Read Last Call for Love Online

Authors: Maggie Marr

Tags: #FIC027020 FICTION / Romance / Contemporary; FIC044000 FICTION / Contemporary Women

Last Call for Love (16 page)

BOOK: Last Call for Love
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Charla’s mouth dropped open, and she tilted her head. “Poppy, that’s completely different. I did that so Mesquale could have the best food and beverage director, and because Liam actually wanted the job, he just didn’t know how to make it work with his daughter.”

“Right, I get it. But didn’t you have to tell Antigua all that after you had promised Liam you wouldn’t tell anyone about his little girl?”

“But it’s working out, isn’t it? I mean, they are insanely happy on the island, from the emails I get, now that Liam has email, and isn’t he a great food and beverage director?”

“Not the point.” Poppy folded another pair of shorts.

Charla crossed her arms over her chest. Heat flamed through her cheeks. Her telling Antigua about Liam was completely different than what Ryan had done. “Then what is your point, Pop?”

Poppy turned to her, and the corner of her mouth hooked upward. “Don’t use that snappy tone with me, girly. You only get this way when you know I’m right.”

Charla sighed and slumped forward.

“My point is that Ryan lied for the benefit of all of Mesquale, and the things he discovered and the changes he made have helped us all. Seriously, this place is becoming a topnotch employer. I’m lucky they offered a slacker like me another contract. If he’d told you who he was, then he couldn’t have done all that he did.” Poppy tossed a T-shirt toward Charla, who snatched it from the air. “Plus he never lied about you. He never lied about how he felt.”

Charla folded the T-shirt and didn’t meet Poppy’s gaze. “How is he?” Charla asked in a soft voice. Her heart beat faster with thoughts of Ryan, and her stomach flipped and twirled.

“He works all the time. He doesn’t date, or at least not that I can tell.” Poppy walked to Charla and sat on the bed. “And his eyes look sad.”

Charla pulled her bottom lip under her top two teeth. She closed her eyes. “I do love him,” she whispered. “I know that I do.” She looked at Poppy, an urgency in her eyes.

“I know,” Poppy said. “And I know he loves you too.” 

 

*

 

“Why is the CEO of one of the biggest privately held companies in the world calling me at six a.m.?” Ryan opened the shade in Trevor’s room, and sunlight burst through the window.

“Dude!” Trevor pressed his arm over his eyes. He peeked out from behind his forearm. “Wait? My mom called you?”

Ryan nodded.

“Sorry, man. She can get a little … strident.”

“I know some CEOs. I think I talked her down.”

Trevor turned his head toward the other side of his bed. “Wait? Where’s Popster?” He slammed upward. “Shit … did she leave? Man, today is her last day.” Trevor jumped from bed, and Ryan looked away. His former roommate was known to sleep au naturel, especially when Poppy spent the night.

“Relax. She’s here. She hasn’t fled Mesquale just yet. I think she’s in her room with Charla.” Her name on Ryan’s lips caused an ache in his heart. Charla was here, at Mesquale, and he hadn’t seen her yet. Wasn’t certain that she wanted to see him.

Trevor pulled on a pair of shorts and flopped back onto the bed. “Dude. How is that for you?”

“It’s an opportunity,” Ryan said. “Another chance to convince her she needs to be with me. I gave her space, but no more. She’s mine, and I’m going to make her see that.”

“Way to go, man.” Trevor nodded. “That is exactly right. What’s it been? Three months? That’s a whole lot of space, and you still got it bad?”

“Like she never left,” Ryan said.

“Then she’s it for you, man.” Trevor nodded his head. “Guess I need to take my own advice.”

“So your mom—”

“—needs me to come home,” Trevor said.

“Said it’s urgent.”

“Always urgent with the Moms. She’s an urgent type of lady. Runs the show and wants me to run it too.”

“That is one big show.”

“You know how many cows have died for her, man?”

Ryan shook his head.

“Millions. I don’t even eat red meat. How am I supposed to run Up Side Burger when I don’t even eat what they sell?”

Ryan wanted to laugh, but he held it in to avoid hurting Trevor’s feelings. These were high-class problems. Trevor was faced with the possibility of taking over a giant restaurant chain that had been started by his grandparents.

“Moms doesn’t get it, man. Up Side Burger is not my monkey, not my circus.”

“But it could be. You’d be great at it, wouldn’t you? You’re good with people, you know that business, your mom has been grooming you for the gig since you were eight.”

Trevor shot Ryan a look.

“We talked for a while, me and ‘Moms’.”

“I bet.” Trevor stood and walked across his room to the desk. “Did she also tell you that I’ve been a writer since I was eight too? That I love words and I’ve been telling her for twenty years that I want to be a writer?”

“She mentioned that. And also how writing and working at Up Side Burger aren’t mutually exclusive.”

A shiver shook Trevor’s shoulders. “Just the thought of it, man, putting on the suit and tie and those hard-ass leather shoes? Punching the clock. Working in a cubicle.”

“You’d be the boss, and the dress code is yours to change. As for punching a clock and having a cubicle? Trevor, come on, you have a business degree from Stanford. You know how being the head of a company works and what it entails.”

Trevor turned to Ryan and dropped the funny facade. “I do, man. I do. I saw my dad do it and then my Moms. I watched my grandparents work themselves into their graves. I don’t want that for myself. I don’t. If it means I give all that up, the money and the business, I’m good with that. Why do you think I came to Mesquale? To see if I could hack it without the Up Side dough.”

Ryan took a deep breath. “But you always had the safety net in your mind. It’s always there for you.” He shook his head. “I never understood how freeing that is, the knowledge that you have money in case of emergency, until I had it. Enough for anything that went wrong. Trevor, don’t take that gift for granted. Most people don’t grow up like that. Most people never know that type of freedom. Your family worked their asses off to give that to you. I had to get it for myself, and I sure as hell want to give that kind of freedom to my kids.”

“Right, Ryan, I know my existence has been privileged. I know that I’ve never faced the fear of not knowing where my next meal is coming from. But what if your kids didn’t want to run Mesquale? What if your kid had a different dream? A different desire? What if they’re willing to work their ass off for something different than what you built? Would you tell them either work the family business or you’re dead to me?”

Ryan jerked his head back. “Of course not. That sounds insane.”

“Yeah it does, man, and that’s my Moms.”

That didn’t sound like the woman he’d spent the last hour on the phone with. Mrs. Brice had sounded reasonable and kind and loving. She missed her son and wanted him home. Ryan kept his thoughts to himself. Family was a tricky thing, and just because Trevor’s mom seemed nice on the phone didn’t mean she wasn’t a control freak when it came to her son.

“So what is going on with Poppy tonight?” Ryan asked.

“Coquille at eight and then see how the night unfolds. You coming?”

Ryan stuck his hands into his pockets. “Won’t that ruin everyone’s good time? The big boss dropping by the party?’

“No, man.” Trevor squinted. “Well, maybe.”

“I was thinking a bonfire on the staff beach after. I’ll get it set up. Around midnight?”

“Seriously?”

Ryan nodded. “Seriously. Just don’t tell the new owner.” He opened the door.

“No way, man. I’m not sure I even
like
that guy.” Trevor said, joking about Ryan.

Ryan smiled and walked out of the room. “And call your mother. I promised I’d make you call her.”

“Fine, man. You got it, but she’s going to see me in three days.”

 

Chapter 18

 

“Poppy, is that everything?” Trevor looked into the storage locker in Parpetai. “You hardly left room for my stuff.” He yanked down the heavy metal door and slipped the padlock through the metal clasp.

“What’re you complaining about? You’ve got plenty of room. Besides, you’ve got less stuff than me.”

Trevor slid the key from the lock and held it up. “Who keeps it?”

“Well, I suppose I’ll be first one back, so me.”

Trevor held his hand up high out of Poppy’s reach. “You won’t lose it then, Pop, on your random travels around the globe?”

“Of course not.” She reached up toward his hand, her body pressed to his. Tiny shirt, little skirt, the press of her breast, the scent of skin, that mouth. How could he let Poppy leave? “Now give it.” Poppy smiled and reached higher.

Tyler brought his hand down and wrapped both his arms around Poppy. Forget the key. Forget the lock. Forget the storage container. All he needed, all he wanted, was right here in front of him, and she was leaving. Tomorrow. She was leaving him and them, and quite possibly he’d never see her again.

He pressed his lips to hers. His whole body ignited with a passion that never quelled. He pulled her close, his sex hard and impatient. She rolled her hips forward and pressed to him. His hands grasped her jaw. She had a beautiful jaw that cut sharp to her swanlike neck. Her body was pure perfection. He pressed her lips open and backed her against the cinder-block wall. His hand slid down her neck and cupped her breast. How would he live without this … without seeing Poppy every day? Poppy had become a need, an addiction. Her kiss, her body, just her, was a drug he needed to survive in this world.

She was his lover and his muse. The words Trevor wrote flowed fast and free when she was with him. His heart sang a different tune. Her sarcasm, which hid a soft, gentle heart, was a language he understood. She was the yin to his yang, the peanut butter to his jelly, the effervescent song that sang through his heart. She couldn’t leave and go to Hong Kong. She couldn’t leave without him.

He pulled back and looked into her eyes. He brushed his thumb over her cheekbone. “Don’t go.” His voice rasped. In her eyes, Trevor saw the softness of love and then the slice of fear that chased the openness away. “Hey, don’t do that. This is me. Wait for me. We’ll go to Hong Kong together. Or wherever the hell you want to go. Just don’t leave tomorrow.”

Poppy tilted her chin and dropped her gaze. “Trevor, we made an agreement. Six months.” She wouldn’t look at him. He pressed his hand to her chin and forced her to look up and into his eyes.

“Forget the agreement, Poppy. I love you. And you love me.”

She turned her gaze away from him. Her jaw muscle flickered, and she swallowed He pressed his lips to the side of that beautiful throat. His hand slipped down the front of her body and up under her skirt.

“Don’t tell me you don’t love me too.” He slipped his finger beneath her panties.

A gasp of air passed over her lips. 

“Because your body doesn’t lie.” He slid the tip of his finger over her sex. Her hips pressed forward. He pulsed one finger into her sex. His lips stroked down her neck. He could get her to say yes. He could convince her to stay. He could make her promise to wait three days and let him go to Hong Kong with her.

“Oh, Trevor.” Her soft luxurious voice, like velvet over his skin, killed him. He pressed his lips to hers then slid down the front of her and pulled down her panties. Here, in this hallway, he pressed his lips to her sex. Pleasure. He’d give her so much pleasure she had no choice but to surrender. To admit her love, to admit she needed him as much as he needed her. He pressed open the lips of her sex and slid his tongue along her cleft. Her breath came in tight bursts. Her fingers wove through his hair and pulled.

“Oh my God, Trevor. Oh my God.” Her hips moved forward and back, and he clamped one hand to her hip and held her still. His tongue licked the sweetness of her desire. He circled with his tongue and sucked. Her frenzy caused his desire to ratchet up. His cock pressing hard against his shorts.

“Trevor, baby, oh my God, Trev, I’m going to come.”

Tiny moans of pleasure escaped her throat. He pulsed two fingers in and out of her.

“Oh … yes … yes.” She tensed and her sex tightened around his fingers. His tongue took her over the edge. She trembled and gasped and fell forward, both her hands on his shoulder. He stood before her and kissed her. The smell of Poppy surrounded him, the essence of this woman he loved pervading his every pore, his every need, his every desire. He pulled away from her and looked into her eyes.

“Please, Poppy,” he said. “Say that you’re mine.”

 

*

 

His eyes consumed her. Poppy’s heart burst open, and in this moment, she was Trevor’s. She would always be Trevor’s, but she couldn’t, allow herself to depend on him. The human heart was too fragile a thing to trust to any person.

“Trevor, I love you,” she whispered. She loved him, but she wouldn’t be his. Not the way he wanted. Not the way he needed.

He wrapped his strong arms around her. She closed her eyes. Trevor made her feel safe. In his arms she never doubted that there was love in this world.

“We need to get to Coquille,” she said, and straightened her skirt. “Everyone will be waiting.”

There was a smile on Trevor’s lips. He believed he’d gotten all he wanted. With her admission of love, he thought she would stay, that she would wait for him, and he would travel with her to Hong Kong.

But he wouldn’t.

He couldn’t.

She wouldn’t let him.

He wrapped an arm around her, and they walked down the long, quiet hallway to the door at the end of the hall. She pressed her lips together and dropped her gaze to the floor. Tears heated her eyes. Trevor was her one chance at love, the only man brave enough to breach the walls she’d built. He understood the feelings behind all her words. She’d never find another man like Trevor. She’d never let anyone this close before, and with the pain searing through her heart, she would never do so again.

She closed her eyes. Trevor pushed open the door to the outside. The setting sun greeted them as they exited the building. A wash of pink and gold decorated the sky.

BOOK: Last Call for Love
7.48Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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