Destiny Ever-changing
Author: Tasha Ivey

Chapter 1
Laura - Finding Solace

Laura:

 

I’m relieved that I have such a long drive home, because I'm in dire need of some time to think. I am dealing with all of this a bit better than I expected, but I can’t help but wonder what I am going to do with my life now. I don’t have a job. I don’t have a place to live. I will have to start my life all over again. 

I’m already twenty-seven, for crying out loud!

Isn’t it too late in my life to be starting over like this? What is my family going to say? I completely deserve for them to say “I told you so.” They did try desperately to warn me that Alex may not be the best choice for me and that I really did not know him all that well. I deserve everything they can throw at me for not listening to them.

I feel so incredibly stupid for falling for him, but that’s what I do; I always fall for the wrong guys. From the time I started dating as a teenager until now, my relationships have always been disastrous, to say the least.

My very first boyfriend in eighth grade told me that he did not want to be my boyfriend anymore because I wouldn’t make out with him. A boyfriend in high school “forgot” to tell me that he already had a girlfriend. My boyfriend during my first year of college felt the need to control every move that I made, including everything I ate; he said I was “filling out a little too much.” During my senior year of college, I started dating a guy that seemed kind and genuine until we had our first argument. He started screaming at me and grabbed my arms so hard that I had bruises. And, of course, there was Alex and countless other losers just like him. I have always been a jerk magnet.

After all the years of tumultuous relationships, my family probably won’t be too shocked, after all. In fact, I know my family will be supportive and welcome me home with open arms, just as they did the day that I came to live with them. My great aunt and uncle have been my guardians since I was in first grade. They took me in after my mom and dad were tragically killed in a car accident just a few weeks after my sixth birthday. Losing my parents was hard, but, luckily, I had a supportive family to pick me up and carry me through it.

 

The open road is not helping at all to clear my tempestuous mind. This long stretch of monotonous highway is doing nothing more than lulling me into a sleepy daze, considering the fact that I packed all night long. I have been on the road for a few hours, and I have yet to resolve anything. I even called Fawn along the way and explained everything that happened last night. She felt responsible for my heartache, which made me feel worse. I can't hold her liable for the fact that I drive many of the men I date into another woman’s arms. 

With that thought, all of the years of heartbreak and fears of my unknown future come flooding into me like a tidal wave, drowning me in despair and uncertainty. I am suddenly an emotional wreck, and I start sobbing uncontrollably. I jerk the car off the road haphazardly and skid to a stop, causing a plume of rust-colored dust to consume my car. 

I can't go home like this. I am honestly not ready to face my family and tell them that I have failed again. I know my aunt and uncle will gladly allow me to move back in until I find another job and get on my feet, but that thought just humiliates me even more. I would feel like a teenager again. I need more time, a few more days to think this through before I deal with everyone back home. I just don’t know where to go.

And, after a brief brainstorming session, I have the answer . . . my Nana’s house.

My “Nana” is my Grandma Thelma, my mom’s mom. My Grandpa Sam passed away a few years ago, so she has been alone all this time. She lives in Rock Cove, Virginia, which is a tiny, little town along the coast, and, to top it off, you can see the beach from her back porch. That kind of serene escape is precisely what I need right now, and, and most importantly, Nana's house has always been a "judgment-free zone." Perfect.

I call her to make sure the sudden visit won’t be a problem, and I pull the crumpled map out to see if I correctly remember how to get there. After a quick stop for some gas and an unhealthy amount of caffeine, I am well on my way.

For some reason, just the thought of going to Nana’s makes me feel a little more at ease. I would spend a few weeks a year with her while I was growing up, and we developed quite a bond over the years. I love spending time with her. After just a few days there, I should have my head clear enough to go home and figure out how to start over again.

 

After a while, my surroundings begin to look familiar, and I know I am headed in the right direction. Soon, I will be standing in my Nana’s doorway, and that thought makes my whole body tremor with nervous exhilaration. I’m so ready to be there to talk to her about everything going on in my life, and I know she’ll help me figure it all out. She’s never critical. She simply listens to everything you have to say, lets you know that she’s there for you, and offers some kind words of advice. And she’s not only like that with me, either. She’s like that with everyone she meets, and everyone adores her.

“Rock Cove, five miles!” I squeal out loud to myself as I pass the faded metal sign. I’m beginning to get a little too excited, it seems.

Within minutes, I am sitting at the only stoplight in Rock Cove, which is situated in the town’s center. I can see the bakery with fresh bread in the windows. I see a small café, which seems to be the only restaurant around. There’s also the post office, a produce market, a general store, a hardware store, and several more buildings that I can‘t distinguish. It has quite the Mayberry feel to it, with its aged brick buildings and pedestrians chatting at every storefront. Once the light turns green, I ease my foot onto the gas pedal and roll my windows down, immediately smelling the salt in the air.

I am almost there.

I make a left turn onto the beachfront highway, knowing I only have two miles to go. To my right, I can finally see the ocean. Gorgeous beach homes—many, of which, are vacation rentals or summer homes— overlook the infinite expanse of blue water. Not many people live in these houses year-round, but Nana is one of the rare exceptions.

POP! THUMP-THUMP! THUMP-THUMP!

What was that?

I struggle to get the car pulled over and jump out to inspect, and, to my horror, I realize that my front tire is flat. Not only is it flat, I can actually see the hole in it. 

“Are you kidding me?!” I yell aloud at the rapidly deflating tire after kicking it a few times.

“It doesn’t really look like it’s kidding,” says an unfamiliar voice behind me.

Startled, I spin around a little too fast, nearly losing my balance. I look all around me, but I don’t see anyone. I see an extravagant beach housewhich is probably worth more than all the houses on this highway collectivelywith a long driveway, some well-kept landscaping, and a gardener . . .

Oh, it was the gardener!

“Umm, he-hello,” I stammer. “Sorry, it’s been a bad day.”

“Yeah, I can see that,” he replies as he steps out from behind the shrubbery and dusts his hands off on the front of his formerly white t-shirt.

He looks a little discontented that I am interrupting his tedious work, but, even with the unpleasant look on his face, the sight of him is making my heart flutter. Only a rare, special kind of man can look attractive in filthy, tattered clothes with dirt smudges all over his face, and he is apparently one of them. Of course, leave it to me to find the grimy landscaper attractive. It just further proves that I consistently fall for the wrong men.

“Do you have a spare in your trunk?” he asks impatiently.

“Oh, umm, yes I do, but . . .”

His eyebrows furrow deeply. “But?”

“There’s a slight problem,” I explain, completely embarrassed. “My trunk is a little . . . full. I’m in the middle of moving, so everything I own is stuffed in that trunk.”

After a few seconds of contemplating, he huffs. “Well, it looks like we have some unpacking to do. Unless, of course, you don't want me rifling through your things. In that case, you’d better just call

“Oh no,” I quickly interrupt. “I’d appreciate your help. My grandmother lives just up the road, but she's in no shape to help me change a tire.”

We immediately get to work on emptying the random possessions from my trunk. Without either of us saying a word, we take out the bags and boxes, one by one, and put them in a disheveled pile on the side of the road. I almost feel violated as this strange man digs through all of my personal belongings, but I keep telling myself that he is just helping, and I’ll soon be gone.

Finally, he reaches way into the back to retrieve the last box, and, of course, it would be an open box full of panties. Not the kind of undergarments men want to imagine you having, eithernude-colored, high-waisted, and far too big.

My seventy-year-old aunt bought them for me because she thought they were more “sensible” than those that she found in my laundry. They have been in there for about six months, so I completely forgot about them. I remember opening her gift and quickly shoving the box deep into my trunk the day I left for Baltimore, hoping that they would never surface again.

Seemingly, yet another one of my plans have failed.

He quickly turns and sets the box down over by the others, trying to hide his amusement, I can imagine. I can feel the heat rising in my cheeks, knowing that they are turning a vibrant shade of red. As he turns back around, I think I see a hint of a smile, but the scowl that was there before returns as soon as he notices me looking at him.

He finally frees the spare and frowns, suddenly jogging hastily toward the garage adjoining the house. “I’ll be right back,” he yells over his shoulder.

Within seconds, he returns with a heavy-duty jack and a few more tools and quickly gets to work removing the damaged tire.

“I’m not going to get you into any trouble, am I?” I ask after a few minutes pass, making a futile attempt at small talk.

“What do you mean? Why would I be in trouble?”

“Well, I am keeping you from your work. I hope that the people you work for won’t be upset that you stopped to help me out.”

He chuckles. “No, my boss won’t mind at all.”

“Oh, good,” I sigh. “If I would’ve called a tow truck, there’s no telling how long I would be waiting. I’m so thankful you were out here.”

“It’s nothing, really.” He stands up, dusts his hands off, and wipes the beads of sweat from his forehead. “You’re all set.”

He puts the old tire in the trunk, and we begin packing my things back in. As the last few things are crammed in and nothing more could possibly fit, I remember “the box.” I don't recall putting it back in there, which means that he did. Twice now, this very ruggedly attractive man has seen my “granny panties.” I feel the burning in my cheeks again as a disturbed look sweeps across my face.

“I don’t think this last one is going to fit in there,” he says, holding out another box.

I turn and blindly reach for the box while I attempt to shut the trunk—realizing too late that it's the box that he’s holding. I gasp and immediately fumble for it, my unwieldy hands knocking it from his grasp just as a fierce gust of wind comes in off the ocean. 

Suddenly, several pairs of the panties take flight—blowing into the highway, into the yard, and one is even proudly displaying itself on a road sign. To further my humiliation, the man immediately chases them down until they are all safely back in the box, and he jogs back to my car and places it in my backseat, acting as if he thought nothing of it. 

Meanwhile, I stand here with my mouth hanging wide open, absolutely mortified.

This can’t be happening . . .

“Looks like I’d better get back to my work now, if you don’t mind,” he says while picking up his tools.

“What do I owe you for helping me out?” I am unable to even look in his direction.

“Nothing at all,” he says laughing quietly, a hint of a soft smile playing at the corners of his mouth. “Really, I owe you.”

I look up, my eyes finally meeting his. “How so?”

“I needed a good laugh today,” he chuckles, winking at me before he turns to walk away.

I feel my face flush, yet again. “Oh. Well, thanks.”

He turns his head around, nods at me with a smile, and continues to walk back toward the house. I can hear him snickering the whole way.

I get into my car and speed away as fast as I can. I have never been more embarrassed in my life. I hope I don’t run into him for the next few days that I’m here because I know I couldn’t face him again. He probably went straight to everyone else at the house and told them all about my flying panties.

I am so caught up in what just happened and trying to get away, that I don’t realize I have already gone two miles, and I nearly pass Nana’s house. I slam on my brakes and actually have to back up a bit in order to pull into the driveway. I am still quite flustered from my experience with the gardener, and I can’t get that mocking smile out of my head. He is still laughing, no doubt.

 

 

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