Rexburg, Idaho

All rights reserved 2011

Chapter 1

Emily never liked growing up in Rexburg, Idaho. The summer she turned eighteen, she packed her bags and moved to Salt Lake City to escape the boring, small town life she had always known. She sighed in frustration as she packed her clothes to go back to Rexburg. Emily had spent the last year attending the University of Utah. She had become accustomed to staying out as late as she wanted, hanging out with whomever she wanted, and doing whatever she wanted without an adult around to nag at her about schoolwork and curfews. To Emily, this last year at school had been the most exciting time of her life. She knew she needed to work a little harder next year and pick up her grades. But it was easy to shrug off homework when your roommates wanted to go out and have fun. And in Salt Lake there were plenty of places to go out and have fun. At least in her mind there were. There were no clubs in Rexburg. Nothing stayed open late except the Taco Bell. No one was out past curfew for fear they would be kicked out of school. When Emily had left for college, her mother asked her to stay in Rexburg and attend BYU-Idaho. Emily couldn’t think of anything worse than staying in that town and going to school with what she considered to be a bunch of molly Mormons.

As Emily packed she thought of all the things she would do over summer vacation. She could work on her tan, catch up on some reading for next semester, and sleep in late everyday. She thought about getting a job while she was there. Her mother paid for her tuition so Emily could use the extra money to party and have fun when she came back to Salt Lake. She used up almost all of her savings the first year on food and going to movies. Most of Emily’s friends at the U had cars and rich parents and Emily had a hard time keeping up with them. Her mother could barely afford the costly out-of-state tuition. Had Emily not been an only child, she would have been forced to stay in Rexburg for school. Emily was very grateful that she was an only child. Her father had given her everything she wanted when she was a young girl. After he passed away, her mother had tried hard to keep Emily happy by letting her explore who she was and what she wanted to become as an adult. Emily knew she used that to her advantage a little too much, but she didn’t know another eighteen-year-old who wouldn’t.

She looked around the room and checked under each bed. Everything had been packed. Emily hadn’t brought very much with her to school, but she had done a lot of shopping at the malls while she was there. She packed one suitcase for her new clothes that she didn’t want her mother to see. She sat on the bed sadly. Emily had wanted to stay in school for the summer but they couldn’t afford to. She was going to have to go home and find a job.

“Why so down?” her roommate Melinda asked as she walked in the room. “Aren’t you excited to go home?”

“Oh, please. I just can’t wait to get there.”

Emily looked at her roommate in envy. Everything about Melinda was exotic. Her father was a doctor and Melinda had the finest of everything. She had the nicest car and greatest clothes. Her long dark hair cascaded down her back in soft curls. Emily knew that back home she was pretty. But in Salt Lake, every girl was pretty and Emily was nothing special. She was certainly nothing like Melinda.

Melinda tossed her hair behind her shoulder. “Wish you could go to Rome with us this summer. But I’ll e-mail and send pictures.”

The two embraced. “You have been the greatest friend, Mel. I can’t wait to come back next year,” Emily told her.

“Break it up!”

Emily looked at the door to see Melinda’s boyfriend Todd and his very good-looking friend Connor.

“You came just in time to help us with our luggage, Todd,” Melinda said with a gracious smile. “And to take me out for lunch, I am so starved.”

Todd grabbed the suitcases. “I thought we could all go out for lunch one last time.”

“Todd, where are you going for the summer?” Emily asked.

“I’m going home to Arizona.” He nodded at Connor. “He’s from Salt Lake so he’s staying here and working through the summer at his dad’s law office.”

Melinda and Todd left the room with the suitcases and Emily hung back hoping to talk to Connor.

“You know, Connor, I was thinking that with Melinda and Todd gone this summer there won’t be much to do.” She hesitated trying to think of what to say. “Rexburg isn’t more than four hours from here so maybe when I come to Salt Lake to visit this summer, we could get together and hang out.”

Connor smiled and touched her hand. “I was just about to ask you the same thing.”

Emily felt her heart jump in her throat. Connor took her hand and they followed the others to the parking lot.

Three hours into the drive Emily was getting anxious to arrive home. She was excited to see her mom and sad to leave her friends. But mostly she was tired of driving and she wanted to lie down. She flipped through the radio stations and tapped her left foot on the floor board in anticipation until she heard a small rattle. She turned the radio off and listened intently. The rattle became louder, just in time for Emily to realize that she had gotten a flat tire. Her heart raced quickly and she clung to the steering wheel, slowly letting her foot off the gas pedal. “Keep the car straight, slow down carefully,” she reminded herself. “Don’t panic. It’s just a flat.” She carefully pulled the car to the side of the road and stepped out to inspect the damage. The front passenger tire had blown from low treading on the wheel. She kicked the tire in frustration. She was five miles past Rigby and nowhere near a gas station to call for help. “I’ll just do it myself,” she said angrily. She found a spare tire and jack in the trunk but no tools to remove the bolts. She removed her suitcases onto the side of the road and searched every corner of her trunk. Nothing. She looked up and said, “If there ever was a time I needed you, this might be it.” She laughed at herself. “Like you’re going to listen to me now since I haven’t spoken to you in six years.” She leaned against the car and watched in astonishment as a gray truck slowed and pulled up behind her. She watched him get out of his truck and pull his baseball cap down over his forehead. His jeans and white tee shirt were covered in dirt.

“Looks like you could use some help,” he said kindly.

“Looks like you’ve been helping helpless woman on the side of the road all day,” she joked.

He looked at his jeans and laughed, wiping them with his hands in an attempt to shake off the dirt. “I try to make a habit of it.”

“I have a spare tire,” she told him, “but no tools.”

He walked back to his truck and pulled a tool box from the cab. “We’ll get this fixed in no time.”

She watched him quietly as he worked. When he finished he looked up at her and they both blushed and looked away.

“I’m really grateful. You could have kept driving, so thank you.”

He threw the damaged tire in the trunk and helped put her suitcases in the back seat. “I should follow you home.” He pointed at her license plates. “I’ll assume you’re going to Rexburg.”

She waved her hand in protest. “That won’t be necessary. I would hate to bother you more than I have.”

“I insist. It’s no bother I just want to make sure you don’t get stranded again.” He held out his right hand. “I’m Eric Tucker.”

She shook his hand reluctantly. She didn’t talk to guys very often unless Melinda introduced her. “Emily Sutton.”

“Well then Emily, you lead the way.” He turned and after putting his tools in the back he started his truck and waited for her to lead.

As Emily pulled into her driveway she could see her mother pulling weeds from the garden.

“So you’re okay now?” Eric asked as he pulled alongside her.

She nodded. “Yes, and thanks again for your help.”

Eric waved to Emily’s mother. “You have a wonderful day Mrs. Sutton.”

“Now, Eric,” Patty Sutton said happily jumping to her feet, “I didn’t know you would be stopping by today.”

“I was just helping your daughter with a flat tire.”

“You are the nicest man, Eric,” Mrs. Sutton said. “Please come in for some lemonade.

“I wish I could,” he said politely. “But I need to get back to work, ma’am.”

Emily watched him drive away and then embraced her mother.

“I’m so glad you are home, dear,” Mrs. Sutton said. “I have so many plans for us.” She grabbed a suitcase. “You must be tired so I’ll let you rest and unpack but first you must tell me how you ran into Eric. Isn’t he a doll?”

Emily blushed again. “He seems very nice.”

After spending her first three days at home helping her mother around the house, Emily was ready to look for a summer job. She wore a white button up shirt and gray slacks and carefully pulled her hair back in a french twist. She wanted to look mature and professional for her job hunt. First she started with the newspaper ads she had circled that morning. There weren’t many job openings in Rexburg, but there were a few office jobs open. Emily liked the idea of spending her summer in an air conditioned office each day. But she was quickly told by each interviewer that she lacked the skills needed in the office. Emily had never been a receptionist before and did not know how to answer multi-line phones. She couldn’t type more than twenty words per minute. Her only skill was babysitting.

“You’re a nice girl,” one woman told her, “but babysitting isn’t really an office skill that you would need here.”

Downhearted, Emily gave up on the paper and went to the local swimming pool.

“We’re all full,” the manager told her. “We hired our lifeguards last month.”

Emily tried the Walmart and applied for a cashier position but was told they weren’t hiring. She drove down Main Street trying to get an idea of where she should apply. She was doing everything she could to avoid working fast food. “It just may come to that,” she said to herself. She parked at Papa Murphy’s to meet her mother for lunch. Mrs. Sutton was already sitting in a booth waiting.

“I already ordered,” she told Emily.

Emily sat across from her with a deep sigh.

“Job hunt not going as well as expected?”

Emily shook her head. “Either I don’t have any experience or they aren’t hiring,” she complained.

“Well, keep trying. Nothing comes to you without hard work and effort,” Mrs. Sutton told her.

Emily rolled her eyes. Her mother was always giving her advice about putting forth effort and trying harder.

“Did I hear someone say they were looking for a job?”

Emily looked up as the waiter brought their food. She shrugged. “I just need something part time during the summer.”

“And then you have to go back to school right?” he asked.

“Yeah, then I go back to the University of Utah.”

He nodded, “Fine school but I do prefer BYU myself. But since you’re looking, we are hiring for the day shift.”

“Well that might be a good idea,” Mrs. Sutton said graciously.

Emily crinkled her nose. Working for a pizza place all summer wasn’t her idea of a good time. “I’ll think about it,” she told him politely.

He walked away and Mrs. Sutton gave her daughter a firm look. “Things happen for a reason, Emily. Someone doesn’t walk up to you everyday and offer you a job. You should think about it.”

“I said I would,” Emily said definitely. “Besides, I can do better than Papa Murphy’s.”

After two more days of job searching and being turned down, Emily found herself back at Papa Murphy’s. She walked up to the waiter who had told her about the job. “Could I speak to the manager?”

He smiled and held out his hand. “I am the manager. My name is Jake and it’s nice to meet you.”

She shook his hand. “Emily Sutton. I was wondering if that day shift position was still open.”

He nodded. “It is. Are you interested?”

“Yes, I think so.” She studied him carefully. “Aren’t you a little young to be the manager?”

“Not really. I just work here while going to school. I graduate next year.” He pointed to the back. “I’ll show you around and tell you a little about the job.”

She followed him reluctantly as he explained the dress code and the duties she would perform as a waitress.

“You’ll have to watch these safety videos before you can start,” he told her. “It only takes about an hour and then we can get you a uniform.”

She sat down in a small office in the back as he prepared the VCR.

“Just come get me when this is over. It’s great to have you on board.”

She half smiled. “Thank you. I can’t wait to get to work.”


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