Suddenly, unexpectedly, I burst out crying, tears flowing like a dam broke loose. I set my phone on the lounger and cover my face with my hands, sobbing.
Last night, and all of today, I was able to hold back the tears, but now they’re breaking free, pouring down my cheeks, dripping onto my black apron.
If Carol catches me, I’ll be in so much trouble. She’ll probably fire me. But I can’t stop. The tears have started and show no signs of stopping.
“Hey,” a voice says from behind me. I turn and see a guy coming up next to me. He sits down on the other lounge chair, facing me. The chairs are close together so when he’s seated our legs are almost touching.
“Anything I can do to help?” he asks.
I shake my head, still crying, even more so now, because this guy, whoever he is, will probably go tell Carol I’m out here crying and then I’ll for sure be fired.
“Hey.” He puts his hand on mine. “It can’t be that bad, can it?” I glance up and see him looking at me. I must look like a mess. Nose red and swollen. Makeup running down my face.
Good thing it’s dark back here, although the lights around the pool are pretty bright. I’m sure he can see what a mess I am.
I can see him just fine. He’s hot. Thick dark hair that’s mussed up in a sexy, bed-head way. Deep set eyes that appear to be a shade of blue. Strong, square jaw, shadowed by a layer of stubble. And full lips that are now lifted into a smile, showing off a slight dimple in his cheek.
“I just need a minute.” I wipe my face and take a deep breath. “You can go inside.”
“And leave you out here crying? Sorry, but that’s not who I am. I see a girl crying, I have to at least try to help.” He’s wearing jeans and pulls something from his pocket. A cocktail napkin from the party. “Here.” He hands it to me. “It’s clean. I promise.”
I take it and dab my eyes, then unfold it enough to blow my nose. “Thanks.”
“You’re welcome.” He’s still staring at me. “So what’s your name?”
“Kate. Kate Norris.”
“You work for the catering company?”
I nod, sniffling. “Are you going to tell my boss I’m out here?”
“Why would I do that?”
“Because this isn’t where I’m supposed to be.”
“What do I care if you’re out here?”
“I don’t know. I just…I don’t know.”
He looks over at the house, then back at me. “You want to talk about it? About why you’re out here crying?”
I swallow and shake my head. “No.”
“Stupid and embarrassing are my specialities.” He leans back on his hands. “Go ahead. Try me.”
“I’d rather not.” I dab my eyes but my napkin is soaked.
“Here.” He pulls another one from his pocket and hands it to me.
I feel a smile forming. “Do you always carry napkins around?”
He’s so serious, it makes me laugh. “It just seems kind of odd.”
“Is it?” He shrugs. “Guess some might think it’s stupid. Or embarrassing.” He smiles. “See? Like I said. Stupid and embarrassing. My specialities.
“I really don’t want to talk about it. I promised myself I wouldn’t.” I blot my face with the napkin.
“It has to do with a guy,” he says.
I look at him but don’t answer.
“Let me guess. Your boyfriend?”
“You found him with some other girl?”
I nod again.
“How long did you date him?”
“Almost eight months.”
This time he’s the one who nods. “I’m guessing this happened recently? Him and this girl?”
“Yesterday. Our eight month anniversary.”
He cringes. “Ouch. You caught him on your anniversary? That’s tough. No wonder you’re crying. I can’t believe you showed up for work tonight.”
“I was hoping it’d take my mind off it. And it did, for a little while, but then…I guess I couldn’t hold it in any longer. This is the first time I’ve let myself cry about it.”
“Kate!” I hear Carol’s voice coming from the house. I’m definitely getting fired. She may be my mom’s friend but she’s also a businesswoman and she won’t stand for unprofessional behavior. And sitting out here, crying, is definitely unprofessional. “Kate, are you out here?”
I stand up. “Over here.”
The guy stands up too. I don’t even know his name.
I stay where I’m at as she comes over to us. I’d rather have her fire me out here than in front of the other staff.
The guy walks up to her, his hand extended. “Gavin Bishop. Nice to meet you.”
Bishop? As in the owners of this house? So he’s Niles’ son?
Oh, God, I am SO getting fired.