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I really can’t wait to share the next parts of the story with you, so I will fund the other 2 episodes from my savings and continue to release weekly episodes this month.
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Part 4: Raspberry
Lex’s phone started ringing loudly. Her eyes met the cab driver’s in the rearview mirror. He was frowning. She hurried to take the phone out of her inner pocket.
Lex always answered her phone. There was rarely a reason not to take a call. This time, she hesitated after seeing the name of the caller on her screen.
Her chest tightened with anger and regret. She had not expected to hear from Vicky. Her thumb hovered over the red circle on the screen.
What had happened, wasn’t Vicky’s fault, she reminded herself. She reluctantly tapped the green ‘accept’ button and slowly brought the phone up to her ear.
“Hey Vicky,” she said. Her nose twitched.
“I thought you weren’t going to pick up,” Vicky replied, sounding relieved.
Lex looked out of the window. The cab had been stuck in the Monday morning traffic for most of the ride. They were at a standstill.
“I almost didn’t,” she admitted.
It took Vicky a moment to respond. “I’m sorry I waited so long to reach out.”
Lex opened the zipper of her leather jacket. It was getting hot in the car despite the cold weather outside.
“That’s okay,” she sighed. “You didn’t have to.”
“I did,” Vicky said, “You were the only one who believed me.”
Lex pinched the bridge of her nose.
“I found a new job,” Vicky continued. “And I probably never would have without your help.”
“That’s great news,” Lex said and meant it. “Where?”
“At Best & Richards,” Vicky replied, excited. “They even gave me a senior title. The recommendations really helped.”
Lex took in a deep breath. She felt a sharp pain in her right side and winced. “I’m, eh, really happy for you.”
“Thank you so much, Lex. I know I got those recommendations because of you.”
Lex shook her head. “No, you didn’t. You *earned* those.”
Vicky blew out a breath. “Yes, but they would have never given them to me if you hadn’t forced them to.”
Lex pursed her lips. Vicky was right. The bastards had wanted to destroy her. Lex had stopped them. Now they had destroyed Lex instead.
“How are you?” Vicky asked carefully.
“Fine,” Lex answered too quickly.
“Are you back at work?”
“Actually, yes, I’m supposed to start a new job today,” Lex admitted.
She glanced at the screen with traffic information. It was attached to the seat in front of her. The lines in the center of Manhattan were all bright red.
“You are?” Vicky asked.
Lex tried to muster up some excitement for Vicky’s sake. “Yeah, I am!”
“Thank God! I was so worried you wouldn’t find anything around here.”
“No worries, I did,” Lex responded with a grimace.
Vicky wanted to know more, of course. “Which firm?”
Lex closed her eyes. She hadn’t even told her mother about this yet.
“I decided to head into a different direction, career-wise,” she said, hoping it sounded as if she had had a choice.
“Oh? Did you start your own firm?” Vicky gushed.
“No,” Lex snorted. Not a single customer in the city would hire her after what she had done, she knew. “Different business.”
“Different business? As in?” Vicky inquired.
Lex leaned back in her seat. “I accepted an offer in the retail sector. Financial director,” she said, leaving out the part where she had to run a chocolate store for several years first.
“Wow! That’s fantastic!”
Lex glanced around nervously. The car still hadn’t moved. She needed an excuse to end this conversation. Today would be exhausting enough already.
“I never thought you would settle down like that,” Vicky chuckled. “You seemed like a consultant through and through, you know?”
Lex let her head fall back. “Times change,” she replied with difficulty.
“So what company managed to seduce you?” Vicky teased.
Lex didn’t know how much longer she could keep up this charade.
“I don’t think you know it. It’s a family business,” she answered. “Look,” she added quickly, “My cab just pulled up to the office. I really need to go.”
She felt the driver’s gaze on her. She avoided looking at the rearview mirror and turned in her seat.
“Oh, okay, of course. Good luck!” Vicky said excitedly.
Lex watched a biker maneuver between the cars at a startling speed.
“Thanks,” she said. “You too!”
She hung up before Vicky could say anything else. She lowered the phone. Her hand was shaking.
Lex hadn’t eaten yet and the two espressos she had gulped down before jumping into the cab were burning a hole in her stomach. She groaned in frustration.
“Can you let me out?” she called out to the driver, holding up her credit card.
He shrugged and tapped his terminal. The fare showed up on the screen and Lex swiped her card. She didn’t add a tip.
The cold air hit her like a ton of bricks. She hurried to the sidewalk, nearly clashing with another biker. Lex wondered if this day would get any worse.
Then she remembered her appointment.
“I guess it will get worse,” she thought. “I have to meet this Mary Alexander Hannah seems to adore.”
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