Victor noticed Shannon sitting in the open dining area of the hotel the next morning, drinking coffee and reading on her e-reader. He’d spent most of the previous day licking his metaphorical wounds and nursing a headache.
Dressed in cotton pants that went midcalf and a light shirt, she looked like she was dressed for a long plane ride home. As much a pain in the ass as the woman had been, he felt compelled to say goodbye. After all, he was the reason she was there.
He walked up quietly behind her. “If it isn’t woman who fed me mezcal.”
The sound of his voice made her jump.
Too bad she wasn’t holding her coffee.
“You have got to stop doing that.”
Without an invitation, he sat and smiled. She took a deep breath and looked away, came painfully close to rolling her eyes. For some reason, he appreciated the fact she held back and wondered just how much it would take for her to disregard him with such a gesture.
“Please, sit down,” she said.
He glanced at his chair. “Thank you.”
She set her e-reader aside and regarded him. “I thought for sure you’d be back at the office by now.”
So did he. “I couldn’t fly yesterday even if I’d found a flight.”
He didn’t miss the tiny shine in the corner of her eye.
“No. I had one too many the other night. Inflicting that on whoever had the misfortune of sitting next to me on the flight home was more than I could take after my flight here.”
She smiled, briefly, and lifted her chin. “I’m glad to hear you’ve evolved since Friday.”
Unable to help himself, he laughed.
Her smile returned.
Victor felt a twist in his gut, a pull to something he didn’t want to name. “I guess you’re leaving today,” he said.
She shrugged. “I am.”
He nodded. “Justin informed me you made sure I didn’t decide to go for a late night swim.”
“It was tempting. But then I realized you wouldn’t be able to pay me if you swallowed too much water.”
“Self-preserving. Very smart of you.”
“It’s a gift.”
When the woman wasn’t tossing barbs at him, she was beautiful. Perfect lines in her face, high cheekbones … he couldn’t tell if her olive skin was from an ancestor or the byproduct of living in Southern California. Not anything like anyone he’d been attracted to before.
What was he thinking? He wasn’t attracted.
Victor shook his head and stood. “Well, I saw you sitting here and thought I’d at least say goodbye.”
She stood with him and extended her hand. “For what it’s worth, I’m sorry things didn’t go as planned this weekend.”
Her fingers were long, elegant. Just like the woman. Disappointment saying goodbye was an emotion he had no business feeling. Yet there it was, like a lump in his chest.
Her smile cracked. “No. But it seemed the right thing to say. I am sorry for the heartache. That’s never easy, even if it’s for the right reason.”
Victor realized he was still shaking her hand and let go.
“Goodbye, Victor. Good luck to you.”
“Goodbye, Shannon.” And because it was the appropriate thing to do once you said goodbye, Victor walked away. When he turned to take a last look, Shannon sharply moved her gaze to her coffee.
About the author
Catherine Bybee is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author. She has written twenty-eight books that have collectively sold more than 4.5 million copies and have been translated into more than a dozen languages. Raised in Washington State, Bybee moved to Southern California in the hope of becoming a movie star. After growing bored with waiting tables, she returned to school and became a registered nurse, spending most of her career in urban emergency rooms. She now writes full-time and has penned the Not Quite series, the Weekday Brides Series, the Most Likely To Series, the First Wives Series, and The Creek Canyon Series.