Both Olivia and Becca burst out laughing.
“I don’t see what’s so funny,” Callie said.
Becca got herself together but was still grinning when she spoke. “Honey, your grandma…she doesn’t know how to stay out of it. Have you ever met her?”
Callie gritted her teeth. “I’m going to have to hire a babysitter.”
“You’re not mad, are you?” Becca asked.
“Yes,” Callie said. “But only a little bit at you.”
“Okay, good. So you’ll still make us more grilled chocolate sandwiches, right?”
The next morning Callie told herself she had absolutely no reason to go into town. She could stay in bed and work from there. She certainly had plenty of it to keep her busy. Hell, she could bury herself in work if she wanted.
But she’d been doing that for years now, and that hadn’t gotten her anywhere.
Besides, she was hungry. And she hadn’t told Becca and Olivia, but grilled chocolate sandwiches were pretty much the only thing in her wheelhouse.
She could go to her grandma’s house and get breakfast and while she was there she could demand to know why she was doing exactly what Callie had asked her not to do.
But that was an argument she couldn’t have without doughnuts.
Which meant she needed doughnuts.
So go to the grocery store. She repeated this to herself as she dressed—in real clothes—and then again as she put on mascara and lip gloss. She had a hard time justifying that part but, hey, one never knew when she’d have to take a Skype call today, right? Might as well be prepared. She drove toward town. When she passed the grocery store, she said, “Whoops.”
And then kept going until she hit the bakery.
Just for the coffee and doughnuts, she told herself. And absolutely nothing else, like, say, sitting there waiting on a certain gorgeous, funny, ex-super-crush named Tanner Riggs.
She got out of the car and checked her hair in the mirror. And maybe applied more lip gloss. When she opened the door to the bakery, the delicious scent of coffee and baked goods immediately assaulted her. She paused to inhale deeply and then froze when she heard a blast from her past.
And not a good blast.
It was a male laugh that once upon a time had been the laugh of her fiancé. It was now the laugh of the guy who’d left her at the altar.
Whipping around, she eyeballed the street and found Eric about fifteen yards away, holding hands with a cute blonde as he walked up the sidewalk toward her.
An unreasonable panic gripped her. Or maybe it was dread. Without thinking, she ducked the rest of the way into the bakery, pressed herself behind the door, and peeked out the window.
It was early, she told herself. Maybe they were just on a stroll. And Eric was a dentist. No way would he come into the bakery. Surely he was bound by some dental decree to not step into sugar-infested bakeries. Besides, her luck couldn’t be that bad.
He headed for the bakery.
Damn it. She hated that after all this time she could still feel the humiliation of what he’d done to her, but there it was. And damn, that pissed her off. He’d literally left her at the altar, for God’s sake. And the only thing worse than that was everyone in town knowing it.
She’d assumed it no longer mattered, that she would be ready to face him if that happened, but apparently not.
She was not ready.
But she couldn’t deny that there was also a little part of her that hoped he’d seen her and he’d felt…what? Did she want him to feel guilt? Regret?
Yeah. She kind of did.
She also wanted him to feel…yearning. And a desperation that he’d let her go. Yeah, desperation would work just fine.
Eric and Blondie stopped a few feet from the bakery door. They were laughing, having a great time, and Callie held her breath, hoping they’d go away. Far, far away.
Instead, Eric pulled the woman in close and kissed her. Gently. Sweetly. He held her face while he did it and when he pulled back, he smiled into the woman’s eyes like she was his entire universe.
He’d never once kissed Callie like that.
Fine. Whatever. The good news was that now they were walking again, and with relief, she turned away from the window.
The bakery line was long as usual and she got into it, reminding herself to breathe as she casually eyeballed the room.
Tanner was at “their” table. He was watching her, head cocked, like maybe she was a fascinating and ridiculous reality show.
She tried to look normal. Like nothing to see here…
“Callie. It is you.”
This came from right behind her, and she nearly jumped out of her skin. Whipping around, she came face to face with—oh, perfect—Eric and Blondie. How had that happened?
“Hey there,” Eric said with an easy smile. And not a single flicker of guilt or regret or yearning or desperation.
“It’s great to see you,” he said, standing very close to the woman next to him. “Tina, this is Callie. I’ve told you about her.”
“Lovely to meet you,” Tina said, smiling with freakishly straight, white teeth.
But her smile was genuine and Callie tried to act normal. “Nice to meet you too.”
“I didn’t know you were back in town,” Eric said.
“Just for a bit,” she heard herself say. “Checking in on my grandma.”
He gave a fond smile. “Lucille. As insane as usual, I’m guessing?”