It was dark. Too dark. The cold night breeze wrestled with the tips of Callie’s hair as she fumbled for the keys to her front door. She should never have driven herself, even if the bar was only blocks from their small home. She glanced back at the sedan parked crooked in the gravel drive and giggled. Nika was going to kill her for taking up both spots but there was no way she was going to attempt to straighten it out. With as much alcohol as she’d consumed she was lucky she’d made it back in one piece.
Thump. It sounded like it came from inside though it couldn’t have been Nika already. Callie had left her back at the bar less than ten minutes ago and she had still been playing Saturday Night Fever out on the dance floor.
She finally found the right key and slid it into the deadbolt. The lock clicked and she pushed in the door. Thump. This time a little louder and definitely from inside.
Callie stumbled over the spinning threshold wishing that she’d stopped at her second round of drinks. But no, she’d chosen to drown her broken heart in the form of lemon drops. Then of all the places Danny could have gone he shows up at O’Malley’s. It was bad enough he had already started seeing someone else but for her to come face to face with her replacement was too much.
Thump. There it was again. Probably Mr. Whiskers, Callie thought. Her fingers deftly felt for the light switch. She nearly face-planted when light finally flooded the room.
“Here silly Kitty,” Callie called, kicking off a high heel and throwing her purse onto the coffee table. It landed with a soft thud and tipped over, flipping it and all of its contents onto the floor.
“Shit,” she muttered, kicking off her other shoe on the way toward her bedroom. “Screw it. I’ll get it in the morning.” All she cared about at that moment was squeezing into her pajamas and crawling onto her nice warm pillow top.
“Here kitty, kitty,” she called out again and smiled when Mr. Whiskers nuzzled her, running the length of his body against her leg. She pushed open the bedroom door fully and bent down to pick up the fat tabby. His fur was soft and comforting in her hands and at that moment Callie knew that after everything that had happened this past year, she wouldn’t have made it without Mr. Whiskers. Suddenly, the fur on the cat’s body stood up and its ears flattened, a low growl escaping his throat. Callie let him jump to the ground where he crouched and slowly made his way back into the living room. Something had his attention but a wave of nausea assaulted her and she remained sandwiched between the open doorway.
For a second the room spun on its axis and her drunkenness returned full force, bile working its way up her esophagus. She turned on her heel and headed for the bathroom, barely making it to the small tiled room before emptying her stomach and all its contents into the toilet. She slumped to the floor, both hands on either side of the seat and continued to dry heave. All this over a stupid guy, Callie thought, tears pooling at the corners of her eyes. She leaned forward, placing her cheek against the cold porcelain. It felt cool and oddly comforting against her flushed skin. Her stomach began to settle and when she closed her eyes sleep crept up on her.
* * *
Nika checked her phone for the tenth time in as many minutes. She had texted Callie over an hour ago and still had no response. She should never have let her go home by herself. Correction. She should never have dragged her out in the first place. She knew her friend wasn’t ready but she couldn’t take another night of her moping around in her pj’s watching reruns of I Love Lucy while she stuffed her face with moose tracks ice cream. Daniel was an ass. Everyone knew it. Had known it from day one. But it was Callie’s life and she was about as stubborn as they come.
What she hadn’t expected was for Daniel to show up, current hussy in tow, to stomp all over Callie’s already broken heart. Jackass. He had even had the balls to ask Nika how Callie was doing. That conversation had ended abruptly when Nika told Daniel to take his pseudo-concern and shove it up his ass.
She slid her phone back into her pocket and grabbed her shot from the bartender, slinging it back in one gulp and slamming it down on the bar top.
“Woah,” a familiar voice said. “Looks like someone is having an off night.” She turned around to find the cock-eyed smile of Sheriff Brady beaming down at her. Nika was tall but still he towered over her, his entire frame filling her vision. At six feet five inches, Rick had been the town’s pride and joy during his high school reign as Lehi Acres prized Center. But an accident his senior year had stifled any chance he had at pro status. Years later the towns people still loved him, making his progression from officer to Sheriff a very easy win.
“Just worried about Callie,” she explained signaling Max, the bartender, for a beer this time.
“Yeah, I saw her ex a little while ago. Almost gave his new trophy tramp a citation for indecent exposure.”
Nika almost choked on her drink but managed to swallow it first. “That’s awful, Rick!” she chuckled.
“She deserves better.”
“Speaking of…” she nudged him with her elbow. “Now that she’s free, you should finally ask her out. You and I both know it’s been a long time coming.”
He winked and turned his attention to a man who’d called to him from the end of the bar. “I’ll catch up with you later,” he said and as suddenly as he’d appeared he was gone.
For a moment her spidey-senses tingled and an uneasy feeling swept over her. Someone was watching her. She took another swig of her beer and glanced around. A lot of the same faces filled her view, regulars who frequented the bar, but it would be almost impossible to place them all. Besides, no one was interested in her. She downed the frothy remains of her long neck and threw Max a tip. It was almost last call and she wanted to get home to Callie.