Bayside Heat(2)

By: Melissa Foster

“Can we please keep the lovey-dovey fuckery down to a minimum while I’m eating?” Violet asked.

Serena’s nerves got the better of her as Drake closed the distance between them.

“Hey, Supergirl,” he said as he sat down.

She tucked away the endearment. She’d miss all of her friends, but she’d miss seriously frustrating and insanely hot Drake the most. Of course, there was no way she’d tell him that. As they’d worked together over the past few years, he’d become one of her closest friends. When they were out as a group, he watched over her like a hawk, treating her like a younger sister who needed protecting and making it hard for her to meet guys. It was time she moved on, physically and emotionally. The miles between them should make it that much easier.

Drake grabbed the back of her shirt, tugging her down to the chair beside him, and leaned closer. His masculine scent surrounded her as he said, “Ready to talk about store number five?”

In addition to setting up the infrastructure and handling administrative work for the resort, Serena helped Drake with the design, layout, and administration of his chain of music stores. The grand opening of his fifth store was a few short weeks away, and today they were finalizing the store layout.

“Definitely,” Serena said. “But I think it’s time you start calling it Bayside Music and Arts.”

“Good point.” He poured her a cup of coffee, then poured one for himself.

As everyone loaded up their plates, she felt queasy at the prospect of delivering her news. Before she could lose her nerve, she blurted out, “I’m moving to Boston for an interior design job.”

Her friends fell silent, and all eyes turned to her. Her stomach pitched. The girls looked confused. Rick and Dean were exchanging displeased glances and eyeing Drake, whose jaw was clenched so tight, it had to hurt.

Oh God. She felt like she was betraying everyone and reminded herself she wasn’t.

“You guys knew I took the job at the resort only temporarily, to help get it off the ground,” Serena reminded them. “That was four years ago, and I told you last summer that I was applying for interior design jobs to finally get my career moving in the right direction.”

“Yes, but I thought you were looking around here. You’re moving to Boston?” Mira said with a pained expression. She’d been Serena’s best friend since childhood, and they’d always been there for each other. She placed one hand on her burgeoning belly and said, “I’m happy for you, but I’m going to miss you.”

“I know. I’ll miss you, too,” Serena said, feeling the heat of Drake’s stare. She tried to distract herself from looking at him by mentally ticking off a list of things she had to do to get ready for her impending move. At the top of which was finding someone to fill her position at the resort. She hoped to still help out with the music stores. “I promise to come back as often as I can and of course when the baby is born, and we’ll FaceTime a lot.”

“You better,” Mira said in a softer tone. “Our new baby will need Auntie Serena around, and Hagen will miss you so much.” Hagen was her eight-year-old son.

“I’ll miss him, too,” Serena said.

“Poor Matt,” Mira said. Matt was her husband. “Forget gaining baby weight. I’ll probably pack on another twenty pounds from ice cream as I eat my sadness away.”

“Enough guilt tripping. This is great news,” Rick said with a genuine smile, which faded as his gaze shifted to Drake. “It’s what you’ve always wanted.” He seemed to direct his comment at Drake instead of her, as if reminding him of her plans.

“I know. Ever since I was a little girl. Isn’t it fantastic? I’ll miss you guys so much, but I couldn’t turn down an interior design job with Kline, Heinan, and Bruce, or rather, KHB. They’re one of the most sought-after design firms around.”

“You’ve wanted a career in the big city for as long as I’ve known you,” Desiree said. “So even though I’m going to miss you, I’m happy you found something so amazing.”

“Boston?” Violet said. “Our small-town girl’s growing up.”

“Congrats, Serena,” Dean said as he draped an arm around Emery’s shoulder. “I appreciate all you’ve done for us.”

It wasn’t lost on Serena that Drake hadn’t said a word. “Thank you. I still can’t believe they called. I had almost given up.” She’d interviewed with KHB last winter and had thought they’d written her off. The resort had only a few winter clients, which had freed her up to get back into the industry by working part-time for Shift Home Interiors. Although she loved the work she’d done for Shift because it included space planning and helping to set up offices from scratch, and not just decorating work, the owner had recently had a baby and cut back to working only part-time. She couldn’t afford to hire Serena full-time. But even with a degree and several years of design experience prior to her current job, most of the bigger firms had turned her down.