Every Little Thing

Page 23


I heard sarcasm in my father’s voice so I knew he hadn’t bought that crock of crap. “Does that man have no shame? For your information, Dad, I am more than fine. In fact, I’ve decided to get a new manager. And not because I’m stressing over my breakup, but because if I want to move on, I need a personal life.”
“I couldn’t agree more!” I heard my mother shout in the background.
“Oh, by the way, you’re on speakerphone.”
“You know I hate it when you do that. I can’t bitch about Mom when you do that.”
“Funny,” Mom said. “Does that mean you’re considering dating?”
There was more than a hint of curiosity in the question so I gave a rather guarded, “Perhaps.”
“Wonderful! Our neighbor, Kelly Hewitt, has a grandson in Dover. Can you believe that? How small is this world?”
“Oh yeah, it’s small alright.” I was not even surprised my mother had already lined up a date for me.
I thought I heard my father chuckle under his breath.
“His name is Hugh Hewitt. Isn’t that adorable?” my mother continued.
“And he’s still speaking to his parents?”
My father gave a bark of laughter.
“Oh, Bailey, hush. It’s a perfectly musical name.”
“That’s a very diplomatic way to put it, Mom.”
“Anyway, Hugh is forty years old, has a full head of hair, is an accountant, and recently divorced. I thought you’d have lots in common and I showed Kelly your picture and she thinks you’re just so gorgeous. So we thought it might be nice if you two met. I can send you his Facebook profile link if you’d like so it’s not a blind date. But I think he’s very handsome. You needn’t be concerned.”
Ah, what the hell. “Sure, Mom. Send me the link.”
“Now that you’re done pushing Cherry into a date with an accountant who must spend most of his days fending off name-based mockery, can I talk to my daughter again?” Dad said.
I had to press my lips together to silence my laughter.
“And you wonder where she gets her smart mouth from,” Mom said.
“Cherry, you there?” Dad ignored that comment.
“Right here, Dad.”
“I thought your mother scared you off.”
“Not yet. Give her time.”
He laughed and then after a moment of silence . . . “Everything is okay back there? You don’t need me to fly up to see you?”
I fiddled with the silver necklace Dahlia had made me. She designed jewelry and sold it in her gift shop. She’d made me a necklace with a silver cherry blossom tree pendant, because my dad’s nickname for me was Cherry. I was kind of a daddy’s girl, and I missed not seeing him every day. My parents visited every year for several weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and they usually stayed a few weeks in May before the tourist season hit. They missed me and they missed Hartwell, but I knew they loved their life in Florida and hated flying. Visiting so soon after their last trip was kind but I didn’t need them to do that for me. I hoped my dad heard my grateful smile in my words. “I’m really okay.”
“And Ian Devlin? Has he been bothering you?”
No, but as I remembered the smug, calculating look in Stu Devlin’s eyes last night I had to wonder if they’d decided to try to exploit me while I was vulnerable.
Except they’d underestimated me because I was far from vulnerable.
“Nope. And if they try, I can handle it.”
My dad was stern. “You’ll tell me if they try.”
“Of course.” Although I probably wouldn’t because I really could handle myself.
“Okay. We’ll let you get on. Talk soon.”
“Bye, Dad. Love you.”
“Love you, too, Cherry.”
“Love you, sweetie!” my mom called, her voice sounding distant like she was in another room. “I’ll send that link!”
I laughed. “Love you, Mom.”
As soon as I hung up, the phone rang again. I sighed, wondering if I’d ever get that ad posted. “Good afternoon, Hart’s Inn, Bailey speaking.”
“Why is that bastard Devlin calling me about the inn?” My brother, Charlie, sounded aggravated.
I groaned and buried my head in my free hand.
The next day the clouds rolled over Hartwell and the rain descended in a deluge. Like Dahlia and Jessica, I’d risked my neck on the slippery boards to get to Emery’s for lunch. She made the yummiest little sandwiches and canapés and we’d arranged the lunch last week. There was no way a little—okay, a lot of—rain was getting in our way of those canapés!
I moaned around a mouthful of one with crabmeat and shivered as the delicious heat from the roaring fire in her store warmed us. Emery had a reading nook next to the open fireplace where we were currently huddled.
She had decided to close the store for lunch, giving us guaranteed privacy to enjoy a girlie lunch break.
“I can’t believe Devlin called your parents and brother.” Jessica’s hazel eyes darkened with concern. “It sounds like he’s planning something. This is how it started when he was coming after Cooper.”
As worried as she sounded, I wasn’t. There was nothing Devlin could do to me but pester me with offers on the inn, and I could handle that. “It’ll be fine. Emery, what are in these?”
“It’s a secret.” She grinned, knowing that would drive me crazy.