The jarring ring of the telephone pulled Leah back into the present. It took her a couple of rings to find the buried cell phone. “Hello?”
“Hey, Leah, it’s Quincy. I was just calling to check up on you.”
She settled back into a small section of the couch. “Hi, Quincy. I’m doing okay.”
“You sure?” She could hear the concern in his voice. “You sound a little sad.”
The picture of her and Jason crumpled in her fist. “Well, you know how it is. I’m surrounded by ghosts at every turn.” Her inner voice urged her to change the subject quickly. “How are you doing?”
“Well, that kind of brings me to the second purpose of this call. Would you mind coming in this afternoon? There is still so much to do for the gala, and we can use all the help we can get.”
Leah looked at her watch, then at the mess in her living room. “Yep, I can be there in a couple of hours.”
Saying her goodbyes, Leah hung up the phone and made a mental note to pick up, packing boxes along the way. When her lease was up, she was moving to her neon oasis—Las Vegas. Leah was going to be a pianist.
Running thirty minutes late, Leah pulled into the parking lot of Bright Horizons Youth Group. She didn’t see Mrs. Turner and Rosa until she almost collided into them.
“Oh, oops, sorry,” Leah said, fumbling with her purse and notebook. “I, um, didn’t see you there.” The look on Rosa’s face was pure anger.
“Well, we are certainly glad you’re here,” Mrs. Turner said with an airy smile. “There is just so much that needs to be done, and well, it is your business to know how to do this.”
Leah smiled, situating her purse on her shoulder, and avoided eye contact with Rosa in case one of the thousand daggers thrown from her eyes would penetrate. “You know, I am just happy to help,” she said to the older woman. Leah cringed at the overly eager sound of her own voice.
“And we are so glad you are helping, swallowing your pride for the good of Bright Horizons.” Mrs. Turner wore her Armani dress like it was a second skin, her makeup and hair flawless as always. Her smile was etched, and didn’t quite spread to the rest of her face.
“I don’t understand why…” Rosa said. Her hostility spoke volumes.
Leah braced herself for a very vocal confrontation.
“No, dear.” Mrs. Turner put a beautifully manicured hand on Rosa’s forearm. “You don’t understand, and you never will if you don’t check your attitude.”
A car horn caused all three women to look around. “Ah, that’s for me.” Mrs. Turner pulled a sheet of paper from her book, not acknowledging the impatient student honking.
Leah didn’t want to know why the University’s current basketball star was sitting in Mrs. Turner’s car.
“If you both will excuse me, I have more important matters to attend to.” She handed Leah a long list, “Be a dear and see if you can crank this out.”
The two women eyed each other warily.
Rosa brushed past Leah. “Don’t you dare screw this up,” she hissed.
“Why would you think that?” Leah usually kept to herself as far as Rosa was concerned, but the implication bothered her.
Rosa slid on a pair of sunglasses. “Because you screw everything up.”