I thought it was time for another snip… enjoy! Happy Friday!
I heard music blaring from inside the house, so I wasn’t sure if Wade could even hear the doorbell, but I kept trying it. He’d been coming by the shop every few days. I’d try to talk him into something new; he’d still choose the Frozen Sunshine, but promise that he’d try something new soon. I quickly learned that orange was his favorite flavor.
Which led to me standing at his front door with a plastic container of orange cranberry muffins, leaning on the doorbell like my life depended on it. I’d almost given up when I heard the music cut out. I pressed the doorbell button again, this time hearing it chime throughout the house.
I stepped back and waited for the footsteps that eventually came and for the door to swing open. The surprise on Wade’s face as he opened the door made me giggle. That I knew of, he didn’t know anyone else on Black Diamond— who else would be at his door?
“I’ve been standing out here so long, these muffins are probably cold.”
He eyed the container and stepped aside to let me into the house. “Sorry, I couldn’t hear with the music going. What’s up?”
“Not too much. I just whipped these up for the shop.” I gestured toward the container. “I thought I would bring you a few. They’re orange cranberry.”
The slow, sexy smile that spread across his face did things to my body, made it tingle in a way it hadn’t in awhile. I’d been so head down for the past few years, working two, sometimes three jobs to save enough to move to Black Diamond and open Tikis & Cream. I’d cut out dating and most forms of socializing. I only ever saw Paige when she dropped into the bar where I served drinks. I could catch my family at the weekly, non-negotiable Sunday dinner. Otherwise, unless I worked a shift with one of them, I rarely saw them.
But it was worth it, since I was standing in the front hall of a home worth a couple million dollars, smiling into the face of a world renowned music producer.
Wade took the container and nodded his head for me to follow. I looked around while trailing him to the kitchen, my eyes wide at how the other half lived— italian tile, dark marble, huge rooms with sweeping views. I thought I had a nice view of the beach from my little house, but the windows alone blew me away.
“Uhm… so Gage just lets you live in his house?”
“Yeah,” he answered, pulling the lid off of the container and plucking a mini-muffin from inside. He grinned, then sniffed it, then popped the whole thing into his mouth. “Uhmm… mmmm…these are good,” he mumbled around a mouthful of muffin.
“Hey, don’t choke. I’m not doing the Heimlich on you.”
He chuckled, then reached for two more muffins. “These won’t last the night. Guarantee. They’re really good.”
“Thank you,” I said, feeling proud.
“Let me show you around. Gage and his wife don’t really use the house as much as they thought they would. Her family has a spot down in Jamaica and she’s used to going there. Happy wife, happy life is Gage’s motto, so…”
He led me out of the kitchen, through a spacious dining room with a long cherry wood table and stately chairs covered in white fabric. We passed a formal sitting room and living room, ending up in what I supposed was the family room. It was much more casual and laid back— still upscale, but this room at least looked like it had been used.
“The house is here, sitting empty. I needed some time away from the city. Here I am.”
He walked toward the patio doors and pushed them open, revealing a large wooden deck that put mine to shame. The sunset in the distance, only slightly obscured by clouds, gave us a gorgeous light show across the Bay.
He gestured toward a seat at the patio table, which had an colorful umbrella shading it, its panels flapping in the light breeze. “Can I get you something to drink? I can’t make that orange thing, but I could grab you some water, juice or soda. I have some blood orange San Pellegrino, actually. Been waiting to bust into the four pack.”
“I’m flattered that you would share your own orange concoction with me. I’ll have one of those.”
He left and returned with the container of muffins he’d left in the kitchen and two bottles of San Pellegrino. I took one and twisted it open, then gulped down a delicious swallow, tart and rich with orange flavor. “Ooh, these are good. I might have to think of a reason to order them.”
“You should create a drink with it. That would be amazing.” He uncapped his bottle and practically poured half of it down his throat, then reached for another muffin. “These are all for me, right? Because I plan on eating all of them.”
“Yes, Wade,” I answered, laughing. “I was messing around in the kitchen, trying to create some things I could carry in the shop. I was thinking about your love for all things orange and remembered I had my grandmother’s recipes. I decided to make a few dozen, try them out over the next few days.”
“Well,” he said, popping another one into his mouth. “These will be a hit.”
“I’m so glad you like them.” I paused, letting an awkward, too-flirtatious moment pass. “Uh…I heard music when I walked up. I hope I’m not cutting into your work time.”
“Nah,” he said, waving me off. “Don’t worry about that. I’m always working, but you’re never an interruption.”
I blushed. Just a little. Obviously two were playing this flirting game. “Noted.”
“Especially if you’re going to bring me treats.”
He popped another muffin into his mouth and rubbed the palms of his hands together. “So, you said you just moved out here, but you know so much about the island. Is Black Diamond that small? You already made your rounds?”
“Oh, no. I used to come down here when I was a kid. My grandparents scrimped and saved to be able to buy a little place to retire to. They’re long gone, but I inherited the house when my grandmother died.”
He turned his head to give a respectful gaze to the little red wooden house with the much smaller wooden deck. “That’s nice. Real nice. Your folks are proud of you, I’m sure.”
I almost laughed, but caught myself. My folks thought I was out of my mind, careless and making a huge mistake. “What about you? Have you already… made your rounds?”
He chuckled, weaving his fingers together. “I haven’t done much since I’ve been down here but work. I probably need to take you up on that tour you offered.”
“Probably,” I said, nodding.
“Well… what are you doing tomorrow night?”
“So you live in Brooklyn? What part?”
“The Heights.” Wade kept pace with me as we walked the streets of Black Diamond and I showed him the important sites— the bank, the farmer’s market, the grocery store with the best prices and organic meat, both gyms, and my favorite bakery, Adele’s.
Though it had changed hands many times over the years, it was still standing, still serving piping hot breads, pastries and muffins. My grandmother and I used to walk to Adele’s on Sunday mornings to get half a dozen donuts, then sit on the deck and eat them. I still feel like she’s with me when I splurge on one of the huge glazed pastries.
“That’s a nice neighborhood,” I commented. “Although it’s quite bougie and upscale.” I nudged him with my elbow.
“Yeah,” he agreed with a grin, nodding. “It’s a far cry from Queens, that’s for sure. How about you? Where’s your family?”
I almost didn’t answer, because for all my teasing about Brooklyn Heights, my family’s neighborhood was no slouch. “We’re… uh… mostly around the Park Slope area.”
Wade stopped in his tracks, tossed his head back and laughed. Loud and hard. “You talked about me being bougie and upscale? Ya’ll live in one of, if not the most desireable neighborhoods in New York!”
“Go ahead, tease away. My parents bought a place in the 70’s and just… never left. When I was growing up, it wasn’t like that. It was just home.”
“Yeah, I feel you. I don’t really feel like Brooklyn Heights is any better than anywhere else. I’ve been there so long, it’s just home to me.”
“Gage is in Manhattan right??”
He nodded his head, slurping down the last of the Frozen Sunshine I had made for him before we set out on our tour. He’d shown up just as I was closing up shop. I liked to be good and gone before the more rowdy evening beach crowd came through. “Gage’s girl is into nice things and nice places and Sheree gets what Sheree wants. They have a nice spot, though. Very comfortable.”
“Have you ever… I don’t know, thought about settling down? Like them? Meet a nice girl from Brooklyn, have some kids?”
He shrugged a shoulder as his gaze swept to the sidewalk. “Hasn’t really been on my radar, to tell the truth. My job takes a lot of commitment and it’s hard when you do what I do.”
“Hard as in how? Hard to open the door and see the women piled up outside of it?”
He laughed, dipping his head in mock humility. “I mean, I meet women all the time, of course. Comes with the territory. But you can’t just trust everyone you come into contact with. It’s not like out here, where you just believe people are good, with honest intentions. You don’t know people’s motivations. Does she like me? Or does she like what I can do for her or get for her? Hard to tell.”
“I guess I can understand that.”
“Trying to figure it out is a distraction that I don’t need. I date here and there but I don’t get serious enough to consider making room for her toothbrush, let alone for marriage.”
I laughed at his quip, but also heard the gravity in his tone. I could identify with the sentiment, if not the situation. My family wasn’t overly wealthy, but even I had side eyed a heavily interested man or two, especially after he learned that I was being groomed to take over the business.
“Tell you what, though,” he said, brightening. “Those muffins? These Frozen Sunshines?” He shook the empty plastic cup at me. “These are the way to a man’s heart. Mine at least.”
I chuckled, brushing off his comment and that tingle that I’d felt the night before. I could not get my emotions tangled up with this man. He was on a plane much higher than mine.
And, I reminded myself, he was leaving at the end of the summer.
“So,” I said, continuing my tour, “over that way is Brightman’s. It’s Black Diamond’s oldest bookshop. They also sell stationery, some music, cool little knickknacks. Even if you’re not a book person, you should drop in there at least once before you leave the island.”
Wade nodded appreciatively. “Cool. I like to get my read on.”
Against my better judgement and all my self control, my heart bloomed. “Yeah? What do you like?”
“Horror, usually. King is the man. Koontz creeps me out, but I can’t stop reading once I start. Gets my heart pumping. Lately I’ve reading a lot of… what do they call it? Self improvement. Encouragement. I read Obama’s books. Rich Dad, Poor Dad. Joel Osteen is preppy for me, but still a good word. Sometimes I just need a sentence or two to start my day off.”
“I just started reading a book called You Are a Badass.”
“Nuh uh.” He glanced at me, then laughed when I nodded. “I’m going to need to borrow that when you’re done with it.”
“For sure. I’m almost done. I’ll bring to the shop and you can grab it the next time you’re in.”
“Or… you could bring it by the house and let me treat you to dinner.”
I opened my mouth to quickly decline, but the words wouldn’t come out. I couldn’t tell if he was flirting or being nice and that was driving me crazy.
“I see you over there, trying to figure out how to let me down gently.” He grinned, showing off a perfect smile.
“I’m… not. Actually.” What the hell am I doing? “When you say treat me to dinner…”
“Exactly what I said. Now that I know where to buy good food, I want to go grocery shopping, light up that big ass stove in that big ass kitchen.”
“You cook?” Jesus, help me. “What can you cook? Like what’s a dish you cook well?”
“You ask like you’re expecting me to serve poptarts and spaghetti-o’s. Don’t worry about it. Just come by on Saturday. Around seven. Is that enough time to close up the shop and get home?”
“Plenty. I’m looking forward to poptarts and spaghetti-o’s.”
We continued walking, picking up the path that led to the strip along the beach, where we’d begun our journey. “And if you show up without those little orange cranberry things, I’m not letting you in the door.”