The Best Goodbye(Rosemary Beach #13)(15) by Abbi Glines
“You’re back,” she said. The happy tone in her voice felt like warm butter.
“Yeah, wasn’t much fun.”
She smirked, then glanced away from me, back toward the water. “What, she didn’t put out quick enough?” There was a bitterness to her tone that I didn’t like.
“Uh, no, that wasn’t it. I would just rather be here.”
Addy turned her head toward me slowly, and her eyes looked like they were searching my face for any sign of a lie. “Really?”
“Yeah, really. I’d always rather be with you.”
She chewed her bottom lip a moment, and then a frown puckered her brow. “Then why did you go?”
I wasn’t sure. Because I knew I’d get laid? Because . . . hell, I didn’t know. I would rather be with Addy. I’d always rather be with Addy, but lately, when I looked at her, I thought things. Things I needed to stop thinking. She was my best friend, and she needed me as much as I needed her. We fought a daily battle in that house, and we relied on each other to get through it all.
It was just that when I let myself go, I imagined how it would taste to kiss her lips, how soft her skin would feel. What kinds of sounds she’d make when I touched her under her shirt or slipped my hands down into her panties.
Fuck, I couldn’t think about that. I looked away from her, out at the water. Addy was special. She was perfect and mine to protect. Even from me. “I went because I had guy needs, that’s all. I’m here now. Where I want to be,” I finally answered her.
She didn’t reply, and I didn’t look at her, for fear that my thoughts would go the way I fought hard to keep them from veering.
“You want to go inside and make some popcorn before she gets home?” Addy asked, with a smile in her voice.
My answer had been enough for her. She wasn’t going to press for more. She never did. I turned to look back at her, and I knew then, without a doubt, that she was my center. She was my home. That house, run by parents who were too fucked-up to know the difference, wasn’t home for me. Addy was. She always would be. One day, I’d give her a mansion, and we’d have kids. She’d live like a princess.
“Yeah, let’s go sneak some popcorn,” I replied, standing up and reaching my hand out to her. She slipped hers into mine, and I squeezed it tightly.
The smile on her face was better than any popcorn could ever be.
It was finally the night of the restaurant’s grand opening, and the place was booked solid. For the last week, we had all worked until midnight every night, getting the place ready for the big event. Brad hadn’t come over again, but he had made sure to sneak me things he was trying out for the menu during my break. He even sent me home with a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich and homemade potato chips for Franny a couple of nights. She’d charmed him, which wasn’t surprising. She had that effect on people.
Captain had avoided me. Between all the work and staying away from me and keeping his distance from Elle, he had to be exhausted. Elle had returned, determined to act as if she was fine. We all got to hear about her dates, because she told the girls who cared so loudly that everyone else got all the details, too. If she was hoping to make Captain jealous, she was failing. He was ignoring her.
I almost felt sorry for her. Almost.
“You think Elle would kill me if I tried to make a move on Captain?” one of the other servers, Patricia, asked me, as she cut her eyes over my shoulder and gave a saucy grin in his direction. I glanced back over my shoulder to see Captain surveying the room while he talked to Brad.
“Probably, but do you really want to date the boss? Look at where that left Elle,” I said honestly. It took a strong-minded female to come back after being shaken off by the man in charge, and everyone knew it.
Patricia pouted, and her very pink painted lips looked even bigger than usual. “The only other hottie here is Brad, and everyone knows he has a thing for you.” She turned her attention back to me. “You do like him, right?”
Did I like him? Yes, I did, but we were friends. He was flirty at times, but mostly we just talked and laughed. “Um, well, he’s a nice guy. I like spending time with him, but we aren’t in a relationship or anything. We’re just friends.”
Her dark brown eyes lit up, and she batted her lashes before turning back to the two men. This time, her eyes were locked on Brad. “Great. Thanks!” she said, before heading toward them with a sway to her hips and a determined gleam in her eyes.
I could have stood there and watched, or I could have finished setting the tables and lighting the candles. I chose the latter and got to work. If Brad was interested in her, then good for him. It wouldn’t hurt my friendship with him. At least, I didn’t think it would.
• • •
We were each given three tables to cover. Captain wanted to make sure every guest was given the most attention possible. I had two four-tops and a two-top, so I wasn’t overloaded, but the pressure was on to be perfect.
Brad was getting high praise from the diners, and everyone was enjoying the food. It went pretty smoothly, considering it was opening night.
I glanced around to see Captain talking to an older, obviously wealthy and important man who had a beautiful younger woman at his side. I’d have guessed it was his daughter if his hand wasn’t settled on her waist possessively.
The man was smiling and seemed pleased to be chatting with Captain.
“That’s Arthur Stout,” Patricia said, whispering beside me. “The owner of this place.”