In Starting Over, Victoria met Toby in the antique store she owns in Oak Grove Square. The man is a frustrating mix of coldhearted developer, sweet and charming hunk, and a broken-hearted little boy still mourning his grandparents.
Toby and Victoria are out in the country having lunch, after they stopped at the side of the road to see Toby’s grandparent’s old farmhouse. This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘box’. Return to Tuesday Tales here, to read more snippets from the talented Tuesday Tales bunch.
“You are? What are you working on there?”
“Um…it’s a new project.” He kept his head lowered as he toyed with the vegetable chunks in his meat pie. “In the…um…well…”
Victoria laid her fork down on her plate and looked at him intently. His hem hawing behavior had her senses on high alert. “What kind of new project?”
“It’s…um…it’s a senior housing project.”
Relief washed over her, easing the dread that had started to tighten in her gut as she waited for what she thought was bad news. “That’s a great idea. I’m always behind something that will benefit seniors.” Her mind frantically ran through a mental check of the town, trying to figure out where such a facility could be built. “Where’s it going to be located?”
“In the square?” She wasn’t sure she’d heard his mumble correctly. “Where in the square? There isn’t any place that would handle…” Her jaw dropped as the only possible spot dawned on her. “You can’t mean the empty corner?”
“Well…yes.” He still couldn’t look up and look her in the eye.
“That corner’s not big enough for a very large facility. It won’t house very many, will it?”
“Preliminary plans are for close to fifty units.”
“Fifty? How on earth are you going to fit that many units onto that small corner lot?” The once steamy delicacy in front of her grew cold as it lay forgotten in her unanticipated distress.
Heads turned towards them in response to her raised voice.
“That’s totally inappropriate for our rural town atmosphere. I can’t believe you’re even harboring the possibility of that kind of development for the town square!”
“It’s not that bad. Think of the senior’s it would help.”
“Not that bad? A towering three story box on the corner? It would destroy the whole ambiance of the town.” She threw her napkin down on the table and started to stand. “Please take me home.”
She grabbed her purse and headed towards the door without looking back to see if she were followed. Toby raised his arm in the air and signaled to their server for the check.
She was pacing back and forth in front of his car when he made his way outside. He unlocked her door and she climbed in without a word.
He tried talking on the way back. Her clenched jaw and silence was his only answer. “Victoria…please…” he pleaded. The miles passed in a frigid silence.
She finally turned her head slowly, her eyes shooting daggers in his direction. The words dripped from her lips like sluggish molasses falling into the chilliness between them. “I can’t believe you are even entertaining this type of project smack dab in the middle of the square.”
“Think of the older folks though. It’s close to shopping. The walk to the coffee shop, the restaurants, or the small market would be doable for them. Even in inclement weather. They wouldn’t need to drive to go shopping…or wait for a friend or relative to pick them up and take them.”
“I realize that. When you only state those benefits, I could totally get behind something like this.” She looked directly at him and enunciated her next words very clearly. “But a three story structure? Really? Oak Grove Square is a destination place for many visitors exactly because of the small town atmosphere we have. They come to take a step back in time, not to feel like they’re in the middle of a modern, developed city.”
Toby didn’t know how to answer without fueling her fury.
The sports car slowed to a stop in Victoria’s driveway. Putting her hand on the door handle, she turned with another question. “So, I’m just curious. Are you acting as the developer for someone else, or is this your project?”
He gulped before answering with barely audible words. “It’s…it’s my project.”
“It’s your project…” she repeated slowly. Her forehead creased as she ran through possible options. Something clicked and her face brightened. “This hasn’t gone through the public process yet, has it?”
“No, the plans are still in process. I haven’t submitted an application for approval yet.”
“Great! Just know that I will fight you every step of the way. I will speak to every business owner and resident of Oak Grove. I will fight. I will protest. I will be your biggest nightmare to make sure that this doesn’t happen.”