Sweet Heat at Bayside(4)

By: Addison Cole

“I’m out of here, sis,” Violet said. “I’m heading to Hyannis to pick up supplies.” She strutted across the grass toward her motorcycle.

“And we have a music store to get in order.” Drake pushed to his feet and pulled Serena up by her arm.

“Hey. I haven’t eaten.” Not that she could eat anyway. Her stomach was all knotted up. “And I need my notebooks for the store.”

“Aw, man,” Rick said. “She poked the bear.”

“And we have to deal with the bear after she leaves.” Dean stroked his beard, his serious blue eyes locked on Drake, who was glaring at both of them. “Hey, Serena, you sure you can’t give us three months’ notice? Or maybe a year?”

Drake glowered at him and grabbed a croissant. “We’ll get your notebooks and you can eat on the road. We have work to do, and apparently only a week in which to do it.”

THE RIDE TO the music store was painfully tense. Music blared in the cab of the truck while Drake looked like he was chewing on nails and Serena pretended not to notice as she added items to her to-do list. She stole a glance at him in the driver’s seat, where he sat with his arm on the door, his jaw tight. He had a dimple in his right cheek that appeared only when he was angry or frustrated, and the darn thing was so sexy, there were times Serena had pissed him off just to see it. That little tell hadn’t disappeared since she’d mentioned leaving, and right now it was more heartbreaking than sexy.

Getting on better footing with Drake suddenly became her number one priority. They had a lot to do before she left, and if he was angry, it would be that much harder to get everything done. Besides, she truly, deeply cared about him, and the idea of leaving things unsettled between them cut her to her core. She set her phone in her lap as he slowed to a stop, waiting for a break in traffic so he could cross to the parking lot of the new store.

“Sorry about giving you guys such short notice,” she said. “I asked for a month, but they said they needed me right away.”

He shifted a tight look to her. “Mm-hm.”

“Drake, you can’t be that mad. You know I’ve been looking for a new job for months.”

“Yup.” He sped across the road, into the lot, and threw the truck into park in front of the store.

Those dark eyes slid to her for about half a second before they both climbed out of the truck. He strode purposefully toward the door. She hitched her bag over her shoulder, and despite the uneasiness between them, she did what she always did. Her eyes coasted down his broad shoulders and back, and as he unlocked the door to the shop, her gaze moved to his butt. She was forever trying to figure out how the hot hunk of a man before her was the same person as the lanky teen she’d fallen for when she’d been a silly high school freshman and he’d been a cool senior with all the pretty girls after him. She couldn’t help it. She’d crushed on him for so many years, it was as much a part of her as the way she craved cookies dipped in milk.

Only she told herself she no longer craved Drake in the same way she once had, with a fluttering in her chest or holding her breath at his every word. No, things had changed a long time ago. She’d grown up, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t appreciate a little eye candy from her first crush.

Drake held the door open and motioned for her to pass through.

“You keep grinding your teeth, they’re liable to break,” she said as she walked into the nearly empty space.

“I’m not grinding…” He shook his head, and a half scoff, half laugh fell from his lips. It was a familiar sound, one that said he was annoyed but also amused.

He was a broody guy sometimes, but it was always driven by a clear cause, and he didn’t mince words, play games, or hold grudges. She liked and respected those things about him, which was probably what made them such good friends. Neither one took grief from the other.

“Oh, good,” she said as she set her bag on the counter. “You’ve gotten over yourself.”

“Over myself?” He paced the floor.

“Yes! So I got another job? You know I’ve always wanted to do interior design.”

He crossed his arms, leveling a serious stare on her. “I’m happy for you, but it leaves us—me—in a lurch. I’m just trying to figure it all out.” He waved at the space. “I’ve got to get my arms around doing this alone.”

“You’ve opened four other music stores.”

“We, Serena. We’ve opened four other music stores.”

“What…?” She thought back to the first store he’d opened, during her junior year of college. She’d helped him revamp it and had come up with a theme that they’d since carried over to the other stores. “That’s not true. You opened the first one. I just helped make it attractive after you made it look like a garage.”