Jesse’s daughter, Cleo, has arrived. Mike greets her, having met her before. She doesn’t waste any time offering him a job. She also has offered a job to Sarena. Mike tells her his brother might be interested and goes outside to make the call in private.
I hated to admit, but she was probably right. Gabe was tied to a place he hated, trapped in a job because of a family, married way too young because he got a girl pregnant. He stepped up and took the responsibility, but maybe he hadn’t been ready for it.
“It’s worth a shot, babe,” Sarena said. “Want some gingerbread?”
“Love some. Got any coffee?” I called over my shoulder as she walked into the kitchen.
“Pfft. . . .”
She set a cup of tea and a plate of gingerbread in front of me. I ate the gingerbread, leaving the tea to get cold. After my snack, I went outside to give Gabe a call. It was dinner time at his house, I could tell because of the fussing and screaming I heard in the background.
“Catch you at a bad time, bro?” I asked.
He sighed heavily. “Livia’s got class tonight, so I’m on my own. This is killing me, Mike. Can I call you back?”
“Got a quick question first. Have you ever considered relocating, say to Cheyenne?”
“Is this for real? Or is this a sick joke at my expense?”
“No joke. Firm offer from a friend of mine. He’s opening a new office and needs someone with your talents. My recommendation alone, I can get you a job. You in?”
I heard something crash in the background. Screaming kids and wailing baby.
“Mary, no! Shit! I’m decidedly interested, but I have—oh, hell! Got to go!” He hung up.
Satisfied that I had planted the seed, I went back inside. Something in my face must have conveyed my pleasure.
“He’ll do it?”
“He couldn’t talk, but I asked. He’s interested.”
Cleo looked proud of herself. Jesse patted her daughter’s hand. “What did I tell you?”
“Mama, I have yet to find a time when you weren’t right about people.” She hugged her mother, kissing her cheek.
My phone rang about an hour later. It was Gabe.
“I’ll take it. When does he need me to start?”
“I’m gonna turn this over to the expert,” I told him. “Cleo, my brother Gabe. Gabe, this is Cleo, Drake’s personnel manager.”
She took the phone, turned on the charm and hired herself a head of I.T. in less than 20 minutes. She handed the phone back to me after she was done.
“He wants to talk to you.”
I took the phone, wondering what he wanted. I walked outside again, gasping at the cold.
“You totally saved my life, bro. I got downsized. My last day is the first of next month. I didn’t know what I was gonna do. Livia hates it here, I do too. I’m flying out next weekend to scout a house. Can you give me a hand?”
“Sure. What about the place there?”
“Livia will stay until it’s sold. She thinks she can easily find us a buyer. I called her during her class break. She’s thrilled at the idea. Thanks, Mike. I owe you, dude.”
“What’s family for?”
I heard him sniffle and I knew my brother was in tears. I wanted to cry myself. I think this was the closest I’d ever felt to my brother. It was a good feeling.
“Livia’s home. I need to go. Thanks.” He hung up before I could say anything else.
“Everything okay?” Sarena asked when I walked back in.
“Yeah, everything’s great.” I sniffed, blinking hard. “Damn, it’s cold out there.”
Sarena put her arms around me, hugging me hard. I felt weak until my arms went around her too. I drew strength from her, knowing we were meant to be together.
“One down,” Cleo said with a smug tone. “Mike?”
“What the hell?” I said. “Why let the kid have all the fun?”
She hopped up and down excitedly. “Sarena?”
“Ditto. Can’t let the men overrun the place, can we? I’m in.”
“Yes! Wait until I tell Drake. He will be so thrilled!”
She flipped open her phone, making the call. She walked into the kitchen rather than outside, which was probably preferable to my choice. We could hear her talking excitedly to Drake.
© Dellani Oakes 2014