Monday, July 22, 2013

Running Against Traffic by Gaelen VanDenbergh

Chapter 3

Paige poured herself a second drink over ice and flicked through her phone, looking for her uncle’s number. A lawyer, she needed a lawyer to make David pay.

After just one ring a smooth, high voice answered. “Good morning, Mr. Scott’s office.”

Paige felt as if her throat was filled with cotton. “Er, yes. Is he in, please?”

“He is. May I ask who is calling?”

“It’s Paige.”

Her uncle’s assistant clicked off, and a moment later she was back. “Paige, your last name, please?”

“Davenport. Well, Scott. I’m his niece.”

“Please hold.”

The minutes dragged by and finally Jeffrey came on the line. “Paige?”

“Jeff!” Her hands were shaking in full force and her face flushed hot. “Uncle Jeff. Long time.”

“Indeed. What’s up?”

Paige took another slug from her drink and began burbling into the phone. “Jeff, I need an attorney. I’m stuck in the middle of nowhere where David dumped me, and he left me with only a couple thousand dollars and a god-awful house that needs so much work, and I don’t know how long he’s going to make the mortgage payments, or if it even has a mortgage, but I have bills and all that, and well, he abandoned me. Can I sue him?”

She heard low chuckling. “Well,” Jeffrey said, “you can file for divorce, and alimony, but these things take time and money.”

“I need what he left me to live on. That’s why I’m calling you…I was hoping you could, you know, help me.”

There was silence. Paige poked at an ice cube in her glass, watching it dunk and rise, dunk and rise. Finally, her uncle spoke. “I don’t think that’s possible.”

“But…Why not?”

“Frankly, kiddo, I haven’t gotten so much as a Christmas card from you in fourteen years since you took your inheritance money and flitted off to college. Now, I sent you a wedding gift. I think my obligations end there.”

“But, Jeff, I was your ward.”

“Yes. ‘Was’. You're all grown up now. Act like it."

Paige felt a pain in her forehead and she rubbed it savagely, her uncle and aunt surfing through her brain on waves of vodka. They sat at one end of the dining room table. Jeff had the Wall Street Journal open in front of him, his thick eyebrows just visible over the top edge. Penny watched Paige sidelong over her coffee, pinched face and frothy attitude beneath her bleached bangs, always watching, most likely wondering how she had been stuck with the responsibility for this teenager, the daughter of her husband’s brother, the spawn of someone she resented for this reason or that. Paige sipped tea at the opposite end of the table, pretending to read a book, plotting her escape.

“Now, I will give you two pieces of advice, pro bono,” Jeff went on. “One, get yourself local counsel. It’ll cost you less in the long run. Though, it’s still going to cost you a pretty penny. Isn’t David an attorney? Yeah, he’ll drag this out.”

Paige lurched for her glass and took another slurp. “What’s th’other advice?”

More chuckling. “Get a job.”

A scalding cup of black coffee did not sober Paige up, but was just the thing to make her feel sober enough to place a few more calls.

After three unanswered calls to David, she sat on the edge of her chair, drumming her fingers on the table, the gears in her brain struggling to shift.

Ah-ha! She would enlist the aid of friends. Her momentum sagged. Rather, she would enlist the aid of the people with whom she had once spent time, who could now help her convince David to return her calls so that she could tell him where to stick it. Why not start at the top, with the Queen of the Square, Simone.

When Paige and David had first moved to Rittenhouse Square, they had crossed paths with a certain social set led by the bejeweled, rail thin, platinum blond Simone. A year or two older, with oodles of money left to her by her deceased husband, Simone spent her days at the gym, or sipping champagne and pushing expensive lunches around her plate, and pretending to be involved in various charities while she was actually out shopping. Simone had taken an instant shine to David and drew the couple into her circle with icy fingers. Paige dreaded speaking with her ever, usually quite grateful that at parties and events, she would swoop in and draw David away with her, leaving Paige free to find a terrace or space at the bar, or a painting to look at, while pretending to listen to the other women gossiping around her.

Simone’s voice was cold, still water. “Paige. I heard you moved. Why didn’t you let us know you were going?”

“That’s not how it happened and I think everyone knows that,” Paige said, feeling like she had just fallen into that water. “Have you seen David? He won’t...He’s not answering his phone.”

There was a pause. Paige imagined Simone in her immaculate kitchen, fixtures still gleaming from the cleaning service, checking her manicure, fingering her pearls.

“Yes,” she finally answered. “I have seen him…Around the Square, you know.”

Paige sighed, impatiently. “If you see him any time soon, tell him to call me. He can’t just abandon me with nothing…”

A silky laugh echoed from the shore. “I’ll tell him this afternoon.”

“You’re seeing him this afternoon?” Paige tread water, feeling her fingers and toes grow numb.

“Oh, I’m sure I’ll run into him, Paige. Do you have a decent lawyer, you poor thing? Too bad for you David is…so good.”

Paige felt queasy and cold. “Are you purring?”

But Simone had already disconnected. This was the second time Paige had called after someone who was already gone. She couldn’t catch up. She couldn’t catch her breath.

Buy Now @ Amazon & Amazon UK

For a limited only, $2.99

Genre – Contemporary Fiction

Rating – PG13

More details about the author

Connect with Gaelen VanDenbergh on Facebook & Twitter



Post a Comment