Sweet Heat at Bayside(3)

By: Addison Cole

Cosmos ran into the yard and leapt into Desiree’s lap. He began licking her face, making them all laugh. Except Drake, who remained stoic and still beside Serena, save for the muscles bunching in his jaw. She might as well get the worst part of it over with.

“There’s one tiny hitch,” Serena said, finally meeting Drake’s gaze. “They want me to start next week.”

Drake dropped his fork with a clank, a scowl twisting his handsome face into a mask of frustration. “Next week?”

“Hard to lose your bed buddy, huh?” Violet mumbled.

Emery choked on her drink. Dean patted her back, chuckling along with Rick. Mira went wide-eyed, and Drake turned a scowl on Violet.

Serena rolled her eyes. She was used to Violet’s insinuations. There was no doubt that she and Drake were close. He’d always looked out for her, but that didn’t mean they were sleeping together—despite the fact that Serena had spent too many nights thinking about what it might be like to have his strong arms wrapped around her and those piercing eyes boring into her…

Drake’s dark gaze slid to Serena, and her stomach skidded to a halt. Yeah. She needed to get out of town all right.

“I’m sorry. I did everything I could to try to get more time,” she quickly explained. “Two employees left them without giving notice, and they basically said if I couldn’t start right away they’d have to hire someone else. But don’t worry. I’m going to start interviewing right away to fill my position. I’ve been collecting résumés for months. I’ll start interviewing candidates tomorrow. I know I can get Harper to fill in at least part-time if we don’t find someone before Friday.” Their friend Harper Garner was a screenplay writer, and she was supremely organized. When Serena had first mentioned looking for a job, Harper had offered to help. “I’m sorry, Drake. I’ll turn it down if you really think it’ll cause a problem for the resort.”

“Don’t be silly,” Rick said, shifting a narrow-eyed look to Drake. “You were there for us when we needed you most, Serena. We’ll figure things out.”

“No sweat,” Dean agreed.

“I can help out part-time, too,” Emery offered. “I’d just have to rearrange a few classes, but it’s doable.”

“I’m sure, between all of us, we’ll be just fine,” Rick reassured Serena. “This sounds like a great opportunity for you.”

The air rushed from her lungs. “Oh, thank goodness. I didn’t want to turn it down. I don’t know if I’ll ever get a chance like this again.” She looked at Drake and said, “Don’t worry. I’ll still help get the music store up and running.”

He nodded curtly. “Have you told Chloe yet?”

She and her sister, Chloe, had practically raised each other while their mother was out looking for a man to foot her bills. Chloe was the director of the Lower Cape Assisted Living Facility (LOCAL), and she was as determined to succeed as Serena was. Serena knew Chloe would be happy for her, even though it meant she was moving away. “I haven’t had time yet. They just called me this morning with the offer. I’m really sorry about giving so little notice.”

Drake grumbled something she couldn’t make out.

Violet pointed at him and said, “Maybe if she were your bed buddy she wouldn’t be leaving.”

“That’s not true!” Serena snapped. “And I would never be anyone’s bed buddy, least of all Drake’s.”

She didn’t even want to try to figure out what the messed-up look Drake was giving her meant.

“Whatevs, little one,” Violet said. Then she glared at Drake and said, “Tell her you’re happy for her. Your resort will survive without her. More importantly, I’m hearing a reason to party.”

“A goodbye party!” Emery said. “Yes, definitely. Mira, can you go to Undercover if you don’t drink?” Undercover was a nightclub in the next town over, owned by Harper’s brother, Colton.

Mira patted her belly and said, “My baby is portable for the next three months. It goes where I go, so I’ll be there.”

Drake leaned closer to Serena and said, “I’ll drive you to the party so you can drink.”

“Okay,” she said, hoping that meant he wasn’t as upset as he looked.

Violet pushed to her feet. Her coal-black hair draped over her shoulder as she leaned across the table for another cherry-cheese croissant. “Keep up the headboard banging, Rick. These croissants are the bomb.”

“Oh, I plan to.” Rick pulled Desiree close and whispered something in her ear that made her blush.