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Authors: Karina Halle

Tags: #David_James

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BOOK: Red Fox
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And will you be getting
paid for those two days you miss?” he asked.


Of course not, but
–”


Perry, your mother and I
don’t like this one bit.”

I laughed. I couldn’t help
it. “You don’t even know what she thinks.”

I looked at my mom. I was
the rock and my dad was the hard place.

She took a deep breath. “If
Perry’s work is OK with it, I think she should be allowed to go.
Just this once though. Then we’ll see what happens.”

I shot a smug look at my
father who answered with, “You understand that this doesn’t look
good for you. A new promotion and you just flit it all away by
taking time off? That doesn’t look good at all.”


Do you think I would do
this if it jeopardized my job?” I asked with such conviction that
it almost seemed true. Ada kicked me under the table. I felt very
dirty.


Besides,”
I continued, “I am getting paid for the work this weekend. It’s
hourly but it’s still something. And flights and accommodation are
covered. So technically I’m actually working
more
by doing
this.”

My dad stared me straight
in the eye, trying to assess if I was telling the truth or not.
Satisfied, he looked away and shrugged. I knew that if I brought
the money factor into it he would eventually yield.


So I suppose you are going
with this Dexter guy?” my mom said.


Dex…not Dexter. It’s short
for Declan. Somehow,” I said tersely. “And yeah. He’s the
cameraman. And the producer. Otherwise it would just be me
wandering around the desert and talking to myself.”


I still don’t like it,” dad
said, getting out of his chair and bringing the dishes to the
sink.


You don’t like anything,”
Ada interjected.

He dismissed her with his
hand and left the room, a defeated hang to his head.

My mother watched him go
and gave us a tired smile. “Don’t mind him. Do you girls mind
cleaning up?”

I shook my head. “Not at
all. Do you mind that I’m going away?”

She looked down, the light
catching on the slight wrinkles on her forehead. I hated those
moments when you realized your parents were getting
older.


I’d rather you didn’t. Not
for the reasons your old dad worries about, but…you’re my daughter.
I don’t like the idea of you going off all over the country. With
some strange man.”


He’s not a strange man
anymore. I mean…he’s strange,” I said, then noticed her face
growing even more worried. “He’s not a stranger, is what I am
trying to say. He took great care of me last time. You talked to
Uncle Al, you know.”


Last time? You were almost
blown up in Al’s lighthouse last time.”


But I made it out alive…,”
I reasoned.


I worry about you,” she
said, putting her hand on my hand. My mother rarely showed any
affection with me so the quiet gesture was touching.


I’ll be fine. Dex is
a…smart…man.” I smiled convincingly. It was really hard to come up
with a positive adjective to use to describe Dex. I knew “sexy”
wouldn’t cut it with my mom.


I worry about you, Perry.
Not this guy. Not this show. I worry about you and that head of
yours.”

I took my hand out from
under my mom’s and gave her a caustic look.


My head is fine,” I said
slowly. I didn’t know why my parents had to fret over me so much.
What happened to me in the past, was in the past. Sometimes I
thought it was all in their head instead of mine.

She clasped her hands
together and nodded. “You’re right. I know. I’m just being a
worried mom.”

She turned her attention to
Ada who was sitting silently beside me, observing
everything.


You’ll at least be here
this weekend?”

Ada nodded. My mother got
up, awkwardly patted her on the head and left the kitchen for
upstairs.


What the hell?” I said,
turning to Ada.

She shrugged. “I know. Why
do I have to stay home this whole weekend?”


No, Ada. What the hell did
mom mean about my head?”

An innocent look came over
Ada’s big kohl-rimmed eyes. “I don’t know, do I look like mom or
something? She’s probably worried you’re going to lose your
passport or wallet or plane tickets or phone or whatever else you
seem to lose on a daily basis.”


No.” I slowly shook my
head. “It was something else. She can’t let go of the
past.”


Maybe it has something to
do with how easily you’re able to lie to them. What was all that
crap about your boss letting you have time off and how she
‘believed’ in your show or whatever? That’s totally gonna bite you
in the ass later. And I’m not having any part of it.”


Oh, like you’re all
perfect. You don’t even have a job and yet I see these $400 dollar
shoes on you every weekend. And don’t tell me it’s all from blog
advertising because I know you don’t make that much
yet.”


You don’t know anything,”
Ada said quickly and started gathering the rest of the dishes from
the table.


I know you have a massive
credit card bill,” I admitted rather viciously. I took in a deep
breath. My sister’s shopping addiction and debt was honestly none
of my business but for some reason I felt like being
vindictive.

She put the dishes down on
the counter with a loud clatter but didn’t turn around.


And I
know you’re a month behind in your minimum payments. And if you
don’t get a handle on that soon, it’s going to come around and
bite
you
in the
ass.”

She whipped around, all
bleached hair and hell-bent teenage fury. “You snooping through my
stuff now?”


I was looking for my Rush
concert tee in your drawer when I came across your little secret
mail stash. I wasn’t snooping. I saw the statement like
that.”

That was the truth. What
was also the truth was I found a box of condoms in there as well.
Let me tell you, there is nothing more frightening than seeing
proof that your 15-year old sister might be having sex. But that
was a topic of conversation for some other time.


So what, you going to tell
mom and dad now?” she said stiffly though I could see palpable fear
in her eyes.

I got up and brought my
dishes over. I leaned against the counter and folded my arms. It
was hard to look authoritative when you were only 5’2” and your
younger sister was a good four inches taller than you.


No. I’m not going to tell
them. It’s none of my business. I just wish you’d come to me if you
were in some sort of financial trouble.”

Ada laughed and started
rinsing the dishes. “Oh yeah, like you could help me with my
finances. You don’t even have a job.”


Well,
actually, the part about me getting paid to do the show was true,
so technically I
do
have a job. It’s just not a lucrative one. But the point is
you should come and talk to me, whether you think I can help you or
not.”

I know Ada and I hadn’t
been very close and even though I certainly felt more like a sister
to her over the last month or so, we still had a long ways to go.
But I knew the first step was to start treating each other as
allies instead of enemies. To me, that meant being able to trust
each other. Even if it was just us trying to fool our parents in
one way or another, it would be nice to have a partner in
crime.


Okay,” she said slowly.
“I’ll try and remember that next time.”

We left it at that and
spent the rest of the time doing the dishes and cleaning up while
making the occasional joke or gossiping about celebrities. It was a
nice, comfortable evening to have before I was tossed into the wild
unknowns of New Mexico, poltergeists, and Dex.

 

CHAPTER THREE

 

My flight to Albuquerque
took off at 7PM, which meant I could have easily asked one of my
parents to drive me to the airport. I opted to be stubborn though,
and biked my way there. My carry-on bag was small enough that I was
able to strap it to Putt-Putt with ease and I really didn’t feel
like being trapped in a car with my parents. I knew they were
brimming with lectures ever since I told them about the trip and I
didn’t want to have to lie anymore about anything job-related. I
hated to admit it but Ada was right. My lies would come back to
bite me in the ass one day.

It was a little sad though,
as well as nerve-wracking, that I was boarding the plane by myself
with no one to see me off. I watched people saying goodbye to their
loved ones before they went through security and saw couples waving
to each other through the window. It pinched at me, just a little
bit, that I didn’t have that in my life.

It also reminded me of the
last time I was on a plane. Dex had been waving goodbye to me, only
to get in his car and go home to his girlfriend.

Ah, yes. Jennifer
Rodriguez. The girlfriend. I never met the woman and had no idea
what she was like (except from a few rather cryptic comments from
Dex), but I didn’t like her. I don’t even know why she boiled my
blood so much, there was just something about her. This wasn’t
anything new with me – I tended to hate on a lot of people for no
apparent reason. But it bothered me more than most.

I thought it was because
she was Dex’s girlfriend and it alerted some internal competition
mode. But lately my feelings toward Dex were more annoyed than
lustful and I didn’t feel jealous when I thought of them together
(thank God, because the last thing I wanted was to be drooling over
Dex again). No, I think Jennifer got under my skin because she
represented everything that I wasn’t. She was a successful host.
She was tall, thin, gorgeous, and exuded this glowing sexuality
that I couldn’t possibly fake in a million years. I had the feeling
she was one of those types that never had to work a day in her life
and people were always bending over just to wipe her ass. She
probably shit gold, too.

So she embodied everything
I hated and everything I wasn’t – yet in the back of my mind, she
was something I strived to be. How sick was that?

Thankfully these thoughts
didn’t occupy my mind the entire three-hour flight, as obsessive as
I was about things. I had given myself plenty of time to get
nervous and worked up too.

There was just so much
pressure for us to get everything right this time. No one gets
things right the first time, so any shortcomings we had with the
pilot episode (and there were many) were totally justifiable. But
if we messed up this time, we had no excuses. Not only did I need
to know what I was talking about, I also had to
look like
I knew what I was talking
about. The books would help with that first part, but the real
problem came with self-confidence. That would be very hard for me
to fake.

Near 10PM the flight made
its descent. I stared out the window at the black view and wished
we were landing in the daylight so I could at least get a glimpse
of what Albuquerque looked like. There was something unsettling
about landing in an unknown place in the dark.

After I grabbed my carry-on
bag out of the overhead compartment, and made my way into the
surprisingly small but delightfully southwestern airport, I became
inexplicably weak in the knees.

I ducked into a bathroom
and lightly dabbed a wet paper towel on my cheeks, trying to regain
my breath that had become increasingly labored and erratic. I
nervously put on blush, eyeliner and lipstick, and smeared powder
all over my face, then quickly ran a brush through my hair. Looking
less like I was on a plane for the last couple of hours, my heart
started to calm down and I regained feeling in my legs. It was
funny how these wee panic attacks of mine crept up at the strangest
times. I don’t know why I got so nervous about seeing Dex again. I
took a deep breath and emerged from the bathroom.

I walked to the baggage
claim and arrivals area, self-conscious, thinking he was somewhere,
waiting for me. I scanned the crowd for that face of his. I wanted
to say it was a familiar face but for a few split seconds I had
forgotten what he looked like.

Despite the fact that the
crowd was quickly dwindling, I couldn’t spot anyone that jogged my
memory. I positioned myself by the half-empty baggage carousel,
trying to look like I was waiting for my bags. After ten minutes
had rolled by and all the bags had been taken off, I felt my chest
fill with ice and started to wonder what the hell would happen if
he didn’t show up. How stupid was I to fly down to freaking New
Mexico by myself with no back-up plans?

As I tormented myself with
“what-if” scenarios and guilt-tripping for not being more
responsible, I felt a solid tap on my shoulder.

I spun around, ducking
slightly, my arms poised and ready. Karate instincts.

It was Dex, of
course.

BOOK: Red Fox
10.93Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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