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By CHRYSANTHY STAMAS
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2011 Chrysanthy Stamas
All right reserved.
Chapter OneDid you ever wake up knowing that your whole day was going to be a bad hair type of day? I did today, and the day has not disappointed.
My name is Melina Stavros, Mel for short and when I moved back to New Hampshire to be closer to family I must have been crazy. My mother calls me in the early hours of the morning asking me if she woke me, which of course she did. I think she's doing it on purpose but for the life of me I can't figure out why. Then my 4 year old Labrador Tank, pukes on the carpet while I was in the shower and when I came out I step in it. Great! My next adventure is to find a job. This has been equally as thrilling but one must press on.
I have been combing the papers and not really finding anything that has any interest for me. Bay Industries, a top defense contracting company in the US laid me off a month ago. No real reason given. One day I have a job and the next day it's gone after nine years. I looked at it as a sign to complete the changes in my life that started six months before when I divorced my husband of a year. Randy Carolla is an egotistical ass that after a year of marriage felt I should understand that the sex he had with a women we worked with was just a momentary slip. He's a friggin' moron.
Anyway, job hunting hasn't been easy ... not much listed in the Telegraph today either, with the exception of an opening at a private investigators office. Didn't really have much in the way of a job description listed but figure I should check it out. Who knows, maybe I could become, 'Melina, private dick.' That's just scary!
Time is ticking and I really need to find something soon, I've used most of my severance to move back from California and set myself up in an apartment. I still have money from the divorce but it is tied up in 401K and stocks. I'd have to call my financial guy and I never like talking to him. Basically in his eyes, the world as we know it is ending and the sky is falling. I think he's depressed. I should be looking for someone else but most of the financial planners I've met aren't much better. Sometimes status quo is the way to go.
When I first got home, I planned on staying with my parents for a short time until I got a job and found a place. Living with them for a week was a week too long. Love them but don't want to go back to my teen years.
At 10:00 I called the number in the ad and got an interview set up for 1:00. I look over my resume and references which are impressive if I do say so myself. At Bay Industries, I worked my way up from the bottom rung, ending my career there as a Strategic Relationship Director working on new commercial initiatives that would use some technology from the defense side of the house. Very challenging work and I was good at it.
Needing to print out a new copy of my resume and references to take to the interview, I turned on my computer and the blue screen of death flashed on the screen and started some kind of countdown. The ESC key didn't seem to stop anything and so I unplugged it and held down the off key. Nothing! Noticing a small amount of smoke and heat coming from the laptop, I realized that any moment the computer could burst into flames. Grabbing it, I opened the back door and rushed it into the yard with Tank close on my heels, putting it on the metal patio table. Like I said, bad hair day!
Dressed in a white v-necked knit top with a black pencil skirt and black stiletto heels, I arrived at Max Waters Investigations. The office was in the northern part of Nashua off Route 3, exit 8, in a glass building at Trafalgar Square. Using the rear view mirror I checked my hair and makeup. My shoulder length, straight brown hair looked like an out of control horse's tail. The mascara, blush and lip gloss seemed to be in the right place. Ok, not much to be done, time to move on.
I entered the building and checked the directory and found the office was on the seventh floor. I hit the button for the elevator and it opened almost immediately. Three men exited and gave me the once over. Well, guess my hair doesn't look that bad. I'm 34 years old, 5'8 in stocking feet with a muscular build from when I played sports. The term 'hourglass figure' was made to describe me. The top part of the hourglass comes mostly from my shoulder width as the girls are just average, at least that's my thought on them.
When I walked out of the elevators there was a reception desk with Max Waters Investigations spelled out on the wall behind in a brushed nickel finish that matched the sleek modern decor. A middle aged women, sat behind the glass and black desk with a pleasant smile as a greeting. The name plate read Mrs. Virginia Keily. She was the person I spoke to earlier on the phone.
"Hi, my name is Melina Stavros. I have a one o'clock interview."
"Good afternoon Ms. Stavros. Did you bring your resume?" Mrs. Keily asked.
"Well, about my resume, I had a mishap with my laptop. It basically caught fire and I wasn't able to print out a copy." Why not just say, 'The dog ate it.' "Is this going to be a problem? I can email one later." I explained. "I can give you the information on an application to get the ball rolling." I suggested with a hopeful expression.
Mrs. Keily sat back in her chair, looking at me with a smile on her face, "We should be able to work through this, not to worry. We can see about the formalities once you meet with Mr. Waters. Please have a seat and I will let him know you are here." With that Mrs. Keily knocked on one of the double door to the right of the office entrance and went in. She was gone for about 5 minutes and then reappeared taking her seat behind the desk with a glance at me and a smile. Mentally rolling my eyes I thought, 'Ok, they're not sending me home.'
I was engrossed in a magazine that had been sitting on the coffee table and was startled by a husky, quiet voice, "Ms. Stavros?" Standing before me was a strikingly handsome man.
Trying not to stare, I stood and extended my hand, "Yes ... I'm Melina Stavros."
"Max Waters," he said, "come in the office." He turned and led the way to the double doors. As we entered he said, "Please have a seat," directing me to the plush modern leather chairs in front of a chrome and glass top desk. Max Waters sat his 6'4 frame behind the desk in an equally plush leather executive chair. He was dressed casually in a black button down shirt, open at the collar and grey trousers. His hair was very dark but not black with slight touches of grey at the temples. The soft straight length brushed his shirt collar and layered back from his very handsome face. It was hard to decide his age, it could be anywhere from 35 to 45.
For several moments he just quietly looked at me. Feeling somewhat uncomfortable I decided to jump right in. "Mr. Waters, I want to start by apologizing for not having my resume with me. My laptop......" He raised his hand to stop me.
"Ms. Stavros, let's just talk and see where we go from here. We can worry about the small stuff later." So a resume was small stuff! Note to self!
The interview took about an hour from the time I arrived. When walking to my car I knew I had blown it. The funny thing is, I wasn't sure what type of job I had just interviewed for and if truth be told, not sure what the conversation was about, totally. But the man is drop dead gorgeous and those blue eyes! I figure it was worth the time spent just to look at him for an hour. I know ... get a grip.
Chapter TwoDriving back to my apartment, my cell phone rang. It was my mother. Mom is from New York, of German decent and has been married to Dad for 48 years. "Mel, come to dinner tonight. I made lamb and red potatoes," she said.
I thought about it for a moment, knew that there was nothing in my apartment for dinner and said, "Ok ... what time?"
"Five o'clock," and she hung up. My Mom is a women of few words and hates the telephone, making our conversation on the phone, very brief.
Getting back to my apartment ... all there was of it, I wanted to have a look at my computer and see if it was salvageable. When I was married I lived in a wonderful Georgian style home with four bedrooms and three baths, a gourmet kitchen and a pool in the backyard. My new apartment was on the north side of Main Street in the historic section, part of a three apartment walk-up consisting of a small foyer when you walk in, decent living room, small dining room, kitchen, an OK bedroom with, for lack of better name, sitting room attached to it and one very ugly bathroom. The décor was made up of a mixture of things I brought from California and a few new pieces I picked up when I moved into the apartment. The colors are warm gold's, reds, and sage greens that make it feel like home. The good and bad thing about the apartment is that it's on the first floor with direct access to the fenced backyard.
"Tank ... Momma's home ... Tank," I called as I entered the apartment. Usually he is all over me when I come home. Nothing. I called him again as I made my way to the kitchen and noticed the door to the backyard was open.
Throwing my bag on the counter, I ran for the door. When I got there I could see Tank laying in the shade of the maple tree in the corner of the yard. He must have heard the door open fully as I pushed through and came running to greet me.
Tank is known as the 'bouncing ball' when he is excited because he jumps up and down on all four paws, wiggling his body and wagging his tail. This not an easy task for a dog called Tank. He is 100 lbs of square head, square body and short legs that have to turn hard to move the rest of him. He is the shape of a tank and therefore it became the perfect name.
My relief was immediate. This is all new to him and I was afraid that if he was loose in the streets I would never find him or, God forbid, he could get hit by a car. Down on my knees in the grass, with Tank rubbing against me and giving me kisses helped to calm my fears but then I noticed that the laptop that had all but caught fire and died this morning was missing from the table in the yard which brought me back to, my back door was open when I got home. Not feeling as relieved any longer I said out loud, "Shit, shit, shit! I thought this was over when I moved here."
Prior to leaving California I had a few break-ins at the house. I filed a police report the first time and then figured it was my jerk ex-husband. He was not too happy about the way the divorce went and was always whining about the stuff he didn't get. Not being into stuff, I didn't really care what he took, most of what was important to me was boxed and some had already shipped to my parent's house as I finalized my move back home.
I called the police and told them I had a break in and they said they would send someone right over. Within minutes a police car pulled up in front of the building. My apartment runs front to back and Tank raced to the window barking. When the door bell rang, I opened it to a uniformed officer. His name tag read Officer Stowe. He looked like he could be in his mid twenties with an easy stance that said he was ready for whatever was needed.
"Hi, please come in," I requested.
"I'm Officer Stowe," he said as he entered. I noticed he was looking at me a bit strangely with a smile hovering around his mouth.
Turned to walk into the kitchen I glanced at myself in the hall mirror and stopping short "Shit," I mumbled taking quick inventory of my person. In all the commotion of looking for Tank, his greeting and realizing that someone had broken into my home, half of my hair had escaped it moorings at the top of my head where I had twisted it on the way home, black fur was all over my white knit top and most likely on the black skirt too and I had grass stains on my knees just below the hemline of my skirt. "Sorry ... I didn't realize that Tank's greeting had taken a toll on me. Please excuse me for a moment." I dashed into the bathroom and yanked the clips out of my hair, brushed at the dog fur on my clothes and used a washcloth to take care of the grass stains. The blush on my face was something I would just have to ignore.
A minute later, I walked out to see Tank on his back with Officer Stowe scratching his stomach. "You have to watch him," I said. "You've seen the damage he can cause a person and their appearance."
Standing, he smiled and said, "Why don't you walk me through what happened."
Giving the Officer a walk through and description on what I found when I got home; he took notes and checked the locks for damage or tampering and didn't appear to find anything. Then he asked, "Is anything missing?"
"Just my burnt up laptop."
"Burnt up laptop?" So I explained what had happened this morning to my laptop and that it was missing from the backyard when I came home.
"I'm not sure that the missing laptop is connected as it was outside and so why break-in? On the other hand, if the perp didn't know that it was outside then ...," he trailed off with a shrug.
"So you think it's possible that someone broke into my house to have a look and not take anything or they came for my laptop and nothing else then happened upon it on the patio table? Not sure that either of those ideas is very comforting," I replied.
"Was there anything on your laptop of importance to anyone?" Office Stowe asked.
"No, not that I can think of, unless of course, someone is trying to make it difficult for me to get a job. My resume and references were on that computer," I explained.
"Well, I'll take a walk around the area outside one more time to see if I find anything, talk to your neighbors if they're home but at this point all I can do is file the report and suggest that you beef up your security. Your four legged friend here doesn't seem to think it's his job." Rubbing Tank's head, he smiled and walked to the door. "If you happen to find anything else missing or you think of something, give the station a call and leave a message for me. I'll get back to you," he finished handing me his card.
Realizing it was 4:20 and I had to be at my parents at 5:00 I rushed to change my clothes, throwing on jeans, a v-necked long sleeved tee and sneakers, quick brush of teeth and hair, pulling it back into a pony tail and running for the door with Tank in tow. I decided that I wasn't going to tell my parents about the break-in but I was bringing Tank because leaving him again today was not an option.
Driving with Tank is always great fun. He has a way of making everyone around us, in cars and walking on the sidewalks, notices him. Tank sits in the back of my Cadillac Escalade with his body leaning on the door, head out the window staring at people until they notice him and acknowledge him. Not sure what he gets from it but it is very entertaining for me.
As we pull into my parent's driveway, I can see my Dad sitting on the front steps. He is 100% Greek and at almost 70, still has the ability to make women of all ages look twice. His name is Demetrios Stavros, Jimmy to most. He is a first generation American from what was known as the 'Acre' in Lowell, MA. My YiaYia and Papua, that would be Grandmother and Grandfather, came over from Greece when they were first married, to make a new life. He was one of eight children and is only one of four surviving.
Dad's the oldest and considered the patriarch. He looks the part with thinning black hair, heavy eyebrows, deep brown eyes that twinkle when he smiles and the smile itself, amazing. Dad is my biggest fan in life, he always pushed me to be what I wanted to be and to believe nothing was out of reach. Being that we are cut from the same cloth, our conflicts are usually loud with much hand waving and glittering looks but we usually work it out in the end. When we don't, he has his way of letting me know my choices don't please him. His weapon, silence. Dad and I have gone months at a time not really talking to each other. One or the other end up giving in because we can't stand being at odds.
By the time I had Tank out of the car, Dad was standing there waiting for his hug. If for no other reason, it was worth coming home to Nashua just to be able to hug him again. "Kukla," he said as a greeting. I was Daddy's little girl figuratively and literally, 'Kukla' his pet name for me for as long as I can remember. It's just me and my older sister Dianthea, she is called Diane among other more colorful names. Ten years my senior, she was really pissed that I was born and has made it her life mission to make me pay for that slight to her. She's married and has two boys, Nicholas, 24 and James, 17 who much to the dismay of their mother, thinks their Aunt is very cool, just another thing that she can be mad at me about.
"Daddy, hope you don't mind that I brought Tank with me?"
"This big guy is always welcome," he answered as Tank did his hopping act waiting for his turn for attention.
Excerpted from STARTING OVER by CHRYSANTHY STAMAS Copyright © 2011 by Chrysanthy Stamas. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I enjoyed reading this book. The characters were well established and the story line, easy to get into and allow to take you along on the adventure. I look forward to seeing what esle Ms. Stamas might have in store in up coming books. I'll be waiting.
Starting Over was a great book. It was a quick read and hard to put down. When I finished it, it left me wanted more. I can't wait for the second book to come out.