Color Me In (Last Chance #2)(6)

By: Riley Hart

“Well, as always, it’s good to see you, but I wish it was when the sun was up.” Libby winked at him and then nodded toward the man, who turned around on the stool he was perched on. “Caleb, this is Ryan Daily. He works with Shane at the shop. Ryan, this is Caleb White—Last Chance native who recently returned and also has an odd desire to spend time at Lucky Rose when he could be in bed.”

Ryan held out his hand. “Nice to meet you. In my head, your name was Charger Guy. I have a soft spot for them not many people understand. Mine’s out there too.”

“Good to meet you too, Other Charger Guy.” His coffee-brown eyes darted toward the window. “You have good taste—except the color, of course.”

A rough laugh jumped out of Ryan’s mouth. What were the odds? “I shit you not, I thought the same thing about you when I came in. It’ll be hard to overlook, but with some time, I think I can forgive your color choice.” Cherry red was a little flashy for him. Funny, Caleb didn’t strike him as a flashy guy.

“Please, before you know it, I’ll have you switched over to my team. It’s useless to attempt to put up a fight.”

The three of them chuckled before Ryan realized he still held on to Caleb’s hand. He dropped it, shook his head, and said, “We’ll see about that.” He moved around the two of them and took a seat at the bar.

Libby’s blonde ponytail swung as she headed for the other side of the counter. “What are you craving tonight?” she asked. “Donut? Coffee cake? Pie?”

“Pie it is,” Ryan replied. “Blackberry and a hot chocolate.”

“I swear, I wish I had your metabolism. It’s not fair.”

Libby put the order in and made her way back to the counter just as Caleb excused himself to use the restroom.

“Seems like a nice guy.” Ryan rubbed a hand over his face, suddenly feeling tired again.

“He is. I like him a lot. I’m not sure how long he’s going to last being back home.”

“Why don’t you think he’d last?” he questioned, and she shrugged.

“I don’t know. I don’t have the right to think that, I guess. You know how gossip travels in Last Chance. I heard he doesn’t have to work—made some money somehow. Bought a house on Cherry Tree Lane, which I guess shows he’s around for a while. He up and disappeared with his family when he was sixteen. It was strange—here one day, gone the next. No one knew they were leaving. I’m not sure what happened… Ugh, I suck. I’m totally turning into a Last Chance gossiper. Ignore me.”

“Eh. You’re not so bad,” he teased. She looked tired. He knew she and Trace had it rough, trying to make ends meet. Ryan reached out and squeezed her hand just as Caleb returned.

“Lib, order’s ready,” the cook said.

Libby grabbed Ryan’s sugar rush, then excused herself to work, sweeping the restaurant as Ryan dug into his pie.

“You’re sugar. I’m spice,” Caleb said.

“Huh?” What was that supposed to mean?

“You can’t sleep, and you crave sugar. It’s salt for me. Salt and fried foods.”

“Now I’m craving french fries,” Ryan teased. “But I guess this is better.” He took another bite of his pie. The blackberries were the perfect mix of bitter and sweet, just the way he liked them.

“Looks like we’re going to have to disagree again, and I’m also going to claim being right for a second time.”

Ryan chuckled. It was a funny coincidence that they had the same car—different colors. They obviously both suffered from insomnia and snacked their way through it, only in different ways. “You enjoy that fantasy world you live in.”

They were quiet as Ryan finished his food and drink. Caleb’s plate was already empty, but he sipped at whatever he was drinking from a mug—coffee? Tea? Hot chocolate? Ryan didn’t know, and he wasn’t sure why he didn’t ask either.

He finished just as Libby made her way back to the counter. “You can go ahead and charge me, Lib.”

“Not staying long tonight?” she asked.

“No. I should try to get some rest before I go to work tomorrow. Last thing I need is to fall asleep under the hood of a car. My boss is a real slave-driver.” She smiled and shook her head. They both knew Shane wasn’t anything like that.