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Last resort, p.15
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       Last Resort, p.15

           Jill Sanders
Chapter Seven

  It was just past one when they climbed back up the stairs to her apartment. It had taken him three Cokes just to keep his eyes open until closing time. Cassey, on the other hand, looked like she’d just woken up.

  “I still don’t know how you do it.” He shook his head as they walked into her apartment, his overnight bag tossed over his shoulder.

  She laughed. “Years of practice. I’ve been living this schedule since the year before I graduated high school.” She walked over and opened the glass doors that led to her patio.

  The rain had started to fall almost an hour ago, which had caused the club to fill up as everyone rushed to get off the boardwalk. He tossed his bag down on her bed and walked over behind her. Wrapping his arms around her, he watched as the sky lit up with lightning.

  She sighed and rested back into his chest. “I always love fall around here. The crazy storms, the cooler weather.” She sighed again.

  “I bet it doesn’t hurt that things slow down a little either.”

  She turned in his arms, wrapping her hands around his neck. “That, too.” She leaned up and placed a kiss on his lips. “You look beat. I’m glad you decided to stay here tonight instead of going back to your hotel.”

  He smiled down at her. “Me, too. Plus, we still have our date tomorrow. Remember?”

  She smiled and nodded. “Yes, I’m looking forward to it.”

  He had the feeling she was hiding something from him. The statement didn’t reach her eyes, and for a split second, he thought she was lying. But then she was pulling him towards her bed and removing his clothes, and he forgot all about the look she’d given him.

  The next day they walked hand in hand along the boardwalk. She was taking him to a local place for breakfast. She wore a pair of light-colored pants and a cream-colored top with a light jacket on. The rain had stopped just before sunrise, and he could tell it was going to be warm enough today that they could really enjoy themselves.

  “Here we are.” She stopped in front of a small breakfast place. The red and white stripes on the awnings and the black-and-white tiled floors, made the place look vintage. They walked in and sat on the bar stools, and she ordered two cinnamon rolls and two cups of coffee.

  He watched her chat with one of the owners as she drank her coffee and waited for a fresh batch of rolls from the oven. She looked comfortable here, chatting among the locals.

  When some local kids came walking in just after they had been served, she walked over to them and scolded them for not being at school already. He almost laughed at how motherly she was towards them. She knew each kid by name and even talked to them about sports.

  Finally, the kids took their breakfast to go and promised that they were heading to school. Cassey looked relieved when she sat back down to finish her roll.

  “What was that all about?” he asked, trying to figure her out.

  She shrugged her shoulders. “Bobby is a good kid.”

  He waited and when she didn’t finish, he asked, “And why do you have such an interest in whether he’s at school or not?”

  She laughed. “Because he’s a handful, and he’s one of my brother’s kids.”

  His eyebrows shot up. “I didn’t know you had a nephew.” He turned to watch the kid walk down the boardwalk.

  “No,” she chuckled. “I don’t. My brother runs a halfway house of sorts. Kind of like my parents did, but on a larger scale.” She nibbled on the last bite of her roll. He had finished his already and was trying not to order another one. Instead, he sipped his coffee and dreamed about another roll.

  “Which brother?”

  “Roman. He bought an old house in downtown Spring Haven, right off the bay. Marcus, Cole, and he rebuilt the place shortly after high school. Then”—she shrugged her shoulders—“he started taking kids in.”

  He shook his head. “Isn’t there a lot to that kind of thing?”

  She laughed. “You have no idea what he had to go through the first two years. Ready?” She stood up and waved bye to her friends.

  “Sure.” He took out his wallet to pay, but she shook her head.

  “Not around here.” She smiled and nodded. “Alfred and Marvin will be upset if you pay for anything.”

  “Alfred and Marvin?”

  “The owners. It’s a standing rule on the boardwalk between us owners.”

  “Seriously?” He stopped walking just outside the door and looked down at her. “You don’t charge anyone and they don’t charge you?”

  She smiled and nodded. “We’re a family. You don’t charge family.”

  She took his hand as they started walking up the boardwalk. When they reached the railing, she leaned against it and closed her eyes and took a deep breath.

  “I love it here.” She spun around, resting her back against the railing as she looked at him. “There is always something to do, people to watch.” She nodded to an old couple passing them. They were dressed in matching bright red shirts and shorts. Cassey smiled and waved to them. “So, what do you want to do?”

  He looked down at her and smiled. When she saw the look in his eyes, she chuckled. “We can do that again later. I mean what do you want to see along the boardwalk first?”

  “It’s your neighborhood. What do you want to show me?”

  She grabbed his arm and started pulling him down the walk, a smile playing on the edge of her lips. “I know where we’ll go first. You’ll love it.” He followed her willingly down the walk. She entered a large blue building with a sign that said “Boardwalk Arcade” in neon above the door.

  He stopped her just inside the doors and smiled down at her. “Really? An arcade?”

  She laughed. “It’s much more than just an arcade. Come on.” She tugged his arm again.

  Three hours later, he was not only exhausted, but starving again. She’d run him through the laser tag arena three times, each time kicking his butt until finally he’d caved and asked if they could try the go-carts outside. He was proud when he’d lapped her small red go-cart, and he’d finally beat her at something. He’d convinced her to run another round, this time on the slick track where he annihilated her once again.

  They played a round of miniature golf and tied, then went inside to order a slice of pizza and a Coke. They ate at a large picnic table outside under an awning, and he couldn’t remember ever having this much fun on a first date.

  They laughed and joked with each other over the pizza, and then she pulled him into the arcade again. They won enough tickets between them to get a large stuffed dog, which she carried down the boardwalk proudly.

  By the time they walked through the doors of her place, his mind was made up. He was going to tell his father next time he saw him that his new scheme wouldn’t work and, more important, he would have nothing to do with it.

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