“I’m scared,” she said once we were alone again. She spoke quietly enough, though, that someone more than a few feet away wouldn’t have been able to overhear.
“Scared because of what happened last night?”
“I just don’t like being that vulnerable to someone, and I’m embarrassed.”
That was a lot packed into one short statement. It would no doubt take more than one conversation to reassure her that I was never going to hurt her. In fact, I would make sure she was never hurt again.
So, instead of trying to reassure her, I said, “Last night was the best night of my life. It wasn’t just sex.” I stepped forward and put a hand on either of her shoulders, looking down into her eyes. “Do you trust me?”
She stared back at me, and I saw something shift. Fear turned to trust. Somehow, she knew I’d always take care of her.
“I’ve spent all my life looking for someone like you,” I said. “I never would have imagined my father would send my dream woman into my life, but that’s exactly what he did.”
“Not on purpose,” she said. “In fact, he’ll probably be furious when he hears.”
“He won’t be when I tell him that I’m madly in love with you. But he might be mad when I tell him I don’t want to spend the rest of my life going from bar to bar, training employees. They’ll have to come here, or I can train them remotely. I’ll travel every now and then, but I’m not going to live my life on the road.”
As she stared at me, I realized that I’d fallen in love with a woman whose career kept her on the road. And there was no way to know if she’d ever want to stay in one place, especially in a small town like this one.
“My life is here in Blackbear Bluff,” I said. “I love this bar and this town. I can’t imagine living anywhere else. But if you don’t mind having company on the road every now and then, I could hire someone to run this place.”
She shook her head. “Most of what I do is online. I do have to travel sometimes for speaking engagements. But there’s no reason I couldn’t make my home right here. If, that is, things work out.”
There was still a shyness to her, and I got it. We’d technically just met, but I knew this was it. This was what I’d searched all my life to find.
“We’ll work it all out,” I said. I looked over her head in the direction of the doors down the hall from us. “Do you still have the key to that room?”
Emerald smiled. “I do.”
“I think we should have a lunchtime quickie before we return to work.”
She gasped. “Did you leave the bar unattended?”
“My sister can take care of things,” he said. “She’s as good at it as I am. I don’t know why she’s in college. She just wanted to get a degree, I guess, but whether she knows it or not, that bar is her future.”
There was plenty of time to worry about that. Right now, I wanted a second chance at what we’d done last night. Only this time, it would be more romantic. It would be on a soft mattress instead of a hard desk.
I grabbed her hand and her bag and led her back to her room. I had a feeling there would be a lot more lunchtime quickies in our future.
Scoreboard Bar and Grill was packed. Not with townspeople. Well, technically, they were all townspeople. But they were, first and foremost, our closest friends.
“Surprise!” they yelled in unison the second two of us entered the bar.
I let go of Bo’s hand and covered my mouth. As I looked around, a surge of emotions rushed through me. I loved these people. I loved this town. I thanked God every day that Bo’s dad sent me here.
“You didn’t think we’d let the two of you get engaged without a party,” our friend Jared said, a big smile on his face.
Jared and Bo had always been buddies, but they were even closer now that the two of them had something in common. They’d both found the loves of their lives. The same story went for most of our friend group. They’d all fallen in love around the same time.
“Get in here, you two,” Bo’s sister Abbie said, gesturing for us to enter.
After one glance at each other, we complied. Bo started toward the bar, but Abbie’s best friend Skylar stepped in his way.
“Where do you think you’re going?” Skylar asked. “Neither one of you is working tonight.”