Frayed Page 82

Where are you?

Her reply is immediate.

I\m at work.

I need to talk to you.

She doesn\ reply this time.

’’Well?’’ Caleb and Trent say at the same time.

’’She\s at work.’’

’’Well, go get her,’’ Trent says.

I look at him, exasperated. ’’This isn\ a movie.’’

’’Oh, I thought you were Danny Zukko,’’ he says, laughing.

Caleb laughs too and they both are almost crying in a matter of moments.

I leave the ass**les sitting here and stride into the kitchen. Today is the day after Thanksgiving and I remember her telling me something about where she\d be.

’’You know, I think you\ e actually over her?’’ Caleb says as he\s tossing a few containers in the trash.

Distracted by trying to remember where Bell had said she\d be, I look at him quizzically. ’’What?’’

’’Dahlia I never thought you would get over her. But you call her Dahlia now. And there\s no spark in your eyes when her name is mentioned.’’

I hadn\ noticed that before but knew I had gotten over everything as best I could a while ago.

’’Hey, Uncle Ben, I\m serious as shit. I think you should go after that girl,’’ Trent chimes in.

’’You know what, I have to say I agree with the kid,’’ Caleb says.

I open the refrigerator and grab a water bottle and toss one to him. ’’Here, man, you need this. You look like shit.’’

He runs his fingers through his already disheveled hair. ’’I feel like it too.’’

Ignoring the fact that Caleb and I are having a completely different conversation, Trent pulls us back to the previous one. ’’Where does she work?’’

’’She\s an event planner. I know she\s been coordinating that ass**le Romeo Fairchild\s wedding. But I have no idea where it is.’’

Trent turns on his heel and leaves the kitchen.

’’Where are you going?’’ I call to him.

’’You\ e the investigator. You figure it out.’’

I follow him into my office. ’’Don\ be a smart-ass.’’

He sits in front of the computer, taps a few keys, and then looks up. ’’Bingo! It\s breaking news. Governor\s son\s wedding set to take place at Adamson House canceled at last minute.’’

’’Looks like you\ e going to Malibu. My guess is she\s still there. Last minute sounds messy to me,’’ Caleb says, high-fiving Trent.

I glare at him. ’’You told me she was forbidden fruit.’’

’’Yeah, but you weren\ walking around looking like your dog just died then. You wouldn\ even go out with me last night. That\s unheard of. You don\ have to drink to go out and have a good time. And when was the last time you got laid?’’

I cringe at his question. No way I am telling him that and besides, there are just some things a nephew doesn\ need to know. ’’Let\s just say it\s been a while.’’ I leave it at that.

’’Come on, man, you\ e miserable. If you want her, go get her,’’ Caleb prods.

I lean against the doorway. ’’You act like it\s that easy. It\s complicated.’’

Trent pipes up, ’’It\s only as complicated as you make it.’’

He has a point. I did say I wanted to leave the past in the past.

Caleb lowers himself on the corner of the desk. ’’When have you ever backed away from something because it wasn\ easy?’’

Trent pushes back in my chair. ’’I can drive you.’’

I grin at him. ’’I\m a big boy. I think I can go after a girl myself.’’


The ride should be fairly short, but the worsening weather conditions are making the drive tougher. The palm trees bend from the strong winds, and the county has issued the highest wildfire threat it\s seen in years. I finally spot the sign at the road that reads CALIFORNIA STATE PARK NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE. I turn in and immediately notice the wildflowers that line both sides of the narrow drive. They lead me all the way to the end, where I see a building that must be the Adamson House. I\ve never been here, but I have read the book written by the original owner, Frederick H. Rindge. Happy Days in Southern California provided a detailed history of the region and it was something I had picked it up at the library last summer when I had too much time on my hands and was reading every historical book about California I could find to help cement my decision to stay here.

There are no cars here and I hope I\m in the right location. Standing in front of me is a very large Mediterranean-style house with hand-carved wooden front doors. Detailed filigree ironwork covers what looks to be lead-framed bottle glass windows. I walk around the side of the building, where I catch sight of Malibu Beach as well as the lagoon and the pier it\s one gorgeous view. I loop to the back and spot her car and the Tate Wyatt catering van immediately. She\s here.

Excitement combines with nervous energy as I finally allow my mind to consider what the hell I\m doing here and what the f**k I\m going to say. All of a sudden I feel like Richard Gere from An Officer and a Gentleman, and that couldn\ be any lamer. Now I need to consider my options:

1) Go home

2) Call her

3) Text her

4) Just go the f**k in.

I decide on texting.

I\m outside and I want to talk to you. So you either come out or I\m coming in.

I wait for a response one minute, two, three. F*k it, I\m going in. I pull open the rusted metal door that has been painted chocolate brown in an attempt to cover up the corrosion marring it. As I step inside, a musty smell fills the air. The room is dark and I flick on the light switch. I\m in a closet of some sorts that\s been turned into an employee entrance with a time clock machine, a few lockers, and coat hooks. I push through the door in front of me and end up in a hallway. It\s quiet and I follow it to the end, where the next door opens into the banquet area. It\s partially set up with place settings, flowers, and candelabras on each of the tables, but it\s also empty of any people. A number of other doors line the walls and I walk the perimeter of the large space, peering into them. They are all dark inside and I can\ find her anywhere.

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