“Why are you up?” I groaned as I heard Sid sneaking into the bathroom at barely after seven in the morning. “You’re the one who drank, right? So, why do I feel hungover?”
She snorted. “Just lucky I guess.”
I heard the door shut behind her, heard the toilet flush several seconds later. She washed her hands, then exited the bathroom and peeked in my bedroom. I blinked at her a few times while I tried to get my eyes to focus.
“Oh, you’re up!” Sid giggled.
“Oh my God. And you’re pleasant in the morning too? Get out,” I grumbled under my breath.
“Sure.” She flopped onto the bed even as I tried to burrow back under the covers and bury my head in the pillows. “So, I have to get to work. I have to do this podcast thing today, along with the usual business stuff.” She rolled onto her side as she studied me. “Then I’ll return later today with Jonah.”
My head popped up. “With who?”
Sid smirked. “Right. Jonah always helps me fix things around the house. He was an old friend of Jayce’s and I swear he’s hoping to slide right into the vacancy that guy left, but I’m doing everything I can to keep him friend-zoned.” She stretched. “I thought you might be able to help me out with that.”
I must’ve had some dazed look on my face. I know for certain I didn’t respond.
Snapping her fingers, Sid sighed. “Miranda Jane, are you listening to me?”
My brow arched as angrily as I could manage that early and I replied, “Yes, mother.”
“Good.” She giggled. “He’s perfectly nice. He’s good looking. He has a great body. I just…don’t want to start a relationship with him like this. Weird, having my dead husband hanging over us, right?”
I nodded. “Definitely. So, how hot?”
“Huh.” She lifted the phone she carried with her absolutely everywhere. “Should be about fifty-five degrees today.”
I rolled my eyes. “No. How hot is Jonah?”
“Oh. That I can also answer with my phone.” Sid opened her photo app and began scrolling through images until she paused, loaded one, and lifted it for my examination.
“Damn, is he Italian. You know how I love Italians. They are my absolute fucking weakness.” I sighed happily. “So, what time should I be all dolled up, but look like I’m not trying?”
Sid licked her lips. “Seven. Think twelve hours will give you enough time?”
With a laugh, I rolled over.
“What are you doing?” she asked, sounding mildly annoyed.
“That’s so much time, I can even afford more beauty sleep.” I pulled the comforter over my shoulder. “You know how to let yourself out.”
“I do,” she agreed. “But who will lock up after me?”
I narrowed my eyes at her. “I kinda hate you right now.” With a moan, I rolled out of bed and followed her to the door. “Do I need snacks or anything tonight?”
“Eh, if you’re going to start dating, you might want to reconsider this being a dry house. You know, a little something to take the edge off isn’t a terrible thing.” Sid winked. “And no. I’ll bring Jonah, which means I’ll be leaving with Jonah, thereby relieving all awkwardness. You’re welcome.”
“And I’ll have better lighting.” I brightened some at the thought of installing those new fixtures.
“Yes, and a new window to see out of. Good times.” She reached out to hug me. “Have a nice day. I’ll be back.”
“Thank you.” I attempted a smile, but my face simply couldn’t pull it off this early in the day. “Later.” Then I crashed back in bed.
My bed was nice. Back when I had money, I’d spent nearly five thousand dollars on the mattress and box spring. If I let my mind wander, and wondered if Milo had slept with other women on this bed, it would ruin everything. If I simply thought about how I had something he wanted, my sleep was far more enjoyable.
This was why I woke around much later than I planned, feeling incredibly refreshed, until I peeked at the time on my cellphone. “Five o’clock? Shit! I slept all goddam day!” I bounded out of bed and realized my mistake immediately as I landed hard on my damn ankle. Once the shooting pains ceased, I carefully hobbled to the bathroom to get ready. Half an hour later, I was getting dressed and my phone rang.
“We’ll be there in about five minutes,” Sid chirped.
“You said seven! It’s not even six!” I shrieked as I pulled my shirt on over my head.
“Well, Jonah showed up early…”
I could hear all those words she couldn’t say because of her passenger. “So, now you’re punishing me?”
“Not exactly…” Sid laughed nervously.
“No. Not yet. Not ready.” I shook my head even though she couldn’t see me.
“Miranda Jane, you had all day,” she whispered loudly.
“Yeah, well I was asleep until thirty minutes ago,” I grumbled. “Some of us need more rest than others.”
“So, what do you want me to do?” Sid murmured with more than a hint of annoyance. “Again, I have Jonah with me.”
“And that’s why you’re so pissy.” I sighed. “Just…drive around the block before you come here.” I hurriedly worked on pulling my hair up into a wet, messy bun.
“You live in the country,” she complained. “A block is like…five miles.”
“Good point. Drive it twice. Bye.” Then I hung up.
By the time Sid and Jonah arrived fifteen minutes later, my nerves were frazzled and so were hers. In short, our night was doomed. “Alcohol?” Sid whimpered as she passed me on the way into the house.
I shook my head. “I haven’t left the house.”
“I don’t know how you live like this,” she hissed. “I’m gonna have to start carrying mini-bottles like I’m some lush. I’ll be back.” She picked up her purse from the sofa.
“Whoa. Where are you going?” My eyes widened as Jonah stood there glancing back and forth between us.
“You have a Walmart two miles away. I’m going to stock you up. You’re welcome.” Sid turned to Jonah. “I’ll be back soon. That fixture goes over the dining room table. These replace the flush mounts, and the one you’re going to come grab out of the back of the SUV goes in her bedroom. Got it?”
Jonah chuckled. “Absolutely, Sidra. Happy to help.”
She looked at me and rolled her eyes before waving and trudging out the door. I limped to the office to watch them interacting outside from my cameras. It felt a lot like spying, especially since Sid knew about them. I sank down in my chair and turned back to the monitor in time to see Jonah walking back to the house with the box in his arms and Sid glaring at the camera. I sent her a quick text.
Me: But I loooooveeee you!
Her response was quick and brutal.
Sid: You better. Enough said.
I was still giggling as Jonah rounded the corner. I’d gone from being married and perfectly comfortable around guys to being separated and being incredibly nervous. Without Sid as my buffer, I had no idea how to act around this man.
“Hi.” Jonah popped his head around the corner.
“Hi.” I waved awkwardly.
He grinned. “So, what if I start in the bedroom since I’m already holding this one and then I’ll install the rest.”
“Thank you. I appreciate that, Jonah.” I nodded while inhaling nervously.
“You’re welcome, Miranda.” He shrugged like it was no big deal.
I could’ve let him go. Yet for some reason, I felt the need to correct him. “Actually, all my friends call me Randi.”
His brow furrowed. “I swear I heard Sid call you Miranda Jane. Sorry.”
“Oh, she did. That’s her go-to when I’m in trouble.” I tilted my head. “I’m in trouble a lot.”
“Aw, you just need the right guy to help keep you on the straight and narrow.” He winked and slowly exited the room.
It’s probably just as well he did. I wouldn’t say I was in this man-hating frenzy, but I didn’t need a man. I hobbled to my bedroom as I considered some kind of rebuttal. Then I watched him removing one light fixture and installing another one. Fuck it. I give up. I needed a man. I frowned.
Suddenly Jonah glanced at me. “Oh, come to watch me work?” He grinned and I had the sense that he was used to women swooning over him. Sure, he was tall, dark, and handsome. Yes, there was no denying he had a fantastic muscular build. Still, he was an ass.
“Nope. Just checking to see if you needed anything before I start working in my office.” I crossed my arms over my chest, and did my best to remain friendly enough that he’d finish the job he’d come here to do, and standoffish enough that he wouldn’t try to hit on me. My life was a constant practice in balance.
He eyed me carefully for a moment. “Nah, I’m good. I’ll holler if I need anything.”
“Thank you.” I took one step backwards. “For everything.” Then I bowed slightly and returned to my office. I bowed. What the fuck did I bow for?
When Sid finally returned, I was still sitting at my desk holding my head. “Oh, it’s going that well, is it?” She glanced about to see if we were alone.
“Pretty much. So, you bought alcohol?” My brows arched as I waited for her to share the contents of the multiple bags she held.
“I did.” She sighed. “And then I remembered tonight I had to drive. “So, I also bought ice cream.” Sid pulled out several pints of Ben & Jerry’s and lined them up across my desk.
“I’m trying to work here,” I half objected.
“Yeah. Well, we can work on one of these together,” she suggested.
“Screw you. I’ll eat my own, thanks.” I huffed as I reached for the Phish Food.
“That’s my girl.” She disappeared into the living room and I could hear the fridge and freezer opening, followed by the silverware drawer. It was broken, so every time it opened the silverware clanged together and the entire drawer threated to fall on the floor.
I waited almost patiently for her to return with spoons. When she did, I grinned. “I feel better already.”
“Do you?” Sid handed me a spoon before plopping down on my office lounger. There was a loud squeaking sound and she giggled. “I didn’t do it.” She reached under her and pulled out one of Lucy’s old toys.
With this sudden reminder of my loss, I burst into tears. “Dammit. I’m sorry,” I whimpered as I wiped at my eyes and grabbed a tissue from the box on the corner of my desk. “I don’t know why I can’t hold it together these days.”
“You’re doing just fine. It’s okay to mourn, Randi. You aren’t supposed to be completely okay right now. If you were, I’d think you were some kind of sociopath.” She stood and moved to stand behind me where she began to rub my shoulders.
After blowing my nose, I glanced up at her. “Milo is fine with Lucy’s death.”
“We both know Milo is a sociopath. Point proven.” She hugged me around the neck for a split second. “Come on. Eat some ice cream.”
I shook my head. “I’m not hungry.” I blew out a breath. “Maybe it’s time to start working on my revenge body.”
“There’s nothing wrong with that. Just remember it’s not about him. It’s about you feeling good about yourself.” She eyed me knowingly.
“Sadly, I feel like I need this to come from the outside for now.” I frowned. “I need to feel attractive again.”
Jonah spoke from the doorway. “I’m done in the bedroom. Wanna come take a look?” He winked at me and I knew he’d heard our conversation which really made me want to puke.
“Right.” I could feel my cheeks coloring.
“Randi will go check while you work on the one above the dining room table. I think you mentioned you had plans for later in the evening,” Sid reminded him.
He shrugged as I limped past him. “They’re kinda open,” he murmured vaguely.
“Cool. Well, I have plans,” Sid lied. “So chop chop.” She redirected him to the other room while I peeked into my bedroom.
Leaning against the door frame, I sighed happily. “This is beautiful. I really appreciate your help with this. Money is tight and…”
“Please. I had that huge settlement. And then I had all those opportunities about handed to me after Jayce’s death, I can afford to spoil you a little.” She sighed happily. “If there’s anything I understand, it’s the importance of being comfortable in your own home and your own skin.”
I nodded sadly. “I want this more than anything. You wanna tell me again about online dating?”