Saving Peyton James

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I was nearly done with the desk work when his office door opened. Cole sauntered over to my desk and grinned wide for a second before speaking. “Reynolds said you’d know where the maps we need would be.” I was taken back at his professionalism and stuttered for a moment before heading for the file cabinet that held those maps. My hands fumbled with the keys and I had to take a calming breath. “These were the ones he had requested last week, I assume these are the ones he needed? For second and third street?” I decided if I kept it strictly business maybe things would go smoothly. “I still think we should finish our date by the way. Since you had to run last time.” he winked at me as he spun on his heel, maps in hand and disappeared into the office again. I just blinked for a few minutes, my feet frozen. My hands numb. Julia, the secretary for the city council came down the hall. She said hello but I stood frozen. Cole, my stalker was back and he was looking for blood. A secretary for The Commissioner, Peyton falls for The Fire Chief. But will he be quick enough to save her from the flames? Will they find the evidence to convict the suspect of arson?

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Chapter 1

I walked up to the event building with my resume in hand, nervous it would be laughed at. What’s a girl with no memory from the last four years even doing with a resume? I’m proficient in forgetting simple tasks and also my whole college career. I was, apparently, a major in criminal science and now I’m praying my pretty face lets me serve at an event venue in town. Nathan, my friend from college was the only one to find me in the hospital after the fire. The whole house was gone. Including my parents. All the pictures, awards, clothing, furniture was gone. Nothing left to trigger my memories. So now I’m starting over from scratch.

“Hi, my name is Payton James. I’m here to meet with Estell.” The woman who sat opposite me at the desk was older and sweet as she took my ID. She handed me a key card that would lead me to her office.

“These things take forever to come back down, don’t they?” the older man making polite conversation with me looked at me as I blushed. I just shrugged as I couldn’t recall how long they should take.

“I’m headed for an interview so I don't mind. I'm kinda nervous.” his eyebrows rose and he nodded understanding.

“Well good luck my dear. After you.” he held his hand out to keep the doors from closing for me.

Her office door was dark warm wood and solid as I knocked. It was slightly ajar but I didn’t want to intrude.

“Come in Ms. James.” I shrunk into my blazer as I heard my name. It reminded me of a teacher who always scolded kids for things they need not scold for. I pulled out my best brave face and entered. “Thank you for being so punctual, it’s very important to me.” her smile was actually quite sweet and a few wrinkles kissed her cheeks. “Sit, please.” she nodded towards a leather padded arm chair.

She wasted no time getting to my resume. The pit of my stomach turned to stone.

“I spoke with Mr. Daniels at the hiring firm. He explained you lost a good deal of your memory. I’ve never met nor hired anyone with this condition before. How do you think this will affect your ability to complete your job, if at all?” I knew it was coming but I wasn’t ready to hear it out loud.

“To be honest, I don’t know if it will or not. I’ve been out of the hospital and I’m living with my friend now. So far all has gone well. I can cook, clean, take care of myself. I just am missing a chunk of my past. I remember waiting before at restaurants and I know from Nathan that I also did while I was in school. I just need a refresher but I can pick it all up quickly!” She likes hearing my confidence and nodded as she closed her black folder she had been taking notes in.

“Well, I will have you work with my niece down in the event hall this weekend. We have a wedding and a gala coming up. I want to see how you do during the wedding reception and I’ll know then if you’ll work the gala. It’s going to be a large event and I don’t want to shock you the first day back at it, how does that sound?” I beamed and nodded as I stood to shake her hand. She reciprocated my smile and dismissed me to meet her niece downstairs in the hall.

“How did your interview go?” I rounded the corner and there stood the same older man from earlier. “It went well, I got the job.” he slid his newspaper under one arm and patted my shoulder with the other.

“I knew you would my dear. Congratulations!” I couldn’t miss the warmth that filled me.

“Thank you.” I held my hand out and introduced myself. “I’m Peyton James.” His calloused hand wrapped around mine delicately and he gave it a gentle squeeze.

“Gorgon Reynolds, nice to meet you Miss James.” my jaw dropped. I knew the name, this was Commissioner Reynolds. He noticed my recognition of him. “I’m here setting up the gala for next week. My wife Estell hired you, didn’t she?” I nodded, suddenly speechless. “You’ll do just fine Miss James. I’ll see you around.” he took a step back and turned on his heel. I had no idea I had been hired for such a nice event hall. I haven’t worked more formal events before and the nerves set in as I made my way to the lowest level of the building.

“Vera?” a young lady stood with her back to me, large binder in hand. She was staring at the front center table, of the few dozen that surrounded us.

“Hi! You must be Peyton?” I nodded and we shook hands. She pointed to the table that had her attention earlier. “Do you think that table is too large for the married couple?” my nervous laughter gave me a moment to come up with a good answer.

The rest of the evening was filled with us setting up with the wedding planner and vendors who were catering the event. It was the most fun I had had in a longtime actually. Nathan would be so excited to hear about tricks I learned for decorating.

My day came to an end rather late so I called a taxi instead of riding the bus line like I had on my way in this morning. As the street lights zoomed past, I checked my bank account. I wanted to get a haircut tomorrow to freshen up before the wedding this weekend. But it was a no go. I’d just have to pin it up in a tight bun like usual then. I was saving for a car of my own. The bus was creepy and the cabs in town were expensive.

I thanked my driver and offered a tip before dashing up the sidewalk. The fall night air cut through my skirt like a knife.

“Nate? You home?” my shoes thunked against the wall like bricks. No answer so I cranked up the radio in the kitchen and poured a glass of wine for myself.

I grabbed a book and turned out all the lights except the one next to the oversized armchair. Nate said he loved that I read in it. He never did but believed it deserved to be enjoyed by a book nerd like me. I had decided to not finish school in an effort to remember my missing pieces, as I called them.

The door flew open sometime around three a.m. Nate came in looking exhausted. Laptop bag slung over his shoulder, glasses sat low on his nose and dark circles hung under his eyes.

“Hey, hun whats wrong?” a few tears spilled as he laid his things on the couch across from me.

“Anthony and I broke up.” my heart sunk for him and I handed him my glass of wine and poured a second for myself. He sat on the floor in front of the couch and slumped over his knees. I sat above him on the couch and ran my fingers through his hair as he filled me in.

“Apparently he couldn’t handle me wanting to be a cop or anything like it. He didn’t want me so near danger and constant death.” I nodded understanding. I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to either.

“Enough about him, how did the interview go?” I bit my lip and held back my excitement as it didn’t seem appropriate.

“I got the job. It’s a lot fancier than I expected. I also met Commissioner Reynolds today. His wife is my boss.” Nate’s jaw froze from its usual constant flow of retorts.

“I’m so happy for you. Really, I am. You know I love you!” I nodded and kissed his forehead. “I think I’m just gonna chill out here for a bit. Don’t let me keep you up.” I shook my head and refilled our glasses.

“Nope, not getting rid of me so easily.” he laughed through his nose and clinked his glass against my own.

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