A few weeks ago I spent a horrifying hour trapped in an elevator. The funny thing is my mom was horribly claustrophobic and because of that, couple with the fact that I grew up in a tiny town, I had never ridden on an elevator until I was about 18 years old.
I really never had an issue with elevators and tiny spaces, until I was trapped in one. My first thought: Oh my gosh, Mom was right!
But out of that dark and very noisy hour (did I mention the alarm ringing in my ears?) came my new novel, Stuck. Here’s a sneak peek. It won’t be available until sometime in the spring, but no worries, I have other books. You can find them here: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=kristy%20tate
By Kristy Tate
Click. Click. Click.
No photos. Not even an engagement announcement. Of his own wedding. His place was stainless steel and glistening marble. Even the walls and furniture were gray. No family pictures or personal momentos? Dead give-away. This guy was emotionally dead. A walking zombie.
Andie pushed open the walk-in closet and tweaked her assessment. A zombie dressed in Armani. She snapped a few photos of the shoes lined up like soldiers on the shelves and the shirts hung with every collar facing north. Not one collar faced south. She was tempted to grab a fistful of the pinpoint Oxford shirts and wrinkle the heavy starched fabric, but instead she searched the ground and dark corners, hoping to find a stray jock-strap or a Twinkie wrapper—anything discriminating, but Grayson Dodd was too good. Or, more likely, he hired someone to make him look good. He probably paid someone to come in and keep his medicine cabinet in alphabetical order.
She snapped a few more shots of the bedroom before heading out to the balcony. The marine layer was finally beginning to burn away. In a few more minutes, she would be rewarded with a view of Catalina lying in a blue, sparkling sea. The Corona Del Mar shots required patience and perfect timing. The marine layer often wouldn’t burn off until noon and by four p.m. it generally returned—like a love sick puppy that couldn’t stay away.
And no one loves love sick puppies or fog. Especially not on real estate fliers. Andie sat at the bistro table, the chairs strategically high so that when sitting the balcony rail wouldn’t interfere with the view, and waited for the sun to work its magic. Far below her the cars moved along the busy parkway. Clients and sellers wanted to see Catalina Island—not Southern Orange County’s busy streets.
Addison scrolled through the photos on her camera, assuring herself that as soon as she had the ocean shots she would have the bones of a decent flier. She let the sun warm her shoulders and closed her eyes, imagining Grayson Dodd’s reaction to her work…
She knew it wasn’t fair to dislike him just because he was marrying her cousin, Kayla. Sure, he had an apartment with all the warmth and appeal of an IKEA showroom, but maybe he was a decent guy. She had only met him a few times. It was nice of him to give her mom the listing.
Andie stood and rolled her shoulders. She knew that Kayla and Grayson were a set match. Everyone said so. And even if they had their flaws—the view from Grayson’s balcony was perfect. She snapped the photos, tucked her camera into her case, locked all the doors and headed for the elevator. Verbiage ran through her head while she waited for the doors to slide open. Location, location, location! Ocean views from this cozy (aka small) Corona Del Mar charmer (aka last century condo.) Typically, she loved her job…well, she didn’t hate it..at least she was a photographer…but now, as the elevator slid between floors, a funk she didn’t know how, or didn’t want to acknowledge settled over her as heavy and dense as the Newport fog. She couldn’t look at it too closely, because she knew if she did she’d find the cause of her bad mood…Jeremy Zimmerman. And she didn’t want to find Jeremy Zimmerman anywhere, especially not inside her head.
The elevator hiccoughed and bounced. Andie stopped thinking of Jeremy when the elevator shuddered an electronic sigh and stopped. The lights flickered and died.
“What the—?” Andie reached for the control panel and ran her fingers over the buttons. She blinked at them. Maybe her eyes would adjust to the perfect dark. But maybe not. She fumbled in her purse and pulled out her phone.
But it provided a faint, milky light and she used it to inspect the control panel. A red plaque had the words In case of an emergency, please call: 1-800-help, which would be useful and good to know, if she had some way to make a call. She spotted a large red button and pushed it.
An alarm wailed. It echoed through the tiny space and filled Andie’s head.
Someone would come now, right? The alarm would tell someone that she was stuck and needed help.
But no one came.
Panic fluttered in Addison’s belly. She pounded on the walls until her hands throbbed. She sat on the floor and used both of her feet to kick the door. Her screaming barely rose above the wailing alarm.
Tired from all the banging, kicking and screaming, Addison scooted back against the far wall, and her back landed on something warm.
Her hand skittered across the floor and found a shoe. A shoe complete with an ankle—keeping company with a pant leg.
“Hello?” a deep, male voice said.
Andie screamed again. This time she was sure she was louder than the alarm.
Andie wasn’t sure, but she thought the guy belonging to the shoe and pants laughed.
“Sorry, didn’t mean to scare you,” he said.
Andie scrambled to her feet and pressed herself the wall furthest from the pant leg and shoe. She pointed her phone at the voice and into the face of Grayson Dodd.
“You.” The word came out as a hiss, which was impressive since technically it hadn’t hiss worthy consonants.
He looked surprised. “Have we met?”
How like him to not remember her. He was Kayla’s perfect snobby match. Andie exhaled loudly and rolled her eyes, even though she knew he couldn’t see her. “You’re marrying my cousin.” And you hired my mom to list your condo.
“Then you should introduce me to her.”
Was he flirting with her? That sounded like a flirt attempt—although a really poor one. She expected more, and maybe less, from Grayson Dodd.
Andie turned her back on him, determined to ignore him.
“Why don’t I lift you up? Maybe you can crawl through the roof.”
“And then what? I’m not Laura Croft. This isn’t an action movie.”
He laughed again. “I’m not looking for action.”
“Oh!” she harrumphed. She actually harrumphed. Little old ladies like Grammy Dean harrumphed and now she was harrumphing too. Next thing—knitting, canasta, and Bonanza reruns.
“You are not picking me up.” She winced at the double entendra.
“Okay, well why don’t you try kicking and screaming again. It didn’t work, but it was entertaining.”
“Hello?” A voice from the outside. “Is someone in there?”
“Yes!” Addison yelled.
“Are you hurt?” the voice asked.
“Only my feelings,” Grayson said.
“I’ll go and get security,” the voice said before disappearing.
“It won’t be long,” Grayson told her.
Andie harrumphed again. She was getting good at it. Leaning against the far wall, as far as possible from Grayson Dodd, she was hypersensitive to him. He didn’t say anything, but she still felt him. She really couldn’t hear anything above the noise of the alarm, but she could swear she felt him breath. His nearness crackled like electricity. Her skin prickled. He smelled like soap.
Time stretched and slowed until it stood still.
“Security here,” said a new, deeper voice. “Are you still there?”
“Where did you think we would go?” Addison rolled her eyes for the benefit of no one. Eye rolling and harrumphing had become her fallback positions.
“Pull the emergency button!” the voice instructed.
“I did that!” Addison yelled.
A light flickered as Grayson used his phone to located the red knob. He tried pulling it. “It’s stuck,” he confirmed.
“Call the fire department!” Andie yelled.
“What are they going to do?” Grayson asked. “Use the jaws of life?”
“Why is that stupid?”
“Did I say it was stupid?”
“No, but you said it like you thought it was stupid.”
Addison wasn’t sure because she couldn’t hear or see him, but she thought Grayson rolled his eyes.
“Hello?” Addison tried calling through the heavy metal doors.
“Hello,” Grayson said.
“I’m not talking to you!”
“That’s a pity. We’ve been in here for almost a half hour and I’m getting bored.”
She wouldn’t answer him with another harrumph. She would not harrumph ever again until she was over eighty. People over eighty, like Grammy Dean, should be able to do whatever they want.
“Okay!” The security voice returned. “Just called the elevator guy. He can be here in 40 minutes.”
“Forty minutes!” Andie and Grayson both said at the same time.
“I can’t stay here for another 40 minutes,” Andie wailed.
“What’s the worst thing that can happen? You miss your party. Your cat goes hungry.”
How did he know she had a cat? Besides, she knew exactly what the worst thing that could happen was. She would have to designate a pee corner and she would have to squat and pee in front of Grayson Dodd.
The last time she had squatted and peed was at girls’ camp. She had been 13. Her mom had sent her on a camping retreat because some Einstein thought that digging a latrine and roasting hotdogs over a fire would somehow bring her closer to God. At thirteen she had promised herself that she would never, ever squat and pee again and she most certainly wasn’t going to break her vow ten years later in an elevator with Grayson Dodd.
She fumbled in her purse for…anything. She pulled out her keys and tried wedging the skinniest one under the red knob. It didn’t budge. Using her phone for a light, she studied the control panel. It had four tiny holes for a screw driver. Knowing she didn’t have anything the right size, she swung the light at Grayson.
He blinked at her behind wire rimmed glasses.
Without thinking twice, she ripped the glasses off his face and broke off an arm.
“Do you want to stay in here?” Andie pointed the broken glasses at him with a shaky hand. “Do you want to pee in a corner?”
“Me neither.” She tried poking the broken arm of the glasses into one of the tiny holes. Nothing.
“Here, give it to me.” Grayson held out his hand.
Sighing, she handed it over.
Grayson bent it to form a loop. “Put your arms around my waist.”
Andie opened her mouth to complain, but soon realized his plan and complied. He had on a white button down shirt. It looked a lot like the heavily starched ones in his closet, but different. Softer. And it didn’t smell like the dry cleaner, like the rest of his closet. And he wore jeans and leather shoes. She put her arms around his waist and tried to not stand too close.
“Better idea. Switch places.” He placed his hand on her shoulder and guided her so that she stood in front of him. Taking the newly created wire loop, he wrapped it beneath the red knob. “Lean against me,” he said.
Biting her lip, Andie leaned. She left the tension in Grayson’s arms and something else. Something she didn’t want to think about.
The knob popped. Grayson fell to the floor, and Andie landed on top of him. The light flickered on and the alarm went silent. The elevator lurched once before grinding to a stop. The doors slid open.
Andie blinked against the sudden light and tried to sit up without touching Grayson. She scrambled away from him, crablike, stood and brushed off her skirt. She knew that she should say something, anything, but she hurried away, relieved that she wouldn’t need the pee corner after all.