Although truthfully, he didn’t look very angelic at the moment. His eye
s were glistening with rage. She knew him well enough to know this could mean trouble for the other boys. He was the brother of one of her best friends in the world, Callie Duvall. Another of her closest friends, Charlotte Duvall, was his cousin.
Morgan shivered at the intensity of his expression. He seemed so filled with anger. And it was all directed at the group of boys.
“What are you going to do?” Tommy jeered. He took a step toward Luke. Morgan shivered, knowing Luke knew how to defend himself quite well.
“Why don’t you test me and find out?” Luke challenged, meeting him halfway so that they were mere inches apart from one another.
“Me too,” another voice chimed in. “If you’re going to fight Luke, you’re going to have to go through me too.” Case Duvall, Luke’s cousin, stood behind him, a grim expression etched on his face. With his similar features and dirty blond hair, Case looked a lot like Luke.
Morgan breathed a sigh of relief. Now at least Luke had back up. The thought of anyone hurting Luke caused a sad feeling to wash over her. He was the sweetest boy she had ever known. And although she knew he could defend himself, she didn’t like the thought of him being ganged up on.
Suddenly, the other boys looked nervous. Case had a reputation as a tough guy. It was clear that they didn’t want to take on the Duvall boys.
“Aww, it’s not worth it,” Preston said, waving his hand dismissively in the air. He shot her a nasty look full of venom. Morgan shivered. Why did he hate her so much? She hadn’t done a single thing to him.
Luke jutted his chin at Preston. “Leave Morgan alone, you hear?”
Preston looked as if he was going to argue the point with Luke. Case took two steps towards him with raised fists. Preston immediately began to retreat. All of the boys began running toward the beach. With a loud cackle of laughter, Case took off after them. Morgan didn’t think any of the boys wanted to see what happened if Case caught up with them.
“Thank you, Luke.” She sent him a shaky smile. Her nerves were still on edge. “You were so brave.”
Luke grinned at her, causing a fluttery sensation low in her belly. What in the world was wrong with her? She didn’t even like boys. Most of them were yucky. She was certain they had cooties. But not Luke, she reminded herself. Never Luke.
“I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty,” Luke said, his expression cocky. “I would have fought them all, even without Case’s help.”
“I’m glad you didn’t have to. Come in to the kitchen for a minute,” Morgan said, beckoning Luke to the back door. With a curious look etched on his face, Luke made his way to her side and followed her through the back door to the kitchen. She watched as Luke inhaled the delicious scent of her cupcakes. He was practically salivating over them. A sweet, succulent aroma hung in the air.
“This is for you, Luke. Thank you for coming to my rescue.” Morgan reached out and handed Luke the chocolate cupcake with the raspberry buttercream frosting.
“Wow. This is awesome. Did you make it?” Luke asked, his eyes as wide as saucers.
“Yes,” Morgan said proudly. “I made about three dozen. You can take some home with you if you’d like.”
“Really? I’d love to take some home with me, but I don’t want to take all of your cupcakes.” Luke’s expression was sheepish.
Morgan got the impression he was being humble. She knew he loved sweets. And she felt so grateful that he’d stood up for her and taken on those mean boys.
Morgan shrugged. “I have plenty and I can always make more. I love baking.”
Luke peeled the paper down and took a big bite. He rubbed his stomach and let out a load groan. “This is delicious, Morgan. Better than the ones in the store.”
“Really?” she asked in a high-pitched voice that bordered on a squeal. Receiving a compliment from Luke felt as good as basking in the sun or picking flowers in a field. “I want to bake for a living one day. Chef. Baker. I want to have my own business. A restaurant or a bakery. Maybe even both,” she said with a shrug. She was babbling a little bit, but there was something about Luke that made her nervous.
“You’re good enough, that’s for sure,” Luke said with a huge grin. There were bits of chocolate on his front teeth. Morgan covered her mouth and giggled. Luke shot her a quizzical look.
“You’ve got chocolate on your teeth,” she told him, smiling at how funny it looked. It didn’t stop him from being handsome. That’s for sure!
“Just wait. I’ll get you some milk to go with the cupcakes.” She walked over toward the fridge and pulled out a carton of milk. She reached into the cupboard for a glass and filled it to the top with milk.
She handed the glass to Luke, who immediately began gulping it down. When he came up for air he said, “It’s pretty neat that Miss Hattie lets you cook in here.”
She nodded at Luke. Morgan couldn’t agree with him more. “It sure is. Miss Hattie says that cooking is my calling and that I shouldn’t squander my talent.”
“She’s right. You really are talented.” He made a face. “Wish I was good at something. I’m pretty average at everything.” The expression on Luke’s face made Morgan’s chest tighten. He looked so wounded.
“That’s not true,” she said in a raised voice. “You have such a nice singing voice, Luke. I don’t know anyone who can sing as well as you can. I almost cried in church the other day it was so beautiful.”