Time soared by. Morning quickly morphed into the evening and Mallory finally wished the last patient ado. She swapped her lab coat for the brown blazer hanging on the coat rack in her office. The room in the back of the clinic shined under the radiant sun pouring into the windows behind the cedar desk.
Just as she sunk into the desk chair with a relieving sigh the door swung open. Chris Armstrong strolled in with his model good looks and GQ style. Most would cast their eyes upon his rich, smooth mocha skin, rigid jawline and assume he was eye candy for the many women that visited their favorite OB/GYN but he wasn’t. The man standing in front of Mallory’s desk with navy slacks, baby blue dress shirt, and a yellow tie was a business graduate from Wharton and he was her assistant/receptionist to save money to start his own business without getting a bank loan.
“Tired?” Chris’ hand sitting a manilla folder on her organized and buffed desk.
“No.” Mallory sat up, the swivel chair popping up with her movement as she scooted closer to the folder. “Just taking time to catch a breath before the madness.”
“Matthew’s coming home.” His baritone rose with his eyebrows. “You should be jumping for joy.”
She should. Really she should. Her brother was going to be back in the same zip code as her after all these years. But she wasn’t extremely enthusiastic because she knew he wasn’t going to be the only one resurfacing in her life.
“I miss him. I do.” She decided not to flip the folder open, instead of stacking it on her laptop and pushing into her briefcase. “It’s the other characters that come with his arrival that stresses me.”
“Oh.” Chris slipped his hands in his pocket with a knowing nod. “You mean Kazan. He can get on anybody’s nerves.”
This was true. Mallory knew it. “He’s Matt’s best friend.” She smacked the briefcase on the desk hoping no one at the dinner party was going to do the same to Kazan’s head. “So, I had to invite him but you, you should come.”
“Nah. I can’t. ” He shook his head reading his watch. “Tasha and I have plans so I have to get home. Anyways I don’t want to be in the same proximity as Kazan. I might catch a case.”
Mallory smiled brightly as she grabbed her briefcase and rounded the desk, “I don’t blame you. Have a good day.”
“You have fun, now.”
“I’ll try,” She tossed over her shoulder as she strutted out the office to run her first errand before the fun began.
Mallory’s blue Cadillac sedan eased into the parking lot of Whole Foods quicker than she expected. The school buses weren’t as numerous as she’d thought they’d be which ignited a bounce in her step as she grabbed a cart and eased into the store.
Salmon, lemon herb risotto, with green beans and an arugula nectarine salad. The menu was already made, she made it a week ago along with the list on her phone which made her shopping a breeze then toss in the fact that she was in her favorite grocery, a tidbit her husband complained about, she had everything she needed and could’ve been out of there in a flash. But her basket came to a stop in front of the bakery and if anyone knew Mallory, they’d know sweet things were her weakness.
Cakes. Cookies. Brownies and pies. She loved them all. They all caught her eye and erupted a rumble in her stomach making her decision indecisive. While she was trying to decide between a marble cake and a Dutch chocolate cake her phone rung.
She easily located the phone in the pocket of her purse and smiled at the name shining across the device. “Jay, what are you up? You better not be late.” Her eyes narrowed knowing her friend lacked promptness for occasions that didn’t work relate.
Jayla’s laughter filter through the speaker before she spoke. “Just leaving work. You don’t know me that well.”
“Huh,” Jayla sighed knowing she was telling the truth. “What time should I be there?”
“Seven. Everyone’s coming at seven.” Mallory rolled the basket away from her far as her arm would allow and then back again. “That’s means you come at 6:45.”
“I’ll only come that early if you’re coming up something good. Is it good?”
“Yes.” She turned away from the dessert case to see if they had something good stack on the table when her eyes picked up a familiar face. Her brain froze and her jaw dropped at the sight—Julissa kissing a man that wasn’t Greg in front of the refrigerators holding the stores freshly juiced fruits and vegetables.
“Mal! Mal!” Jayla called bringing her attention back to the phone she held against her ear.
“Oh, sorry.” She blinked turning away just as Julissa caught sight of her. She twisted away missing the woman’s frantic waddle away from the area. “I just got distracted by something but dinner’s going to be stellar. I’m cooking.”
“Damn. Ain’t you cocky.”
“Confident not cocky.” Mallory pointed to a triple layer cake with cream frosting and the lady behind the counter gave her a nod before getting a box. “Can you please come a little earlier. I really need to talk to you about something before everyone comes.”
“Ah…” Jayla paused as if she was thinking. “Sure. I’ll just grab something and get dressed there.”
“Thanks.” A pleased smile arched her lips.
They said their goodbyes before the baker handed her the cake and she gently set it in the basket, bordering it with the other groceries to ensure it stayed safe from harm.
She navigated the basket through the aisle to the checkout counter hoping she didn’t run into Julissa and wondering if she was going to see her husband at home or if he was going to be late again. She needed him there, especially tonight.
Should Mallory keep what she saw Julissa doing to herself or tell Greg?