Rebuilding

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Once upstairs, I slipped into the shower and turned the hot water up to near boiling. However, I was finding it harder and harder to burn away my guilt. Instead, I was just creating a rather terrible case of dry skin on my back. Still, the heat and the steady beat of the water against my shoulders eased my muscles and instead of burning anger tightening every joint in my body, I was left with dull sorrow.

Once out of the shower, a single glance to the clock hanging on my wall was enough to pull me back together. I had an hour before check in and guests never adhered to that schedule. I practiced my breathing as I blow-dried my hair and by the time I was dressed and ready to greet guests, I had a fancy, fake smile ready upon my face.

"Are you okay?" asked Jordan, who stood at the foot of the steps, waiting beside our guest book, welcome sign, and Gina's beloved portrait. Before I could answer, he continued. "Of course, you're not okay," he said with a shake of his head. "I guess, I just want to know if you'd like to talk..."

"You're interested in talking now?" I asked, my eyes on the door, peering through the ornate glass which left the outside mottled and fuzzy.

"Lyn, how about we both put our swords down and leave the battlefield for a minute? I think maybe we should start talking a truce here. I have a feeling that maybe you're not feeling completely..."

"They're here," I said with a widening of my smile which I imagined looked a tad terrifying in its emptiness. "If you'll excuse me, I should go greet our guests."

"Yeah, okay," he replied with a sigh.

Jordan didn't bother trying to bring up the conversation again. He dutifully played bellhop and handled our guests' luggage. He followed me into the kitchen afterward, but we both made our dinners in silence, though I could feel the press of his worried gaze upon my back the entire time.

Once we both inhaled our dinners, we immediately went to work on baking cookies and prepping the hot cocoa station. At some point Jordan left to get the fire started and to locate the movie for that night. Thankfully, I didn't have to do much chit chat with the guests when their focus was riveted to the television. Jordan kept to my side the entire night, but knew better than to provoke me in front of our guests and so, even in the solitude of the kitchen, we let the elephant in the room grow ever larger.

Then, with the movie over and the majority of the couples tired from a day of travel, the downstairs emptied and our oblivious guests tucked themselves into bed for a restful night's sleep.

"I think it's probably safe to talk now," said Jordan, looking up towards the top floor as if he could see our guests' movements from there. "Look, I know I've been a bit of an ass lately and I'm still working through that, but if you aren't feeling sold on this deal then..."

"Goodnight Jordan," I said after one last check of the sitting room to make sure everything had been cleaned up.

"Wait, Lyn."

But, I didn't wait. I headed upstairs before he could see how torn I was. Sure, all I wanted since the night I went to visit him at his apartment, was to tell him how scared I was at the prospect of keeping the inn. I still wanted to beg for his help, to fall on my knees and surrender my problems before him because the weight had become more than I could bear. However, what was done was done. It was clear Mr. Myers and his company had big plans for the inn. Plans that they were so excited for they couldn't even wait an extra week or two to start the work. How could he help me? And how could I face him now that I knew they were going to destroy everything Gina had worked so hard to build.

By the time I reached my room, I had enough self-loathing boiling through me that I wasn't sure I'd last the night without exploding. I needed to find something to take my mind off things. Initially I looked to my laptop bag, where my computer had sat untouched for several days. I wondered what my coworkers thought of me. I wondered if Mary would be disappointed in me. I wondered how my boss was handling my absence. I wondered if I'd even have a job once this was all said and done. Part of me didn't care.

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