Baby Stetson (Love and Music in Texas #1) (4 page)

BOOK: Baby Stetson (Love and Music in Texas #1)
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In the midst of her thoughts, Avery didn’t notice her best friend Laura had slipped into the seat across from her. All of a sudden when Laura said something, Avery nearly jumped out of her seat. She looked up at Laura’s face. “When did you get here?”

“Just a few minutes ago. I saw you were sitting alone, totally spaced out. What’s going on?” Laura asked, pulling a chap stick from her purse and applying it to her lips. After she smacked them together, she tossed the tube back and gave her undivided attention back to Avery.

“Jameson and I. We’re over. Romantically. I finally admitted to him how I felt.” Avery sighed, slinking further down into the bench. She wished she could just be invisible for the rest of the day, or longer. Right now, she didn’t feel the best. “And, I got this letter.” Avery pulled out the carefully folded envelope and handed it to her friend. Laura’s eyes darted up at Avery and back to letter several times while reading it. Her mouth formed an O as she continued.

“Can I get you ladies something?” Anne Rosetta, a young waitress they’d seen around often, sauntered up to them and asked. She looked from Laura to Avery, most likely looking for gossip. Anne was one of those women that looked for a juicy story to tell, even if she only heard tidbits and got the whole idea all wrong as she spread the words around town like wildfire. The breakup with Jameson would be all over town anyway, but as for the letter, Avery wasn’t ready to share that with the world at all. Anne was eyeing that letter, making it all too obvious that she was trying to read what it said. Laura closed it up, looking at Anne pointedly.

“I’ll have the club sandwich and a water.” Avery didn’t even look at the menu. She’d frequented this diner so many times that she knew the menu by heart. She and Jameson always loved this place.

Wow. Now the regrets began to settle. Avery’s eyes watered. It was going to be a long haul to get to the place where the couple had once been before they fell in love. Now Avery understood why Jameson bolted. This shouldn’t have been the place that they ended things when there were so many good memories here. She was such an ass. Why hadn’t she taken those thoughts into consideration?

Laura ordered, and when Anne was safely out of earshot, she turned back to Avery. “Holy shit!” She tried not to shriek, and handed the letter back to her. “Avery, this is big. What are you going to do?”

Avery filled her in on her mother’s attitude last night when she’d handed her the letter. “She’s been so fearful, and I never noticed it this whole time. This was her worst fear. I’m curious, of course, but I don’t want to hurt Mom and Dad.” She stuck the letter safely back in her purse.

Avery caught Laura rolling her eyes. “I’m going to be frank with you honey, because you’re my best friend. I know you are grateful for everything they’ve done for you, and how much you love them, but you have a right to know. And I bet, despite their fear, that your parents would wholeheartedly support you if you chose to look further into this and get to know your biological father. Girl, in order to get further in life, you need to stop being so meek, and start speaking up. I love you, but that’s the honest truth.”

Avery’s mouth gaped open. Well, that was a shot and a half of the truth, and then some. That’s why she loved Laura so much. She had a way of helping to put things into perspective. Laura had a point. Or more. It wasn’t anything Avery didn’t already know, it was just things she didn’t want to admit out loud.

“And by that look of defeat, you know I’m right.” Laura grinned.

Anne came back, passing their drinks to them. “Anything else I can do for you?”

Nosy girl. She tried too hard.

“Nope. Just waiting on our meals now,” Laura said bluntly. Avery stifled a laugh.

“Hmph. Okay.” Anne stomped off.

“That girl needs to get a life and stop meddling in everyone else’s,” Laura muttered, darting a glance to Anne’s retreating back.

“I know,” Avery admitted.

“So, when do I get to hear that song for my wedding reception? I’m anxious!” Laura grinned, flashing her exquisite ring again. For the past few months, Laura couldn’t believe she was finally engaged, after so many heartaches. She’d asked Avery to sing at the wedding. Avery couldn’t wait. It was just a few months away.

“What, you’re afraid you won’t like it? What if it’s a surprise?” Avery teased, watching Laura squirm. She knew very well Laura hated surprises.

“Don’t do that to me, Avery Callimer! Not funny!” Oh but it was. Laura tried hard not to laugh, but ended up in a fit of giggles anyway. “It’s a good thing I trust you, because you’re such a brat.”

“Why don’t you come by Saturday during band practice, and we’ll play your song for you. Bring Ray if you want.”

Saturday. She had to see Jameson then. Time would only tell if they would be able to work together with no hard feelings.

*****

“I don’t understand why you have to do it like this,” Lucas complained to the voice on the other end of the phone. “This is messed up, and if she finds out who I am and why I’m here, shits going to hit the fan. Why did you have to drag me in the middle of more of your drama?” Alone in his room, Lucas sank into the chair next to a small table, fuming. He balled his fists, wishing he wasn’t in this town at this very moment. He could be back in California, but no. Because he owed a favor to someone, here he was. Damn it to hell! How did he end up in these situations?

Oh yeah. Because he had a shitty past that someone had helped him overcome, and now it was being held over his head.

Which is exactly what the person on the other end of the line reminded him of.

“You owe me!” the caller screeched. “Don’t back out on me now, Lucas! I’m paying you
double
for this job!”

Yeah, like he needed that reminder. The money would come in handy. Lucas could find himself a new arrangement after this. He was done. How much more bullying could he take? If anyone ever found out about these arrangements ... well, let’s just say it wouldn’t bode well. He had to find a way for a better life. There were so many things he wanted to do, and ended up never getting around to it because he was stuck on a ball and chain. There had to be a good way to break free without causing anyone pain.

As much of a jerk as he knew he could be, Lucas didn’t want to see anyone hurt anymore. He was past those days where he didn’t give a shit.

“I’m always cleaning up your messes, and frankly, it sucks, okay?” Lucas snapped, hanging up on the caller. He tossed his phone on the bed, wanting it as far away from him as possible at the moment.

Lucas pulled the 5x7 photo from the top of the file and stared at it. Such a pretty, innocent face. If only she didn’t have to be dragged through a ton of shit. And he was the one that had to make sure it didn’t get out of control. Wrong person to leave that kind of thing to. Lucas always found himself in the midst of trouble.

Sometimes, it seemed like it was the only thing he was good at. Trouble.

Chapter Four

“So dear, how was your day?” Avery’s mother asked her when she returned to the inn at three. After a few hours with Laura, Avery had felt a little bit better. The nerves slivered down her spine when her mother seemed to be waiting for some kind of sign to talk about the letter. It was written all over her face. Avery knew that look well. Every time Mom wanted to know something, she’d start off with small talk, and her lips would form into a thin line. Occasionally her tongue would dart out and wet her lips. A habit Avery picked up herself. The nervous way she skittered around Avery. She wanted to know, but didn’t want to pursue the issue. Avery grimaced.

“Not bad, I guess.”
Breaking up with a lifelong friend, debating what to do with information. Sure, that made for a great day, didn’t it?

“Did you have a good lunch date?” Mom peered at Avery through her bifocals. Her denim blue eyes had a worried look to them.

Might as well start talking about it, instead of keeping it a secret. It wouldn’t be long until half the town found out anyway. “Not really.” Avery sighed, and flopped into a chair beside her mother. “Mom, Jameson and I broke up.”

Her mother’s eyes widened and she gasped. “What? Why? Honey, I had no idea you were having problems. Are you all right? Is he all right?” She reached for Avery’s hand.

Avery blew out a breath. This was going to be a long story. “It started a few months ago. I just tried to stay and make things work, even though my feelings changed. I’m afraid we might have ruined a long time friendship, and I don’t know what he’s going to do about the band. I’ve made a mess of things by not speaking up sooner.” She leaned her head on her mother’s shoulder, needing her more than ever.

“Oh, Avery. I’m sorry. I bet you and Jameson will work it out, even if you don’t stay together as a couple. You’ve had such a tightly bound friendship for so long.”

If only Avery had the same outlook that her mother did.

“What was it you couldn’t handle?”

“He cheated, Mama. Just once. He wasn’t thinking right. It was the night that his father passed away. He went back to help clear his parents’ house, set his affairs in order, and in what he calls a moment of weakness, let himself go with an old flame. Someone he connected with one summer. I chalked it up to him not thinking, but my feelings changed after that. I know he’s angry at himself, and the night he told me, he cried. I went weak and told him we’d be all right. But that wasn’t true. We weren’t and I’d been putting it off forever. I know it’s not fair to judge him, because he grieved so much, but I also can’t make excuses any longer. What I didn’t feel only grew stronger.” Avery’s tears fell, sliding down her cheeks.

“Oh Avery. No wonder you’ve been in turmoil about this.” Mom ran her hand through Avery’s hair, something she used to do when Avery was younger to soothe the pain, the nightmares, or when she was sick.

“Am I wrong?” Avery asked, reaching for a tissue on a nearby table and dabbing her eyes.

“You can’t make your feelings about right or wrong. Sometimes, they are what they are. All you can do is sort through them and move on. It is what it is.”

“I wish that helped, but I still feel so torn. Jameson is a good guy, he really is. He made a mistake, and I can’t seem to get past it.” Avery dried her eyes, balling up the tissue and holding it on her lap. If a guest walked in right now, Avery didn’t want to be a complete mess.

“I know that. You know that. So maybe you need to make sure he knows that. Despite what he did, that you care, and that you’re his friend. In time, he’ll forgive himself and you’ll move past it. Both of you will either find a new love, or maybe you’ll rekindle your romance. Just take it a day at a time.”

“I love you, Mom. Thanks for your words of wisdom. I can always count on you.” Avery hugged her. Her mother broke out in a smile, eyes lighting up.

“I love you too, sweetheart. So very much.” The fear in her eyes returned.

“Is there anything I can do to help this evening? We don’t have a performance tonight, so I can still make good on my offer.”

“Nope. I don’t think you’re help is needed at the inn tonight. We’ve got a full staff. And I would love to go out with you, but I’m not feeling too well, so maybe we’ll reschedule it. Would that be all right with you?”

Alarmed, Avery searched her mother’s face. “Are you okay? And of course it’s all right. Your well being is more important.”

She wasn’t sick or anything, was she?

“I’m just a little tired is all. Nothing more. I just need to make sure I get the rest I need. Don’t worry so much.” Avery’s mom patted her hand, smiling. “It’s a little chilly. I’m going to turn that thermostat up a little bit, not have it so blasted cold in here. Why don’t you go enjoy a night off? You’ve earned it.”

“Okay,” Avery nodded. Mom walked off through the double doors and down the hall, leaving Avery alone to her thoughts. She wasn’t alone long when she noticed Lucas striding through the corridor. He appeared just as startled to see her there as she was by his entrance.

“Fancy meeting you here once again,” Lucas teased, his lips curving into a sexy, sultry smile. There should be a law about a man smiling like that, looking so delectable. Avery frowned. Why did these thoughts take over her mind every time she was in his presence?

“You don’t look very pleased to see me. Why the frown?”

Oops. Lucas thought she was frowning because of him? Well, she kind of was, but not in the way he thought.

“I’m sorry. I don’t mean it like that.” Avery laughed. Every time this man was near, she had no idea how to react. Why was that? “I don’t mean to be rude, especially to a guest. I just have a lot on my mind.”

“Maybe I just keep catching you at a bad time,” Lucas said, moving swiftly to sit in the seat next to her. Avery’s heart thundered in her chest. Why did he need to sit down, let alone so close to her? She could now see him up close, every detail of his face more visible for her daydreams. He was the stuff erotic dreams were made of. Sexy, mysterious, intense. What was his story? He never did mention why he was staying here, in the inn, or the town, for that matter. Not that it was any of her business, but the curiosity still held on, regardless. He seemed to be everywhere. He was at the bar last night after her performance. He stayed at her parents’ inn...

Well, it is a small town, after all. Of course he’s going to be everywhere. There isn’t much else to see or do.

“Old Lucas here is a good listener, if you want to talk,” he said with a wink. Oh, how sweetly those lips moved. Okay, that was enough. Avery blinked and focused on the words he said, not on the lips the words came from. What had gotten into her?

“And why is Lucas referring to himself in the third person?” Avery inquired, keeping her eyes focused on his face as a whole.

“That’s the way I roll.” He waggled his eyebrows.

Avery giggled. “You’re a bit of a strange man.”

Lucas pretended to be offended. “Strange? Moi?” He pointed at himself while shooting her a huge, goofy grin. “So, what’s to do in small town Texas?”

“Other than flirt with the innkeeper’s daughter?” Avery shot back. But she smiled. “Not much. There’s a great music scene, but a lot of central and east Texas is full of that.”

BOOK: Baby Stetson (Love and Music in Texas #1)
2.26Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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