Somewhere I Belong

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Chapter 36: Trenton, North Carolina - December 6, 2017

Cory and I spent the rest of the weekend rolling around various parts of Sarah’s apartment. I made a mental note to buy her some new sheets in exchange for having to tell her about our adventures in basically every room in her home. It was amazing though. I had never spent a period of time like that with someone I loved so much before. It felt like I had fallen out of a good dream that was never going to end. Sadly, it had to though when we packed our things up into the jeep and headed back from Trenton. Cory held my hand as he drove, both of us singing along to country songs on the radio and Christmas tunes that came on as we travelled through each different state.

We were on the outskirts of North Carolina when Sarah’s name popped up on my phone screen. I answered it, bringing it to my ear. “Hey. What’s up?”

“Where are you?” She asked, her voice sounding a bit frantic.

“About an hour away from Trenton. What’s wrong?”

“Annie from the office just called me. We have a problem. One of the deeds to the McGregor mansion fell through. The buyers want to pull out now. I’m flying back to see if I can talk them out of it.”

“It fell through? How? I checked it out at least ten times before I had them sign off on the contract. Did you talk to the lawyer?” I asked. The McGregor family home was a large estate on 50 arches of land. When Mr. McGregor died, he left the place to his oldest son. He didn’t want to live there. He was hoping to make a big buck off of it, choosing to sell it. I knew everything had been done by the rule book in this case because I was the one who did it.

“Yeah. He’s a sketchy fuck by the way. He said something about a long-lost relative is fighting for ownership now. I’m not really sure. The case file is on your desk, right?”

“It should be. I left it there. It’s the only I was working on the morning I left. Do you want me to come with you so you don’t have to do this alone?”

“No. I should be fine. Marie and Meadow are actually coming up for a few days with me. We should be back in time for the Christmas party though.” Every year growing up, my parents would throw a Christmas party. Even after Momma died, Dad followed with the tradition. He always tried to get me to come back to town for it after I left but I always refused.

“Well, look at you! I leave for two days and you’re already shacking up with one of my friends. How scandalous.” She laughed.

“Says the one who probably fornicated on every surface of my apartment. At least tell me you changed my sheets before you left.” I snorted.

“Yes, I did.”

“You better have. I have to go. My ride for the airport is here. I’ll call you when we land.”

“Okay. Good luck!” She hung up the phone and I slid it back into my hoodie pocket.

“Everything alright?” Cory asked.

“Just some real estate issues. Sarah is going back to deal with it. If I had known about it, I would have done it while we were up there.”

“I think she can handle it. Sarah is one tough cookie to tangle with.”

“That she is.”

Cory drove back into Trenton where we were met by Daddy and Grams on the front porch. Both waved as we pulled up, climbing down the porch steps as we hopped out of the jeep. It felt nice to stretch, my legs cramping from the drive. Dad gave me a hug and wink before turning to shake Cory’s hand. “How was your trip?” He asked as Cory began pulling my things out of the jeep.

“Great! I feel like a completely person now. How were things while we were gone?” I replied. Dad shrugged.

“Same old. You got a letter from that publishing place. It’s in on the dining room table.” I darted passed him as he spoke, running inside. I had been waiting for the finalized contract from Kerri. She had loved the rest of the work I had sent her and her publisher did as well. Like Dad had said, a large envelop was on the table and I quickly ripped it open.

Dear Abby Winters,

Congratulations on being signed by Penguin Publishers! We are pleased to be not only sponsoring you but also to be honored to publish your work. We hope this is the beginning of a wonderful career for you and we are looking forward to the work you have to offer us in the future.

Per our contract, we have some guidelines that we ask our authors to follow. They are the following:

No posting of works to online parties while under contract.

No outside editors are to preview your work.

10% of initial profits belong to the literary agent.

All authors are expected to reside in the town where they are being published for the length of one year. This is to ensure all meetings and required appearances are met. In your case, your publishing city would be New York City.

Again, congratulations on your success and we look forward to starting this wonderful journey together.

Sincerely yours,

Regina Banks

CEO of Penguin Publishing

My heart sank as I read the rules. I had to live in New York while my book was being published? Kerri hadn’t told me that. All she had told me was that I needed to be sure to make my appearances for the book and the first initial meeting. I pulled my phone out of my pocket and dialed her number.

“Abby! How are you?” She said, answering my call.

“I’m fine. Just confused. I received the contract in the mail. You didn’t tell me that I would need to move to New York for a year.”

“Yeah. Unfortunately, we’ve been bit in the ass in the past by authors who agree to be published but then never make it to their required obligations. This way, we know that you are in a good distance from our offices and we can provide transportation for you.”

“Why can’t you provide it to me from North Carolina? I could be sure to fly in for each meeting. Maybe even stay for a month or two when there’s a lot of them at a time.”

“Our CEO doesn’t want to run the risk of someone missing a flight or not being able to make a meeting due to weather. I’m sorry, Abby. If you want to be published by us, you need to live in New York for the year. Once it’s over, you’re free to go where ever you’d like.” I glanced outside where Cory was talking to my Dad and Grams still.

“Kerri, I don’t know if that’s going to work for me. I just moved back home to deal with my husband dying. My whole life is down here.”

“Our new contracts won’t go into effect until after the beginning of the year. I can give you until January 2nd. Abby, don’t pass this up. It’s a once in a life time opportunity. I’d hate to see you pass on this for something this small.”

“It’s more complicated than that. I will let you know by then what I decided. Thank you.” I hung up my phone and slammed it on the table. Folding up the top letter of the contract, I tucked it back in the envelop from sight. Cory and Daddy’s voices grew louder as they walked into the house.

“Hey. What’s in the big envelop?” Cory asked, setting my suitcase on the floor.

“My contract for getting my book published. I have to read over it and sign it if I agree with the terms.” I replied.

“That’s amazing! Good for you, Abz.” Cory said, leaning in and giving me a kiss on the cheek. Over his shoulder, I saw Dad’s face break out into a wide smile at our affection.

“Well, did something change in the city or did I just step off a time machine?” He asked, eyeing the both of us.

“Daddy…” I warned, glaring at him.

“I was just stating a fact. So, are you two officially together now?” I glanced at Cory who smiled, his ears turning pink at the tips.

“I think so.” I replied, grabbing Cory’s hand.

“Finally! It only took ya 14 years! Where’s your grandmother? She’ll be so happy. Ma! MA!” Dad called, practically running out the door to find Grams. Cory laughed, wrapping his arms around me.

“I suppose we should get used to that.” He said, giving me a sweet peck on the lips.

“Right? Everyone is going to lose their shit. Dad is probably running up and the down the street, screaming it to anyone who will listen. I’m sure he’ll make a formal announcement at our Christmas party this weekend.”

“I could see that. So, what did the contract state? How much are they buying your book for?” I pulled away from him, covering my face with my hair to avoid looking at him as I walked back into the dining room.

“I didn’t read through it yet. I don’t know if I’m going to go with them though. I might wait to see if any of my other manuscripts were selected. Marie and I are still waiting to hear back about the children’s book we submitted.”

“Abby, why would you pass on this? It’s such a great opportunity! You don’t know if those other places are going to say yes. These guys already did. I’d go with them.” No, you wouldn’t if you knew what it meant, I thought. Shrugging, I turned back to him.

“I’ll just have to think about it. There’s a lot of stuff that I need to figure out right now. I should call Sarah and see if she landed safely.”

“I have to get going to. You want to come over later?”

“To your place?” I asked. He nodded.

“Yeah. I figured we could watch a movie, drink some wine and spend some quality time together.” He teased, pulling me in close.

“Quality time as in New York quality time? Because I am all for that.” Smirking, he pressed his lips against mine.

“Thought you might be.” He gave me another kiss before heading out the door.

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