Cassie’s sister is looking at me with a mixture of suspicion and appreciation which, believe it or not, is something I get a lot. I’m so used to that reaction, in fact, that it generates an automatic response. “Rockstar mode” kicks in. I flash her a smile, designed to win her over, while reaching for her hand. I can feel Cassie frowning at me as I raise her sister’s hand to my lips and press a kiss to it.
“Andi,” she says, and there’s a tone to her voice that makes me look at her. “This is –“
“Shaun,” I supply my name, squeeze her sister’s hand and let it drop. “Cassie dropped by the Lodge earlier, so I gave her lift back.”
Both women are staring at me now and, I have to admit, I kinda feel like I’m a slab of prime steak waiting to be cooked and eaten. My eyes swing from one to the other and I keep my grin firmly in place.
“And now she’s arrived safely, it’s time I got on with my day.” I turn to head back to my car when Cassie’s voice stops me.
I pause and lift an eyebrow in query.
“Thank you, again.”
“That’s okay, Goldilocks,” I reach out and tug a lock of hair that’s come loose from her ponytail. “You’re more than welcome to break into my bedroom anytime you like.”
I hear the sharp intake of breath from Cassie’s sister and my grin widens as I stride back to my car.
The rest of my day passes without any excitement. I stop at the grocery store and buy supplies, then head back to the Lodge where I spend the evening working on a song that’s been on my mind. I take a call from DJ just before midnight and entertain him with the events of the day, then hit the sack around 3 AM.
It’s been three days since my “intruder incident”. I’ve spent most of it writing songs and talking DJ out of flying down to keep me company. He doesn’t like the fact I’m here alone, he thinks I’m going to relapse. I may have also spent way too much time thinking about my intruder and what her asshole ex has been doing.
I’m sitting in the lounge playing my guitar when I hear a car pull up outside.
I prop my guitar against the couch and rise to my feet. I reach the door just as someone knocks on it. I pull it open and come face to face with the girl I’ve been thinking about. She’s dressed in jeans again, a pair of white sneakers on her feet instead of those godawful flat pumps and a black t-shirt that reads “Dear Morning. I hate you. Bye!” I snort and lift my eyes to meet hers. There are dark shadows beneath them and she looks tired.
“Get lost on your way to the library?” I opt for the flippant approach and step to one side to allow her to walk past me.
She accepts my unspoken invitation and heads inside, waving a paper bag at me. “I know I apologised for the other day, but I felt like I needed to do more.”
I follow her into the kitchen and watch as she pulls a bottle of tequila out of the bag and places it on the countertop.
“So … you what? Thought you’d get me drunk and have your wicked way with me?” I lean against the doorframe. “For future reference, I’m easy.”
She chuckles. “I was going to buy you a bottle of whiskey, but something tells me you’d appreciate a good bottle of Tequila.”
“Goldilocks, if it’s got alcohol in it, I’ll appreciate it.” I glance at my watch. “It’s got to be 5 o’clock somewhere.” I open a cupboard and pull out two shot glasses.
“I can’t stop. I just wanted to drop off the bottle and –“ she hesitates, waits while I reach for the bottle, open it and pour the clear liquid into the glasses.
“And?” I prompt, lifting the glass and knocking back the Tequila.
“I heard you’ve been up here a couple of weeks and the other day was the first time you headed into town.”
“So?” I tap the other glass. “You gonna drink that?” She shakes her head so I down that shot, too. The burn feels good.
“So … it’s Friday night. Karaoke at the local bar. I thought if you’ve got nothing else to do … “ she leaves the sentence hanging.
“Karaoke,” I repeat. “You’re inviting me to a Karaoke?”
“Forget it!” She pushes past me and heads back toward the front door.
“Hang on,” I catch her arm as she goes and pull her to a stop. I study her as she glares back at me. There’s a faint blush on her cheeks and I realise I embarrassed her with the way I reacted. Not everyone has an ulterior motive, I remind myself. “You just surprised me.”
She pulls her arm free from my hold and turns to leave.
“What time and where?” I hear myself ask.
Cassie half-turns to face me. “You’ll come?”
“Sure. It sounds like fun.” It actually sounds like my personal version of hell, but my response makes her smile and I like how that feels.
“Great! It starts at eight, at the Corner Pin.”
I give her a smile. “I’ll be there.”
And, with a jaunty wave, she’s gone again.