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Authors: K.L. Phelps

Second Chances

BOOK: Second Chances
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SECOND CHANCES

K.L. Phelps

Second Chances. Copyright © 2013 K.L. Phelps. All rights reserved.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and events are either products of the author's imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual people, places, or events, living or dead is entirely coincidental.
 

Contents

CHAPTERS:
 

1

2
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3
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4

5

6
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7
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8

9

10

11

12

13
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14
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15

16
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17
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18
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19
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20
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21

22

23
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24

25

26
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27

28
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29
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30

31

32
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33

34
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35
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36

37
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38
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39

40
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41
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42

43
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44
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45

46
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47
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48
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49
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50
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51
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52
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53
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54

55
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56
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57

58
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59
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60

61
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62
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63
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64
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65
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66

67
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68
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69

70
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71
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72

73
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74
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75

76
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77
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78

79
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80
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81

82
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83
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84

85
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86
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87

88

About the author
 

 
Copyright

CHAPTER ONE

Two hours later he was still going over the meeting in his head. The anger had long since passed and been replaced with embarrassed regret. Nathan King came to a sudden stop in the middle of the concourse and got hit in the shin by a rolling suitcase.

"Walk much, pal?" muttered a fat man in a hideous Hawaiian shirt as he jerked the suitcase around Nathan.

Nathan ignored the man, hadn't even heard him completely, but he did move out of the main flow of traffic. He walked over to the railing by the window and looked out. A 737 rolled slowly into view. He briefly wondered if it was coming or going.

He glanced at his watch. He had plenty of time to catch his flight. Not that it actually mattered if he missed it. There would always be another one. It wasn't as if he needed to be anywhere anytime soon. He had no pressing engagements. No one was anxiously anticipating his arrival. Only an empty house that had long ceased being a home awaited his return.
 

His mind drifted back to the meeting and more specifically his behavior. He shook his head and muttered to himself that he was a fool for flying off the handle as he had. He'd probably screwed the entire deal, not that he honestly much cared about that. He simply knew that she'd have been disappointed in him for acting as he had and that was what bothered him. He put down his carry-on and adjusted the strap of his laptop bag on his shoulder before slipping his cell phone from his jacket pocket.

He chewed on his lower lip for a moment while he tried to recall the number. He punched it in, glancing around the concourse as he did. So many people with places to be and people to see. He'd been like them once.

"Hello?" came a slightly nasal male voice.

"Douglas, it's Nathan."

"Yes?"

Well he couldn't have expected a warm greeting. At least the man hadn't just hung up on him immediately.

"Umm, yeah. I'm sorry. I just called to apologize. I was a little out of line. No, strike that. I was way out of line."

"Well I won't argue that. I had been under the impression from our previous discussions that you were interested in..."

"I was. I mean, I am. I did not mean to fly off the handle like that. It wasn't even that I didn't like your ideas. I actually think many of them will work fine. I'm probably not the best person to be handling all this right now. I'll have Toby call you and he can take over the proceedings, if that is all right with you. That is, if you are still even interested in doing business together."

"Yeah, yes I am still interested." The man sounded relieved. "Damn, I thought I'd queered the deal there. I've been going over the meeting in my head for the last hour or so trying to figure out just how I managed to insult you."

"You didn't, Douglas. It was, without question, all me. I should have sent someone else to handle this from the start. I just thought...never mind."

"Are you okay?" The question was asked in a soft, almost timid voice. Douglas knew it wasn't really his place to ask. He was more or less a total stranger. Besides, he already knew the real answer, just as he knew that he'd receive a lie in response.

"I'm fine," Nathan replied right on cue. It had become an automatic line over the last year. People asked, he responded. He would receive the occasional
are you sure
follow-up. To which he would invariably nod his head and say
yeah, just fine
.

Of course everyone knew it was a lie and Nathan knew that they knew it, but everyone pretended otherwise. It was a good arrangement and seemed to work fine for all involved. For the most part, people had simply stopped asking. Not that he spent much time around people he knew these days. One or two people still asked, but that was done more out of habit than concern for his wellbeing. Nathan believed he could likely respond with pure gibberish and no one would notice, they'd simply assume he'd given the standard just fine response. He didn't resent people for their apathy towards him, he had, after all, more or less cultivated it. The initial outpouring of concern and sympathy had been tremendous and genuine. He had been the one that had pushed everyone away.

"Nathan? Mr. King? Hello?"

Nathan shook his head, realizing he had drifted off into his own thoughts of the past. It was something he seemed to do a lot of these days. His favorite hobby.

"Yes, I hear you. Sorry, Douglas, it must be a bad connection." Yet another lie, the call was crystal clear, but he was certain Douglas wouldn't point that out. People were more than willing to allow others their private delusions. It was more or less standard practice these days. You allow me my delusions and I'll allow you yours.
 

"Damn cell phones. They charge you up the wazoo and then you can only hear every other word." Douglas chimed in quickly, almost too quickly.

Thank you Douglas that's more then enough. Don't apply it too thickly. Allow me to keep some of my dignity.

"Right. Listen, I don't want to be late for my plane, but I did want to call and apologize."

"I appreciate that a great deal, Mr. King. I look forward to hearing from you or Toby. Have a good flight."

Nathan nodded his head, realized that the man couldn't see him and started to say goodbye, but stopped when he realized he had already hit the end key. Oh well, he was quite certain Douglas would live without a goodbye from him.

He let out a long, low sigh and rubbed at his temples with his free hand before turning his attention back to the phone. He began to flip through the contacts until he hit on the entry for Toby Richards and then pressed the call button.

Nathan let his eyes roam across the masses of people. In the far corner a young teen couple, who were either oblivious to the rest of the world or simply didn't give a damn, were making out. A little over a year ago Nathan would have completely understood how the world could simply seem to melt away. The Nathan who stood there now looking at the young lovers was willing to give two-to-one odds on just don't give a damn. Looking away, his eyes stopped briefly on an older woman dragging a screaming child by the hand. He looked further down the concourse, taking in everything but not really seeing any of it. It was just like a dozen other airports he'd been in through the years. It did not seem to matter which state or country, the same people or close facsimiles always seemed to be there, constantly coming and going.

"Toby Richards here," came a familiar voice through the phone.

Nathan blinked, then shivered slightly as a chill danced its way down his spine.

"Hello? Anyone there?" came the voice again.

He could feel his heart thundering in his chest. The voice from the phone, the noise of the concourse, from the entire world around him sounded muddled, distant, drowned out by the deafening roar of the blood rushing in his head.

"Hello!" The agitation in the voice apparent.

His chest burned. He had a brief thought flutter through his mind, the first he'd had since his eyes had happened upon her, that he might be having a heart attack. He finally exhaled, more by reflex than any conscious thought, and drew in a deep breath of fresh air. He felt the burning in his chest subside.

He was vaguely aware of hearing the sound of a phone being slammed down. It took him three swipes to get his phone back into his jacket pocket. He refused to take his eyes off of her. He'd done that before and she had always disappeared.

Yes, this had happened to him before. It had happened relatively frequently right after the funeral, but he had believed that those episodes were long over. It had been well over six months since the last time. It always seemed to happen the same way. Certainly different locations, but the basic experience always seemed to be the same. He would be someplace crowded like a grocery store, the mall, the airport, what have you and his mind would invariably wander to some memory of her. And why not? She was never far from his thoughts, never had been since the day he'd met her. She would simply appear. No, that wasn't completely accurate. It wasn't as if she would appear out of thin air, but somehow she would be there. A crowd would part and he'd see her or he'd turn a corner and see her walking down the aisle of a store. He'd run after her and she would simply vanish or worse he would get to her, always from behind, reach for her and turn her towards him only to find he was looking into the face of a startled stranger. The first time had been devastating. He knew that nothing would ever allow him to forget the pitied looks he had received from the crowd that gathered around him when he'd burst into tears in the local Barnes&Noble. The poor woman he'd grabbed had cried with him and though he had never explained anything to her, never said more than thank you when she'd hugged him and kissed him gently on the cheek when he'd finally composed himself, he believed she'd known. Known and understood. Perhaps she had suffered the same loss. Perhaps it was a kind of pain that was just universal.

It was because of those episodes that had happened that he now refused to look away, tried not to even blink. She hadn't disappeared this time, not yet anyway, and if he didn't look away then maybe she wouldn't.

She stopped and looked up at the signs for the gates, glanced quickly at her watch, then turned and hurried off down the concourse moving further away from Nathan. It was her moving away that finally spurred him into action. She was moving away and if he stayed there then she would be out of his sight in seconds, so he risked moving and a miraculous thing occurred. She didn't disappear, then a group of travelers blocked his view and for a split second he feared that she had and felt the echoes of the crushing pain and consuming despair he'd known so well. A flash of fear passed through him that he was about to have a breakdown right on the spot, but then the group moved on and she reappeared, just as she'd been from the moment he'd spotted her. Same clothing, same suitcase still being dragged along behind her. She wasn't going to disappear this time, but if he didn't move quickly then he would lose her just the same.

He began to walk quickly after her, barely resisting the urge to run. He gave almost no thought to his suitcase. It was still by the window where he'd been only moments ago. Someone would take it to baggage claim or more likely steal it. Either way he didn't much care. His only concern was keeping the specter of the past in his field of vision.
 

It was the third blast of the horn, well perhaps blast was a bit strong as it came from what was basically an overgrown golf cart, that finally got him to look away. He turned to see a transport car directly behind him. The driver was a slim black woman in a blue pantsuit. She gave him a cockeyed smile as if to say she was sorry, her eyes darting to the seat next to her. She was a hundred and seven if she was a day. Her skin was somehow taut and wrinkled at the same time. Her hair was that special blue that is reserved only for women over eighty and it matched the two beady eyes that were perched above her sharp beak of a nose. A surprised smile crossed Nathan's face as he imagined her dressed all in black, instead of the horrid floral dress she was currently in, with a wart on the end of her nose. She sneered at him and then banged the brass top of her cane against the side of the vehicle.

BOOK: Second Chances
3.7Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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