Callie opened her mouth but Becca kept talking. “And you. You work for crazy people and don’t get out much. You need something for yourself too. Tanner’s that perfect something. So together, it’s all perfect, you see?”
Olivia was nodding her head. She saw.
Callie did not. “Listen, I don’t think—”
“Go with that,” Becca said. “Don’t think. We’ll do the thinking for you.”
“And our plan is…?” Olivia asked Becca.
“Get Tanner to crush on Callie,” she said like she’d just solved world hunger. She was beaming. “It’s perfect.”
“Not quite,” Callie said. “He’s not the type to crush. And I’m not—”
Olivia pointed her fork at her. “If you finish that sentence, I will totally stop eating to smack you. I swear it this time. You’re totally crush-worthy. In fact, I have a crush on you. If I swung that way, we’d rock the hell out of a good mutual crush. Now just leave this to the masters.”
Becca nodded. “That’s us. The making-a-guy-crush-on-you masters.”
Since Callie couldn’t imagine anyone making Tanner do anything he didn’t want to, she left breakfast secure in the knowledge that things would remain status quo.
The next day when she picked up Troy, he wasn’t scowling. He looked a little proud of himself.
“Oh, crap,” Callie said. “I know that look. She talked you into trouble. What did you two do?”
“Huh?” He shoved his hands into his pockets and slouched. “Nothing. I just helped her with a little camera work.”
“Camera work for what?”
“Her new blog.”
“For…the art gallery?” Callie asked.
“No, she said this was her personal blog.” He paused. “It’s a YouTube channel.”
“Oh my God.” Callie gave him a quick glare. “You were supposed to keep her out of trouble!”
“Hello, have you met her? No one person can control that old lady. And she moves fast!” He shrugged. “And anyway, you should be thanking me. I talked her out of her first idea.”
“I’m afraid to ask,” Callie said.
“She wanted to do Live from the Gym, where she planned on interviewing guys with their shirts off.”
“Oh my God.”
“But I talked her into doing a Live from Bingo Night thing instead.”
Callie sighed. “Good. That was really good.”
“Worth a raise good?” he asked.
Callie laughed. “No. You get her to close her Tumblr and Instagram, then we’ll talk.”
“She’s pretty crafty,” he said. “She’d probably just reopen them under a different name. Oh, and there was a little toaster ordeal.”
She glanced over at him again. “A toaster ordeal?”
“She put four pieces of bread down even though she said her toaster could only do two at a time without catching fire.”
“Yeah,” Troy said. “And then the fire alarm went off, but don’t freak. There weren’t any flames, just smoke. I unplugged it right away, but the firefighters and sheriff still came. She insisted.”
“Not the pretend fire thing again,” Callie muttered.
“Uh-huh. And a firefighter named Jack told your grandma that the next time she pulled another stunt like that, they might arrest her. And she said she hoped it was Sheriff Sawyer Thompson who arrested her because she had a thing for a man with handcuffs.”
Callie groaned and decided she needed a doughnut. Maybe two. “And then what happened?”
“The sheriff came. He said that he was going to call you to tell you that you needed to get her hormone levels checked or he was going to be sorely tempted to arrest her.”
“Did she behave after that?”
“Well, you’d have to define behave,” Troy said. “But she did promise to try to be good. No one looked all that convinced though.”
Tanner’s day had been a shit pile. Troy had gotten in trouble for hacking into his teacher’s computer to change a grade. The thing was, he hadn’t been changing his own grade but someone else’s. The principal wouldn’t say whose, but she did admit that the teacher had entered the grade incorrectly in the first place.
Troy refused to discuss it. Shock.
Then Sam had made an offer on a second boat for Lucky Harbor Charters, a boat they’d been eyeing for a long time and wanted badly, but they’d been a day late and a dollar short—the boat had sold yesterday.
And then as a topper, Tanner had been halfway through a swim to clear his mind when a vicious leg cramp had nearly done him in.
When he’d limped out of the water and collapsed on the rocky beach, gritting his teeth in pain, he discovered he had a witness.
Most of the time Tanner didn’t give a shit about his leg and the fact that it was only at about 50 percent. He only thought about it when it sent a stab of nerve pain through him. Or when Callie had noticed his scar. But rolling on the shore in the grip of that vicious cramp with Troy hovering over him asking “What can I do?” over and over again had been humiliating as hell.
Now Troy was with Elisa for the night. Her parents were in town and the kid was to help her make a good show. So Tanner, Cole, and Sam had walked to the Love Shack for a pitcher of beer.
“To Gil,” they toasted at their first drink, as they always did, and though Tanner felt the usual familiar pang of grief, it wasn’t accompanied by the also all-too-familiar pang of guilt.