Meant to Be | Chapter 23 of 37 - Part: 1 of 6

Author: Terri Osburn | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 7466 Views | Add a Review

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CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

Joe spent an hour imagining liquored-up tourists drooling over Beth. The idea of sweaty middle-aged men buying her drinks, sliding hairy knuckles over her pale skin, and invading her space made him irritated enough that he knew he had to do something. Since going to the bar and dragging her out wasn’t an option, he drove over to Dempsey’s, figuring he could either help out bussing tables or snooker Alvie out of a few bucks in pool.

The crowd was thick when he arrived, so bussing tables it was. A group of college kids celebrating the start of summer filled a back corner, keeping Joe busy clearing empty longnecks and wing baskets. On the third clearing, a young thing with dark curly hair glanced his way with encouraging green eyes.

A picture of Beth smiling up at a bartender while he looked down her dress resulted in Joe throwing bottles in the bus tub harder than necessary. Beer splashed on the pretty brunette, removing any trace of encouragement from her expression. Joe found the other busboy and offered to switch sections. When Mitch spotted the college girls, he agreed without argument.

What Joe hadn’t realized was that someone much worse than a younger version of Beth occupied a booth in his new section.

“I wondered when you’d make your way over.” Cassie flashed him the smile that once upon a time would have put him at her feet. Tonight the effect was a slight tightening in his jaw.

“I didn’t see you before.” Avoiding eye contact, he asked, “Are you done with those dishes?”

Cassie leaned away from the table. “Yes, you can take them.” Then as Joe reached for the empty wineglass, she grasped his wrist. “Why don’t you put that mess in the kitchen and come have a seat. We need to talk.”

“I don’t think—”

“Joe,” she said, rubbing her thumb over the back of his hand. “One conversation. You can give me that much.”

Ironic words, since their relationship had always been about what he could and couldn’t give her. Or maybe what he wouldn’t give her.

“Right. I’ll be back.”

Stalling, Joe cleared two more tables on his way to the kitchen. The only thing they had to talk about was the development deal. Maybe she wanted to negotiate. Him for the island. As soon as the thought entered his mind, he chided himself for the arrogance.

Cassie didn’t want him that bad. Even if she did, the answer would still be no.

Once the dishes were loaded into the dishwasher, Joe removed his apron, sliding it over the hook near the back door.

“Where are you going?” asked Tom, exiting the pantry with a large bag of pretzels.

“Cassie wants to talk.”

Tom’s brows shot up and then he blinked as if Joe had said, “I’m having a baby.”

“You’re going to talk to her? Here?”

Sitting with the enemy in public wasn’t his smartest move, but maybe he could talk her out of this crazy idea. Explain where the islanders stood and how determined they were to hold out. He’d take the blame for whatever had happened between them if it would get Cassie and her father to leave the island alone for good.

Drying his freshly washed hands on his jeans, Joe navigated the tables and slid into the booth, taking the seat across from his former fiancée. She’d grown more beautiful, but, like the smile, her full lips and dark blue eyes had lost the effect they once had on him.

The face remained model perfect, but now he knew the real woman behind it. For the first time in more than two years, the guilt and self-contempt were muted by a feeling of relief. He’d been stupid. That wouldn’t change. But he’d dodged a bullet and finally saw the end of their relationship for what it was. A lucky break.

Feeling lighter than he had in a while, Joe asked, “What do you want to talk about?”

Cassie’s mouth pinched into a flat line. “I’d think that was obvious.”

Knowing never to assume anything in regards to a woman, Joe remained obtuse. “You’ll have to enlighten me.”

“I’ve been on this crappy island for more than a week, and we both know I’m not here on vacation.” Joe leaned back and crossed his arms, not interested in hearing her true feelings about his home. Again.

Recognizing her error, she tried again. “The resort we have planned could put this island on the map, Joe. You have to see that.”

“The way I see it, you and your dad are trying to wipe us off the map. We’ve been here for a few centuries, and so far people have found us just fine.”

Comments

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Alice
Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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