FRAMED: Episode 5, "Never, Ever"


Violet searched her computer. “There’s nothing on him. No Facebook account, no Twitter, nothing.”
“So what? He doesn’t like social media. No big deal.” Kim licked chocolate off her finger. Along with coffee, she’d brought chocolate chip cookies this time. And like every day for the past week, as soon as Kim walked in, Austin bolted for lunch. But also like every day this week, he’d stayed framing until eight in the evening. They would be finished by Wednesday—a whole week before Christmas. 
“Don’t you think it’s odd? Danny’s a cop and even he has social media. If anyone would want to be incognito, it would be police.”
“Danny never wants to be incognito. He likes the feel of authority. Frame Boy, however, he has dark and mysterious going for him. Tell me, what do you guys really do behind these closed doors working so late?” Kim asked.
Nothing exciting…unfortunately. “Work.”
“Oh come on.” Kim pushed against Violet’s good arm. “You mean after a week of late nights together, y’all haven’t so much as kissed yet?”
“No!” Not that she hadn’t thought about it, once, or twice. Or a lot. But kissing him would be a distraction and a mistake, and she didn’t need either. Not even if the distraction/mistake was the best looking thing she’d ever seen this side of the Mississippi. Other than the fact he worked hard, went to the art studio every day at lunch, and was Danny’s college friend, she knew nothing about him. Zero. After working a whole week together, the only thing she knew for certain was the man didn’t make small talk or offer any extra information. He was as tight lipped as a tortoise.
 “I bet he’s a great kisser.” Kim took another bite of her cookie, her eyes lost in a dreamy state.
She’d be willing to bet that too, but she wasn’t going to find out. Ever. Like never ever.
“Maybe so.” Violet grabbed her checkbook for her rent payment, forgetting she couldn’t write. This cast was driving her mad, and the thing itched. God, it itched. On top of the discomfort, her workspace was a cluttered mess with everything shifted around to suit Austin’s needs. What could she say? He was helping her. She just wished he could do it a littler neater. She shook her head, which felt as if it would explode from the stress.
“You want to write a check to me while you’re at it?” Kim joked.
“I wish I could just write it period. Can you write it for me?” Violet pointed the pen to Kim.
“Sure.” Her friend laid down her coffee cup and wiped her cookie fingers on her jeans.
“If it weren’t for Mrs. Von Doren, I wouldn’t have been able to pay rent before all of these other projects were picked up.” Violet pointed to the frames lined up against the wall. This was the real source of her anxiety hitting full force. Austin completed projects almost as fast as she could call her customers to confirm pick-up. But like her, people were short on time and cash this time of year. She only hoped all these orders were cleared out before the end of the month. If not for the money, for her sanity. Both would be a Christmas miracle.

Read the entire installment in the Dec/Jan 2019-20 issue of InD'Tale magazine.

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