Like Peaches and Pickles

Like Peaches and Pickles

by Muriel Ellis Pritchett

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781612969794
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
Publication date: 12/11/2017
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 1,287,996
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.58(d)

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CHAPTER 1

Georgia Anne Davis stepped out of the walk-in shower and dried off with her new pink, fluffy, over-sized, bath sheet. Monogrammed with her initials "GAD." A birthday gift from her mother, who told her it was the perfect gift for a 55-year-old body that was getting a little bit fluffy around the edges.

Georgia sighed, toweled the steam off the mirror and took a step back to view her aging, fluffy body in all its naked glory. She turned sideways, sucked in her stomach as hard as she could and decided her side view didn't look all that bad. Thirty years ago she would have worried that someone might think she was pregnant, But not a problem now, she assured herself. Not a problem at all.

Turning to face herself in the mirror, Georgia could plainly see a hefty bulge over both hip bones. Gravity. That was the problem. And middle-age spread. She tugged her hands up her rib cage towards her armpits, lifting the bulge upwards and smoothing out the curve of her hip line. With each passing birthday, Georgia became more worried about her looks. Her unyouthful looks, to be exact. Her dream of becoming Vice President of Public Relations at Georgia Central University was finally within her reach and she didn't want to screw it up by looking older than dirt.

Sighing louder, Georgia ran her fingers through her short damp wavy hair that seemed thinner every time she washed it. She couldn't deny the small streaks of white hair just above the temples, either. Georgia chuckled to herself remembering how twenty years ago she paid an obscene amount of money at the salon to put streaks in her hair. Now she had streaks for free. With her nose almost against the mirror, Georgia fretted over the seemingly increasing number of wrinkles above her upper lip. The wrinkles were making her lips look sort of prune-ish. "Caused by smoking," her dermatologist told her, when she asked him about it. He shrugged when she told him she'd never smoked. "Then in your case, it has to be genes." Ah, yes, she thought, how the doctors loved to play the "gene card" to explain the unexplainable.

Still facing the mirror, Georgia stepped back, and pulled and tugged up the hip bulges, again. "All I need is an armpit lift." But was there such a thing? She'd have to Google it later to find out. If surgeons could lift boobs and butts and balls, why not armpits?

Her wishful plastic surgery thoughts were halted by loud banging on the bathroom door. "Georgia," yelled her mother. Georgia barely had time to cover her nakedness before Eula Mae Davis charged into the room.

"Mom, I just got out of the shower."

Her mother, wearing a Star Wars-themed nightgown and Chewbacca slippers, halted in front of her daughter. "So? You got any body parts I haven't ever seen before? And I did knock first, just like you said I should oughta." Eula handed Georgia her smart phone. "Here, it kept squealing and squealing, so I answered it. You're welcome. It's that campus police fellow with the twangy voice."

Georgia grabbed the phone out of her mother's hand. "Charles?

What's wrong?" She knew something had happened. Lt. Charles Cassidy, who worked with the campus police at Georgia Central University, never called after midnight for mere social networking.

"Sorry to bother you this late," he said with his Texas accent, "but we have a big crisis on our hands."

That was not what Georgia wanted to hear. Georgia Central University was just breaking in a new president. Some Yankee guy from a university in Michigan, who already thought GCU was a walking disaster. They did not need a crisis to fuel the fire for this line of thinking. "Wait one minute, Charles." She nodded to Eula Mae. "Thanks, Mom, I have this. Why don't you go back to bed?"

"You're welcome," Eula Mae said. "I hope this doesn't mean you'll be out till the cows come home?"

"Good night, Mom."

Eula Mae set her jaw, nodded and exited — slamming the door behind her.

Georgia rolled her eyes. One day her mother was going to drive her stark raving mad! There were days when she thought having her mother move in with her was a huge mistake on her part, but after her dad died last year, it seemed like the best option for both of them. Vero Beach was an eight-hour drive. Having Eula Mae living with her was not only convenient, but also gave her peace of mind. Even on the days her mother told her what to do and fussed about her being an old maid. Even on the days Eula Mae made her feel like a misbehaving teenager, again.

Georgia put her phone on speaker and began wiggling into her comfy Haynes hip-hugging panties. "Charles, sorry about that. You have my full attention. What's the problem tonight?"

"Chief Swanson asked me to give you a call. There's been an incident at the Mu Rho fraternity house. I think you better get yourself down here as soon as you can. You know how tongue-tied I get dealing with reporters."

*
Georgia saw the flashing red and blue lights of emergency vehicles from three blocks away. The lights from the Mu Rho fraternity house windows illuminated the front lawn in the pre-dawn darkness. Her heart was in her throat as she pulled her old Corolla up behind the campus police SUVs and scrambled out of her car. "Thank God," she said to Lt. Cassidy, as he crossed the fraternity's front lawn to reach her, "the media isn't here."

"You mean, not yet, don't you?" asked Lt. Cassidy, who was carrying two cups of Jittery Joe's coffee. He handed her one — her very favorite coffee.

"Thanks, Charles." Georgia took a sip and sighed. She and Cassidy had worked together for eight years — since he had arrived from the University of Texas to take a position with the GCU campus police. During his first year at GCU, they dated off and on. But once Charles realized Georgia was married to her job, he moved on and married a divorceé with two teenage daughters. Now Georgia considered Charles a close friend and ally.

"You're probably right about the media," she said between sips of hot coffee. "Let's hope it's more later than sooner." She pulled a strand of white-streaked brown hair out of her face and tucked it behind her ear. It was 2 o'clock Friday morning. Most likely the police reporter from the local paper hadn't called the station yet to see if anything interesting had happened during the night.

"Okay, Lt. Cassidy, I'm wide awake. My adrenalin is pumping. How bad is it?" Much of what Charles told her over the phone had not fully penetrated her brain. As soon as she heard about an incident at the Mu Rho house and "an unconscious student," she hung up, threw on some clothes and ran out the door. Literally leaping over her mother — guardian of the door — in her escape.

Charles led the way towards the front door of the fraternity house. "It's really bad, Georgia."

"Please tell me it wasn't hazing?" The Student Affairs Office and the Campus Council of Fraternities had worked hard to end hazing, which more often than not resulted in injuries, angry parents and law suits. While reports of hazing were rare now, during fraternity rush, traces of the old tradition still occurred.

Charles stopped and faced her. He rocked back and forth on his toes and heels. "The fraternity members insist it wasn't, but I think they were forcing the pledges to play a stupid drinking game. Otherwise, why would any normal student binge-drink until they passed out?"

Georgia felt a twinge in her abdomen. She had seen this problem many times over the years. Especially with underage drinkers, who were at a higher risk for alcohol overdose. Too much alcohol in the bloodstream and life-support functions started to shut down — leading to brain damage and even death.

"We're talking about something here far-worse than just a little hazing," Charles said.

She sucked down a mouthful of air and gasped. "Go on."

"The student who's in the coma isn't just any ordinary student."

"What do you mean? Who is he?" She held her breath, steeling herself for the worst.

Charles leaned over and whispered, "Sherrod Orson Wittick V."

"Senator Wittick's grandson?" Georgia's pulse began to race and her head pounded out a migraine in her temple. For a second, she thought she might even throw up her coffee. This would have to be handled very carefully. One misstep could affect not only her boss, Evan Bradshaw, and President Paul Van Horne, but also the university's reputation and her career at GCU. How she hated politics!

"Yes, ma'am, that's the one. The EMTs rushed him to St. Agnes about 10 minutes ago."

Georgia shuddered. Not only was Sherrod Orson Wittick III a powerful force in the Georgia State Legislature, but he also came from a well-known prominent family — a long line of wealthy businessmen who had lived in Georgia since the 18th century. And he was one of the top donors for the GCU Foundation. His family's money recently paid for a new wing on the law school building.

"Holy crap!" Georgia brought the back of her hand to her mouth. Her stomach lurched. She closed her eyes. Her office needed to get out in front of this story before it became an issue of crisis management and damage control. She didn't see any way to put a positive spin on this. "How I love my job! I really love my job." She thought if she repeated it enough times, she would believe it. It was barely Friday; the weekend was just beginning, and she'd already heard from Campus Police several times last night. She rubbed her throbbing temples as she remembered the first call of the evening.

Right in the middle of "Hawaii 5-0" — just as a shirtless, tanned and sweaty Steve McGarrett was embracing the new love of his life. Just as Georgia and her mother were leaning closer to the TV screen in anticipation of a hot love scene, Lt. Cassidy called to report the arrest of a male and a female student caught strolling leisurely through campus hand in hand — buck naked. She wondered how happy their parents were when the police called. This was followed half an hour later by the arrest of a drunk football player caught urinating in a downtown alley.

And now this. Not one of her better evenings, Georgia reflected. But it was spring semester and strange things did happen. Now that Georgia thought about it, the entire spring semester had been particularly bad. At least student behavior-wise. She guessed the most memorable thing had to be the "peeping Tom" incidents in the women's showers early in the semester. Most of the "perps" had been horny, hormone-high male students seeing what they could see. But one creative student with his cell phone on a stick managed to take several photos of his naked victim and post them online. Even though the photos were quickly removed, the photographer had to face the wrath of the girl's preacher father, who had the student arrested.

In April, during a wild fraternity party, three pledges, high on marijuana, decided to end the evening on a high note by stripping off their clothes and painting themselves with stolen yellow paint — the kind used for making no-passing lines down streets and highways. Then while a co-conspirator pulled the fire alarm in the freshman women's residence hall, the pledges danced and wiggled in front of squealing freshman women pouring out of the building. After firemen tried unsuccessfully to hose off the paint, the pledges ended up in the hospital emergency room, where their skin was scraped raw to remove the toxic paint.

Now tonight's hazing incident had left one student in a coma. And not just any student, but a member of the wealthy and politically powerful Wittick family. The current patriarch of the Witticks, Sherrod Orson Wittick III, was a seasoned, well respected and well connected state senator — known for always being able to get whatever he wanted, through one means or another. Georgia cringed at how this man's influence could cripple the university just by funneling desperately needed funding away from upcoming projects, like the $50-million research center now on the architect's drawing board or the visual and performing arts complex, scheduled for groundbreaking next year. Without a doubt, the new president, the legal affairs office and the university's foundation would be working overtime in the coming weeks to prevent any political disaster.

Georgia left Lt. Cassidy and walked up the sidewalk toward the front door of the fraternity house. The trashed front yard was littered with the remnants of an obviously wild Thursday night party: two sofas on the lawn, overturned folding chairs, extra-large plastic cups, paper plates and napkins, a half-collapsed tent pitched over a mound of empty beer kegs, several large ice chests and what looked like a used condom. She sighed and gingerly stepped over it. Totally disgusting. Were all Millennials raised in a barn?

As she reached the wide porch with its four elegant white Grecian columns, Campus Police Chief Bill Swanson exited the front door.

"Georgia," greeted the chief.

"Bill," acknowledged Georgia, offering him her hand. "Charles says the senator's grandson is in a coma and even if he survives, he may be brain-damaged. Could this day get any worse?"

Swanson glanced down at a notepad. "This will come as no surprise, but the fraternity brothers don't know anything about anything. Everything was fine and dandy until their pledge Wittick fell over unconscious."

"All of them are clueless?" She and Bill both knew that wasn't what happened. The fraternity brothers were trying to cover up a hazing incident gone wrong. Everyone present at last night's party knew the truth. Even the poor pledges who were falling down drunk.

"We're pretty sure hazing was involved, but fraternity members say it was just a party — that everyone was drinking and carrying on and having a good time. Then the next thing they knew, Wittick fell over, his face turned bluish gray and he stopped breathing," explained Swanson. "At least they didn't just dump him outside the emergency room door. They called 911 and attempted CPR."

"Every Mu Rho brother backed up this story?" she asked.

"Plus all the pledges," said Swanson. "At this point about all we can do is charge them with underage drinking."

Georgia shook her head in disgust. "Is there a chance Wittick might not make it?"

"We'll have to wait and see. The EMTs said the kid overdosed on alcohol and it doesn't look good," Swanson said.

Georgia turned and looked at Charles, who had come up behind her. "Yep, that's exactly what they said, all right."

Georgia shrugged and turned back to Bill. "Have you notified the president or Evan?" Paul Van Horne had been president of the university for only nine months, and Evan Bradshaw was her boss, the vice president of public relations. He had been her mentor since he'd hired her as a writer about thirty years ago — a new GCU grad with a master's degree in media relations.

"You know I did!" said Swanson. "Anything bad that happens involving a Wittick or a top athlete, folks at the top want to know instantly."

"Then Evan will have been in touch with the Wittick family," she said. She knew her boss would be distraught as he reached out to the senator. Both men were close friends and allies. The senator, an alumnus of the GCU School of Law, was a very strong supporter of the university.

"The senator's helicopter should be landing at Garner's Field in about fifteen minutes," Swanson replied, glancing at his watch. "Care to join me?"

Georgia sighed. "As if I have a choice." It was expected as part of her job as associate vice president of public relations. The job she loved so dearly — except at times like this. The job that was the most important thing in her life. And, according to her mother, the reason Georgia never married or produced any grandchildren for Eula Mae to love and spoil.

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "Like Peaches and Pickles"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Muriel E. Pritchett.
Excerpted by permission of Black Rose Writing.
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Like Peaches and Pickles 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Literary_Titan More than 1 year ago
Like Peaches and Pickles follows Georgia Davis as she fights to maintain her position in a work place that is quickly changing. Georgia has worked her whole life for her success. But just as her career goals are about to come to fruition the new University President hires an old friend of his. New Vice President Carl Overstreet quickly sets himself up to be the sour pickle in this story. Easily unlikable, but somehow, Georgia has a romantic connection with the man that the rest of the staff is plotting to overthrow. With her job on the line, and soon her reputation, Georgia is faced with the adage; when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. While Georgia Davis fights to maintain the success she has we get to see office politics play out in a entertaining yet believable way that leaves Georgia endearing. If you've ever worked in an office then you can easily place these characters into your own workplace. Far too often have I seen people like Carl Overstreet walk over people like Georgia Davis in my career. It's nice that this book looks at those relationships and expands them in a story that moves along quickly with smart writing and easy prose. While Carl sets out to, seemingly, directly offend everyone, somehow, Georgia has romantic feelings for him. I don't want to ruin things here so I won't say more, but I will say that things don't end up the way you think they might, which was a nice plot twist for me and one of those small examples that kept me turning pages just to see what happens next. Georgia is doing all that she can to remain a great team player and save the public face of the University. Unfortunately, members of her team have concocted a way to get the Vice President fired at the cost of their most valuable team member, Georgia. I enjoyed the soft of internal office war that breaks out as people begin to realize that others are plotting and scheming; that could end up giving the University a bad name. I liked that this book felt familiar to me. It allowed me to easily empathize with the characters. It's so hard not to give away so many juicy details here, but rest assured, you will want to read this book for yourself. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a great drama in a professional setting with a hint of romance.