Intoxicated by Alicia Renee Kline

Posted on Saturday, August 3, 2013

Chapter One

“Don’t worry, Lauren,” Gracie said, “he’ll come around.”

I twirled my straw in my Coke and stared blankly as the ice cubes hit the sides of my glass.  I hoped her words were true.  Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Gracie rise from the booth.  My gaze followed her as she stood.  Apparently, the pep talk was over.

“And for goodness sakes, enjoy your party.”

Or not.

She latched on to my shoulder as she brushed past, partly in support of my situation, mostly in support of her own body weight.  She teetered unsteadily on her platform boots and let out what could be best described as an intoxicated giggle.  I watched as she made her way to the restroom toward the back of the restaurant, stifling a laugh of my own as she attempted to open the ladies’ room door by pushing rather than pulling.

Ah, yes, this was my party.

I glanced around at the large booth our group occupied.  The familiar faces of coworkers surrounded me.  There had been a good turnout; by my count, twenty people had at least stopped in to say goodbye.  Ten of those twenty still remained, even now, two hours after the official meeting time.

Invariably when someone decided to leave the bank, another employee would take it upon themselves to organize a get-together, usually held at the Mexican restaurant a mile down the road from our branch.  For some, it was a good excuse to gorge on chips, salsa and margaritas.  For others, it was truly an opportunity to celebrate the guest of honor’s new job or retirement and to say farewell.  Whatever the case that brought all these people here, to think they were gathered because of me was surreal.

Neither one of the usual scenarios pertained to me.  At twenty-six, I wasn’t anywhere close to retirement, at least not without a winning lottery ticket in hand.  And I wasn’t quitting.  I had garnered a promotion.

I started at the bank right out of college.  Armed with my shiny new accounting degree, I had landed a position at the local branch underwriting mortgage loans.  My attention to detail – some would call it anal-retentiveness – got me noticed by our corporate office.  After five years of employment there, I had been offered the job.

Director of Underwriting, Mortgage Lending. 

The title alone had a nice ring to it.  The thought of actually having a staff at my beck and call was enticing.  The increase in salary was definitely attractive.  The location, not so much.  Corporate was about two hours north of here, and I would have to relocate.  That was really the only thing that had given me pause.

Being considerate of the circumstances, my current boss had instructed me to take a couple days to think it over, pray about it, do whatever I needed to do.  In my heart of hearts, I had known what my answer would be, but I was still relieved that I had a moment to mull things over.  That night, I had made two phone calls.

My father had been ecstatic.

Eric, well, things had not gone so swimmingly with him.

Gracie staggered back to the table.  She fell onto the seat of the booth, the cushion protesting with a squeak beneath her.  This was apparently the funniest thing that had ever happened to her.  Her convulsive laughter brought all other conversation at the table to a halt.

“Maybe time for someone to go home?” Mary from Consumer Loans suggested.

“I’m on it.”  I set down my Coke and went to grab my purse.  “Come on, Gracie, let’s get you to bed.”

“Oh, Lauren,” Stacy, the receptionist, protested, “it’s not fair that you have to leave your own party early.  One of us can drive her home.”

“But it’s tradition,”  Mary chimed in, “Gracie always drinks too much, and Lauren is her designated driver.”

“Oh, no,” Stacy snorted,  “did they include that in the job description for your replacement?”

Gracie still had enough sobriety left in her to shoot both Mary and Stacy a dirty look.  “Shut up.”

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Genre – Romance / Chick Lit

Rating – PG13

Connect with Alicia Renee Kline on Twitter

Website http://aliciareneekline.com/


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