“He’d do anything for you,” Callie said. “And if he’s voicing his thoughts to you, you’re already ahead of the game in the marriage department. It means you’re communicating. All you have to do now is listen and hear him. He’s feeling left out, Lacey, that’s all. Find a way to let him help you.”
“You really think that’ll solve the problem?”
“Absolutely,” Callie said. “Talk to him. And if you still want to elope afterward, we’ll make that happen. Call me tonight.”
“Okay. Thanks, Callie. You’re like magic.”
Yes. She was. She was magic at creating the illusion that romance lasted forever in spite of the fact that the statistics were stacked against Lacey and Joe making it to their second wedding anniversary.
God, she really needed a new job. And possibly a new life.
She showered and pulled on another “work” outfit—a pretty blouse and blazer and…comfy sweatpants for a few Skype calls. An hour later her stomach was grumbling loud enough for her clients to hear. Her famously bad instincts warred with her desire to go back to the bakery to feed her newfound doughnut addiction.
And maybe also to see if Tanner was there again. A mistake waiting to happen, of course.
She’d had lunch yesterday with her grandma. She’d met the boyfriend candidate, who’d turned out to be Mr. Wykowski, an eighty-plus retired rocket scientist who resembled a pipe cleaner with eyes. A stooped pipe cleaner. But he was warm and kind and very patient. He had to be, to be thinking of dating her grandma.
Lucille had filled Callie in on the latest gossip in town as well as what she knew about Tanner. Finding out that he’d been in an oil rig fire and had nearly lost his life had made it difficult for her to breathe, but he was okay now. She’d seen this for herself. Yeah, he still obviously had trouble with his leg, but from what she understood, he was lucky to have the leg at all.
She couldn’t begin to imagine what he’d been through, but hearing about his bravery had only fueled her curiosity about him. Which meant that she couldn’t trust herself not to act like that pathetic little bookworm she’d once been.
In any case, she couldn’t go to the bakery. She had plans for breakfast with her two neighbors, Becca and Olivia. The three of them were becoming friends, and Callie was grateful to have them in this town that no longer felt like home.
When she’d grown up here, she hadn’t had a lot of friends. Her best friend from school, Hannah, had died of cancer five years ago. Her loss had made it easier to stay away.
She left her apartment and knocked on Olivia’s, right next door. Olivia stuck her head out wearing a man’s white button-down and what looked like absolutely nothing else.
“A new look?” Callie asked.
Olivia laughed and stroked a hand down her definite bedhead hair. “Yeah. Um, was everything okay last night? You slept good?”
Callie leaned against the wall. “You mean did I hear anything coming from your love nest after you stuffed something in the pipes?”
Olivia grimaced. “Socks. I used socks this time. Better than the rolls of toilet paper.”
“Worked like a charm,” Callie said. “Even more efficient than the insulation we don’t have.”
“Good.” Olivia gave a relieved smile. “Didn’t want a repeat of the other night. I’m still sorry about that, by the way.”
Unfortunately, the warehouse was so poorly constructed they could hear each other sneeze. And more. And in Olivia’s case there’d been a lot of that more lately, thanks to her new relationship with Cole, one of Tanner’s business partners.
“No worries,” Callie said. “I put on my headphones as a precautionary measure.”
Olivia groaned. “We’ve really got to get the landlord to put in some insulation. Listen, about breakfast…I’ve got a…thing.”
“Uh-huh,” Callie said on a laugh. “Let me guess. A six-foot, gorgeous, green-eyed thing that goes by the name of Cole?”
Olivia bit her lower lip. “He didn’t dock until three a.m. and we need a few more hours of shut-eye.”
“Go for it,” Callie said. “I’ll just get Becca. We’ll make it a wedding planning breakfast.”
Becca was marrying Sam, Tanner’s other business partner, and Callie had promised to step in for this last month before the wedding and help however she could.
“You didn’t get her text?” Olivia asked.
“No, I—” Callie looked down at her phone. “Oh.” Indeed she’d missed a text from Becca:
The guys didn’t get in until 3 a.m. Sorry to bail on you, but I’m toast. I owe ya breakfast and I have a feeling Olivia does too.
Callie laughed. “Got it,” she told Olivia. “Go back to bed.”
“Thanks. Have a doughnut for me, will ya?” Olivia asked. “Try one of Leah’s old-fashioned chocolate glazes this time. You shouldn’t choke on those.”
Callie opened her mouth to ask how she knew, but Olivia shook her head. “It’s Lucky Harbor,” she said. “You know how it works. You can leave your front door unlocked and no one would ever touch your stuff, but you can’t keep a secret.”
“There’s no secret,” Callie insisted. “I just had coffee.”
“And doughnuts.” Olivia paused. “With Tanner Riggs.”
“The tables were full,” Callie said. “He sat down because there was nowhere else to sit.”