I do want to be carried in, though, on a fancy litter. Can we do that? And I was thinking of 3-D invitations, delivered with 3-D glasses. What do you think?
“Good Lord,” Callie muttered.
“I’m dealing with a bride who wants me to design her three-D invitations to be delivered with three-D glasses, which I can totally do. But she also wants to be carried down the aisle. On a litter.”
He smiled. “Interesting job you’ve got there.”
“Yep. Always lots of fires to put out.” She went still as it sank in what she’d just said and how that would sound to a man who’d actually been in a fire for his job. Literally. “God. I didn’t mean…”
She met his gaze. “I realize that next to the jobs you’ve held, mine’s a piece of cake. I don’t even have to leave my house to do it.”
“Or wear pants,” he said.
Crap! She’d forgotten. She felt her face go hot. “Bad habit. I usually only dress from the waist up for Skyping clients,” she admitted.
“I’m liking this story,” he said. “Tell me more. Slowly. In great detail.”
Her face got even hotter. “You’re playing with me.”
“Yes,” he said, and flashed that killer smile.
Good Lord, he was potent. She had to shake it off. “Um, I should tell you I’m not interested in playing. My life’s…full.” God, she was so awkward. She’d like to think it was the clothes she was wearing but she knew better. It was her. “It’s just that I’m not interested in love,” she blurted out. “I don’t believe in it.”
He just sipped his coffee all calm and relaxed. “No?”
“No. Not at all. Not even a little, tiny bit.” God, Callie. Just shut up. “It’s not for me.”
“Makes two of us,” he said easily. “Eat your doughnut.”
She stared into his unfathomable eyes and found herself unwilling to let this go. She knew why she wasn’t interested in love. It was because love was a romantic fiction and, with the exception of her crazy parents, didn’t last.
But why wasn’t he interested in love? Was it his failed marriage? To keep herself from asking she shoved in another bite. Heaven. She licked the sugar off her lower lip and watched his eyes follow the movement of her tongue. She stilled, swallowed, and then was tempted to do it again if only to get another one of those delicious shivers his gaze had invoked. “If I gain a single ounce over this,” she murmured, her voice a little husky, “I’m coming to find you.”
His eyes gleamed, speaking as clearly as any words could have.
He’d be fine with that…
And she? Well, in spite of her ridiculous I’m-not-interested-in-love speech, she knew she was in trouble here. Big trouble. Because love she could resist. Lust, as it turned out, not so much. And she was sinking in lust fast, going down without a raft or life vest in sight. “We shouldn’t make a habit of this,” she said. “Sharing a table. I like to be alone with my coffee.”
“And your doughnuts.” He laughed again when she blushed. “And I disagree about making this a habit,” he said. “We’re providing each other a service by sharing a table.”
“If we sit together, you don’t have to pretend to be working to be left alone,” he said, “and I don’t have to answer the incessant questions.”
“If my leg hurts, how come Troy’s bound and determined to be as wild and reckless as I was, why don’t I remarry, blah blah.”
She was afraid to admit she’d like to ask him all those same questions and more. “I wasn’t pretending to work to be left alone,” she said. “I really was working.”
He grinned, his teeth white against his tanned skin and stubble. “Good. Go with that. It’s almost believable.”
Yeah. She had a problem. Because her high school crush? Fully reinstated.
That night Tanner got home after a long day on the water with clients to find his voicemail loaded.
“Call me,” Sally Taylor, the high school principal, said, and brought back all sorts of memories from his own high school years, where his mom getting calls from the principal had been a weekly thing.
Tanner let out a long breath. This couldn’t be good. It couldn’t be anywhere close to good. His second message was from Elisa.
“Call me,” she said.
Shit. Definitely not good.
The third and last call was from Troy himself. No message.
Yeah. So not good. Tanner called his son first. “What’s up?”
There was a long, weighted pause. Then a tentative “What did you hear?” from Troy.
Tanner felt an eye twitch coming on. “Spill it,” he said.
“It wasn’t my fault.”
Oh, Jesus. He’d heard this before. “What wasn’t?”
“The almost fight,” Troy said.
Tanner put a finger to his twitching eye. “Keep talking.”
“It’s cliquey here. You’re either an athlete or a nobody.”
Tanner got that compared to Miami, where Troy’d grown up until a few weeks ago, Lucky Harbor was probably the equivalent of moving to the moon. “I thought you wanted to play football,” Tanner said. “I talked to the coach for you.”