Without Benefits Synopsis:
Emma will always be a New Yorker at heart, even though she has a perfect life in Seattle. She has a prestigious job fundraising for the Seattle Symphony, a handsome boyfriend who adores her, and a Belltown apartment with views of the Sound. It should be more than enough to keep her pain from not playing the piano, and her 9/11 nightmares, away.
But when her old college crush, Owen, comes back into her life, it’s more than just spending time with him that’s causing cracks in her picture-perfect life. As she steps back on stage, and back into the spotlight, her connection with Owen and his world, dredges up old memories that Emma worked hard to forget.
Emma’s past comes back to haunt her, forcing her to face the truth about more than just her fears of returning back to New York. As her once perfect life begins to burn down, Emma is forced to figure out what she really wants: her fundraiser and cocktail party-filled life with her boyfriend, or forging a new future with the one thing, and one person, she’s ever loved–even if it means returning to New York.
Emma woke with a jolt. For a moment, she had no idea where she was, or the time. Sitting up, dress still on, she turned towards the balcony door to see small rays of sunlight coming through the curtains.
Standing up, back sore from the strange sleeping position, she walked through the apartment looking for Connor. All she found was a small piece of paper on the kitchen counter with a note scratched onto it:
Had to go. I’ll call you. I love you. Dinner tonight. Start thinking about dates. Maybe April?
Walking to the front table where her bag still sat, she pulled her phone out. The screen was clear of everything but the time: seven-oh-three. He’d been gone all night.
Sending a quick text, she told him that she got his note and that April sounded perfect.
Have anywhere in mind for tonight?
His response came too quick.
Can’t tonight. Something’s coming up with work, will have to stay late. I’ll call you later. I love you.
Emma tossed her phone onto the kitchen counter where, thanks to her almost too-resilient case, it just dropped with a heavy thud. Hope was never something she’d latched onto, not even as a child. There were certainties in the world: weather, holidays, when her mother planned trips. Everything else hinged on whether or not she worked hard enough to deserve things turning out in her favor. The colleges she got into, for example, and even the job she’d settled into after college — these were all testaments to what she was capable of when she set her mind to something.
Connor’s work schedule was something she didn’t have any influence over, even if her brother-in-law got Connor the job. She wished she had that kind of power, to call up and say that whatever new project they were working on could wait because she wanted to make wedding plans with her fiancé. But that wasn’t something that happened in reality, and she knew that. Still, it hurt to know that she’d be on her own tonight. That it would be another day, at least, before they could finish what they started the night before.
Her phone lit up again with an e-mail alert. This time it was Owen.
Concert Wednesday at 7:30. I’m sending you tickets.
Nicole Tone Bio:
Nicole Tone is a freelance editor, MFA student, traveller, pet collector, binge-watcher, and a self-proclaimed coffee snob. She lives in Buffalo, NY with her husband, three cats, and two very large dogs. She cheats on Buffalo with Seattle as often as she can.