Sweet Heat at Bayside(8)

By: Addison Cole

More precisely, she’d started her list with Drake Savage and all his finest points, followed by all of his faults.

“That’s a fantastic blouse.” Emery snagged an off-white skirt from a rack. “Pair it with this skirt.”

“Wait,” Serena said. “How much are they?”

Chloe gave her a get serious glare. “Serena, you have more money than you’ll ever need. You can afford nice clothes for your classy new job.”

“I don’t want to dip too much into my savings. How much is the blouse?” She’d been tucking away four hundred dollars a month since she’d started working full-time after college, with very few exceptions. She figured she couldn’t miss what she didn’t have, and she was right. She’d never missed the hundreds of dollars she stowed away in her bank account, and now she had a nice nest egg. Before the job in Boston, she’d dreamed of buying the cottage she was renting. She loved living around the corner from the beach, even if she had to trek through the woods to get to it. But dipping into her savings made her nervous. She’d allotted one month of her usual savings for new clothes, and if she was careful, she could build a whole wardrobe around it.

“Twenty-eight dollars,” Chloe said. “And you’re trying it on.”

“And the skirt?” she asked tentatively.

“Same,” Emery said. “We know how thrifty you are, but come on. They’re beautiful, and you need to look the part in Boston. What size? Six?”

“Eight,” Serena said. “I’ve got curves, woman.”

“Curves Drake has noticed a lot since I moved here,” Emery pointed out. “He seemed really upset at breakfast Monday, and even this morning he was edgy. Now that you’re leaving town, I think you should fess up about your tryst with him. That man is so possessive of you—don’t tell me you’ve never slept with him.”

Serena rolled her eyes. “Would you please get off the Drake train?”

“Hey!” Mira covered her ears. “I don’t want to hear this!”

Serena pulled Mira’s hands down and said, “You’d be the first person I’d tell, even if you didn’t want to hear it. I told you about the duet, remember?”

Desiree and Emery exchanged a curious glance as they all moved to another group of clothing racks.

“The dreaded duet,” Chloe said. “Please don’t bring that up. She was a mess for weeks.”

“I was not!” It was months. She focused on the professional-looking cap-sleeved dress in front of her.

Chloe sidled up to Serena and said, “I wanted to kill him.”

“What are you talking about?” Emery demanded. “What duet? The guys had a band as teenagers, right? Did you sing in it?”

“No. It was just stupid kid stuff.” Like the way I used to listen to them practice, pretending I wasn’t counting the number of times Drake glanced my way. “Drake and the guys had entered their band in the beach talent show, and I asked Drake to do a duet with me.” Even now, when Drake played the guitar, Serena was thrown right back to those early years. There was always a moment of reflection, a longing for what she’d missed out on, and then the sting of rejection would hit, bringing her firmly back to the present.

“Those beach talent shows were the best for meeting guys from other towns,” Chloe pointed out. “You were so swoony over Drake back then, and he was so full of himself. I wanted to choke the life out of him after he ditched you.”

“He ditched you?” Desiree’s eyes widened. “I can’t even imagine him hurting you on purpose.”

“He was just being a teenager,” Serena said, as if it were no big deal, although back then it had been a very big deal. She chose a black dress from the rack and moved to another display. The girls moved with her.

“A week before the talent show, there was this…moment,” Serena admitted.

“A take-me-baby moment.” Emery waggled her brows.

“Emery, please…” Mira pleaded.

Serena sighed. “No. We were singing outside one night, just the two of us, rehearsing for the duet. We were singing ‘You’re the One That I Want’ from Grease, and I was foolishly crushing on him, like holding my breath every time he looked at me. I saved for months to buy those fake leather pants and heels so I could look like Olivia Newton-John in the movie.”

“It was painful to watch her lusting after my brother,” Mira said with an empathetic expression. “I love him, but teenage boys are just…”

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