Second Chance(2)

By: Natalie Ann


“Are you hoping she’ll leave while you’re gone?”

“Leave town or work?” He hoped both, but knew it wouldn’t happen and it was cowardly to think that.

“She’ll never leave this city and you know that. Work. Are you hoping she’ll quit while you’re gone and you won’t have to face her?”

“Why would Kendra want to continue to work for me? She was already planning on being off this week to get ready for the wedding, and who knows if she’ll come back? I don’t want to be there when she does. If she does. She should be able to make that decision without me being in the building breathing down her neck. I’m trying to make it easier for her right now. Maybe she’ll come to the decision to leave on her own. I was wrong, I know it; everyone knows it. The least I can do is let her try to save face.”

“Nick, not wanting to marry someone doesn’t make you wrong.”

He didn’t want Rene’s sympathy. He didn’t need it.

What he needed was to breathe and he couldn’t do that right now, right here, or even in this city.

“I’ll check in with you tomorrow. Don’t worry.”

“Who’s going to run the company while you’re gone? You can’t just walk away from it.”

“I’m not walking away. I’m on the road more often than I’m in the office anyway. This is no different. Dad is going to step in while I’m gone. I just talked to him.”

“Dad? You’re leaving Dad in control. Is that smart?”

“Dad knows what he’s doing. He’s bored with retirement, he’s been a manager for years, and he can handle the day-to-day operation of things. Anything else, I’ll be reachable like I always am. Why, do you want the job?” he asked, smirking at her.

“No way!”

It was no secret his sister couldn’t stand computers or technology and barely touched them unless necessary. Which was funny, considering Nick was one of the top software developers in the US, with employees and branches scattered across multiple states. He could work from anywhere and had. All he needed was his laptop.

Stopping in his tracks, he moved back to his closet and grabbed a few pairs of pants and shirts, then flung them toward Rene too. He doubted he’d need them, but he still didn’t know where he was going.

He’d always been casual in the office, even as the President and CEO of NB Innovations. No time like the present to visit his branches, but casual or not, he drew the line at T-shirts and shorts, so he should have something presentable to wear.

“Are you done questioning me?” Nick asked his sister. “I want to get on the road.”

“You’re driving?”

“Yeah.” He’d just decided it. Why bother flying? He had no clue where to go first and he detested spending time in airports.

Rene inhaled deeply, walked over to him, and gave him a big hug. “I love you, Nick. Don’t beat yourself up too much about this. People make mistakes.”

“It’s not a mistake. I’m not going to change my mind,” he said, his face set.

“I didn’t mean it that way.”

“I know. Again, I appreciate everything you and Mom and Dad have said and done since I told Kendra yesterday. Dad is letting the venue know, along with all the guests. I’m sorry to dump everything on you, but I can’t leave it for Kendra.”

He knew his eyes were filling, and he didn’t want his sister to think he was weak, but he was emotional. Part of him would always love Kendra, but not the way he should be, not in love. Not as a husband should.

“We’ll take care of it. You go take care of yourself.”

“I’ll try.” Though he didn’t know the first thing he could or should do.

He walked over and shoved the rest of his clothes that Rene hadn’t folded into his suitcase and zipped it up. He threw another bag of miscellaneous items over his shoulder along with his laptop bag and walked toward the door of his bedroom, then turned to look at his sister sitting on the bed once more.

“Lock up for me and keep an eye on the house, please.”

“You know I will,” Rene said, knuckling a tear. “Don’t forget to call me tomorrow.”

Nick nodded and walked out the door, down the stairs and to his car. He tossed everything in the trunk, climbed in, started the engine and pulled away as fast as he could, never looking back.

***

In the last two weeks, Nick had visited two of his branches and gotten a head start on a new software program he’d been envisioning for years. Maybe the break out of the office was what he needed.

He’d been more productive than he could remember lately. Whether it was because he was trying to put the canceled wedding and Kendra behind and just focus on work or it was relief, he didn’t know.

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