Until Talon Page 1



I TAP MY pen against the top of my desk as I watch the couple across the room argue. The man shaking his head, the woman waving a hand around, while the little boy on her hip kicks his tiny feet to get down so he can run around with his two sisters currently playing a game of tag. I’ve been working with Annie and Sam for a month. Every single week, they come in, ask me to take them for a test drive, and have me run numbers on the minivan Annie has her eye on, and every week, they leave after arguing for twenty minutes. If Annie had her way, they would be driving home today in her new car. If Sam had his way, his wife would stop bugging him for a new car and be happy with the hooptie she currently owns, and then she’d hand over the down payment she saved, so he could get the truck he’s been eyeing.

If I were Annie, I would tell Sam to shove it and get myself a new car and maybe a new man.

“What do you think the chances are they’re going to buy today?” my sales manager Ken asks, leaning his hip against my desk while crossing his arms over his chest, watching the couple across the room.

“She won’t pull the trigger unless he gives her the go-ahead. So I’d say it’s not going to happen,” I admit, looking at her dream ruby-red hybrid minivan on my computer screen. I wish she would put her foot down and tell him that she deserves a new car. She’s the one in the relationship who makes the money, and she’s still kicking ass at being a mom. If the roles were reversed and he was the breadwinner, she would tell him to get a new truck or whatever he wanted.

But that’s the difference between men and women. We women are always bending and breaking to take care of the people we love, and that isn’t always reciprocated. Maybe in another hundred years things will actually change.

A hand rests on my shoulder, and I look up at Ken. “Tell her I’ll give her three thousand toward her down payment. Maybe that will help sway her,” he says before pushing off my desk. “I’m gonna go get lunch. Want anything?”

“No, thanks. I brought lunch with me,” I tell him, and he dips his chin before walking away. I watch him go while letting out a breath. I never thought I’d be selling cars, but then again, I never thought I’d be living in Tennessee. I moved here after my sister called, telling me that she needed me after her husband confessed to cheating and she kicked him out of the house. I came thinking I’d be here for a few weeks, I’d help my sister get situated, and then go back to Montana. That was six months ago.

The first month, I used up my savings, because Cece was behind on bills, and a roof over your head, electricity, and food are kind of a necessity. My second month, I knew I needed a job, but my CNA license wasn’t easily transferable, so I applied anywhere and everywhere. Back home, I worked at an assisted living facility and had no sales experience whatsoever. Still, Ken took a chance on me and offered me a job, and surprisingly, I’ve done okay for myself.

The sound of thunder pulls me from my thoughts, and I get up from behind my desk. I’m not sure any amount of money will change Annie’s mind, but it won’t hurt to let her know about Ken’s offer. I head across the tile floor and cringe when I hear Sam hiss at Annie for being stupid about wanting such an expensive car. “Annie? Sam?” I cut in, and they both turn to look at me—Annie with a forced smile, Sam with the same pout on his face his son is currently sporting. “My boss just wanted me to let you know he’s willing to give you three thousand toward your down payment,” I say then smile down at one of their daughters as she uses me to protect herself from her sister.

“Really?” Annie whispers before looking at her husband. “That’s amazing, isn’t it, honey?”

“Yeah, amazing,” he mutters, looking at his son when he reaches for him. He takes him from his wife and places him on the ground.

“He doesn’t have shoes on, Sam.” Annie glares at her husband before chasing after the boy and picking him back up to hold him on her hip once more.

Feeling the tension coming off the two of them, I say quietly, “I’ll give you two a few minutes to talk about it.”

Annie blows a chunk of her blonde hair out of her face. “Thanks, Mia.”

I nod and walk away, when all I really want to do is take her kids with me to give her a break for a few minutes. I sit at my desk and watch them continue to argue then jump when a shrill siren begins to blare. I grab my phone, the source of the sound, and when I look at the screen, my eyes widen as I read the tornado warning for the area. I jump up with my heart pounding, not sure what to do.

When I notice no one else reacting, I walk quickly to my coworker Scott’s cube when I see him at his desk. He holds up his finger when I pass through the door as he continues to talk on the phone.

“There’s a tornado,” I hiss at him, holding up my cell for him to see the screen.

He covers the mouthpiece of the phone and smiles at me. “’Tis the season. It’s fine, Mia, just a warning. You’ll learn they happen all the time.”

“Oh.” I rest my hand over my pounding heart, willing it to calm to normal as he goes back to his call.

I leave his cube and walk across the tile floor to look outside through the glass at the black sky and heavy rain. In Montana, we don’t have tornados. We have huge snowstorms in the winter, but besides that, we don’t normally have to worry about natural disasters. I guess this is just one more thing I’m going to have to get used to living here in Tennessee.

“Mia.” Annie touches my arm, and I turn to look at her. “Are you okay?”

Darn, she really is sweet. “Yeah, I’m fine.” I reach out to touch her son’s cheek, and he latches onto my finger with his little hand. “Did you and Sam have a chance to talk?”

Her chin drops to her chest, and she looks at her son, saying in that tone babies seem to love, “I think we’re going to wait a little longer.”

“That’s okay,” I assure her, tickling her son under his chin, and smile when he giggles. “I’ll be here when you’re ready.”

She looks at me once more then at her husband, who is on his phone, with their girls a few feet away stuffing their pockets full of the snacks we have out. “I’m sorry, Mia. I don’t want you to feel like I keep wasting your time.”

“You can come see me every day, and I still wouldn’t feel like you’re wasting my time,” I assure her.

“Thank you.” She sighs when her son tugs down the top of her shirt so he can grab her boob.

“Mom life is no joke,” I repeat something my sister says almost daily.

She laughs, grabbing her son’s hand, then asks, “Do you have kids?”

“No, but my sister has three, and she’s a fricking rock star in my eyes. I don’t know how you guys do it. I can barely take care of myself and my two dogs.”

“Dogs are harder than kids.”

“I’ll have to agree to disagree with you on that one. I’ve seen the damage my three nieces can do in five minutes. While it takes my pups Mercury and Retro five minutes to get up off their beds most days.”

She laughs, lifting her son up to her shoulder, and he rest his little head there as his eyes fight to stay open. “Thanks for putting up with us today. I’m going to get him and my girls home.”

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