Color Me In (Last Chance #2)(9)

By: Riley Hart

“You too,” Ryan replied, then started to walk away.

He got a few feet before Caleb called out, “Hey.”

Ryan stopped, turned, and smiled at him. He looked so damn innocent when he smiled. “Can you tell Shane I said hi?”

Ryan frowned as if that hadn’t been what he’d expected, and Caleb’s curiosity perked at that. Was he interested in Caleb? Nah, Caleb didn’t think so. He wasn’t even sure if Ryan was gay.

“Yeah, of course I’ll tell him,” Ryan replied; then he really did walk away. Caleb stood there, watching him go, and felt more alone than he had before.


The other night waiter wasn’t nearly as friendly as Libby—not that Ryan could blame him for being quiet. He’d always been sort of quiet himself. Plus, most people didn’t really thrive being up all night. He’d be grumpy if he had to work graveyards too. He was likely a little strange for being here in the middle of the night, insomnia or not.

The house always seemed lonelier at night, though, which prompted him to come. Funny how that happened.

Ryan’s eyes darted up when he saw lights move across the window. A car pulled up in front, and he felt a small smile tug at his lips when he saw the red Charger.

“Here you go.” The kid set a plate in front of him that carried a large cinnamon roll with lots of icing, just how he liked it. He was thankful they’d hired someone else, so at least Libby didn’t have to work.

“Thanks, Rowan.”

He nodded at Ryan in return. His hair was black, though Ryan was pretty sure it wasn’t his natural color.

As the waiter disappeared, the door opened. Caleb walked in, rubbing a hand over his short hair as he did so. He wore jeans and a tweed jacket, and for some odd reason, Ryan tugged at the neck of his hoodie before scratching his nape.

Caleb looked around the restaurant. There was an older couple on the opposite side of the room—Ryan didn’t know who they were—likely traveling and making a stop to rest. The lake in Last Chance was a fairly popular spot for Oregonians, though usually not at this time of year.

Caleb continued to let his eyes take in the room. When they landed on Ryan, the right side of his mouth tilted up in a half grin.

Ryan gave him a quick nod as if to say hello, and Caleb came his way.

“If it isn’t Sweet Tooth. I sort of feel like you’re following me. Twice here and then at the grocery store.”

He tried to come up with a nickname on the spot, but nothing came to him. “Yeah, but I was basically working when I saw you at the store, and you came to me. And tonight I was here first. The first night was a fluke. If anyone’s stalking anyone, I’d say you’re the one being creepy with me.”

Caleb chuckled. It was a real sort of laugh—hearty and deep—not one someone gave just to be polite. “Nope. Not me. I don’t like people who drive black cars. They’re judgy.”

“It’s not judgy if it’s true. Don’t blame me if you have to draw attention to yourself with a flashy car.” He liked teasing with Caleb, which might be sort of odd since they didn’t know each other. He had kind eyes, though, with small wrinkles around them as if he’d squinted in the sun. He was the kind of person who made you feel comfortable and who came off as genuine. There weren’t enough people who made others feel that way. Plus, there was something about him that seemed a little lonely. Ryan thought it might match the look in his own eyes. He’d spent his life feeling alone off and on. It had been worse since he and Danielle drifted apart…since they lost Josie.

He took a deep breath, trying to fight those thoughts.

“Are you going to sit together?” Rowan asked. The kid had sneaked up on them without Ryan realizing.

Caleb cocked a brow as if in question, and Ryan shrugged. “You’re welcome, if you’d like. I can put up with you for a little while.”

“Always giving me shit,” Caleb replied before taking his jacket off and sitting down. “I don’t need a menu—order of fries and a cola, please.”

Rowan nodded and walked away.

“I wonder if the fact that we’re unable to sleep has anything to do with our diets,” Ryan joked. For him, it was hot chocolate and sugar.