“Are you sure you’re good with this? Because if you guys break up you will still have to work in the same office,” Candy said.
“Breaking up with a guy you work with, or work for, is messy. Trust Candy. She did it.” Tessa smirked.
“Shut up,” Candy grumbled, turning bright red.
“It was the middle of the night, if I remember. Brian had to give you a shirt because you were topless. Or were you completely naked at the time?”
“Enough.” Candy took the contract from Sarina.
“I’m still getting over the fact that you and Tyler finally got back together.” Tessa sighed. “It’s been fifteen years? I’m telling you, the two of them had the kind of love affair movies are made of. It’s epic.”
All this stuff happened in Keep Coming Back To Love. Candy and Ty were a second (third, fourth) chance romance that finally worked out and Tessa, who has been there for the whole thing, can’t resist needling Candy about it. For most of this book, Candy has been the strong woman and adult mentor to Sarina so it’s nice to see her more human side. Especially since poor Mick is going to walk into this office and find three strong women and a contract he’s afraid to sign. A little bit of lightness before the dark.
“What about this?” Mick tensed, waiting for the hammer to fall. She hadn’t fired him or humiliated him in front of Jami, but that didn’t mean the danger had passed. There was always punishment.
“If Jami doesn’t finish it today I’ll have to come in and finish it up over the weekend. It wasn’t like I was doing anything.” She went out to Jami’s desk. “You should give Jami your appointments for next week so she can add them to the calendar. I don’t want you to accidentally stand up a client.”
No hammer. Yet. “I’ll write them down when I get back.”
“When I enter them, I‘ll teach you how we use the calendar app so you can do your own.” Jami handed him a sticky note. She seemed upset, but she hadn’t yelled at him so far.
Sarina handed him two bags and a large box that said North Face on the sides. “Just give these to Maureen. She knows what to do with them.”
“Do you think we should send her bigger bags?” Jami asked. “Those fleeces are bulky.”
The whole gift bag thing came from teaching in Korea. My students’ mothers were very grateful for the effort and care we gave their children and they showed it with presents. On our first field trip we ended up with an embarrassment of lunches. Seven mothers each sent in enough food for my co-teacher and I to share with other teachers. We ended up feeding, not just the teaching staff, but the administrative staff, and the bus drivers, and having some to give to the staff of the children’s museum we went to. After that the moms organized and we never had more than one lunch per field trip. We also got random gifts throughout the year, one mom had a budget of $50/teacher/month. Teacher’s Day when it was normal to send gifts to teachers. Teacher’s Day was better than Christmas.
Then, just as I was working through these scenes when Candy’s daughter is in the PICU, a friend who is a medical librarian posted a comment about how North Face fleeces were taking the place of lab coats in the hospital. So one of Candy’s clients thoughtfully sent a bunch of North Face fleeces to add to the gift baskets.
One of the lovely things about writing a bad cook is getting to look up cooking disasters on YouTube. That’s how I ended up watching these videos last summer and screaming with laughter. How does that man keep a straight face as he says, “Never add water or ice to cool down the cooking oil.”
Sarina grabbed her phone and called Candy. If she was in the middle of making Rice Crispy Treats, it might be answered by her daughter June, but June already knew how to relay correct information over the phone at seven. Her brother was less reliable, but he did know how to pass the phone to someone who was.
The phone rang six times before shunting her to voicemail. Weird. Candy’s phone always got answered, even if it wasn’t by Candy. Sarina dialed again.
“Hello?” A man’s voice. Candy’s phone could have been stolen. That would explain why there was no answer before.
“Who is this?”
“Tyler. Who is this?”
“Sarina. Where’s Candy?” And Tyler who? In the background, Sarina could authoritative voices ringing off hard surfaces.
“Candy’s…distracted. Wait, you’re her assistant.”
Close enough. “Yes.”
“Candy’s daughter is sick. We’re at the hospital now.”
“Sick?” Sarina checked the time on her computer. “Candy only left two hours ago. What happened?”
“They think it’s meningitis. Whatever you needed, you’re going to have to handle it yourself.”
Sarina heard Candy talking in the background about vaccinations and then Suzi saying she was sure Candy had done everything she could. Of course, Tyler Franklin, the singer of Touchstone. The other male voice she could hear in the background must be Suzi’s husband, Brian Ellis, bassist in Touchstone. “How long is she going to be distracted?”
“It’s her daughter,” Tyler said. “As long as it takes.”
Sarina blew out a breath. That had sounded pretty insensitive. For someone whose livelihood was saying the right thing at the right time, she was bombing. “I’m sorry. That’s not what I meant. I need to know how far out to clear her calendar.”
“Yeah, sorry. Stress. At least a week. The poor kid is really sick.”
“I’ll take care of it.” How? Both of them had been overscheduling themselves in anticipation of Candy’s premonition of disaster that had happened before they were ready. “Tell Candy the office is under control.”
“Honey, at the moment I could tell Candy the moon was made of green cheese and she’d keep talking about vaccinations and June being cold and Luke Skywalker.”
Wow, Candy must be really upset. She didn’t even handle Mark Hamill. “Take care of them.”
“I’m on it.” He hung up.
All of this happened from Ty’s POV in Keep Coming Back To Love (Ty, who is terrified of doctors and hospitals, went to the ER because Candy needed him. What a guy.) I knew at the beginning of the book that this would come up and I dreaded making it work. In the end, it fit in like I had planned it this way all along. I suppose I sort of did, but if you consider that I wrote Keep Coming Back To Love in Abu Dhabi in 2012 and Love Me Tender in Ohio in 2016, it’s sort of amazing that it worked.
And the Mark Hamill thing? That happened. I mean to say, it happened in Candy’s book. June got sick and some kind stranger helped Candy get the kids in the car. Candy didn’t realize who the kind stranger was until her son Joey started talking about Luke Skywalker. It seems like the kind of thing Mark Hamill would do.
Should be Mick’s theme song.