Book Four In The Carson's Bayou Series Callie's Story... Coming Soon
CHAPTER ONE Callie Madison leaned forward and twirled the red straw through her iced white chocolate mocha coffee, staring at her sister across the table. “It’s not like I’m asking you to give me the money. It’s a loan. I’ll pay it back when I graduate, with interest.” She rubbed her lips together and the sweet chocolate flavor of her coffee mixed with the berry flavor of her lip gloss. “I just don’t see what the big deal is. I thought you wanted me to go to college to better myself. I mean, if you think about it, I’m doing this as much for you as I am for myself.” Fiona raised her piping hot black coffee to her lips and blew the swirl of rising steam from the cup. She stared at her younger sister’s bouncy blond curls pulled back away from her face with a baby blue headband. The polka dots on the head band matched the blue and white striped tank top that clung to her perfectly toned figure. Her tanned legs, crossed at the knee, emerged from the blue jean mini skirt led down to the flashy red toenails showing from the rhinestone studded flipflops. These nails matched the manicured nails now drumming the tabletop as her sister looked at her, eyes stretched wide. “Cal, this is not easy for me to say, and I think you know it. It’s not that we don’t want you to have the money, and I do want you to finish your education. But it took you three years to finish a two-year junior college. Not because you don’t have the brains, because we both know that’s not the case. You just started putting other things like parties and dating and whatever ahead of studying.” Fiona blew out a deep breath of air and took a sip of the coffee. “We’re thinking that if you work for a year, save up your money to put toward the tuition, that you will take your education serious.” “You’re not being fair.” Callie leaned back in the wooden chair and looked around the Bayou Bean, careful to keep her voice low. A couple of girls she had graduated with back at the beginning of the summer sat a few tables over, near the picture window facing the busy street. Wouldn’t they love to know that all the bragging she had done about leaving Carson’s Bayou and going to LSU this fall was falling flat. One of the girls, Bridget, the plump one that loved to gossip looked over her shoulder to where Callie and Fiona sat, the nosy little pigeon. Callie stretched her lips into a broad smile and nodded in her direction, making sure their eyes met and held. Bridget jerked her head back around, caught in the act of spying. “I had a heavy load with the volleyball practice and then all the debate team meetings. It was too much to keep on top of. Besides, college is supposed to make you a well-rounded person. Part of the reason people go college is for the social growth experience.” Callie batted her eyes at her big sister. “I wasn’t doing anything bad, Fi. I just couldn’t keep up.” “Hogwash.” Fiona set the coffee cup down on the table. “Rich people might send their kids to colleges and universities for the social experience, but the rest of us go to learn something that will help us get a decent job and support ourselves for the rest of our lives.” Her head cocked to the side and she glared at her sister. “If you want social growth, go to the library and check out a few books, do a little reading about the world. That will grow you way more than spending all your time with Dawson What's His Name. Honestly, Callie, I don’t know what you see in that guy.” “There’s nothing wrong with Dawson.” Callie raised her chin. He’s a sweet guy. He’s not a Wade, but I wasn’t lucky enough to fall for the richest guy in town.” She looked down and rubbed the glossy red surface the nails on her left hand with the fingers on her right hand. “You actually dropped out of college the first time you went.” She slowly raised her eyes and looked at Fiona. “At least I kept going and graduated.” “See.” Fiona spat out the words like they were bad medicine. “That’s the reason I’m not letting Langston give you a free ride to LSU. You know good and well that I dropped out to get married. It was stupid and XXX was a jerk, but while I was there, I did the work and made the grades. I was working hard and saving all I could to go back to school until Nanna got sick . . .” Fiona’s words faded. She reached her hand across the table. Tears glistened in Callie’s eyes as Fiona squeezed her hand. “I don’t want to fight with you,” she said, her voice becoming soft. “I’m not going to fight with you. The fact is, now I have a daughter of my own, and hopefully one day soon, Catherine will have a little brother or sister.” “You’re pregnant?” A smile tugged at the corners of Callie’s lips; the anger of a few seconds ago completely forgotten. “Not yet.” Fiona returned the smile. “But we’re trying.” “Okay.” Callie’s shoulders slumped and she sniffed back the tears. “What do you want me to do?” “Don’t act like it’s the end of the world.” Fiona pulled her hand back and picked back up her coffee mug. A chestnut strand of hair dropped from the pile of messy curls pulled to the back of her head and she brushed it out of the way. “Get a job. Save your money. You’re living in Sidney’s apartment and driving my Beetle. You should be able to save almost every penny if you don’t.” Fiona glanced down at Callie’s manicured hands. “If you don’t let it slip through your fingers. In a year, if you’ve worked hard and have part of the tuition, we will help you with the rest.” “Is that it? One year of work and then you help with school?” “No.” Fiona lifted the coffee mug to her lips and took a sip then returned it to the table. “You also have to decide on a major. We won’t help pay your tuition if you don’t know what you are going for. But you have a whole year to think about it, so that shouldn’t be a problem.” Fiona looked down at her cell phone laying on the table. “Oh man, it’s already two. I have to pick Catherine up from the sitter.” She reached across the table again and squeezed Callie’s hand. “Don’t be mad at me. I hate it when we are mad at each other.” “I’m not mad.” Callie pulled in a deep breath of air and huffed it out. “I’m ready to get through school and get out of this town. Another year stuck in Carson’s Bayou is like a prison sentence.” “Well, put on your orange jumpsuit and get to work.” Fiona stood from her chair, her gauzy ankle length skirt draping around her willowy frame. “Your sentence will be done before you know it. There’s a HELP WANTED sign over in the window.” She nodded her head to the front where Callie’s friends sat. “You can probably start here tomorrow if you don’t put me down as a reference.” “I don’t know.” Callie looked up at her tall, thin, perfect big sister and winked. “Your antics at the Bayou Bean are legendary. I have a feeling simply having the name Madison will forever ban me from employment here.
Nope. Callie pulled out her cell phone and pulled up the help wanted section of the paper. She might have to work for a year, but she was not going to wait tables or hustle coffee out to her snobby friends. She had an associate degree from the junior college. Yes, it was a general studies degree with the minimal amount of math that she could get away with, but it was still a degree. There had to be something around here she could do. She scrolled past the posting for a cashier at the dollar store and a stocker at the grocery store. She continued through the listing for private sitters for the elderly and daycare workers. “That looks promising.” Callie pulled a drink of the sweet coffee concoction through her straw and read the post. Office manager needed for new business opening August first. Honor Systems Technology is looking for an office manager proficient in planning and organization, analysis and assessment, time management, and communication, multi-tasking and conflict resolution. This person will need to have a thorough understanding of billing clients and running a budget and be proficient with multiple prominent computer software programs. The communication thing would not be a problem, and conflict resolution, she could talk her way out of any problem. The rest of the stuff on the list—that was another story. Crash! Callie’s head jerked toward the explosive sound in time to see the barista, a high school girl that probably weighed ninety pounds soaking, wet drop a tray with a couple of drinks and some pastries near the cash register. She turned her head away from the girl and looked over at the help wanted sign in the window of the Bayou Bean. That was the job she was qualified for, but good grief. The two girls she graduated with were laughing, literally laughing out loud at the poor kid behind the counter. She looked back down at the list of requirements for the office manager. She had made a B in creative writing. Her resume might require a little bit of her creative touch, but she needed the office manager job. Besides, she was twenty-two. She knew as much about computer software as any other likely candidate in Carson’s Bayou. The place was not overflowing with technology geeks after all. She pushed her chair back and stood up, stretching her shoulders. She smiled at a couple of guys who looked her way as she headed out the door. She could get this job for sure if the person doing the interview was a dude, but she couldn’t bank on that. No, she wouldn’t actually lie on her resume, not really, she would be creative. Once she got the position, she would buckle down and figure out everything she needed to know. Fiona said she was smart, and Fiona knew her better than anybody. She could do this. One year of hard work, then bye-bye Carson’s Bayou.