Authors: Avery James
“Well, from the sounds of it, your girlfriend would be the one to take care of a situation like that,” Henry said.
“I’d like to keep her out of it,” Logan replied. “And it’s a bit difficult to explain our relationship.”
“And all I have to do is leave in that beautiful car?” Henry asked.
“Well, that and you have to bring it back at the end of the night. I’ll make sure you have the address.”
“You have a deal,” Henry said, handing over the key to his rental. “It’s the silver Chrysler over there past the next stone wall.”
Logan looked down to the other parking lot and nodded. “Looks, um, nice.”
“If you’re looking for inconspicuous, it’s the car for you,” Henry said. “I’ve driven cars like that for forty years, and no one’s ever noticed me.”
Logan laughed. “Except your wife, of course.”
“And she’s the only one who ever mattered,” Henry said. “Tell the girl how you feel. None of the other stuff matters. The cars, the clothes, my Eve and I never needed any of it and neither does your Callie.”
Logan looked back at his convertible. “Should I take the keys back, then?”
“I said we never needed any of it. Wanting is a different story.”
Logan laughed again. “Come on,” he said. “Let’s get back.”
Callie propped her chin up on the railing and gazed down at the water below. Flashes of light glinted over the dark water.
The sun sat low in the distance, partially hidden behind a few clouds. The pinks and reds of dusk were just beginning to branch up through the clouds. It was going to be a wonderful sunset, and she wanted to sit right there with Logan and soak it all in. “Honey,” she called to him, “come sit with me.” Logan was pacing back and forth across the deck. Callie had attributed his energy to nerves over the paparazzi and Veronica’s surprise arrival at the polo match, but now she was starting to wonder if there was something else on his mind. “You don’t want to miss this,” she added. As she waited for his reply, she wondered how many more sunsets like this they would have together.
Logan sat down next to her, leaning his head against hers. As much as he tried to indulge her, he clearly had something on his mind. Whatever it was, it was building up inside him. If his earlier gloom had been like a storm on the horizon, Callie wondered if this was the calm before the storm. He was holding back, biding his time. After a long silence, Logan said,
“We should really go get the car. If we drive out there together, one of us can drive it back. Is your rental car still at the house?”
Callie slid her arm around his waist, resting her palm against his side. She just wanted to enjoy this moment with him.
Couldn’t he understand that?
She straightened her posture and turned her complete attention to him. “Don’t you have a butler or a driver or someone who could do that kind of thing for you? I had to pick up my sister’s dry cleaning for the first year that I worked for her. There must be someone on your payroll who can help us out here. Or you could have just let Henry and Eve leave in their own car.”
Logan shook his head.“No,” he said. “I don’t really want to get into it. We can’t leave it overnight there. The whole place will have cleared out by now, and the paparazzi won’t be anywhere in sight.” Logan pulled out his phone to check the time, and he looked out toward the water. “Come on. It will be fun,” he said. “Let’s take a ride.”
“I was having fun here. I just want to relax,” Callie said.
“We will relax as soon as we have the car back,” Logan replied.
“What’s going on?” Callie asked. Something wasn’t adding up. He had been more than happy to leave the car with some random mechanic in New Hampshire, and he had been more than happy to lend it to Henry, and, suddenly, he couldn’t be without it?
Logan sighed in frustration. “Fine,” he said. “I won’t say anything else about it, but I have one more surprise for you tonight, and the first part of it is in the car. I put a lot of work into this.”
“Why didn’t you just say so?”
“I wanted it to be a surprise,” Logan said.
“Do I need to wear anything in particular for this surprise?” Callie asked.
“You don’t have to bring a stitch of clothing if you don’t want,” Logan said. He flashed her a devilish grin. It didn’t make complete sense to her, but Callie couldn’t deny the thrill she felt whenever he looked at her like that.
“Let’s go,” she said. The sky had darkened to a bright red above them, and the sunset seemed to hang there as they prepared to leave. Callie followed Logan back to his speedboat. Within a few minutes, they were heading back across the water toward his father’s mansion with the wind in their hair. Callie had tucked herself underneath Logan’s arm as he piloted the boat across the calm water. She leaned her head against his shoulder and let herself relax. “Isn’t it beautiful?” she asked. “I know things got a little out of hand at polo, but it was wonderful. I had fun.” She was excited for the surprise, but mostly, she just wanted to spend as much time with Logan as possible.
“I’m glad to hear that,” Logan said. “I swear, I had no idea she’d be there.”
Callie had already put Veronica out of her mind. As far as she cared, she could pretend Veronica Jones didn’t exist for at least one night.“Let’s not talk about her,” Callie said.
“That’s fine by me,” Logan said. There was still something different in his voice, some reservation in the way he phrased his words.
Callie wondered if she had done something to upset him. It couldn’t have been the run-in with Henry and Eve, could it? She racked her brain to figure out what she had done. “Logan, you’d tell me if something were wrong, wouldn’t you?” Callie asked.
“Yeah,” Logan said,”everything’s fine,” he said. There was still that hesitation in his voice.
Maybe this was the time to tell him that she had decided to stay, she thought, but she wanted him to be happy when she told him. She wanted everything to be perfect, and at that moment, with the sky darkening to a deep purple-red above them, with the water growing dark beneath, she felt like the only thing holding her back was Logan’s mood. She made a decision, she’d wait until the car and his surprise, and she’d tell him as soon as he was happy again.
After a while the color started to fade from the trees and the houses on the far off shore, and the lights in the houses and on the boats blinked on. Hank’s mansion came into view around the point. For a while, Callie didn’t recognize it. Every other time she had seen it, it had been virtually empty, but tonight, she could see crowds of people on the back veranda and lawn. She pulled on Logan’s shirt and nodded forward. “Something’s going on,” she said.
“Surprise,” Logan said flatly. “You were right about the car. I sent someone to pick it up as soon as we got back to the boat, but I had to figure out some way to get you back ashore. The other day, you told me how much you would have loved to have gone to a great ball at one of the Newport mansions. Well, I can’t bring you back in time, but I know a thing or two about throwing a party.”
By the time they reached the dock, the entire scene had come into focus. The house was lit up from the basement to the roof, and blazing shadows stretched out between the lights across the lawn. Through the windows Callie could see a sea of people, dancing and laughing and moving from room to room. The happy sounds of a summer party in full swing floated across the lawn. Callie looked over to Logan. “You did all of this for me?” she asked.
Logan nodded sheepishly. “You wanted Newport glamour. Here you are. I wanted to give you a day to remember,” he said. Logan pulled the boat up to the dock and tossed a rope up. Two men took the other side and pulled the boat into position. “I hope you enjoy it.” He stepped up off of the boat and held his hand out for Callie to follow him. “I have your dress waiting in the guest house.”
It was quiet inside the guesthouse. Save for a low hum and the occasional vibration, Callie could barely hear the sounds of excitement from the big house once she had stepped inside. Logan led her over to her bedroom and opened the door. A black ball gown lay across the bed. “You did this? How did you know my size?” Callie asked.
Logan nodded. “I called your aunt and asked. Did you know she gave me her number last year at your sister’s wedding? I never thought I’d need it. Now I have to go get dressed. My clothes are upstairs. I don’t want to ruin the big reveal. I’ll see you soon.” He leaned in and kissed her cheek. His lips tickled her skin and she let out a little laugh before meeting his kiss with one dizzying kiss of her own. That warmth and excitement stayed inside her as Logan went and got ready.
When Logan returned, he was wearing a tuxedo, and Callie had to stop fussing with her dress to admire him. The suit accentuated his shoulders and his thin waist. He looked like a movie star preparing to head down the red carpet. It too her a minute to realize that he had even shaved. He crossed the room and stepped behind Callie, reaching up to pull her zipper all the way up her back. He looked at her in the mirror as he helped her straighten the dress.“You look even more beautiful than I had imagined,” he said. He wrapped his arms around her and clasped a necklace around her neck, three pearls strung on a thin gold wire.
Callie ran her fingers over the necklace. “It’s beautiful,” she said.
Logan leaned in and pressed his lips against the back of her neck, sending a wonderful shiver up and down her spine. He ran his hand over her hip and spun her around to plant a kiss on her lips. His kiss was firm but tender, and he held her in his arms, looking into her eyes well after the kiss stopped. “It doesn’t even begin to compare to you.” He pulled back and offered his hand. “Come on,” he said, “your party is waiting.”
As they approached the house, Callie listened to the sounds of the band playing inside the house. The sound of brass, the trumpets and trombone, playing swing floated through the open windows over the dull roar of the crowd talking and dancing. With each step Callie took toward the house, she felt like she was stepping back in time. “How did you?” she asked as Logan led her up the steps to the veranda. “There must be two hundred people here, and where did you find a band?”
“I called in a few favors,” Logan said. “And I may or may not have closed the bar for the night and bussed everyone in while we were away at Polo.”
“Why would you do that?” Callie asked.
“For you,” Logan said. He was still quieter than normal, more reserved. Was this why he had been acting to strangely all day? “I wanted to give you a day worth remembering, the day you wanted from the beginning.” Logan stopped before the door and motioned forward. “Obviously, we had a few hiccups on the way, but we’re here now. Do you remember anything from your dance lesson?” he asked.
“I remember feeling wonderfully dizzy,” Callie said. The sensation had been partly caused by spinning around a ballroom with Logan, and partly caused by just being with him.
“Then you’ll feel right at home,” Logan said. As he led her inside, the crowd parted, leaving them a clear path to the ballroom floor. They walked through the hallway slowly, and Callie looked over the crowd, feeling a bit nervous about having so many people see her dance. Logan cleared his throat as they entered the ballroom, and the band shifted right into a waltz. “Try to keep up,” he said, swinging Callie around and leading her out to the middle of the floor.
At first, Callie kept her head down and tried to follow Logan’s feet, but she kept missing steps. “Look here,” Logan said, reaching up and raising her chin, “and just dance with me.” His blue eyes glinted in the dim light and Callie did as he said, following his lead. Soon, she forgot all about her footwork, and she danced back and forth across the room with him as other couples started to make their way onto the floor. With each step, each beat and breath, she felt the whole scene fade away from her, until she felt like only she and Logan were in the room. She watched the way he looked at her as they danced. It wasn’t so much looking at her as it was looking with her, and she felt like they were locked together, suspended in time as they danced.
“Logan, I need to tell you something,” she said.
“Not yet,” Logan said, spinning her around, “let’s savor this moment.”
“I love you,” she said.
Logan’s pupils dilated and his gaze hardened. He stopped dancing and held his hands on her hips. He looked like he was in pain. Callie could hear his strained breaths as she waited for him to say something, anything in response. She watched his lips, pictured the words forming in his mouth. She knew how he felt. She just needed to hear him say it.
“I’ll be right back,” he said. “Actually, meet me in the study. There’s something I need to tell you, and I don’t want to do it here. Just give me a minute.” Before Callie could say anything, Logan turned and walked off the dance floor. As she stood there, wondering what had just happened, the band started the next song, a swing tune. Even more people flooded onto the dance floor, crowding Logan out of sight.
Callie tried to follow behind him. She made it about five steps before stopping. She couldn’t believe what she saw: Veronica Jones leaning against the wall, grinning. Callie rushed over to her and nearly lunged at her. “What the hell did you do?” she shouted.
“I haven’t done anything,” she said, “yet.”
“I don’t know what you think you’re accomplishing by being here, but I promise you, if try to do anything to Logan, I will make it my mission in life to make you miserable.”
“Ooh, I’m shaking in my Louboutins,” Veronica said. She rolled her eyes and yawned.
“You’re lucky I have somewhere to be,” Callie said.
“Hopefully it’s far away from here,” Veronica replied.