“Excuse me, miss?” A strange, male’s voice called out to me. I turned, and was confronted with a short, squat man with a mean, fleshy face. He was dressed in an expensive-looking suit, rings on most of his fingers. He wore a smile that seemed plastered on, as if it were taking him all the effort he had to do it.
I already felt ill at ease. The man, whoever he was, seemed totally out of place.
“Can I help you?” I asked.
He smiled again, as if he understood that he was doing something a little out of the ordinary.
“Sorry, didn’t mean to bother you. Just that I was trying to figure out why you looked so damn familiar, and I think I know why.”
“You’re dating Alex Ecomides, right?”
I raised an eyebrow. “What?”
The man, the smile still on his face, raised his palms. “OK, let me back up. The other day I was over at the hospital visiting my cousin. I met with Dr. Ecomides about helping with the medical bill. I thought I saw you in a picture on his desk.”
A bit of relief took hold. All the same, I wanted to be out of the conversation and away from the strange man as quickly as possible.
“Um, well…” I checked myself as I spoke. The last thing I wanted was to be explaining the uncertainty of my and Alex’s relationship. “Yes, that would have been me in the picture.”
The smile deepened. “That’s wonderful. He’s an amazing doctor. You’re a lucky girl!” He laughed, then sighed. An awkward silence hung in the air between us. “Anyway, I’ll let you get back to your shopping. You see him, tell him Johnny says hi, alright?”
He flashed one more smile in my direction before heading off, thankfully leaving me alone.
Something about the encounter didn’t sit right with me at all. The man, aside from being extremely out of place in small-town Colorado, seemed disingenuous to his core, like every word out of his mouth was a lie. More than that, he knew me, and he knew Alex.
The peace and ease of my errand was over. I quickly grabbed what remained on the list and hurried to the checkout, hoping that I wouldn’t bump into the man again. Once I was done, I rushed out to my car and practically threw my bags into the back. That done, I climbed into the front seat and started the engine.
Snow began to gently fall as I pulled out of the parking lot and onto the main road of town. All I wanted was to get home, and as I drove, I found myself checking the rearview mirror over and over again, sick to my stomach at the possibility of that strange man being close behind.
The situation was completely out of control.
There was poop everywhere.
“Uh, Danae?” The adorable little girl looked up at me with the most innocent smile on her face, as if she weren’t covering my hands in a torrent of smelly stuff.
Daphne was over on the other changing table, a calm expression on her face as she filled her own diaper. I was in a hell of a jam. The mess was so bad that I couldn’t touch either of them without getting dirtier than I already was. The wipe warmer was a few feet away, and I leaned a bit to see if I could keep one hand on Danae while pulling a wipe out with my teeth.
No such luck, it was too far away. The situation was so desperate, in fact, that I half-considered saying “screw it” and wiping my hands on my shirt.
Thankfully, before I had to make the decision, I heard the front door to the condo open and close.
“Hey!” Georgia called out. “Where are you?”
“In the nursery! I could use a hand! Like, immediately!”
At that moment, Danae let out another jet of stuff that I most definitely didn’t need more of.
“Aw, come on, kid,” I said, shaking my head. “Give your dad a break, huh?”
I glanced over my shoulder for any sign of Georgia. She wasn’t there yet, but I could hear the crinkle of plastic grocery bags down the hall.