Possession by T.K. Leigh

Chapter One


The butterfly effect in chaos theory states that sometimes insignificant events bring about extensive change, either good or bad. It’s the notion that a butterfly can flap its wings, triggering a chain of events that will lead to a massive tsunami, forever altering the face of the earth and the lives of those affected.

I’ve always been intrigued by the concept that a seemingly innocuous and everyday event could have major consequences.

What would have happened if Archduke Ferdinand had taken a different route through Sarajevo, thwarting a young nationalist’s assassination attempt, which eventually led to the start of World War I? Would some other event have been the catalyst for it, the world just a ticking time bomb? Or would society have continued living in peace?

What would have happened had the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna not rejected Adolf Hitler’s application to attend…twice? Would he have taken a different path, saving the world from his tyranny and hate?

And what would have happened if I hadn’t fallen in that crosswalk on a rainy day in Atlanta? Would I have carried on with my life, content with my relatively solitary existence? Or would our paths have crossed anyway, starting a series of events I never could have predicted in my wildest imagination?

I’ll never know. Because I did fall in that crosswalk.

Our paths did cross.

Our lives did intersect.

One seemingly insignificant event.

One meeting most people wouldn’t think twice about.

But one event that eventually altered my entire world.

“Don’t tell me you got the ax.”

I pull myself away from packing the few personal items from my cubicle at the interior design firm I’ve called home the past few years. Looking up, I meet Justine’s dark gaze, her expression awash with sympathy.

“I did.”

“Oh, Londyn…” Arms extended, she approaches, wrapping me in a hug. “I’m so sorry.”

“It’s okay.” I lean back, giving her a reassuring smile. “It was bound to happen when they brought in the efficiency experts.” I shrug, swallowing past the lump in my throat. It doesn’t matter how inevitable today was. It still hurts. “I’m one of the last hires. Not to mention I have the least experience out of everyone on the team.”

Justine rolls her eyes, flipping a few blonde waves over her shoulder. “Experience and talent are two different things. You can have years of experience but be a talentless hack.” She edges closer, lowering her voice. “Like half the people here.”

“It’s okay. I’m okay. Or at least I will be after I drown myself in a bottle of wine later.”

“That’s my girl.” She squeezes my bicep.

On a dejected sigh, I step away, scanning my cubicle, which is now devoid of anything personal. Except one.

Walking to the corner of my desk, I grab the small, framed photo of my parents and me from years ago. Twenty years to be exact. This was the last picture taken of us as a family before my mother was killed on this very date.

I think that’s why losing my job on today of all days has hit me so hard. Not because I’m now unemployed, but because of all the horrible memories associated with this day. Just once, I’d love to have a positive memory of June third.

“Well, I guess that’s it,” I say after placing the photo into my bag.

“It won’t be the same without you here, but I believe this is the best thing for you. You’re too talented to work here. I felt it the first time we met. You’re destined for greater things than designing kitchens and bathrooms in accordance with what our client saw on the latest HGTV show.”

I laugh. “Ain’t that the truth.”

She pulls me in for one more hug before releasing me. “Drinks soon?”

“Absolutely.” I hold her gaze another moment before turning and making my way through the cubicle-filled space for the last time.

Sympathetic smiles greet me as I pass, other designers in tears as they pack up their own cubicles. I suppose I should feel lucky I’d only been here a few years before getting fired. Some worked here for ten or fifteen years. Have families to support. College educations to pay for. I don’t. I only have myself.

I make my way to the elevator and press the down button. A car arrives almost immediately, and I hurry inside. When the doors close, I expel a breath, thankful to be alone at last. I lean against the wall, looking up at the florescent lights in the ceiling. Maybe Justine is right. Maybe I’m destined for bigger things than regurgitating the same design over and over. I’ve always felt my creativity stunted here. Maybe this is my chance to go out on my own, start my own firm, do what I want.

My head held high and a renewed outlook filling me, I step out of the elevator and into the lobby, waving to the guard sitting at the security desk.

“You, too?” Oliver asks.

“Me, too,” I respond, my lips quirking into a half-hearted smile.

“Sorry to hear that, Lolo,” he says in his deep baritone, using the nickname he made up for me years ago.

“It’s okay. You should know by now I’m a fighter.”

“I know. I’ve seen the photos of you in boxing gloves on your Instagram. There’s no doubt in my mind you’ll get through this.”