by Mistake (Poison & Wine #1) - Sigal Ehrlich Page 0,1

get involved with anyone at work. This place is practically our second home. We see these people all the time. What if it doesn’t work? We’ll be bumping into each other all the time. Thanks, but I’ll pass.”

Between chews on the granola, Ronan says, “You know what your problem is, Brody? You take things too seriously, loosen up a little.” He pauses to swallow. “So what? Hook up with the lovely redhead. You don’t have to move in with her the next day.” He then gives me back my own words. “Live a little.”

I pat his chest, “Appreciate the advice, Dr. Phil. See you tomorrow.”

And I head to the door.

By the time I reach the heavy doors of the local library, the sun is set low in the sky and fatigue is starting to take its toll on me. After the run, I popped by the apartment for a quick shower, grabbed a sandwich, and headed out again. I smile at the librarian who smiles back at me in familiarity and I walk over to the fantasies’ aisle first. You know how some people chill at coffee shops or parks. One of my favorite downtime places is the library. Where I can still be surrounded by people, yet conversations and phones are hushed and my mind can unwind as it is immersed in book blurbs, musty-smelling hardcovers with worn spines, and my thoughts.

I pick up a newly released book by one of my favorite authors, Kazuo Ishiguro, and an old one- by Tolkien. It’s my thing if you will. Once a week, I drop by the library; each time I go for a different genre from which I choose a new book and an old one. Feels like, in a way, I get to discover new and old worlds.

I give the room a swift scan and choose a secluded corner where I’ll read for a while, work on the endless MSF—Doctor Without Borders documents, and catch up on what I’ve missed in the past twenty-four hours in the real world. And by real world, I obviously mean news and social media.

It takes me more than an hour to fill in the application for MSF. I glance at my watch and decide to start the thick Tolkien book later tonight if I manage to keep my eyes open. I have to wrap it up here before the friendly librarian becomes a little less amiable and kicks me out. Just before switching off the tablet, I catch myself grinning at the reply to one of the emails I sent yesterday. Even though this one doesn’t really require an answer, I decide to answer it anyway while amusedly wondering who this hippie kooky human is who signs off her emails with bullshit motivational quotes.

An Attempt at Adulting

“Sure, no problems, I’ll call you right after. Yeah, I promise,” I say to the phone, while applying mascara. “Mmmhmm,” I hum, checking my makeup in the mirror. With my pinky, I fix the nude-ish lipstick at the corner of my lips. I spray perfume and walk through the scented cloud, pick up the phone that’s on speaker, and continue to the kitchen.

“You sure you don’t want me to come with you, Bean?” My mom asks via the speaker.

I give my travel mug a quick rinse and fill it with fresh ginger and mint tea. “No, mom, thanks.”

“I can be there in ten—”

I shake my head, albeit in an animated, fond manner. Cutting her off, I say, “Hey, mom, your job is complete. You raised me well, it’s on me now.”

My mom’s easy laughter prompts a smile. I secure the mug’s lid better as she says, “Smartass.”

“Love you too, mom. And yes, I’ll call you later. Wish me luck.”

I played it cool when talking to my mom, for two main reasons. A. I know just how bad she feels about not being able to lend me the money, and that if I showed even the slightest apprehension, she’d go and do something mad like sell her apartment. My mom would do anything for my sister Victoria and me. B. I’m a capable grown-up woman who can and should handle things by herself.

But now, sitting here in the reception area at the bank, waiting for my appointment, I feel the tension tight in my stomach. I have all the necessary papers with me, and most importantly a business plan for my own fitness studio. The owner, my boss of the last three years, decided to retire and sell