Between the Lines (Paradise Bay Sweet Romance Book 1)(12)

By: Ella Linden

We were never that good together. I’m just thankful that you made me see that before I made the second-biggest mistake of my life. Do I sound mad? I’m not. I really am glad. It would have been so much harder if we’d gotten married. Do not come up here to talk to me. And I won’t be coming there, either. We said all we needed to say, and we are never, ever, ever, ever getting back together again. EVER. You should definitely go for counseling, though. I already see a therapist and I highly recommend it.

She hit “send” and then closed her email and got back to work.

That afternoon, she went into work at Gutters. When she got there, Lauren and Holly were both behind the counter. Lauren squealed and folded her into a strong hug.

“You look amazing!” Lauren told her, and Olivia smiled.

“Me? You still look eighteen,” she said to Lauren. It was true. Lauren had always had a bit of a goth-girl look, with her jet-black bob, her pale complexion, and her tattoos. She was always changing up her clothing style, though, and she seemed to be in a boho phase. She smiled, wondering for about the millionth time how it was that Lauren and Jack had ended up becoming and then staying best friends all these years. Quiet, reserved Jack and goth, outgoing Lauren had always been an interesting duo.

“You’re sweet. Jack is so excited you’re here,” Lauren told her.

“I’m happy to be here, too. It’s great seeing everyone again.”

“She met Andrew yesterday,” Holly put in, taking a sip of her coffee. Lauren turned her gaze to Olivia.

“Oh. How’d that go?”

Olivia shrugged as Holly said, “Andrew told her she was cute and that we should give her a raise.”

Lauren’s jaw dropped. “You mean he said something kind of vulgar that she was supposed to take as a compliment?”

“No. I mean, he actually said the words ‘you’re cute’ and was charming. I mean, charming for Andrew, but still.”

Lauren looked back at Olivia. “Huh. Well, he’s getting older. Gotta grow out of the one-night stands eventually, right?”

“According to the guys at the brewery, Andrew decided to take a break about a year ago,” Holly murmured as she looked over some paperwork on the counter.

“Well, that’s it then. He’s horny,” Olivia said, and Lauren and Holly laughed.

“I’d tend to agree with you, but Andrew rarely says anything even remotely nice to anyone. The women he was seeing before this break…” Lauren trailed off, giving a little shudder.


“Skanks. Total skanks. Mostly interested in his money and the possibility of being cast in one of the movies for his books,” Holly explained.

Olivia shook her head. “Well, that’s gross, but he apparently had some fun with it for a while.”

Lauren nodded, looking thoughtful. “I wonder about him sometimes, though. I mean, the guy’s a war hero. Self-made millionaire. Came up from nothing. And those boys are all so protective of one another you can’t get a straight answer, but I got the feeling from a few things Jack has said that he’s got some issues.”

“Issues?” Olivia asked.

“From the war. PTSD or anxiety, I’d bet. So I almost wonder if he was going through something where he just didn’t want to be alone for a while, you know? Or maybe there were things he didn’t want to think about. And the money just happened to start rolling in at the same time. I mean he’s always been quiet, so I’m not surprised by the reclusive author thing, but I feel like there’s more there.” She stopped and laughed. “And that’s what happens when you take one psych class in community college.”

Olivia smiled and glanced at Holly, who was staring at the papers on the counter.

“Anything I can help with?” Olivia asked, gesturing toward the folder of papers.

Holly shook her head. “We realized a while back that we need to actually get better at marketing and promotion, so we decided to look into hiring a freelance PR person. I just don’t feel like any of these are right.”

“And we need to step up our game if we’re ever going to be able to expand, which is something we both want,” Lauren added.