I paled. That was, without a doubt, the meanest thing he’d ever said to me. He delivered it so carelessly that I again wondered if he even knew what he was saying. He had to though, didn’t he" There was no way he wouldn’t see how hurtful that was.
“What’s gotten into you"” I asked.
“I’m fucking pissed is what,” he snapped back. “We haven’t had sex in days and you keep turning me down for stupid fucking reasons. This is how guys get when they haven’t fucked in a while. You should know better.”
No, this was how Nolan got when he wasn’t getting his way. As long as I was doing exactly what he wanted me to, he could be a pretty sweet guy. Lately, as I’d been experiencing feelings of doubt about our relationship and about my place in Bridgefield, I was less and less eager to do his bidding.
“I’m going to work,” I said coldly. "If you want to finish this conversation when you get home tonight, fine, but make sure when you do you talk to me like a person and not a piece of garbage.”
I grabbed my keys and headed out the door. Happy Tots Daycare was only about a twenty-minute walk away from our little townhouse, but I was going to have to hoof it if I wanted to make it there before people started dropping off their kids. I focused on putting one foot in front of the other, drawing on some of my rage to push me harder.
Even though I fast-walked the whole way, the little argument I had with Nolan had taken its toll. I was sweaty and out of breath by the time I arrived, but I still didn"t managed to beat the first parent.
“I’m so sorry, Mrs. Badinkis,” I huffed, unlocking the front door. “I hope you haven’t been waiting long.”
The dark-haired woman merely thrust her toddler in my direction and took off back toward the parking lot. Garth Badinkis was a sweet kid, but I knew with a mother like his he wasn’t going to be sweet for long. Sweetness erodes over time when faced with a sternness like hers.
“Come on, honey,” I said, ushering him into the center. He toddled in front of me, plopping down on one of the bean bag chairs and pulling a book out of his superhero knapsack. I went to work setting everything up for the day, and had only just finished when my boss, Marie Lawson, walked through the door.
“Good morning!” I said cheerfully.
Her returned greeting was less enthusiastic. My heart sank. Did she know that I was late again this morning" Could she tell since I was still putting out chairs"
“I got a call from Mrs. Badinkis this morning,” Marie began. “She said she was waiting to drop off Garth for a full ten minutes before anyone showed up.”
“Ten minutes"” I shook my head. “I know for a fact it wasn’t that long.”
“Still.” Marie walked around the front desk, standing next to me at the computer. “She wasn’t happy. If it was the first time, I wouldn’t be so upset. But Aurora, you’ve been late so many times I’ve lost count.”
Oh no, I didn’t like where this was going.
“I’m so sorry, Marie. It won’t happen again. I was"”
She put up a hand to stop me, shaking her gray curls. “I don’t want to hear the excuse, hon. I’m sorry. You’re great with the kids and I love what you’ve done for our marketing and rebranding, so please don’t think that I’m ungrateful. Unfortunately, there’s more to running a business than that. I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently, and it’s time I let you go.”
The words bounced around my brain, echoing through my ears.
Let you go.
Let you go.
My heart started racing, anxiously beating against the back of my rib cage as the adrenaline spiked me into overdrive. I couldn’t lose my job. This job was everything to me. These kids were everything to me.
Her hazel eyes filled with sadness, but the sternness of her expression told me she wouldn’t be changing her mind.
“I wish I didn’t have to. Believe me when I say that. If you need a reference in the future, please don’t hesitate to use me. I’ve gotta do what’s best for my business. Lettie-May’s opening a daycare next month and I’m already struggling to compete with all the home sitters. Not to mention the insurance nightmare it would be if something happened one of the times you were late.”
The bell on the front door tinkled, and we both shifted our attention to the mother and child walking through the door. Marie plastered on a smile to greet them, and I had the distinct feeling I was being dismissed.
I grabbed my stuff from behind the desk and walked out the front door without so much as a goodbye wave. This had to be one of the worst mornings in history. Well, maybe not world history, but at least the history of Aurora Frayser. I was having serious doubts about the relationship I’d been building a life around for years, and now I was jobless to boot"