Home > One Sweet Day I Found You

One Sweet Day I Found You
Author: Jillian Walsh

One

 

 

Courtney Price was going to be late for her first day of work, but it couldn’t be helped. Her flight had been delayed, and she’d left a message on her new boss’ voicemail. Two more hours would make no difference.

Blinking, she sat up in the backseat of the compact blue hatchback and stretched. She straightened her long walnut-brown hair and smoothed her floral skirt, then reached for her water bottle. “How long was I out?”

Samantha sat in the driver’s seat. “About an hour, give or take.” Courtney’s mother had arranged for Samantha, the nineteen-year-old daughter of a friend who lived in Milwaukee and needed money, to pick up Courtney from the Milwaukee International Airport and drop her off three hours north. “Long night?” Samantha asked, adjusting her sunglasses.

“Brutal. Flew in from Sydney. Plus, a delay and then a layover in Dallas.”

“Yikes.”

Courtney glanced at the map on Samantha’s dashboard phone. Thirty more miles. “Wow, I needed the nap. Thanks again for the ride.”

“Oh, it’s no problem.”

Out the window, endless lush pastures and big red barns flew by. Courtney had missed the overwhelmingly green landscapes of the Midwest. It was good to be home. She gazed up at the hazy blue Wisconsin sky and checked the time again: 9:59 a.m.

A yawn escaped and Courtney covered her mouth. How did she forget to grab a coffee at the airport? Vaguely aware of the time and battling the fog of an almost sleepless night in coach, after stopping to freshen up, she’d marched straight to the arrivals pick-up zone without a second thought. What she wouldn’t give for a steaming cup of the good stuff right now.

Courtney rolled her eyes. Caffeine deprivation with a respectable dose of jet lag and a splash of tardiness—she might qualify for employee of the month already.

Oh, well, she could grab a coffee when she arrived.

Samantha switched lanes and sipped from her bottle of water. “So what’s taking you this far north, anyway?”

Courtney was headed to Heritage Bay, a small lakefront village tucked into the west coast of Wisconsin’s Door County peninsula.

“A job, actually.”

The area boasted an abundance of cherry orchards, lighthouses, wineries, rocky coastlines and sandy beaches, outdoor pursuits, restaurants, and picturesque inns and resorts.

“Nice.” Samantha nodded. “So what will you be doing?”

Courtney crossed her legs and adjusted the strap on her wedge sandals. “Thanks. I’ll be writing content for a travel blog.”

“Really? How exciting. Full-time hours?”

“Yes, but it’s a contract gig, and I’ll work from home. I’m renting a guesthouse just outside of town. Just have to do a little training in the office today and then pop in once a week.”

The job was a short-term contract position that lasted until the end of the year with the Door County division of the Wisconsin Visitors Board. The Board had a website and a blog that needed fresh travel content, especially during the summer, to market to tourists.

“Sweet.” Samantha grinned. “Okay, now I’m jealous.”

Courtney glanced out the window again. “Thanks. But I’m a little nervous, actually. First day jitters.”

“Well, at least you’re starting with a four-day workweek. Mondays are the worst.”

“True. Wait—it’s Tuesday already?” Courtney’s head had been spinning for a week, trying to dot her i’s and cross her t’s before she left Australia. It wouldn’t hurt to check her email and make sure she hadn’t missed anything big—like the day of the week.

She pulled up the app on her phone, and hundreds of messages poured in. Most were spam. She scrolled and found one from her new boss, a Mr. Claude Beecham, dated Monday. Yesterday. She read the first line and her pulse quickened.

Apparently, she’d been a no-show, and he wanted an explanation. Pronto.

“Oh, are you kidding me right now,” Courtney said, more a statement than a question.

A queasy sensation filled her stomach. That can’t be right. The first day was supposed to be today. Wasn’t it?

Samantha glanced back at Courtney in her mirror. “Everything okay?”

Last week, while checking the airline’s schedule, Courtney had tried to remember—would she gain back one day upon returning to the States? Or two? Or would she lose two? And was that Sydney time or Milwaukee time listed in the arrival column? The time difference always scrambled her brain when it came to planning a trip like this. And now, it seemed, it had done her in.

Courtney faked a smile “Uh, maybe. I’m trying to figure that out. Hopefully, it’s nothing.” She swallowed hard.

Courtney’s hands were suddenly shaking as she opened the calendar app. She’d basically thrown her hands in the air last week and booked the only doable flight she found before it sold out. It had said it would arrive in time for her first day, though, hadn’t it?

There’d still been three hundred thousand other things to finalize before she could leave, after all. Did she make a mistake?

She found the entry in her phone’s calendar. She had punched it in last week, just after doing her happy dance, having been offered the job.

Monday, May 30: Beecham 9 a.m. First Day.

Today was Tuesday. Oh. My. Gosh.

She had booked a flight that arrived on the wrong date.

Courtney’s cheeks felt warm. “Oh, this is not good.” She flopped her head back against the seat and let out a quiet groan.

To be fair, she’d received the offer exactly one week ago. The decision to accept had taken her about three seconds flat. She’d been ready to come home. Not surprisingly, it had been a whirlwind of a week.

With flight plans made, she’d moved on to all the arrangements necessary to close out her life, as it were, in Sydney. Quitting her job at the coffee shop, a pack-up at the international hostel, tidying up three stories on her laptop, arranging for payment and letting them know she’d no longer be local, informing her family of her plans, meeting up with friends at the pub for a last hurrah, and then, of course, nursing the unavoidable hangover.

G’ day, mates. I’m off.

She’d also had to secure a place to live in Wisconsin and now, she was close to being broke until her next paycheck. Australia had been expensive. She could not afford to lose this job, and she was not going back to Chicago, at least not anytime soon. Courtney sighed heavily.

Samantha eyed Courtney with concern.

“So what happened?”

Courtney sat back, defeated, and stared out the window.

“I, uh…well—I’m gonna be a little later than I thought.”

 

 

Another twenty-five minutes passed and the driver slowed in front of a row of quaint, well-kept, two-story buildings lining Heritage Bay’s Main Street. On the opposite side of the street, a shimmering Lake Michigan peeked out from behind a row of similar shops and businesses, manicured trees and shrubs, and flowers in bloom.

Courtney shook off the last of the queasiness, searched the addresses marked on the buildings, and pointed to a blue office with white trim, marked with a sign over the door. “There it is.”

Samantha pulled into a parking spot and helped Courtney unload her luggage.

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