A couple days later on her way to the gallery, Pam again stopped in at the diner for coffee. Although it was earlier than she'd been in the day before, she found Gary seated at the same table reading the newspaper. This time she marched past without glancing at him. After he'd pointedly ignored her the day before she wasn't going to try to be friendly again. She got her order and after exchanging some pleasant banter with the owner turned to leave. On her way out she made sure her eyes were focused elsewhere and paid no attention to Gary.
In front of the gallery, she stood fumbling for her keys to open the door as a shadow fell across it. She turned to find Gary standing a couple of feet away. For a second neither one spoke. He wrinkled his nose self-consciously, as if he couldn't think of anything to say.
After a moment he finally said, "I didn't mean to startle you. Can I give you a hand?"
Pam had set her coffee on the sidewalk in front of the door while she searched through her backpack for her keys. She pushed a stray hair off her face, annoyed at him for sneaking up on her.
"Thanks, I think I've got it." In another moment she had the key in the lock and the door open. She turned back to pick up her coffee and found Gary holding it out to her.
"Here you go."
"Thanks." She took it with the merest hint of a smile.
"I'm Gary Karlsen. You must be Carol's niece," he said.
He held out his hand to her, so she slung her backpack onto her shoulder and shook his hand.
"Nice to meet you," he said. "Listen, I'm sorry about the other morning. I... I was in kind of a bad mood. Just some personal stuff." He coughed to clear his throat, and jammed his hands in his jean pockets. "Anyway, we'll probably be seeing a lot of each other, small town and all. I just wanted to say hi."
After his previous coldness, Pam bristled at him creeping up on her out of nowhere, but this boyish awkwardness found her softening a little.
"That's all right, I guess we've all had days like that."
He visibly relaxed and gave her a smile. And what a smile. He was good looking to begin with, but the spontaneous smile took the severity out of his features, and crinkled the corners of his eyes. She was definitely thawing toward him.
"Maybe I could make it up to you with a tour around the island sometime? On the boat, I mean. If you like boats."
Pam stifled a laugh. "I do like boats, but there's so much going on right now with the gallery renovations and all... "
"Sure, no rush. The island's not going anywhere," he said. "Well, I gotta run. Nice meeting you."
"Yeah, you too."
She watched as he walked off toward his truck on the other side of the street. He'd left so abruptly that for a moment she was afraid she'd been too rude, but then he turned around and flashed another smile at her. With a quick wave, Pam ducked into the gallery and shut the door behind her.
"I do not need this," she said aloud leaning against the door. Why did the first decent guy she met have to be in this place at the edge of the known world? She decided her best course of action was to avoid him for the duration of her stay.
Gary had a different view of things. Once past his initial standoffishness, he turned out to be quite persistent. By the end of the week, he'd talked Pam into meeting him for a short tour around the island. With the gallery construction starting she couldn't come up with an excuse not to go, so when Monday morning rolled around she forced herself, against her better judgment, to drive to the dock. Gary was there next to his boat, and waved to her as she walked up.
YOU ARE READING
A World AwayRomance
Pam Nelson's life in Los Angeles is unraveling. Out of work, out of money, she agrees to model for her best friend Trudy's boyfriend, Ron. But Ron has more on his mind than photography with Pam. Following a disastrous meeting with him, she decides t...