Thanks so much for going on this journey with me! Here is the chapter 6 of Broken Record for your reading pleasure! Scroll to get started!
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K. A. LINDE
Not for reprint or sale.
Savannah took a deep breath and then turned the key in the lock. Before the door was all the way open, she could see Easton had jumped up from where he was seated on the couch amongst several stacks of papers. West Wing was playing reruns in the background. His hair was mussed as if he’d been running his fingers through it all afternoon. He had two days worth of growth along his jaw line and circles under his eyes. Still, he looked like home.
“Hey,” she said, pushing her suitcase into the living room.
“You’re not supposed to be home until tomorrow.”
“I know. I changed my flight.” She shut the door behind her and dropped her purse on the floor. “I never should have left. I missed you.”
She crossed the small room and threw her arms around his neck. He pulled her close, breathing in her scent. This was what she needed. Just to feel his arms holding her and their hearts beating as one.
“I missed you too,” he murmured against her cheek.
“I’m sorry about this weekend, Easton.” Her voice broke saying it.
She was still so upset about Lucas and their fight. So mad that she’d let him get under her skin. Why should he have that kind of power? She should have been here with Easton where she was happy. Not being stupid with Lucas.
He wasn’t wrong. They were constantly on a precipice that felt precarious at best. Like she was going to free fall at every turn. And it wasn’t good for her. It never had been. This. This right here was what she wanted.
“Shh,” Easton said. “You don’t have anything to apologize for.”
“You didn’t want me to go. We both knew it wasn’t a good idea, and I did it anyway.”
He brushed a strand of her hair behind her ear. “That wasn’t you. That was your parents. You can’t blame yourself.”
“Yeah, but then the pictures and the party. I know it looked bad.”
“That did look bad,” he agreed. “I can admit I was worried. And I wish you would have just been honest with me about going.”
“I know. I should have. I don’t know why I didn’t tell you and I definitely didn’t think I’d drink that much.”
“Look if nothing happened and you just had a lot to drink, then it doesn’t matter. Okay?” he said, his voice so earnest.
There was so much she wanted to say to that. How guilty she felt. How she should have the blame. And it does matter. The more she thought about last night, the more pieces seemed to filter through her brain. Lucas had said nothing had happened, but…had it? Why did she remember asking if he was scared? And what did that mean?
The fact that she didn’t know made it worse. Because…she could have done anything with him and not known. That wasn’t right. Let alone healthy. It certainly wasn’t how she wanted her relationship with Easton to be. She’d flip her shit if it was the other way around. So why was it any different when it came to she and Lucas?
It wasn’t any different. Lucas had come between them long enough. She needed to keep that door closed. For good.
“I know, but…” she began.
“It’s behind us,” he insisted. “Let’s just move forward. That’s what this move was about, right?”
“Right,” she whispered.
His lips landed on hers, soft and inviting. A gentle coax to open her mouth and let him in. Let him back into her heart.
She leaned into him, feeling the gentle caress and the ease with which she landed in his arms again. His strong tennis arms that circled her, claimed her.
Whatever had happened this weekend was over. She needed to be in the here and now. Present. When she was with Easton, it was so easy. Effortless.
His hands slid down her back, over her ass, and down to her thighs. He hoisted her into the air and wrapped her legs around his waist. She held onto him as he walked them back into their bedroom. The one that definitely needed to be broken in again.
Monday morning dawned bright and early. Nerves pricked at Savannah as she took the Metro to the K Street stop and exited into the sunshine that brightened Franklin Square. She took a deep breath to calm herself and followed the crowd toward the gold revolving doors of The Washington Post.
It felt surreal to walk across the black-and-white tiled floor and see the high marbled walls all around her. She’d dreamed of this moment for so long. Reporting had been her goal from a young age. Even when people tried to push her to news broadcasting, claiming her pretty face should be on a television screen, she’d been enamored with newspapers. She read them religiously growing up and refused to believe that they were a dying market.
She crossed to the row of brass elevators and followed the instructions she had been emailed last week. She stepped out of the elevator with ten other people who all clearly knew where they were going. Savannah glanced down at the email once more and turned a circle.
She turned to see a woman with shoulder-length curly brown hair and full red lips. She wore black pants, a floral blouse, and stiletto red pumps.
“Uh…yes. That obvious?”
“Always.” She held her hand out. “Dylan Gonzalez.”
Savannah took it reassuringly. “Savannah Maxwell.”
“Ohhh,” Dylan said, dragging the word out. “The Maxwell chick. Yeah, I’ve heard of you.”
Savannah grimaced. Great, her name preceded her. “Oh dear.”
Dylan laughed. “Come on. I think you’re McAllister’s assistant. He’s a hard ass and way old school. Good luck with that.”
“I’m up to the challenge.”
“That’s what the last three said. He kind of rides you into the ground.” Dylan pressed a finger to her lips contemplatively. “Metaphorically, of course.”
“I’d hope so.”
Dylan snickered. “Definitely.”
She knocked twice on a large corner office. “McAllister, your new girl is here.”
“Send her in.”
Dylan squeezed her shoulder once reassuringly. “Give ‘em hell, Maxwell.”
Savannah stepped forward into her boss’s office. He was a tall, fit man with pale skin and a slightly receding hair line. He looked like the kind of guy who used to play football in high school and hadn’t quite let himself go. He shot her a blank look and gestured around his office absentmindedly.
“Miss Maxwell, come in. I’m Rich McAllister.”
She stepped in carefully. “Nice to meet you, sir.”
“Your office is the cubicle across from mine. Mitch can help you set up. I like my coffee with cream and two sugars, and I like them regularly.” He waved his hand again. “Welcome to the team.”
Savannah opened her mouth to respond, but he had already turned back to his computer. So much for making a great first impression.
Mitch had the cubicle next to her and sighed when he saw her. “Maxwell?”
“Great. I like my coffee with hazelnut creamer and two Splenda packets,” he told her. “Just throw your stuff down and head over to the coffee station stat.”
Halfway to the coffee station, she took two more orders. She tried not to curse anyone as she made all the drinks as best and fast as she could. She put them in a carrier. But when she wound back through the cubicles, she found the office empty.
“What the hell?” she mumbled.
Then she saw the conference room. Great.
She eased the door open with her toe and came in to a spatter of laughter. Everyone’s was looking at her and laughing. Her cheeks bloomed red, and she tried to cover it by walking forward to pass out coffee.
“You’re late for the morning meeting,” McAllister said. “Hurry and pass that out and take your seat.”
She gulped and hastily handed everyone coffee. Then dropped into the nearest seat and pulled a notebook toward her. She took notes through the entire meeting but was back on coffee duty by the afternoon.
Sunk half under a pile of paperwork that had appeared on her last coffee run, a familiar face appeared. “Hey Maxwell, ready to quit yet?” Dylan asked.
Savannah grinned. “No way.”
“They make you get coffee all day?”
“Yeah, sounds right. It’ll get better. They just don’t think you’re qualified.”
Savannah eyes rounded. “Uh, why?”
“Because you’re a Maxwell. Everyone thinks daddy got you this job,” Dylan told her.
“Why are you telling me this?”
Dylan shrugged and leaned against her cubicle. “Why not? No one else is honest. And if it’s true, then you’ll scrub out in a couple weeks anyway. If it’s not, maybe you’ll prove everyone wrong.”
Savannah glanced back at the stack of paperwork. This wasn’t worse than what she’d had to do in college. It wasn’t what she wanted to be doing. But everyone had to start somewhere.
“You think my dad would have gotten me a position where I had to get everyone coffee?” she asked with a smirk. “If he had it his way, I’d have McAllister’s job already.”
Dylan snorted. “I like you. Let’s get drinks sometime.”
“Maybe after you crawl your way out of that hole,” Dylan said, pointing at the stack of paperwork.
“I’ll be waiting,” Dylan said. She fluttered her fingers in Savannah’s direction as she departed.
“Me too,” Savannah muttered under her breath.
Savannah stayed well past close. It was a couple hours later when she pulled herself out of the paperwork long enough to see the time and that she had missed several calls from Easton.
She called him back. “Hey, so sorry I didn’t answer. I’ve been swamped.”
Easton laughed on the other line. “I was actually calling because I wasn’t going to get out of work at five. I’m still at the office.”
“Oh,” she said with a laugh. “Well, at least we’re on the same schedule.”
“Pretty much. Brady wants me to go back to North Carolina with him this weekend.”
“I ran that office for him. It’s good for me to travel with him.”
“Yeah. Yeah,” she grumbled.
“Maybe you should see Liz while I’m gone. I know you two haven’t gotten a chance to catch up.”
“That’s actually a great idea.”
“See you at home later?”
Savannah grinned. “I’ll leave a spot for you in bed.”
“Don’t steal all the covers.”
“Psh,” she muttered. “As if that’s me.”
Easton laughed. “That’s absolutely you, love.”
“Fine. Just try not to wake me up when you come in.”
She could practically see Easton’s wolfish grin through the phone. “Oh, I have every intention of waking you up.”
“Don’t start that with me or I might just have to come home before I finish this paperwork.”
“All right. All right. Get your work done, and I’ll see you in a few hours. Love you.”
“You too. Bye.”
Savannah hung up the phone with a pleased smile on her face. Since walking away from Lucas, things had been so good with Easton. She already felt like they were back where they were supposed to be.
Before she forgot about it, she dialed Liz’s number. Her sister-in-law answered on the second ring. “Savannah! Oh my God, I was just thinking about you.”
“Well, good timing then. I hear the boys are going out of town this weekend.”
“Ugh! Is Brady dragging Easton along too? I swear they plan these things on purpose without us.”
“Tell me about it,” Savannah said. She leaned the phone between her head and shoulder and clicked over to the next document she was working on. “But since we have the weekend free, I was thinking we could hang out.”
“I would love that. How about dinner Friday night? I know this Indian place downtown that is to die for. I’ll make Brady get us a reservation.”
“Oh God, no,” Savannah said quickly. “As much as I’d love fancy dinner, I really just want laid back girl time and maybe a beer. I think I’m going to need one at the end of this week.”
“Is it that bad?” Liz asked with concern.
Liz knew what it was like. She had been Savannah’s editor at the college newspaper they had both ended up running. But after a scandal with Brady, she’d never fully recovered her love of journalism. Now she was at Maryland getting her PhD.
“You have no idea. I’ll tell you all about it when I see you Friday.”
“Okay. I’ll pick something more low-key and maybe we can do Rasika another night.”
“Put me down for it. I can’t wait to catch up.”
“Me either! There’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you.”
“Bad?” Savannah asked.
“Of course, not. It’s nothing. We’ll talk about it Friday.”
“All right. If you’re sure.”
Savannah hung up the phone but she wondered what Liz could have to talk to her about. Hopefully, it actually wasn’t bad. Because she could not handle something else going wrong in her life. She surveyed the enormous pile of paperwork she had to get through with a sigh. Better get cracking.
“I hate that we keep missing each other every weekend,” Easton said. He tugged Savannah closer and leaned their foreheads against each other. “One of these days we will both be home all weekend and actually get to spend some time together.”
“One day. If I ever get caught up on work.”
“Don’t let them intimidate you.”
“Oh, I’m not intimidated,” she told him. “I’m pissed. I didn’t think I’d be top dog by noon or anything, but I’d thought someone would at least take me seriously.”
“Stick with it and someone will.”
“Yeah, yeah,” she said, waving her hand. “I know. That’s what Dylan says too.”
“I think I need to meet this Dylan. You’ve talked about her all week.”
“Well, when she’s the only person in the entire building who is nice to you, it’s easy to talk about her. Plus, she’s gorgeous, funny, and brilliant.”
“Maybe you should date her instead,” he said with a laugh.
“Maybe I should. She speaks Spanish too.” She winked at him.
“Well, that definitely beats out my tennis skills.”
Savannah giggled. “You’re ridiculous. Now, hurry up before you’re late. Brady doesn’t like to wait.”
Easton grinned and pulled her in for a kiss. “Don’t have too much fun with Liz. She’s a troublemaker.”
“Okay maybe that’s just my imagination when I think about you two together.”
She swatted him. “Oh my God, Easton!”
“A guy can dream!” he said, ducking out of her reach. “I love you. Have fun!”
She shook her head with a grin on her face and watched him duck out of their apartment. She loved that man and all his ridiculousness. She wished that he could have been here this weekend. But work always came first for both of them. At least she had Liz. It would be nice catching up. They hadn’t spent nearly enough time together since Liz had moved to D.C. two years ago.
Savannah checked the time. If she was going to beat traffic and get to the restaurant on time, she needed to head out too. Of course, beating the traffic in D.C. was like saying the sky was green and the grass was blue. It was always horrendous even at odd hours. Not to mention all the drivers were insane. She’d thought the triangle was bad, but literally nothing compared to D.C. drivers.
She probably should have taken the Metro, but she didn’t want to get stuck if they stayed out late. And since the place was closer to Brady and Liz’s, she figured she might end up crashing there anyway. Especially since her brother was gone for the weekend.
It took a solid forty-five minutes of cussing out the traffic to get to the sports bar that Liz had chosen for their excellent selection of craft beer. Savannah wasn’t the world’s biggest beer fan, but after her week, she needed it. And maybe something stronger.
The place was crowded already when she entered. It had wall-to-wall big screen televisions mounted on the wall with an enormous horseshoe bar at the center. Booths lined the restaurant and high top tables took up most of the center of the space. It was loud and a bit overwhelming. She was wondering if it would have been better to pick a place quieter so they could chat.
But then she saw Liz at the bar and decided it didn’t matter.
She hurried over to her friend and grabbed her tight.
“Look at you all grown up,” Liz said with a laugh. “I remember when we were in college and you wouldn’t even drink around the other journalists.” She held her at arm’s length. “Now you’re requesting a bar for dinner.”
“Ugh! I drank in college.”
“Just not around us.”
“Sometimes. But you know how it is. It’s easy to feel like your every move is being watched.”
Liz nodded and took her seat at the bar. “I absolutely know that feeling. Senior year was kind of a disaster because of it. And I was just joking anyway. I’m glad you’re here. I can’t believe we have you, Brady, and Clay in the same city. The Maxwell siblings have arrived.”
Savannah plopped down next to her. “I feel lucky. I always thought that I’d be far from my brothers. Clay has been here forever since he was working for the Supreme Court. And then Brady was elected. It kind of felt inevitable that I’d end up here. But of course, I had no idea it would be the Washington Post. Most journalists have to pay their dues in a small town newspaper. I apparently have to pay them at a huge newspaper.”
“Aww,” Liz said sympathetically, “is it really that bad?”
“You have no idea.” She shot her an exasperated look.
“Tell me about it. I was hoping that you’d have good news about the job.”
“Let’s get something to drink first.”
Liz waved her hand at the cute bartender who hustled over. “We’ll take an order of chips and salsa. My friend here wants a Blue Moon, and I’ll just have…” She scrolled the menu and then glanced up at Savannah. “Will you kill me if I have a Coke? I’m really not feeling up to a beer.”
Savannah waved her hand at Liz. “Whatever you want. I just really need a beer.”
“Great. A Coke and a water with lemon.”
“Got it. Coming right up.” The bartender gave them both a dimpled grin and then filled their drinks.
Savannah took a large gulp of her beer. “I really really needed that.”
“Okay. What’s going on?” Liz drank her Coke. “This isn’t like you to be so stressed out. Actually…I don’t think I’ve ever seen you stressed out.”
“Well, I also wasn’t forced to be the coffee girl for the entire department. I’m all for paying my dues. That’s fine by me. But they’re doing it because they think my dad got me the job, and if they push me hard enough, I’ll scrub out.”
“That’s absurd. Why would your dad get you a job where you get everyone’s coffee?” Liz asked with a laugh.
Savannah threw her hand out. “I know! That’s what I said. He’s a freaking senator. He has more sway than that. I got this job on my own merits. Not that anyone seems to care.”
“And the boss?”
She shrugged. “He’s fine. I’m filing paperwork, sending emails, and answering phone calls. I don’t mind it. Being his assistant could get me another job in the department if I work my way up. And honestly, he’s not even that bad. He just expects me to leave. He’s had three other assistants, and they all left.”
“Well, there you go. You’re not going to leave. Give it some time and he’ll see that you’re different.”
“I just wish that my name didn’t do this to me.”
“What? Open doors?” Liz asked with a chuckle.
“Make everyone hate me because I’m a Maxwell.”
“Shush,” Liz said, taking another long sip. “All you Maxwells are charming, confident, and hard working.”
“Even Clay?” Savannah asked. She bit down on her lip to keep from laughing.
“Especially Clay! And anyway, Brady and Clay had to prove themselves to get where they are. You will too.”
“You’re right. Of course, you’re right. I’m just a stress ball. At least there’s one person at work I like.”
“Yeah, her name is Dylan. I think you’d like her. She’s very…blunt.”
Liz snorted. “Blunt like Victoria?” she asked about her best friend from college.
“Maybe not…that blunt. But I like her. It’d be nice to have a friend. Or at least an ally.”
“That it would. You should invite her to hang out with us sometime. Brady is putting together a party next weekend. She could come with you.”
Savannah reached for their chips which the cute bartender had just brought over. “I’ll see if she’s interested.”
Even though Dylan had said that they should get drinks, she hadn’t thought to invite her today. Mostly she needed a vent session. But maybe she could come along to Brady’s.
Actually now that she thought about it, she should probably get drinks with her solo first. Her family was intimidating. And she didn’t want her only friend to think that she was trying to show off or something. Savannah couldn’t help but constantly be conscious of all of this. She wished she wasn’t, but bringing new people into the fold was always a bit more like brain surgery. It wasn’t like everyone fit so seamlessly into the Maxwell family like Liz.
“No rush, ladies,” cute bartender said, swiping his brown hair out of his eyes. “But if you’re ready to order…”
They both put in their orders for delicious greasy food with fries and onion rings, and then resumed their conversation.
“And how are things with Easton?” Liz asked.
“Really good. After that fiasco last weekend, I’m glad that we’re even on speaking terms.”
“Fiasco?” Liz raised her eyebrows. “What did I miss?”
“My mom forced me to go to Lucas’s graduation.”
“Yeah and I went with him to a party for the basketball team and got shitfaced.” Savannah shook her head. “Some girl at the party took all these pictures of us and posted them online. Easton woke up to them and flipped his shit.”
“Yeah. And I…um, screamed at Lucas and told him I hated him and never wanted to see him again. Then I took the first flight home.”
Liz blew out her breath heavily. “Well, that couldn’t have gone worse.”
“I know. Easton and I are fine now. I apologized and everything, because it was stupid. But is it bad to feel…guilty about what I said to Lucas?”
Savannah bit her lip. She hadn’t even let herself think that this last week. But she could say anything to Liz. She had been there through almost all of it with Lucas.
“I don’t know, Savi. He’s your best friend, and you two have history. I don’t blame you for getting upset with him though. But if you feel guilty, then maybe Easton isn’t the only one you should apologize to.”
“Ugh!” she groaned. “I’m just so mad at him. He drives me crazy.”
“Yeah. That’s because you love him.”
Savannah whipped her head to the side. “I do not love him!”
Liz laughter bubbled out of her, and she put her hand on Savannah’s shoulder. “You always have. Even if just as a friend.”
“He’s so infuriating.”
“It’s because he’s known you your entire life. So he can push all your buttons.”
“I wish he’d stop,” she mumbled under her breath. Savannah sighed and drained the rest of her beer. “Okay, let’s stop talking about me. I’m a freaking Greek tragedy right now. What did you want to tell me?”
“Well,” Liz said, straightening. A giant smile spread on her face and she bit her lip. “I wanted to tell you in person, and I haven’t seen you yet so…I’m pregnant.”
“Oh my God!” Savannah shrieked. She hopped off of her bar stool and jumped up and down. “You’re pregnant. Oh my God! Liz!!!”
She squealed and threw her arms around her sister-in-law and closest friend. She couldn’t believe this. It was so magical.
“You’re going to be an aunt,” Liz told her.
“When did you find out? Tell me everything.”
“It’s only been a couple weeks. We don’t know much yet except that I’m due January 31st.”
“That’s incredible. Are you going to stay in school?”
Liz nodded. “Yep. I worked it out with the department so that I could finish next semester. I’ll take a semester off for the baby, and then come back to finish my third year in the fall.”
“That’s…wow. I am so happy for you. Is Brady over the moon?”
“You have no idea. I think it’s the only time I’ve seen that man cry.”
Tears welled in Savannah’s eyes at that thought. “I’m so so happy for you two. This could not be more perfect.” She stared at her in awe. “No wonder you didn’t want a beer.”
Liz giggled. “Well, yeah. Can’t drink for nine months. Not with a little Maxwell growing inside me.”
“I can’t. It’s too amazing.”
“Oh, and that party I mentioned for next weekend. It’s a baby announcement. So don’t tell anyone else.”
She mimicked zipping her lips closed. “These lips are sealed. Though I’m glad I only have to wait a week, because I’d die keeping this from everyone longer than that.”
“I’ve been dying just these last couple weeks.”
“Did you know at my graduation?”
Liz nodded. “But we weren’t sure if we should tell anyone yet.”
Savannah threw her arms around Liz again and squealed with joy. As they were both jumping up and down and celebrating the new little Maxwell, an uproar exploded from the rest of the room.
Savannah startled away from Liz, and they both had surprised looks on their faces. Then they turned to the row of TVs as one.
And on screen was none other than Lucas Atwood.
Savannah’s mouth dropped open. “Is today the draft?”
“Sure looks like it.”
“Where was he drafted?” she asked.
Then the announcer answered her question and the reason for the loud cheers from the crowd. “Vanderbilt star Lucas Atwood drafted to the Washington Wizards!”
“He’s coming to D.C.,” Liz said in shock.
“You have got to be fucking kidding me.”
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