Unexpected Joy - Book cover

Unexpected Joy

Aimee Dierking

Chapter 2

The day couldn’t have gone worse if she had planned it that way. The alarm never went off so both Hannah and Max were late to work and school respectively.

Once Hannah got to work, where she normally loved being, the copy machine jammed while she was running a large job for the principal’s meeting with the superintendent.

After working for ten minutes to fish out the pieces of paper that she kept finding, she finished the job, only to discover that she had gotten toner all over her shirt, ruining it.

She had a sweater at her desk and pulled that on to cover the large black mark until the day was over. She spilled her iced coffee all over her desk and skirt after lunch.

And then, just when she thought she was in the clear, a kindergartener had come into the clinic, just as the nurse was helping in another classroom, and the child promptly threw up all over the floor, splattering her shoes.

“It’s been a heck of a day, hasn’t it, Han?” Mitchel Saunders asked in his deep voice as he tried not to snicker at the scowl on her face.

“You know Mitch, if you weren’t such a nice guy I would quit right now! I have to rush home and take a quick shower so I don’t smell like vomit when I’m at the restaurant! It’s a damn good thing that it’s Friday!”

“I thought you were off this weekend?” he asked.

“Todd begged me to come in to work a private party. He had to promise the world before I said I would—”

“So I take it that your girls’ weekend is taking too much from your savings?” Mitch asked, smirking.

“You know it!” Hannah replied with a smile.

Mitch laughed his usual belly laugh at the tone in her voice. He and his wife loved Hannah dearly and hated how much extra work she had to do since her divorce.

He wished he could give her a bigger raise, but the district rules had his hands tied.

He knew he wouldn’t be the successful principal he was without her. Taking a chance and hiring her over more experienced candidates 15 years ago was the best gamble he had ever made.

His wife, Janene, agreed and reminded him of it all the time.

They both had loved watching Max and Adam grow up with her and had the three of them over for dinner frequently during and after the divorce.

It still angered Mitch the way Markus had treated her and his boys since. It took all he had not to tell that man off, and Janene would love to sink her nails into his face.

“That man makes me forget that I am a good, southern, Christian Black woman!!” she repeatedly told Mitch.

Knowing and loving his wife for as long as he had, he just nodded and kept his mouth shut. They just got the boys and Hannah special things for Christmases and birthdays.

Mitch and Janene had only one child in their marriage and had fought and prayed for that one for many years. They loved and adored their little girl, Rebecca, and spoiled her rotten.

Their world had crashed down around them when she was diagnosed with leukemia. She fought hard for two years, but God had taken her home to him twenty years ago.

There wasn’t a day that went by that they didn’t think of and talk about her. And while Hannah didn’t replace their own daughter, it was nice to have young people to give love and attention to.

“Hey Hannah, you’ve had a crazy day, why don’t you go home early? We’ve got it here, and I won’t even dock you the time!” he added with a cheeky grin.

Hannah heard the sass in his voice and looked at him, thinking how much he reminded her of Uncle Phil from the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air TV show and how much she loved the man.

“You won’t even dock me an hour? Why Mitchel Saunders, whatever will I do with your generosity?!”

“Just go, you smart-ass, and enjoy the rest of your weekend! In fact, why don’t you take Monday off, too!”

She rolled her eyes and chuckled. “You are terrible! Tell Janene I will call her Monday about the craft fair next weekend, okay?”

He nodded as she gave him a quick hug. “Bye, sweetie.”

She grabbed her purse and almost ran to her car before anything else could happen. She took off her shoes, which she knew still had some vomit on them, and drove home.

She stripped at the door and threw all her clothes in the washer immediately before she jumped into the shower.

She pinned her hair up and washed her body twice, praying she got all the germs and toner off.

She used dry shampoo and roughed up her hair, hoping it didn’t smell like vomit, and went to get dressed in her uniform.

She pulled on clean underwear, a crisp, white, button-down blouse, and grabbed her black pants and pulled them on only to discover that the zipper had broken.

“Fucking hell! Seriously? This day has to get better!” she yelled as she threw the pants across the room in frustration.

She pulled out the black pencil skirt that was her other option and checked to make sure it looked okay. Satisfied, she pulled on a pair of pantyhose, then smoothed out the skirt.

She slipped on her flats, the ones that felt like she was walking on pillows, and went to the bathroom to try and tame her wavy red hair and reapply her makeup.

Thirty minutes later she was off to the commuter train station. She found a spot up close to the platform and sat on the bench in the warm afternoon sun.

It may be early October, but it felt like September with a 76-degree day. October could be a crapshoot in Denver, with 80s one day and snow the next.

She was going to take the warm days while she could. Hannah hated the cold and still had no idea why she stayed in Colorado for college instead of going somewhere warmer.

But that was in the past and she had to focus on Max and getting him into a college where he would be happy and could do what he thought was best for him and his future.

She pulled out her phone, put on her headphones, and turned on her music, relaxing as she got on the train. She rode downtown to the upscale hotel she served at for extra money.

She was shocked that she caught the eye of another traveler as she was getting off. He smiled and winked at her, making her blush as she walked down the steps and down the road to the hotel.

She didn’t really know how to handle attention from the other sex. She hadn’t really had a serious relationship since her divorce—just the one, and she hated to think about it.

There were a couple of men that she’d had longer relationships with, like several months long, but they both knew it wouldn’t last; neither one of them had wanted kids or the responsibility of them.

And she didn’t think about her relationship with him unless she absolutely had to~.~ She couldn’t even think of his name due to the pain it caused.

She only went out with those other men when the kids were at Markus’s.

It was lonely, and when she needed to take on the waitressing job for extra cash, that ended her dating life. Plus, her kids weren’t second in her life, they were first.

She waved to the two workers behind the desk and went to the back room of the restaurant and put her stuff in a locker. She went looking for Todd and found him in his office on the phone.

He waved her in and motioned for her to sit and held up a finger to indicate he would be just a minute. He hung up and smiled at Hannah, one of his wife’s best friends.

“Hey Han, thanks again for doing this. I really appreciate it,” he started.

“I can’t say you aren’t going to pay for it, but thanks for the extra money.”

“Don’t remind me about how much this will cost me, okay? You have some time to get the Lancaster Room set up how you like it before the guests arrive.”

“You gonna tell me who it is?”

“Not until right before they arrive so you don’t have time to call or text your partners in crime! I know how you three operate and I just don’t have time to deal with all your girliness!”

Hannah laughed and nodded and walked to the room and went in to set up. Christopher arrived just as she pulled out the napkins and was folding them on the table.

They greeted each other and talked, catching up since they last saw each other last weekend.

“Thanks for asking for me, Hannah. I can really use the extra money. Jill has found this crib that she has to have and its $400!

“I don’t want our parents to pay for everything. I would like to be able to provide for my own child,” Christopher explained.

Hannah smiled at his sincerity. “I totally understand, Chris. You only have a few weeks to go in school and you will be all set. How is the thesis going?”

“I think I’m done with the second draft. My professor wants to read it so we can make final changes and get it submitted. My last two classes are on final tests and projects.

“If I can score an 88% in each class, I will graduate with honors. And if I hit that milestone, that engineering company I told you about wants me!

“They called yesterday to talk and offer the job to me the day after graduation…providing everything else falls into place,” he excitedly explained to her.

“Oh Chris, I’m so happy for you! Congratulations! I know you will have no problem with all the hoop jumping and you will have a great job in place when your baby arrives in January!

“Even if it was a shock when you found out about him or her!” she gushed while hugging him.

He blushed and chuckled, then they got back to work. They worked great as a team, and with fifteen minutes before their guests were due to arrive, they finished.

They were ready for the twenty people and they both hoped that the guests ordered drinks. Alcohol always added more to the bill.

Todd came in five minutes before the scheduled time and told them who the guests would be. Chris had never really heard about the people he was talking about, but Hannah was in disbelief.

“Are you telling me that the top three bands that I LOVED as a teenager will be here?!” Hannah asked with wide eyes.

“Um, yeah. That’s why I wouldn’t let you call Julie or Monica! I remember how you all tried to get tickets for the concert and it was sold out. But just think—now you get to feed them!” Todd said.

Hannah was speechless and just didn’t know what to think, but she knew she couldn’t mess this up. She would be mortified and would never forgive herself.

She took a few calming breathes and smoothed out her skirt, really not comfortable wearing it now that attractive men would be in the room.

She had one minute to take a drink of her ice water that was hidden to the side and give Chris a high five before the door opened and talking and laughing were heard.

Todd was ushering the large group in and getting them sat around the two large rectangular tables that were set beautifully and ready to impress.

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