Paige was getting towards the end of her day. Her plan was to leave early so that she could prepare for dinner. Her presentation was complete. She actually had a shorter version and a longer version of the presentation and was prepared to use either depending on Mr. Donovans mood.

She looked down at her phone. Another text from Mr. Donovan. It was a picture. This better not be something dirty she thought. She opened the message. There were actually two pictures. One was a picture of a dining room lit with candelabras and another was the same room lit wit a chandelier. There was a message beneath them: First or second picture for tonight he wrote.

Second, she replied, then added, Is that your dining room?

Yes, he replied.

Of course it is, Paige thought. He comes from old money, or he just decorates like he does. Not that it mattered. Paige hated money. To her, the world would be a better place without it. But, she was aware that this was a bit of an extreme view.

Another message popped up. It was from Mr. Donovan.

3 or 5 it said.

Paige stared at her phone incredulously. What does that mean? she wondered. Then, she wrote it.

3 or 5 was sent again.

The other message had context clues, she retorted in her next text.

3 or 5 was sent a third time.

3 Paige replied. Are you going to tell me what I chose or is it a surprise?

🙂 was his reply.

Wow, she thought. She started packing up her bag to leave the office. She said goodbye to Haley and went to the health center. She spotted an older woman with short blonde hair.

”Carrie, Im about to leave but I hadn seen you all day so I stopped by, ” Paige said.

The woman gave her a knowing smile. ”You know Im not a gal that likes the cameras. Besides, theres always work to do. A couple new clients came in today and Im getting them applied for everything I can, ” she said in her Texan drawl.

e such a good social worker. Can we clone you? ” Paige asked jokingly.

”You still gotta pay the clone a salary, so probably best not to spend useless amounts on the science and just hire someone, ” Carrie said with a smile.

Paiges phone went off. She looked at the message. It was 2 pictures again. One was a chocolates desert and one was a berry desert. First or second the message said.

Second she replied.

”Who has got you grinning like a fool?! I haven seen you smile like that since that boy in college, ” Carrie exclaimed excitedly.

”Oh its just Mr. Donovan. We have a dinner meeting and hes asking me what Id like for desert, ” Paige replied sheepishly.

”Oh, just Mr. Donovan, ” she jested. ”The hunky benefactor thats got money coming outta his butt, that Mr. Donovan? ”

”Yes, thats the one, ” Paige replied. Carrie had a way of making her own up to her feelings. Paige owed Carrie everything; she was like a mother to her.

”Paige, ” Carrie said seriously, ”if hes a good one, settle down and tell him your truth. You deserve to be happy, like me and Drew. ”

”Carrie, we
e just colleagues. I will admit that he is attractive but objectively there are a lot of attractive people in this world. Ill work on my happy ending, eventually with one of them. Also, hes kind of like a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde because he is so nice to me but hes a jerk to everyone else. Thats not my type and not okay, ” Paige said, seriously.

”Ok, well you know best, honey. Get on outta here, ” she said with a smiling while playfully pushing Paige to the door.

”Bye, Carrie. Ill text you! ” Paige said as she happily left the health center and then the building saying goodbyes to staff and clients.

She drove to her home, contemplating Carries words. No one knew her truth, not all of it. Not even Carrie. She thought back about when they first met. If anyone deserved the world, it was Carrie.


-7 years ago-

Paige was wandering the streets with a rolling suitcase. It was late at night and she had just come out of a bus station. There were no taxis. Paige didn have a phone. She left it behind.

She was trying to find some kind of convenience store or motel, but she was completely and utterly lost, having never been in this town before. She had decided to just walk in a single direction and if she bumped into someone maybe get directions.

However, she felt her hair stand on end when she heard footsteps trailing behind her. They started getting faster and closer, so she started moving faster. She darted around a corner and saw a woman motioning towards her to hurry into an alley. For some reason, she trusted her in that moment and she ran to her. The woman led her through a series of alleys. Finally, she came to a stop. They were in a makeshift shelter behind a building. The woman motioned for Paige to sit, so she did.

”Girl, ” the woman said seriously in a Texan drawl, ”I don know what you
e running from but you do not belong here, I can promise you that. Do you realize what wouldve happened if I didn show up? ”

”I can go back, ” Paige whispered, her eyes welling with tears.

”Oh, honey, theres always a way back, ” the woman said, trying to reassure her. Paige started crying in earnest now.

”Now, now, honey, theres always room for second chances. I don know what happened but you can figure it out, Im sure, ” she said trying to reassure her again.

”I can ! ” Paige sobbed. The woman tried to pay her on the back, but Paige flinched.

”I didn mean to scare you, just trying to give you comfort. You seem like you
e hurting, ” she said, holding her hands up as if to show Paige she meant no harm.

Paige studied the person before her. She had old clothes and was a bit dirty, but not as much as she would have thought for sleeping under a tarp behind a building. She wiped the tears from her face on her arm and asked, ”Is there a hotel or motel nearby? Ill get you a room, too, just take me there. ”

”Sure, honey. I just need to grab a couple things and we can go there. You don need to get me a room, though. Just knowing you won be on the street tonight is thanks enough. ”

”Whats your name? I basically owe you for being okay tonight, ” Paige asked.

”Im Carrie, ” the woman replied. ”Whats yours, honey? ”

”Paige, ” she whispered.

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