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Last resort, p.17
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       Last Resort, p.17

           Jill Sanders

  Chapter Eight

  Luke wasn’t sure what had changed during dinner, but the whole atmosphere had changed from light and friendly to quiet and solemn. It didn’t help matters that, shortly after they had ordered, his father had showed up at their table. He was sure that Andre had called upstairs and notified him of their arrival.

  “Luke, I heard you were down here.” He stood to shake his father’s hand. He and his father had never really been on friendly terms, especially not since Calvin’s death.

  “Yes, sir. May I introduce Cassey Grayton. Cassey, this is my father, Jeffery Callaway.”

  “How do you do?” His father shook Cassey’s hand. He could see a shocked and somewhat cornered look on Cassey’s face. He would have done anything to remove it and replace it with the smiles she’d given him all day.

  “How do you do. You have a lovely place here,” Cassey said stiffly.

  “Thank you. I won’t keep you from your meal.” His father turned towards him. “Luke, can I have a word with you?”

  Luke looked towards Cassey, who nodded quickly.

  He followed his father into the back office area and felt the full force of his father’s anger after he shut the door.

  “What are you doing?” His father was just an inch shorter than him, but the man still had the power to make him feel like he was only three feet tall.

  “I’m enjoying a dinner date. You did say you wanted me to try any means possible.” He crossed his arms and held his breath.

  “I didn’t expect you to bring that woman here.” His father started pacing. Jeffery Callaway never did anything idle; the fact that he was pacing didn’t escape Luke’s attention.

  “Really?” He leaned slightly against the closed door. “When you give me a job to do, you should trust me enough to complete the task on my own terms. However, since handing me this task, you have done nothing but interfere.” He stood up when his father stopped pacing right in front of him, and then he watched his face start to turn a dark shade of red. “If you’re finished, I have a date waiting.” Luke turned and left the room without another word.

  As he walked back to the table, he tried not to dwell on the fact that his father was an ass. He was determined to enjoy the rest of the evening, regardless of what his father thought of him or Cassey.

  Cassey seemed to enjoy her meal, but instead of ordering dessert or drinks after they finished their plates, he quickly paid. Then he pulled her out the back glass doors that led past the large tropical pool. There were low lights strung around the palm trees, and soft music was playing from the hidden speakers, but he didn’t stop yet. Instead, he pulled her past the iron gates and onto the beach. Pausing so she could remove her shoes, he toed off his dress shoes and rolled up his pants. She laughed a little and helped him so the sand and water wouldn’t destroy them.

  “Here, we can leave our shoes here.” He walked over to a small bush area just outside the iron gate.

  She looked around questioningly.

  He laughed. “I’ve been hiding my shoes here all my life, and I’ve never had a pair stolen.” She smiled and nodded and set her sexy heels next to his black shoes.

  Then she took his hand as they started walking down the long strip of beach. He always loved the feel of the white sand under his feet. His resort had been raking the sands for as long as he could remember. Here, you were in no danger of being stuck by a broken shell or a wayward glass bottle.

  He sighed when they made it to the water’s edge. Since it was fall, the water was cool and when it lapped at their feet, they both gasped then giggled.

  “Maybe we’ll avoid the water.” She rushed from the edge, pulling him along. The walked for a while in silence, their hands lightly grasped together, swaying next to them.

  “Your father seemed nice,” she said offhandedly.

  A bark of laughter escaped his lips.

  “What?” She pulled his hand until he stopped and looked at her.

  Shaking his head, he looked down at her. “Let’s not spoil the evening by talking about my father.” He pulled her closer, noticing how her silver eyes sparkled in the moonlit. He brushed her hair out of her face when the light breeze pushed it in her eyes.

  “You look lovely tonight.” He pulled her closer. “The way your hair shines in the light.” He pushed a strand of her hair out of her face again. She’d curled it tonight, leaving the long strands in little loops down its length. The strapless dress she’d worn allowed her hair to fall lightly on her bare shoulders. His fingers trailed down her hair until he felt her soft skin under his hands. Running a finger lightly over her shoulder, he watched as her breath hitched. Her chest rose and fell lightly, causing his eyes to follow the slight movements.

  He was transfixed as he watched her head fall back a little. Her eyes closed slightly and she held her breath as his fingers played over her skin. He ran a finger up her neck until he couldn’t stop himself, and he dipped his head to taste the soft skin where his fingers had just been.

  He felt her moan against his lips, and the sound vibrated along his hands as they ran up her back. The softness of her dress, her skin, almost undid him. It took all his will to pull away and start walking down the beach again.

  They came upon a little shack along the beach that sold Italian ice and sat at the bar stools and enjoyed the cool treat. He’d been eating at the small business for as long as he could remember, yet he didn’t even know who owned the place. He knew that if the hut had been along Cassey’s boardwalk, she would know the owners and their whole life stories, as well. He wondered exactly what that said about him as a person.

  “This is incredible,” Cassey said, breaking his deep thoughts. He smiled over at her. “I’ve never had Italian ice before; it’s basically ice cream, right?”

  He chuckled. “It’s actually closer to sorbet. He held up a spoonful of his favorite, pina colada. “Here, try this one.”

  He watched as she took his spoon into her mouth and closed her eyes. “Yum.” Her tongue darted out to lick her bottom lip. “That’s as good as the raspberry.”

  He smiled and nodded. “Calvin’s favorite was raspberry.”

  She smiled. “My sister, Marissa, loved pina colada. My brothers always had one favorite, orange.” She chuckled. “It’s funny, they could never agree on what to have for dinner, or to drink, but always agreed on orange sorbet.”

  “I’d like to meet them sometime,” he blurted out before he knew what he was doing. He didn’t know what had caused him to say it and didn’t even know if he really did want to meet them. But the more time he spent with Cassey, the more time he wanted to spend with her.

  He understood their arrangement, that it was just physical. He really wasn’t looking for a long-term relationship, especially one he already knew his father wouldn’t approve of. Not that he needed his father’s approval to date a woman. Hell, if he thought about it, he wanted a woman his folks didn’t approve of. But there was already so much his father was up in arms about. Most of it was his fault, some of it wasn’t, but he was sure his father would find a way to blame him for them anyway.

  He sighed and tried to focus on the now instead of the old arguments with his father.

  “Where did you go?” she asked when he blinked and cleared his mind.

  “Hmm?” He tried to recover by taking another nibble of his sorbet.

  She leaned on the counter and gave him an I’m-not-buying-it look. He was sure he could get out of explaining himself, but then he sighed again and caved.

  “I had an argument with my father earlier. I was just thinking about how he always blames me for everything.”

  “I’m sure he doesn’t blame you for everything.”

  He chuckled. “Do you always look at the bright side of things?”

  She shook her head. “No, but you must have had some wonderful times growing up.”

  “I did. My brother was the best part. Calvin shielded me from most of my parents’ wrath. He’s the
one that taught me how to throw a football, encouraged me to ask Tammy Lynn out in fifth grade, bought me my first box of condoms.” He smiled. “He also taught me how to drive and passed on his love of classic cars.” He took a drink from the water bottle he’d ordered. “If I think about it, all the great moments in my life happened because of my brother.”

  “I would have loved to have met him.” She’d leaned her face in her hands on the counter and was listening to him like in a daydream. “My brothers played a huge part in my great memories too.” She laughed, and sat up. “They taught me not to be gullible, to work hard for what you want, and to never back out of a fight.”

  “Okay, now you’re going to have to explain all those.” He chuckled.

  She smiled as she finished the last bite of her Italian ice. “Okay, but let’s take this conversation to go.” He nodded and scooped up the last of his ice and shoved the whole spoonful into his mouth as she laughed.

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