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Driving Her Crazy

By:Kira Archer

Chapter One

Honk! Honk!

Cherice Debusshere slowly blinked open her eyes and stretched. The sun filtered in through her half-drawn blinds, sending pale yellow stripes across her duvet—

Wait. The sun?

She grabbed her phone. 8:14 a.m.

“Crap!”

The alarm was definitely still set, but it hadn’t gone off. She did a quick check.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” she groaned, jumping out of bed. She’d set the damn thing for six p.m., not six a.m. She ducked under her blinds and stuck her head out the window. The town-car idled at the curb. As if to rub it in, the driver honked again. Cherice groaned.

She was going to miss her plane.

Her mother was going to kill her.

Scrambling around her apartment she tossed shoes, hairbrush, deodorant, and her favorite shampoo and face wash into her carry-on bag. She shoved her legs into a tasteful pair of slacks, tucking in the matching silk shell tank, and grabbed a delicate cashmere sweater to go over it. Her mother had always told her to dress her best, because you never know who you might meet, and as Cherice pulled out the few pieces of clothing that her mother would approve of and would make her feel good—she could mix and match for the weekend—she sighed and folded them carefully in her bag.

Her doorbell rang.

“Crap,” she muttered again. Her foot got tangled in the strap of the purse she’d left on the floor and she hopped over to the door while trying to extricate it. She needed to slow down before she killed herself. But slowing down would make her more late. Late was bad.

She pulled the door open, her heart pounding like she’d run up five flights of stairs. The driver stood waiting, hands clasped in front of him.

“Hi, I’m Cherice,” she said, holding out her hand.

He looked surprised but shook her hand. “I’m Tim.”

“Nice to meet you. I’m almost ready.”

He nodded. “Can I take your luggage?”

“Oh. It’s not quite ready yet.”

“Would you like me to wait?”

“No, that’s all right, thank you. I’ll bring it down.”

“Yes, ma’am.” He looked at his watch. “If we don’t leave soon…”

“I know, I know. Sorry. I’ll be right there.”

He nodded again and headed back down the stairs.

Cherice hurried to the bathroom and brushed her teeth in record time, grabbing a glass of water to rinse her mouth. A quick glance at the clock on the wall made her inhale and choke. It didn’t tick so much as taunt. Late, late, late, late, late.

She tossed the remains of her water in the direction of Betty, the potted plant on her counter, and missed. She groaned. The poor thing was finally showing renewed signs of life. It would suck to lose her now.

Cherice made sure the little inverted water bottle was still propped up in the dirt, holes properly drilled so it would slowly leak water into the soil. She’d Googled ways to keep plants watered while on vacation. Hopefully, this worked.

“You hang in there, Betty,” she murmured to the plant while softly stroking its leaves.

She wiped her mouth and then mopped up the mess on the counter. The water would dry just fine if she left it, but it would leave spots. It might be her personal bathroom, but that, as her mother would say, was no excuse to cut corners. She might fail at most of the life lessons her mother had taught her, but damn it, her apartment was always guest-ready and she always looked her best.

Tim honked again. She hung her head out the window and shouted down to him. “I’m coming!”

Luckily, her mom had the bridesmaid’s dress she was wearing, so she didn’t have to worry about that. Her suitcase was overstuffed, but she didn’t have the time to pack it more carefully.

Cherice shoved a necklace and some bangles in her pocket, tossed her makeup bag in her purse, and ran out the door. It hadn’t even closed yet before she shoved it back open, her anxiety ratcheting up another notch at the delay.

She snatched her suitcase and rushed out, locking the door behind her. Thankfully, she’d checked in via her cell phone last night and had taken care of everything she needed to for her apartment the week before. She’d found someone to cover for her at the DressHer disadvantaged women’s location where she spent most of her time, and her personal shopping clients were aware she was on vacation for a week. One of the perks of working for herself. Time off whenever she wanted.

As soon as the car took off, she pulled her makeup bag out of her purse. Some base powder and a little eyeshadow brightened her face a bit. Things were going okay until she went for the eyeliner.

The liner went on in a nice, even line. Until the car hit a pothole. Her hand jerked, leaving her with an inch-long black line shooting out from her eyelid.

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