Well, we’re finally here…at the finale, the 18th installment of Second Chance Layover. It seems like the time just flew by. But I think everyone is ready for a happy ending now.
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Without further ado, here is the final installment of Second Chance Layover (part 18):
My eyes traveled up a long and lean body and stopped at a pair of chocolate brown eyes staring back at me. The last time I looked into those eyes I saw anger and pain. Tonight there was something different I couldn’t identify. “Cal.” It came out almost a whisper as my mouth went dry.
“So you do know this young man.” Mrs. Gonzales’ gaze moved from him to me. “I found him pacing outside the door when I let my date in. He said he was here to see you but he didn’t think you’d want to see him. One look at him told me he’s buena gente, good people. But just to be sure, I walked him up.” My neighbor gave me a once over. “Those are the fanciest pair of pajamas I’ve ever seen.”
I chuckled and smoothed my palms over my hips. “I decided to go out after all.”
“Well here, put this in your refrigerator. Enchiladas are better the second day anyway.” She handed me the covered dish.
“Thanks, Mrs. Gonzales.” I turned and strode to the fridge.
“Muchas gracias, Mrs. Gonzales,” Cal said, his voice coming from close behind me.
“You’ll be okay with him, Charli?” she called into the room from the doorway.
I waved my hand. “Him? Yeah, he’s harmless.” I hoped.
Mrs. Gonzales cocked her eyebrow at him and made a hmm-mmm sound when her gaze turned to me. “Happy New Year, dear.” Did I catch a wink before she turned and shuffled down the hall? Cal shut the door behind her.
“So?” I asked as I wiped a nonexistent spot on my tiny kitchen counter. I had to keep my words short. His presence, his scent, in my apartment put me in sensory overdrive. I couldn’t let on how my body was deceiving me. I was still so mad at him.
“Um, I had flowers for you, but your neighbor took them.” Cal stuck his thumb out and pointed it over his shoulder.
“How did you find me, anyway? I never gave you my address.”
“Duncan,” we said in unison.
I threw the sponge in the sink and crossed my arms across my chest. “I don’t have much time because I’m on my way out to meet some friends. So let’s skip the pleasantries and tell me why you’re here?” I asked, narrowing my eyes.
He shook his head. “To say I’m sorry for what happened. I—”
I put my hand up. “Not one more word. I’m the one who sent you the booty text, remember? I knew what I was doing, and I’m over it. There’s no need for a Charli pity party here. Now please leave.”
“Charli, hold on. Please just give me a chance to explain.” His eyes pleaded with me before his hand scrubbed over his face. A vision of that hand on my breast and cupping my cheek while I rode his length flicked into my mind. I turned from him as the heat rose into my cheeks.
“You have two minutes,” I strode across the room to my closet and found my silver platform pumps.
“I made a huge mistake saying the things I did and letting you walk out.”
I swung around and opened my mouth to respond. He raised a finger, and the look in his eyes told me to let him talk. “Chasing you around the airport was more fun than I’d had in a long time. I don’t think I’ve laughed that hard. Ever. You’re so full of life, and your energy is infectious. You made me happy…for the first time in months.” He chuckled.
I couldn’t help but grin. Our escapade in the airport was more fun than I’d had in a long time too. “Sometimes you just have to blow off steam and stop taking yourself so seriously.”
He nodded. “The things I said to you, the next morning. I was lashing out. I blamed your magazine because it partially took the blame from me. But over the past week, I’ve come to realize there was no saving Renata. Your magazine didn’t kill her, and I couldn’t have saved her.” He rubbed his palm on the back of his neck and looked at me. “I bought the current issue of Culture Spy and read it from start to end. It’s not the type of magazine I thought it was. It does cover a lot of great human-interest stuff. I can see why it’s so popular.”
“I’m pretty proud of it and the work I do there.”
“You should be,” he said and closed the distance between us. “You’ve turned into an amazing, smart, talented and incredibly sexy woman, Charli Tierney.” He tilted his head as if he was testing my reaction.
My breath hitched and I met his gaze.
“Ever since that day, I can’t stop thinking about you. I think I could easily fall in love with you…if I’m not already and if you gave me another chance.” He wrapped his hands around my waist.
I gulped for air. My stomach did flip flops. “W-what did you say?”
He leaned into me, his breath puffed warm on my lips. “I am in love with you and will do everything in my power to make things right with us. Please give us another shot?”
His face became blurry as my eyes filled with tears. Oh my God, Cal loved me. He loved me. I nodded and blew out the breath I didn’t realize I was holding. Melting into his arms, I raked my hands through his hair pulling him into a deep kiss.
I never did make it to The Hood, but I did have someone to kiss at the stroke of midnight and well into the hours that followed. The love of my life had finally landed in mine.
We hope you enjoyed Second Chance Layover. Bringing our story to you was a delight, and we thank all of you who returned each day for the next installment of Charli and Cal’s love story.
May you have a warm and joyous holiday season filled with family, good friends, good food and good stories. We thank you for allowing us to have played a small part in it.
With Warmest Wishes,
Lila and Sandra
Christmas Eve, 2013