Arrive to work at 7:58 A.M. sharp. Check. Count forty-seven steps to cubicle. Check. Arrange pens in their red-blue-black-green-purple order of importance. Check. Apply hand sanitizer before opening email. Double check.
And that’s just the first few minutes of her work day.
Thirty-one-year-old proofreader Bailey Mitchell is a slave to her tics. She inherited Obsessive Compulsive Disorder from her father, and it’s done nothing but inhibit her love life. She’s run the gamut of boyfriends—none of them willing or able to cope with her condition.
Enter 32-year-old Reece Powell, her new coworker at Beach Elite Marketing Firm. He’s more than willing to cope. He finds her habits cute and quirky . . . for now. Reece wins her over, and life coasts along for them until Bailey experiences a devastating blow. Tragedy exacerbates her OCD, and Reece realizes her tics aren’t so cute and quirky anymore. Just like all the others, he has the choice to leave.
But Reece isn’t like all the others.
The Wilmington Saga
Follow the stories of Wilmington, NC residents as they fall in and out of love, mend and break hearts, grow, change, lose, win, and experience what it means to truly live in this small coastal community.
“Tell me again why we’ve done our last four beach trips here?” I said. “I mean, we know everyone in this goddamn town. Isn’t the point of a trip to get away? So we don’t have to see people?”
“Bailey, tone down the bitchiness, okay?” Erica ordered. She dug around the inside of her purse for her cell phone. “And you know why. Noah, God love him, is a moron with our kids. I’ve gotta stay close until they get older.”
I snorted, then took off towards another club.
“Bailey!” Erica called, running after me.
“I’m not ready to go back to the hotel,” I said, shrugging off her arm.
“That’s fine. We can hang out, but if you go dark on me . . .”
“Nobody’s going dark, okay? I just wanna get my dance on,” I replied.
I spent the rest of the evening getting wasted and looking like a total slut on the dance floor. My goal was to erase two recent painful memories: shaking my ass for Reece and seeing my ex-fiancé on a booty date.
When Erica and I emerged from the club at 2:30 A.M., a taxi van was waiting. A group of young men (one carrying a case of beer) cut in front of us and threw open the van door.
“Oh, well,” Erica said. “Let’s find another.”
The boy toting the beer spotted us. “Oh, my bad. You wanted this taxi?”
“It’s cool,” Erica replied. “You guys take it. We’ll wait for another.”
“Well, I’ve got a better idea. Why don’t you come with us? We’re going to a film screening.”
The others nodded, shuffling around the sidewalk.
A film screening at 2:30 in the morning? Please. I shook my head. “Thanks, but we’re tired. We’re gonna go home.”
“Nah! Come with us. It’s gonna be a fun time,” Beer Boy pleaded.
“No no,” I replied. “You all go have a good time.”
He turned to his friend and muttered, “Fucking bitch.” A few of the boys snickered.
And then something in my brain snapped. I watched that little college punk stand there, avoiding my face, gripping his bush-league beer while the taxi driver yelled at his punk ass posse to make a decision.
“Hey, son!” I called in his direction. “There’s no need for that. No need for that kind of language.”
He hung his head—literally hung his head—while I chastised him.
“Bailey, let’s go.” Erica tugged on my arm.
“Now, I’m sorry we turned you down, and I’m sorry if that embarrassed you, but maybe we don’t feel like ‘screening’ the bullshit home movie you shot for film class on your bullshit, cheap ass camcorder.”
“Oh my God,” Erica said.
“We got to this cab first. Then you and your dipshit friends come barreling down the sidewalk and steal it. What you need to be saying to me is ‘I’m sorry’. And then you need to go brush up on the manners you clearly left at home when you came to college. Ain’t nobody gonna wanna fuck a little asshole like you if you can’t be classy,” I said.
“Bailey!” Erica hauled me along.
“Punk ass motherfucker!” I yelled over my shoulder. He flipped me off. I fought Erica as hard as I could. “Let me at him. One minute with that little shit! Just one!”
“Bailey Mitchell!” Erica screamed in my face. “He’s a doofus! All right?! Calm. Down.”
S. Walden used to teach English before making the best decision of her life by becoming a full-time writer. She lives in Georgia with her very supportive husband, who prefers physics textbooks over fiction and has a difficult time understanding why her characters must have personality flaws. She is wary of small children, so she has a Westie instead. She is the USA Today bestselling author of Going Under. When she’s not writing, she’s thinking about it.