Read The Fourteen Day Soul Detox, Volume Two Online
Authors: Rita Stradling
I looked into the cup. “It’s
“Just drink it,” he said.
I took the handle of the mug, lifting
the cup to my lips. The aroma that rose from the drink was a little
like green tea, but not as strong, and sweeter.
“Drink it,” Chris growled.
“Fine,” I said, smiling as
I took a small sip. “Mmmm… tastes so good.”
“I told you. That’s your
new favorite drink,” he said, smacking me lightly with a rag.
“It just might be,” I said.
Glancing down, I examined the large wad of cash still sitting at the
top of our tips in the tip jar. I raised my gaze to Chris’s.
“Yeah?” he said.
“Did you see that guy who came in
here earlier?” I asked.
“You’re going to have to be
a little more specific than ‘that guy’,” Chris said
as he returned to the espresso station.
“Never mind,” I said,
taking another sip of my tea latte. “So, I was thinking about
calling this lady who made the offer this afternoon, what do you
think? I mean—Cameron said he knew a property lawyer, so maybe
I should wait until I talk to that guy but… I don’t
know, I’m kind of terrified. I kind of want to get it over
with, and at the same time I don’t really want to do it.”
“Wait and talk to the lawyer,”
“You’re right,” I
said, nodding before I took another sip.
“It’ll be fine,”
Chris said then he looked up. “You have a big group incoming.”
The bell over the door chimed as a group of about thirty cyclists
walked into the shop.
Chris and I worked through the orders,
running out of pastries entirely too soon after the bicyclist group.
A regular came up in the line right
after the last pastry was taken from the display case.
“Hey Pat, I saved you a muffin if
you want it,” I said in greeting.
“Thanks Jamie, I’d love
it.” His striking blue eyes sparkled, contrasting strongly with
his trim white beard. He gave me a dimpled grin that would have made
me melt if I was a few decades older. “You ran out early,”
he said looking at the empty display case.
“This morning was hopping. That’s
the first time in a long time that we ran out of pastries entirely
“Double cappuccino dry,”
Chris said, holding the drink over the register to Pat.
“I didn’t even get a chance
to order,” Pat said with another grin.
“I saw you coming up in the
line,” Chris said as he returned to his station.
I grabbed the muffin bag I had set
aside for him and handed it over to him.
“Oh, I meant to tell you happy
belated birthday. Chris told me that was why you were out last
Friday,” he said.
“That’s so nice, thank
you,” I said as I rang him up.
After helping the last few customers in
line, I glanced up at the clock. “Oops, Chris, it’s
“Oh, good, I am feeling it this
morning,” Chris said, folding down his apron. He crossed over
to the tip bucket. “Look at this thing,” he whispered,
lifting it up. “And I know Charlie put a twenty in here too.”
I looked down at money, seeing that
same wad of cash just visible under a layer of loose tips. “You
keep it all today,” I said to Chris.
“You serious? Nah, you have to be
kidding me,” his voice went a little high when he said it.
“There has to be like two hundred or more in here.”
“You always work half your shift
with no one here and no tips, and I work my whole shift every time
with tips. That doesn’t even come close to evening things out,”
“Ah, Jamie, you’re so
sweet.” He gave me a one-armed hug. “I’m not going
to say no. Melissa’s birthday is next week so I’m in
definite need of money.”
“Oh, shoot, I forgot… What
day is her birthday?”
“Next Thursday. She wanted me to
invite you out with us, but I know you can’t because of work,”
“Oh, that’s sweet. Are you
guys going out downtown?”
“Probably,” he said.
I threw out my hands. “Come by
the bar, first round is on me.”
Chris grinned. “I’ll run it
“I want to get her something,
what does she want?”
“I’ll get back to you on
that one. I kind of need to get out of here, Jamie, I’m wiped,”
“Yeah, just take all the tips and
don’t worry about doing anything else, okay?” I patted
him on his arm.
“Text me if anything happens
today with selling the shop?”
“Of course,” I said.
Grabbing a piece of paper, I wrote, ‘Shop closes at noon today,
sorry for the inconvenience.’ Taking a few pieces of tape from
the back, I taped the sign under the ‘Open’ sign.
I cleared the recently vacated tables,
wiping each down in turn. The moment the clock struck twelve, I
walked back to the front and turned over the ‘Open’ sign
“You’re closing?” one
of the only lingering customers asked.
“Yeah, we’re closing early
today. If you want anything on the espresso machine, I can get
something before I shut it down.
“Oh, no, I’m fine. I’ll
just pack up here.”
“No rush,” I said, waving a
hand through the air.
Going back behind the counter, I
cleaned out the display case and the bagel stations completely. Next
I shut down the espresso machine. Chris had already cleaned it. I
started on the dishes and only glanced up when I heard the bell
ringing over the door. Each time I saw someone exiting rather than
entering, so I returned my attention to the dishes. After each dish
was on the drying rack, I returned to cleaning the main part of the
shop. When I saw no one was inside the shop, I locked the front door.
I was turning the chairs over onto the
tables when someone knocked on my front door.
Turning, I looked through the window
and up into Cameron’s beautiful face.
A grin fought its way across my face
and I had to force my feet to move slowly across the floor to let him
“Hey,” I said when I
managed to get the door open.
“Hey, baby,” he said,
grinning down at me.
I stepped back to let him in and locked
the door behind him.
He stepped past me, his fingers grazing
my hip as he passed. He peered around the shop. “Anything I can
do to help?” he asked.
“No, I’m almost done.
Actually… That property lawyer you’re friends with, do
you think it would be possible for me to talk to him?”
“I talked to him. That’s
why I’m here,” he said.
“That’s not the only reason
I’m here.” He brought his hand up to my face. His thumb
brushed back and forth over my cheek. “I also want to talk
about us,” he said.
“There’s still an us?”
I asked, my voice quiet.
“There’s always an us,”
“Okay,” I said. “So
let’s do that part first, otherwise the stress will kill me.”
He huffed out a laugh. “Well—I
thought a lot about what you said last night. I don’t agree
with a lot of it, but one thing you definitely got right.”
“We’re still dragging our
past around with us. And not just our past, we’re dragging
around Vanessa and Logan too. If we keep going on this way, they’ll
always be part of us and that’s not what I want. I want us to
start over, from scratch. I want it to be as if I had asked you out
after I kissed you at the Ultimate Sunshine Tour concert, like I
“How do we do that, from
scratch?” I asked.
“I’m not sure yet, but I
was thinking maybe we could take a step back. Instead of acting like
we’re pretty much already married, we could try dating.”
“No sex?” I asked, a small
smile on my lips.
“People still have sex when their
just dating,” he said.
I tapped my chin. “I don’t
think they do.”
He leaned in and gave me the lightest
kiss on my lips. “They definitely do,” he growled.
“I need to—someone asked me
on a date,” I said, meeting his gaze and biting my lower lip.
“What did you say?” he
“I told him that I was sort of
with someone, though not officially. And I said that until we’d
figured out what we were doing, I couldn’t start something
“But you didn’t say no?”
I shook my head.
“Did you want to say no?”
I looked at him for a few seconds, then
shook my head again.
“Are you going to go out with
him?” he asked.
“Maybe, I don’t know—I
was curious, I can’t even remember what a date is like. And,
he’s a really nice guy.”
“Are you going to sleep with him
after your date?” he asked, his gaze intent on mine.
“Probably not,” I said.
“Would you tell me if you do?”
“Do you want me to tell you?”
I asked, cocking my head.
“Yes, I’d want you to tell
me before you planned to do it,” he said.
“Why?” I asked.
His hand came up to rest on my
shoulders. “I heard what you said two nights ago… but
where I’m coming from is different. I don’t just want to
be with you, Jamie, I want to end up with you. I want to move in
together, get married, maybe even make Sarah a brother or sister
together. If that means we need to take a step back and date other
people to figure out if we want to be with each other, I can handle
that. But I don’t think I could get over you sleeping with
someone else. If you want to do that, it’ll be over between us.
And, if I find out after, it will hurt me a hell of a lot more.”
I reached up to touch his hand covering
my shoulder, running my thumb over his knuckles. “Thank you for
being so honest with me.”
“I think that’s what we
need—a fuckload of honesty between us,” he said.
“A fuckload? How much is that in
shit-tons?” I grinned.
“They’re the same thing,”
he said, pulling me into him for a kiss. “Hey, Jamie,” he
said against my lips.
“Yeah?” I murmured.
“I dare you to go on a date with
me this friday.” He leaned back a little to grin down.
“Look at that grin! You’re
so sure I’m going to accept?” I asked, grabbing his
“I know you. You never turn down
a dare,” he said.
“You fight dirty,” I said.
“Hmm, dirty.” He gave me a
heated look and moved his hands down my sides, gripping my hips.
He glanced over my shoulder. “Here,
come over here,” he said, nodding toward the back of the shop.
I glanced back over my shoulder to see
a couple pass by the shop. “It’s fine, it’s really
hard to see in when the sun is reflecting against the windows like
that,” I said, but when Cameron grabbed my hand, I followed him
back to my office.
Once inside, he shut the door behind
My breaths came faster when his hands
came back to my hips. “I know what you’re thinking and
we—probably should…” I trailed off.
Cameron grinned down at me. “Probably
should or probably shouldn’t?” he asked.
I ran my hand up under his shirt over
the muscles of his stomach. “What if it’s like a health
“It’s not a health code
violation. It’s not like I’m bending you over your bagel
bar,” he said.
“Bagel station,” I
He chuckled as his lips came down onto
mine. His kiss was a slow caress, a wet glide over my lips. His
tongue just barely moved against mine before he pulled his mouth
away. “But I’m not going to fuck you right now,” he
“You’re not?” I asked
as I blinked up into his gaze.
He kissed me lightly once. “Nope,
I’m taking a step back, remember?”
“How far a step?” I asked.
“Far enough so that we can
actually see each other again, and not just in the relationship we’ve
thrown ourselves into,” he said.
“So, if I go on a date with you,
I get sex?” I asked.
“What do you take me for, a sure
thing?” he asked, pressing his hips into mine and telling me in
the most carnal way possible how much he wanted me.
“Um, no. But I just might be,”
“And I love that about you,”
he said, grinning down.
“Yeah, I bet.” I rolled my
eyes. “So, this means you’re not going to sleep with
anyone else too, unless you tell me?”
“That’s exactly what this
means,” he said.
“But you might date other
people?” I asked.
“Would you have a problem with it
if I did?” he asked.
“That’s a complicated
question.” I shook my head, and looked away. “Of course I
wouldn’t be jumping for joy, but I want things to be fair and…”
I sighed. “We probably both need a little perspective, you
know?” I met his gaze. “But I don’t want to know
about it—actually I do…” I shook my head again.
“Nope, I don’t.”
He laughed, pulling me to him and
wrapping his arms tightly around me.
“I’ll check and see if
Sarah can spend the night with my dad and Sharon this Friday. Maybe
we can spend the night at your place?”
“You’re making a lot of
assumptions,” he said.
“I shouldn’t get a
babysitter?” I asked.
“No, definitely get a babysitter.
Do you mind if I plan our first date?”
“Not at all,” I whispered.
“Thank you, baby,” he said.
Then he stepped back to pull his phone from his pocket. “And
the other thing. The property lawyer said you can call him at twelve
thirty-five, and that’s in about five minutes.”
“Oh awesome,” I said,
taking his phone. “I’m just going to grab that offer…”
I looked through my desk, first finding the offer I had turned down a
couple months ago, then pulling out the second, much more recent
offer from the same company.
I pulled them both out, glancing over
the numbers once more.
“How much was the judgment lien
on this place?” Cameron asked, looking over my shoulder at the
“Two million, fixed,” I
“How much do you still owe?”
“One million eight hundred
thousand and change,” I said.