Not Quite Crazy Page 1

Author: Catherine Bybee

Series: Not Quite #6

Genres: Romance

Loading...

Chapter One

“Smells like snow.”

Rachel glanced up past the skyscrapers and into the bright gray sky. “Does it?”

“It really doesn’t snow in California?” Julie asked.

The two of them took a brisk pace around their building toward Romano’s, where a hot lunch filled with way too many carbs awaited.

“It does in the mountains.” Rachel opened the door, happy that her gloves kept the cold of the metal handle from reaching her skin. “Which I never went to during the winter.”

The heat from inside the small restaurant rushed against their exposed skin and resulted in a collective sigh.

They had thirty minutes before the mad rush of lunchtime traffic in Manhattan, with lines out the doors and everyone talking at the top of their lungs.

With four patrons in front of them, Rachel took her place in line. “I’ll be the first to admit I’m not ready for your winters.”

“You’re not ready for our summers either.” Julie moved aside as a man who appeared to be wearing three jackets walked by with a tray full of soup and crusty French bread. The deli style restaurant was the way to eat when you only had an hour to do so.

Truth be told, Rachel was a little apprehensive about the weather. She’d left the ninety-degree heat on the West Coast during early September and experienced the instant cool temperatures and changing of the colors of fall in New York.

They moved forward in line as they chatted. “I should probably get some chains for my car.”

Julie shook her head, straight black hair brushing against her shoulders as she did. “I don’t understand why you insist on driving in.”

“Public transportation scares me.”

“Of all the things to be afraid of, a subway isn’t one of them.”

“It is when you haven’t used them.” They’d had this discussion before, one where Julie would roll her eyes while properly scolding her in both English and Korean.

“Tell me how it works out the first time you find yourself in a ditch on your way home.”

Rachel lived a little over an hour outside of Manhattan and took the commute as any LA native would: with a smile. The commute she’d had back home was twice the time, so she looked at her current situation as a win.

“I won’t end up in a ditch.” As the words left her lips, she instantly saw her sporty SUV sliding into snow-covered water with her emergency lights flashing. “I’ll be fine,” she said to herself more than her friend. “Everyone in California has a car, and none of us use the bus.”

“Like that matters in a place where it’s three hundred and fifty days of sunshine and fifteen days of sprinkles.”

“Hey, it rains.”

Julie narrowed her already narrow eyes in Rachel’s direction.

“Whatever.”

They both laughed and stepped up to the counter.

Ten minutes later, the two hovered over a table as three other customers left. They slid into the recently occupied seats and made quick work of taking their first bites.

“Weekend plans?” Julie asked.

“Unpack.”

“You’ve been here for nearly three months.”

“Every room needed fresh paint and a stupid amount of cleaning before we unpacked. There are only so many hours after work and on weekends.”

“Did you ever get to your room?”

Rachel had made sure Owen was completely taken care of before working on her own space. Between moving to the opposite coast, changing schools, and finding new friends, it was surprising he smiled as much as he did. He wasn’t a complainer by nature, a trait he’d inherited from his mother. Rachel paused and allowed the depth of her loss to move on. “I’m finishing up my room this weekend.”

“How is Owen getting along at school?”

“He likes his teachers, is passing all his class—”

“That isn’t what I mean.”

Rachel spoke around her food. “There are a couple of neighborhood kids who have welcomed him into their circle.”

“Same age?”

“Lionel is a junior. Ford is Owen’s age.”

Rachel thought of the three boys the first time Owen had them over. For the first time in months, she walked into Owen’s room to find him belly laughing at something one of the boys said. She’d leaned against the doorframe and watched them. And in that moment she knew they were going to be all right.

“I don’t know how you do it.” Julie finished her soup and nibbled on the bread that came with it. “I can hardly take care of myself.”

“You’d figure it out if you had to.”

“Instant mom, changing your home, your job.”

“Same kind of job, different company.”

Julie glanced at the man behind her who bumped into her chair while trying to climb into his. “When was the last time you went on a date?”

Rachel glared. “Are you going to ask me that question every week?”

“Yes. I am. You’re too young to be hanging it up in suburbia alone.”

“I’m not alone.” Rachel glanced at her watch and stood.

“You have to promise me the first time Owen stays over at his buddy’s, you’re calling me, and we’re going out. You’ve been in the city for a season, and my guess is you’ve only seen the streets on your commute and the few blocks we walk to find lunch.”

Julie was right. Rachel hadn’t explored the city any farther than what her work mandated. A shame, really . . . but not something she could help.

“You’ll be the first to know.”

The sharpness of the frozen temperature nipped at her lungs with each breath once they were back outside. She fished her gloves out of her pockets and pulled them on for the brief walk back to their building.

She was most definitely not in California anymore.

“Mr. Fairchild, your brother is on line two.”

Jason glanced at the light blinking from his desk phone.

He signed the correspondence in front of him and lifted the receiver. “What’s up, Glen?”

“Ha. Try again.”

Trent. “Fifty-fifty chance of screwing that up.”

“More like seventy-thirty with the amount of hours Glen puts in compared to me.”

It was nice having his youngest brother back with the company. Even if it was only a couple of days a week, when he wasn’t gallivanting over the globe with his wife and humanitarian efforts.

“Anytime you want to jump in—”

“Bite your tongue.” Trent wasn’t a nine-to-fiver, and lucky for all of them, Fairchild Charters ran like the well-oiled machine that it was. Their planes spent more time in the air than most of their competition, the brokers found new clients every week, and their expansion across the globe had grown 15 percent in the past twenty-four months with a company growth of 5 to 7 percent annually in the past decade.

Things were good.

“So what is the uncharacteristic Friday afternoon call about?”

“I’m calling to give you a heads-up.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah, Monica and Mary have been talking.”

Jason leaned back in his chair and focused his gaze outside his window. “Should I be worried?”

“About you. They found out you didn’t make it to Robert’s for Thanksgiving.”

“I was sick.” Which was only half a truth. He’d found out earlier that Robert’s wife had invited a woman she had been trying to set Jason up with for six months. Seems like everyone was working the find-a-girlfriend service for him for the past year.

Next