Authors: Avery James
The morning's meeting had ironed out the final kinks with Logan's primary supplier for the restaurant. Now, he just needed to shower, throw on a suit and head to the brewery to take care of the last bit of publicity before he handed the reins over to the manager and started thinking about his next endeavor. With any luck, he'd be able to set course for a new destination by the next afternoon.
After jumping out of the shower, Logan quickly shaved. He looked at himself in the mirror as he wondered what he'd do next. He ran the water hot and took his time as he trimmed away the three-day-old stubble on his chin. After completing the process, he splashed water on his face.
How did I get here?
he wondered. He looked almost the same as he had when he was twenty-five. His short blond hair still fell in just the right way to look both neat and unruly. His eyes were as bright blue as ever, but now he could see the first hint of age, the crow’s feet starting to form from all those late nights and early mornings.
As Logan looked in the mirror, he caught a glimpse of something in his peripheral vision, someone walking down the path toward the guesthouse. When he turned his attention, he realized that the flash of motion was a woman, pulling a suitcase down the back walkway. He watched as she stopped for a moment and looked out over the rolling grounds of his father's mansion.
The woman looked familiar, and had the kind of face he felt like he had seen a thousand times before, too pretty for her own good. But there was something else, He watched the way the afternoon light fell across her cheekbones, the way it accentuated the little dimples she had to the sides of her smile. He liked the way the light seemed to float around her fair skin. There was something about this woman, something different, something that reached down inside him and slowly unlaced the ties that held him together. "You are Logan Harris," he whispered to himself, "and you don't let women get to you. You get to them. Stop this mushy bullshit at once."
Despite his pep talk to himself, Logan couldn't look away from the woman walking down to the guesthouse, couldn't help but notice the way her dress clung to her thin frame in the light summer breeze.
Why does she look so familiar?
You're just curious.
As he stood there in the window, Logan watched the woman turn. He watched her raise her beautiful face to look up at the mansion. He watched her eyes as they met his gaze and locked onto him. Logan felt a jolt of surprise leap through his body as the woman stared at him. Her expression turn into a glare.
Logan was used to women hating him once they got to know him. But this? Was it hate at first sight? Whatever it was, it was new and exciting, something he'd have to learn more about. Maybe this was why his father had left him two voicemails that morning. He had ignored both calls. As he looked across the lawn, Logan realized that the woman was still staring at him, and his heart skipped a beat as she dropped her luggage to the ground and stepped onto the lawn. The woman was heading straight toward him. He reached for his clothes and scrambled to get dressed.
Callie walked up to Logan and held out her hand. He was taller than she had expected. The afternoon light glinted in his deep blue eyes, giving them a warmth Callie hadn't seen in Logan's pictures. His blond hair was tousled and half wet. He had a kind of wild indifference only the rich and the gifted could pull off. She knew he was rich, but was there something more there. She was so used to men in suits and ties, every hair on their head perfectly sculpted and placed. Logan, with the top buttons on his shirt undone, was a pleasant departure. Of course, she couldn't say that. His suit looked expensive but hardly worn, and was he wearing cowboy boots? She was here on business, and she couldn't start blurring lines just because she thought a boy was pretty. Remember why you're here, Callie. This isn't high school.
"Hi, I'm Callie. I'm staying in the guesthouse. You must be Logan." She tried to hold her hand steady, but she was already sweating. So much for bowling him over with her confidence.
"I am," he said. He looked at her for a moment, scratching his head as he pulled her face from his memory. "You're Amy's sister, right? We met briefly at her wedding.”
“Yes, I am" she said. After waiting a moment for Logan to respond, she added, "Is that a problem?"
"As long as you don't have a jealous husband too, we should be fine."
"Unfortunately, Ethan Cole is already taken, and no one will fight you over me.”
“I’m sure many men would trip over themselves for the pleasure of fighting for you,” Logan replied. Callie was beginning to see why Ethan had seen Logan as a threat to his marriage. “And who knows, the night is young," he said, “and I can’t seem to walk down the street without getting myself into trouble.”
"Seems like a rather dumb thing to do."
"Beautiful women inspire men like me to think all kinds of bad ideas."
"Is that so? I'd rather inspire a few good ones."
"And that's another reason why I'll be careful to keep my distance,” Logan said. He took a step back, cultivating a safe distance between himself and Callie. The two of them had been gravitating toward each other, and only now that Logan had stepped back did Callie realize how close she had been to him. Logan crossed his arms and continued. “I have a feeling that I'll get an earful from your sister and my father if I do much more than think."
"Then why do I get the feeling that that still won't keep you away? I’ve heard you aren’t exactly famous for your thinking.”
“I see my reputation precedes me. How about I help you bring your luggage down to the guesthouse before I head on my way?" Logan said with a laugh. He opened his arms back up and reached forward. He placed his hand over Callie’s, and she felt a little thrill at his touch. She smiled and fiddled with her hair.
Callie turned her attention back to the suitcase that stood halfway between her and the guesthouse door. She had already forgotten about it, and she wondered if Logan could sense her nervous excitement. Quick, say something playful! “Already inviting yourself in?" she asked.
"Nothing like that, at least not yet. I have to be back at my restaurant."
"What kind of restaurant?"
"It's a microbrewery on the harbor. You should stop by if you're hungry. It's right at the end of Thames Street on the wharf. Like I said, I'd love to give you the full tour, but I have to be back into town soon. At least let me show you to the guesthouse."
"I'm sure I can find my way there."
"I'm sure you can, too, but it's on the way, and you'd pick the wrong room anyway. Let me show you. You'll thank me later."
"Are you always this dismissive of your guests?”
"Only when I have an escape route if anything goes wrong." Logan pointed to the boat tied up at the dock beyond the guesthouse.
Logan's boat was one of those low-slung, old-fashioned wooden motorboats. The sun shone off of its lacquer finish, making the wood glow a deep red. To Callie, it looked like an instrument, like a fine violin or cello. It suited Logan. After all, his main talents seemed to be an effortless style and a certain recklessness. Callie was sure that to him the hum of its engine was like a symphony. "That's how you get around here?"
"If I'm going home or to work, yes. I have two cars and a bike in the garage for fun. I was just coming back from a drive when you got here. My current residence doesn't have much off-street parking."
"Because it's a yacht?"
"Yes," Logan said with a laugh, "because it's a yacht.”
Logan grabbed Callie's suitcase and led her to the side door. She wasn't sure why she had expected the guesthouse to be anything other than charming. While the scale of the main house was overwhelming, the guesthouse looked more like a cozy cottage. Once Logan ushered her inside, though, Callie saw that cozy was a relative term. The side door led into a large and airy kitchen, with white cabinets and butcher-block countertops. Callie took note of the large fridge and stove, and wondered if she'd even bother to cook for herself while in Newport. Her aunt and her sister had a running joke that Callie could burn water if it were possible.
Turning away from the kitchen, Callie saw the breakfast nook and the small living room. The far wall, the one that faced the ocean was almost entirely windowed. Each window was made up of several panes of glass, adding to the character of the space. "Right this way," Logan said, cutting across the living room and pushing open a door. "You'll want to sleep in this bedroom."
Callie looked at the staircase that headed up to the top floor. "What's upstairs?" she asked.
"The master bedroom and another large living space, but trust me, you want this one."
Something in his tone set her off, but she couldn’t place it. He wasn’t exactly condescending and not exactly arrogant. Cocky. That’s what it was. He was cocky. Well, she wasn’t going to roll over just because he said so. Callie reached over to grab her suitcase from Logan. ”The master sounds nice."
"Have it your way," he said. He tossed the suitcase onto the couch and smiled at Callie. “Good to see you. There should be food in the fridge. If you're bored, feel free to stop by the brewery. It’s The Independent, right off of Thames. It was great to meet you, Callie, but I have to run."
"What, do you have a hot date or something?" Callie said, probing for more information.
Logan grinned as he headed to the door. "Yeah, something like that. Maybe we could meet up after,” he said as he headed out.
“I don’t think so,” Callie said. Logan shrugged and headed on his way. Her response had been automatic, a defense mechanism. Guys like Logan were trouble, and normally she’d do whatever she could to keep her distance. She was shooting him down out of habit, but she knew she had to go to the bar and that accepting his invitation would be the easiest way to keep an eye on him. She walked over to the door and leaned out. “I’ll see what I can do though,” she called to him. Logan gave her a thumbs up as he kept walking. He didn’t even stop. The nerve. Callie shouted after him, “Must be a pretty boring date if you’re already looking for something else.”
Logan didn’t acknowledge that last part. He was already climbing into his boat. Callie stood there in the doorway, watching Logan head off across the water. What was she getting herself into? It was her first night in town and she already had to play interference.
As soon as Logan was out of sight, Callie picked up her phone and called Rich. "I need everything you have on Logan Harris: his schedule, his contact list, everything. Also, if I text you a name in the next hour, can you get info to me as soon as possible?"
"Of course," Rich replied. "Amy briefed me on everything, and I'm here when you need me. I assume we have our usual arrangement?"
“Emilio himself will hand deliver the donuts. Do you have any idea how hard it is to even get a seat at his restaurant for dinner? He has a Michelin star, and you want him to make donuts for you.”
“Do you have any idea how hard it is to get all this information for you on the fly? As for Emilio, there’s a reason why his Sunday brunch has a three month waiting list. I have it on authority that the President himself sneaks a few of these donuts whenever the first lady isn’t looking.”
“You’re just lucky that Emilio owes me for bailing him out last summer.”
“What exactly did you do?”
“I just told you, I bailed him out. As for why he was in jail, that’s between him and me. The donuts will be waiting for you on monday morning.”
"Then I will see to it that you get everything you need."
"You're the best. Any idea what the appropriate dress is for dinner at a microbrewery?"
"You're asking a man who wears cargo pants year round, Callie. My guess is that he won't be able to keep his eyes off of you either way."
"Well, I'm hoping to blend in."
"It's Newport, isn't it? Don't they wear seersucker, drink mint juleps and play baccarat?” Rich asked.
"It's Rhode Island, not a riverboat in the 1920s."
"I'm sure you'll figure it out. I have your sister on the other line. Text me when you have that name."
By the time Callie reached the evening bustle of Thames Street, the sun had already dipped below the buildings, casting long shadows across the street onto the shops and restaurants. Most of them were converted houses, with walls so old they tilted and slanted to one side or the other, giving every building a unique charm. Callie doubted there was a level wall or floorboard anywhere up or down the street.
A hundred years ago, fishermen and merchants lived in these buildings. Now every doorway led to a gift shop or an art gallery. The small apartments above the shops probably housed artisans and college students now. The sidewalks were filled with people of all ages, families and couples, people walking pets. Save for Logan's appearance at the house, Callie didn't see a single person in a suit on her way to the microbrewery. This was exactly what she needed. Of course, her idea of what to do next involved a large glass of wine and a view of the sunset, but a microbrewery and work would have to do for the night.