Authors: Kelley Maestas
By Kelley Maestas
This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations and events in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead is entirely coincidental.
Copyright 2013 by
All rights reserved.
My husband Jim, whose undying love and support made it possible for me to write this book.
To my three children, who make me want to be a better person each and every day.
To my mother and sisters who have taught me that you can be a strong woman and still have a soft heart.
To my students who taught me that no matter what the challenges are in life, you can always overcome them.
To my friends who are never afraid to call me on my B.S., but always stand behind me.
Remember, if you can dream it, you can do it. Embrace life, embrace change, and follow your bliss!
Table of Contents
The beat of the music takes me to another place; the lyrics transport me back to my freshman year in college where a blue-eyed and blonde-haired man changed my life forever. The soft lilt of his Irish accent made my insides twist and my heartbeat race. I was doomed from the beginning. He knew what he was doing. He picked me, stalked me and seduced me. In hindsight, I should have seen the warning flags. They were flying everywhere, but I was mesmerized and I ignored the warnings. Everything about him called to me. He was my first love, my first everything. I gave him my body and soul and he took it all, giving nothing in return but heartache and shame. I should have known that a man like him could not possibly be interested in me. He was older, more sophisticated, and so incredibly handsome. He was an upperclassman, a senior. My inner voice screamed out the warnings, but I ignored her. In the end, the truth revealed itself. He used me to get what he wanted and what he needed. Young, naïve, innocent and trusting; I lost myself in him and he exposed me for the world to see. He gutted me emotionally and raped my soul. My trust was misplaced, my life turned upside down. Somewhere along the way, I lost a part of myself. I know the real me still exists, she is hiding somewhere deep within my steel encased heart. Never will I allow myself to be so vulnerable and trusting again.
My phone rings snapping me into the present. Racing to pick it up from the table I can see that my boss is calling. “Hello, this is Karlie.”
“Hey Karlie, this is Anna, I know it’s early, but can you please come in at eight rather than nine today.”
Contemplating the question, I look around my apartment at all the projects I had planned for this morning. Dusting and vacuuming will have to wait. It’s six-thirty in the morning. Being an early riser gives me time to wake up, have breakfast, clean my home and prepare for my day. I like the feeling of being organized. A clean house is one of the things I can control. Looking around I can see that my well-planned morning is quickly getting out of hand and I hate that. Sighing inwardly, I give the only acceptable answer to the person who writes my paycheck.
“Absolutely, I would be happy to come in early! Is there anything I need to prepare for?”
“Thanks Karlie, no, nothing you need to prepare for. Something has come up
, but I feel the information would be better delivered in person. I’ll give you the details when you arrive.”
“Okay, see you in about an hour
.” I hang up the phone and my stomach drops to the floor, a feeling of doom spreads over me. Thinking back to the conversation, I try to read into everything Anna said to get a feel for what’s going on.
Did Anna sound off in any way? Did she sound upset or angry? Thinking on this for a minute I come to the conclusion that in the thirty or so words she spoke to me, I can’t come to a conclusion at all. I am at a loss. What could be so important that I would need to come in early? Is Anna Sloan Design downsizing? Is my job in jeopardy? Good grief, what will I do if I lose my job? I have a lease on this apartment. I have some money saved up
, but not nearly enough to live income-free for any length of time. I may be okay for six months, maybe a year, but that would be pushing it. That sinking feeling is coming on fast. My heart is racing, I can’t breath, and I feel like someone is standing on my chest. My inner voice is calmly speaking to me,
Come on Karlie, breathe in, breathe out, that’s a girl, slow it down, don’t jump to conclusions.
As my anxiety begins to ebb, I feel somewhat better. The feeling of being out of control does not sit well with me. My need to have absolute power over myself is something I am going to have to really analyze in the future. It’s really just an illusion, who has control over everything?
The panic attacks began when I lost control of my life at the age of eighteen. A freak car accident took both of my parents and left me an orphan. I had no family and nowhere to go. I was on my own. I cleared up my parents’ estate and began my new life. I chose to stay in Colorado because it was always home. Being here keeps me close to my parents. Knowing I would have to be self sufficient in the years to come, I set about creating a future. I had already enrolled at my school of choice: the Denver Institute of Art and Design. Interior design was always my passion; it was something that my mom and I enjoyed together. My mom loved to visit all of the model homes in our hometown of Colorado Springs. We would visit the decorated models and then come home to compare our findings. Every few years we would find our favorite interior and try to duplicate it. Last year we redecorated my dad’s home office. Who would have thought that it would be our last project together? I miss my mom. After the funeral, I had to take care of my parent’s estate. No eighteen year-old should have to bury her parents and wade through the aftermath. I was not prepared to grow up that fast. I was a sheltered child, an only daughter and the center of my parent’s universe. My dad Karl whom I was named after, was a computer programmer and worked on Ft Carson. He worked hard and made a decent living. In the end, my parents left me enough money to attend school and start a new life in Denver. I was on my own and had no idea what I was doing. I needed someone to guide me, and that is why I fell so easily for Evan.
My mind travels back to Anna’s call. My boss Anna Sloan opened Anna Sloan Design five years ago in downtown Denver. At the same time my life was being torn apart, the company that would save me was just beginning. I joined the design firm two years ago. During my senior year I completed a successful internship at Anna Sloan Design and was asked to join the team. I could not believe my good fortune. As a new designer, I was given small assignments to start out my design career. Although my heart was set on working in the commercial division of the business, as a new associate I had to pay my dues. Initially I was placed as a designer in the home interior branch of the company. I spent my first year redecorating the homes of people who had way too much money and no decorating sense. I’ve seen enough toile and tassels to last a lifetime. My time was spent fixing the décor issues of wealthy wives who thought they could be interior designers. My ability to fix what they failed to create earned me a stellar reputation and a steady flow of clients. The holidays were the worst. I was swamped with clients who needed my expertise to decorate their homes for the massive holiday parties thrown to impress their friends and colleagues. I made my design mark on the world that first year. I have billed more hours and established more repeat clients than any other first year associate. My clients were satisfied and my boss was impressed. In early June I was transferred to the commercial division of Anna Sloan Design. I had paid my dues in mistletoe and garland, paint swatches and fabric samples. I was on my way to where I wanted to be. It’s been about four months since I transferred to the commercial division. As the newest member of the design team I am not feeling as secure. They say, “Last in is first out.” Could that be it? Am I being fired? I thought the company was doing well. We just finished a major project in our hometown of Denver; a major coup for a small design firm; a fifteen floor, 200-room luxury hotel named Altitude. The client was impressed with our design and delivery. The fact that we finished the project early and under budget was an added bonus. Interior Design magazine did a full feature article on Anna Sloan Design and the work we did on the Altitude Hotel. I thought the success with Altitude put us on the map. I was feeling very safe and solid in regards to my career. I just hate this feeling of having no control. It’s the not knowing that is driving me insane.
Looking at the clock, I realize that I have been distracted for almost twenty minutes; I now have slightly more than an hour to get ready and make it to work. I have wasted too many minutes worrying about something I have no control over. How easy I revert to a place of helplessness. My inner voice reminds me that I am no longer that girl. I am not a victim
but a survivor. Looking in the mirror, I assess the situation and decide that a ponytail, minimal makeup and a simple shift dress will have to do. Dressed and ready, I head out the door to meet my uncertain future.
The thirty-minute drive to Anna Sloan Design is nerve racking. My mind keeps spinning with every possibility. I play out every potential situation that I can fathom
, but I just can’t come up with any scenario in which my job could be in jeopardy. I live, work and breathe Anna Sloan Design. Feeling slightly more at ease, I pull into an empty parking spot in the covered garage of the design firm. Turning off the ignition to my little Honda Civic, I sit back and breathe deeply. I have about ten minutes before I am due in Anna’s office. I check my appearance in the rearview mirror and smooth back the stray brown hairs that have escaped my hair tie. I pull my pink lipstick out of my purse and touch up my lips. I love this color. “Pillow Talk” wow what a name. If my pillow could talk, it would be mute. I pinch my cheeks to give them some color. One more look in the mirror tells me I am ready to face whatever is coming my way. I fight the oncoming panic that is rising in my chest. Once again, my inner voice, “the smart girl,” says,
Now is not the time to worry; you can’t control something you can’t name.
She may be right, but my experience is that I couldn’t control something I could name; and once again Evan takes up real estate in my brain. Grabbing my computer bag and purse I step out of my car and into my future.
Entering the lobby of 1465 Broadway, I am moved by the grand foyer. I never tire of seeing it. It has never once become mundane to me. A historical property buil
t in the early 1900’s, the building is only four stories high, but the architectural detail is incredible. Modeled after the Neo-Classical design of a famous U.S. Courthouse the building is grand in appearance. It’s a stately dramatic structure. The main entry lobby spans the width of the building. It has a terrazzo floor and vaulted ceiling. Hand painted murals embellish the walls. The artist renderings show the beauty of Colorado wildlife in its splendor. My favorite scene is the east wall showing buffalo roaming free on the plains. The sun setting behind the tall wild grass gives it a dreamy feel. The wall facing west shows a beautiful mural of the Rocky Mountains in their full glory with eagles in flight. The north wall shows a realistic forest with a river running through it. My guess is it’s the Big Thompson River, but I don’t really know. If you look close enough you can see trout in the stream. The south wall reflects a time long ago, with Indian dwellings and the wagon trains of the early settlers. Wild antelope litter the plains. In the center of the room sits a spectacular vintage elevator; it is my favorite part of the foyer. The interior is a polished burled wood and the cage is aged bronze. I am giddy each time that I enter this big, beautiful box. I could take the grand staircases that flank the elevator, but then I would lose out on the experience.
I enter the elevator and stand to the side while the operator closes the gate and presses the third floor button. The elevator lurches up.
“Hi Karlie, how are you today?” Looking up at the silver haired operator I smile