“Oh, shoot! Hey, girl, I’m sorry to do this, but I gotta run. I actually have a little date of my own this afternoon! Jeff, from the office next door to the clinic, is taking me surfing.”
I smiled. “Have the best time and call me tomorrow, okay?”
“Will do. Remember, Holls, just breathe.”
It all sounded perfectly reasonable in my head, and as I pushed off from the couch, I decided that the best thing I could do would be to get out of the house for the afternoon.
“Come on, Hunter! Time to go have some fun.”
“Come on, Player, don’t be such a pussy,” I taunted, staring Aaron down from across the dining room table. I’d woken up just as the sun was peeking over the horizon, and wandered downstairs to the kitchen to fuel up before hitting the beach for a run. I’d been surprised to find Aaron awake, at the dining room table, with his laptop and cup of coffee, and had spent the last ten minutes trying to talk him into joining Princess and me for our morning run.
“Not gonna happen, brother,” Aaron replied, not even bothering to look away from his computer screen. “The days of running endless miles just for kicks are long, long gone.”
I cut my losses and polished off the last bite of my steel cut oats. “All right, but don’t expect me to listen to your bitching when you get outta shape climbing the stairs.”
At that, he glanced up, and a slow, devious smile spread over his face. “Oh, don’t you worry about me. I get my cardio. I just prefer to do it in bed, with a stacked blonde.”
I laughed and set my bowl in the sink.
“Speaking of, you wanna go out again tonight? We could hit up Harvey’s again, or there’s a sports bar across town. We could go watch a game, shoot some pool, kick it.”
“Yeah, sure,” I agreed, before whistling for Princess. “We’re off. You working all day today?”
Aaron snapped his laptop closed and stood, stretching his arms over his head. “Yeah. We can’t all be lazy fuckers like you,” he teased.
“I’ll come out this afternoon and harass you.”
“All right man.” He grinned and took off, back through the living room. Seconds later, I heard his footsteps jogging up the stairs.
“Come on, girl,” I said, looking down at Princess. She knew what time it was, and although the excitement was gleaming in her eyes, she sat patiently by the door, waiting for me. “Maybe we’ll stop by that coffee shop after we’re done…”
I was used to my early morning workout, and didn’t usually find it hard to get out of bed and dive headfirst into a run, but since I’d seen Holly at the coffee shop, there was an extra level to my motivation. Since Aaron didn’t know her, I knew the odds were good that she was visiting, and not a resident of Holiday Cove, but I had no idea how long she’d be in town.
All I knew was that I wanted to see her again.
Within minutes, I’d made my way down the steep trail that led to the beach, from the heights of the Rosen property. I jogged in place, my sneakers kicking up sand, to get warmed up, and then set off at a brisk pace down the beach, sticking close to where the tide was rolling out, to get more traction on the sand. Music piped in through my headphones, and despite my protesting muscles, I quickly settled into a steady pace.
When I figured I’d gone about a mile and half from Rosen’s, I started scanning to the left, studying the silhouettes of the different businesses and houses that were wedged up against the shore. Although I had visited Holiday Cove on multiple occasions, I wasn’t as familiar with it as to remember exactly where the coffee shop had been. I was beginning to wonder if I’d passed it, when all of a sudden, the patio came into view.
I slowed my pace to glance through the small crowd of people seated at the bistro tables. The first time I’d seen Holly, she’d been sitting alone, and it was impossible to miss her. But, with
Howard E. Wasdin and Stephen Templin