Most Eligible Baby Daddy(7)

By: Chance Carter


The bed was enormously comfortable. There might have been a blizzard outside, but there were eight warm blankets piled on the bed, and with the heat of the fire, the attic was warm in no time. Elle slept like a baby, and when she woke in the morning, she went straight to the window to survey the town in sunlight.

It was breathtaking. The view over the mountain pass she’d driven up was astounding. She hadn’t been able to appreciate the beauty of it all the night before, but now she could see for miles and miles over the tops of the pines. The grey rock of the mountains towered up over the valley like fortress walls. The air was bright and clear, so cold that sparkles of ice floated in it and reflected the sun.

“Thank you, God,” she whispered.

She wasn’t a particularly religious person, but she knew there was someone up there, and at times like this, she felt He was looking out for her.

She threw a few logs of wood on the embers from the night before and blew on them. In a few minutes, the flames were licking the kettle, heating up the ice cold water from the bathroom tap. There was a brown paper bag of freshly ground coffee and she took a long, deep breath of its smell before heaping it into the coffee pot. There was something about the rustic simplicity of the attic that she found immensely pleasing. There was no phone, no internet, no television. She thought for a minute and then realized she didn’t even know if there was electricity. There must be, she thought. There had been light the night before. She looked around the room and saw a light switch on the wall. It was old fashioned, but there was electricity.

What she wasn’t so sure of, was whether or not there was hot water. Try as she might, she couldn’t get the water in the shower to run hot. She ended up washing as best she could in the frigid mountain water and then drying herself next to the fire while sipping the hot coffee in an attempt to warm herself up.

She wrapped herself in her blanket as she drank the coffee. Through the window, the sun shone, giving some extra warmth. The clouds over the mountain tops in the distance looked so beautiful she could hardly believe she was really looking at them.

She opened her diary. It was a little leather bound volume that she brought everywhere with her. It had been in her car when she ran out of Gris’s place. She opened it up to the last thing she’d written. It was a quote by a French author named Gide. She read it.

*

It is better to be hated for what you are than loved for what you are not.

*

She thought about the words for a moment, wondering about all the things they could mean. Wondering if she even agreed with them. Then she shut the diary closed.

She’d arranged to meet Kelly at the diner and she decided there wasn’t much point in dawdling any longer than necessary. If she was going to start a new job, she might as well get into it.

The door to the attic was latched from the inside and she couldn’t lock it behind her, but there was nothing much to steal anyway, she thought. Just the kettle and blankets. She didn’t even have any clothes. She climbed down the rickety stairway only to get the fright of her life when she reached the bottom.

She screamed.

An enormous man in dirty overalls stood in front of her, unshaved stubble and bushy eyebrows covering most of his face. He looked like he’d just been sleeping off a hangover in the bar beneath the attic.

“Hold your horses, hold your horses,” he said, raising his hands up as if he was actually calming a horse.

“Oh,” Elle said, “sorry, you just startled me.”

“Sorry about that.”

“And I suppose I should be the one who’s apologizing,” Elle said. “You must be Mister eh?”

“Dennis, that’s right. Pleased to meet you, Elle, isn’t it?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Kelly told me I’d find you here.”

“I hope that’s all right.”

“Of course it’s all right. In fact, I prefer it when there’s someone here keeping an eye on the place. It feels safer.”

“I’m not sure I’d be much use to you in case of trouble.”

“Oh, I just like to know there’s someone nearby, sweet heart. That attic has had some pretty terrible tenants over the years. Having you in there will class up the joint.”

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