Baby. The pet name warms me to my core. “Promise?”
“I never realized how beautiful Ashwood Grove is,” I say, as we drive past the colorful, quaint buildings lining the main road.
“You’ve never been here?” Burke glances at me from the driver’s side.
“No. Roger never…” I trail off. Just saying his name makes my mouth taste bitter.
Burke places his hand on my knee and gives it a squeeze. “You don’t have to talk about him, Daisy. Not now, and not ever, if you don’t want to. But if you do want to talk about him, I’m there for you.”
I lace my fingers through his. “Thank you. It’s not that I don’t trust you. It’s just—I’m so happy being with you, I don’t even want to think about him. He’s my past, and you’re—” I stop abruptly, blushing. I haven’t even known Burke for a week. I shouldn’t be thinking like that, let alone saying it.
I expect his smile to fall, but it spreads. He doesn’t say anything. We’re silent for the rest of the drive, but it’s not uncomfortable. I’m perfectly content sitting here holding Burke’s hand, casting glances at him more often than I should, and smiling when his eyes meet mine.
Maybe it doesn’t matter that we’ve only known each other for a week. Maybe the only thing that matters is that I’m happy, and so is he.
Burke parks the car in front of a mint-green building with a large sign over the entrance saying Annie’s.
“Here we are.”
We get out, and I follow Burke into the café. The smell of coffee and cinnamon fills my nostrils as I inhale deeply. I can’t help but feel a little nervous. I want Marianne to like me. Normally I don’t care much what people think about me, but it’s different with her. She’s Burke’s friend.
We walk past comfortable looking, colorful armchairs scattered around small tables until we reach the counter.
“Burke! Finally. I haven’t seen you in forever.” A tall woman with curly dark-blonde hair beams at him. The deep scar on her cheek doesn’t dim her beauty. In fact, it seems to enhance it, adding interest to features that wouldn’t be out of place in a fashion magazine.
“Hi, Marianne.” Burke smiles at her.
The pang of jealousy that shoots through me is softened when she focuses her charming smile on me. “And who’s your pretty friend?”
“This is Daisy.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Daisy. I’m Marianne. You can call me Annie. That’s what everyone besides this guy and my parents call me.” She holds out her hand over the counter and I shake it, surprised by the strength in her grip. I decide I like Annie. Despite her stunning beauty, she seems down to earth.
“I have some errands to run,” Burke tells Annie. “I thought I’d leave Daisy with you. If you promise not to ask too many awkward questions.”
Annie snorts, her eyes sparkling. “If you insist.”
Burke rolls his eyes and then turns to face me. “Well, I’ll see you later.” And with a wave, he leaves. I can’t help the disappointment stabbing at my insides. I wish he would’ve kissed me. But it’s not like I’m his girlfriend or anything, so I guess I can’t complain.
“So tell me, Daisy, what’s your story?” Annie breaks me out of my thoughts.
I blink at her, and she laughs.
“Sorry. I’m nosy. How about I make you a coffee and you tell me a little bit about yourself?”
“I’d love a coffee. But don’t you have to work?”
She shrugs. “Sure. But I can talk and work at the same time. Take a seat.” She points at one of the barstools.
I sit down, stretching my legs, and soon Annie puts a steaming cup of coffee down in front of me.
“How did you end up in Ashwood Grove?” she asks.
“I was just meant to pass through, but…”