mean, she made me promise to find love. I never agreed because I wasn’t ready.”

“Are you now?”

“While I was driving up here, my mind went to my wife and then it would drift to you.”

“What does that mean?”

“I guess I must be ready to move on. I know that I wasn’t ready for you to leave.”

The waitress came over to refill our coffee. “Would you like anything else?”

“Could I have an order of bacon?” She smiled and told me it would take a few minutes.

“Bacon,” Eddie teased?

“This conversation is making me want to eat more. I stress eat.”

He burst out laughing. “Well, we need to get over to the island so you can stress eat on homemade taffy and fudge.”

“You want to go to the island with me?” I sounded surprised, but I knew he probably needed to get back to Kelsey and work.

“I took a few days off. Jan has Kelsey. You can’t come to Mackinac without going to the island and enjoying all the amazing food.”

“We should get a hotel on the island?” Again my mouthed flapped before I thought it through. “I mean…”

“I would love that. Can I ask you another question?”

“Um, sure.”

“Is this what you’ve been doing all this time, running from your past?”

“Eddie,” I whispered. “I…yeah, I guess so.”

“Sarah, maybe we both need to stop running. We deserve something more.”

“Like what?” I was ready to stop running, and that thought scared the shit out of me.

“Well for starters, Mackinac Island and loads of good food.”

His answer caught me off guard. My coffee was almost to my lips as I burst out laughing. “I like the idea of loads of food.”

“Me, too.”

We both sat in silence for several minutes. My mind replayed the last twenty-four hours. I left Frankfort because I thought Eddie wanted me to leave. Now that same man was sitting across the table from me and we were planning our time on the island. If I could have someone pinch me I would.


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