15 - Alex

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That evening he printed out her sketch. He expected something ornate, but this was relatively classic. He texted her that it looked good and she called him right away.

"You're alright with that?" she asked.

"Sure. I'm always happy to be busier," he responded.

"I'm sorry."

"I was kidding. I don't care as long as you're paying me for it."

"I'm not paying you. Sydney is. You can bill it through me and I won't even take a cut," she said.

"You should get paid for your design."

"What that? It took me fifteen minutes to sketch that up," she lied.

"Really! Because it was very well done, I can tell you're an artist," he said.

"Okay maybe a little longer, but I do like to draw," she admitted.

"Alright, well I don't want to keep you but, I'm putting together a list for you."

"I'm just working so you're not keeping me from anything," she said.

"I figured after being away you'd be spending time with your husband," he said hesitantly. Although since seeing her on Thursday, he had been wondering about the golden couple.

"It's fine I always work at night."

"Me too and tonight, I'm putting together a list for lighting fixtures. Hopefully, you're happy with quantity. If you want to make changes, I need to know quickly we're going to plaster the ceiling as early as next week. Do you have a preference for the pattern?"

"Thanks now I have more work to do. Hey, how are my mom and dad?"

"They're fine. They miss you, but I'm back to being the favored one," he teased. Rick was fine, but Alice hated her daughter being gone again. Alex assured Alice that she'd be back and forth which made her feel better.

"Great, now I remember why I hated you."

"Past tense hated, does that mean you don't anymore?" he asked.

"Not at the moment. "

"Good. Okay, let me know about the plaster and the lights. Goodnight."

He hung up before she could respond. She was surprisingly easy to talk to. He liked sparring with her. It was a bit like talking to Kate. Only Kate knew him better and could be mean, even though she loved him.

He went to work on the lighting list and was thinking of the ceiling. Perhaps he should send her some of his preferred patterns to choose from. So he texted her three pictures, one was his favorite because it almost looked like shells.

She responded, it less than five minutes, I love the shells. Now you're the talented one.

What the hell! Why did her compliment just give me a flip in my belly? He needed to recite rule number one: make sure they don't belong to another guy. There was no doubt about her score there. Truthfully that wasn't completely true. It seemed since she left lips, around The Point, were suddenly loose. He overhead more than one conversation that included speculation about why she had stayed away and why when she came back she stayed so long. Interestingly enough even Alice seemed to join the conversations. According to Alice, Jen hardly spoke to her husband on the phone while she was staying with her. She also whispered that when they did talk, Jen seemed irritated.

Alex, himself, had witnessed some tête-à-tête between them that clearly, she wanted to be kept private. He didn't share that information, because he knew better than anyone what it was like to be the topic of gossip. He had to believe that she used the Thompson house to get away from some issue with her husband. That didn't mean they had serious problems, so he was right back to rule number one.

What was most interesting was they seem to speak daily about something. Typically unless he needed an immediate answer they spoke in the evenings. She always seemed available to talk and when he asked if he was interrupting anything, she'd say she was just working. He worked a lot, but not every night, all night.

He found himself trying to come up with a reason to call as he drove home the beginning of her second week home. He was acutely aware that they hadn't spoken all weekend. He flipped through the channels, but nothing was on. He felt like a loser when he settled on an HGTV house flipping show. Thankfully he thought it was almost April then he could watch the Sox most nights. He was stretched on the couch nodding off when his phone rang.

Her heart jumped when he heard her voice, get a grip, he chastised himself. Remember rule number one. She asked, "Did I wake you?"

"I was just watching TV and apparently falling asleep," he said as he turned the television off with the remote.

"I'm about ready to order the lights, but I have no idea where to have them sent," she said.

"Oh right," he thought for a minute and said, "I guess you should send them to my house. I have an enclosed porch where all the courier services leave packages. As long as they don't need to be signed for, that is..."

"Okay, that should work, thanks. So what's the address?" He told her and she said, "So that was your house I saw you go into that day." He answered and she asked, "I wondered why you never said anything about that day."

"Why? Because it's your business, we all deserve privacy," he answered, then he impulsively said, "If you want to talk about it, I'll listen. You should know you were the buzz for a few days after you left."

"Why does that not surprise me? What replaced me as the talk of The Point?" she asked.

"Some bad news, that may be good for me," he said and he explained that one of the summer residents was sick, which meant it was possible that the cottage could be available soon.

"Will you do another flip?" she asked.

"No, I want a house for myself. I love my house, but I want to live on The Point so I'm not some stranger anymore," he said.

"Ouch!" she laughed and his heart flipped at the sound of her laugh. Then he heard a voice in the background and she said, "Av, I'm on the phone...working. Give me a few minutes."

"Do you need to go?" he asked.

"No, my friend Avery just wants me to have some ice cream with her."

"So you're working, but you're not home? Sure you don't want to talk about it."

"No, I really can't," she said and then abruptly added, "I should go."

She was gone and he was still stretched out on his sofa with his phone in his hand. Oh man, he thought, I'm in trouble. For a lack of anything better to do, he went to bed early and tossed and turned.

Alex is getting curious.  Will she tell him what is going on?  Thanks for the read and the votes.

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