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Forever and a day, p.41
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       Forever and a Day, p.41

         Part #6 of Lucky Harbor series by Jill Shalvis
Page 41

  Author: Jill Shalvis

  “What does it look like?”

  “Well, it looks like you’re on a mission to kill someone,” Grace said. “And since you won’t look good in an orange jumpsuit, I thought we could discuss. ”

  “I’d totally rock an orange jumpsuit. ”

  “No one rocks orange. Talk to me. ”

  Anna rolled her eyes. “You even sound like him now. ”

  Grace sighed. There was no hurrying a Scott, ever. “You getting in the car or what?”

  Anna took a moment to swipe the mascara from beneath her eyes. “Yeah. Sure. ” Once she got into the front seat, she looked at the folder Grace had set on the dash. “What’s that?” she asked, opening the file without waiting for an answer.

  “Hey, that’s private,” Grace said.

  “Holy shit, they’re going to pay you a buttload,” Anna exclaimed, eyeballing the bottom line on the offer. “What is it you do again? Add up other people’s money?”

  Grace sighed. “Something like that. ”

  “I want a job that pays this. ”

  “Get a degree. ”

  “There you go, sounding like my brother again. ” Anna flipped through the papers for a moment, thoughtful. Silent.

  “I’m interviewing Sarah at the diner. Want to help?”

  “I guess. ”

  Inside Eat Me, Jan brought them iced tea as they met with Sarah and her nice, neat, freshly printed résumé. She was local, and everyone liked her. She had a list of references a mile long, and she could start immediately.

  It was a no-brainer.

  After Sarah left the table, Grace looked at Anna. “So?”

  “So what?”

  “What did you think?”

  “She’s like Mary Poppins,” Anna said.

  Yeah. Dammit. She was perfect. Far more perfect than Grace. Which was not the point, she told herself. She’d never meant for this job to become anything more than a temp position on the way to the Real World.

  “You look annoyed,” Anna said. “You’ve been looking for someone to replace you for weeks. Why aren’t you doing the happy dance?”

  “She’s talking about getting married to her fiancé. She’ll be too busy with wedding plans to play with Toby. ”

  “She said they’re planning on eloping. ”

  “Exactly,” Grace said. “Which means she’ll just up and go away for two weeks. Toby doesn’t need that kind of disruption; he’s had enough. ”

  “So hire Riley. ”

  “Yes, but Riley’s so…young. ”

  Anna stared at her, then laughed. “Let me get this straight. First you can’t find a viable candidate. Now you’ve got not one but two, and you don’t want either?”

  “I didn’t say that. ”

  Anna shook her head. “You really are as nuts as I thought. ”

  “Pot, kettle,” Grace said. “Now tell me what the hell you were doing wheeling down the highway like a Formula One driver minus a racetrack. ”

  “You first. Tell me why you’re not happy about your job offer, the one any normal person would be celebrating already by now. ”

  They stared at each other, at an impasse.

  “You first,” Anna bargained with the same talent as her brother. “And then I’ll tell you. ”

  “Uh-huh,” Grace said. “And I’d totally say yes, except you’re a weasel and a non-truth teller—”

  “Non-truth teller?”

  “Nicer than saying liar,” Grace said with a shrug.

  “Okay, fine. ” Anna shifted in her chair. “Today was the day. ”

  “The day…”

  “With Devon,” Anna said. “The day I agreed to finally…you know. Do the deed. ”

  “Oh. ” Grace’s stomach clenched. “And? Are you okay?”

  “Yeah. I really thought I was ready. I’m twenty-freaking-one. ”

  Grace held her breath. Tell me you didn’t go through with it…

  “I got there,” Anna said. “To his place. And it was still his same stinky, old bedroom with the huge bong in a corner and the posters of Megan Fox on the walls, and no pillowcases on the pillows…”


  “I mean, I don’t know what I expected,” Anna said. “I guess I thought somehow it’d be romantic and special. You know?”

  “I do know. And it should be romantic and special. What happened?”

  “I changed my mind. ”

  Grace let out the breath she’d been holding. “It’s okay. It’s okay to change your mind. ”

  Anna lifted a shoulder, then shook her head. “Devon was all pissed off about it. ”

  Tell me I have a reason to call the cops and have his ass arrested. “Did he hurt you?”

  “No. Of course not. I wouldn’t let a guy hurt me. ” Anna’s voice caught. “But he was a total jerk about it. Wouldn’t give me a ride home. ”

  Asshole. “So you took your wheels to the highway?” Grace asked. “Why didn’t you call someone, Josh or me?”

  “Josh’s at work. ”

  “He’d have come anyway,” Grace said. “And you know it. And I would have as well. ”

  “Without killing Devon?”

  Tough question. “Okay, so Josh might have struggled with that, but you can call me, Anna. Always. I’ll pick you up no questions asked and take you wherever you need to go. Well, except the one place you actually want to go. I don’t have enough credit on my Visa to get us to Europe, sorry. But I do have a full tank of gas, which gives us about two hundred miles in any direction. ”

  Anna rolled her eyes, but she also almost smiled. “I still want to go to Europe. ”

  “I’ve heard this song. ”

  “And then after Europe, I figured out what I want to do with my life. Other than driving the people in it crazy. ”

  “Anna. ” Grace covered Anna’s hand with hers. Anna’s was calloused and strong from spinning the wheels on her chair. As strong as the woman it belonged to. “There’s no need to stop something you’re so good at. ”

  Anna snorted.

  Grace smiled at her, then let the amusement fade. “You know you can do whatever you want, right? Climb mountains, cure world hunger, rule the universe?”

  “I want to work with people like me. Help them, like, adjust. I know,” she said quickly. “I know I’m mean and obnoxious, but that’s me. That has nothing to do with my legs not working. I think I’m pretty damn well adjusted when it comes to that. ”

  “I agree,” Grace said quietly. “So you want to be a counselor? A therapist?”

  “Psychologist. Specializing in obnoxious teenagers. ” She smiled. “Who better, right?”

  “Nice,” Grace said. “You’d probably have to lose the scowl, maybe turn on your self-editor, but nice. Really nice. Do it. ”

  “It’s just that I’ve said that I’d go to school like a million times over the past three years, and every time Josh got me all admitted and registered and everything, and I’ve flaked. ”

  “So don’t flake,” Grace said.

  “I can’t tell him. He won’t believe me. He’s lost faith. ”

  “Anna. ” Grace shook her head. “He’s never lost faith in you. Have a little faith in him. ” Because Anna wasn’t looking sure, Grace went on. “You’re a born fighter. So fight for what you want. ”

  Anna nodded, then smiled.


  “Your turn. You have to tell me stuff now. About your job offer. ”

  “Well,” Grace said. “It’s a good one. ”

  “Duh. ”

  “It’s everything my parents ever wanted for me. And I thought it was everything I wanted as well. ”

  “But it’s not?”

  “No, it is. ” Grace hesitated. She didn’t know how to express her feelings on this because they were so new. Her “big job” was going to satisfy her goal to be a successful career woman. But she’d disc
overed something during her time here in Lucky Harbor—happiness. Shouldn’t that be a goal too? “I don’t want to leave Lucky Harbor,” she admitted. “I like it here. It feels more like home than…well, home. ”

  Anna didn’t laugh. She didn’t roll her eyes or make a single sarcastic statement. She just nodded. “Well, then, there’s really only one thing to do. ”

  “What’s that?”

  “It’s painful,” Anna warned. “You’re going to have to take your own advice and fight for what you want. ”

  Grace stared at her as the door to the diner opened. Josh strode in like a man on a mission. He wore navy scrubs, his hospital ID hanging around his neck, and a deep scowl on his face.

  Jan started toward him, order pad in her hand, before she caught sight of his expression and backed off.

  He headed straight toward Anna and Grace, mouth grim as he turned to Anna. “I just got three phone calls that you were wheeling yourself down the highway and sobbing, refusing all rides. ”

  And he’d run out of the ER in the middle of his shift to come find her. Grace’s heart melted.

  But not, apparently, Anna’s. “That’s stupid,” she said. “Who said I was sobbing? I want to talk to that person!”

  Josh was not amused. “What the fuck happened?”

  He’d spoken quietly, but he was standing over them, and as big as he was—not to mention incredibly charismatic—people were looking.

  “Look,” Anna said, pointing out the window. “A puppy. ”

  Josh’s eyes narrowed, but he took a deep breath and slid into the booth. “Anna—”

  “Grace got the job!”

  Josh’s eyes cut to Grace. They were laser sharp as always, but for an instant, just the briefest of instants, something not quite identifiable flickered. She wanted to see it again, wanted to reach for it, or better yet, have him give it to her willingly.
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