Saved By The Lumberjack

Page 15

“Oh, I see,” she says, a mischievous smile playing around her full lips. “A certain someone convinced you to stay?”
“No, it’s not like that,” I say, blushing. “It’s just… I was in a shitty situation. Bad relationship. I decided to leave. But when I got to Ashwood Grove, there were no more busses because of the snow. So I decided to spend the night at the bus stop because I couldn’t afford a hotel. I was half frozen to death when Burke found me.”
“He saved you?”
“Actually, he almost ran me over.”
Annie bursts into laughter, and it’s so infectious, I join in.
“He did save me, though. Without him, I probably would’ve frozen to death.”
“Burke’s a good man. Bit grumpy, but he’s got a heart of gold.”
“He does.”
“What’s going on between the two of you?” she asks, catching me off guard.
I take a sip of coffee. “Nothing.” I don’t want to tell Annie about us, whatever the hell us is, if Burke doesn’t want her to know. And, judging by the way he didn’t kiss me goodbye, he doesn’t want her to know. “He’s just letting me stay with him until I figure out what I’m going to do.”
“Any idea what that’s going to be?”
“I need to find a job. I’ll figure out the rest from there.”
“Mh.” Annie thoughtfully taps a finger against her cheek. “You can work here, if you want.”
She smiles. “Seriously. I need the help, and I’ve got a good feeling about you. Plus, a friend of Burke’s is a friend of mine.”
“I’d love to work here. Thank you. Thank you so much.” I can hardly believe my luck.
“And,” she says, gazing at me with a strange glint in her eyes, “I own the apartment above the café. I used to live there before I got married. The last tenant just moved out. I’d rent it to you for a good price.”
My first impulse is to say no. The thought of leaving Burke makes my stomach seize up. But maybe he doesn’t want me to stay. No matter how much we like each other, we just met, and it’s way too early to move in together.
When I don’t say anything, she continues. “If you don’t have the money right now, we can figure something out. You can work it off, or pay me later when you get your paycheck.”
“You’re too generous, Annie,” I say, my voice sounding slightly hoarse. “I’ll think about it and let you know?”
She nods. “Just let me know soon. If you don’t want it, I’ll rent it to someone else. I’ll give you my number.”
She writes down her phone number on a piece of paper and hands it to me. I take it, turning it in my fingers. I need to talk to Burke.
My heart is still beating wildly in my chest as I push open the door to the café. Three years. Three years since I saw either of them, and then I just run into her out of the blue.
Today started out perfect. I woke up next to the most beautiful woman in the world, had sex with her three times, and then I introduced her to one of my best friends.
I should’ve known today would go to shit.
When I walked to my car after my meeting, a voice called out to me. Her voice. The voice that haunted my dreams and nightmares for longer than I care to admit.
I pretended I didn’t hear her. But she called out again, so I turned around to look at her. I wish I hadn’t. The last time I’d seen her, her beauty felt like a punch to the gut. But I looked at the face that I once loved and wondered if it had always been so ordinary. Her beauty had no more power over me.
But seeing her with a baby on her arm…
“Is it his?” I asked, and her face fell. That was answer enough.