Entangled:An Evolve Series Novella(7)

By: S.E. Hall


“No, no, I remember now. I’ll paint mine, you go ahead and start painting yours. Go wild, baby, I have several conference calls and a late meeting. I’ll call or text you an ETA when I have an idea when I’ll be done.”

“Okay, I’ll talk to you then. Love you.”

“I love you, Laney Jo,” he answers, somewhat solemnly, “but I’m still winning the bet.”

“Puhleeese.” I giggle before hanging up.





***

Despite jamming to “Stereo Hearts” by GCH while I paint like the natural Picasso that I am, I hear my phone ding and jump off my stepstool, wiping my sweaty brow, to check it.



Bennett: Where r u?

Laney: At the duplex painting. U?

Bennett: Lol, next door. That must be your music, thought it was guy out back. Almost done?

Laney: I could be. Y r we still texting? Walk over here.



I chuckle to myself, setting down my phone and walking over to turn off the music.

“Yoo hoo!” she calls out.

“Hey, girl, back here!”

“Heyyyy,” she lets out a long whistle, “looking good in here. I love the purple!” She claps her hands and bounces in place. “Isn’t it fun, fixing up your own personal dollhouse?”

“Yeah.” I laugh, pulling in her in for a quick hug. She’s like walking sunshine, you just can’t help but wanna hug her. “But it’s not purple,” I waggle my finger at her, wanting to clear up this terrible misconception, “it’s called Champagne Elegance and it’s a silkier version of -lilac.” I perfectly mimic the way-too-excited-to-sell-paint-for-a-living saleswoman who basically chastised me where I stood for using “ugly, mundane words” like purple, yellow and—gasp—red.

“Don’t tell Dane you got a sneak peek. You’re one of the judges and shouldn’t know which room I did, okay? You were never here.” I use my best mobster voice, brushing my knuckles under my chin like a boss. “And not to sway your vote, but the fridge came today and there’s a bottle of wine in it that I’d love to share with you, Votie Voterson.”

“Yay! Tate’s working and our furniture,” she looks pointedly around at my barren space, “is already in. Let’s do girls’ night at my place! Can we?” Her face is hopeful. “I miss my Laney time.” She pooches out her bottom lip and gives me irresistible puppy dog eyes.

“I can hang ‘til Dane’s done at work. Can I shower there?”

“Of course you can.” She wrinkles her nose and lets her eyes drift in the area of my pits. “Please do.” She giggles. “I’ll grab the wine, just head over when you’ve wrapped up here.”

I nod, heading to the sink to rinse my paintbrushes. As I watch the swirls of muted purple spin around and disappear down the drain, I lift my chin and smile. This bet with Dane is gonna be like taking candy from a baby. He’s been too busy to even start on his room, and I’ve been working like a dog, almost done with the second coat of paint in mine. The curtains are on the rod and new switch plates and outlet covers have been purchased, both ready to go up as soon as the paint’s dry. I’d decided against the softball theme and am going with a tranquil space, different hues of light purples, sage greens and lots of candles. It’s gonna be great!

Finished up with the rinsing, I do a quick walk-through, flipping off the lights and locking the door behind me. I turn to walk the whole ten steps to Bennett’s, letting out a screamed “Oh!” as I catch myself with one hand on the bricks, looking down to see what I’ve tripped over. Looking right back up at me is one very miserable, very pregnant dog. Bassett hound? Beagle? I don’t know, but she’s definitely in no mood to move, belly dragging the ground.

“Are you lost, sweetie?” I bend down, gently petting her head. “Huh? You have a collar, somebody must be missing you.”

“Charlie!” The yell is followed by a sharp whistle. “Charlie, come ‘ere, girl!” rings through the evening air.

Charlie? This dog is most definitely female.

“Over here!” I yell.

“Oh, hi,” says a man whose good looks even the enclosing darkness can’t hide. “Charlie,” he too squats down closer to the hound, “girl, how’d you get out? You can’t have those puppies on a stranger’s porch.” He chuckles lightly, giving Charlie a scratch behind the ears, her tail wagging slightly.

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