Authors: Avery James
“I didn’t say much,” he said. “I just wrote a very large check.” Logan motioned towards the path back off the grounds, looking for any hint of the security guards who had so kindly escorted them out of the house. “Now, let’s go before I have to write another.”
Logan swirled the wine in his glass as looked out toward the ocean. Halfway through dinner, he already felt like the evening was slipping away from him. He hadn’t planned on Jack turning everything around so quickly. There were so many things he had wanted to tell Callie before the bill passed. He had wanted to tell her how much she meant to him, but mostly he had wanted to ask her again to stay, but the bill had passed and the opportunity was gone. “So what happens now?” he asked. “Your job is done. Do you simply disappear in the night?”
“Don’t say it like that. I’m still trying to process everything. It all just happened so quickly. I mean, there’s still the cleanup work to do with the whole sex tape thing, and then there are my responsibilities back in DC. I just want to forget about all of it for a while.”
Logan placed his glass down and leaned in over the table. “Have you thought about staying?” he asked.
Callie sighed. “I’m sure I can stick around for a few days,” she said.
She was being pulled in a dozen directions all at once. Logan could see it. He just hoped that his pull would eventually win out. “That’s not what I meant,” he said. “I mean for good. Like I said before. It doesn’t have to be Newport. We could move anywhere and start a life together, just you and me.”
“I know,” Callie said.
“I just, I don’t know what to do. When things started, everything was so much easier. This was fun and… easy, and it didn’t mean much, and now everything has changed.”
“Now it’s miserable and hard?” Logan said. He grinned at her. “I know what you mean. Things got serious. You should stay. It doesn’t have to be forever, just long enough for us to figure out what this all means.”
“You know I would if I could,” she said.
“Why can’t you?” he asked.
“You don’t understand what it’s like to work for my sister,” Callie said. “I just can’t take time off for myself. No one does.”
Why was she so afraid of her sister? Logan wondered. It just didn’t make any sense to him. “The way you explained things to me, it sounded like you were a partner in the business.”
“I am, but she founded the company. It’s her baby.”
“She’s about to have an actual baby, you know the kind that poops and cries and needs its bottle constantly,” Logan said.
“Sounds a lot like some of our clients,” Callie said. “I get your point, but that’s why I have to go back. I have to run the company.”
“Will it burn to the ground if you’re not back immediately? I mean that. Will literal flames consume the building and burn it to the ground?”
“No, of course not,” she replied.
“Then stay for a little while, or do you enjoy following every single order your sister gives?”
“Of course I don’t,” Callie said.
“So stand up for yourself. Do what you want to do. Stand up for yourself. You are brilliant and quick-witted and tough, and yet you bend over backwards to accommodate her every dictum.”
“Logan. I’d do almost anything for you,” Callie said.
“But not that,” he said. He shook his head. “Don’t do this for me. Stand up to her for yourself. You go toe to toe with powerful men and women every day.Why not her?”
“I wish I could,” she said, “but I just can’t. Look, can we talk about something else?”
Logan could see the frustration in her eyes, like she wanted to tell him something more. He wasn’t going to sit around and spend the rest of his life waiting for her to decide whether or not she wanted to be with him. “I would do anything for you,” Logan said, “absolutely anything.” He paused for a moment and searched for the right words to explain the ache he felt deep in his chest. It was like he already missed her even though she was right there with him. He felt like he was watching a storm roll in off the bay and that there was nothing he could do to stop it.
“I don’t think I’ve ever felt this way before,” he said quietly. The hesitation in his voice spoke louder than his words.
“You say that like it’s a bad thing,” Callie gently teased. Logan could tell how eager she was to change the topic of conversation. It just bothered him that she was willing to do so much for other people but not herself.
“It’s just new territory for me, that’s all,” he said. He needed to tell her about the bill and the deal he had made with Veronica. Callie wasn’t going to be happy with him, but she had to know. He couldn’t let things go any further without telling her everything. “There’s something I need to tell
“No!” Callie said, cutting him off. She jumped up in her seat, braced herself against the table like she was getting ready to jump across it and stared at him. Logan watched her. Her sudden outburst surprised him enough that he spilled half his glass of wine onto the ground. Callie continued, “I mean, I think I know what you’re going to say, and I feel the same way. I just don’t feel like the timing is right with everything that happened today. I mean, we nearly got arrested, and now you’re trying to get me to stay, and I just don’t want to do it like this.”
Adrenaline rushed through Logan’s body. His heart leapt, and a hundred thoughts flashed through his head as he tried to figure out what to do next. She loved him. She had all but said it. His grabbed the arm of his chair and tried to take a deep, slow breath. He wondered how he looked to her. Scared? Nervous? Surprised? He didn’t know. He felt completely off balance. “You’re right,” he said, “some other time.” He looked off at the water and at her beautiful face. She deserved something truly special. She deserved so much more than a simple confession of love. He needed to give her a day to remember. “I have a few things I need to take care of. I hope you don’t mind if I call it a night.”
“Is this because of what I said?” Callie asked. “I didn’t mean to upset you.”
“No, I just want to make sure we’re both fresh for tomorrow.
I have a few things I need to take care of, and, well, if I stick around here with you, I won’t be able to get a wink of sleep.”
“That doesn’t sound so bad,” Callie said.
“Which is exactly why I have to go. Like I said, I still have a few finishing touches to put together.”
More like I have an entire day to plan
, Logan thought. He would need to call in every favor he could think of to make this work. Even then, he wasn’t sure if it would be enough.
Callie sat at the table and watched Logan head off across the water in his boat. What the hell just happened? Only a few minutes earlier, Logan had been asking her to stay with him. He had been asking her to start a life together, and now he had just up and left in the middle of dinner? It was time for her to do something about this. She pulled her phone out of her purse and dialed. It was time to set a few things straight.
“Hello?” Amy said.
Normally, Callie would have come up with a plan for talking to Amy. She would have mocked up a short script, outlined talking points and practiced the whole thing at least once through with Charlotte. Instead, she decided to wing it. “How are you, sis?”
“Very pregnant, and excited that you’re finally coming home. I don’t know what you said to Jack Coburn, by the way, but great work.”
“I don’t have any idea what you’re talking about,” Callie said.
Amy laughed. “Sure. I’m all for plausible deniability, but how did you do it? I knew you wanted to get back to DC, but I didn’t know you wanted it badly enough to go after a family of political heavyweights like the Coburns.”
“I didn’t do anything, Amy. And I don’t want to go back to DC,” Callie said. She listened to the silence on the other end of the line.
“And why don’t you want to come back?” Amy asked.
“I just need some time, that’s all,” Callie replied. She tried to remember what Logan had said about standing up for herself. This had all seemed like a much better idea before she had called. Now she felt her confidence crumbling all over again.
, she thought.
I’m not going to cave on this, no matter what it takes. I’m going to stand up for myself.
“This is about Logan,” Amy said. It wasn’t a question. It was an accusation.
“This isn’t just about Logan,” Callie said. “ I just need to think a few things through.”
Here comes the barrage
“What did I tell you about getting involved with
?” Amy said. Her voice rose sharply and hung on that final word, emphasizing her disdain for Logan. “It was the only instruction I gave you. I told you not to do this, and now you think that you’re in love with him? Is that it? Could you really be that naive?”
“You’re not my mother, Amy,” Callie said, “and, who are you to lecture me about my love life? If I remember your husband didn’t exactly have a sparkling reputation before you married him.”
“That was different,” Amy said. “And I might not be your mother, but I am your boss and your older sister, and it’s my job to look out for you.”
“Well, I don’t need you to tell me how to live,” Callie said.
“I need you back here,” Amy said. “He’s a distraction, and we need you back in DC.”
“I need more time. Why can’t you just take a minute to listen to what I’m trying to tell you.”
“This is the real world, Callie. You don’t have more time.” As an aside, she said, “God, this is exactly what happens when I’m not there.”
“Excuse me?” Callie said. “Are you calling my competence into question too? I can’t believe you. You can’t let me have a chance at being happy. Are you afraid I won’t want to work every night and weekend if I have a relationship? Is that it?”
“You know what I meant. I’m not in the mood, Callie.”
“Not in the mood? When you decided to run off and marry Ethan with 12 hours notice, did I second guess you? Did I tell you what to do? No, I supported you, and I kept my mouth shut. Why can’t you do the same for me for once?”
“Callie, I’m still your boss, and I need you back here in DC. You have a job to do.”
“You were the one who asked me to come work for you. You were the one who sent me to Newport. I told you I didn’t want to, and you sent me anyway. I can’t believe we’re even having this conversation. I’m asking for a few days to figure things out.”
“And I’m trying to save you a lot of time and heartache. You read the file on Logan. You know he’s handsome and charming and that he has the attention span of a mayfly. I don’t want you getting hurt. You’re so shortsighted sometimes.”
“Like I said, if I’m going to get hurt, I’m going to get hurt. I’m not going to run away from him just because you had a bad experience. I just need some time. I told you this before you sent me here. I need time, even a week, Amy.”
“Do you really think this is all about you?” Amy snapped back.
“Sure, Logan is fun, but he’s also reckless and impulsive. You see what happens with men like him every day. He’s just like the rest of our clients. You and I both know where this ends.”
“You don’t know anything about him. Whether he’s good for me or not, this is my choice.”
“This isn’t just your choice, Callie. You’re being selfish and childish and short-sighted. People rely on you, and you can’t just pick up and run off with Logan because he makes you feel all tingly.”
“All tingly? So when you decide that you love Ethan, that’s ok, but now that I want to figure things out with Logan, it’s somehow stupid and wrong?”
“That was different. I’m not having this conversation with you right now. I’m due to give birth in three days, and I’m not letting my sister yell at me like a spoiled child.”
“Well, you have been trying to mother me for the past twenty years.”
“This conversation is over. I’ll have someone book you a ticket home. When you’re done with your tantrum, give me a call, and we’ll sort out the details.”
Somehow after all these years, Amy still had the special skill of making Callie feel like a child. She clenched her fist and gritted her teeth. She took a deep breath and tried to calm herself, but it was no use. “You’re not listening to me. You don’t even respect me enough to talk to me like an adult. I’m through. I’m not coming home. I’m sorry.”
“Callie I’m not saying this as your sister. I’m saying this as your boss.”
“I thought you had decided to make me a partner.”
“Well, I’ll make myself clear. Partners, like everyone else in the company, have responsibilities. If you’re not back in DC by Monday morning, you’re no longer a partner, and you’re no longer part of the company. If you aren’t going to step up when I need you, I don’t want you on my team.”
“Let me save you some trouble. I quit,” Callie said. Her hand trembled as she ended the call and turned off the phone. She reached for her glass of wine and took a long sip to calm her nerves. She wondered if she should find some way to get in touch with Logan. She ran her hand over her face and rubbed her temples. She looked out over the horizon for some sign of Logan’s boat, but she saw nothing but the last hint of the sun disappearing into the darkness.
Logan walked back and forth along the length of the walk-in closet, looking for just the right attire to wear for the second leg of his date with Callie. Brunch down on the dock had been a great success, and Logan had even managed to make Callie’s omelet exactly the way she had requested. He liked cooking for her. He liked providing. It made him feel good. It made him feel whole. Just seeing that look on her face when he brought her out to the table and set everything down for her had made his day. Of course, now it was time to make hers, if only he could find that damn shirt. He had a whole mansion at his disposal, and he barely used it for more than a glorified closet. Finally, he spotted the lightweight, summer suit at the back of the closet and pulled it out.
Callie better appreciate this
, he thought. He’d rather have been wearing a pair of jeans, but this day wasn’t about him.
If he was right, Callie would be ready in a few minutes, and they’d be all set to head off in time for the workers to come in and transform the house for that night.