Charlie tried to take a deep breath and failed, sucking air into her lungs instead of calmly inhaling. She walked back and forth within the small space of the office not taken up by puppies, and for some reason, she couldn't get her hands to stop shaking. Realizing that she couldn't prepare herself for this, that there was no way she could ever be ready, she slowly lifted the phone to her ear and stared out the window.
"How did you find me?"
[Please, as if you didn't expect it,] Madelyn Spencer chided. [If you were really serious about running, you would have at least changed your name. Frankly, I should be thanking you. Private detectives don't come cheap, but mine barely worked up a sweat before he found you. Saved me a bunch.]
Charlie felt light-headed, almost dizzy. Rather than sitting in Doc's chair, her feet suddenly refused to bear her weight, leaving her to fall into the seat.
[Charlotte? Dear, are you okay?]
"What do you want?"
[Goodness, rude much? Here I am showing concern for you, and all you want to do is get down to business! Haven't you ever heard of small talk?]
"What do you want?" Charlie repeated more forcefully.
She heard a disgruntled noise on the other end. ]Fine, be that way. All I wanted to do was to call and let you know that I was in town. Relatively speaking, of course, as I'm not in your town, per say. I'm nearby- Frank! What's this hoe-poke town called again? Some weird word... Kitta-what? Kittanning? Yes, we're in that place. Nice and nearby, and I was just hoping for a visit. Do you know it?]
"I know where Kittanning is." Nearby indeed. Kittanning was less than twenty miles away traveling south through the forest toward Route 422. It was a beautiful ride she had enjoyed before when going with the Doc toward some of the farms out in that direction. Now it was a ride she would dread with every mile she rumbled along.
Of course, this didn't actually answer her question. "You don't want a visit. You don't care. What do you want?"
[Charlotte Abigail Spencer, of course I care! What kind of-]
"It's Doyle," Charlie correctly coolly. "Charlie Doyle."
[Oh, that's right, you like using that ridiculous Irish name, don't you? Charlie Doyle. A ridiculously masculine nickname to go with that ridiculous Irish name you like so much.]
"It's my father's name!"
[Tomato, potato. Whatever. Point is, I want... or rather, I need to see you. To speak with you.]
[I have a business proposition for you. One that I think you'll find very intriguing.]
"And if I don't want anything to do with you or your business propositions, as I'm sure you're aware of by the fact that I ran away from all of that crap!?"
[Charlotte, please, you're being over dramatic. All I'm asking for is a little chat! What harm could a chat do?]
"I don't doubt you could think of something harmful," Charlie spat.
[Dear, really, you give me entirely too much credit. This is nothing more than a little private get-together to catch up and discuss some things. Nothing dangerous or manipulative. I promise. Cross my heart.]
"Don't you actually need a heart for that to work?"
[Now you're just being stubborn, and rude on top of that. Look, I'll be here for the rest of the week. I'm staying at the New England Inn on Broadway and Third. Drop by anytime before Saturday and we'll just chat and be done with it. Deal?]