Concealed Attractions (Cedar Island Tales)

Concealed Attractions (Cedar Island Tales) by Kate Vale Read Free Book Online

Book: Concealed Attractions (Cedar Island Tales) by Kate Vale Read Free Book Online
Authors: Kate Vale
had to leave early. Have a seat and dig into the dip. I know you like guacamole.”
    S alsa music issued from the radio set up in the cabin. An hour later, Ben swayed to the music and nearly sl ipped as he balanced on one foot.  
    Bronnie laughed. “You can’t drive home if you’re drunk, so watch your intake, young man.”
    “I’ll stick with soda. ” Ben held up a can of beer in Danni’s direction . She trad ed jibes with Bronnie and dar ed Ben to balance with his eyes closed , which he did with ease, claiming he wasn’t really drunk , just tipsy with happiness .
    When Angela turned off the radio and announced that she was cutting the cake, the five of them raise d their glasses and toasted Ben — now an old man of twenty-four — and sang “Happy Birthday . ” He bowed dee ply and reached for the gifts piled on the table.
    Joel’s present was a procedures record book , to keep track of the different surgeries and other clinical skills Ben would be learning during his externship. 
    “Hey, thanks, Joel. This will come in handy.”
    Angela gave Ben a sweatshirt from the University of Washington, cross-state rival to Washington State University , along with a note requiring that he wear it to no fewer than ten home games. She kissed him on both cheeks, causing him to blush .
    “I want to see pictures of you wearing it at those games after you go back for your last year, whether it’s football or basketball season.”
    “You’re trying to get me killed, aren’t you?” H e smirk ed.
    “I know you need to eat, and how little you are being paid .” Bronwyn handed him a gift certificate good for two meals at one of her favorite restaurants in town . “You can order out and they deliver, too,” she added when he thanked her.
    Ben reached for the little package Danni had brought. “ Love the original wrapping.” He winked at her.
    “I hope you like it.” Her voice s ound ed shy again , not like when they had gone to the Point and she’d so confident ly point ed out different aspects of Cedar Island .
    He removed the paper to reveal a small book , written by a young man whose memoir recorded his experiences in the CCC in the mid-1930s.
    “Cool! Where did you find this?”
    “I talked to the owner of the used book store near Buckley .” She looked at her watch . “I think I’d bette r be going. I promised my d ad I wouldn’t stay out too late and — ”
    “You have to be at work on time tomorrow , ” Joel finished her sentence .
    “ R ight.”
    “I’ll drop you off, Danni ,” Bronnie offered. 
    Ben watched them go then returned to the stern and sat down, disappointed that Danni had left.
    “She’s a nice girl,” Angela said to Joel, “and very thoughtful. How’d you ever get her to come to work for you again ?”
    “My magnanimous pe rsonality. ” He reached up to push a strand of her blond hair away from her face.
    Ben looked over at the two of them , feeling like an intruder , wondering absently when a woman would look at him like Angela was eyeing Joel . As the moon rose and shone on the water, he gathered his presents together, and said his good-byes.
    The boat bobbed gently next to the dock. Angela look ed into Joel’s dark eyes as he moved closer to her , acutely aware of the sexual tension his nearness created dee p in her middle .
    “Keep your distance, Joel , o r I’m going to leave.” S he started to rise from her seat.
    “You lo ok so good, Angie. I can’t help it if I appreciate that. I was thinking now that you live so close—your practice just down the road from mine—we might pick up where we left off.”
    “Where we left off was fighting,” she gently reminded him and began stacking the dirty dishes.
    “You know I didn’t mean that. In fact, now that you mention it , we didn’t always fight.” He almost looked wistful when she glanced his way.
    “No, we didn’t.” 
    They had met as undergrads in biochem istry class . Her parents—her mother , in

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