Sunday, 19 April 2015

"The Dating Do-Over" Serialization - Ch. 9

First, get caught up.
Information about the serialization ("The Wattpad Experiment")  
Links to:  Chapter 1Chapter 2Chapter 3Chapter 4Chapter 5Chapter 6Chapter 7, Chapter 8

Too bad this guy doesn't have long hair, like Tom. You'll be meeting him in just a minute.

Chapter 9

Even though Viv had made a resolution at Easter to visit her father more often, she had only seen him once since then. Deciding to surprise him after school the following week, she dropped by the two-storey he was renovating.
It was the first week of June, hot and sticky. Warm air blew through the streetcar on the ride over. Getting off at her stop, Viv peeled her blouse away from her skin before checking the address Magda had provided. The house was only a block away. It turned out to be a Victorian semi with a pick-up truck parked out front on the lawn. A man was perched on the tailgate, flipping through a pile of papers attached to a clipboard. He was middle-aged and brawny; clean shaven, but with shoulder-length dark hair pulled back into a pony-tail. He tossed the clip board into the truck, stood up, and was about to go into the house when Viv called to him from the sidewalk.
“Hi! I’m looking for Gabe Nowak. Is this the right place?” He turned in the sunlight to squint at her.
“Yeah,” he said in a rich baritone. “You’ve got the right place. Come on in.” He quickly disappeared inside the front door, and Viv scrambled after him. It was dark inside the house after the brilliance of outdoors. A drill whined close by. As she waited for her eyes to adjust, Viv heard the same deep voice drawl, “Gabe, someone’s looking for you.”
The drill ceased and her father said, “Who?”
Viv strode through the house, following the voices to a kitchen at the back. Her father was holding a drill in one hand and a white cabinet door in the other. His face was shiny with sweat and there was sawdust in his hair.
“Viv! Nice surprise. Did you come to check up on your old man?” he hollered, handing the drill and the cupboard door to the other man. Her father was 5’11”, but the dark-haired man had him by a couple of inches. She clattered across the floor and reached out to hug Gabe, but he pulled back.
“Better not. I’m a mess. Did you just come from school?”
“Uh huh. I thought I’d see how the house was doing. Looks like it’s going to be wonderful.”
“Thanks. All three floors are drywalled and the hardwood’s refinished. Tom and I are installing the cupboards today.” He nodded at the other man, who was using a level. “Tom, this is my daughter, Viv.” Tom drew a pencil line on the wall before setting the level on the floor.
“Nice to meet you, Viv,” he said, assessing her with his pale blue eyes. “You’re a lot better-looking than Gabe.”
“Course she is. All she got from me was my blond hair,” her father said, running his hand over his receding hairline. “Come on, Peaches. I’ll give you the tour. He turned to Tom. “Take a break, why don’t you? We’ve been going at it pretty hard since lunch.”
Tom wiped his face with the hem of his t-shirt. “You go ahead. The lower cabinets are almost done. I want to get going on the uppers.”
“Well, don’t kill yourself. I know the guys are coming with the counter top tomorrow, but we’ll get ’er done.”
Viv and Gabe strolled through the first floor, her dad pointing out where they had knocked down the wall separating the dining room and kitchen, and the newly-tiled living room fireplace. When they reached the front hallway, Gabe smacked the staircase bannister leading up to the second floor. The wood was painted a muddy brown, and it looked like someone had put a foot through two of the carved balusters.
“Tom’s going to strip and restore it. It should be a real selling-feature when it’s done.”
Viv ran her hand over the wood. “So, how old is Tom?”
“Eh?” Gabe paused to peer at her. “He’s fifty. But don’t worry.  Tom works harder than a lot of guys half his age.”
Fifty? Too bad. Viv found him very attractive, but Tom was old enough to be her father. She’d never date a guy that mature.
“Can we check out the second floor now?” she asked.
“Sure.” Viv trotted ahead with her father following more slowly. Once upstairs, Gabe explained how they had stripped the house back to its studs to rewire and replumb, as well as to insulate to modern, energy-saving standards.
“There were four bedrooms, but only one bathroom, and the closets were puny. We lost one of the bedrooms to add a walk-in closet and an ensuite to the master. Here it is,” he said, showing her into the bedroom.
It was spacious, large enough to accommodate a king-sized bed with room for a night table on either side. Viv walked to the window and saw that it overlooked the back garden. A handsome horse chestnut tree was in bloom with clusters of white flowers. She turned back, noticing the refinished floor and baseboards.
“I see that you managed to save the original wood trim.”
“Yeah. I think we’re going to leave it as is instead of painting over it. Come on, I can’t wait for you see the ensuite. There’s a nice surprise in there.”
Viv walked through the closet and into the bathroom, where she saw a grand old claw-foot tub resting on the sub-floor.
“Oh, Daddy, it’s beautiful. When can I move in?”
Gabe snorted and sat down on the edge of the tub. He pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped his face.
“When you can come up with a million, five.”
“Will you take a cheque?” Her father grunted, and Viv’s smile disappeared as she observed his flushed face. “Are you feeling okay? Your colour doesn’t look good. It’s awfully hot in here. Have you been overdoing it?”
“Nah, I’m fine. I’m just not getting any younger. Listen, I’m glad you stopped by. There’s something I’ve been meaning to call you about.”
“What’s that?” Viv was careful to lean against a patch of wall that wasn’t gritty with drywall dust.
“Your mother’s planning a business trip to Toronto, and she asked me to give her your e-mail. She wants to see you.”
Viv’s mouth opened, but nothing came out. “You’re kidding,” she finally said. “She hasn’t contacted me for six years, and, all of a sudden, she wants my e-mail?”
Gabe shrugged.
“You didn’t tell me that you’ve been in touch with her.”
“She contacted me a year ago to congratulate me on my early retirement. She asked about you, so I told her what was going on in your life. We haven’t been e-mailing regularly ‒ just every few months or so.”
“Why didn’t you tell me you were talking with her?”
“I know your mother isn’t your favourite person.”
“I didn’t think she was yours, either.”
Gabe sighed. “That’s a lot of water under the bridge, Peaches. You gain some perspective with age. I’m not angry with your mother anymore.”
“Well, I am.” Viv straightened and left the bathroom, talking to her father over her shoulder. “And I don’t want to see her. I’ve got enough on my plate right now without having to deal with her.” She stomped through the bedroom and into the hallway with her father on her heels.
“You’re a grown woman. You haven’t talked with your mother since that big blow-up at your graduation. You’re going to have to deal with her sooner or later.”
“No, I don’t.” Viv hurried down the staircase and passed through the first floor to the kitchen, where she had left her purse. She stopped; Tom was leaning against the wall with a can of pop in his hand. She had forgotten about him. He eyed her curiously, and she frowned and turned as her father caught up with her.
“What are you going to do, ignore your mother for the rest of your life?” he asked angrily. Viv closed the distance between them in two quick steps.
“Why not? We didn’t leave her ‒ she left us. Why should I see her when she hasn’t bothered to see me more than twice in twenty-one years?”
Gabe put his hand over his face and said nothing. Viv glared at him, waiting for his answer. After a moment, she noticed that he was breathing too quickly.
“Daddy, are you feeling all right?”
The men were using a white plastic pail in the corner of the room for garbage. Gabe staggered over to it and retched. Tom put down his can as Viv rushed over to her father. He straightened up with his hands braced upon his knees.
“I’m really dizzy all of a sudden,” Gabe mumbled before sitting down abruptly on the floor.
Daddy!” Viv knelt beside him. He started to sag, and she caught him by the shoulders and lowered him to the floor. Gabe’s skin felt hot and dry. Tom knelt beside them and placed two fingers at the base of the older man’s throat.
“Your pulse feels fast,” Tom said. “Are you in pain?”
“My stomach hurt before I puked. I’ve got a lousy headache.”
Tom looked at Viv. “Sounds like heatstroke.”
“Should we call an ambulance?”
“Nah, just let me lie here till my head settles,” Gabe said.
Viv glanced at Tom, who shrugged. He fetched a folded drop cloth and slid it under Gabe’s head while Viv dampened a cloth with water from a jug and cleaned his face.
“That feels good.”
“You shouldn’t be working so hard in this heat.”
“Do you think you could drink some pop?” Tom asked. “I’ll get you one from the cooler.”
“In a minute. After the nausea passes.”
Tom fetched a cold can of ginger ale for Viv, and set another one on the floor beside Gabe.
“It’s there when you want it.”
They rested for a quarter of an hour until Gabe had recovered enough to sit up and sip his soft drink.
“Feeling any better, old man?” Tom asked.
“Don’t ‘old man’ me. I’m only eleven years older than you,” Gabe growled.
“Well, young man, are you going to be able to haul your ass up off the floor, or am I going to have to carry you to the truck?”
“I’m taking you home. You’re done for the day.”
“Wait a minute. What about the cabinets?”
“I’ll finish them when I get back. Next time it’s so hot, we’ll hire a crew to do it.” He took Gabe’s arm. “Come on, time to get up.”
Viv took her father’s other arm and they pulled him to his feet, where he hovered unsteadily.
“You’re not going to be sick again, are you?” Viv asked.
“I don’t think so.”
Viv glanced at Tom. “I’ll drive Daddy home in his car if you can help me get him into it,” she said.
Tom looked her up and down. “How do you think you’re going to get him out of the car once you get him home? You’re ‒ what ‒ five foot three?”
Viv’s eyes widened in surprise. “That’s exactly right. How did you know?”
“I used to have a wife your size. Sorry, darling, but you’re kind of small to handle a man the size of your father.”
Viv bristled. She had looked after her dad since she was a little girl, and she could look after him now. “Magda can help me with him, if I need her.”
But Gabe put an arm around her shoulders and said, “Better let Tom take me home, Peaches.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a key ring. “If you’ll drive my car, Tom can take me in his truck.”
“Just give me a minute to clear out the passenger seat,” Tom said. He hurried out of the kitchen while Viv fumed beside her father.
“Sorry about this,” Gabe said. “I guess I’m a little out of shape.”
Viv’s face softened. “Not a problem, Daddy. But tell me, when was the last time you had a complete physical?”
Gabe thought for a moment. “Not that long ago. A couple of years, I think.”
“I worry about you, you know. Promise me you’ll go see your doctor and get checked out. Blood work, EKG ‒ the works. If you’re going to start doing manual labour at sixty, I want to make sure you’re up for it.”
Gabe snorted. “You’re not even living with me anymore, and you’re still bossing me around.”
“Someone’s got to do it. Magda gives in to you too often.”
“Look, I promise I’ll make an appointment tomorrow. Just get me home for today.”
“Good. Let me know what the doctor says.”
Tom’s work boots echoed through the house.
“Viv, what about your mother?” Gabe asked. “Can I give her your e-mail address?”
She gazed at him with unconcealed exasperation, but with her father looking so exhausted, she caved. She didn’t want to upset him when he wasn’t feeling well.
“All right. Go ahead and give her my e-mail address, if it means so much to you. But tell her that I’m not keen on seeing her again.”
“Good girl,” her father said as Tom returned to the kitchen.
Tom jerked his thumb toward the front door. “Let’s get moving. I’ve got a lot of work to get done today.


Check back on Wednesday, April 22, for Chapter 10.

Want to see more of Tom, Gabe's sexy contractor? Wondering why Viv dislikes her mother so much? You can purchase the e-book now for half-price at $1.99.  But hurry - the price will go up as more chapters are posted!

To buy the book, click on the "Contact Cathy" app at the top right of this post and leave your name, e-mail address, and a message saying you'd like to purchase The Dating Do-Over. I will e-mail back information on how to purchase the book with a coupon from Smashwords, where you can easily download it in the format of your choice.

If you would like to receive an e-mail when a new Cathy Spencer novel is released, just leave your name and e-mail address with the "Contact Cathy" app to the right of this post.

No comments:

Post a Comment