Sweet Heat at Bayside(7)

By: Addison Cole

He was glowering again.

Teasing him was so much fun. “How did you ever survive when I was away at college?” As she turned to leave she remembered how often he’d come to visit Mira when they were away at school. She spun around, gaping at him. “Oh my gosh! You weren’t visiting your sister—you were checking up on both of us, weren’t you?”

A cocky smile spread across his face. “Like I said, someone has to look out for you.”

“Geez. You’re…” Her phone vibrated with a text, and she snagged it from her purse as Chloe’s name appeared on the screen. “Shoot. I’ve got to go. I have to shop for clothes for my new job, find boxes, and start packing. It’s going to be another late night.”

“You okay, Supergirl?” he called after her.

She turned, struck by the concern in his eyes. Not for the first time in the last twenty-four hours, and probably not for the last, sadness swept through her at the reality that the friends who were as close as family and the man who had always been there for her would no longer be just a few minutes away.

This is my dream job, my chance to have a better life, she reminded herself.

Breathing deeply, she said, “I will be,” and headed out of the office.

The drive to The Now, a new upscale boutique in Orleans, was long enough for Serena to pull herself together about leaving and to think about the clothes she needed to buy. Business-appropriate clothing for the small beach community was a world away from the posh clients she was sure to work with in Boston.

“Uptown Funk” was playing in the boutique when Serena arrived, immediately lifting her spirits. Colorful skirts and blouses filled racks and dressed mannequins. The walls were lined with upscale fashions of varying styles. At least it wouldn’t be hard to find a few nice outfits.

A tall blonde called to her from behind the cash register. “Hey there. Welcome to The Now.”

“Thank you!” Serena spotted the girls in the back of the store and weaved around the racks toward them. Chloe, having come directly from work, looked elegant as always in a simple blue shift and heels. Mira looked fresh and gorgeous in a cute maternity sundress, which was similar to Desiree’s more revealing outfit. Emery wore her usual yoga pants and tank top. Serena should have felt like she fit right in with her blousy top and miniskirt, but she was still so harried from her busy day, she was sure she looked as frazzled as she felt.

“Finally!” Emery said. “I was beginning to think you and Drake had decided to christen the music shop.”

“You’re getting more like Violet every day. We weren’t even there,” Serena said flatly. “He took forever interviewing a girl for my position. I’m sorry I’m late. It’s been an insane day.”

“Did he hire her?” Mira asked.

“No, the big dork. He said she didn’t have the right personality. She was too sweet and too friendly. Can we please not talk about Drake? He’s annoying me. I can’t believe how much work there is to do before I leave. Between organizing the office so the next person can walk in and understand how we do things, setting up the new Bayside Music and Arts, and nailing down everything for my move, I swear I’m going to lose my mind.”

“Don’t lose it before the wedding, please,” Desiree said. She and Rick were getting married in September.

“No promises if Drake keeps being a pain,” Serena said.

Chloe sifted through a rack of blouses and asked, “How many lists have you made?”

“One for the music store, one for the resort, and one for the work I just finished up for Shift Home Interiors,” Serena said proudly.

Chloe arched a finely manicured brow. She was as blond as Serena was dark, but she wore her hair in a cute pixie cut and had a soft, pretty face to pull it off. “Keep going, baby sister. I know you’ve got more—like what to pack, what to buy, what you don’t want to forget…”

Serena groaned and began looking through a rack of dresses. “So I’m a list maker. It keeps me sane.”

“I make lists, too,” Desiree said.

“Not me,” Emery chimed in. “I’d lose them, or one of the cats would steal them.”

Emery and Dean’s cats, Tango and Cash, were always stealing things. Emery told tales of missing underwear, keys, jewelry, anything the little thieves could get their paws on.

“Serena’s been making lists since she realized there were certain kinds of boys she needed to avoid.” Chloe grabbed a sharp-looking royal-blue blouse and held it up to Serena. “I love this color for you.”

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