Josh McConnelly - The One Who Captures Katie's Heart
Oh, how I love that this rugged, scruffy ski bum! I love his realness, his strength of character, and his genuine love for life. I love that when Katie reflects upon her past she see's Josh's fingerprints all over each happy moment. And I love that through Katie's loneliness and heartache, Josh was a constant in her life and the reason her memories were sweet.
He was a good friend to Katie, and you know they say about that... Friends make the best lovers.
And nothing beats friendship as the foundation of forever love.
Katie felt a rush of sadness as she watched Ms. Fitzhugh drive away. She fought back the tears and turned to head inside. Thankfully, and before she lost all composure, her cell phone began to ring. She smiled seeing that it was her work team leader and closest friend, Josh McConnelly, calling.
“Hey! You doing OK? I still feel horrible that Greg and I just dropped you off this morning. I should’ve come back to help you.”
“It’s OK, I was fine. A little taken back by all of the packing stuff Marcus left me, but fine.”
“Did he really?”
“He did, and he even packed up some of my things. But hey, he got what he wanted. I’m out of his house and at the Hilton as we speak.”
“I’m so sorry, Kat. I’ve got nothing going on tonight if you want me to come hang out.”
“I’d love that. Have you had dinner?”
“Good! This will be the perfect way to spend my last night in Colorado.”
“Wait, last night? I thought you weren’t leaving until Monday?”
“I was, but there’s no reason for me to stay. Plus, I’m ready to get home.”
“Yeah, I’m here. Just a bit shocked by that. OK, I’m walking out the door.”
Check-in was uneventful. Marcus had left his credit card information, so all the front desk needed was a copy of Katie’s driver’s license. Her room was ready so the clerk went to get her key.
With her room key in hand, Katie headed toward the lobby to wait for Josh. She didn’t see him as he came up behind her and covered her eyes. “Guess who?”
“Oh! You dork!” Katie giggled, reaching up for a hug. “I’m so happy you’re here.”
“You do almost look happy again.”
“Thanks a lot!” She playfully smacked his arm. “I didn’t know I was looking so miserable.”
“You weren’t looking miserable. Oh, you know what I mean. It’s just nice to see you smiling again.”
“Well, before you go make any other rude comments about my appearance, let’s head up to my room and order some dinner. I’m starving!”
Katie was pleasantly surprised to find that her room was actually a one-bedroom suite. As they walked inside, they entered a comfortable and modern living room. To the right of the living room was the dining area, and its table had been strategically placed in front of a wall of windows. On the adjacent wall was a wet bar, followed by a set of double doors leading into the bedroom.
“Man, Marcus did you good! Just look at the view.” Josh exclaimed from the dining area windows. Katie had to admit it was a pretty spectacular view, however she felt suspicious of Marcus’s motives. “I’m thinking Marcus wanted to keep me happy and my mouth shut.”
“Or maybe he feels bad and is just trying to be nice.”
“Who knows? Wait, whose side are you on anyway? You’d better not be defending him.”
“I am definitely not defending him, and you know I’ll forever be on your side.”
“Good answer,” Katie smiled, and went to grab the room service menu.
“I’m stuffed,” Josh complained, remnants of the meal still covering their plates.
“Yeah, I don’t think we’ll need to eat for days. So, what do you want to do?”
“I don’t care. We could watch a movie?” Josh suggested
“We could, or I have a deck of cards. We could play Gin Rummy?”
“Aww Jay, come on. I promise I’ll go easy on you.”
“Oh all right. But only because it’s your last night here.”
Katie dashed to get the cards and held them up with a devilish grin. She loved playing with Josh because she always beat him. Or was it that he never tried very hard? She didn’t know, but nevertheless it was always entertaining.
“Be nice,” Josh pleaded.
“Sure I will,” Katie replied with a smirk and shuffled the deck.
While they played they relived old memories from work. They laughed especially hard at Josh’s stories that included their boss, Bob. He could mimic Bob’s loud, boisterous voice to a tee.
“I’m really going to miss working with you and Greg. Can you believe we’ve been together for almost three years?”
“I know! I still remember the day you started.”
“You do? What do you remember?”
“Well, I was wearing a khaki shirt, Greg had on a light brown sweater, and then you walked in wearing a tan pant suit. Do you remember that?”
“Oh my gosh, yes! Bob kept calling us ‘brown town.’ That was so random,” Katie laughed. “Bob always did know how to lighten the mood in a room.”
“I remember Greg was so embarrassed that he took off his sweater and then whined about being cold.”
“Tough-guy, Greg. We should call and invite him to join us.”
“I called on my way over but he had a family thing. He said he’d phone us later.”
They went back to playing Gin, and Katie continued to dominate. “I give up!” Josh threw down his cards in a playful huff.
“Josh McConnelly! You are such a sore loser. If you only tried harder you might win some.”
“I know, I know. Hey, why don’t we sit by the windows and watch the sun set?”
“Great idea,” Katie nodded.
“So Kat, tell me honestly. How are you doing?”
Katie sighed and looked away. “Honestly, I still feel angry and confused, and maybe even a little scared. But you know something? It’s been nice to turn it all off for a while.” She smiled weakly at Josh. “Thank you.”
“I didn’t do anything.”
“Yes you did. You’ve been the perfect distraction. This has been a lot of fun.”
“Good, I’m glad I could help.”
“You always do.”
Katie looked down at her hands. Sadly Marcus had known how to provide her with the finer things, but he’d stopped giving her what mattered most—his time. Maybe that was why she always enjoyed Josh. Somehow he made her feel alive again.
She looked back up at his boyishly handsome face and smiled. Josh returned her smile, and Katie reached over to touch his dimple. “Did you know I consider you my closest friend?”
Josh shook his head.
“I do. Marcus should have been that for me, but he wasn’t. Not anymore at least. It’s like he completely forgot about me. But you … you’ve cared enough to get to know me, and you actually like being with me. I thank God for you, Jay. You’ve been a huge blessing to my life.”
Josh was taken aback by her words, and his heart swelled within his chest. “Kat, I …”
“Oh! The phone! That must be Greg calling.” Katie hopped out of her chair and dashed to the telephone.
“Hey. It’s me.” Marcus’s emotionless voice felt like a stab to Katie’s heart. Her face immediately dropped.
“What do you want?”
“I just wanted to check on you. How’s the packing going?”
“I didn’t have that much to pack thanks to you.”
“I just thought you might be tired from your trip.”
“Nope,” she answered coolly.
“Well, I just wanted to make sure you’re OK.”
“I’m fine, and now I’d like to get back to what I was doing.”
“What are you doing?”
“That’s none of your business anymore.”
“Katie, don’t be like that. Is someone there with you?”
“I should’ve figured. That guy’s always around,” Marcus said with annoyance.
“I’m hanging up now.”
“Hey, wait. What about the movers? Where are you going?”
“I’m moving home. Where else would I go?” Katie fumed. “Ms. Fitzhugh has your house key and she’s going to let the movers in. Everything should be in perfect order when you and Amie get back from Vegas.”
“I didn’t mean it like that, and who told you Amie was with me?”
“No one had to tell me, Marcus! There’s no way you’re company would send you there. Come on!”
Marcus was stunned into silence.
“ … Bye.”
Katie could’ve sworn he sounded a bit sad. No, she quickly decided, just guilty.
She hung up the phone feeling completely deflated. All of the hurt she’d forgotten came crashing back down. Josh went to her and pulled her into his arms. “You OK?”
“Yes … No … Ugh, I don’t know.”
“It’s OK. You can cry.”
“No! I don’t want to cry anymore. I’m sick of crying!” She pounded her fist into his chest. “I want to hit him! I want to hurt him so bad.”
“I know you’re mad, and frankly I’m ticked at him too, but eventually you’re going to have to forgive the guy.”
“You sound just like Ms. Fitzhugh.”
“Well, she’s a wise woman. Here, come sit down.”
“Did you just say you’re mad at him too?”
“Are you kidding me? What he did to you yesterday was downright cold. As far as I’m concerned, Marcus is not only a jerk, he’s a total blockhead. He has no idea what he’s giving up.”
“That’s sweet. And I like the word you just used.”
“It’s better than the word he deserves. I’ve gotta say, Kat, I never did understand why you stayed with him. You two are so different.”
“Oh come on! I don’t mean to be rude, but he’s one of the most arrogant guys I know. I’ve never met anyone less friendly. You, on the other hand, are thoughtful and kind. You sincerely care about others and you’re beautiful from the inside out.”
“Wow, I never knew you felt this way.”
“Now you do.”
Katie looked away from his piercingly honest eyes and sighed. She hated to admit it, but Josh was right.
For quite some time they sat lost in their own thoughts. Katie continued to think of Marcus while Josh floundered in the love he so desperately wanted to declare.
“It’s late. I should probably head on.”
“Jay, please don’t go. I don’t want to be alone; I’ll just be miserable. Please stay.”
“OK, but I’m sleeping on the couch. I don’t want your snoring to keep me awake.”
“Me snore? Greg says you snore!”
“Then you’ll definitely want me out here.”
“I don’t care where you sleep as long as you stay.”
Katie got herself ready for bed, crawled under the covers, and called for Josh. When he entered the room, the sight of Katie in her pajamas took his breath away. It touched his heart to be so close to her in such an innocent, yet intimate and personal way. Suddenly he knew he would need the Lord’s supernatural strength to keep his thoughts pure. He was so attracted to Katie he could hardly stand it.
He walked to her bedside and reached for her hand. She willingly gave it to him. “Can I pray with you?” he asked and she nodded.
“Lord, please comfort Katie and heal her heart. Keep her safe as she travels back to Texas. Bring her new friends that will encourage her, and keep her in the palm of Your hand. Amen.”
Katie looked up into his tender eyes. “Would you stay here with me until I fall asleep?” Although he knew he probably shouldn’t, Josh nodded and lay down on top of the covers. Katie smiled and closed her eyes. Within minutes she was sound asleep.
Josh stared at Katie and pondered their relationship. He would miss seeing her every day, and he would especially miss hanging out with her outside of work. He had other friends he could fall back on, but he preferred Katie.
As he grappled with this fact, he silently pleaded with God. Help me to be strong tomorrow … and all the days after when she’s gone.
Early the next morning, Josh awoke to find himself next to Katie. She was still asleep and lightly snoring. He smiled to himself and peered at the clock. Quietly he moved to get up and crept out of the bedroom to order breakfast. After hanging up the phone, he walked to the windows to watch the city below come to life. Everyone seemed hurried to start their day but all he wanted was to make time stop.
He jumped when the room phone rang, and he was even more surprised to hear Katie quickly answer it. He could hear her thank the front desk for the wake-up call and hang up the phone.
“Jay?” Katie called out, and was clearly relieved when he entered the bedroom. “I was worried you’d left.”
“Nope, still here. I ordered us breakfast. It should be here any minute.”
“Thanks. How’d you sleep? Was the couch comfy?”
“Actually, I fell asleep next to you. And, by the way, you do snore.”
“It’s true, but it’s a cute, girly snore.”
“A ‘cute, girly snore’? Well thanks, I guess!”
After breakfast, Katie hurried to get ready for her massage. When she came out she found Josh staring out the windows. He looked distant and pensive.
“It’s a beautiful city isn’t it?”
“It is. You ready for your spa thing?”
Katie nodded. “Will you walk me down?”
They were silent the entire way to the lobby. When they entered the hallway leading to the spa, Katie suggested he stay and join her.
“No, I need to get home. I’ve got some work to finish up.”
Katie looked disappointed. “I really don’t want you to go. I hate goodbyes.”
“Aww Kat, I can’t.” He reached out and pulled her into his arms.
“I hate this, Jay. I feel like I’m losing everything.”
I know how you feel. Josh thought to himself.
“Will you call me later?” Katie asked, looking up into his hazel eyes.
“I guess I’d better go. I don’t want to be late.”
Josh pulled open the door. “Have fun, Kat.”
She nodded. “Bye.”
Josh smiled and let the door slowly close. He turned to head back the way he came when he heard her voice calling from behind. “Jay! Wait!” Katie ran and threw herself up into his arms. “I’m going to miss you so much.”“I’ll miss you too,” he replied, breathing in the smell of her hair once more. More than you even know