Loving Loch

an excerpt



Chapter One

"Tanya? Are you ordering food? Please tell me you're ordering food?" David knew he was whining, but he'd been going for months now. He really wished he'd thought out being a CPA more before he decided on his profession. Okay, maybe he loved being an accountant and working with numbers, but tax time sucked.

"Food? David, it's almost nine. Time to go home. No more filing to do," his assistant, Tanya, said from the door to his office. She was a striking woman, with mocha skin and hair down to her waist. If he swung her way, he would have been tempted even though she was way more valuable to him as his assistant.

"What? Huh?" How had it gotten so late? Oh, yeah, filing deadline day. He really didn't think he'd eaten today at all. "Did I eat lunch?"

"Yes, you did. I made sure you ate." Tanya was worth more than her weight in gold the first few months of the year.

"We should close up and get out of here. Are we the only ones still in the office?"

"No, Bruce, Tyler, Stephanie, and Amanda are finishing up. We're just the first done." Tanya looked around his office. He knew exactly what she saw: piles of files everywhere and no system. "Please tell me you're going to take some time off so I can fix this mess?"

"I hadn't thought of it. Maybe I should at least take a day and sleep." David stood up from behind his desk and grabbed his briefcase. He intended to get out before someone showed up in a panic because they'd put off doing their taxes until the last minute. Just as he got around his desk, the lock on his briefcase broke, and everything went flying, just adding to the mess.

"David! What happened?" Tanya asked as she stepped into the office to help him.

David dropped to the floor and started gathering assorted papers and pens. Lord, when had he last cleaned out his briefcase? His grandda had given in to him when he graduated from high school, saying every man needed a good briefcase. It had been just his grandda and him since David was ten. Who would have predicted the train his parents and grandmum were on would derail, killing twenty-two people? David hadn't been able to bring himself to replace the briefcase when the lock got wonky. His grandda had died while David was still working on his undergrad, and the briefcase was one of the last things he had from him.

Tanya was organizing the papers into a neat pile as she grabbed them, but then she paused. David could hear amusement in her voice as she asked, "What's this? Count's Bucket List?"

"What?" David hadn't been called Count in years. He'd earned that nickname when he pledged Kappa Sig. "Let me see." He reached over and took the paper from Tanya. There was a Post-it on the corner.

"Hey, Count, it's been forever since we've talked. I found this when going through some papers and thought it would make you smile. Drop me an email and let me know how things are going. Snoop"

"So? Bucket List? Count?" Tanya just couldn't contain her curiosity.

"My fraternity nickname. One semester, all the brothers made Bucket Lists, and then the pledges had to figure out which brother it belonged to." David smiled fondly as he answered.

"Did they figure you out? What's on the list? You took it too fast for me to read it." Tanya shifted and stood, moving some papers off the visitor's chair before sitting.

David shoved the rest of the papers into his briefcase and sat on the floor, leaning against his bookcase. He lifted the Post-it and began reading. "Count's Bucket List...they didn't know our nicknames at that point. In no particular order-- guest lecture at Wharton, ski the Alps, take a trip to Hawaii, do a ghost tour of Gettysburg, search for the Loch Ness Monster, see the Eagles win the Super Bowl, go to a Jimmy Buffet concert in Key West." He'd been out of school for four years now, and he'd only done two things on this list, and one he didn't really even have control over? Wow, he led a boring life.

"Have you done anything on that list? Well, besides seeing the Eagles in the Super Bowl?" Tanya asked quietly.

"I went on the ghost tour last year. Remember? I took a few days after tax season and drove down." David knew he sounded defensive. He could hear it in his voice.

"Maybe it's time for you to check something else off? This season was brutal with Penny out on maternity." Tanya shook her head. "You would have thought a CPA would time her due date better than during tax season."

"How could she have predicted she'd be on bed rest for the last month of taxes? Granted, I'm not a female, but I don't think that's something you can control. How is she doing anyway?" Had he managed to change the subject? David didn't need Tanya to realize how pathetic his social life was, or it would be her new mission to get him a life outside the office. Not that he didn't do things...it was just he didn't...do a lot. Gym every morning before work; visit some historical place or museum on weekends unless he was working. Yeah, he didn't have a life. Maybe he should get a pet?

"She's doing fine. Hoping to keep that little bundle inside for another two weeks, if possible. Don't think you're getting off so easy, but I will let it drop for now. Grab what you need for tonight, maybe a wallet? Cell? Keys? And let's blow this popsicle stand. Whatever else is here will wait until tomorrow." Tanya stood, her hands on her hips, waiting for David to move.

David got up and patted his pockets. Cell and wallet, check. Keys...he looked over the surface of his desk. There they were. He grabbed them before extending his hand. "After you, my dear."

****