Like a Memory(4)

By: Abbi Glines

The problem with Lila Kate was we thought of each other as family. She was just like another little sister. She knew it and felt the same way. Our mothers, however, were still holding onto hope and believing we could still get married. That we would magically come together.

Octavia fit me. We were more alike than my mother realized. We both wanted to make our own mark on the world separate from our well-known parents. We wanted to travel and didn’t want kids. She was a touch spoiled. No, actually Octavia was ruined, but we’d agreed to sign prenup agreements to protect both of our interests.

What my parents had was rare. You didn’t find a lot of them out there in this world anymore. Sure, I’d grown up around family and friends that lived in similar circumstances and had great marriages. But I wasn’t like them or their children. I didn’t want to settle down in Rosemary Beach, breed and raise my offspring. Neither did I desire afternoons filled with golf followed by dinner at the Kerrington, the elite country club in town. I wanted to chase a life that I didn’t know and depend on myself for a living. I wanted to be my own man.

I shoved those thoughts aside. That was the life my mother wanted for me. Not the one I wanted and she knew it. She’d respect it. Time to focus on what I needed to do. I was here to get Octavia’s shipment moved in while she was in Rome buying more. Her grand opening was two weeks away. There was a lot to be done in fourteen days and I had a feeling I was going to be stuck. The only positive was I’d have time with my grandpop while doing this shit for Octavia. My mom’s dad owned a restaurant in Sea Breeze, Alabama where the first Octavia’s was opening. Next month the tourists would come and she wanted to be ready for them.

I pulled the keys to her store from my pocket and headed for the seaside location. Of course, her store was right in the most expensive part of the strip. Grandpop’s place wasn’t anything like this. It was far from the higher end, brand new construction. His place had character that didn’t overwhelm you. Octavia’s business had polish and flair, but it didn’t have a history like grandpop’s.

The door to Octavia’s swung open and out stepped a tower of boxes. I stopped, because the tower was tipping towards me, and just before it crashed I spoke.

“Careful,” I said, before reaching to steady the body behind the cardboard. “Can you see where you’re going?”

A heard a squeal and then they came down. I moved to help when my eyes locked with a pair I knew all too well. I’d only seen eyes like that once before and they were blue and deep and cool. The long thick dark hair tumbling down past her shoulders was also familiar to me. She was older and her body now curved in all the right places. She had definitely developed since the teenage years. No longer fifteen she’d become a woman.

Bliss York had been my first love. Or so I’d thought back then. Come to find out she’d been my first lust, because I had no idea how to love. Her face could stop traffic and that was without any makeup. She was as natural as I remembered. Nothing fake about her. Her smile had once made everything perfect in my world.

“Oh, I’m sorry . . .” she said, trailing off as her eyes scanned my face. I saw the realization there. She remembered me. Knew who I was. The boy who had given her that first kiss. Told her he would love her forever. Then I left after a summer of what I thought was the beginning of forever. I’d been a bit of a dreamer back then. It was before I realized that women weren’t as soft and pretty on the inside as they were on the outside. My mother was perfect, inside and out, but my little sister Ophelia had a definite evil streak.

“You work here?” I asked before she could say my name. I didn’t want to remember that summer. I had remembered it for far too long. Once I finally got it through my head that Bliss York wasn’t the perfect girl, I’d let myself forget her entirely.

She opened her mouth to speak, then slowly nodded her head.

I knew that Octavia had hired someone to help her get things ready. I just hadn’t been told her name. Not that it mattered. That was seven summer’s back and a part of my past that would stay there.

I picked up a fallen box. “I’m Octavia’s fiancé Nate.” That should answer her questions and also lead her to believe I didn’t remember. “I’ll get these boxes to the recycle bin.”

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