The Billionaire's Instant Bride

By: CJ Howard

The clerk was short with her. “No. There is no way to give an extension. It’s already been more than a year.”

Callie felt tears stinging her eyes and she didn’t want the clerk to hear her cry, so with every ounce of strength in her, she choked them back, swallowing hard and taking a breath so she could speak. “Thank you for your time,” she said simply. The clerk mumbled “thanks for calling” and hung up the phone without another word.

The phone in her hand felt like it weighed a ton as she lifted it to put it back on the receiver. She stood still where she was for a long minute. There was no strength in her to move. There was no will in her to turn around and face her grandmother, who was waiting to hear what the city had said about the letter.

She focused on breathing and told herself that there had to be a way to save the house. There had to be an organization that could help older people, there had to be a charity, there had to be something out there that would make it work for them. She breathed out a silent sob and vowed to find a solution. She was not going to let her grandmother lose her house.

“Well, honey, what did they say?” Calista finally asked, growing concerned.

Callie reached her hands up to her face and wiped the tears from her eyes and cheeks and took a deep breath before she turned around to face her grandmother. She walked over to the table and sat down, putting the letter on the stack of mail in the middle of the table. “They said that we have to pay the entire amount by the end of the month,” Callie said quietly.

Her grandmother’s mouth fell open. “The entire amount? What? Well we can’t pay that! There’s no way we can pay that! They won’t take payments?” she asked worriedly.

Callie shook her head. “No, grandma. They want the whole amount. That’s it.”

Calista gasped and her hand flew to her cheek. She stared at the stack of mail at the center of the table and blinked in rapid succession. “Those are all medical bills from your grandfather. There’s so many of them that I don’t know where to start with them. I don’t know what to do with them, and now there’s this! What are we going to do?” she asked without looking up from the stack of mail. Then she slowly turned her head to her granddaughter and asked her again. “What are we going to do?”

Digging into depths in her that she did not know existed, Callie lifted her eyes to meet her grandmother’s and she tried to sound as encouraging and confident as she could. “We’re going to look around for help. I can start calling around town today to see if there are organizations or groups that help with things like this. You’re a senior; there has to be a program to help you out. I’ll get on the computer and look online, and we’ll just find something. We’ll find the answer, grandma, there has to be one out there. There has to be something. I’m going to look, and I’m going to find it.”

Calista nodded almost mechanically. “Alright. We’ll… we’ll do that. We’ll look, and we will find something.”

Callie gave her grandmother a big smile and a nod, and then stood up from the table and picked up the phone book. She pulled a chair over to the telephone on the wall and sat there on the phone, calling every organization, company, or person whom she thought might be able to help. At every turn, the only answer she got was no.

Some of the people she tried to talk to suggested other avenues, other groups to contact, but every call ended in defeat, and though she never gave up, by the time her grandmother had dinner ready that night, she had been on the phone for several hours and hadn't gotten any further than she had been when she started.

Both ladies were silent as they sat at their evening meal. Neither one of them had much of an appetite, neither ate much of the food that was prepared. Most of it was put away into the refrigerator for the next day. They hugged each other tightly, wished each other a good night, and then went to bed.

Callie laid in her bed and knew that she wasn’t going to be able to sleep. She stared at her ceiling in the dark for hours before her eyes finally closed and she drifted off. When morning came, she pushed herself from her bed and went straight to her computer to try to see what she could find online. It was hours later that she stood up to take a break and rest her eyes.

She had contacted every group and charity she could find, and every organization she thought might be of some help to her. Most of them had not gotten back to her, but all of the ones that did, told her they couldn’t help her. She was beginning to feel the weight of defeat and though it was difficult to bear, she remained determined to move forward and find a way to save her grandmother’s house.

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