Resisting Her Rival

By: Sonya Weiss

To get this situation over with, more than anything, she wanted to call Nick and let him have an earful, but that would be too easy for him. He’d try to weasel out of what he’d done, and she wasn’t going to have that. Sex was one thing. Her business was another. How could Nick even think of standing in the way of her diner expansion by trying to take the building she needed?

Over my dead body.

She wasn’t about to give an inch in this matter. She wanted to see him face-to-face when she confronted him. He was going to look her in the eye and explain why he’d screwed her over.

Her new summer sandals sounded out quick, sharp bursts from the low heels as she made her way across the hardwood flooring and outside onto the front porch. She locked the door and paused for a moment to take a deep breath. The sweet aroma of the flowers in several hanging baskets surrounded her.

Growing things always helped her to de-stress. She liked the simplicity and order that came with gardening. Right now, she had anything but that. Her gaze drifted across the yard.

She’d completed the mowing and edging yesterday right before a cleansing summer rain had fallen. The lawn looked good except for a stubborn group of weeds that sprouted up near the rosebushes she’d planted in memory of her parents. Those weeds needed to be uprooted and tossed, just like the memory of Nick.

But there wasn’t a container of weed killer big enough to erase what had happened that night. Damn him—and damn her for falling for his lies.

Angry with herself that her thoughts kept returning to him, Abby marched decisively from the porch and across the red brick pavers to her aging station wagon.

When one of her next-door neighbors called her name, Abby responded with, “I haven’t forgotten about giving you the cake recipe. I’ll email it to you while I’m at the diner.”

Her neighbor grinned and waved as Abby slid into the driver’s seat, avoiding the broken spring. She grimaced when she touched the steering wheel. The end of June in South Carolina wasn’t the time to forget to put up the sunshade, and she wouldn’t have forgotten had she not been so distracted. Steering with her palms, she backed the car out of the driveway of the home she shared with her grandfather, Noah.

She hadn’t told anyone in her family about Nick’s ploy because she’d been afraid what had happened in Florida might accidentally slip out. That could not happen.

While she loved her grandfather and sisters deeply, they would want to know things Abby wasn’t ready to examine.

Plus, she felt a little embarrassed after all the plans she’d made for the expansion, at how sure she’d been that everything was finally going to fall into place for her. She’d told everyone as much. Had already toasted to her future success.

Didn’t look like that was going to happen now and she looked and felt like a fool.

Damn Nick all over again. What right did he have to think he could swoop in and change everything? Well, she’d just change it right back. That building was as good as hers, and she wasn’t letting it go without a fight.

Since it was Saturday, Nick wouldn’t be at the office where he ran a business renovating homes. He’d rented a tiny space beside the post office for the last three years. Before Florida, every time she’d looked at the swinging black iron sign above his door, she’d wondered what she might have missed out on by ignoring him in high school. By cutting him off every time he flirted with her.

Now, seeing the sign made her think about Nick, and thinking about him was ten times worse. Because now she knew what she’d missed out on all these years. No wonder his business was successful. She could testify to how good he was with his hands.

Thinking about his hands made Abby recall the rest of him. How fit his body was, with taut six-pack abs and biceps that had easily lifted her. She’d experienced a momentary stab of fear when he closed his arms around her, but she’d quickly learned that he was in no way the bully her ex had been.

Guiding the car onto the street leading to Sweet Creek’s only auto repair shop, where she knew Nick would be hanging out with his cousin, Abby mentally wished for the car to go faster. She couldn’t wait to tell Nick exactly what she thought of him and his underhanded way of trying to steal what was supposed to be hers.

But no matter how hard she pressed on the gas, the car simply didn’t have any get-up-and-go left in it. It was one more thing on her take-care-of list. She couldn’t buy a new car until she found a building she could use to expand the diner. She wouldn’t know how much money she’d have left over until then. If she had to buy a more expensive building, the expansion was off. There was no way she’d get that kind of financing. All the buildings she’d looked at were way outside her budget.

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