“No offense,” Morgan said in a teasing voice, “but you were involved in a mini scandal in Savannah. Luke and I…it’s complicated, but it’s not scandalous.”
Fancy narrowed her gaze. “Hmm. Wonder what Callie would think of one of her besties being secretly involved with her brother.”
Although Fancy’s tone was light and teasing, dread rose up inside Morgan. She was right! What would Callie think about the fact that she’d been involved with Luke and hadn’t told her a single thing about it? Had she broken the girl code? Callie was a sweetheart, but after everything she’d revealed about her own biological family and her adoptive parents having separated her from her brother, Mac Donahue, might she feel betrayed by Morgan? Callie had never hidden any of her own drama. She had been as open as a book.
Fancy jabbed her in the side. “Hey. I’m just kidding. Don’t look so worried.”
Morgan bit her lip. “Luke’s with Violet now. It’s all in the past. But I do wonder what Callie would think. I don’t want her to believe I was disloyal to her and our friendship.”
Morgan couldn’t help but to follow Luke’s movements with her gaze. He seemed to radiate raw energy. All of his movements were magnetic and eye-catching.
“Judging by the way you’re looking at him, the feelings are still there,” Fancy noted. She reached out and placed her arm around Morgan. “I’m sorry that things didn’t work out.”
“It was my fault,” Morgan admitted, tearing her gaze away from Luke. She didn’t need anyone else to notice that she was pining away for Luke. It was strange. Fancy discovering her deep dark secret actually made her feel better about the situation. For so long she’d been hiding her feelings for Luke. Being able to talk about it with Fancy felt freeing. “I ended things because I didn’t have courage. I was weak.”
Fancy frowned. “That doesn’t sound like the Morgan I know and love. You’re one of the bravest women I know. You left Savannah to work as a chef in Paris. That’s shows a great deal of courage, my friend. We definitely need to discuss this later.”
Just then more guests arrived—four ladies who were having a girlfriends’ weekend to celebrate their birthdays. Morgan stepped forward to greet the and welcome them to Savannah House. She needed to focus on business and put Luke firmly out of her mind. The fact that he was standing a mere twenty feet away was proving to be a tad distracting.
Fancy had just shown her that hiding her feelings in Luke’s presence was impossible. Morgan didn’t have a clue how to successfully conceal her love for him. And she did love him. She couldn’t imagine not loving Luke Duvall. He had imprinted himself on her heart back when she was a girl. A feeling of such intense longing filled her heart almost to overflowing. Morgan felt as if she might burst. Sweet, handsome Luke.
“What time is the welcome reception?” One of the latest arrivals—Peggy—stood in front of her asking a question.
Snap out of it! She needed to focus on Savannah House. This was the dream that had come to fruition. Luke had been her heart’s desire, but their love hadn’t been strong enough to meet the challenges they’d faced. And she had been the one who had cut things off, then fled to Paris to mend her broken heart. She had no right to wallow in it now or feel jealous about Violet.
Morgan looked at her watch. “It’s in one hour. So you can head upstairs to your room and unpack your bags if you’d like.”
“Thanks,” Peggy said, her eyes wide as she looked around her at Savannah House and its gleaming hardwood floors, mahogany balustrade, vintage lamps and stained glass windows. “This place is spectacular,” she said in an awestruck tone.
Morgan chuckled. “It really is. We feel very blessed to be running the place. If you would like one of us to give you a tour, just let us know. We’re here to accommodate all of your needs. We want you to have a lovely stay here on Tybee Island.”
Peggy beamed at Morgan and walked over to join her friends who were congregating in the parlor. She looked around her. There was a buzz in the air as the guests began to circulate. Hope was offering tours of the garden while Fancy was discussing the eighteenth century origins of a mahogany side table with one of the guests.
Morgan knew it was high time she disappeared into the kitchen and began setting up the appetizers for the reception. She had already prepped the food earlier, so there was nothing to really worry about. When it came to food, Morgan was a perfectionist. She wouldn’t be satisfied unless every single detail worked out perfectly.
Morgan quickly made her way into the kitchen. Bottles of champagne and sparkling cider sat on the counter, along with glass flutes. They had hired four servers who would be helping out during the reception. Morgan made a mental check list. Mini crab cakes. Bruschetta. Stuffed mushroom caps. Chicken satay on skewers. Savannah shrimp bites. Morgan busied herself going over all of the last minute details.
The sound of footsteps caused her to swing her gaze toward the entryway to the kitchen. Luke stood there, looking more handsome than he had a right to look. A sweet smile graced his lips. She ran a hand through her hair, hoping she looked fairly presentable.
“I hope I’m not interrupting anything,” Luke said, the rich timbre of his voice as smooth as glass. Shivers raced down her back at the sound of it.
“No, of course not,” she blurted out. “I’m just getting everything ready for the reception.”
Luke sniffed the air. “Mmm. Can’t say I’m surprised, but it smells delicious in here.”
He walked closer, making his way toward the butcher block island in a few easy strides. She stood on one side, while he stood across from her. Tension hummed in the space between them.
Luke locked eyes with her. Morgan shivered. Why did it always seem as if Luke was able to see straight through her, right down to the things that mattered most? “How are you doing? I know this is one of those life moments you’ll never forget.”
She swallowed past her nervousness. “I’m doing fine. Honestly, I can’t believe the big day has arrived. All I keep thinking is that I need my food to be as amazing as Savannah House.” She let out a shaky laugh. “I don’t want to be the weak link.”
“Are you kidding me?” Luke asked with a shake of his head. “You could never be that in a million years. Your cooking is food for the soul.”
She let out the breath she’d been holding. Luke had a way of calming her like no other. It was a special gift he possessed. “Thank you. I couldn’t help but notice you brought your guitar. Are you performing?”
Luke made a face. “Callie asked me to sing during the reception.” He quirked his mouth. “I hope that’s all right.” He shifted from one foot to the other. “We haven’t really talked since you’ve been back from France. I hope my presence here doesn’t bother you.”
Bother her? Although Luke’s presence distracted her from everything else, there was no way he could ever be a bother. “Of course not! You have every right to be here, especially since Callie invited you. We’re still—” Her voice faltered. She didn’t know how to finish her sentence.