Changing Lanes: A Novel

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Book: Read Changing Lanes: A Novel for Free Online
Authors: Kathleen Long
stared at the window for a long while, wondering what other secrets Mick’s life held. I reminded myself that Mick’s life was none of my business.
    I shifted my gaze to the ceiling, where the stars shimmered as brilliantly as I remembered.
    For a brief moment, I thought about counting them, but then my heartache and emotions and memories crashed into a tangled mess that knotted my gut and hurt my brain.
    So, instead of gazing at the brilliance of the stars above me, I simply closed my eyes and fell asleep.


    I floated down the Seine on a riverboat tour, a loaf of crusty bread and a dry pinot noir by my side. Suddenly, the riverboat shape-shifted into a gondola, steered by a single figure expertly wielding his oar as he guided us down a narrow canal.
    I sat up and set down my bread. “I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Paris anymore.”
    The gondolier turned toward me, his face nothing more than a featureless mask. He lifted his oar clear of the water’s current and stepped toward me, raising his oar menacingly.
    When he gave me a swift thwack over the head, I scrambled toward the opposite end of the boat. He came at me a second time, and I fought to shake myself from the dream.
    History showed me that my dreams were typically neither soothing nor geographically accurate. Yet, even for the French, I thought this particular dream a bit rude. Of course, most everyone in France, especially Fred, was not terribly high on my “like” list at the moment.
    The man’s face faded before my eyes, and I blinked against the cruel glare of morning light. A horrific banging, however, persisted. Even though I knew the noise originated from somewhereoutside my bedroom, the ensuing pain was no less intense than if the hammering were inside my brain.
    I shielded my eyes against the brightness of daylight, threw a robe over my T-shirt and shorts, and shoved up the window sash.
    I peered outside my opened window and frowned.
    Rat tat tat.
Mick bent over the roof, all good-morning focus and masculine brawn.
Rat tat tat.
    He effortlessly hammered nails into the black roof wrap, sending shockwaves of pain through my gray matter.
    “Mick—” My voice sounded more like a two-hundred-year-old frog than a thirty-year-old female. I cleared my throat to try again “Mick! Are you kidding me?”
    He lifted his gaze just high enough to meet mine. Amusement played beneath his Seattle Mariners cap, and my insides twisted.
    Our conversation from the night before ran through my mind, and my heart hurt for all he’d endured.
    “Seriously, what are you doing?” I asked.
    He grinned. “Good morning. How did you sleep? Beautiful day, isn’t it? Nice work. Would you like a cup of coffee?”
    Rat tat tat.
    “Social skills, Halladay. Or did your manners skip to Paris along with your fiancé?”
    So he knew. Not that I was surprised.
    “No secrets in this town,” I said, working to ignore the pain in my head and my heart.
Rat tat tat.
“Maybe I’m just jealous your stunning beauty’s been wasted on someone else.”
    I reached my hands up to my hair, doing my best to smooth the snarled strands. “Maybe I wouldn’t look so scary if I’d gotten more sleep.”
    He arched his dark brows and laughed. “Not likely.”
Rat tat tat.
“I waited until nine thirty. Some of us have jobs to finish.”
    Nine thirty?
    I pushed away from the window and pressed a button on my cell phone. Nine thirty.
    I groaned.
    I’d wanted to be on-site when Frank Turner and his crew started work at nine o’clock. So much for my ability to keep myself on track.
    I stuck my head back out the window, already fantasizing about an afternoon nap. “You’ll be gone later, right?”
    Rat tat tat.
“Social skills, Halladay.”
Rat tat tat.
“Social skills.”
    I shut the window, drew the curtains, and tossed my suitcase on the bed. I traded my shorts for a pair of jeans, tossed my robe on a chair, and pulled a rumpled sweater over my T-shirt. I

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