Authors: Shane Morgan
SO FAR my summer is a disaster. I graduated high
school a week ago and was hoping my parents would at least sponsor a trip as a
reward for all my hard work. Instead, I get to spend my days laboring at Mom’s
, while my classmates party in
Well, I guess I can’t complain, since there’s no
way my parents can afford it. Most of their money went toward my college
tuition (because I slacked off and didn’t get a scholarship, as planned) and
they have to cover other expenses, too.
as hot on the block as it used to be, either. Some days it’s up, sometimes it’s
slow. Business is unpredictable, but it still has its regulars. So, I figure if
I help out until the end of July, I can at least go to Miami with Claudia
before starting at the University of Rhode Island in the fall. We’ve been
trip for God knows how long, so there’s no way I’ll miss
out on that one, too.
Sighing, I wipe beads of sweat from my forehead
with the back of my hand, thinking how my former classmates are probably having
the time of their lives right now in the Bahamas.
They have their rich mommies and daddies to spoil them rotten.
I scoff at the thought because, who am I
kidding? I wouldn’t be getting in the ocean anyways, and I’m not much of a
drinker. That said
I’m not really missing out.
Florida’s supposed to be the trip to “cure” me. Claudia swears she’ll find a
way for me to overcome my issues with the ocean. I doubt it, but it’ll be fun;
just the two of us spending time together before she goes off to college in New
An awful ache erupts in my shoulders. I
straighten, stop cleaning the tables, toss the towel over the back of one of
the dining chairs, and plop down on it to take a break.
This feels like the hottest morning since June started. It would have been nice
soaking up this kind of heat in the Caribbean, but I wouldn’t mind a winter
storm right now.
After only a few minutes, I hear handclaps and
Mom’s demanding voice ordering me back to work. “It’s almost opening time,
Reign. Stop lazing around. Come on.” I hate when she does that.
Grumbling, I push up from the chair and snatch
the towel off the back, making my way inside the restaurant. Mom eyes me from
head to toe as I approach, looking at my flats, knee-length jeans short and
t-shirt. Before I can step past her, she tugs on my arm and slows me down.
“Honey, I’d appreciate it if you wore
appropriate clothing while at work. This isn’t the beach,” she scolds.
I dip my head back and exhale in exasperation.
We’ve been through this already. “Oh come on, Mom.
isn’t much of a formal restaurant, and it is
too hot for long
sleeves. The dress code should be a bit more casual, if you ask me.”
“Don’t give me that excuse,” she shushes,
folding her arms loosely at the waist. She purses her lips and continues, “I
have outfits that are convenient just for summer but you choose not to wear
“Because they’re plain,” I retort, sarcasm
cutting through my tone. With a smirk on my face, I suggest, “How about you let
me design the uniforms and call it a day?”
Rolling her eyes, Mom untangles her arms and
slaps my elbow lightly. “I would never let you do that. Next thing you know
we’ll all be in ripped jeans and hippie-looking tops.”
“Huh…” I glance down at myself and scrunch up my
face as I look back up at her. “This isn’t hippie-looking.”
“No, but it’s still unprofessional,” she smiles.
The husky voice startles us out of our
conversation. I peer over Mom’s shoulder at the guy standing behind her, and
almost faint from the amount of attractiveness emanating from his presence.
He’s tall, a good six feet two inches compared to my itty-bitty five three.
Broad shoulders, toned arms, and a bulging chest inside his white t-shirt—he
must work out. I kinda like how his dark brown hair is cropped at the sides
with longer layers at the top. It has this natural wavy texture and moisture to
Bringing my eyes back to his handsome, chiseled
face, I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve seen this guy before. No clue as to
where though. I clear my thoughts in time to hear why he’s looking for my mom.
“I’m Micah Delaney. I called last Friday about
the available position and was told to stop by this morning,” he tells her.
“Oh, right,” Mom replies enthusiastically.
“Thanks for coming. I’m Sophia Aldridge, the owner.”
He shakes her hand firmly. “It’s nice to meet
you, Mrs. Aldridge. You said the position is only for the summer and is
I can’t get over how deep, sexy, and smooth his
“Well, that’s if I decide to give you a shot,”
Not sure what transpires after because I block
everything out as I continue to study him. There’s something rather enthralling
about this Micah Delaney. Even though he appears polite and eager to work, his
, and his body language reflects a
guy who is well-guarded. Yeah, there is definitely a lot more going on behind
those gorgeous sea blue eyes.
“And this is Reign,” Mom slants and introduces
When Micah flicks over and meets my curious
gaze, I snap out of my admiration as he raises one of his thick brows, narrows
his eyes, and slowly extends his hand toward me. It’s as if he himself has seen
Then something odd happens; something that isn’t
supposed to happen. The moment our hands touch my stomach dances and my heart
leaps a tad. I notice a difference in the grin that’s playing at his lips now,
like he’s genuinely amazed by me. Even his expression changed. He looks more
I’m suddenly hyperaware that we’re still shaking
hands, oddly, I don’t care to let go. Micah’s touch is warm—duh, it’s a blazing
hot summer day—but more like a sensual warm. It radiates the kind of heat that
would not only arouse a girl but make her feel safe and protected.
I drop his hand fast when Mom chips in, “Micah,
walk with me to the office. We can talk more.”
As he turns away, I can’t believe the
disappointment I feel.
He’s just another good-looking guy, Reign.
I see them every day around here. And Nate is just as hot. Yeah, remember Nate,
Watching as Micah wanders off with Mom, I almost
jump out of my skin when he glances back at me, delight dancing in his eyes
before he turns the corner inside the restaurant.
I zap out of whatever “that was” and go back to
work. I can’t believe I was gawking at a hot guy when I have a boyfriend. Damn.
Where’s the loyalty?
Shortly after I finish cleaning the tables and
chairs on the deck, I bring the supplies back inside. Aislin is preparing stuff
at the bar because John isn’t in as yet. We open at ten so he still has half an
hour left to avoid my mom’s wrath.
My cell phone buzzes inside my shorts pocket the
second I sit down on one of the bar stools. I take it out and check the screen.
It’s a text from Nate.
Hey babe. Gonna stop by this
afternoon since I’ll be around the harbor. Cool?
I want to tell him not to drop by while I’m at
work, because no one here likes it, especially Mom. She thinks it’s
unprofessional for an employee to have her boyfriend flirting with her in front
of customers. It kind of is. Only, I can’t say no. We haven’t seen each other
much since graduating and he works with his dad sometimes.
Nate’s a sweet boyfriend. He even stayed behind
with me instead of going to the Bahamas with the rest of our classmates. He’s
always been good to me, so I don’t know how to turn him down, except for when
it comes to sex. That part we haven’t gotten to yet.
Anyways, I text him back:
“Boyfriend coming by today again?” asks Aislin,
I look up to meet her glare and stick my phone
back inside my pocket, answering, “Yeah. Are you fine with that?”
She rolls her brown eyes and turns her back on
me, checking the remaining level of alcohol. “Just don’t leave your tables
hanging so you can fool around. It’ll probably be a busy day and we’re already
short-staffed,” she grumbles.
“Well not for long,” I reply smartly, thinking of
Micah. “It looks like we’ll be getting a new addition until Marie comes back.”
“Oh goodie,” she chirps in a pretentious tone.
Feeling irritated, I slide off the stool and
walk back outside to the deck. Aislin hasn’t been as cool as when she first
started working here last year. She won’t tell me what’s eating at her, yet she
keeps giving me the stink eye and frowns whenever I mention Nate.
I lean over the wooden railing and stare at the
calm water below, thinking again how I really want to travel and escape my
issues. With my fears holding me back, it’s sad knowing that I’ll probably
never have the chance to really see the world.
I’m worried about Mom, too. She won’t straight out
tell me, but I know something’s wrong. She just doesn’t seem to love this
That’s all I’ve deliberated on for the past few
days, until now. Unexpectedly, my mind is drifting to Micah’s enigmatic blue
eyes, the feel of his hand holding mine, and the way he peeked back at me
without hesitation, as if I was worth a second glance. The funny thing is
Nate’s never stared at me like that.
I CAN’T BELIEVE it’s her, the girl from the park.
Reign. I like that name. From the way she looked at me, it appears she did
glimpse me that day but doesn’t quite remember. Anyways, I’m more curious about
the way she was checking me out on the deck; like she was studying my physique
with those gorgeous hazel eyes. They’re going to be hard to look away from.
Damn! That handshake was long. She didn’t want
to let go. Or was it me? Yeah, more like I didn’t want to release that soft,
tiny hand that fitted so perfectly in my grasp. Problem is Reign is the boss
lady’s daughter. That means I have to keep my distance. Maintain a professional
working relationship. That sucks.
Sitting down on the black cushioned chair inside
Mrs. Aldridge’s matchbox office at the back of the restaurant, I can’t get over
how hot Reign is, now that I had the chance to really look at her up close. I
envision wrapping my fingers around the strands of her hair and kissing those
pink, plush lips. She’d probably feel really good, too. Oh man. If I don’t get
rid of these dirty thoughts of what I’d like to do with her out of my head, my
attraction could cause a lot of trouble.
In no time, Mrs. Aldridge starts questioning me
about my previous work experiences. I feel a speck of nervousness in my gut
from her stern gaze. It’s the kind that intimidates the hell out of people with
shit to hide. People like me. Regardless, I do my best to stay calm.
“Wow, you’ve traveled a long way; moving from
Colorado to Illinois, and now to Rhode Island,” she says, skimming my resume.
“Is that why you don’t mind working for just the summer? What about your
previous job at this…uh…
Chang’s Little Shanghai Restaurant
? Any reason
in particular why you left? It doesn’t look like you worked there for long,
either; only a few months.”
I loosen the tightness in my throat and
answer, “Well, I stopped working a few days ago because I was looking for a
change. I like to travel, and Newport really appealed to me when I saw stuff
about the city online.”
Mrs. Aldridge nods slowly in her understanding. “My
daughter wants to travel, too,” she says. I try hard not to let the strange
thrill of hearing that reflect on my face. “She’s mentioned it a few times. I
guess most young people do.”