The door fell shut behind me and I leaned against it, sinking down to the floor, hands already reaching up to cradle my head.
I hated days like today. Days with surprises. Days with new changes. Days where I felt so worthless that even the air thought I wasn’t fit to breathe it.
A hiccupping wheeze warned me that I ought to be searching for my inhaler and not my bottomless pit of self-pity. Thankfully, I found the necessary inhaler and within a few short, sharp breaths, I could function well enough again.
The prospective project—an abandoned art studio—was covered in the doom and gloom of amateur hands too afraid to unleash their true potential and the ghosts of master artists who had passed on. It was perfectly drab and dreary in all the wrong sorts of ways to encourage creative expression.
I was perfectly happy to sit there and be beautifully depressed by it.
A tentative knock on the studio door alerted me to the fact that stomping out of the downstairs café hadn’t been the wisest move. I thumped my head on the door to explain that I was bracing against it.
Fifteen minutes later, my husband, Dylan climbed through one of the open windows and grinned, all smiles and smelling of freshly cut grass.
I ignored him. He came over to sit beside me and offered a can of diet coke. I took it, smiled and set it on the floor beside me, unopened.
We sat together, waiting. I had no idea what for—yet.
“It’s too big,” I said, at last. “Much too big. Can’t do it.”
He snorted. “It’ll take forever, forget about the size. Did you even look at the plan?”
“What plan? You called that mess of requirements a plan?” I rolled my eyes and nudged the unopened soda can out of reach.
“At least it’s registered, at least-”
“At least what, Dylan? At least they called us because we need the work? Because we have oh so much time on our hands? Because we might actually be able to do something? I’m exhausted. I’ve got nothing.”
“Tch. You’re exhausted?” He gave me a look. “How do you think I’ve been holding up? Who would do the heavy lifting in remodeling a place like this? You can hardly even lift two fingers to-”
And the pity party was in full-swing.
We stopped the squabble before it turned into an actual argument. Of course, by then, all unnecessary fears had become quite ridiculous.
Dylan held up his soda can in a silent toast. I popped the top on mine before clinking it against his. He blew out a breath and then reached over to tug me to his side with one arm wrapped tight around my shoulders.
“You’ll do fine, babe.”
I snuggled into his side and slurped the diet soda. “So will you. I keep you around for more than heavy lifting.”
He snickered into my hair and we both shared a sigh. “So…?”
I yawned. “It means three more half-nights a week and a lot of extra moola in the bank when we’re through. I dunno. Your call. You wanna have everything covered or you need the beauty sleep?”
“Oho. And look who’s talking.” He teased. “Yes?”
“Yes.” I winked.
He laughed. I giggled.
“Dylan? Chelsea?” Marge’s voice sounded through the studio door and I dutifully scooted out of the way to let in our friends-slash-clients.
She had a sheepish look on her freckled face, hands twisting in her oversized sweater. “I didn’t mean to spring it on you guys like that, I just thought that well—you know. You’re so good at it and it’s work and I know things are probably tighter than you want them to be-”
“It’s fine, Marge.” Dylan waved her off. He pinched my side for the unnecessary drama from earlier. “You know how she is. If she doesn’t whine about it, I’d be worried.”
“That was whining?” Jacob cautiously inched into the half-lit studio. He thumbed a few switches and bright, white lights flooded the room. “I’m terrified.”
“She’s a genius,” Dylan corrected. “She’s allowed. Now, about your remolding plans, you’ll make an allowance in the contract for personal expression, right? We can probably rush this for, say two weeks.”
Marge beamed, relieved. “Wonderful. Anything you need just say it and it’s yours.”
“Good.” I held up my can in another toast. “We’ll take it.”
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