Chapter 4

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For the next few days Pam avoided the coffee shop. She had no intention of making a habit of being there at the same time Gary was every day. She didn't want him to think she was purposely trying to run into him. When she'd fled L.A., she'd never even considered the remote possibility of something like this happening, of meeting someone and beginning a relationship. All she knew was she needed to get away and figure out her next steps, and where she was going with her life. This was a complication she didn't want.

A week after the boat excursion, Pam sat at the front desk in the gallery, leaning her chin on her hand with Pascal laying across her feet under the desk. She'd been staring off into space contemplating her next move when the door opened and in walked Gary. Her breath caught as her pulse quickened, but she tried to appear composed and gave him her best professional smile. Pascal got up, barked half-heartedly, then laid back down.

Gary walked over and set a latte down in front of her. "I haven't seen you in the diner. I thought maybe you were having caffeine withdrawals."

"Thanks, that's sweet," she said. "I talked Aunt Carol into putting a coffee maker in the gallery." She pointed to a small table a few feet away with a pot of coffee.

"Ah, I see."

"I'm just trying to save money," she said. "And it seemed like we should have it around to offer customers, although Aunt Carol's still not sold on the idea. She's afraid we're cutting into Barbara's business at the diner."

"You probably are," he said with mock indignation.

She made a face at him. "I don't think we're doing much damage, considering there hasn't been a customer in here in three days."

"All the more reason for you to get out, then. How about dinner tomorrow, my place? I cook a mean spaghetti dinner."

Her first instinct was to make up an excuse, find a way to stall him. But he stood there looking so hopeful with those blue eyes, and he was offering to cook for her. No guy had ever done that. But still, at his place...

"But don't you live with your mom?"

"No, I have a house in town, close to the dock. Did you think I lived in my mom's basement?" he teased.

"Well no, not the basement, but I mean, it's a huge house. Why wouldn't you live there?"

"I'm used to having my own place. I haven't lived in that house since I went away to college."

"Oh," she said. "Does your mom keep your old bedroom like a shrine?"

"Not exactly. She turned it into a guest bedroom my second year in school."

"Wow, nothing like pushing you out of the nest."

"That's Mom. My brother and I were expected to make our own way in the world; there was no running home if things got tough. So, what do you say? Dinner at my place?"

She hesitated for another second, then finally said, "Sure. Who doesn't love spaghetti?"

"Should I pick you up?"

"I think I can find it. How lost can I get on an island?"

He wrote the address and his cellphone number on the notepad on the desk. As he stood up he looked at her like he wanted to say something. Pam waited, squelching another snarky comment that sprang to mind.

"You can bring the dog, if it helps," he said. He squatted down and coaxed Pascal out from under the desk, then rewarded him with a scratch behind the ears.

"Not if you want anything left for you and me to eat."

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