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Sweet Heat at Bayside(2)

By:Addison Cole



     



 

Cosmos ran into the yard and leapt into Desiree's lap. He began licking  her face, making them all laugh. Except Drake, who remained stoic and  still beside Serena, save for the muscles bunching in his jaw. She might  as well get the worst part of it over with.

"There's one tiny hitch," Serena said, finally meeting Drake's gaze. "They want me to start next week."

Drake dropped his fork with a clank, a scowl twisting his handsome face into a mask of frustration. "Next week?"

"Hard to lose your bed buddy, huh?" Violet mumbled.

Emery choked on her drink. Dean patted her back, chuckling along with  Rick. Mira went wide-eyed, and Drake turned a scowl on Violet.

Serena rolled her eyes. She was used to Violet's insinuations. There was  no doubt that she and Drake were close. He'd always looked out for her,  but that didn't mean they were sleeping together-despite the fact that  Serena had spent too many nights thinking about what it might be like to  have his strong arms wrapped around her and those piercing eyes boring  into her …

Drake's dark gaze slid to Serena, and her stomach skidded to a halt. Yeah. She needed to get out of town all right.

"I'm sorry. I did everything I could to try to get more time," she  quickly explained. "Two employees left them without giving notice, and  they basically said if I couldn't start right away they'd have to hire  someone else. But don't worry. I'm going to start interviewing right  away to fill my position. I've been collecting résumés for months. I'll  start interviewing candidates tomorrow. I know I can get Harper to fill  in at least part-time if we don't find someone before Friday." Their  friend Harper Garner was a screenplay writer, and she was supremely  organized. When Serena had first mentioned looking for a job, Harper had  offered to help. "I'm sorry, Drake. I'll turn it down if you really  think it'll cause a problem for the resort."

"Don't be silly," Rick said, shifting a narrow-eyed look to Drake. "You  were there for us when we needed you most, Serena. We'll figure things  out."

"No sweat," Dean agreed.

"I can help out part-time, too," Emery offered. "I'd just have to rearrange a few classes, but it's doable."

"I'm sure, between all of us, we'll be just fine," Rick reassured Serena. "This sounds like a great opportunity for you."

The air rushed from her lungs. "Oh, thank goodness. I didn't want to  turn it down. I don't know if I'll ever get a chance like this again."  She looked at Drake and said, "Don't worry. I'll still help get the  music store up and running."

He nodded curtly. "Have you told Chloe yet?"

She and her sister, Chloe, had practically raised each other while their  mother was out looking for a man to foot her bills. Chloe was the  director of the Lower Cape Assisted Living Facility (LOCAL), and she was  as determined to succeed as Serena was. Serena knew Chloe would be  happy for her, even though it meant she was moving away. "I haven't had  time yet. They just called me this morning with the offer. I'm really  sorry about giving so little notice."

Drake grumbled something she couldn't make out.

Violet pointed at him and said, "Maybe if she were your bed buddy she wouldn't be leaving."

"That's not true!" Serena snapped. "And I would never be anyone's bed buddy, least of all Drake's."

She didn't even want to try to figure out what the messed-up look Drake was giving her meant.

"Whatevs, little one," Violet said. Then she glared at Drake and said,  "Tell her you're happy for her. Your resort will survive without her.  More importantly, I'm hearing a reason to party."

"A goodbye party!" Emery said. "Yes, definitely. Mira, can you go to  Undercover if you don't drink?" Undercover was a nightclub in the next  town over, owned by Harper's brother, Colton.

Mira patted her belly and said, "My baby is portable for the next three months. It goes where I go, so I'll be there."

Drake leaned closer to Serena and said, "I'll drive you to the party so you can drink."

"Okay," she said, hoping that meant he wasn't as upset as he looked.

Violet pushed to her feet. Her coal-black hair draped over her shoulder  as she leaned across the table for another cherry-cheese croissant.  "Keep up the headboard banging, Rick. These croissants are the bomb."

"Oh, I plan to." Rick pulled Desiree close and whispered something in her ear that made her blush.         

     



 

"I'm out of here, sis," Violet said. "I'm heading to Hyannis to pick up  supplies." She strutted across the grass toward her motorcycle.

"And we have a music store to get in order." Drake pushed to his feet and pulled Serena up by her arm.

"Hey. I haven't eaten." Not that she could eat anyway. Her stomach was all knotted up. "And I need my notebooks for the store."

"Aw, man," Rick said. "She poked the bear."

"And we have to deal with the bear after she leaves." Dean stroked his  beard, his serious blue eyes locked on Drake, who was glaring at both of  them. "Hey, Serena, you sure you can't give us three months' notice? Or  maybe a year?"

Drake glowered at him and grabbed a croissant. "We'll get your notebooks  and you can eat on the road. We have work to do, and apparently only a  week in which to do it."



THE RIDE TO the music store was painfully tense. Music blared in the cab  of the truck while Drake looked like he was chewing on nails and Serena  pretended not to notice as she added items to her to-do list. She stole  a glance at him in the driver's seat, where he sat with his arm on the  door, his jaw tight. He had a dimple in his right cheek that appeared  only when he was angry or frustrated, and the darn thing was so sexy,  there were times Serena had pissed him off just to see it. That little  tell hadn't disappeared since she'd mentioned leaving, and right now it  was more heartbreaking than sexy.

Getting on better footing with Drake suddenly became her number one  priority. They had a lot to do before she left, and if he was angry, it  would be that much harder to get everything done. Besides, she truly,  deeply cared about him, and the idea of leaving things unsettled between  them cut her to her core. She set her phone in her lap as he slowed to a  stop, waiting for a break in traffic so he could cross to the parking  lot of the new store.

"Sorry about giving you guys such short notice," she said. "I asked for a month, but they said they needed me right away."

He shifted a tight look to her. "Mm-hm."

"Drake, you can't be that mad. You know I've been looking for a new job for months."

"Yup." He sped across the road, into the lot, and threw the truck into park in front of the store.

Those dark eyes slid to her for about half a second before they both  climbed out of the truck. He strode purposefully toward the door. She  hitched her bag over her shoulder, and despite the uneasiness between  them, she did what she always did. Her eyes coasted down his broad  shoulders and back, and as he unlocked the door to the shop, her gaze  moved to his butt. She was forever trying to figure out how the hot hunk  of a man before her was the same person as the lanky teen she'd fallen  for when she'd been a silly high school freshman and he'd been a cool  senior with all the pretty girls after him. She couldn't help it. She'd  crushed on him for so many years, it was as much a part of her as the  way she craved cookies dipped in milk.

Only she told herself she no longer craved Drake in the same way she  once had, with a fluttering in her chest or holding her breath at his  every word. No, things had changed a long time ago. She'd grown up, but  that didn't mean she couldn't appreciate a little eye candy from her  first crush.

Drake held the door open and motioned for her to pass through.

"You keep grinding your teeth, they're liable to break," she said as she walked into the nearly empty space.

"I'm not grinding … " He shook his head, and a half scoff, half laugh fell  from his lips. It was a familiar sound, one that said he was annoyed  but also amused.

He was a broody guy sometimes, but it was always driven by a clear  cause, and he didn't mince words, play games, or hold grudges. She liked  and respected those things about him, which was probably what made them  such good friends. Neither one took grief from the other.

"Oh, good," she said as she set her bag on the counter. "You've gotten over yourself."

"Over myself?" He paced the floor.

"Yes! So I got another job? You know I've always wanted to do interior design."

He crossed his arms, leveling a serious stare on her. "I'm happy for  you, but it leaves us-me-in a lurch. I'm just trying to figure it all  out." He waved at the space. "I've got to get my arms around doing this  alone."

"You've opened four other music stores."

"We, Serena. We've opened four other music stores."

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