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Last resort, p.20
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       Last Resort, p.20

           Jill Sanders
Cassey watched Luke walking towards her. She’d enjoyed the lunch with him and Marcus, and she thought her brother approved of Luke. Not that it meant much; Marcus usually approved of anyone she dated. It was Roman that any man she dated had to get past.

  Luke was wearing a suit and tie, and every woman in the place watched him walk across the floor. When he stepped up to her and kissed her on the lips, she thought she heard a few sighs.

  “You clean up pretty well.” She smiled and wrapped her arms around his shoulders.

  “I’ve got a meeting. Shouldn’t take too long. If all goes well, I’d like to celebrate with dinner tonight.”

  She nodded and smiled. She watched him walk away and sighed herself. He sure did make a wonderful sight in his suit.

  An hour later, she was shocked to see Luke’s father walk through her front doors. He made a beeline towards her after he spotted her standing across the room. She excused herself from the couple she was talking to and met him across the floor.

  “Miss Grayton.” He nodded. “Do you have someplace we can talk?”

  She nodded and took him to her office. She motioned for him to sit in the chair in front of her desk. He remained standing, so she sat behind her desk, shoving her hands under her desk so he wouldn’t notice how much they shook. What was he doing here?

  “I understand my son has been staying here.” He looked down at her, disgust written all over his face.

  Instead of saying anything, she nodded her head in agreement.

  “Typical,” he said harshly. “I send him down here to do a job, and he decides to take a vacation and sleep around while he’s at it.” He turned and started to pace in her small office. “What will it cost me this time?” he said after he turned and glared at her again.

  “I’m sorry?” she asked, shocked.

  “Come now, Miss Grayton, everyone has their price. I need you to break it off quickly with him. Today, if possible. I understand you’re not in the market to sell your…little place here. I’m willing to overlook that, but I won’t have you dragging my son’s name through the mud, so to speak.”

  The shaking in her hands stopped; instead, she started to grind her back teeth. Slowly placing her hands on her desk, she rose up to her full height. “I don’t know who you think you are, but I can’t be bought off. You have—”

  “I’m a concerned father,” he broke in as he walked to the front of her desk. “I’ll give you this chance. You won’t get another,” he warned.

  “I don’t need another. As far as I’m concerned, you can get out now.” She leaned slightly on her desk, watching his dark eyes grow fierce.

  “Fine,” he said, staring at her. “There are other methods for getting what I want. I will have this place, or see it closed down, just to prove my point.” He turned and started to walk out.

  When the door shut behind him, she sat back down as the shaking started up again. When Luke walked back in an hour later, she was still sitting there, a plan forming in her mind.

  “Hey,” he said, smiling.

  “Hi.” She motioned for him to sit down. Was it really only two weeks ago that she’d met him for the first time in this very room? How had she let herself be drawn into his life, his mess, so quickly? “Luke, I think we need to talk.” She waited until the smile fell away from his face. “Let’s be honest, we both knew this wasn’t going to work out. It’s not as if we walked into this with any assumptions.”

  He nodded and crossed his arms over his chest. “What led you down this path?”

  She shook her head. “I’m not the kind of person to get close to. I’ve never had a relationship past a few weeks. Which is one of the reasons I was honest with you from the beginning.”

  He nodded. “You were.” He stood and leaned on the front of her desk. “What brought this on now? Did you get a visit from my father?”

  She nodded. “But my decision has nothing to do with his visit. I asked him to leave and he threatened the bar and grill.”

  “I’m sure he did.” He leaned up and looked down at her. “I wouldn’t take his threats lightly.”

  She nodded. “From what I heard, he cares about you.”

  He laughed. “Right. You don’t have to do this. I can help you. I can help your bar and grill.”

  She shook her head. “I don’t need your help.” She stood. “I hope we can remain—”

  “Don’t.” He walked around the desk and pulled her close, crushing her hands next to his chest. As he dipped his head down, she heard him moan. His lips crushed hers as she grabbed hold of his suit jacket. She could feel the anger and frustration slowly leave him as his mouth heated hers, leaving more than her hands shaking.

  When he pulled away, he looked down at her. “Don’t say we can still be friends. It wouldn’t work. I want you still, and I can’t imagine a time in the future when I won’t want you. I want much more than just friendship.” He turned and walked out the door without another word.

  She slid down to her chair, her spine melted to the back. She’d never been kissed like that before, and she hoped to God she would never be kissed like that again by anyone else. Closing her eyes, she let the tears slide down her cheeks.

  Two hours later, after showering and dressing, she walked downstairs and went to work. The kitchen was understaffed tonight, thanks to the flu that was going around, so she spent her time back there, helping out. By the end of the night, she was exhausted and fell into bed fully dressed.

  That next week, it only got worse as more and more of her staff called in sick. She worked the bar, waited and bussed tables, and even did dishes. She didn’t mind since keeping busy was helping her keep her mind off of Luke. When she fell into bed each night, she missed feeling him next to her. She missed talking to him as she ate her lunch in the courtyard, so she started eating lunch in her office. When that didn’t work, she sat in the dining room or at the bar.

  As more time went by, she realized she couldn’t fool herself. She’d fallen for Luke and it frustrated her to realize it. Now she just needed to decide what she was going to do about it.

  The next day, she forgot completely about Luke when she found a large sign taped over her doors stating that the Health Department had closed the building until further notice.

  She stood in line for two hours at the local county building to meet with the head of the health department. After arguing with him about his schedule and how much money she would lose if he didn’t come out soon, she finally convinced him to come out in the next forty-eight hours.

  When she walked away from the building, she was still unclear what had caused them to close her doors in the first place. He’d mentioned something about violations but had yet to present her with a list or any explanations. The worst part was that Boardwalk Bar and Grill would be closed over the weekend, her busiest days. She thought she knew who was responsible.

  When she walked down the boardwalk, she noticed three more signs posted on doors and felt her frustration grow. Instead of walking to the bar and grill, she marched to her car and the steam didn’t stop rolling off her until she parked in front of Crystal Shores. Before she knew what she was doing, she was standing outside Luke’s father’s office, listening to his secretary tell her that he wasn’t available. She marched around the woman’s desk and opened one of the double doors. When she barged in, she noticed two things: one, he wasn’t alone, and two, his face was beet red as he yelled at his son.

  Luke sat in a leather chair, looking rather smug as his father stuttered over him.

  “What the hell?” He turned and glared at her. “Carolyn, get in here.”

  His secretary was right on her heels and quickly apologized as Cassey walked forward, more determined than ever.

  “Mr. Callaway, I understand your beef with me, but those other shops had nothing to do with me. For you to shut them down as well is low.” She stopped right in front of him, her back and shoulders rod straight as she crossed her arms over her chest.

ve us, Carolyn,” he barked and then waited until the woman shut the door gently with a quiet click. “I’m sure, Miss Grayton, I don’t know what it is you are talking about.” He walked behind his desk and sat down. Just the way he said her name made her back teeth grind.

  “You may have friends in high places and be able to shut me down for the weekend, but Alfred, Marvin, and Judy had nothing to do with our little disagreement.”

  He waited, just looking at her. Luke stood up. “What’s all this about?” he asked, concern lacing his voice.

  She turned on him. “As if you didn’t already know. You warned me this might happen. I suppose I should have paid more attention. He had the health department shut down all the food venders along the boardwalk. No food equals no business for any of us. People are going to stop coming to Surf Breeze altogether. I can’t believe the city agreed to your scheme.” She turned back to Mr. Callaway who was now looking quite smug behind his desk.

  “Is this true, Dad?” Luke asked. When his father didn’t answer, he picked up an envelope his father had been waving around when she walked in and tossed it at him. “I’m done. No more arguments, no more conversations. You won’t even see me for the holidays.” He grabbed her hand and started walking out the door. When they made it into the hallway, she yanked her hand away and turned on him.

  “Don’t tell me you didn’t know his plans.” The anger still radiated through her. Her rational mind screamed at her to stop, but she was working on adrenaline now.

  “Cassey, I didn’t know what he was up to. I swear it. I haven’t seen him or talked to him since the night we ate dinner a few weeks ago.” He held out his hands and took a step back.

  She looked at him, gauging his face, and could see he was telling the truth. After a minute, she sighed and relaxed her shoulders. “I’m sorry; it’s been an emotional day.”

  “I understand. Have you eaten lunch?”

  She was so caught up in her anger towards his father, it took a moment for her to process what he had asked her.

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