Troy didn’t look impressed so Tanner repeated it, like he was fifteen too. “I do.”
Or he used to anyway. He eyed the dock. The empty dock. Because Callie was long gone. And that’s when he realized it was true.
He had absolutely no game.
In the good news department, Troy spent the next several afternoons with Callie’s grandma and was earning his pay. The first day when she picked him up from the art gallery to drive him home, he came out to the car, slouched in his seat, and said, “Yeah, she’s crazy. And also she’s dating some guy who’s older than dirt.”
“Mr. Wykowski,” she said. “He’s nice.”
“Yeah, he pulled me aside and said he’d double my salary if I sabotage her run for mayor.”
“What?” Callie squeaked.
“Don’t worry, I don’t have to do anything illegal. Just go around and take down the posters she puts up, the ones that say ‘Lucille for Mayor of Lucky Harbor and Beyond!’”
“Oh my God.”
Troy grinned and for a moment he looked so much like his father that it had taken her breath.
She missed Tanner. Badly. Silly to miss a guy after three breakfasts and one kiss, but she missed him with an ache that suggested she’d put far too much importance on what had turned out to be just a renewal of her silly crush. “Did my grandma make you tell her all your secrets?” she asked Troy.
“Every single one,” he said with a sigh.
“It takes practice to learn to resist her,” Callie told him. “You’ll do better as time goes on.”
“What’s going on?” Becca asked Callie at breakfast three mornings after she’d met Troy and scared Tanner off but good.
“Nothing,” she said, and quickly dove into her pancakes.
Becca and Olivia exchanged a look that Callie chose to ignore. She’d learned that was her best tactic because if she gave an inch, her two new friends took a mile.
“You sure?” Olivia asked.
“Mm-hmm,” Callie said, nodding, shoving in another bite of pancakes. She was starving. This was what happened when you closed yourself in your apartment and worked for three straight days without coming up for air.
“You know we really like you, right?” Becca asked.
Callie chewed, swallowed, and nodded. “Yep. Sure.”
“She doesn’t know,” Olivia told Becca.
Becca sighed. “Okay, Callie, I need you to listen to me. You’ve got all that really great strawberry blond hair with those natural curls that look effortless, and you have the kind of naturally fit body that doesn’t require hours of torture in the gym, and you don’t even need makeup, and women everywhere probably line up to hate you, but I can’t do it. I can’t hate you.”
“Me either,” Olivia said. “In fact, we kind of want to be you.”
Callie stared at them both. “Did you both lace your orange juice with liquor?”
“You get to work from home with your PJs and Shrek slippers,” Olivia said. “I’m so jealous of the slippers. But back to the point.”
“Yes,” Becca said. “The point. Let’s start with the evidence, shall we?” She set her phone on the table so that both Olivia and Callie could see the screen. “Earlier in the week you managed to spill your coffee, your purse, and your pride all over the bakery floor and get onto Instagram as Lucky Harbor’s cutest but most klutzy bachelorette.”
“That pic was supposed to be taken down,” Callie said.
Becca swiped her finger across the screen and brought up another picture, the one of Callie and Tanner.
“Okay,” Callie said. “That’s a little deceiving.”
“And this one?” Becca accessed the next pic. It was of Eric and the blonde leaving the bakery. “It says he’s your ex-fiancé, who left you at the altar.”
Well, wasn’t this fun. “I…didn’t see that one.”
“I’m glad,” Becca said, her usually mild-tempered eyes hard. “He’s an ass. A good dentist but a complete ass.” Becca shook her head. “I’m sorry you had to run into him like that when you were alone. I’d have liked to be with you.”
Callie shook her head. “It wasn’t a big deal. He just…startled me.”
At this Becca reached out and squeezed her hand. “I’d like to startle him into next week.”
Callie smiled because it wasn’t so far off from what Tanner had said. She couldn’t deny that it felt good to have people care enough about her that they wanted to defend her honor. But she could handle herself. Probably. “Not necessary,” she assured Becca. “It was all a long time ago.”
“Good,” Olivia said. “But that’s not even the most interesting part.”
Oh great, Callie thought, having a bad feeling that she knew what was coming next.
“True,” Becca said. “That honor goes to the fact that it’s rumored you’re no longer going to the bakery because you’re holing up with—” She looked at Olivia. “What did they call him?”
“Mr. Sex Walking,” Olivia said helpfully.
“Mr. Sex Walking,” Becca repeated, and burst out laughing. “Tanner’s going to love that.”
Olivia grinned too. “No, he’s not.”