Did you miss part one of Chapter One?
Chapter One Continued
“Order up, Tori!” the server said playfully as she placed our paninis in
front of us. “Can I get you, ladies, anything else?”
“I think we’re good,” Tori said. “You, Hope?’
“I’m fine, thank you,” I said, and the server trotted off.
“So, when are you going to stop hiding in a motel outside town?” Tori
asked. “There’s plenty of little inns and rental homes closer to where you’ll
be working if you get the job.”
“I know,” I said, taking a bite of my ham and cheese panini. “Didn’t want
to jump on a rental right out of the gate, though. You said I had some
Tori rolled her eyes. “If you can call it that. Some big conglomerate called
I nearly choked on my food. I gulped down some coffee to clear my
throat before speaking. “I’m up against Revival Architecture?”
“Is that bad?”
“Tori!” I exclaimed. “They’re the name for small-town renovations in the
west. For starters, there’s no way I could ever match their prices.”
“Their ideas suck,” Tori said. “They’re too… what was the phrase you
used? Cookie-cutter. They want to get in, get paid, and get out. You’re a
“A girl from Golden,” I corrected, and we laughed.
“My point is, you know what this town needs better than these guys in
suits. You know what the Clock tower means to us, and you know how to
keep that Golden charm. These people don’t know anything about Golden
and our history. They’re going to come in with some ridiculous idea, I’m
sure of it.”
“I don’t know—”
Tori waved her hand about, dismissing me. “Please. You are our smalltown Hope.”
Doubt, disguised as a headache, wedged itself into my temples. “How on
earth did Revival Architecture even come into play? They don’t have an
office up this way, do they?”
Tori fidgeted with her napkin and looked out the window.
“Did they open up a new office?” I asked.
Tori glanced back from the window, then shoved a handful of fries into
her mouth. If I didn’t know her, I might have been fooled, but she looked
to me like she was avoiding the question.
I stared her down, silently waiting for a response. At last, Tori sighed.
“The president of the renovation committee wants them. Bad. And he’s a
hard man to impress.”
“Really?” I questioned. “Who is he? Anyone I know?”
“Tori,” I said sternly. “What aren’t you telling me?”
Tori again hesitated, but at last, she muttered, “Dustin Peterson.”
The name pummeled me in the chest. “Dustin?” I asked. “My high school
fling? Steven’s best friend? He’s the one I’m going to be pitching this idea
“He is one of several you’ll be pitching to, and he has no more sway than
me,” Tori assured me.
I thought back to high school graduation when Dustin and I had broken
things off. That was a lifetime ago, but it had hit Dustin hard. He’d been
angry and bitter, and I’d honestly only made it worse by getting involved
with his best friend, Steven. Their relationship was awkward for a while, but
Dustin and Steven reconciled.
Not that that meant Dustin had forgiven me.
I rubbed my temples. “Tori, how could you not tell me Dustin is on the
committee? That he’s the president of the committee! That he’s already
looking at another architectural firm?”
Her eyes grew wide, and she stared at me. “You know why!”
I chuckled despite myself. “Because I wouldn’t come to Golden?”
Tori slammed her hand down on the table. “Exactly! And I know you can
win the committee over even if Dustin is dead set against you doing it.”
“But I’m going to be working with him, right?” I asked. “You should have
told me Dustin was going to be part of this.”
“You two were high school sweethearts,” Tori said. “That was so long
ago. Are you seriously telling me you’re thinking about copping out
because of Dustin?”
I crossed my arms and leaned back into the booth. “No, I’m not. I’m still
going to submit the proposal. I just hate that it means seeing Dustin. I was
hoping to run into as few people I know as possible.”
“If you get the job, you’re going to be here for a while, Hope,” Tori said.
“It’s not just the Clock tower, remember? That alone will take several
months, but the museum and the statue of the Golden Miner will add to
that exponentially. You’re going to bump into people you know if you’re
going to be staying in town that long.”
I sighed. “I know,” I said, fingering my sandwich and finally pushing it
aside. “I figured I’d probably run into him eventually. Golden’s not exactly a
huge city. I just didn’t think I’d be dealing with Dustin so soon.”
“A place where everyone knows your name,” Tori said. “Can’t believe
you’d hate that.”
“Can’t believe you’d love it,” I grumbled.
Tori laughed, and I begrudgingly uncrossed my arms. “It is good to see
you. I’ve missed you. Occasional video chats and a Christmas card are not
the same as sitting down for lunch, is it?”
“No, it isn’t,” Tori said. “Welcome home, Hope.”
“Don’t say that,” I countered. “LA is my home now.”
“If you say so,” Tori said, taking another bite of her panini. “So, lay it on
me. What do you have so far?”
I dug into my leather satchel and retrieved a file I’d been working on
since Tori’s email last weekend. I spread it across the table. Tori gasped,
then clamped a hand over her mouth.
I eyed her, a smile playing on my lips. “Do you like the concept?”
Tori jammed a finger onto my pages and squealed. “Those suits from
Revival can’t compare to this,” she said. “You got this!”
“We’ll see,” I said skeptically. “Revival knows what they’re doing. I’m not
going to lie. I’m worried about that one. Almost as worried as presenting
this to Dustin.”
“I’ll be there,” Tori said. “I’m obviously on the committee too. And so are
a lot of other friendly faces from your past, hon. And, when you show
them this, they’re going to be blown away. Revival and Dustin will be
“Thanks, Tori,” I said. “Honestly, I want this to work. Even if that means
spending time in Golden, this project will give my resume the jump it needs
to get the sort of jobs I’m after.”
Tori sipped her coffee and gave me a mischievous grin. “No more boxy
office buildings for you. You’re back in Golden and going to stay if I can
I chuckled. “That’s what I’m afraid of.”
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”I couldn’t stop reading!”
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”Fast-paced and fun. I love these mysteires!”
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”Diana Orgain is my new favorite author!”
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