He was so moved he couldn’t speak.
She smiled gently. “Now probably you’re thinking, hmm, what can I do to pay back my mama? Well, let me tell you, son. You can give love a shot, a real shot. It won’t always disappoint you, I promise.”
Here was a woman who’d been disappointed by love herself, actually deserted, and yet she hadn’t been destroyed by it. There wasn’t an ounce of bitterness in her. He wished he could say the same. “You don’t know that, Mom.”
“And neither do you. Unless you try.”
Callie dreamed about kissing. Not a surprise since all she could think about was how she’d felt in Tanner’s arms, his mouth on hers. She’d known he was a reported master scuba diver and explosives expert, but turned out he was also a master kisser. Granted, it’d been a while for her, but she didn’t remember nearly spontaneously combusting from just a kiss before.
It wasn’t yet dawn when she gave up trying to sleep and went to work instead. There were plenty of emails and texts from brides to tide her over and take her mind off Tanner’s sexy mouth.
How do I know I picked the right color for my palette? I mean, I think I’m a spring but my sister says I’m a summer.
What if both my mother and my mother-in-law-to-be want the same dress and neither will bend? In fact, my mother-in-law-to-be said she’d die if she can’t have the dress she wants and my mother said that could be arranged.
How do I tactfully ask my fiancé to tell his bossy older sister to butt the hell out of my planning? I mean, she’s still single so what does she even know about weddings, right?
Callie usually took these sort of questions in stride, but today she wanted to delete them all and tell each of them to get a life.
And then there was the email from her parents, doing their bimonthly check-in. Callie was sure they wanted to know her feelings on Lucille and her mental condition. It’d have been nicer, of course, to actually get a call, especially as she’d left them several voicemail messages over the past week. Since they hadn’t called, she didn’t have to admit that she had made absolutely no headway in her assessment of Lucille’s mental condition.
Sometimes the woman seemed absolutely insane.
And sometimes she was perfectly tuned in, more so than any of the rest of them.
In either case, Callie wasn’t ready to leave. And as she’d subletted her San Francisco apartment, she had no real reason to.
Well, except for the fact that her life was there.
Because it also felt like she was making a life here in Lucky Harbor and that maybe she was doing it better than she had the first time around.
By the time the sun came up and over the mountains and began to lighten the sky, she needed a walk. The dock looked deserted. Perfect. She hadn’t had to Skype any of her brides this morning so she was in comfy clothes from head to toe, yoga pants and a big sweater. All she had to do was add boots and a jacket in deference to the winter storm blowing in and then hit the harbor.
She walked to the pier. She wasn’t surprised to find the ice cream shop closed but was gravely disappointed. On the way back she found the dock showing signs of life now. Tanner’s son Troy was on board the Lucky Harbor Charters boat, swabbing the deck. Grateful it wasn’t Tanner—she wasn’t sure she was ready to face him without begging for another kiss—she waved. “Hello,” she called out.
The teen straightened and shielded his eyes. “Can I help you?” he asked.
So polite. Not at all the sullen kid she’d expected. “Is your dad here?” she asked. Please say no… She hadn’t expected to run into anyone, and she suddenly realized that she should have thought this through because when it came to Tanner, she could bank on one thing: making a fool of herself.
Troy looked surprised. “You know who I am?”
“Sure,” she said. “You look just like him.”
“So you’re the girlfriend.”
Her heart stopped. “He has a girlfriend?”
“You Callie?” he asked.
“Yes,” she said.
“Then it’s you. You’re the girlfriend.”
She was both ridiculously relieved and horrified. “I’m going to ship my grandma off to a third-world country where there’s no WiFi available,” she muttered.
He grinned and looked so much like a young Tanner that her heart panged. “Could you take my grandma too?” he asked.
She laughed. “Your grandma’s perfectly normal and nice, so no, sorry. And for the record, I’m not your dad’s girlfriend. I’m just his—” The memory of Tanner’s mouth on hers made her trip over the word friend. That didn’t fit any better than girlfriend did. “Neighbor,” she finally said, and gave a mental grimace. Lame.
Troy arched his brow, another perfect imitation of his father.
“So he’s not here, right?” she asked, desperately needing a subject change.
“He’s up at the warehouse with Sam. But he’ll be back any second to check on his slave labor.”
That didn’t sound like Tanner. “You’re not getting paid?” she asked.
“Twelve bucks an hour,” he said morosely.
She laughed. “I’ll trade you jobs.”
He leaned on the mop and shoved back his dark, wayward hair from his face. “Do you really do a wedding website?” he asked.
“Yep. I deal with demanding brides all day long, and trust me, they’ve got nothing on your dad.”