Arrive at work at 7:58 A.M. sharp. Check. Count forty-seven steps to cubicle. Check. Arrange pens in their red-blue-black-green-purple order of importance. Check. Apply hand sanitizer before opening email. Double check.And that’s just the first few minutes of her work day.
Thirty-one-year-old proofreader Bailey Mitchell is a slave to her tics. She inherited Obsessive Compulsive Disorder from her father, and it’s done nothing but inhibit her love life. She’s run the gamut of boyfriends—none of them willing or able to cope with her condition.
Enter 32-year-old Reece Powell, her new coworker at Beach Elite Marketing Firm. He’s more than willing to cope. He finds her habits cute and quirky . . . for now. Reece wins her over, and life coasts along for them until Bailey experiences a devastating blow. Tragedy exacerbates her OCD, and Reece realizes her tics aren’t so cute and quirky anymore. Just like all the others, he has the choice to leave.The Wilmington SagaFollow the stories of Wilmington, NC residents as they fall in and out of love, mend and break hearts, grow, change, lose, win, and experience what it means to truly live in this small coastal community.
I rounded the corner and slammed into him. And was subsequently distracted from counting my steps. My OCD was in overdrive today. Why? Because my anxiety was somewhere up in space. I was terrified of running into him. And I’m talking in the figurative sense. I actually, literally, ran into him! Well, technically he ran into me.
“Gosh, I’m sorry, Bailey!” he said, helping me to my feet. Yes, I forgot to mention that I fell on the floor, the papers I was delivering strewn about the hallway in a disorganized mess.
“It’s okay,” I replied. I was so frazzled that I didn’t even take note of the way my hand felt in his. I’d have to imagine it was perfect. “Seems we have a knack for falling in front of each other.”
He smiled down at me and adjusted his collar. “Yeah, but the difference here is that I bulldozed you. Are you sure you’re okay?”
I nodded, and he sighed relief.
“You helped me up and left the papers on the floor,” I pointed out. I worried it came out accusatory instead of playful. So I grinned, and he seemed to like it.
We knelt on the floor together and collected the pages. He even helped me organize them before taking my hand and pulling me to my feet once more. This time I paid attention. He had a warm, solid grip. Protective. It sent a rush of fiery orange all the way up my arm and into my heart, making it beat faster and stronger.
And then came the really awkward part—that weird silent moment of smiling and shuffling feet because you aren’t sure what else to say. I mean, there was certainly something that could be said, but I didn’t take Reece for the type of guy who would embarrass me by bringing it up. “It” as in my highly-sexualized exhibition last Thursday.
“I think I saw you at The Reel Café,” he said after a moment.
Okay. Apparently Reece is the kind of guy who brings shit up to embarrass you.
“Really?” I asked, furrowing my brow. “I don’t know that I was there Thursday night.”
“You were dancing with your friend. You had on a little blue dress,” he said. I guess he felt the need to jog my memory.
“Ohhhh,” I replied, and smacked my forehead with the heel of my palm. “That’s right! I was there. I had a lot to drink. Hard to remember where I was or what I did.” I giggled nervously.
He affected disappointment. “Oh, so that whole show wasn’t really about me.”
I couldn’t believe he actually said it! Yes, he went there. Went there.
“What are you talking about?” I asked. I knew the jig was up, but I wasn’t ready to admit I flirted with him so blatantly. And anyway, I didn’t know it was him at the time.
“The dancing,” he said. “When you danced for me.”
He stared directly at my face, just like he did when he visited me at my cubicle for the first time. This guy had balls. Well, I mean, obviously he had balls. I hope he had balls. Bailey, stop thinking about his balls.
“I . . .” What could I say? I didn’t know if I should be aggravated that he was so clearly embarrassing me or jump his bones because he looked really hot in that tailored striped button-up.
He leaned over to get eye level with me. “I’m just messin’ with you,” he said softly.
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