Prescription for a Jonah Day
Olivia tried to catch her breath as she gripped the steering wheel. Her head lay propped on its edge. She was sitting in the parking lot of the consignment shop just around the corner from Ambrose elementary school. Abby had tried to convince her to go to Starbucks to process what had happened. Olivia just wanted to go home so she texted Abby a decline and promised to call her tonight.
Driving down the street, on impulse, she turned into the parking lot the consignment shop. Every day for 7 years, she had passed it. She wanted to drop in, but she had never made time. Today was the day she went in. Twenty minutes later, she was strolling through the aisles, admiring the antique furniture, home wares, and novelty goods. There was an entire booth of Betty Boop memorabilia. She made a mental note to tell Abby who collected anything Betty Boop. When Olivia turned the corner onto the third aisle, she found an entire booth full of children's picture and chapter books. She forgot about her altercation with Mellie as she browsed. Soon she carried a stack of books in one arm.
"You look like a kid in a candy store."
Olivia's heart jumped in surprise at the voice behind her since patrons were scarce and the only sound was the 80s soft rock playing overhead. When the familiar voice registered and familiar hands slide around her waist, she smiled.
"Fitz, It's good to hear your voice. I could really use a hug."
She placed the stack of books down and turned into his embrace. How did you know I was here?"
"I was heading back to school when I saw your car in the parking lot. Are you trying to buy the store?" He pulled back to look at her.
"This booth has to belong to a retired teacher. Who else would have all these great books? Classics and new titles, all different genres…and they are so cheap too. I've been wanting to do a class study of A Wrinkle in Time but I don't have enough copies. Now I can."
Fitz chuckled and pulled her into the back of the booth where there was a small seating area. He sat on the big recliner and pulled her onto his lap.
"We too close to the school. What if someone sees us?" Olivia protested, but she didn't move from his lap.
"I doubt if anyone from Ambrose will come to this shop on their way hom. Honestly, I don't care who sees us. What happened today that has you here after school? Is this retail?" His hands rested on her waist as he braced himself for the details.
"The day started off fine, but didn't end well. I was called out of class to serve as her tour guide for the..."
"A tour guide for Mellie?"
"Yes. She wanted to see the entire school and somehow I was the one she wanted to give her the tour. The things she said about our students were so offensive, Fitz. Then everyone kept calling her, 'Mrs. Grant.' "
"Did she say anything threatening or…?"
"No. I was the one who behaved badly. I was angry that she pulled me out of my classroom. I hated that she was pretending so I threw the first punch in a sense."
Fitz raised his eyebrow. "Oh?"
"I called her Ms. Rosemont. I remember you telling me that she requested her maiden name in the divorce. That made her mad. Then I let her know that I knew what she was doing-sending me a message-and how I didn't appreciate her pulling me away from my kids."
"What did she say?"
"She basically said you were using me for sex and would get tired soon. Then she started to brag about how much your family loved her."
"Livy, That's a bunch of crap. You know that, right?"
"Yeah and this is where I sort of lost it. I told her how much fun I had with your family yesterday and that it was like Karen and Gerry didn't have a mother. I then told her that you would never get tired of me…um…sexually…that is…I said you would never get tired of what I have between my legs…my words exactly…I just lost it…She is on the school board and I cannot believe I said that to her."
"I wish I could have heard that. But don't beat yourself up about it. You were telling the truth on all accounts. Mellie is starting to worry me. I have about 10 missed calls and 5 voice mail messages…all from her. I haven't listened to any of them because I wanted to talk to you first. I'll take care of this today." Fitz gave her a peck on the cheek and motioned to get up.
"What are you going to do?"
"I am going to have a talk with her. Are you still coming over for dinner tonight? Granny is expecting you. Don't let this with Mellie affect you. May I give you a kiss now?" He asked taking her hand.
She nodded yes. He placed his lips to hers, giving her a gentle kiss.
"Let's go buy you these books." He grabbed the two stacks of books.
"Okay, I am coming. Let me take a quick look at this poetry section." Olivia said squatting to reach a lower shelf.
Fitz smiled and walked to the front of the store.
Olivia felt the vibration of her phone in her purse. "Hello."
"Hello, Ms. Pope. Are you ready to sign that contract? You've kept me waiting long enough…three months to be exact. I really want you…to sign with Templeton Press. Of all the publishers I approached, they made the best offer and they have the best editors. They really want your book on oral assessment."
Olivia stood with the additional books and started walking slowly to the front. "Mr. Ballard, hello. I am sorry I haven't been in touch. I have been so busy…teaching. I think I am ready to accept that offer. "
"I am so happy to hear that. I'll FedEx the contract to you for review. Please call me, Jake since we are partners now. I'll be in town next weekend. Let me take you to dinner to celebrate."
"Mr. Ballard…Jake…call me when you get in town and we will see," Olivia said as she approached Fitz at the checkout counter and placed the additional four books beside the other stacks that were being rung up. She wasn't sure about having dinner with Jake. She'd met him at a writing conference during a networking session for authors and literary agents. He came off as overbearing and touchy feely then. He had drilled her for information and she felt compelled to share what she was working on. She didn't know he started shopping her book to publishers. When he began to get offers, she ignored her initial reservations and focused on the potential deal.
"These too?" the cashier asked. "You must be a teacher?"
"Who was that on the phone?" Fitz asked.
"Well…I guess now he is my literary agent, Jake. He worked out a deal with Templeton Press to publish my book on alternative assessment."
"Really? You hadn't told me that. Congratulations, Livy!" Fitz gave her a side hug.
"That'll be $133.14," the lady said.
Fitz laid down his credit card first. "Let me get this."
"I want to. I insist...as a gift for you book."
The lady swiped his card while they haggled over who would pay. She handed him the receipt to sign and gave Olivia a frequent shopper card punched with the quantity of her purchase. "Once you get the entire card punched, you will get 25% off your purchase. Come see us again. That booth owner just retired from teaching."
"Thank you." Fitz lifted the four bags from the counter and they headed out of the door.
Fitz followed Olivia to her house so that she could drop off her car and ride with him to his house for dinner. Even with the cloud of Mellie hanging over him he was happy. He had never felt like this before. Their relationship had progressed very quickly, and he hoped he wasn't overwhelming her. For weeks now, he had taken it for granted that she would spend her weeknights and weekends with him. Thursday was Valentine's Day and he was planning a big surprise. He was hoping that they would take their relationship to the next level.
Fitz's cell phone broke into his thoughts. It was Mellie. He answered, knowing he had to arrange to see her.
"Mellie, where should we do this?" Fitz asked, exasperated.
"You've called me multiple times and left many messages. I assume you want to talk to me."
"Yes, Fitz. I'm at home. Our home. We do need to talk. I am glad you will talk to me. That woman you are dating is not who you think she is. You'll never believe some of the nasty, base things she said to me today."
"I'll see you in about an hour," Fitz said before he disconnected.
"Aren't you getting out?" Olivia looked at Fitz as he pulled into the driveway but not the garage. The car was still idling.
"Nope. I am going to talk to Mellie now."
"What time will you be back?"
"I don't know for sure, but I will call you when I'm on my way back. Granny is making dinner tonight. Don't worry. You won't have to contend with the entire Grant clan tonight." Olivia looked at him with a worried expression. "Stop looking so worried. I know how to handle Mellie. After our conversation tonight, she won't be a problem."
Fitz leaned in for a kiss that lingered until Rolfo, who was in the back seat, barked.
They laughed, lips still touching, when Rolfo jumped into the front seat. Karen and Gerry appeared on either side of the car. Karen opened Olivia's door, greeted them, and called for Rolfo to jump out of the car.
Jerry knocked on Fitz's window, and he rolled it down. "Dad, where are you going?"
"I have an errand to run. I'll be back," Fitz said.
"We are running low on ice cream," Gerry said before he ran around the house to catch up with Karen and Rolfo.
Fitz mouthed, "I love you" to Olivia before he pulled out onto the road.
Olivia mouthed back to him and waved as he drove down the street.