Authors: Avery James
“Callie! What I'm trying to say is be careful around him. He's handsome, charismatic and smart, and that combination has broken many hearts."
"If he's such a liability that you are sending me to babysit him, do you really think I'm going to fall in love? It takes a lot more than a handsome smile and a body to win me over.”
"I know, I know. Maybe I'm just talking from my own experience with a charming billionaire. I didn't mean to fall in love with him, and now look at me," she said, patting her baby bump. "I'm ruined!" Amy added with a laugh.
Callie had completely forgotten to consider how her sister’s pregnancy would affect all of this. God, she couldn’t say no to her now. She wondered if her sister had been playing the baby card to change the conversation away from Logan. After all, Amy had almost fallen for him once herself. Callie decided it was best to leave those suspicions for later. ”You’re the happiest you've ever been. Look at you. You have the most thoughtful husband you could have ever hoped for, and you're starting a family together. I don't know why that's supposed to make me nervous."
"I know, I know," Amy said. "I just don't want you to get hurt. Ethan was different. Now give me a hug before you go pack. Your flight leaves this afternoon."
"Who is that?" Charlotte asked as she stepped into Callie's bedroom. "Is that your latest sexy blackmailer? Or are you posting aspirational photos on the wall before you leave for vacation?"
Callie laughed. "No, this one made his money the old fashioned way."
"And what's that?"
"He inherited it. Or rather, he will inherit it, though his trust fund has a healthy number of zeros in it. He's the son of a client. And it's my job to babysit him for two weeks until his father convinces Congress an environmental law. What am I going to do to keep him under wraps for that long?"
"I can think of a few things I'd like to do with him, under wraps or over them. I'd only need one night, maybe two. You could have him for the rest.” Charlotte pulled a photo off the wall and took a closer look, studying the hard lines of Logan’s physique. “I don’t know, I might need a few more days than that.”
"Maybe I should just send you up there to seduce him,” Callie said. She headed over to her closet and rooted through her clothes. She usually liked to plan her trips at least several weeks in advance. An hour and a half simply wasn't enough time to properly pack. She tossed a hair dryer to Charlotte and nodded toward the suitcase. “You could keep him in his bedroom for a few weeks."
"This is sounding more and more like my kind of fun," Charlotte said. “Does he read Jane Austen? If so, we’re a match made in Heaven.”
“I don’t think he’s the reading type.”
“On second though, with abs like that, who needs to read?” Charlotte tossed the hair dryer into the suitcase as she continued to stare at Logan’s photo. “Wait!I know him from somewhere. Is he famous?"
"More like infamous," Callie said with a laugh. "He has a tendency to get caught in compromising positions with famous women."
"That's how I know him!" Charlotte shouted. "He was the one who broke up that singer's engagement, Veronica what's her name. Yeah, it was in the news last spring!"
"Well, not for long," Callie said. “Thankfully, it was a busy news week, and we managed to spin the story into nothing. Although, the story is threatening to pop back up."
"I remember reading about him. He's trouble. Besides, once he takes one look at you, he's going to forget about everything else in his life," Charlotte said. She walked over to Callie's computer and opened a new browser window. "Do you think there are any sexy pictures of him online? Come on, what’s his name?”
“Logan Harris,” Callie said.
She watched Charlotte type in Logan's name. A series of photos popped up. "He's shirtless in a charity calendar? Oh, God, Callie, he looks even better with his shirt off.”
Oh I know,
Callie wanted to say. She looked down at the manila folder that held the photos she had confiscated earlier.
If Charlotte could see what I have seen.
"Are you sure you can't let yourself get in just a little bit of trouble with him? Who do you have to impress?"
Callie looked down at her neatly stacked pile of shirts and dresses and then back up at the photo of Logan pinned to the wall. "The problem with a guy like Logan is that there's no such thing as a little bit of trouble. It's all or nothing. Having said that, I might have a few things I could bring." If she was going to spend a few weeks keeping Logan Harris out of trouble, she might as well look good doing it. Somewhere in the back of her mind, she wondered what would happen if Logan took interest in her. Would he be any different than guys in DC or would it be more of the same. It had been months since she had been on a date with a guy she had liked. She just never had time for it. There was always some crisis or case that demanded her immediate attention.
Speaking of attention, if she needed to pique Logan’s interest, she might need a little help from her wardrobe. It wasn’t that she lacked confidence in herself. Just sometimes the right dress made all the difference. Callie dove into her closet and grabbed two dresses, tossing them out onto the bed.
“Woah,” Charlotte said. She slipped her fingers under the straps of the little black dress and held it up. “It looks like you’re operating on the theory that there’s no such thing as a little bit of sexy. Look at this thing. He won’t stand a chance.”
Callie looked down at her watch. If she wanted any prayer of catching her flight, she’d have to leave within the next minute. She tossed the dresses into the suitcase and zipped it up. “Maybe it’s time I caused a little trouble for a change.”
Although flying had long since ceased to be a novelty for Callie, she was thrilled to step across the threshold onto the plane. Even the dry, cold air felt refreshing against her face. Amy had purchased her a business class ticket, and as she sank into the leather seat, Callie couldn't wait to put as much distance between herself and Washington as possible. As the plane started to fill, the seat next to Callie stayed empty. She looked across the aisle at the large man who spilled over his seat into the next. His head was titled back, and he was already snoring. Whoever had to sit with him was going to have quite the uncomfortable ride. Maybe they'd both luck out and the seats would remain empty.
Then Callie watched an old couple approach the row. The husband's shirt and shorts were perfectly ironed. Callie noticed that his legs were pale where his shorts cut off. An office worker, she thought. She looked at the wife, who had long silver hair, and eyes so blue they were almost purple. The husband had his free hand on her shoulder as they walked down the aisle. They looked like one of those couples that you read about in the paper, when one dies and the other dies of heartbreak the next day. They had most likely been married for longer than Callie had been alive.
As the wife turned to say something to her husband, Callie caught a glimpse of their luggage. It was brand new. Either this was an important occasion or it was their first vacation in a long time. The woman turned to her and asked, "Is this row four or five, dear?"
"Four," Callie said. "These are seats A and B."
"Ah, then this is it," the woman replied. "Henry, which seat am I in?"
Callie watched Henry fumble with the tickets as he looked for the seat number. "They have you in C, Honey." He looked over at the snoring man and quickly added, "But I think you should sit next to this young woman instead."
As the woman looked at her, Callie did some quick math in her head. The flight couldn't be longer than an hour and a half. Most of it would be take off and landing. Surely the two of them could sit across the aisle from each other for that long, but Callie knew she couldn't let them do that. Something deep inside compelled her to stand up. "I'm sorry," she said. "I think I'm in the wrong seat. May I see your tickets?" After Henry handed her the ticket, she read aloud, "Evelyn Rhodes, row four seat A." She winked at them and slid across the aisle and sat down next to the snoring man.
After Henry and Evelyn sat down, Evelyn held Henry's hand and leaned against his shoulder. They looked like they were built to fit together like that. Henry reached across the aisle and tapped Callie on the shoulder. "Thank you," he said, his voice barely rising above a whisper.
"No, thank you," Callie said. "Seeing the two of you made my day."
"Well, we've been waiting for this day for over thirty five years," Henry said, "so thank you for making it better."
"Is today your anniversary?"
Henry nodded. "Thirty five years ago we eloped at city hall, and for thirty five years, I've promised Eve that I'd give her the honeymoon she deserved. We had kids, and a mortgage, and, well, you know how things go. We took so many trips with each other and with our kids over the years, but none of them were that honeymoon I promised her. When I decided to retire this spring, I knew the time was right. Thirty five years later, and we're going on our honeymoon."
"Sometimes I can't believe I made him propose three times before I finally said yes."
Callie's eyes widened. "Really?" Maybe this couple was more interesting than she had guessed.
"Yeah, I was wild about him, but I wanted to know that he felt the same way about me. It took some time, but he eventually got it right. And now look at us, we're on a plane to Providence. Well, it’s not Florence, but it will do.”
"Well, I hope one day to have what you two have."
"You will. You'll meet a wonderful man and fall in love. For a while you'll wonder what all these strange emotions are. He'll drive you nuts, and then he'll drive you wild, but then one day it will click. And when it does, you'll wonder how you ever existed without him."
"I'll let you know when I find him," Callie said.
"Who knows, maybe you already have," Evelyn said, motioning toward the large man snoring next to Callie. The plane's engines kicked to life as it started to taxi onto the runway. Within a few minutes the plane lifted into the sky, and the large man shifted his weight, and leaned against Callie.
No good deed goes unpunished
, she thought. She looked back at the old couple as they held hands and talked quietly. It was like they were in their own little world, like everyone else on the plane was just background noise. She envied that.
She was glad to have moved over for them, even if it meant a dirty look from the stewardess later on. It seemed like only the Henrys and the Evelyns of the world found love, people who could stay in one place and devote their lives to each other. Callie had been on four flights in the past week and a half, and she had worked about a hundred hours in that time. How would she ever find the time to meet someone good and decent and worth the sacrifices? Amy had lucked into it, but Callie had a feeling that she’d have a much harder time finding someone she could share her life with. Why was she even thinking about this? She didn’t even really know what she wanted in a man. As soon as this trip was over, she’d start looking for someone, but for the moment, she needed to focus on her job. She looked down at her watch and started to count down the minutes until arrival.
Callie parked her car and stepped out onto the cobblestone street. Despite a breeze, heat radiated up from the stones under the summer sun. Still, it was cooler than DC, and the uneven, narrow streets and clapboard houses overflowed with New England charm. Here and there a family or old couple meandered down the sidewalk. Callie couldn't see the harbor yet, but she could smell the fresh brine in the air. She stood still for a moment and strained to hear the dull murmur of the ocean in the distance. She wanted to see it. She left the car behind and started walking, winding her way down the crooked streets, following that sound.
Newport felt old in a way that DC did not. It felt like it had been preserved in time. As she walked, she admired the single paned windows with their wavy glass, and soon, she forgot all about the noise, and her desire to see the ocean, and she simply wandered, admiring the houses and the warm summer air, until finally, she realized that she had no idea where she was, and that for the first time in weeks, she wasn’t thinking about work. Maybe this place would be good for her after all. All she had to do was keep Logan Harris in line. She had dealt with worse than him before. Of course, first she’d have to find her way back to the car. She had succeeded in losing herself for a while. Now, how hard would it be to find her way back?
Logan hadn't meant to be in his father's house, not that late in the afternoon anyway. He was already three hours behind schedule. Traffic back from his morning meeting in Boston had been a nightmare, and he knew he wouldn't have time to head back out to his yacht to shower. That was fine anyway; the water pressure in the century old house was better than anything he could get on the boat. Logan just didn't particularly care for the way the bathroom looked out over the yard. The last thing he needed was some paparazzo sneaking over a fence and snapping a picture of him toweling off.