Chapter 21: Bad day
"She don’t love you, she’s just lonely"
Trying to ignore the Eric Paslay song playing on the radio, Jacob tried Cassie’s number for the third time in the past three hours, and for the third time, it went to voicemail. Like the first two times, he left a message for her to call or text him.
She had declined his offer to drive her home the night before, insisting there was no need. Not convinced of that, he'd considered at least following her home. Instead, he'd sat in the darkness of the cab of his truck until he received the text from her saying she was home. Only then had he allowed himself to put more distance between them by heading home in the opposite direction.
He'd replied with "Goodnight, Cassie", resisting the urge to add "I love you", having said those words twice already during the evening. Now, with Cassie not returning his calls, he wondered if he should have said it all. But he did love her, and he wanted her to know that.
Her words had spun around in his head during the fifteen-minute drive home and continued long after he crawled into bed.
I don’t know how I feel...I want to move on, with you...I thought I was ready...It just threw me for a loop...he was my life...they broke my heart...the two people I most trusted...
He'd sensed early on that Cassie had experienced some tragedy in her life. He'd seen the sadness deep in her eyes.
He hated Phillip though the two had never met. How could the man hurt Cassie like that? How could he just walk away from her? Jacob would never hurt her. If she returned his love, he would spend his life making her happy.
"She don’t love you, she’s just lonely"
Eric Paslay was right. Cassie didn't love him. How could she? He was nothing but a lowly building contractor she'd hired to renovate her abandoned mansion. She was just lonely, that's all.
I want to move on, with you...
Jacob took comfort in her words from the night before.
He was my life...broke my heart...
She needed time to heal. He would give her as much time as she needed. But he needed to talk to her now, to hear her voice. He needed to know she was okay—that they were okay. Why was she not answering her phone? Why was she not returning his call?
"Forgive her if she’s distant, she can’t tell her heart to lie"
Damn, Cassie! Just a simple text, something to let me know you’re okay.
"You’ll never have her heart; She don’t love you, she’s just lonely"
“Hey, boss. When are we supposed to get that shipment from Garrison Plumbing? I thought it was supposed to be here last week?”
Mark’s voice coming from the upstairs balcony brought Jacob back to reality.
“How the hell do I know?" he yelled in reply. Why the hell are you asking me? Isn’t part of your job to know those things? What do I pay you for anyway?"
Stuffing his phone into the pocket of his jeans, he turned around and shouted, "Will someone turn off that damn radio!”
Mark immediately came trotting down the stairs.
“Whoa, boss! What the hell? You pay me to let you know what supplies we need, which I do. I don’t do the damn ordering, nor do I control the shipments.”
Jacob met Mark at the bottom of the stairs. Instead of making eye contact, he stared at the floor as he bit his lower lip, his hands on his hips.
“What’s going on, pal?” Mark asked.
“Nothing’s going on,” Jacob replied. "Just having a bad day, that’s all.”
“You haven’t had a bad day since we started this job. Something going on with you and the lady boss?”
“No. Nothing’s going on with Cassie and me.”
“Oh,” Mark said, raising his eyebrows. “I see.”
“No, you don’t see at all. It’s not that. Cassie received some disturbing news yesterday. And now I can’t reach her. She’s not answering her phone and not returning my calls. I’m just worried about her, that’s all.”
“I see. Want me to give Margo a buzz? Have her check on her?”
“No. I’m sure I’ll hear from her soon.”
“Okay. Just let me know if you change your mind. In the meantime, I’ll see what I can find out about that shipment.”
“No, you’re right. That’s my responsibility. I’ll check on it and get back to you. Does seem like it was scheduled to arrive last Friday. I’ll see what’s causing the delay.”
“Thanks, boss.” Halfway back up the stairs, Mark paused and turned to face Jacob.
“About Cassie. I’m sure she’s fine. You know women. Sometimes they need their space.”
“Yeah, I know.”
Had Jacob crowded Cassie the night before? Was he doing that now with all the phone calls and left messages?
Pulling his phone out of, he scrolled through the contact list for the needed number, heaving a sigh of relieve when someone answered on the second ring.
"Yes, Jacob Miller here with Miller Construction. I’m calling to check on a shipment that should have arrived last Friday. Yes, I’ll hold.”
Once he received the needed information, he headed up the stairs to relay the it to Mark.
“The shipment got delayed, but they promise it will be here first thing in the morning.”
“Good,” Mark replied, nodding his head repetitively. “We need it. Like yesterday.”
“Sorry. My slip. I should have been staying on top of it. Sorry for what I said earlier—”
“Forget it. We’re good. Want me to hang around for a while after work? We haven’t relaxed over beers in a while.”
“No, we haven’t. But I won’t keep you from Margo.”
“Nah, but thanks. Need any help up here?”
“I never pass up two extra hands. Billy could use help in the bedroom over there. Mike’s helping him, and I swear that boy is as clumsy as they come.”
Jacob chuckled. “I know, but weren’t we all at that age?”
“Hell, that was too many years ago to remember, but most likely we were,” Mark said with a sigh.
Jacob welcomed the work; he needed something to busy himself, to take his mind off Cassie. He thought about going home, getting caught up on paperwork, or checking on one of the smaller projects they had going in the area, but he didn’t want the loneliness of his place, and, more importantly, he didn’t want to take the chance of missing Cassie.
Two hours later, Mark stuck his head in the bedroom door where Jacob, Billy, and Mike were finishing up.
“Hey, boss. She just drove up.”
“Finish this up and call it a day,” Jacob said to Billy and Mike, and then darted down the stairs and out the front door to meet her.
As soon as she stepped out of the car, he asked, “Where have you been? I’ve been trying to reach you all day! Why haven't you returned my calls?”
Cassie closed the car door, then looked at him with confusion.
“I’ve been tied up all day. And then my phone died.”
“Surely that fancy car has a built-in charger!”
“It does,” she slowly replied. “Jacob, is there something wrong? Something I needed to know about?”
“I was worried about you, that’s all.”
“I’m sorry. I was tied up with clients all day.”
“Yes. Clients. Ted Larson called me this morning. He’s the gentleman who inherited my recently-deceased aunt’s real estate company, the one where I worked part-time and still have a broker’s license. Ted was in a bind. He was short-handed, and had clients in town for only the day, with a long list of properties they wanted to see. Ted asked if I would spend the day with them showing them around Baton Rouge. I didn’t have an opportunity to return your calls until late this afternoon. By then my phone was dead. Since I was on my way out here, I saw no reason to bother charging it. I’m sorry Jacob, I didn’t mean to worry you.”
Jacob let out a huge sigh, then reached for her, touching his hands to the back of her neck and pulling her close. He didn’t care who saw, aware of several of the crew walking past them, done for the day and heading to their vehicles. He loved Cassie. He didn’t care who knew, or how unprofessional it appeared. Nothing mattered to him at that moment but her.
“I was worried,” he said, kissing the top of her head.
She pushed back a little to look up at him.
“Why were you worried, Jacob? Did you think I might do something drastic, something even worse than my stupid stunt last night? I assure you, if I were going to harm myself over Phillip, I would have done it long before now if that was your concern. I’m sorry to worry you. I didn’t think about it. I’m sorry.” She reached up and touched his face. “I’m fine, Jacob. I promise.”
He leaned in and kissed her before pulling her close again.
“Guess you don’t need me to hang around for that beer,” Mark said as he walked past them.
“No. I’m good,” Jacob said, glancing up at him as he continued to hold Cassie close. “All good.”
Mark nodded his head. “Yep, I can see that you are.” Then he went on his way, a pleased smile on his face.