Dreams of Catalina. A Sneak peak of my 3rd novel (Chapter 2) WIP

Chapter 2
She had decided to leave early for this day. Arriving well before the sun would rise, Karen pulled in to the parking lot. The orange flood lights filling the area, and making the trees cast eire shadows. She pulled her box of tea supplies, and family pictures from the trunk of her car and headed up to the building’s entrance, taking in the cool night air. As she approached the main building’s doors, orange light glinted from the ground. Paying closer attention Karen could see why, and her eyes trailed up to the entrance doors. They had been shattered, and broken glass lay on the ground inside and outside the doors. Karen kept approaching, but quickly realized what she was looking at, and the pry marks where the doors had been squeezed until the glass shattered left no mystery as to what had happened. She turned and raced to her car, not knowing if whoever had broken in to the building was still nearby or inside. The thought of dropping the box hadn’t occurred to her and she fumbled with her key to open the car doors. Throwing the box on to the seat next to her, she got the car started and raced out of the parking lot down to the first open business down the street. At this early in the morning, the only thing open was a coffee shop a few blocks away. She parked and jumped out of the car, walking in and sitting down, realizing how fast her heart was beating now. She called the police, telling them what she saw, and where she was. A patrol car would be on it’s way to the daycare center.

It was only 15 minutes when a police cruiser pulled up in front of the coffee shop. A female officer walked in to the coffee shop looking around at the patrons, who were few at this hour. Karen walked up to her. “Ma’am, are you Karen McKellan?”

“Yes, I’m the manager of the Marble Rock Daycare center. I’m the one who called in.” Karen replied.

“Did you drive her Ma’am?” The officer asked.

“Yes, I’m parked here.” Karen told her pointing to her car.

“Would you like to follow me up to the daycare? The other officers checked the building and the surrounding area, so its safe to go up now.” The officer asked as she opened the door for both of them.

The facility was now crawling with police officers everywhere she looked. They appeared to be concluding their search of the area, and one by one, giving their information to a supervisor as they made their way back to their vehicles. Another police vehicle had pulled in to the parking lot, this one marked at the crime scene technicians. Karen was walked though by the supervising officer who explained that the building had been broken in to, and all the staff computer equipment had been removed. That the server room was left alone, the officer explained, was a sign it was a quick job to smash their way in and grab the high value equipment that a quick sale could be made with. Karen looked around, noting the damage, and missing computers. The officer said he would remain for awhile as the crime scene techs did their work of photographing, inventory, and taking finger prints. Karen quickly typed a message in to her phone and sent it to senior staff letting them know what was happening, and to get to the building as fast as they could. There were no children slated to arrive that day, which was a huge relief, as seeing the evidence of the crime would not look well to parents dropping off their children. Karen typed a second message to her husband, letting him know what was happening, and that she was okay.

The crime scene techs worked quickly, and departed, allowing Karen and her staff to begin cleaning up the broken glass. Karen was at her desk calling the IT company that had supplied the computers and put another order in for rush delivery. After this, she called the contractors who build the facility to find out about having new doors installed. This is where she hit a snag. The contractors did install both the doors and the frames, but they only do this with brand new hardware. Once the door is in place, any damage to it required either a manufacture’s representative to work on them, or she could call a locksmith who would order and install new doors. Irritated, Karen left her seat, and walked to the reception area. The entire staff was present now, and the glass had been cleaned up. She was informed by her IT person that new computers were on hand and being delivered late in the day, which meant at least a few people would be pulling all nighters at the new facility. This was welcome good news, but the problem remained that she needed new doors.

With the mess of class and ripped computer cables now gone, and her IT tech replacing the outlets, she assigned a few of the staff to start calling locksmiths in the area until they found one who could come out quickly. It was an hour before Karen was informed someone would be on their way, but this relief was enough to allow her to go back to her car and get her stuff for her office. It wasn’t long before she had tea brewing, and still working the phones, she had several security companies due out to bid on providing nightly checks by guards. Of course all of Marble Rock’s facilities had entry alarms, but this new building’s alarm was suppose to be set up today.

The IT tech was nearly finished, her staff had their work spaces set up, and the classrooms had toys and supplies being opened and shelved. The security companies had come out, and Karen signed a contract for the next three months to have guards check all the Marble Rock facilities a few times between closing and opening, and specifically to have guards on site while staff left for the night, and arrived in the morning. The locksmith however was an hour overdue. Karen had them called, and was told they were on the way. Before long, and because of all the chaos, Karen started letting people begin an extended lunch, rotating half the staff to go eat, the other waiting until they returned.

Minutes later, the receptionist appeared in Karen’s doorway. “The Locksmith guy is here.” Megan said. Karen got up, a bit peeved for having to wait so long, and headed for the front door area. A tall man in gray trousers, a white shirt, and a small, unusual tool belt was quickly unscrewing the door’s framing. Karen approached the man, “You’re here to fix the door I assume?” She huffed slightly at his back.

“Yes ma’am. I should have this fixed by sunset.” He replied casually without turning from his work.

“You know, we called your office hours ago. They said you would be here much earlier.” Karen was not impressed by his failure of conversational courtesy.

“No ma’am. You called me. I was told what had happened, so I called the local suppliers to find out who provided the door’s to this place, put in the order for the replacement parts, and drove out hours early to pick them up,” He continued without stopping what he was doing, nor turning around, “You’re staff keep calling asking where I was, and I plowed through traffic to get here today, instead of having you come out at night to meet, and with any luck, I’ll have new, working doors on here and key’s in your hand to be home by dinner. I assume you’d overlook that delay for these results?” The man turned as he pushed the frame slightly, allowing the whole thing to drop to the outside.

Karen had to look up at him, stunned for what was surely just a moment but felt like minutes. “I…um… uh, yes. I mean thank you for that initiative to get this done quicker.” Karen stumbled through the sentence. He was quite a looker. Tall, dark hair, obviously hadn’t shaved that morning, leaving that shadow at just the right length. His uniform was fitted, leaving his slight build and trim waist for others to take in. It wasn’t these physical attributes that really took her by surprise at first though. His smile was wide, and his eyes smiled even more. He clearly enjoyed having this woman stomp up to him, only to turn it on her with his workmanship and business sense.

“Barrett Coy ma’am. Coy Locksmith.” Barrett said, holding out his hand.

“Karen McCellan.” She took his hand, beaming as they shook.

“Do you have a staff member that can wait around until six or seven? I should be done by then.” Barrett asked, looking around at the visible staff members milling about.

“Oh.. I’ll stay. We open tomorrow and I’d like to get my people home early to rest up for a hectic first day.”

Barrett was a good as his word. The new door were installed quickly, and he turned over the keys to Karen. He offered to check the other doors in the building for damage, noting pry damage could allow frequently opened doors to not lock properly. Karen escorted him through the building. With no evidence of damage to the other doors, They struck up a conversation, Karen telling him about times she locked herself out of her car or house, and Barrett telling his stories about small children accidentally locking babysitters out of a house. As they passed by Karen’s office Barrett stopped and stared in.

“Whoa. Who’s office is this?” He asked.

“That would be mine. Why” She looked a bit puzzled as to what he was staring at.

Barrett walked in to the office, over to the wall were a small painting hung on the wall. He was consumed for the moment. In front of the small canvas, he explored the work, a smartly framed, long oil painting of a coastline. The pale sky, and the clean water, all contrasted by a hill, and a large house seated on it. The house was painted in great detail for being so small. “This is fantastic.” Barrett commented without looking away.

“Thank you. It’s a scene of southern Newport Coast.” Karen smiled.

“Yes, I know. That is just south of Crystal Cove.” Barrett noted. He turned to Karen. “Where did you buy this? I must have one, I just love it.”

Karen’s smiled widened even more. “I didn’t buy it… I made it.”

“How much?”

“You want to buy my painting?”

“Yes. Will you sell it?”

Karen didn’t hesitate for even a moment, “How much is it worth?” Karen had no idea how to price a painting.

“You painted it. How much money do you want of it.” Barrett asked plainly.

“Um.. Two hundred” Karen dragged out slowly, unsure.

“Two hundred? Barrett looked insulted. “The canvas, the paint, and you clearly painted this on scene so you drove there; I’ll offer you five.”

Karen’s nerve steeled. “Okay, five.” She watched Barrett reach for his wallet, pull out two hundred dollar bills, and six fifty dollar bills. He handed it to Karen, and reached over and lifted the painting off the wall, pleased with his purchase.

As they walked to the parking lot together, Karen kept sneaking looks at Barrett as he talked about the coast. Apparently, he frequently traveled to that same area she had painted that scene years ago. He was spirited with his new painting, and even though it was the art work he was enthralled with, she felt a part of her was interesting to him as well.
Karen waved as she pulled out of the parking space. She drove home with music for which she didn’t remember a single lyric, nor able to recall any melody of what had played.

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