“We’re leaving first thing tomorrow morning,” Evelyn said, barreling through her daughter’s arguments. “I’ve ordered Henri to pick me up by seven. I estimate we’ll be there between four and five in the afternoon.”
Callie didn’t bother to argue further. Once Evelyn Henderson made up her mind, there was no getting around her. She was like a giant boulder, rolling where and when she wanted, and to hell with anything in her path.
“Fine,” she said, sinking deeper into the comfy chair. “I’ll email Henri directions to the cottage.” Callie considered calling her cousin to suggest she conveniently forget Evelyn, but Henri might actually do it, and that would lead to more guilt.
And her mother would still find a way to land on her doorstep within the day. She’d probably fly in. By broom.
“I assume you’ve made sure this cottage allows pets,” Evelyn said. Her questions always came out as statements. A trait that had been annoying to Callie as a child, but maddening as an adult. “Or maybe you’ve forgotten about Cecil already.”
She had not forgotten about Cecil, though she might have failed to mention him to Sam.
“Cecil will be fine,” she said, jotting down a note to ask Sam about the cottage’s pet policy. “He’ll have a lovely view.” Callie glanced through the wall of windows to her right. The ocean stretched as far as the eye could see.
“Good. I need to go feed him and pack his things,” Evelyn said. “We’ll call when we reach the island.”
“Unless you stop and find a landline, you’re not going to be able to call.”
Evelyn snorted, though she’d never admit to doing something so unladylike. “We’ll see.”
The line went dead. Callie pressed the END button on the handset and sank even deeper into the chair, until she was nearly horizontal. Twenty-four hours of peace before Hurricane Evelyn arrived. Enough time to buy provisions. Now to figure out where to get wine.
S am wasn’t sure what had compelled him to drive over to the Sunset Harbor Inn on Wednesday afternoon. As he pulled into the parking lot, he reminded the questioning part of his brain that he didn’t need a reason to visit his own hotel. A hotel that was about to undergo a full-on renovation. A renovation that had to be finished in less than three months.
Hitting that deadline would require his full attention, and Callie would have it whenever she needed it. He’d agreed to turn over some of the decision making, but on such a tight schedule, he couldn’t afford for Callie to make a major purchase that didn’t fit his vision, only to find out after it was too late to choose an alternative.
Or so he rationalized.
As he stepped out of his Murano, something caught Sam’s eye from across the street. There was an older-model green pickup parked in the cottage driveway, and two women unloading boxes and suitcases. One of them was Callie, but all Sam could make out of the other was a shock of white-blond hair and dark clothing.
Curiosity carried him the short distance to the cottage; he told himself the entire way that he was not being nosy. They might need him to help carry something. Big, muscly man to the rescue and all that.
Sam had never fancied himself a Neanderthal, but even he recognized the caveman idiocy in that thought.
As he reached the tailgate of the truck, the platinum-haired stranger stepped off the porch. “Hello,” she said with a smile, curiosity glowing in her chestnut eyes. “I’m guessing you’re not a well-dressed bandit looking to steal my cousin’s meager belongings from the back of my truck.”
“No,” Sam said, extending a hand. “I’m Sam Edwards. If Callie is the owner of these boxes, then I’m your cousin’s new boss.”
“That Sam, huh?” The eyes turned knowing, and he opted not to comment further as they shook hands. “I’m Henri,” she said. His thoughts must have shown on his face, since she added, “Cal’s mom and