Trapped by The Mouse
I don’t know if it was anything more than projection, but Alice’s mother made me so mad I didn’t care about propriety. I gave her a hard stare while she opened and closed her mouth without utterance a few times. I don’t know what I was going to do if she decided to argue with me, but she turned and walked away without any further protest. Probably because she thought Oh wait, I got the money.
I was not impressed.
“Wow.” Alice spoke softly.
It was only then that I considered how my actions may have been perceived. I also had to be fully honest with myself, that was more about me and my mom than it was about Alice. I wasn’t a person to care about other people or their family drama, and yet I just stuck my nose right in there where it didn’t belong.
“I’m so sorry. I don’t know what…”
“I did leave the money on the table, but I didn’t know Cole was in town. He probably took it.” Alice tried to defend herself.
“I don’t need an explanation.” I shrugged with one shoulder. “I just wanted to help.”
Which I had just discovered wasn’t true. Now my integrity and ethics were in muddy waters.
“You did!” Alice hugged me.
“I uh… I don’t hug. I… don’t… I don’t hug!” I didn’t want to push her away, but I felt like I might faint.
“Well I do!” Alice let me go and that’s when I saw the tears in her eyes.
I reached out and tugged on her braid. I couldn't handle more familiarity than that.
“Don’t worry about it.” Although I’d just given away a large portion of my only money. “You know…”
All of a sudden the heat did sneak up on me, and I realized the sweater really was a very bad idea.
I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Florida or not, but if you ever go, I’d advise you not to wear a sweater and not to mock the locals when they tell you the heat will sneak up on you. It was as if a vacuum had attached itself to my insides and pulled out every ounce of energy I had.
I couldn’t breathe.
I was dizzy.
I needed to sit down.
I sank onto a concrete planter that was closer than any bench I saw.
“Are you okay?” Alice started to follow me, then went back to her concessions.
The world was spinning and now I realized what that phrase actually meant.
I seriously thought I was about to pass right out, and I was considering stripping off my clothing. I needed it off. Like now!
“Here.” Just as I grabbed at the sweater sleeve, Alice placed something cold on the top of my head. “It’s a bag of ice. It’ll help. But I told you, that sweater is a bad idea!”
A sick little sound that may have been laughter came from my throat.
All I wanted was to strip naked and get in a cold tub.
I took the ice from where Alice was holding it atop my head and put it up under my sweater, first on my stomach, then my breasts, then back to my stomach, all while Alice stared at me like I was about to burst into flames. Which I may have been.
Every choice I’d made this day had been wrong. I wanted and needed a redo. Badly. At least nothing could make this day worse… I thought.
“Oh goodness, are you all right?” The sweet voice came from someone standing with the sun directly behind them, so all I could see was a shape.
This particular shape, though, with its large hat and poofy skirt, could only have been one of the ABCs.
“Maybe you should go call security.” She ordered Alice dismissively.
“No!” I reached out and grabbed on to Alice’s arm. “I’m fine. Just a little overheated.”
The woman moved to my side and sat down.
She was blonde and exquisite.
Although, her nose may have been a bit harsh.
I could give her a referral for someone who’d fix that.
I really wasn’t sure what to think about what I was looking at.
If she’d been wearing Seventh Avenue as opposed to Pollyanna, I may have taken her for one of my own. As it was, she seemed like a cheap day player in an off, off, off Broadway test run.
“You’re so… bright.” It wasn’t exactly a compliment. “Is that a flying elephant?”
In looking over the pattern on her dress, all I could see were mice, elephants, and crows.
“Is that some sort of farmer statement?” It was a legitimate question. Why would a grown woman wear a dress with cartoon characters on it. She clearly had no style, and no pride.
“It’s Dumbo.” She laughed through gritted teeth, and her tone said – Are you stupid?
I flashed her my best -I’m-not-stupid-how-much-of-a-bitch-are-you?- smile in return.
“Of course.” I continued to smile a little too wide.
I was dying from a bad wardrobe choice while being judged by someone in cartoon animals.
This was my hell.
“All right then.” I pulled the ice from under my sweater and handed it back to Alice.
The other women Pollyanna was with didn’t say a word, they just stood in a pack to the side. One taking photos with her phone. Two others looked like they were texting.
Seriously, you should have seen them. I think they were all wearing petticoats!
“So long as you’re okay. I just hate for anyone visiting my lovely Disney Springs to have a bad trip.”
She was way too saccharine for me.And too possessive.
I wasn’t an amateur at this game.
“Oh, Walt Disney! I didn’t recognize you. How you’ve changed over the years.” I waited a beat. “Except for your eyebrows, those I’d recognize anywhere.”
I held a straight face, as did she. But inside, I knew she was wondering what was wrong with her eyebrows.
Have you ever just taken an extreme dislike for someone?
Yeah, well this was twice in five minutes for me.
“Blessing, come on, let’s go.” One of the other girls whined.
I choked on my laughter.
“Blessing? Really?” I blinked at her and smiled because I could do catty with the best of them, and she just handed me the win.
She stood up and straightened her perfect skirt.
If things had gone differently, I might have asked about her shoes. They were red heels with a diagonal strap and rhinestone enclosure. They were the only thing I liked about Blessing.
“Yes. My mama had several miscarriages between Charlotte and I. I was her blessing. Still am.” She placed a hand over her heart and batted her lashes.
“Florida’s weird.” I muttered under my breath before I looked away from Blessing in complete dismissal.
I didn’t like that woman.
Only her shoes.
“Well, I hope your day improves, that you enjoy your stay, and have a safe flight home.”
Blessing joined the other women and together they walked off in a cloud of Disney perfection.
“You are my hero.” Alice came closer. “I will never forget what I’ve seen here today. You took out my mom and Blessing. I’d say 'and you didn’t break a sweat', but given the circumstances.”
I reached up and grabbed her hand to silence her.
She sat down beside me.
“Are you feeling any better?” She looked worried.
“Meh. Better, but still hot.” I grumbled.
“Well, you’re wearing a sweater.” Alice grimaced.
I rolled my eyes. If one more person… “They’d probably frown on it if I removed it.
”I stood up.I was feeling a lot stronger. The ice definitely helped.
“Here, let me get you another bottle of water.” Alice practically skipped over to her stand.
I know she meant to come back to me, but I followed her.
“Here, let me pay you.” I started to grab for money.
“No, it’s okay. Seriously what you did for me today is like… I’ll be forever in your debt. Anything you ever need, just ask.” She looked at me with sincerity mixed with awe.
I really hadn’t done anything, but be bitchy.
“Thank you.” I started to pull out my phone to see what time it was. I had no idea how long Valen would be gone, and I was beyond having second thoughts about what I’d done at this point. I was honestly wondering if maybe he’d just take me back to the airport.
At that exact moment, I felt him.
I can’t explain that to you.
I just did.
He was coming up behind me, and I knew it.
Trapped by the Mouse is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
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