The road wound around and around on itself and Stuart swung the wheel to keep the car moving in the direction he wanted and not off the edge of the cliffs. The sea battered itself against the rock and he contemplated pulling over and letting the wind drive the thoughts from his head.
An image of Carrie haunted his every waking moment, every time he closed his eyes he could see her smile. All he’d ever wanted was her smile and it was the reason he was now on his way up to Breaker’s Point. She had David and the last person she needed around, messing everything up was him.
Of course, knowing she had David didn’t make it any easier for Stuart to walk away.
Stuart sighed and punched the edge of the steering wheel. Riley had promised him work up here… Work and lots of rich, single, bored women searching for distraction. The last part made Stuart a little uncomfortable, he had no intention of just being someone’s distraction. That was definitely more Riley’s scene.
Stuart slowed the car as he crossed the town’s outer limits and the streets began to narrow. It had been a long time since he’d been here, it seemed since he’d last been here the centre of town had become a run down ghost town.
He pulled the car into a parking space directly in front of what seemed to be the only open diner on the street.
Stuart sat for a minute, his fingers idly tapping on the steering wheel. He could just keep driving, Riley didn’t live too far outside Breaker’s Point. There’d be plenty of opportunities to get food there and yet Stuart found himself pushing the car door open and stepping out onto the asphalt.
He needed time to think, time to get his thoughts in order before he met up with his brother and found himself bombarded with questions and lectures. Riley always knew best, it had to be an older brother thing, Stuart had watched the same thing happen between Aaron and David.
The sun was beginning to sink slowly in the sky and Stuart paused, closing his eyes and drinking in the salty breeze that was carried in from the beach. Part of him couldn’t help but feel a little jealous that Riley was able to afford a place up in Breaker’s Point. There had always been something about the place that made Stuart want to lay down roots and never leave.
But his type of work didn’t exactly leave him with a choice and Stuart went wherever there was work.
The feel of someone watching him had him opening his eyes slowly. He scanned the street surreptitiously but there was no one else around but him. Stuart started forward, his stride lazy as he stepped up onto the sidewalk and moved towards the front door of the diner.
The moment he pushed through the door the smell of apple pie hit him and his mouth began to water. His stomach grumbled loudly and all thoughts of being watched was washed from his mind.
The air in the diner was a little too warm and Stuart shrugged out of his leather jacket as he moved to a booth near the back. The moment he sat he instantly became aware of the silence that his sudden appearance seemed to have caused.
From the corner of his eye he watched the handful of other customers as they shot him curious glances. Stuart couldn’t help but wonder if he should have maybe made some sort of announcement to help them work out who he was and what exactly he was doing there.
The moment they found out he was a Reynolds they would all know exactly who he was. The longer he could keep that to himself the better.
Stuart dropped his gaze and kept it glued to the slightly faded menu he held in his hands. It wasn’t until an irritated cough drew his attention that Stuart lifted his eyes from the card in front of him.
A pair of sparkling blue eyes met his, a pair of sparkling angry blue eyes. Her dark hair was piled up into a high ponytail and it swung around her shoulders as she folded her arms across her chest. But it was the look in her eyes that really threw Stuart for a loop. As far as he was aware he didn’t know her and she certainly had no reason to stand there looking utterly delicious and utterly infuriated all at once.
“Something the matter?”
Stuart smiled and did his best to keep his tone low and friendly, the last thing he needed was to cause a scene in the town diner.
“You have some nerve coming in here.”
Her words left her in a hiss, her tone dripping with anger as she leaned down towards the table and attempted to snatch the menu from his hands.
“You can tell Grey Mattheson that sending his henchman over here isn’t going to endear me to him.”
Stuart spluttered, his smile fading as he kept a hold of the menu and lifted his hands in mock surrender.
“Henchman, what? Who the hell is Grey Mattheson and why would I be telling him anything?”
She dropped her voice to a furious whisper.
“Don’t play innocent you know exactly what I mean and I don’t take too kindly to being treated like a fool. Now I’d like you to leave.”
She straightened up after a second failed attempt to grab the menu and once more folded her arms across her chest.
Stuart shook his head and laughed, it was ridiculous.
“Lady, I have no idea what you’re talking about but if this is how you treat every customer who passes through your doors then I’m not sure how you expect to stay in business.”
Uncertainty flickered in her blue eyes and Stuart could see that the tension in her shoulders was beginning to loosen. Whoever this Grey Mattheson was, he had her tied up in knots and they weren’t the good kind.
“You don’t work for him?”
Stuart shook his head and lifted his hand making the scout gesture with his fingers.
“Scout’s honour. I just came in here for a coffee and some of that apple pie that smells so good.”
“Oh, God, I’m so stupid, I’m so sorry… I thought…”
Her voice faded a little as her lip trembled and Stuart was suddenly aware of the tears filling her eyes.
“It’s fine, really… Please don’t cry.”
Stuart started to stand, unsure of what exactly he was supposed to do. There was something about her that made him want to comfort her. The thought that he had reduced her to tears didn’t sit well with him.
She turned on her heel and fled, disappearing in behind the counter and through the heavy looking double doors that obviously led to the kitchen. Stuart had the overwhelming urge to follow her, to find out what exactly had upset her so completely.
Stuart took a step forward and walked straight into a small petite blonde who had planted herself firmly in his path.
“Hey, handsome, what can I do for you?”
Her voice dripped with suggestion and Stuart backed up and dropped back into his booth.
“Is she alright?”
He gestured towards the kitchen and the direction the first girl had run in. An image of her full pink lips caught between her teeth as she struggled to control her emotions popped unbidden into his mind. A bottom lip that cried out to be nibbled and sucked, a mouth that begged to be kissed…
Stuart swallowed hard and fought to clear the image from his mind, it wasn’t right. He’d just sent her running for the kitchen and he was sitting out here imagining the taste of her lips. What the hell was wrong with him?
The moment he tried to squash the thought of kissing the waitress his mind instantly conjured an image of Carrie and Stuart was suddenly swamped with guilt.
“Ellie? She’ll be fine, she just doesn’t know how to look after a man like you…”
The blonde standing before him smiled, a slow seductive curling of her lips that left Stuart cold.
“My name is, Kelly, I don’t think I’ve seen you around here before?”
She dropped down until she could lean across the table giving Stuart as much of a view down the top of her blouse as he wanted. Instead Stuart leaned around her and stared towards the double doors behind the counter in the hopes of seeing Ellie again.
“Are you sure she’ll be ok? She seemed pretty upset…”
The girl who had called herself Kelly sighed and attempted to lean into his eye line.
“What can I get you? You can anything on the menu but if there’s something not on the menu that you really want, I’m sure I could find a way to accommodate you.”
Stuart plastered a smile across his face. Girls like Kelly had never interested him and it really wouldn’t have mattered if she’d been leaning across the table wearing only lingerie.
“A piece of the apple pie and a coffee.”
Stuart kept his voice light and friendly and Kelly sighed and stood.
“Are you sure I can’t do anything else?”
Stuart shook his head and leaned back against the plastic covered bench he sat on.
Kelly’s face fell and Stuart watched realisation pass through her eyes. Her smile dimmed and she turned her back on him with a flip of her long blonde hair. If things kept on going this well it wouldn’t be long before he irritated the entire female population of Breaker’s Point.
Stuart slid his cell phone from his pocket and stared down at the screen.
He didn’t know whether he should feel elated or upset about it. It wasn’t as though he expected anyone to message him… Especially not Carrie, she was happy and David seemed to have everything under control. She was having David’s child and they were happy together.
Carrie was everything he’d always imagined he wanted. But the more he thought about the entire situation, the more he was beginning to realise that perhaps he’d only wanted Carrie because she was unobtainable.
That realisation alone was enough to make Stuart hate himself a little bit. He loved her, he knew that for certain but deep down he’d always known that there was no future for them. Knowing deep down that nothing could ever happen between them had made falling for her easy.
Stuart had decided a long time ago that he would never have anyone in his life. That he would never truly fall in love… Never truly give himself to another, heart and soul. His past had taught him that to give yourself completely to another was just leaving yourself open to being devastated and it wasn’t a risk he had ever been willing to take… Not even with Carrie.
Kelly reappeared and dropped a small plate with the smallest piece of apple pie Stuart had ever laid eyes on. It looked more like a child’s portion and he opened his mouth to ask her what was going on but one look from her had him closing his mouth once more.
She dumped a cup down in front of him and proceeded to fill it with black coffee from the glass jug she held in her hand. The moment she was done she stalked away from the table without a backwards glance and Stuart let out a sigh. Grabbing the sugar dispenser he poured some in and then lifted the cup of black steaming liquid to his lips.
The other diners continued to shoot him sideways glances and Stuart knew they were talking about him. He watched as Kelly approached another table and shot him dirty looks over her shoulder as she spoke to the two men sitting in their booth.
The feel of someone else watching him drew Stuart’s attention back to the heavy kitchen doors. They were propped slightly open and he could have sworn that someone else stood on the other side watching him.
Part of him hoped it was Ellie, an even bigger part of him hoped that she would make a reappearance. But as he drank his coffee and swallowed down the tiny piece of pie it seemed more and more unlikely that she would.
Pushing the plate away Stuart checked his cell phone one last time only to be greeted by an empty screen once more.
Reaching into his pocket he pulled some notes out and dropped them on the table before standing and dragging his leather jacket back on. The sun had set and if he was really lucky by the time he made it up to Riley’s house his brother would have left for one of his many social gatherings.
Stuart cast a look back over his shoulder once more as he pushed out through the diner door. A flash of blue eyes and dark hair told him everything he needed to know and a smile slid across his face.
Perhaps if he came back tomorrow Ellie might be a little more willing to appearance. Maybe, if he was really lucky she might even tell him who Grey Mattheson was and why she was so worked up about him.
Climbing in behind the steering wheel once more, Stuart gunned the engine and turned the car back onto the road. The road that would take him up onto the cliffs and out to Riley’s house.