Authors: Beth Fred
I didn't answer him. Tomorrow we would collect my sister from jail. He would drop us at the airport, and we would never see each other again. I already knew I'd remember these three days forever. I didn't want to spend tonight fighting, but I was angry at myself for falling for another guy I couldn't trust. However, knowing I couldn't trust him would make going home easier.
We both went to bed early that night. I actually went to bed in Luke's room alone on our last night together. He wasn't going to budge about what he'd lied about, and I couldn't pretend like nothing happened until he told me.
I couldn't sleep. It didn't matter what he’d lied about. I was sure it was nothing too bad. He’d taken me to church with his family. I'd spent two nights with him and had never felt safer. What mattered was the way I could relax when he was around, the way he made me laugh when no one else ever really could, and the way, even with all the disaster this weekend, I was able to have fun. But the bed was so much more comfortable than the couch.
I got out of bed and opened his bedroom door. “Luke, lay down with me?”
“Are you sure?”
So, he joined me. He held me and kissed me. We talked for a couple of hours with each of us periodically stealing kisses between words, and we fell asleep together. Waking up with him on Monday morning was bittersweet. He was so beautiful, and he made me feel so special. Waking up beside him made me glow, but I knew this would be the last time, and there was no worse feeling in the world.
We got breakfast before we went to get Kammy.
“Tiffany, what part of Texas are you from?”
He let out a breath so deep it was audible. Relief flashed across his face, and Luke grinned. “Okay,” he said.
“Okay,” I answered, not knowing what to think about that.
This day was passing too quickly. Before I knew it, we had my sister and were back in Luke's car. I was glad Kammy was out of jail and safe, but I wasn't looking forward to going home.
“Hey, I know there is some time before your flight, but do you mind if I take you to the airport early? There is something I have to do.”
Wow. It was our last day together, and he was getting rid of me early. Whatever he'd lied to me about could have been big after all.
“Sure,” I said.
Kammy hadn't said two words to me since we’d picked her up. When Luke dropped us at the airport, I thanked him, but she didn't.
We cleared security in silence. I took a seat at our terminal, and she sat beside me.
“You left me there for two days.”
I was heartbroken. It took everything I had not to cry, and my sister, who had cost me a fortune this weekend, was upset she’d spent two days in jail for things
“Do you have any idea how much money you cost me this weekend?”
“Right, cuz that's what matters.”
“You're paying me back,” I said, wishing this trip had never happened.
In the hours that passed before our plane boarded, I vowed to start working twice as much when I got home, so I wouldn't have to think about things—guys, little sisters. And I would swear off guys for good. I refused to believe there was such a thing as a good man.
It got closer to time for our flight to board, and I reached in my purse for my ticket. I started panicking because I couldn't find it. As they boarded first class, I took things out of my purse one by one to find the ticket. By the time I finally found it in my pocket, coach was boarding.
Kammy and I got in line. Traveling lightly, due to the hotel's revenge on our luggage, made it easier. I followed Kammy through the first class cabin when I heard, “Ma'am, your ticket has been upgraded. You're no longer flying coach.”
The comment sounded so direct, I almost thought the guy was talking to me. His voice reminded me of Luke, but I would not think about Luke.
“Tiffany, did you hear me?”
I turned to see Luke standing in front of a first class seat, looking like heaven in his navy blue shirt.
“Luke?” I was so happy I wanted to cry right then and there.
“I'm sorry I dropped you off early. I had to change my flight and get your ticket upgraded.” He held out his hand. I took it and allowed him to pull me to him. “The seat beside me is yours. Tiffany, I didn't lie to you about anything. I promise. I just didn't tell you everything. I do work on
sugar plantation when I'm around. We all do. It wasn't a lie, but I'm an attorney. I don't tell girls at first, because they see the car, the plantation, the mansion... and, Tiffany, I'm sorry. I changed my flight so I'd have four hours to convince you.”
“Your flight? You were already going to Houston? For what? And
won't you have to come back?”
“No, I live there. I'm licensed to practice both in Texas and Mexico. My dad owns the biggest law firm in Houston. I work there, and I work hard, so I try to keep people from knowing.”
“Wait a minute. The biggest firm in Houston, which one is that?”
“Hernandez and Rodriguez.”
A small circle of passengers had gathered around us.
“Tiffany, I'm sorry I wasn't completely honest with you. But I think I love you. Give me a chance, please?”
I nodded, because I knew I didn't care that he had left out some large details. Although, it would have been nice to know I would see him again.
“You're my client,” I said as I processed things.
“L.H. from the Hernandez & Rodriguez firm. You're my client. We have a meeting tomorrow.”
He laughed. “I've never had such a cute accountant.”
“We would have met even if Kammy hadn't gone wild.”
The group that had gathered around us chanted, “Kiss, kiss, kiss...”
Luke put his hand on my face, and I held my breath as he inched his face closer to mine. Our lips brushed, parted, and I held on to him as tightly as I could, letting this go where it might, until a throat cleared from somewhere behind me, and we broke apart.
The other passengers had moved on to their seats, except my sister, who stood staring at me.
“Hey, Tiff, you seemed to have moved on, so you're not going to say anything to Emmett about this weekend, right?”
“As long as you pay me back, I don't care what Emmett knows.”
She gave me a hard look, but didn't say anything.
“You know a guy who cheated on your sister, will probably cheat on you, right?” Luke asked.
That caught me completely off guard, but Kammy didn't say anything to him. She shot him a glare and shuffled back to coach.
I spent the trip home hand in hand with Luke, my head on his shoulder.
One year later, I became Mrs. Hernandez on the beach in front of Luke's condo.
First and foremost is my husband, Emil Fred. He’s benevolently supported my writing since December of 2009, when lots of times he probably should have told me he wasn’t doing any extra housework for me to have writing time, or that I couldn’t spend any more money on writing classes, conferences, critiques, or editors.
My critique partner Shelley Sly read
multiple times. Once just to make correcting the grammar didn’t over-ride the voice. (Then I un-corrected the grammar).
My freelance editor Kelley Hashway was amazing. She did not miss anything. If you found a mistake, I made it during revision. She read the story backwards and forward, and then when I finished some revisions to the first three pages two days before my daughter was born, she re-read them for free! She said consider it a baby gift.
Last but not least, my little ELF (Emily Lace Fred) for putting up with a mother who spends more time reading/writing/blogging/working (in that order) than she probably should.
And to you, because if you’ve made it this far you’ve stuck it out with me the whole way through my first publication, and readers are why we write.