Chapter 6, part 1

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It nagged at Emmie all day

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It nagged at Emmie all day. As she greeted customers, took their orders, brought their food, topped off their coffee—all she could think about was what she'd put Trisha through that morning. Spacing out on her and forgetting about Trisha's offer to give her a ride to work -- such carelessness! Trisha was her one friend here and after less than a week in Moon Beach, she'd already let that friend down.

Trisha blew it off as no big deal when Emmie approached her during her break, again apologizing for what happened.

Her friend waved her hand as if she were attempting to bat Emmie's embarrassment away. "It's not a big deal. You've got a lot on your mind, I know that." She closed her laptop and gazed up at Emmie, hand resting under her chin. "So... Sam, huh? Is he an old boyfriend?" She gasped. "He's not..." she looked pointedly at Emmie's belly.

"What? Oh! No, no way! Believe me, I wouldn't be in any condition to stand here and carry on a rational conversation if my baby's father had unexpectedly shown his face in Moon Beach."

Trisha nodded. "That's what I thought, and I know you don't want to talk about the baby's bio-dad, so I won't say anything more. But Sam is..."

"Just a friend. A good friend."

"Sure, sure." She smiled wickedly. "Just a good, good-looking friend. I buy that. Totally."

Emmie shrugged her shoulders, grateful that Trisha's cheerful teasing indicated she truly had forgiven Emmie for giving her a panic attack this morning. "I'll just let you believe what you want then. Table seven is probably ready to order by now. I better get back to work."

"Mmm-hmm. You do that. Let me just say one thing, though. A lot of women would think that a man who drives three hours in the middle of the night just to see you for a half hour is a pretty hot commodity."

"It's not like that."

"I'm still in the middle of saying my one thing, Emmie. Hear me out."

She stood at attention.

"Ryker."

Emmie's eyes nearly popped out of her head.

"Don't look at me like that. This has to be said. I love him, he's my brother. But he wouldn't drive through the night to see you. At least, not after the first night. It's horrible to say that about my own brother, but it's true. I know him. I know how he is."

"I don't want Ryker to drive through the night for me

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"I don't want Ryker to drive through the night for me. I don't want anything from him."

"I'm happy to hear it. Let's just hope it stays that way. Focus on Mr. Just-a-Good-Friend. Seriously."

"He's not..." Emmie paused. There was no point to this. Let Trisha think what she liked. Maybe it was better if she though Emmie was involved with someone other than Ryker anyways. It's not like either of them wanted to publicize their arrangement. "Fine, you win. Mr. Hot-In-a-Suit, the dream of many a woman, will now be the dream of Emmie Marsden. Happy?"

"Very. Oh! I actually have one last thing beyond my one last thing to discuss with you."

Emmie braced herself. Whatever embarrassing thing Trisha would ask her next, she could handle it. "Okay?"

"Do you like art?"

This question was so unexpected and benign, it took Emmie several seconds to formulate a response. "Of course. Yes, yes I like art. I took several classes when I was in college."

"That's great! Because I meet up with a group of artists at Moon Beach Collective, the artist co-op right under your apartment every Tuesday and, well, today is Tuesday! I thought tonight you might want to join us. It would be a great way for you to meet a few more people. We're all women too, so, what do you think... ladies' night out? It's really a lot of fun. A little bit of art, a little more than a little bit of wine."

"Tonight? I'm sorry, I can't."

"Oh come on, don't tell me you already have plans. Wait, is Sam staying in town?"

Ryker's naked physique flashed through Emmie's mind. "Um... maybe?"

Trisha laughed. "You are coy, aren't you? Okay, I'll stop giving you a hard time. But promise me you'll come meet them next week."

She hated saying no. Plus, Trisha was right: it was a good idea for her to meet more potential friends. If she was going to make Moon Beach her home, she needed to expand her social circle. And truthfully, the idea of getting together for an art-focused engagement was right up her alley. Still, the thought of having to lie to more people about both her past life and her present "relationship" sat uncomfortably at the pit of her stomach.

"That sounds like fun. Definitely!" Before Trisha could invite her to any more shindigs or begin planning her wedding to Sam Jacobs, Emmie backed out of her office and headed into the public area of the diner, obliterating her thoughts of Trisha's misconceptions with orders of French fries and milkshakes.

 Definitely!" Before Trisha could invite her to any more shindigs or begin planning her wedding to Sam Jacobs, Emmie backed out of her office and headed into the public area of the diner, obliterating her thoughts of Trisha's misconceptions with o...

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A/N: We've got some steamy bits coming up! But this week being a holiday, I am behind in my editing. Family, friends, and food came first! I didn't want to leave you with nothing, however, so I hope you enjoyed this exchange between Emmie and Trisha. Will Emmie join Trisha's art group? Will she hook up with Ryker again?

Thank you for your votes! This update's golden stars will be used to make all of you loyal readers your very own virtual milkshakes (non-dairy alternatives available upon request). The best thing about virtual shakes is that you don't have to worry about calories or stomach aches. Have as many as you'd like!

Today's dedication is for one of my fabulous readers, zorylu69. Thanks so much for your support on my stories!

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