Authors: Beth Fred
“If the hotel hasn't charged my card yet, I might be able to make the twenty-five hundred dollars.”
“But what's going to happen when they do?”
I sighed. “I wish I hadn't been such an idiot and left my bag the
re. If I had my other card...”
“Tiffany, call your dad. It's not your responsibility to pay for this.”
Luke kept driving while I called home. My dad was irate, but not at me. Only at Kammy. He agreed to send me the money, but he wanted me to stay till Monday and take the cheaper bail. This would wreck my world. I had a huge meeting on Monday that I couldn't miss, and I was already behind at work for coming to this stupid party to begin with. But he made a valid point. By the time the arraignment had ended and I’d called home, there was no way to wire money until Monday.
I had so much debt now, thanks to my baby sister. Even if she said she'd pay me back, she wouldn't. If she wanted to, she couldn't. She'd never had a job longer than a month in her life, and when she got money, she spent it on acrylic nails. I could have recovered from all the expenses, but I had a crucial meeting on Monday. Everyone expected me to land a big account, and if I wasn't there for the meeting, I didn't want to think about what would happen.
I beat myself in the head with Luke's phone for a few minutes after hanging up.
“I'm stuck here until Monday.”
“I'm sorry. Is Cancun really that bad?”
Laughter mixed with a moan escaped my throat. “I don't know. I haven't seen much of Cancun, but on Monday I have a meeting I really can't afford to miss, and there is no way I'm going to get there.”
“Wait until insanely late Sunday night or sometime Monday morning and call your office. Say your plane got delayed and you won't be back until the next day.”
“I can't do that.”
“Well, if you're going to miss a mandatory meeting, I don't see what option you have.”
“Doesn't that sound lame?”
“Planes get delayed all the time. Everyone knows that.”
“What if they check it?”
“Unless you give them your flight info, they have to assume it to be true.”
I slumped against my seat. “I guess I have to then.”
I gazed out the window and realized we were outside of the city now.
“Where are we going?”
“Oh, to my grandparents' farm. I'm picking up some clothes for you from my cousin.”
“So, I'm hanging out with you for another day?”
“Unless you wanna sleep on the beach.”
“Don't mention it.” He paused for a moment. “You're welcome to stay until you leave.”
“I hate to impose.”
“I've enjoyed the company.”
Me too. So, I got an extra day with the hot guy from the bar, but it was still going to end way too soon.
We traveled through lush green fields down a dirt road, and the vegetation got thicker and thicker. Luke stopped his car in a narrow portion of the road where the plants stood as tall as the car.
“What is that?”
A girl leaped out of the stalks and slammed her hand against Luke's windshield, making a thunderous slapping sound. She thrust her head through his open window, letting her dark brown curls and gold highlights fall where they may.
They had a brief exchange, and then she pushed in a paper sack, which he handed to me. “Clothes,” he said.
“Thank you.” I looked to the girl who backed out of the window. “
She nodded but only said, “
“Nikkita is in a hurry to go play with a boy my uncle doesn't know about and my grandpa can't stand. But I won't tell on her, because she's about the same size as you and has cloth
es that have never been worn.”
Nikkita smiled like she understood every word and blew a kiss at the car as she retreated into the sugar cane.
“Well, I'm glad she lent me clothes.”
“They're yours. She had to trade something for silence.”
I laughed. “I can't take her clothes.”
“She has plenty more, and you don't know when you'll see your bag again.”
Back at his place, I felt a lot better after I showered and changed clothes, but I couldn't block out the earlier conversation about Monday's meeting. I would give the excuse Luke supplied about my plane being delayed. I couldn't leave my sister here, so I had no choice but to stay until Monday. As long as I had to be here, I should enjoy Luke. Because whatever this feeling in the bottom of my stomach was, I'd never felt it before, and something told me it wasn't the kind of thing that happened twice. But I couldn't block out fears of being fired, especially with all my new debt.
When we reached the condo, we agreed to take the afternoon and evening easy with no big plans. We were both exhausted from everything that happened. Luke picked the channel today and set up English subtitles, but the poor guy fell asleep after only a few minutes.
Since I didn't know how to connect to his internet, I took his laptop and checked my work e-mail. I figured while he snoozed I could see what was in my e-mail, at least respond to it, and if I was lucky, find things I could do from here. Maybe, I'd even come up with another believable excuse and be able to give Jake, my boss, some advance notice, so that he could try to reschedule the meeting on Monday before the world ended.
It must have been my lucky day. Jake had forwarded me an e-mail from the potential client I was supposed to be meeting on Monday.
I will not be able to make it to the meeting with your staff on Monday morning. I am out of town dealing with a family crisis at the moment and won't be back by Monday. My firm still hopes to use your services, and I look forward to rescheduling this. I hope your team understands.
This was the best news ever! Jake would still be mad that I was taking another day off, but with the meeting canceled, he wouldn't fire me over it. I'd be swamped when I got back to work. More so than I'd planned, due to the extra day and the missed meeting, but I'd still have a job, and knowing that meant I could enjoy the extra time with Luke and not worry about what would happen when I got home.
“Yes!” I squealed. I logged out of my e-mail and closed his laptop as Luke stirred.
“My meeting got canceled by the client. I won't get fired.”
“Congrats,” he mumbled as he shifted his body to the other side of the couch. I wasn't sure he'd ever actually woken up, but I didn't care. I was exhausted, and now that I had less to worry about, I might be able to sleep, too. I crawled up on the couch beside him and fell asleep.
Neither of us woke until after midnight.
“I'm giving up on ever taking you on a real date.”
I laughed. “Who cares?”
He was silent for a moment, then said, “I have an idea.”
He went into his kitchen and started throwing random things into a bag.
With his packed bag in his hand, he opened the closet door outside of the kitchen and grabbed a grill. “Come on, we're going to the beach.”
“Do you have somewhere better to be, Cinderella?”
I laughed. “I guess not.”
The beach was across the street from Luke's condo. As soon as we hit the sand, I kicked my shoes off and let my feet sink in. I always loved the ocean, and even though I didn't live that far from the beach, I rarely saw it. Besides, Texas beaches suck, but this—this was beautiful. We were close enough I could smell the water, and spring in Cancun was as hot as spring back home where it had already hit a hundred degrees once. I threw my arms out in front of me and ran toward the water. Luke chuckled behind me, but I didn't care. Here I was, at a beach after midnight with the world's hottest guy. The water sparkled in front of me, and the waves promised to cool the heat. I was stuck here thanks to my sister's excursions, and it was impossible for me to do any work, so I was free. At least until we sprung Kammy, I was free. Might as well enjoy it.
The sand turned wet sooner than I'd expected, and I lost my balance. I slid down on my butt. I didn't stop until I hit the shoreline, and a wave came in about the same time.
“Now, that was graceful.” Luke leaned over me, offering a hand. I let him pull me up, giggling too hard to think of a comeback.
Luke set up the grill, tossed some meat on it, and leaned back on the beach. I sat down beside him, inching as close to him as I could without touching him. Something about the magic of the ocean and the light of the moon made him even more attractive than his blazing brown eyes and perfect smile already did—oh, and the fact he'd been my knight all weekend.
“How was your dip in the ocean?” he asked.
“It was good.”
Luke laughed. “I liked seeing you loosen up like that. I didn't know if I would see it happen.”
I didn't know if
would ever see that happen, but life seemed less serious with Luke.
We hung out on the beach, enjoying the sound of crashing waves, Luke occasionally poking the meat until it was done.
After we ate, Luke chased me into the waves. I cupped a handful of water and flung it at him. He grabbed me, trying to push me down, and we both hit the sand.
There we were. I was tucked securely in his arms, and he was practically lying on top of me. The only sounds on the beach were our laughs and crashing waves. Luke put his lips on mine. For once in my life, I didn't think about what I should do. I enjoyed the moment. The feel of his skin on my skin, his hand on my face, our tongues mingling together, the taste of Luke in my mouth.
I was twenty-four, and I was no Kammy, but I'd kissed a few guys, just never like this. Never the way that really takes your breath away and leaves you desperate for more. No one had ever kissed me in a way that left me unable to think, subject to my emotions, until now. That kiss could have gone wherever he wanted it to. I had no desire to stop it, and if we did more than kiss, I wouldn't regret it until I went back to Texas. But Luke pushed himself away from me. “I'm sorry,” he said through ragged breaths. “I—I didn't mean to get carried away.”
“I liked it.” Wow! I hadn’t intended on admitting that. I felt the blood rush under my face, but it didn't matter because it was too dark for him to see my face.
Minutes passed in silence. Finally Luke asked, “Tiffany, why are you so quiet?”
“It's technically already Sunday morning. I'll have to go home soon and...”
And I don't want to. And if you could just give me one reason to stay, I think I could be as irrational as my sister, because I don't believe in love, Luke, whose last name I don't know. And I especially don't believe in love at first sight or long distance relationships. And what I don't believe more than that is I love you, and I can refuse to believe it all the way to the airport. It won't make it less true.
“Tiffany, you'll see me again. I promise.”
And I don't believe that.
“You should take me on a real date today.”
“We can't take a nap today.”
He chuckled. “
, I told you, you'll see me again.”
“I'm not trying to steal more time with you.” Although that was part of it. “I have to get my sleeping schedule back on track. I have to be twice as productive when I get back.”
Sunday passed in a blur. Luke took me outside of the city to see some ruins. That was like a dream come true for me. I'd wanted to see them forever. We went snorkeling, shopping in a local marketplace, and he even took me to mass with his family, followed by dinner at his grandmother's. That gave me hope that maybe he’d meant what he’d said and I would see him again. You wouldn't take a girl you didn't plan on being around to church with your family... would you?
We were in his car, driving back to his condo. It wasn't even seven o'clock, but due to our resolve to stay awake until a reasonable hour with no naps today, we were both exhausted. And that's when he asked the question that dashed my hopes.
“That thing with Emmett and your sister probably left you with some serious trust issues, huh?”
My chest tightened. My throat closed. It was hard to breathe. Why would he bring this up?
“So, if you liked a guy that hadn't been completely honest with you, would you blow him off?”
“What did you lie to me about?”
“Nothing, I'm just asking.”
“Why would you ask that?”
“Because I need to know.”
“Because you lied.”
“No, I did not. I promise.”
“Except a promise wouldn't mean anything if you're a liar, and you wouldn't have asked that question if you weren't.”
He sighed. “Tiffany, you're leaving tomorrow. I didn't lie to you about anything. Can we have a peaceful night? Please?”