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Last resort, p.16
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       Last Resort, p.16

           Jill Sanders
When Cassey walked into her place with the large, stuffed dog on her hip, she couldn’t help but smile. She couldn’t deny it, even to herself; she’d just had the best day since…well, since she could remember.

  Being with Luke was easy, almost too easy, but she wasn’t going to think about that just yet. The place was pretty empty, which was to be expected on an out-of-season Monday. But it was even more empty than she’d come to expect. She wasn’t too worried since her brothers weren’t expecting anything extra from her for a while. Still, it would have been nice to pay the bank the extra she’d gotten used to paying. If she could have stuck to her plans, she would have had them paid off in less than five years. Now, however, she was looking at adding at least a few months to that.

  “I hope you aren’t planning on skipping out on me for dinner,” he said next to her ear, causing little bumps to rise down her neck.

  Shaking her head, she turned back and smiled at him. She found herself doing that more often around him, and it was almost becoming natural. There had been few other men in her life that had made her smile this much—her brothers, an occasional boyfriend—but no one had ever made her feel this young. Even as a kid, she hadn’t felt this carefree.

  “I just want to shower and change first,” she said, waving to Wendy as they walked by.

  “A shower sounds good.” The way he said it had her mind whirling and heat spreading throughout her entire body.

  She stopped on the first step and turned to him. “Maybe I’ll let you wash my back, again.” She wrapped her arms around his shoulders as he leaned up and placed a soft kiss on her lips.

  “Mmm.” He wrapped his hands around her waist and pulled her closer. She felt his desire pressing against her hip, and her pulse jumped at the thought of him inside her.

  Smiling, she turned and rushed up the stairs, holding his hand and pulling him along quickly.

  After the shared shower and some very steamy sex, Luke left her alone in the bathroom to get ready for dinner. For the first time that day, she had a moment to herself.

  Her mind played over the time spent with him in the last few days. Maybe she was building him up to be something bigger than he was in her mind. She tried to be as rational as she could, remembering how he’d treated her, how she was around him. She kept coming back to the fact that all she could think about was spending more time with him.

  By the time she was dressed and ready for an evening out, she was determined to enjoy the time she had with him, no matter what.

  He surprised her by walking her to his car, an older model classic, which he said he’d rebuilt with a buddy of his a few years back. When she sat on the leather seats, she felt like she was riding in a new car instead of one built in the early sixties.

  She hadn’t planned on him driving towards Emerald Beach, or on them going to Crystal Shores for dinner. She’d never been to his family’s hotel before, nor had she ever been to a restaurant quite this fancy before. She felt a little out of her element when the maître d’ looked her over as they walked in.

  “Good evening, Mr. Callaway,” the man said with a slight accent. “I trust your drive was pleasant.”

  “Yes, thank you, Andre.” Luke took hold of her hand as they followed the man to a secluded table near the bay windows.

  After they were seated, Luke ordered some wine and they were left alone to look over the menus. She set hers down and looked across the table at Luke.

  “Why didn’t you tell me you were taking me here?” She noticed how comfortable he looked sitting in a room that, to her, felt stuffy and made her feel under-dressed.

  He shrugged his shoulders. “I didn’t think it would really matter.” She could see that he was telling the truth. To him, this was just another place to dine. To her it felt like sleeping with the enemy. Then again—she chuckled a little—she really was sleeping with the enemy. It didn’t really matter either way; she was going to enjoy the rest of their night together.

  “So, tell me what’s good to eat here,” she said, picking up her menu again and looking over it. She tried not to gasp when she noticed the prices. She could just imagine how empty her place would be if her prices were this high.

  “The lobster and shrimp are my favorite, but the chef makes some really great pork chops.” He smiled across the table at her, and she remembered that he had looked just as excited to have a slice of cold pizza for a couple bucks at lunch.

  “You surprise me,” she said, setting down her menu again. When he raised his eyebrows and just looked at her, she continued. “You give off the impression that you’re a beer-drinking, pizza-eating kind of guy, but then you take me here.” She motioned around to all the people wearing clothes that cost more than her entire wardrobe had and to the dining room that would bring in more in one night than she brought in the bar and grill in a whole week. “And yet you fit in here. More than that, you were born for this.” She heard herself say those words, and for a split second, her heart skipped.

  Her mind screamed at her, wondering what she was doing messing around with someone like Luke Callaway.

  He was looking at her kind of funny, and then he smiled. “You know, I’ve never really thought of this place as anything but home. Where most people can’t see beyond the pressed table cloths and high-priced food, all I see is myself as a teenager”—he nodded to a back table area—“back at that table doing my homework with my brother and eating three meals a day either in the kitchen or at an empty table because our parents were too busy to make dinner or take us home.” She watched as a sad look crossed his face.

  She’d never thought about it like that. She started wondering what it would be like if she started a family. Would she be any different than his parents had been? Would her kids be forced to sit in a booth and waste their childhoods because she was too busy running her business?

  Shaking her head, she tried to push those thoughts to the back of her mind. She’d never thought about having a family of her own, not until today. She wasn’t ready for a family or, at this point, ready to commit to someone for more than a few weeks at a time.

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