The cool ocean breeze swept across the rocks, making me grateful I wore a windbreaker. Abe fiddled with his fancy camera, trying to capture the perfect photo of the iconic Peggy’s Cove lighthouse.
I was mesmerized every time he brought out his camera. Photography was in passion. I could see it in his face when he was taking pictures. Similar to how I felt when I was baking. I didn’t understand why he was taking a marketing job in New York City. He didn’t need a job. His trust fund afforded him the luxury to pursue his passion.
“Did you get some good shots?” I asked.
“Yeah,” he replied as he put the camera back in its case. “It’s beautiful here. It’s hard to believe we started out at the Pacific Ocean, and here we are, staring at the Atlantic. Canada is a gorgeous, scenic country. I’m so thankful I had the opportunity to see it the way we did.”
“Me too,” I agreed as we joined hands and enjoyed the breathtaking view. I will never forget that moment as long as I live. It was the last day of our trip. The next morning, we would drive to Fredericton, New Brunswick and return the RV. And embark on the next chapter of our lives. Our life. Together. As a couple.
“Whatcha thinking about?” Abe asked, squeezing my hand.
“You look like you’re about to cry. So, it’s not nothing.”
“I’m just feeling a little emotional,” I confessed. “I’m sad the trip is ending, but I’m excited and nervous about what comes next.”
He nodded. “I get that. Change is scary. Even when it’s a good change.”
“Wanna get some ice cream?” I suggested. “I saw a place on the way here.”
“Sure thing, sweetheart.”
After we purchased our cones, we settled at one of the red plastic tables on the patio. “Can I ask you something?” I asked.
“Of course. You can ask me anything.”
“Why are you taking the job in New York? I get the feeling you have no desire to work in marketing.”
He took a bite of his cone, chewing thoughtfully. “I’m not sure. I guess I feel like I went to university and spent a lot of my parents money on a graduate degree in business and marketing, so I should work in that field.”
“Even if it doesn’t make you happy? Why don’t you work as a photographer?”
He finished his cone and wiped his face with a napkin. “You ask a lot of hard questions.”
“This is our last stop on the trip. We have to go back to the real world tomorrow, Abe. You asked me to come to New York with you. But we’ve never talked about it again. Did you change your mind?”
“No,” he replied with a heavy sigh. “I want you with me. I would’ve never asked you to come if I wasn’t one hundred percent certain about our relationship. It’s the job that’s the problem. It’s not fair of me to drag you to New York if I’m not sure I even want to be there myself.”
Tears burned behind my eyelids as I processed the meaning of his words. It sounded like he was having second thoughts about more than the job. Even if he wouldn’t admit it.
“We should get back so I can start dinner,” I said, tossing the remainder of my cone in the trash can.
“Cheyenne,” he said softly. “I don’t think we’re finished with this conversation.”
“I am,” I said sharply before turning and walking toward the Jeep.
My stomach churned with a mixture of anger and sadness. I climbed in the passenger seat and slammed the door shut. I should’ve seen this coming. Everything was great in our protective bubble, away from the real world. But Abe was still terrified of commitment. The trip was almost over, and reality was crashing in like a tsunami wave, hell-bent on destroying everything in its wake.
“I think you misunderstood what I was trying to say,” he said as he started the ignition.
We drove the short distance to the park in silence. As soon as he put the Jeep in park, I jumped out and headed inside to start gathering ingredients for dinner. Cooking always brought me comfort when something was bothering me.
“Cheyenne,” Abe started. “Can we please talk?”
“There’s nothing to talk about,” I said with my back to him.
“Can you please look at me?”
I turned swiftly, my arms crossed under my breasts. “Talk away,” I snapped.
“I didn’t say I changed my mind about you coming to New York.”
My cell phone rang before he could say anything else. “Excuse me,” I said, wiping my hands on my jeans before grabbing my phone off the counter. “Hello?”
“Hello. I’m looking for Cheyenne Carson.” The woman on the other end of the line spoke in a high-pitched voice.
“This is Cheyenne.”
“Hi, Cheyenne. My name is Angela Cooper. I’m calling about the pastry chef internship you applied for at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.”
“Yes?” My heart was pounding so hard, I expected it to burst from my chest at any moment. World renowned pastry chef, Phil Waring, came to my classroom to observe students and interview for a paid internship at his bakery in Las Vegas. I was one of ten students chosen for an interview. But I heard that he visited several culinary schools, interviewing hundreds of people, and I didn’t think I stood a chance.
“Congratulations! Chef Waring selected you for the internship. If you choose to accept, you’ll need to be in Las Vegas next week.”
“Oh my God,” I whispered. “Yes. I’ll be there.”
“Great. I’ll email you all the details.”
“Thank you so much.”
“You’re welcome. See you next week, Cheyenne.”
I hung up the phone and placed it on the counter. My head was spinning. I had a paid internship. With Phil Waring. One of the greatest pastry chefs in America. At his bakery in Las Vegas.
“What was that about?” Abe asked.
“I got a paid internship in Las Vegas, with a famous chef.”
“Wow! Congratulations, honey. That’s awesome.” He pulled me into his arms, squeezing me so tight I struggled to get air into my lungs.
“What about New York?” I asked, pulling back.
“I won’t take the job. I’ll come with you.” He smiled down at me, caressing my jaw with his thumb.
“How can you do that? Didn’t you already accept the job?”
He let go of me and leaned back against the counter, his eyes narrowed as he crossed his arms. “Don’t you want me to come with you?”
“Of course, I do. But I don’t want you to give up your dream so I can have mine.”
“First of all, marketing is not my dream. I believe we covered that earlier. Secondly, I’m pretty sure there are tons of marketing jobs in Vegas.”
“My internship is only for a year. I probably won’t stay in Vegas after that. What if you get a great marketing job, and you’re just starting to climb the ranks, and I’m ready to move on?”
“If you don’t want me to come with you, just say so, Cheyenne.”
“I didn’t say that! Didn’t we just have this same argument about New York?”
He ran his hands through his hair, drawing in a deep breath before blowing it out slowly. “I’m gonna take a walk and clear my head.”
“Okay,” I whispered, fighting back tears as I watched him grab his camera and head out the door without another word.
Why did life always have to be so complicated? Abe was the man I was supposed to be with. There was no doubt in my mind. If we wanted to be together, one of us had to turn down a job offer. But I couldn’t give up my dream. The internship was a once in a lifetime opportunity. And if Abe gave up his position in New York, he might end up resenting me for it down the road.
I pulled two steaks from the fridge, laying them out on a platter before applying my secret rub to the meat. After washing my hands, I headed outside to light the grill.
Would Abe come back for dinner? How long would he be gone? Maybe I shouldn’t put the steak on yet. Tears stung my eyes as I cleaned the grill.
A cool blast of wind blew through the campsite, sending the awning into a flapping frenzy as the sun disappeared behind the clouds. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up, a shiver travelling down my spine when I hung the brush up on it’s hook.
I sensed someone was behind me. Before I could turn around, a strong arm encircled my neck and shoved a rag against my face. I tried to scream, but no sound came out. Then everything went black.