Did you miss Chapter One?
Did you miss Chapter Two?
I sat in my car the morning of the meeting with the restoration
committee, my heart pounding. My run-in with Dustin had been bad
enough; I couldn’t imagine who I’d potentially run into at the town center if
I dared to actually step outside of my car. I had driven through town late
several times since Tori first told me about the job, looking at the Clock
tower and picking up blueprints. But coming in the middle of the day was a
“You can do this, you big baby,” I said to myself, sitting upright and
turning my rearview mirror towards myself. “Your meeting is in two
minutes, and you’re not even sure what room it’s in… so why are you still
sitting here like a big dope?”
I took a deep breath, and as I reached for the handle, I spotted Dustin
hurrying across the parking lot. He was dressed in a flattering suit, a small
briefcase at his side. “Typical Dustin,” I muttered. He always overdressed,
and the briefcase was just a step too far for the occasion.
Glancing in the direction he was sprinting, I saw a young man in an even
more uppity business suit with an even more unnecessarily fancy
briefcase. They met and shook hands. Two other gentlemen were standing
on either side, and he seemed to be introducing Dustin to the group.
“Must be the reps from Revival,” I muttered, realizing they were likely
about to be escorted by the president of the committee to the meeting
My phone buzzed for the eighth time, and at last, I answered it, climbing
out of the car in the process. “Don’t be mad,” I said, hurrying around to the
back of the car to grab everything I needed for the presentation.
“I swear, if you dip out and make me look stupid, Hope, I’m going to
hunt you down and—”
“I’m here, Tori,” I assured her. I locked eyes with Dustin from across the
parking lot. Wanting to maintain a sense of professionalism, we waved
awkwardly in front of the Revival members. One of their team was
evidently a gentleman because he walked over to me upon realizing I had
a load to carry. “I’m coming in. Will see you shortly,” I said.
“You must be Hope Wilson,” the man said in the most pleasant tone I
had ever heard from a fellow Californian. “Please, let me help you.”
“Oh, it’s fine,” I said, but truthfully, I knew my presentation would take
two trips, and I was already running late.
“I insist,” he said. “I’m Sonny. Sonny Bono, and no, that’s not a joke. No
I snickered. “Funny. Nice to meet you, Sonny. I’m sorry. Clearly, your
parents had quite a sense of humor.”
“They really did. My sister is named Cher. And that’s no joke either. Try
going through high school with you and your twin sister being named after
a married duo.”
I laughed as Dustin, and the other two gentlemen begrudgingly made
their way over. “Don’t tell me, you told her about your sister,” one of the
other men said, and Sonny laughed.
“You know I always introduce us both whether she’s here or not to
explain my silly name,” he said. “Plus, it’s a great ice breaker.”
“Get over yourself, Sonny,” the first man said, laughing.
“You must be our competition today,” said the other, offering me his
hand. “Adam Douglas. This is Bradley Wilks. And I’m assuming you know
“I know Dustin,” I said as Sonny put a handful of my materials in Dustin’s
hands like he was a mule. I bit my lip to keep from smirking.
“Always a pleasure, Hope,” Dustin said, hiding his irritation.
It was awkward walking in with Dustin and my rather formidable
competition. Still, at least this meant we were all arriving together, so when
we walked in nearly five minutes after the meeting started, it didn’t appear
the least bit unprofessional.
“Thanks, fellas,” I said as Tori and three other familiar faces greeted us.
“Oh my gosh, it is Hope,” one of the women said, hurrying over to give
me an uncomfortable hug. It was Sharron, an old acquaintance from my
high school days. The other two, Ted and Bonnie, I knew only in passing.
Sharron was so gleeful to see an old familiar face that she stood in the
corner with me while I sorted through my materials, wanting to hear about
my time in Bali and LA. As the Revival team was presenting first, I
organized presentation materials so I would be able to set up quickly. At
the same time, I told Sharron everything her nosey heart wanted to hear.
“Oh, the beaches are nice in LA, but nothing compared to Bali.”
Dustin cleared his throat.
“Sharron, we’re ready to get started,” he said, looking irritated at how
friendly his fellow committee member was.
Dustin and the other committee members seated themselves at one
end of a long table, looking out at the Revival team and me. I took the
chair in the corner near where Sharron and I had been chatting. The
gentleman set up a large easel, sitting a covered picture atop it for the big
“Ladies and gentleman,” Adam began. “Thank you so much for inviting
us here today. We’re very excited to present Revival’s latest design to your
town’s committee, and we strongly believe you are going to see the
benefit of hiring a company with over forty years’ experience specific to
the revitalization of small-town life.”
The competition was no laughing matter.
The committee listened intently, taking notes. Sharron cracked open a
water bottle as Adam continued his spiel about the company. The big
reveal came as Bradley whipped the sizeable black cloth away from the
poster board, and Sharron nearly choked on her water.
“What the heck is that?” Tori questioned bluntly. “Where’s the Clock
I’d been so focused on gauging the reactions of the committee that I
hadn’t even looked. I turned my head, and I gasped. What I saw was
indeed a beautiful design, but it was not Golden. At least, not the Golden I
They must be joking!
I stared at the strip mall, the large theater, and the miner statue. All had
been moved away from the town center as though they were a second
thought. The focus was no longer the clock tower but rather a modern
water fountain surrounded by an absurdly large roundabout and walking
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⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”Diana Orgain is my new favorite author!”
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