Read Some Sort of Happy (Skylar and Sebastian): A Happy Crazy Love Novel Online

Authors: Melanie Harlow

Tags: #Romance, #new adult, #Adult, #Contemporary Romance

Some Sort of Happy (Skylar and Sebastian): A Happy Crazy Love Novel (7 page)

“You’re welcome.”

Wow, this was awkward. Like trying to flirt with a tree. I wasn’t usually tongue-tied around men but I had no idea what to say to Sebastian Pryce after all these years. And why did he seem so angry? Was it because of the way he’d been treated in school? I’d never teased him myself—wait, I’d actually been kind to him, hadn’t I? Although he’d probably been bullied a lot, and I hadn’t exactly stood up for him. Was it possible he held a grudge?

“Could I get by please?” he asked tersely. “You’re blocking the door.”

“Oh. Right, sorry.” Flustered, I watched him push it open and bolt out like the building was on fire.

Off kilter, I turned to Natalie and put my fingtertips to my temples. “That was weird.”

“It was, kind of.” She shrugged. “But he’s not your average guy.”

I looked out the door again, recalling the punch-in-the-gut feeling I’d had when he’d turned to look at me. Then I noticed the notebook on the sidewalk—the red spiral one I’d seen earlier at the beach. “Hey, he dropped something.”

Hurrying out the door to pick it up, I looked down the street in the direction he’d gone. There was no sign of him, so I took it back into the shop.

“He’ll probably be back for it in a minute,” Natalie said. “He’s always carrying that thing around.”

“It’s soggy,” I said, holding it by one corner. “What the hell does he do with it?”

“Writes in it, I assume.”

I slapped the thing onto the counter next to the dollar bills he’d left and sat down, eyeing it curiously. “I wonder what he writes about.”

“No clue. Now tell me how you two know each other. Was it school?” Natalie picked up a rag and began wiping the counter, moving the notebook aside. “He’s not much of a talker but he did say he grew up around here.”

“Yes, you don’t remember him? He was in my class, so a few years ahead of you, but he looked totally different back then.”

“What did he look like?”

“He had this long shaggy hair he used to hide behind and he wore really baggy clothing all the time.” I thought for a second. “Or at least it seemed baggy. Maybe he was just really skinny.”

Natalie’s eyebrows shot up. “Not anymore. One time he took off his jacket and he was wearing this really fitted t-shirt. That guy is ripped now—his arms and chest are amazing.”

“Seriously?” Spinning on the stool, I glanced out the door again, wondering where he’d rushed off to. “Does he ever come in with anyone else? I don’t remember him having friends in school.”

“That’s sad.”

I frowned. “Yeah, but he was a pretty odd duck. He used to be obsessed with germs, like total OCD. People used to tease him about it.”

She nodded. “That makes sense. The first time he came in here, he brought his own cup.”

My jaw dropped. “He did? That’s weird.”

“It
was
weird,” she admitted, “but also kind of pitiful. And at first he just said he preferred to use his own cup, but after he came here a few times, he told me about the germ fear and said he was working on it. And then one day, he didn’t bring it.”

“Did you, like, congratulate him?”

“Nope, I didn’t even mention it. I just poured his coffee and went about my business. Like I said, he’s not really a talker, and I didn’t want to embarrass him. And I think…” Her voice trailed off and she caught her bottom lip between her teeth.

“What?” I asked, suddenly eager for any scrap of information on him.

“Nothing. I shouldn’t spread gossip.” She focused extra hard on her cleaning rag.

I rolled my eyes and put a hand over her wrist, stopping her frantic motion. “Nat, please. Who the hell would I tell? No one is even speaking to me around here!”

She sighed and stopped wiping. “Well, after he left here one day, I heard these women talking about him, something about his having a nervous breakdown last year and moving back home to recover. One of them might have been a relative of his.”

“A nervous breakdown? Really?” My heart ached a little for the lonely, frustrated kid he’d been and the awkward man he’d become. Memories long forgotten surfaced—the way he’d arrived mid-year in the fourth grade and struggled to make friends. The way he’d stayed in at recess once to help me in math. The way he’d struggled to meet my eyes the few times we’d been lab partners. The way he’d eaten lunch alone.
I should have been nicer. Then and now. I’m a horrible person.
As if I needed another reminder.

“That’s what I heard. Apparently he was a lawyer in New York City, and engaged to be married.”

Intrigued, I reached for a chocolate chip cookie from under the glass lid of a cake stand and took a bite. “Wow. I wonder what happened to the girl.”

She shrugged and resumed her cleaning. “I don’t know, but he comes in here a lot and there’s no wife or girlfriend that I’ve seen.”

I took another bite, trying to recall one real conversation we’d had in all the years we knew each other, and failed. “That’s sad. I remember him being, like, super smart. He helped me in math sometimes. And chemistry. His family still around here? If I recall, he had some older brothers. Maybe one of the women was a sister-in-law.”

“I think they’re still around, based on the limited conversations we’ve had, but he still seems lonely to me. Like he might need a friend, you know?”

Depressed, I stuck the rest of the cookie in my mouth. “Well, he doesn’t want to be my friend,” I mumbled. “He made that pretty clear.”

“I think he’s just shy.”

“I think he hates me,” I said, swallowing the last of the cookie and eyeing another one. “Just like the rest of the world.”

“So what happened to you today, anyway? Why were you so mad when you walked in?”

While she swept up, I told her about being fired, about my brilliant idea to work for the festival, and about the humiliating meeting with Joan Klein. Then I reached for a second cookie.

“They took your crown away?”

“Yes!” The outrage hit me all over again. “So I smashed it!” I took a giant chomp out of the cookie as Natalie burst out laughing. “It’s not funny!” I yelled, crumbs flying from my mouth.

“I’m sorry, I know I shouldn’t laugh, but it’s just so silly. Who cares who was queen all those years ago? It’s ridiculous.”

“I care!” I thumped my chest. “It was the one thing I had, the one great achievement in my life, my mantle picture! And now it’s gone and I have nothing! My life is a complete mess and I’m a total failure at everything I do!” I threw the cookie down, put my face in my hands, and finally gave in to the urge to cry like a baby, which made me feel even worse about myself.

Natalie came over to sit beside me, leaning the broom against the counter. “Hey,” she said, rubbing my shoulder. “Don’t say that. You’re not a failure. You’ve had plenty of great achievements. Look at all the starring roles you had around here growing up. Mom has entire albums full of your pictures on stage.”

I picked up my head, tears leaking from my eyes. “Yes, I was a big fish in this little pond. But I wasn’t good enough to make it for real, Nat. I didn’t even like trying. You know what I liked best about acting?”

“What?”

“The curtain call. The applause when it was over.” I sat up straight and sniffed. “Let’s face it. I’m shallow and vain.”

She slapped my shoulder gently. “Come on. Everyone likes to hear praise sometimes. And OK, maybe you’re a little vain, but you’re a hard worker too—you just need to find what it is you like to do. If it’s not acting, it’s something else.”

“But I’m not good at anything,” I fretted. “I’m not smart and ambitious like you and Jillian.”

“Stop it, yes you are. And you could be good at anything.” She slung her arm around my neck and squeezed. “You’ll figure it out, Sky. Things will work out.”

“How? The entire town, possibly the entire country, hates me, I have to go home and ask Mom and Dad if I can move in with them because I was canned, and a really cute guy just gave me the brush off.”

“Mom and Dad will support you no matter what, and so will I, and so will Jillian. That’s what family does.”

I swiped at my nose. “I’m just so fucked up compared to you guys.”

“What?” She leaned away from me. “What are you talking about?”

“You and Jilly did everything right. Your lives are perfect.”

“Now you’re just talking crazy. No one’s life is perfect. Jillian was just complaining to me the other day that she wants to date but can’t meet anyone worth her time, and she’s buried in student loans. Running this business is exhausting and I’ve got a bunch of debt from it, and if you want to know the truth, I think Dan’s cheating on me.”

I gasped. “What? No way. You guys have been together forever.”

She shrugged. “That doesn’t mean anything. I saw some text messages on his phone from a girl at his office that have me wondering.”

Dan was like a brother to me, since he and Natalie had been together since high school, but I’d kill him if he hurt her. “You need to talk to him. Right now.”

“I will. Maybe it’s nothing.” Her expression said otherwise. “Anyway, we were talking about you. Are you going to be OK?”

“Yeah.” I sniffed. “I need a tissue.”

Natalie reached for the napkin dispenser and slid it over to me. “You still have plenty of old friends here. Why don’t you look them up? You work all day and spend all your downtime working on those guest houses. You should get out a little.”

Plucking a napkin from the dispenser, I blew my nose. “I don’t know. I only stayed in touch with a few people after I left. And everyone who stayed around here is either married and pregnant or married with kids. It’s hard to relate.”

“Well, then, I think you should make a new friend.” She flashed a meaningful look out the door.

I considered it. He was cute, and smart, if a bit socially awkward. Maybe I could draw him out. That was one thing I was good at, talking to people. “I could ask him if he’s going to the reunion, I guess.”

“There you go.” She stood and picked up the broom again, resumed her sweeping.

“How can I find him?”

“He’ll probably be back in here first thing tomorrow looking for that notebook. I’m surprised he’s not here already.”

I thought for a second. “I do need a job. Want to hire me?”

“You know what?” She stopped sweeping and looked at me, resting her chin on the top of the broom. “I
was
planning to hire someone part time since the tourist season is picking up. I can’t pay you what Rivard paid you, and you won’t like the hours, but the job’s yours if you want it.”

“I’ll take it. At this point, I don’t even care what it pays, I just need something to do while I figure my life out.” I picked up my half-eaten cookie. “These are amazing. I’m going to get fluffy working here.”

Natalie groaned. “They are, and I’ve eaten way too many today so I’m heading to the gym after this. Want to go for a swim with me?”

Natalie had been a champion swimmer in high school. Her definition of “go for a swim” was not the same as mine, which involved more floating than laps, preferably on a raft with a cupholder for my frozen daiquiri.

“No way,” I said. “I’m too out of shape to swim with you. But I’ll get on a bike or a treadmill or something.”

“Great. You can come for dinner if you want too. We’re grilling kebabs.”

“The chicken wrapped in bacon?” I asked hopefully.

“Yep.”

“Sold.” I felt a little better. Nothing makes a bad day better like bacon. “What can I do to help you close?”

“Why don’t you sweep, and I’ll do kitchen duty?” She held the broom out to me, and I saluted before taking it from her.

But after she’d gone into the kitchen, I remained on the stool with the broom in my hand, staring at the notebook on the counter.

Sebastian Pryce. After all these years, he was a hot, mysterious lawyer with a firm handshake and a tragic past. Was his standoffish demeanor just a defense mechanism? He’d jumped up to help me at the beach this morning in a heartbeat, so I knew he had manners somewhere under the icy exterior. And those eyes. When he’d taken his glasses off and looked at me, there was something other than anger in them. Was it fear? Sadness? Was he still afraid of being rejected? I flattened one hand on the notebook’s front cover. What was in here?

For a moment, Sebastian’s right to privacy warred with my insane curiosity about him…

How wrong would it be to take a peek?

Totally wrong.

But maybe there was an address or phone number in it? I could justify it that way, right?

You just want to get up in his business.

I ignored that and opened up the front cover. Blank. I flipped to the back cover. Blank.

Well, damn
, I thought, randomly flipping to a page in the middle.
Guess you’ll have to find me, then.

And speaking of me.

There was my name.

My mouth fell open as I took in all the words on the page, which really didn’t make much sense to me.

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