Incandescence (Part I)

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The Nightmare Begins

The remainder of the week went by quickly. I spent most of my time meeting with various staff from the Accounts Department, organizing training, providing counselling and support, liaising with Recruitment Agencies; all whilst doing my every day duties and trying to assist the other Departments with their needs.
I was working long hours and run off my feet, but I was in my element so the extra workload didn’t bother me.

It was late Friday and I was driving home when I heard my phone buzz. After pulling into my garage I reached into my handbag and grabbed my phone

1 New Message from Unknown
‘Watch Out’

I wasn’t sure if the message was from someone trying to warn me about something or if it was intended as a threat. Truth be known I’d been in HR for several years, and in my previous role I was known as The Terminator, so being threatened and intimidated wasn’t new to me. If this message was from Jackson, I was surprised he waited four-days to send it.

I made my way into my house, made dinner and called Amelia. It had been almost a week since we last spoke and I wanted to thank her for all her help with Monday’s event and I wanted to find out if there was any development between her and Jacob.

‘Hey Babe, what’s happening?’ Amelia answered.

‘I just wanted to catch up, see how you were going and thank you again for all your help this week’.

‘You know it’s no trouble. And besides, after doing the finishing touches Sunday night I didn’t have to do anything. Bradley and his brother were so helpful in tidying everything up Monday evening’ Amelia said

‘I thought you tidied up? I can’t believe Bradley and Leonard did all that work and I never thanked them. Thanks for letting me know. So enough about me and my work; what about you? Any development between you and Jacob?’ I knew I was prying, but Amelia’s my best friend and she would have done the exact same thing.

‘He’s so hot and cold. One minute I think he’s ready and the next minute I don’t hear from him. I don’t know what to do’ it was clear by her tone that Amelia was confused.

‘Why don’t I invite you both over tomorrow night for dinner and drinks? I can invite Bradley and Leonard over as well, that way it won’t look like I’m setting you guys up and it will also be my way of thanking them for their help cleaning up. What do you think?’ I asked.

‘You really are the best. OK, I’ll let you go so you can message everyone. Bye.’ I could almost see Amelia grinning from ear to ear. Fingers crossed my plan would work.

I sent out a group chat to Jacob, Leonard, Bradley and Amelia:
Hi all, just wondering if you’re free tomorrow night for dinner and drinks. Nothing formal, just a chance for us all to hang out. Let me know if you can make it!

And just like that everyone was in. I would never have thought that I’d be so quick to invite my bosses over for dinner in the hope that my best friend could connect with my ex-boyfriend, but I’m sure stranger things have happened.

The following morning I was up early tidying up my house. I made sure the beds in the spare rooms were made and that clean towels were available for everyone. When everything was ready I made my way to the shops to grab some groceries; I needed to think of dinner, dessert, cheese, wine, snacks, breakfast and some fruit. After making all my purchases I made my way home and started to prep dinner and dessert.

Amelia arrived at 3.00pm, I knew I could count on her. She helped me finish prepping and set the dining table so that we didn’t have to do anything when our guests arrived. Feeling happy with what we had accomplished, we went upstairs to shower and get changed.

We made our way downstairs around 5.30pm and poured ourselves a glass of wine before everyone arrived. Jacob arrived first and looked the best he’d looked for a while; I found myself hoping that this change was the result of Amelia.

Next to arrive was Leonard who came with a box of donuts – I laughed when he gave me the box and invited him inside.

Bradley was the last to arrive, he gave me a beautiful bouquet of flowers and when he smiled it was as though I’d seen him for the first time – how had I never noticed how jaw droppingly handsome he was? Pushing my indecent thoughts to the side I thanked him for my flowers and invited him inside.

Seeing as though everyone was familiar with one another, it was nice to be able to chat and not worry about introductions. Amelia poured everyone a glass of wine and we all sat in the living room around the platter we had prepared earlier.

‘Before I forget, I believe I owe you both a Thank You’ I said looking at Bradley and Leonard ‘Amelia told me you both went back to Frankies on Monday and cleaned up’.

Leonard just laughed at me ‘Seriously Tori, who did you think cleaned up and left the boxes in your office? The magical clean up fairy?’ and with that everyone laughed at me.

‘To be fair’ even I was laughing at my stupidity by this point ‘I actually thought Amelia did it seeing as though she is my best friend and it is her family’s business’

‘Ahh, so that’s why you were at Frankie’s’ Bradley said while pointing at Amelia ‘I honestly thought you were stalking me which was why I declined your offer to help’. I’d never seen Bradley joking around, but this comment brought me into fits of laughter.

‘Bradley’ Leonard scolded his older brother ‘you do realise Amelia’s family were the ones that gave us use of their venue for free. Thank you by the way’.

The banter continued to and fro as I made my way into the kitchen to check the roast I had in the oven.

Using my oven mits I was carefully removing the roast tray from the oven when I heard a tap on my kitchen window. I looked up to see a figure standing outside my window. I couldn’t see who the person was, but they held up their mobile telephone for me to see, before swiftly exiting. As the figure disappeared from sight my phone buzzed. I glanced over to my phone that was sitting on the kitchen counter and saw the words
1 New Message from 'Unknown'
flash on my phone.

My mind suddenly went blank and I dropped the hot ceramic tray I was holding. It connected with my leg before shattering against the kitchen floor.

Everyone came running into the kitchen to find me frozen in my place staring at the kitchen window. Dinner was scattered all over the floor, my ceramic oven tray was in pieces and a burn was forming on my leg. ‘How much have you had to drink girl’ Leonard asked laughing.

I couldn’t move, I was petrified and in complete shock. ‘Babe what’s wrong?’ Amelia was the first to ask when she noticed I had started crying ‘Talk to me, what happened?’

Just then my phone buzzed again and I just turned and pointed to my phone. Everyone looked at me as though I was insane. Ignoring the pain in my leg, I walked over and picked up my phone and saw
2 New Messages from ‘Unknown’
Message 1: ‘I warned you but you didn’t listen’
Message 2: ‘I know where you live and I’m coming for you’

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