APtS: Chapter 7 Page 1

The title for chapter 7 is “Running Buddy”. We will meet a very important character in a bonus scene I’ll post tonight. Stay tuned. In the meantime, the continuing irritation of Dragon Lady, and Bill to the rescue!

A Place to Stand is only $0.99 on Kindle and is free for KU Readers. Enjoy!

My alarm goes off. I grumble and bury my head under the covers. Today is going to go just like yesterday. What choice do I have? I need to work. Begrudgingly, I get started with a shower, style my hair into a twist, and get dressed. For a moment, I think I could wear the yellow dress. I stare at it and contemplate doing it. The longer I think about it, the angrier I get. Fuck Ryan. I am not wearing that dress. How long can I stay pissed at a dead man? I make my coffee and bagel and then head out to work.

Work is just a little more miserable, with an obvious exception for my girls who stopped by at irregular intervals to be sure no one is irritating me. Still more people felt comfortable coming by to talk to me. I get lots of “hihowareya” and “you ok?” It’s miserable. I’m making a pot of coffee when I feel the Dragon Lady approach. My back stiffens and I turn around slowly. It’s good to keep motions slow and gradual as not to startle her into attack mode. “Good morning, Bernice,” I manage to say politely. She looks confused for some reason. Then after staring holes through me for a beat, she cocks her head to the side.

“You changed your name,” she accuses.

“I did. I decided to go back to my maiden name. Ryan is gone, after all,” I remind her.

She looks around and leans closer to me. God, please don’t hug me again. “That’s a little inappropriate, don’t you think?” She exaggerates the last part for emphasis, then raises her eyebrows at me.

I can’t help the twisted look on my face, when I respond. “Are you serious? You came over here to lecture me about propriety?”

“All I know is it ain’t right for you to change your name and quit wearing your wedding rings so soon. Your husband hasn’t been gone that long. You’re already moving on? Had a man on the side already didn’t you?”

This conversation is not happening. This isn’t happening. This crazy bitch. Jesus, take the wheel so I don’t hurt her. “Bernice, I appreciate your concern, but it’s none of your business.”

She looks like someone is choking her favorite dog. “Well, I know your mama is gone. I just thought SOMEONE should tell you what’s right. I had no idea you would be so rude.” She even raises her eyebrows on the word ‘rude’. I am imagining that comedy show from long ago where they guy was dressed as a prudish old lady saying, “Isn’t that special.”

I take a calming breath before I respond, “Again, I thank you for your concern. This is none of your business. If you knew my mama and cared to stand in for her during this time, you would know that she would tell me to put on my big girl panties and get on with life. I am. No man on the side. I’m offended you would make such a statement.” Ryan had side-booty, not me. I finish that part in my head. I’m not up to sharing that with anyone else yet. I am certainly not sharing this with the Dragon Lady.

She stews on that for a moment – an uncomfortably long moment. I was just starting to feel awkward enough to apologize when Bill shows up, “Where’s the coffee, Rhae?”

I look from Dragon Lady to Bill, “Making. It’ll be ready before you can whine about your passwords not working.”

Bill notices how close Dragon Lady is to me, “Bernice! Don’t you have something to do on your side of the building? You ain’t drinking Rhae’s coffee up from me. Go on.” He makes a shoo motion with his hands.

She gives us both a murderous look, but smiles and leaves. Why is this so important to her? This conversation is far from over, I can tell.

Freaky, nosey, crazy lady. After she’s out of sight, I look over at Bill, who is pounding his mouse on the desk, “Thank you.”

“Yes, ma’am.” He answers without looking up. “Ma’am? Please.”

“That’s right. Ma’am. I was raised right; don’t matter how old you aren’t. What was she over here for anyway?”

“She’s offended because I changed my last name and I put my rings away.”

“Why is that any of her business?”

I nod and sigh, “That’s what I said. It really pissed her off. She thinks it’s too soon. She thinks that I should be more publicly grieved.” I roll my eyes.

“Well, that’s how you know you are living right. You keep Bernice pissed off.” He laughs, “Do I need to get Ginger out of the drawer?”

“Ginger? Who’s Ginger and why is she in your drawer?” I cock my eyebrow at him.

“She’s my chicken.” He pulls the rubber chicken out of the drawer and lays her on the desk. “I’ll just leave her here in case the Dragon Lady comes back.

I laugh and walk back to my desk. “Thanks Bill,” I call over my shoulder.

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