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Sweet Heat at Bayside(6)

By:Addison Cole

"That grass-is-greener stuff is the biggest farce there is," Dean said.  "If you're unhappy, the grass is greener elsewhere. When you're happy,  that happiness fertilizes your grass so it's always lush."

"Man, Dean." Drake shook his head. "When did you start talking like a man in love?"

"The day Emery Andrews showed up on my doorstep asking to use my bathroom."

"And then saw that naked dude and moved in," Rick reminded him.

Dean grunted out a curse.

Emery had moved to the Cape last summer and had stayed with Violet for  her first night. When she'd woken up in the morning, she'd found a naked  man in the kitchen, and Dean had immediately moved her into his  cottage.

"Sorry. Lifelong failing." Rick took a drink of his beer.         



"You've got that right," Dean said. "Did I tell you Em wants to get certified as a SUP yoga instructor?"

"What's SUP yoga?" Drake asked. "Do they talk smack while posing?"

Rick chuckled.

"Stand-up paddleboard," Dean explained. "She thinks it will be the next  big thing out here. She'll probably try to get the girls to be her  guinea pigs the next time we go out on the water. Do you think Serena  will come back to go boating with us? If not, we have to find you  another fake girlfriend or you'll be the odd man out."

"Come on," Drake mumbled. "Don't be a jackass. Serena's not my fake girlfriend."

They did everything as a group, and Serena had always been his other  half. They'd shared Jet Skis and kayaks, doubled on surfboards, and  teamed up in doubles events during bonfires. He didn't even want to  think about doing those things with someone else.

"Does that mean you're finally going to tell her how you feel about her?" Rick asked.

Drake shook his head and took another swig of his drink. "Nothing to tell."

"Mm-hm. That's why the back of your truck is full of boxes," Dean pointed out.

"She mentioned needing boxes. Big deal."

Rick set his beer bottle in the sand and leveled a concerned gaze on  Drake. "Come on, bro. Are you seriously going to try to play this off  like we're idiots? We live here. We work here. We've seen how close you  two have gotten."

Drake gripped the bottle tighter.

"You're just going to let her walk away like she means nothing to you?" Rick challenged.

Drake pushed to his feet. "Let her walk away? That's not what this is,  and you know it. This is her dream. Who am I to stand in her way? What  do you want me to do? You were both there when she was growing up. You  know what her life was like, how hard she worked to fit in with everyone  else because her mother was too busy to take care of her and Chloe. You  think I want to be an hour and a half away from her?" He paced.

"Then what do you want?" Dean asked so casually it pissed Drake off even more.

He stopped pacing. "Not to be given crap by you two. She's not walking  out of my life. She's walking into the start of hers. Do you even  realize how lucky we were that she helped us get this place off the  ground?"

"Yeah, we do." Rick rose to his feet. "Unfortunately, you've wasted four years being too chicken to tell her how you feel."

Drake grabbed him by his shirt with both hands. Through clenched teeth,  he seethed. "I'm not chicken, you idiot. I'm man enough to not mess with  her head."

"You want to hit me? Get your aggression out? Go ahead," Rick challenged. "But it won't help."

Drake shoved him away as his fingers curled into fists. "I don't want to  hit you. Don't you get it? She was always temporary. We knew she was  heading out of here at some point, and if she were mine, it would mess  up her plans."

"Dude." Dean put a hand on Drake's shoulder, and Drake shrugged him off.  "Whoa, Drake. We're on your side. We didn't know you'd thought it  through. But even so, how can you be so sure she can't have both?"

"Because I know Serena. I was there when she broke her arm on the  skateboard when she was eight, and I was there that night when she got  back on the skateboard, determined to prove to everyone that she  couldn't be dissuaded from making the jump she'd spent all day  practicing. I was there when she was fourteen, watching over her as she  walked home alone after work at the diner-where she was paid under the  table so she could save up for college-because she refused to rely on  anyone else to drive her or walk with her to and from work. She's  stubborn, and she's driven. Do you really think she'd even consider  going to Boston if she and I had been together the past four years? The  last thing she needs is to choose between her heart and her dreams. I  have never-and I will not ever-do that to her. If you know what's good  for you, you won't mention this again."

They both held their hands up in surrender.

"And what about you?" Rick asked. "What happens to your heart?"

"I'm fine. Don't worry about me."

Rick's phone rang, and as he withdrew it from the pocket of his hoodie,  Drake sent him a silent warning, reiterating the message to keep this  bull to himself.

"Hey, baby," Rick said into the phone as Dean's phone rang. "Great. See you soon."         



As Rick ended the call, Dean looked at his phone. "It's Em. Girls must  be done shopping." He put the phone to his ear. "Hey, doll."

Drake grabbed his empty bottle.

"Sorry, man," Rick said. "But at some point you've got to stop looking out for her and look out for both of you."

"Leave it alone, Rick," Drake warned.

"Just sayin'. You're almost thirty-five. Soon you'll go gray, and then how many chicks are going to want you?"

"Getting women has never been an issue for me," Drake ground out as his  cell phone vibrated. "This is a choice, Rick. Don't you get that? Making  her life harder to make mine easier is not the kind of guy I am. I'm  out of here."

As he headed back toward the resort, he pulled out his phone and read Serena's text. OMG. Know where I can get boxes this late?

See, idiot? Drake thought to himself. I know exactly what she needs.

Chapter Three

SERENA DROPPED THE movies she was holding onto the floor and checked her  phone for a response from Drake. Nothing. He was clearly upset at her  for taking the job in Boston, despite his efforts to appear okay with  it. She groaned and tossed her phone on the couch. Tired, hungry, and  sad about moving away from everyone she loved was no way to approach  packing. Serena and the girls had shopped until the stores closed, and  then Chloe had left to prepare reports for work the next day and the  others had wanted to get back to their men instead of grabbing something  to eat. She went into the kitchen and poked her head into the  refrigerator, cursing herself for forgetting to buy milk. She opened the  pantry and stared at the shelves until everything blurred together.

Ugh. Nothing looked good.

She grabbed a bottle of wine-a poor substitute for milk and cookies-and  filled a glass. She polished it off without taking a breath, then  refilled her glass and carried both into the living room. If she had to  pack, she didn't have to do it sober. She sat on the floor by the couch  and picked up a movie. How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. She hated that  movie, but Emery loved it. She set it in the box and picked up another.  Animal House, one of Drake's favorite movies.


You big pain.

She'd known he'd drive her crazy finding a replacement, and she didn't  blame him. It would be as difficult for her to adjust to a new boss as  it would be for him and the others to adjust to a new person in her  position. Serena had met her new boss, Suzanne Kline, the daughter of  one of the owners and the only corporate namesake running the show, when  she went in for her interview. She was friendly enough, but she  definitely had an edge to her. Serena had been mentally preparing  herself for the difference between the laid-back environment at Bayside  and the professional nature of KHB. She was ready, or at least she hoped  she was.

She set the movie in the box and picked up Fifty Shades of Grey. Drake  had watched it with her as payback for her watching Dirty Harry with  him. He'd made her promise not to tell the guys he'd seen it, and now  she wondered about his sexual habits.

What had he been thinking while they watched it?

She drank her wine and picked up her phone. After taking a picture of  the cover, she texted it to Drake with the caption If you make replacing  me hard, I'll tell the guys about this.

She finished her glass of wine and set the movie in the box, remembering  how they'd watched the whole movie cuddled beneath a blanket. Not once  had she felt like he wanted her sexually or that he'd been uncomfortable  watching it with her, which she'd made peace with over the years. But  after Emery had spent all evening cornering her, trying to secretly  convince her to sleep with Drake, she couldn't stop thinking about the  desires she'd thought she'd long ago stopped giving any serious  consideration to.