Authors: Avery James
Callie tried to acclimate herself back to work and the rhythms of life in DC, but she couldn’t get comfortable. She felt like she had spent her entire adult life not knowing that a piece of herself was missing, and now that she had met and lost Logan, she was painfully aware of its absence. Everything felt different, slightly out of place, like someone had broken into her apartment in the night and moved all the furniture a few inches to the left. Of course, some things were out of place. It had been two weeks since she had gotten back, and still everything just felt off. As she stood in the break room of Haven Communications, she tried to figure out how a shiny silver espresso maker had appeared on the counter overnight. Callie stood there shaking her head in disbelief.
was the new addition to the office that Amy had been talking about? An espresso maker? This had to be a joke. Callie had told her one anecdote about her time in Newport, and Amy had responded with a taunt.
Great. Good to know we’ve reverted back to childish games
. Callie closed her eyes and took a moment to collect herself. The company had been short staffed before Amy went on leave, and now things were even worse. Callie needed an assistant, not some coffee maker that she couldn’t figure out how to use. Suddenly, she realized she wasn’t alone.
“How did you know?”
Callie whipped around. “I’m sorry?” she asked
Rich leaned against the wall and took another bite of donut. “The espresso machine. When you said you’d make it worth my while to dig up a little dirt on Veronica Jones, I didn’t know what to expect. This is really above and beyond.”
Callie shook her head. “As much as I’d love to take credit. This one wasn’t me. I was just going to add a new member to the team to take some of the work off of everyone’s plate.”
“Oh yeah, that reminds me,” Rich added, “your new assistant is waiting for you in the conference room.”
“Assistant?” Callie asked. “You hired someone?”
“Yeah, remember how you said you needed someone? Well, Amy and I vetted candidates and picked someone. Consider it a welcome home present.”
“I thought the espresso machine was the new addition.”
“I think it was a package deal,” Rich said.
Callie laughed. “Hopefully I’ll have more use for the assistant.” As she walked over to her office, she shouted back to Rich. “Otherwise I’ll have to get rid of them both.”
As she stepped into the office, she heard a familiar laugh. Before she could place it, her heart started racing, and she felt like her chest had tightened in around her lungs. Then, she heard his voice. “I was hoping you’d keep both of us around,” Logan said.
“Logan?” Callie stopped.
. Her entire body went numb. She searched for the words to describe her shock.
“What are you doing here?” she mumbled.
“Amy didn’t tell you?” He said. “I’m your new assistant.”
“No, really, what are you doing here? And why is your espresso machine in my break room?”
“The machine is a sign of goodwill.”
“How?” Callie asked, drawing out the word to show her confusion and frustration. She felt lightheaded and dizzy, like she was going to collapse right there in the conference room.
“Because as long as it’s here, you’ll need me to bring you your morning coffee.” Logan held out a paper coffee cup. “I think I remembered your order correctly. Caramel cappuccino, extra foam.”
“You broke my heart, and you think you can fix that all with a cup of coffee?” She asked. She took the cup and put it down on the table.
“Logan, I don’t know how you found out about this, but I’m not in the mood for games. I have to meet my new assistant, and you need to leave.”
“I understand,” Logan said. “I’m just here to collect on the bet I won.”
“Are you serious?” Callie said. “What do you want?”
“I want to bring you coffee, and answer your phone, and do whatever it takes to make you understand how much you mean to me.”
“What are you talking about? I have to meet with the new—” Callie paused for a moment and looked at Logan. “You didn’t.” She braced herself against the wall and felt like she couldn’t move. She shook her head in disbelief. “No,” she said, “absolutely not.”
“Yes,” he replied.
“Amy would never go for that,” Callie said.
Logan laughed. “I convinced her myself,” he said. “It seems that someone had already told her how good I am at this line of work, and, well, she seemed to think that maybe my presence would be good for morale. I think that’s what she said anyway. I might have asked my father for a reference, too. I know what you did with Veronica. You didn’t have to do that.”
“I wanted to do that,” Callie said. “I wanted to give you a chance to start over.”
“I know. And I don’t have to be here. I want to be here. I want to start over, and I want to start over with you.”
Callie didn’t know what to think. Her mind raced as she tried to keep up with everything Logan said. She had convinced herself that he was gone forever, that he wouldn’t step up and be the man she knew he could be. And now he was right there in front of her. Smiling and wearing a suit and looking better than ever. It felt too good to be true. When she first saw him standing in the office, she hadn’t known what to think. Now she was even less sure of what was going on.
“What about your businesses?” she asked.
“I’m the owner. I have business managers to run the day to day for me. Everything will be fine. Besides, I was hoping to get a better impression of DC before I start the process of opening my next one.”
“You’re opening a brewery in DC?”
“Or maybe just a restaurant, or a distillery, or anything, or maybe I won’t open a new business at all. Maybe I’ll hang around here and help you out. Really it all hinges on one thing.”
“And what’s that?” Callie asked. Of course there was a catch.
“You,” Logan said.
“This is crazy, Logan. You’re wearing a suit, and you’re in DC. You hate DC. You hate people who work in offices and worry about politics. You’d never be happy here.”
“Never say never.”
“I thought that was kind of your thing, Mr. never getting attached, never compromising, Mr. Independent.”
“Well, that was my thing. I’ve been thinking about a new thing.”
“And what’s that?”
“Marriage,” Logan said. He dropped down on one knee and took Callie’s hand. “I know this is early, and I know you’re going to think I’m crazy for doing this, but I don’t care. I love you, Callie. And since you left, I’ve been miserable. I was an idiot. I didn’t think I deserved you, and I’m still not sure I do, but I love you, and I need you to know that I’ll do whatever it takes to be with you. I shouldn’t have pushed you away just because everything wasn’t perfect. I shouldn’t have asked you to give up everything just because I didn’t want to change. I don’t want to lose you all over again. And I can’t think of any better way to show you just how much you mean to me.” Logan pulled a ring out of his pocket and held it up. “Will you marry me?”
Callie held her hands over her face. “Oh God,” she said. “Shit.” She felt herself starting to blush, the warmth filling her cheeks. Logan grinned as she tried to process everything. “I mean yes,” she said. “Yes.”
Logan stood up and slid the ring onto her finger. “I love you more than I ever knew possible, and I need you to know that. I will love you for as long as I live. Plus, since you already ruined the necklace I gave you, I figured I’d give you something harder to break.”
Callie laughed, and held her hand over her mouth as she started to tear up. The confusion and stress that had been building up inside of her from the moment Logan had started the fight in Newport, all of the worrying and crying and tension, all of it washed away as she looked into his eyes. “I love you,” she said. “Now kiss me.”
Logan grinned as he leaned in to kiss her. His lips were as soft as ever, and Callie let herself float away in the warmth of his kiss, confident that he’d hold her tight and keep her right where she needed to be. And she felt that wonderful, dizzy, falling sensation all over again. She closed her eyes and pulled herself tighter against him. She felt complete. She was happy.
When Callie opened her eyes, she realized the entire office had gathered around the windows into the conference room. Even Vi was there, holding up a phone, probably recording the whole thing for Amy. Callie couldn’t believe that this was all happening. She wondered what they were all thinking out there in the hall, but then she held up her hand to show them the ring. They burst into applause. Callie closed her eyes and kissed Logan again, and they cheered even louder.
Beneath the claps and shouts of her coworkers, Callie could hear another sound, a familiar sound, one that had ruled her life for years before she met Logan: the phone was ringing. For at least the next few months, she was the head of Haven Communications, and she didn’t plan on ignoring potential business just because everyone else around her was happy, but to her surprise, Logan walked over to the table and picked up the phone.
“Haven Communications,” he said. His confidence made that name sound better than it had sounded in years. “Yes, we do specialize in scandal mitigation and public relations.” After another pause. “Yes, we are the best. Thank you. Please hold for one moment.” Logan placed the phone on hold and looked over to Callie. “So what do you say we try our first case together, boss?”
, Callie thought. “I could get used to the sound of that.”
Callie’s voice rang through the intercom. “Come on in! I can’t wait to show you the place.” Charlotte waited for the buzz and opened the gate. She had never known anyone rich enough to live behind this sort of security. She tried to take in her surroundings as she headed down the walkway toward the door. Ivy clung to the brick walls that separated the courtyard from the street. A bubbling fountain drowned out the sounds of traffic in the distance. This was a far cry from the cramped two bedroom walkup she and Callie had shared for the past five years. If the entryway was this nice, Charlotte could only imagine what the inside of the house was like.
“Charlotte!” Callie called, leaning out the door, “Over here!” Callie radiated happiness and life as she motioned to her. “Vi and Amy are inside waiting, and I haven’t been able to get them to spill a word of what the plan is for tonight.” Callie never was good at waiting for surprises. She was always the one planning them instead. “Come on, just one hint, please?” Callie said.
“Not a word!” Logan called from somewhere inside the house. His voice echoed through the doorway.
“You heard the man,” Charlotte laughed. She ran up to the door to give her friend a hug. Callie was wearing a dress and green rain boots. Seeing her friend’s outfit, Charlotte couldn’t help but think back to the first year she lived with Callie. Through her job at a publisher, she had gotten Callie an advanced copy of a novel by one of her favorite writers. She had teased Callie about the gift for a week leading up to her birthday, and then, on the morning before, she caught Callie carefully unwrapping it in the dark. She had an identical piece of wrapping paper on hand to rewrap the book. By chance, Charlotte had caught her in the act, but instead of letting on, she swapped the book out for a one on buffalo migration patterns. The look on Callie’s face when she opened the present on her birthday was priceless. They had been giving each other gag gifts ever since.
It was the reason why Charlotte had gone through the effort of planning out every detail of the bachelorette party in meticulous detail. She made a fake itinerary and hid it somewhere easy for Callie to find. It included a ridiculous list of necessary items including foul weather gear, passports, and at least one phone book. The boots were confirmation that Callie had looked.
Callie always had such grand expectations for things, and Charlotte wanted to surpass them. After all, Callie had made her Maid of Honor. Of course, she had also named Amy as Matron of honor, so their duties were shared. As Charlotte stepped through the front door into the marble entryway of Callie’s palatial home, she wondered what she could possibly do to upstage Callie’s happiness. She wanted to make this a party to remember. Everything had gone perfectly for Callie and Logan over the past year. Every time Charlotte saw them, she knew she was in the presence of true and complete love. Affectionate but not annoying, they were casual and lovely and everything a couple should be. Logan had won over everyone in Callie’s family through his devotion to her. Even Ethan, his former rival, agreed that Logan and Callie were perfect for each other. So it was going to be hard to top any of that. What kind of party do you throw for the woman who has everything? Charlotte had given it her best shot.
Charlotte looked down the length of the house, past the gleaming, open kitchen and the dining room. Half of the furniture was still in boxes or partially unpacked as Callie decided where she wanted everything. This is a different world, Charlotte thought. She was so happy for Callie, but she couldn’t help feeling out of place.
Logan bounded down the stairs wearing a tuxedo, his dirty blonde hair still tousled as always.
He tapped Callie on the shoulder and gave her a kiss. He held for for a moment, letting the kiss linger. “Have fun tonight,” he said.
“Keep your phone on you, and don’t get into too much trouble,” Callie said. “Remember, we have to get married in two weeks.”
Logan laughed and brushed a strand of hair back from Callie’s face. He always looked at her that way, like she was the only woman in the world, and Callie always looked back like he was the only man. In a way, they were. They were perfect for each other like nobody else could be. Concurrent bachelor and bachelorette parties had been Logan’s idea, a way of minimizing their time apart. For them, even a few hours apart seemed like torture. Charlotte marveled at how Callie had managed to find that sort of love while balancing an insane work schedule and family obligations.