Change of Heart:Wild Heart 2By: Miya Lee
Wild Heart 2
The baseboards in Caleb’s living room were the first to fall from Oscar’s wrath, followed by the back of the sofa and the shoes Caleb had for work. And if he didn’t do something soon, his bedroom door would be among the fatalities.
Pulling on a pair of tennis shoes, Caleb released an exasperated sigh and climbed out his bedroom window. Wait until the neighbors see you. They already thought he was weird for keeping to himself, but sneaking out of his own house? This was new even for him.
Still, it was better than facing the ball of teeth and fur outside his bedroom door. And so, making his descent from the second-story window, Caleb contemplated, yet again, what to do with Oscar.
Give him back.
If only Riley hadn’t disconnected his phone. Whenever Caleb tried to reach Riley, his co-workers either hung up or turned him away. And it wasn’t like Caleb had done anything wrong. Riley split because of Caleb’s long hours, leaving him to care for Oscar who, right now, wasn’t happy about it. That makes two of us.
Leaves crunched under someone’s feet, stopping Caleb in his tracks. Damn. He didn’t have to look back to know who it was. With such a slow approach along with something dragging behind them, it had to be Mr. Huckabee.
Caleb gritted his teeth. “Good morning, Mr. Huckabee.”
“Caleb, is that you?”
Caleb exhaled and cracked open an eye, looking back over his shoulder. “Yeah, it’s me.”
There was a pause, then as a ladder appeared beside him, Mr. Huckabee spoke. “You and Riley have a fight?”
Something like that. “He split.” Caleb reached for the ladder Mr. Huckabee had leaned against the house.
“I was heading out to trim the trees over there when I saw you hanging. Thought you could use a hand.”
No doubt Mr. Huckbee had been watching out his living room window and jumped at the chance of getting a front row seat. Typical. Still, with Caleb’s feet firmly on the ground, he couldn’t complain.
“You said he split?” Mr. Huckabee’s bushy brows rose above his eyes, genuine concern on his face. “He’s not on a business trip?”
If only. “He left about a month ago.”
The old man frowned, deep in thought. “Well, then why in blue blazes are you climbing out your bedroom window?”
“Because it’s safer than the alternative.”
“Oscar. Ever since Riley left, he’s gone berserk. A good portion of the hall’s chewed up, half the chairs in the living room are destroyed, and I’m officially out of shoes.”
“Ah. I’ll just leave this here, then.” Mr. Huckabee patted the ladder much like one would do to a loyal pack animal. “You know, if you want to get back in your house later tonight.”
Caleb thanked him and, after checking his bedroom window, headed to work.
Caleb winced and shielded his eyes with his hand, staring at the table. So far this morning, he’d managed to fly under the radar and arrived two minutes late. His thoughts, however, weren’t focused on the charts in front of him or the data he had yet to present.
Caleb met his boss’ intense gaze. “Sorry, sir.”
“Should we reschedule our meeting so it’s more convenient for you?” He continued before Caleb could reply. “For God’s sake, Erickson, what’s wrong with you?”
“Family drama, sir. It won’t happen again.” Because as soon as I get home, that mutt’s going to the pound.
“The hell it won’t. You’re fired.”
And there it was. Two words. The same ones Caleb had expected months ago when his boss insisted he get a higher degree to fit the position he was in.
Caleb and half the board members looked up in unison, their faces as pale as his was. “Sir, isn’t that a bit harsh?”
“I’m not paying you to be late, Erikson. I expect my staff to arrive early, ready to present to the board ahead of schedule. You were five minutes late this morning by my watch. You were late last week as well. And—” He glanced under the table. “Are those tennis shoes?”
“It’s my dog, sir.” Caleb coughed around the words. “I’m out of shoes.”