by: Staci Stallings
“Hold up!” Luke said, yanking to a stop. He looked at Sage and couldn’t stop the grin. In the orange T-shirt that was 3 sizes too big, she looked like a traffic cone. “Looks like they put you to work.”
“Yeah,” and she didn’t look overly thrilled about that at all. “Yay me.”
Swallowing the snarky comeback that jumped to his mind, Luke traced around behind her as she walked out of the kitchen, and he made a beeline for the sink. “I’m going to start breaking the line down if that’s okay.”
“Sounds good to me, Sugar,” Ms. P said. “Don’t nobody come after about two anyway.”
Luke set the pan by the sink and headed back out, only to meet Sage coming back the other way looking not one ounce happier than she had the first time. “Well, we meet again,” he said, backing out of her way.
“It must be destiny.” She sounded so dire about it, Luke didn’t have the heart to laugh.
However, right in front of him, she stopped completely and put her hands on her hips. “Do you have any idea where the trash bags are? Pastor Steve needs more, and I’m kind of afraid to go back into that storage room alone.”
He laughed at that. “What? Afraid you’ll get eaten?”
Her perfect eyebrows raised as she peered up at him. “With my luck today? Nothing would surprise me.”
This laugh came with no effort at all. “Sure. Come on. I’ll save you from the storage room monster.”
Sage was too grateful to think how this might look to whom. She needed trash bags. He knew where they were. End of story.
She followed him to the back and into the darkened hallway where he pulled a box from the storage closet.
“Here you go,” the guy said, handing the box to her as he snapped off the light in the storage room, plunging that part of the hallway back into darkness.
“My hero.” She was looking back and up at him as they came out of the hallway into the kitchen, where they met Jaycee coming the other direction.
“Oh!” Jaycee pulled up short, at first to avoid running into them, but then seeming to realize who they were. “Oh.” That one sounded darker, angrier, and Sage didn’t want any part of what came next.
“Well, I’d better get these out there to the good pastor,” Sage said, holding up the box.
“Yeah,” plaid-shirt shirt guy said with only one glace her direction. “You should.”
Oh, to be able to flee like Sage had. Luke wanted to do that with everything in him, but he couldn’t. He didn’t dare.
“Really?” Jaycee folded her arms in front of her.
“What?” he asked, both innocently and with an edge to it. He jerked his head backward toward the hallway. “Come on, Jayc. Seriously. I was getting her trash bags.”
She nailed him with a deep glare. “Oh? Is that what they’re calling it these days?”
Luke barely held the frustration in. “You cannot be serious. I don’t even know her. And you know me. I’m not into playing spin the bottle in the storage closet with some girl I just met.”
Jaycee’s face softened a tiny bit, and Luke saw his opening.
“Come on, Jayc. You’re being just a touch ridiculous here, don’t you think? However, I do have to say you are rocking this moldy-mustard green number.” Reaching over he picked at the shoulder of her shirt.
Instantly the knives in her eyes were back. “Ha. Ha.”
“Seriously, Jayc. This isn’t you. You have got to uncoil a little bit or you’re going to snap.”
She didn’t look happy about it, but her arms unwound just the same. “I guess you’re right. It’s just that… she makes me crazy.”
“I can see that.” He nodded. “Tell you what. They’re having a bonfire tonight out at Chester’s. What do you say, we go out there, eat s’mores until our teeth fall out and chill-ax a little bit?” Pulling her into a hug, he held her there.
“With double marshmallow?” she asked like a little kid.
“Whatever you want.”