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Last resort, p.33
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       Last Resort, p.33

           Jill Sanders
Chapter Sixteen

  Cassey woke up enveloped by Luke and the thick warm blankets. His warm smell surrounded her, filling the whole room. When she thought about him not being there when she woke, her gut would twist and ache. Was he going to be staying on? There were so many questions left unanswered from last night. She knew early morning wasn’t the best time to ask everything she wanted to, but she doubted she could wait much longer.

  “What has you so tense this morning?” he murmured into her ear.

  She sighed and then smiled. It was nice that he knew her so well. In the past, she’d never reached this level in her relationships. She found that she liked knowing his moods as well.

  It had been hard to gauge his moods at first, but after a few weeks, she had picked up on the subtle changes in his eyes and face when his moods changed.

  She rolled over until she could look him directly in the eyes. “Will you be staying here until your father recovers?”

  His dark eyes looked back at her, and she couldn’t tell what he was thinking.

  “I suppose I will have to stay on, at least until he goes home.” He frowned a little.

  “Don’t you need to run the business until he can go back?”

  “No, my father has a whole floor of competent employees who can handle it until he gets back on his feet.” He brushed a strand of her hair away from her eyes. “I plan on going back to Surf Breeze as soon as possible. I have my own business to tend to now. We break ground in less than a week. We’d better head out. I’m sure they’ve moved him to another room by now.”

  They grabbed a quick breakfast downstairs, where he was approached by over a dozen employees who all wished his father a speedy recovery.

  It was close to nine when they walked into his father’s private room. His mother was sitting in the chair in the corner, a book in her lap.

  “Oh, there you are. I was beginning to wonder if you were going to make it.”

  “How’s he doing?” Luke asked.

  “He’s stable. The doctors have come and gone several times. All of them say the same thing.” She set the book down and hugged Luke.

  “Have you had breakfast?” he asked.

  “Yes, don’t you worry about me. Now, Calley, sit down and tell me all about yourself.”

  “It’s Cassey, Mother,” Luke corrected.

  “Yes, of course. Sorry, dear.” His mother motioned to another chair near hers. “Sit, please.”

  Cassey walked over and sat next to the woman, feeling completely out of place. Luke’s mother was wearing a pale green skirt and blazer, the pearls wrapped around her neck were undoubtedly real, and she didn’t have a hair out of place.

  She looked down at her jeans and sweatshirt and wished she’d dressed a little better. She also wished that she’d thought to bring an umbrella, since it had still been raining this morning. Her hair was frizzed, and her makeup was probably running from the downpour they’d sprinted through to get into the hospital.

  “Now, what is it you do, dear?”

  “Cassey owns Boardwalk Bar and Grill in Surf Breeze. You know, the one dad’s been trying to buy for the last year,” Luke broke in as he shuffled a chair closer to hers.

  “Oh, that’s nice.” Cassey could see the interest leave her face.

  “I hope Mr. Callaway will make a speedy recovery.”

  “Oh, I’m sure he will. He was fit as a fiddle before.” She frowned and looked at her sleeping husband. “Well now, tell me about your parents. I believe I knew your father a long time ago.”

  “Mark Grayton?”

  She nodded her head. “I grew up in Spring Haven; we were in the same class in school.”

  Cassey smiled. Here she’d thought that the woman had grown up with a silver spoon in her mouth. Looking at her, Cassey had a hard time imagining the woman sitting in the broken down stands at the high school football field, rooting for the Fighting Bulldogs.

  Mrs. Callaway laughed. “Oh, the times we had sneaking out to Orsborn Orchards. They had this pond, with a dock floating in the middle. One Fourth of July, we snuck over a hundred kids out there in his pond. Someone had heard that old Mr. Orsborn was going to be gone for the weekend.” She smiled, leaned closer, and tapped Cassey’s knee. “We may not have had cell phones back then, but word spread like wildfire. Well, of course, the information was false. When Mr. Orsborn showed up, everyone started to scatter, until he pulled off his shirt and jumped in to the water with everyone else. Well, he sat there and ate and drank and enjoyed the day like he’d thrown the party himself.”

  Cassey laughed. “Mr. Orsborn now hosts the biggest Fourth of July party in town. I’d wondered where that tradition started.”

  By the time they headed back to the hotel later that evening, Cassey was sure she’d just made a new friend. Luke’s dad woke several times during the day. Each time Cassey would step outside since she didn’t want to cause him any stress.

  “I think my mother likes you more than she likes me,” Luke said as they walked into his apartment.

  “I like her, too. I had no idea your mother was a Bulldog.”

  “Pardon me?” He turned and gave her a funny look and she laughed.

  “A Spring Haven Bulldog. Our school mascot.”

  “Oh,” he chuckled. “Do you know that she talked to you today more than she has ever talked to me?”

  Cassey shook her head and frowned. “I’m sorry.”

  He smiled. “Don’t be. It’s nice knowing that even if my father won’t give you a chance, at least my mother has.”

  He walked over to her and wrapped his arms around her waist. “I like knowing that at least one of my parents approves of us.”

  She smiled and stood up on her toes. “I know you’ve won over my entire family. Dad’s asking if you’ll be back for Christmas.”

  Luke frowned. “I think I might have to pass.”

  “I understand.” She tried hard not to let the sadness show in her eyes.

  “Maybe you can come down here for a few days?”

  She nodded. She was finding it too difficult to talk. “I hate to leave, but I’ve a million things to do before I take off next week.”

  He nodded then looked down at her mouth. “I wish you could stay.”

  She nodded just before he kissed her slowly, showing her how much he wished it.

  On her drive home, she tried not to let the fact that she’d become entirely too attached to him dominate her mind.

  She arrived back at her place, and chaos consumed the rest of the next few days. Two of the heater units stopped working, leaving the place a little too chilly for her or her customers’ liking. She had to hire a local company to replace the units, which ate into her savings a little more.

  Then just three days before Christmas, she was on damage control back in the kitchen. Her head chef, Sam, had caught his wife having an affair and wasn’t in the mood to either cook or be civilized to any of the other staff. Cassey had no alternative but to send him home and help in the kitchen herself.

  She still hadn’t had any time to get the rest of her Christmas shopping done, and more important, she still hadn’t had time to get Luke anything yet.

  They’d talked to each other every day. His father had been moved home and, with the help of two full-time nurses, he was on the mend.

  According to Luke, he still called him Calvin and thus far that was the only word he’d said since waking.

  She was in the kitchen, cleaning up after the evening shift, getting ready to close the place down for Christmas, when her cell rang.

  Smiling, she answered it. “Hi, I was just thinking about you.”

  Luke chuckled. “Good things, I hope.”

  “Always. How’s your dad?”

  He sighed and she could tell things were the same. “Pretty much the same. I really wanted to see you for Christmas, but it doesn’t look like I’ll get out of here until after New Year’s.”

  She tried not to let the disappointment refl
ect in her voice.

  “I can always—”

  “No,” he interrupted. “Go be with your family.”

  She couldn't believe that she’d allowed him to be so deeply embedded into her life that just a few days away from him made her feel like a lonely old maid. She found herself tossing and turning because she missed his warmth in the bed. She missed seeing him sit across the table from her during breakfast. She missed his friendship, his laughter, and his touch.

  “I miss you,” she blurted out, then immediately felt like a stupid high school girl with a crush, something she never remembered feeling before.

  “I miss you, too.” She could hear the smile in his voice. “Soooo, what are you wearing?”

  She laughed.

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