I look out the window of my seat as the plane descends and see nothing but beautiful land, with horses and cattle roaming. I’d forgotten how much I missed this place. I can’t believe I decided to leave New York City, a place I’ve called home for four years, but my mother convinced me it’d be best to be near family. I admit I haven’t gotten to come home as much as I’d like, but I’m excited to see my mom, and of course Emma, your childhood best friend.
My mother is waiting at the gate for me with the loving smile I’ve grown up seeing, pulling me into a warm hug. “Hi honey! How was your flight?”
“It was fine, but I’m glad to be home.” I put on my best smile, hoping to cover the sadness I feel for leaving my new home behind.
My mom’s eyes fill with warmth as she tries to comfort me. “Oh sweetie, I know you’re going to miss New York. But you’ll see, you’ll get right back into the routine here like you never left. It will be wonderful.”
Once we’re home, my mother buzzes about the latest happenings in town, and what’s happened while I’ve been gone. I can tell she’s really missed me. Her words begin to blur together until I hear a squeal, and a body is flung at me, arms extended. I realize it’s Emma, my childhood best friend, who has let herself in as she has my entire life.
“Oh my gosh Car, I’m so happy you’re home! It’s been so dull without you. I can’t believe we stole you from that crazy place!” Emma flips her long mahogany hair and peers at me with a wide grin.
I hug her tightly and smile. She hasn’t changed one bit. “I can’t believe it either, but somehow I’m here. I do wish...”
“OH my gosh! Have you heard about the latest gossip? Lucas Donahue is back from school too, and he is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen, and soon to be the richest boy in town you know.” Emma’s eyes widen with playful mischief.
“No I hadn’t heard that, but I can’t wait to see your latest victim,” I say with a wink, my lips curling into a smile.
She sticks her tongue out at my loving jab and smiles.
My mom lets out a scoff in response. “Caroline, I just told you that! Were you not listening to me? She is right though. He is said to be coming home to help run the family business. You know his father owns the lumber company just outside of town. They’re responsible for the lumber distribution for the entire south!”
Emma squeals with excitement and grins from ear to ear, nearly coming out of her seat. “We HAVE to go out tonight. You know we’re bound to run into him, and if not, we are sure to find some kind of amusement.” She winks at you.
“Oh Emma, I’m so tired. It’s been a long couple of days of getting everything together to move and I’d love nothing more than to settle in.”
Emma rolls her eyes and gives me an exaggerated groan. “Fine, but you’re coming out with me tomorrow.”
Before I can say no, she pulls me into a hug. “Oh Car, this will be just like old times. Let’s meet at Ray’s Place tomorrow and blow it out. I can’t believe you’re finally home! See you there!”
With another blur, she whirls out of the room. As she drives off I smile.
Here we go..
I spend the next day unpacking and settling into my old room. The day flies by, and evening sneaks up on me.
As I get ready for my first night out at home, my hand moves to select my favorite slinky black dress, but instead selects a low-cut silk top that drapes across my skin like butter. I pair it with my favorite jeans and heels and I’m ready to go.
It’s not like I’m hitting the latest Manhattan hot spot. This is Ray’s. Not to mention, I’m late as usual.
I hurriedly run my fingers through my wavy blonde hair once more and head out the door.
I walk into the familiar bar and smile. Emma is sitting on a bar stool speaking to a handsome stranger.
Her long brown hair is in bouncy, wavy curls cascading down her back, and she has on her trademark low-cut jeans with a tight halter, cropped just below her naval.
As I approach, I see that the man she’s speaking to is about my age, with a gorgeous smile and a handsome face.
Emma sees me approaching and rolls her eyes before smiling. “Late as usual. Meet my new friend, Lucas Donahue!” She winks at me with the loaded introduction before flashing her best smile at him. “Lucas this is my childhood friend, Caroline. She just got back into town too. It’s like old home week around here lately!”
I extend my hand to shake Lucas’s hand. He flashes me a smile and pulls my hand to his mouth and kisses just below my knuckles. “It’s a pleasure to meet you Caroline. My friends just call me Luke, if you don’t mind. Lucas is reserved for my mother and father.”
My cheeks flush at the attention, and I can feel Emma’s eyes on me, watching how I react.
"Luke here was just telling me he’s back in town to help with his family’s business, and looking to blow off some steam after a crazy first day. I told him we were happy to oblige.” Emma brushes her hand on his forearm followed by a brilliant smile.
He looks up and smiles past me as some of his friends enter the bar.
“I need to go see my friends, but I hope to see you two later tonight. It was nice to meet you both.”
He nods at Emma, and gives me a quick smile before walking away.
Well that was interesting.
I order my favorite dirty martini and wait for the tension between Emma and I to dissolve. I feel a buzz begin to circulate in the bar. Everyone is speaking in hushed tones and looking toward the entrance.
“Oh my gosh! I don’t believe it. He’s here,” Emma whispers, sitting higher in her seat.
“Who’s here?” I reply, looking in the direction of the gossip.
“There have been rumors for months that this new company was expanding from Manhattan to open a branch in the next town over. Supposedly, some ridiculously handsome young business mogul started it all on his own. Word is, he’s a self-made millionaire! No one ever thought he would actually come down here though. Come on I’m dying to see what he looks like.” Emma moves to stand from her seat, taking my arm in hers.
A familiar song comes through the speakers as the band begins to play. We both recognize the song and smile.
“I haven’t heard this song in ages! Come on Em. We have to dance to this!” I lead Emma out onto the dance floor and we begin to dance.
I don’t care that there’s only a couple of other people dancing. This is my favorite song and I can’t not let loose to it. As more people join on the floor, I begin to lose myself in the music.
Emma smirks seductively past my shoulder, and we both stop dancing. “See something you like handsome?”
I turn around and come face to face with the mysterious new stranger. My heart stops as I instantly recognize him. He looks down at me, and his crystal blue eyes cause my stomach to drop.
“As a matter of fact, your joy was contagious. Look around you, no one could resist joining in with you.” His lips turn up, smirking.
My heart stops and I feel like my stomach is in my throat. Before I know it, he’s grabbing my hand and twirling me to the beat. He pulls me back in quickly, and I collide into his hard body, dancing closely. As my cheeks begin to flush, I look up. My eyes are met by a crystal blue stare with a shadow of a memory across them. I hear Emma scoff before turning to head off the dance floor.
What is he doing here? I can’t believe he’s here. I never thought I’d see him again, or I wouldn’t have done what I did. I can’t believe I’d be so stupid to think I could act however I wanted on my last night in the city and have no reminder. I wonder if he remembers me?