Carissa had only been to her parents home for less than 24 hours. She had limited herself to just a visit or two per year, telling herself that some day she would miss them and regret not making the effort. But when she was around them she only to run home, to the home she had created across the country from her parents.
Years of abuse makes some people desire a relationship with their parents, makes them want to take this broken thing so intertwined in human nature and make it bright, shiny and whole again. Not Carissa. She gave up on that dream years ago, leaving all the baggage in this shit hole of a town as soon as she could.
Only, the baggage always seemed to show up uninvited. Sometimes it would show up at her office when she would get corrected by a boss, reminding her of how little she seemed to get right growing up. Or the baggage would show up at at a pool party, when she saw her reflection in the water and only saw the Michelin man, not the body God had gifted her with. Or, worse yet, it would show up in her relationships. She would sense a dissatisfaction in something she had said or done, fear their overreaction or anger, and end it before it had a chance to get ugly. Only, her partners were nice men, not her parents, and she hurt others much too often in the process.
She parked her car outside her favorite little care in this perfect little seaside town she had chosen on her own to live, a choice she made totally on her own and completely against her parents’ wishes. She was still rattled and felt herself nearly stomp her way to the front door. She reached for the handle vigorously, trying to calm her nerves before she made a scene, but as her hand reached the hot metal of the business door handle, it started to open on its own. The quick change in force had her stumbling backwards, trying to catch her balance in her heels before she made a fool of herself.
It was too late. Already the body behind the glass doors had emerged, she was taken aback. He was the most handsome male she had ever seen in her entire life, and she had seen plenty of men. He was easily over six feet tall, wide shoulders and a trim waist. He had the darkest brown hair, a sweet chocolate she wanted to swirl her hands in and pull him close with. His dark eyes to match drew her in, and when she really looked at him, she could see he felt bad. As if it was his fault she was off kilter all day.
She shook her head, mentally shaking off her odd mood, plastered a smile on her face and attempted the door again, this time a little more lady like.
Byron was just leaving the little local cafe when he nearly rammed right into the female on the other side of the door. And it wasn’t just any female, it was a sassy, petite female with a short dramatic cut of her wildly curly hair and eyes to match. Her eyes looked like wild flames, the color dancing in the noon day sun. It was so incredibly and wildly attractive that it took him a moment to realize he was still holding the door, preventing her from entering.
He opened it a little further when she had caught her balance, and tried to apologize. “I’m so sorry, ma’am, I didn’t see…”
She cut him off quickly, not but rudely. “Please, call me Carissa. Ma’am makes me feel old,” she said with a quick wink. “and no worries. I was a little distracted myself.”
Instead of moving past him, she held his gaze. His brain needed to be rewired. She had short circuited any rational thought with just a look of her eye. “I, uhm, feel bad. Can I get your lunch to make up for my clumsy mistake?”
“I believe it was my clumsy mistake, not yours, so no meal necessary,” she said sweetly, waving him off.
“What if I said I wanted to have lunch with you, for me?” he asked, hoping she would say yes. He suddenly wanted to know what distracted her, what she loved and what she hated. Her eyes widened in surprise, her brows arching up just a bit, and that fire was set in her eyes again, drawing him back for more, damn the consequences.
She hesitated for a moment, as if she was trying to verbalize the onslaught of feelings that were indescribable.
“Please tell me you feel it, too,” he said, knowing she was feeling as overwhelmed as he was, hoping she had the confidence to face it head on.
She nodded, that short little hair cut of hers adding a dramatic flair that intrigued him further. Her smile lit him on fire, and as they walked back into the little cafe, he couldn’t help but think he would walk through flames for her, and he had only known here a matter of minutes.
This little local cafe just might be his new favorite place to be.
Or in her arms, whatever he could get.