Substitute Family Chapter 10

Chapter 10

Garret’s boss called him into his office at ten o’clock Friday morning. Garret had turned in the completed program to Court last Friday. He’d been waiting anxiously to see whether or the client approved of it. He knew this project could make or break him as far as his job went.

Garret felt nervous and tried not to show it as he stood in front of Court’s desk.

“Have a seat, Garret.”

When a boss invited someone to sit down, they sat. Garret sat in the chair across from Court’s desk and rested his hands on his knees, trying not let them tremble.

He knew his job had been on the line during this programming project. He had been expected to return to his full capabilities as a lead programmer, which had suffered during the months that he was grieving. He had taken this project knowing that if he did not succeed with it, he would be shown the door. That had been a lot of pressure, but he was confident that he had been successful with the program.

Now he waited for his boss to tell him the verdict, whether or not he still had a job.

“Garret, the client tested out your program and it exceeded their expectations.” Garret released the breath he hadn’t realized he had been holding. “I want to commend you on a great performance as team leader.”

“Thank you. I have a great team.” It was true. The programmers who had worked under his leadership were all dedicated and had not complained of the overtime.

“How would you like a promotion?”

Garret wasn’t sure he heard right. He had just hoped to keep his job, not expecting a promotion. But he had to be honest. “I’ve always hoped to move up in the company.”

“I’ve got an opportunity for you, but it’s in Dallas.”

“In Dallas? Dallas, Texas?”

“Yes. Remember we are opening up a division of the company there so we can build up and support our clients in the Southwest.”

Garret remembered when the company made the announcement. He had been too far immersed in his grief and struggling to keep his job to consider putting in for it, or to be considered seriously for the position. One of the other team leaders, five years older than Garret, had applied for, and received, the out-of-state promotion.

“I thought that was all set up.”

“The manager we put in charge of the office backed out. He did all the interviews and hired the programmers. Then his wife started complaining about moving so far away from their kids, and her parents are not in good health. She gave him an ultimatum of moving to Dallas or ending his marriage. He was no fool. He chose his marriage.”

“Smart man.” Garret knew that was the right response. His boss believed in putting family first, after losing his own through his workaholic years.

“Well, it cost him his position here in the company. After all of the time and money spent on opening up the branch there, we had to let him go when he backed out of the job.”

“So the position of program manager there is still open? Or rather, open again?”

“It is. I think you would be perfect for it.”

Garret felt the pride in his boss’ words. “Thank you, Court. I appreciate the sentiment. But I’ve got a family here, too.”

“You’ve got one-year-olds, and no wife. Kids are resilient. You could move them down there and they would soon adjust to a new lifestyle.”

The gears started turning in Garret’s mind. It would be overwhelming to move his family to Dallas. He would have to secure housing, and day care. And he would be completely on his own with them, where here he had his mom and his in-laws to help out when he needed them to.

But wouldn’t it be great to get out of the house that suffocated him sometimes with the memories of Julie? She was in every paint color they chose, every curtain she had picked out for the windows. One of the reasons he had become so dedicated to his work was because it filled those empty hours, when his kids were sleeping and he was faced with being in the house that she had loved, alone.

“You know, a fresh start does sound pretty good,” he admitted.

“I thought it might. Problem is, the office there is set to open in two weeks.”

“Two weeks?” Garret could never get everything ready in two weeks. Moving the kids, the furniture, finding a house, finding day care—” Court was watching him carefully. Garret forced himself to shake his head. “I don’t think I can get my family ready in time.”

“What I am proposing to you, Garret, is a three-month trial period. You’re young for this management position, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t qualified. I think you could handle it successfully, but it means putting work first until you get established. I would recommend you secure a temporary apartment, and move there yourself, for the first three months.”

“By myself? Leave the kids?”

“I know it sounds unreasonable, but I really need you on board with this. We’ve got to get the ball rolling in two weeks. With no program manager, we have a staff who has no direction. We won’t have any way of fulfilling our obligations to our Southwest clients.”

“I see. I don’t know what it will take for me to get someone to watch the kids for three months—” He could just hear his in-laws’ angry response. “But I can’t pass up this opportunity. I’ll do what I need to do to make it happen.”

“You’re a good man, Garret. I suppose you know that your job was hanging on by a thread before you took this latest project.”

“Yes, Court, I was aware of that. And I am thankful that you believed in me enough to give the project to me, to redeem myself.”

“I believe in you enough to turn you loose in Dallas. I’m sure you can do it, but if after three months it isn’t working out, for us or for you, you can come back here to your present position and pay.”

There was no way Garret could pass up the transfer now.

He went home from work, where he faced Emily. He decided to give her the news bluntly.

 “I’m transferring to Dallas.”

Emily stared at Garret in shock. “You’re moving to Dallas?”

“It’s a good career opportunity, Emily. The company is opening a new branch in Dallas so we’re more accessible to our clients in the Southwest. I’ll be promoted to management, and receive a substantial raise. I’ve wanted to work my way into management ever since I started with the company.”

“When did all of this come about?”

“When the opening came up, someone else put in for the transfer and was accepted. I guess he just backed out of the deal a few days ago, and my supervisor came to me and asked me about it. He said I have more than proven myself on the project that he put me on this summer as lead. Our client was very happy with the results of their program update. He thought I was ready to move into management, and this is a golden opportunity for me, even though I am younger than the person who was their first choice.”

“You are serious about this, aren’t you?”

“Totally serious. It’s the chance of a lifetime, and if I can prove that I can do it, then I won’t have to worry about job security. My supervisor also thought the change in scenery might be appealing to me.”

“Is it?” Her voice sounded feeble. “Is it something you really want to do?”

“Don’t get me wrong, Emily. If Julie had lived, I’m sure I would have been happy to stay here and work my way up as the opportunities came. But with her gone, I feel like I’m suffocating sometimes. She’s all over this house. Memories of her are everywhere. Sometimes I feel like I just can’t take it anymore.”

“I wish I knew what to say, Garret. I don’t think it’s good for you to just pack and move to Dallas on a whim.”

“It isn’t a whim, Emily,” he countered with a steadiness in his voice. “I have to make the decision right away, yes, because the other guy backed out at the last minute and they need to replace him. But that doesn’t mean it is not the right choice. I feel like this opportunity came up for a reason.”

She didn’t answer right away. “They told me we would try it for three months. If it doesn’t work out, I will have my old job back.”

“This is all happening very suddenly, Garret. Maybe you should take more time to plan everything out.”

“I don’t have more time. I have to be ready to leave in two weeks.”

She looked stunned.

“How will you get everything ready in time? And the kids—how will you plan ahead for their day care, and a place to live?”

When he did not answer, she studied his face. Then her jaw dropped. “My goodness! You’re leaving them here?”

“Yes, that is what I plan to do.” Guilt made his face burn. “I thought maybe Peg and Dan would keep them. Look, Emily, I don’t even know where I’ll be staying, and I’ll be working around the clock to get that office up and running. I planned on going alone, for now.”

“For now, or forever?”

“What are you saying? Do you think I would abandon these two?” His jaw clenched. “You do think that, don’t you? When I said I suffocate here sometimes because of all the memories of Julie, I didn’t mean I would give up my own children. They’ve been the only reason I’ve dragged myself out of bed and kept going since Julie died.”

Emily’s eyes clouded with tears. “They’ve already lost their mom, Garret. How will they feel if they don’t see you for three months?”

“I’ve got to do this, Em. You realize that, don’t you?”

She sighed, then nodded. “I realize that it’s important to you. I just hope you’ll pray about it before you make the decision.”

“I’ve already told my boss I accept the transfer. Now I just have to do what I need to do to make it happen.”

Emily grabbed Garret’s arm. “Then let me pray about it this weekend, will you do that? I’m going home for a couple of days to attend a friend’s wedding. Will you promise me that you won’t say anything to Peg or anyone until I get back on Monday?”

What difference would it make if she prayed about it for two days? He wasn’t going to change his mind about any of it. He would just have to work everything out for day care for the kids.

“I guess I can wait a couple of days to tell them, if you feel it’s that important, but don’t expect your prayers to change my decision.”

End of Chapter Ten.

Come back next week, May 15, to read the next chapter in the Substitute Family.

Published by Carol Underhill

Author of Christian romance. Mom to 3 adult children and a spoiled Lab. Household includes several rescued cats. Loves flavored coffees and quiet mornings. Likes finding new authors on Kindle and binge reading all their books.

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