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Authors: Rita Stradling

The Fourteen Day Soul Detox

BOOK: The Fourteen Day Soul Detox
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The
Fourteen Day Soul Detox

RITA STRADLING

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, incidents and places
are the product of the author’s imagination or are used
fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locations, or real
persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

Copyright © 2016
by Rita Stradling.

All rights reserved,
including the right to reproduce, distribute, or transmit this book
in any form or by any means. For subsidiary rights please contact the
author.

Cover by
http://www.thecovercollection.com/

Email:
[email protected]

This
book is for my sisters and girl friends, because if I did not have
such true friends in my life, I would never be able to write them.

You
inspire me.

The
Fourteen Day Soul Detox

The
Day Before

The
Birthday Luncheon Intervention

Day
Zero: Seven O’clock

I woke with a massive headache. And
when I say massive, I mean my first thought when I opened my eyes
was, ‘oh, fuck this day.’ Yet, I did open my eyes as my
phone alarm insisted on beeping repeatedly. Grabbing my phone off my
nightstand, I slid my finger across the screen and laid back into my
pillows.

Sarah sat up next to me, her hair
sticking out of her head at odd angles. She blinked around the
lightening room like a little fish.

“Hi, angel,” I said to her,
smoothing her hair down. “I didn’t realize you climbed in
here with me. Remember, go potty, that’s the first thing we
do.”

She turned around, her eyes closed
halfway as she laid back on my shoulder, curling into a ball.

Kissing her forehead, I whispered,
“Time to wake up baby, you need to get ready for the bus.”

“No bus. I’m going to keep
sleeping,” she said, before yawning. Her little voice sent a
new stab of pain into my head.

“No baby,” I whispered.
Extricating my shoulder from under her head, I peeled myself out of
bed. Massaging my temples, I stepped onto the late-seventies shag
carpet. I staggered through my room, stepping over a doll that lay
face down on the carpet. Poor Mary Ann the Gymnast doll must have
come in with Sarah but been discarded halfway to my bed. I made it
all the way to my door, and turned on the light, but nothing
happened.

“Ugh,” I groaned. “The
effing power better not be out, I know I paid it.”

Well, I paid the past due, but they’d
never shut the power off on me for being a month behind yet.

“What’s the matter?”
A man’s voice from the living room called out.

“Oh, sorry, Cameron,” I
said, grimacing. “I didn’t mean to wake you.” I
walked to the hallway light-switch and turned it on. Yellowish light
illuminated the little hallway that connected all four rooms of my
apartment—the conjoined living room and kitchen, two bedrooms
and a bathroom.

I turned to see Cameron’s body
fill the door-less entry to my living room. He stretched up his arms,
grabbing onto the doorway above his head, also yawning. I couldn’t
help but appreciate the view of his muscles straining as he stretched
forward. A night on my couch had done a thorough job of mussing up
his dark hair. He met my gaze, eyes hooded. “Everything okay?”
he asked.

“Yes, I’m sorry for waking
you. The stupid bulb in my room is out,” I said with an annoyed
glare back at my room.

He grinned lazily at me. “Where
do you keep spare light bulbs?”

“I’m probably just going to
take one from the bathroom fixture and switch them,” I said.

He raised a brow at me and shook his
head. He leaned in, his eyes glinting with amusement. “Hey
beautiful, happy birthday.”

“Uh, huh,” I said back,
“Sure it is.” My body brushed against his as I slipped
under his raised arms and into the living room.

His fingertips brushed down my side as
I passed, but didn’t linger.

From behind me, I heard his low
chuckle.

“What’s so funny?” I
asked as I moved to the coffee maker. Thankfully, the coffee made
itself on a timer this morning.

“You’re still in your
clothes from last night… again,” Cameron said in his low
voice.

“You try working until two-thirty
in the morning then driving home,” I said.

“No thank you,” he said,
his voice muffled as he must have been a couple rooms away.

Grabbing a bottle of aspirin out of my
spice cupboard, I looked between the bottle and my coffee machine. It
was a hard choice.

If I took the aspirin, I could go back
to sleep after Sarah went on the bus, but I’d have to be awake
without coffee for the hour until then. If I drank the coffee, I’d
both get rid of my headache and my lethargy, but I wouldn’t be
able to nap. My gaze went back and forth between them.

“Good morning, Sarah,” I
heard Cameron say in the other room.

After a long pause, I called, “Sarah,
can you say, ‘good morning’ to Cameron?’”

“Who won the Gold Medal in the
2012 London Olympics?” Sarah said, her voice getting louder. I
turned to see her in Cameron’s arms as he carried her out of
the bedroom and set her on the couch.

Crossing to the cupboard, I grabbed two
coffee mugs. I filled both with coffee, and went into the fridge to
find the half and half.

“Hmm, in all around gymnastics?”
Cameron asked Sarah.

“Gabrielle Douglas, USA,”
Sarah said.

“Baby, if you ask someone a
question, you need to give them a chance to answer,” I told
her.

Cameron took his cup of coffee from my
outstretched hand, gave me a wink and said, “I don’t
mind.”

Sarah ran over into the kitchen. “Who
won the silver in London in all around?” she asked.

Cameron turned to Sarah with a smile.
“Wouldn’t that be Shawn Johnson, from the USA also?”

“She won in Beijing.” I
whispered, “It’s Viktoria Komova from Russia.”

“Beijing!” Sarah yelled.
Then she smacked Cameron on his arm.

“Sarah!” I said.

Sarah spun and ran into her room. “Go
to time out!” she yelled before slamming the door to her room.

Squeezing my eyes shut, I groaned. “She
keeps hitting you, I’m so sorry Cameron.”

He took the coffee cup out of my hand.
His arm wrapped around my waist while his lips moved down to my ear.
“It’s fine, Jamie.”

He pulled my body into his and I
couldn’t help but melt a little against him.

“You are such a saint for
babysitting her all the time,” I said back.

“It’s not like it hurts
when she hits me,” he said.

“Not really the point,” I
whispered. “And now she’s doing it at school, too.”

“She’s just eight,”
he said.

“Which is way too old to be
hitting other kids or adults,” I said.

“Too old for other kids, maybe,
but not for her. And she’ll move past this, it’s a
phase,” he said.

I moved out of his arms, whispering,
“Yeah.” Opening the aspirin bottle, I shook out a couple
pills and washed them down with coffee. “Sarah, you can come
out of time out,” I called in a loud voice.

I heard the toilet flushing, then the
water going for a long time.

I stared at the hallway. “She
doesn’t want me to check on her while she brushes her teeth
anymore. I’m not sure how good of a job she’s doing at it
lately…” I tapped my foot, “but I just want her to
have a good morning.”

“They’re all going to fall
out anyway. Isn’t it a good thing she’s becoming more
independent?” he said.

“I guess,” I said, still
staring toward the hallway.

After a minute, Sarah came out. She
wore her favorite purple ‘Junior Gymnast’ shirt and
purple stretch pants. Staring down at her purple rhinestone covered
shoes, she trudged forward. I waited for a minute for her to
apologize on her own, but gave up and said, “What do you say to
Cameron?”

“I’m sorry. No problem,
Sport,” she said, still staring down at her shoes.

Cameron mussed up her hair, grinning.
“Hey, that’s my line.”

“Do you want a bagel, angel?”
I asked her as she took a seat at our tiny, light wood, two-chair
breakfast table in the small nook at the side of our kitchen.

“Yogurt, bananas, juice,”
she said.

“Okay, but you have to eat it
this time,” I said, grabbing out a peach yogurt from the
fridge. When she was eating small spoonfuls of her yogurt, I sprayed
detangler in her hair and tried to comb through her tangled, thick,
blonde hair. Sarah glared up at me a few times, making annoyed
sounds, but I reminded her, “Do you want me to cut your hair
short?” And she would turn her glare back to her food.

Grabbing an oversized hoodie, I pulled
it over my head. That, and pulling my hair in a pony-tail, was all I
was going to do to get dressed.

“You’re going to need to
wear a jacket, baby,” I said, when Sarah was done eating and I
was zipping up her purple-rhinestone covered backpack.

“No,” she said, glaring at
the level of my hoodie.

I breathed in through my nose. “You
have two choices. Do you want to wear a jacket, or a sweater?”
I held up the jacket.

Sarah shrugged it on, letting me zip
her into it. Opening the door, we walked out into the morning. Dew
settled on my face and hands. All around us little lines of dew fell,
drops too dainty to be rain.

“It’s raining baby, put on
your boots,” Sarah said to me.

“No Sarah, you don’t need
your boots. It’s just dew, it’ll burn off soon. Look, no
puddles.” Grabbing her hand, we walked down the street to stand
in front of my neighbor’s banged up sedan, where we waited for
the bus every day.

“I love you so much,” Sarah
said.

I swallowed. “I love you so much,
baby. Are you going to do a good job at school today?”

“Yes,” she said.

“No more hitting, right?” I
asked.

“No hitting,” Sarah said.

“Are you going to listen to your
teacher?”

“Yes,” she said.

The long yellow bus pulled around the
corner. After the bus stopped in front of us, an overwhelming volume
of shouting voices released out of the opened door.

“Morning, Jamie,” the thin,
fifty-something-year-old bus driver called out over the cacophony
inside. He adjusted his tie-dye T-shirt while giving me a half-smile,
half-grimace.

“Hey, Henry,” I said.

“It’s pretty loud on here
today, you think Sarah can handle it?” he asked, kindly.

“No bus!” Sarah shouted
before taking off and running down the street.

I lunged after her, but saw she was
running up to our duplex door. Sighing, I said, “I guess not.
Thanks anyway, Henry.”

Back in the house, I found Sarah
sitting at our breakfast table, eating another banana.

“No bus?” Cameron said,
coming to stand close to me, smelling like toothpaste and soap.

I shook my head.

“Want me to take her in?”
he asked, his hands rubbing my shoulders.

“No, it’s fine. I took the
morning off for that stupid lunch thing anyway. You’re going,
right?” I asked.

“No, I guess it’s a
females-only birthday thing, or that’s what Amy said,” he
pulled me even closer to him as he talked.

“Weird,” I said. “There’s
only going to be like three people there then, since both Jessica and
Beza need to work.”

“I’ll be here when you get
back from dropping off Sarah, though,” he whispered in a low
voice into my ear. “I have a present I want to give you.”

I pulled back to look up into his
heated gaze.

Stepping back from
Cameron, I turned away to grab my now lukewarm coffee and guzzle it
down. Pinching my thighs together, I forced my mind to unsexy things,
like the Coffee Stop’s taxes and whether or not I could afford
to hire someone after all the taxes were finished.

“Okay, sounds good,” I
whispered, refilling my coffee mug. I was on my fifth cup by the time
I pulled into Coral Beach Elementary. Pressing the dial to turn
Sarah’s CD off, I turned around in my seat. My phone lit up
with a text message from my coworker-friend Nancy.

Nancy:
For
some reason your sister just uninvited me to your lunch thing. Just
didn’t want you to think I ditched. See you at the bar tomorrow
night.

Me:
Wtf?

Nancy:
No
idea why, sorry.

Sighing, I turned to the back seat.
“Baby, why don’t you have your seatbelt on?” I
said, suppressing the need to yell and trying to keep my voice calm.

“I undid it,” she said,
smiling.

I took a deep breath and exhaled. “Not
safe, baby. You need to keep it on until I stop the car.”

“No,” she said.

“Yes, or no more kids’ CD
in the car,” I said.

“Yes, kids’ CD!” she
cried, her body bowed stiffly in her seat.

“Wait,” I said, climbing to
sit backwards in my seat and reaching back to her. “Ready, we
need to take gymnast breaths, okay?”

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