Authors: Kate Ashton
Second Chances Series
Every Little Dream
Text copyright © 2013 by Kate Ashton
All rights reserved
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the publisher and author. For information visit
Edited by Cindy Davis,
The Fiction Doctor
Find out more at
Sign up for
I breathe against the window, fogging up the glass. Then after making sure no one’s looking, I draw a tiny heart. Slowly, it fades until there’s nothing but a smear, and I wipe it away with my sleeve. The silly wish that accompanied the doodle, that I’d find love and excitement, makes me giggle. That’s how bored I’ve been lately. I’ve taken to doodling hearts. What’s next?
“Hey, Katie!” Justine nudges me. “Those tables aren’t going to clear themselves.”
I perk up and snap out of my reverie. “Sure thing!” I say a little too chipper.
Justine smiles and heads over to another customer. Her expression is peaceful, happiness radiating off her like she knows what she’s doing with her life and where it will end up. She interacts naturally with customers, always bringing home the big tips.
With a sigh, I stack the plates in a line up my arm to carry over to be cleaned, then I wipe down my table. It’s been a busy day, the start of summer traffic. I’ve been doing this for a couple years now. Smiling, taking orders, smiling, taking orders, and then at the end of every day falling into bed. I followed Seth here, convinced our trip would end up with us together. Ha! Little did I know.
I never meant to still be here, waitressing, two years later, but I can’t quite work up the nerve to move back home. A big fat nothing waits for me there too. Sure, Dad would accept me with open arms and welcome the help at the farm. As it is, I send him any extra money I earn.
By the end of the shift, I’m moving slower than usual, my body drained of energy. Tips definitely decreased in the past two hours. The ketchup bottles and salt shakers need to be filled and the counters wiped, but I sneak a cup of coffee, breathing in the hazelnut aroma, then mix in half and half. I need just a moment. I sink into a chair at an empty table, peeking at my reflection in the window, my blonde hair, flat and lifeless. The perma-smell of grease, hash browns and coffee hovers around me.
Justine slides in across from me. Her chin rests in her hands and she studies me. “What’s up?”
“Huh?” Am I that obvious? I hope not. I never want to seem ungrateful for Justine talking to her uncle and helping me get a job here.
“Come on.” Her smile always brings out the freckles on her nose and cheeks.
“What?” I ask innocently.
“Something’s been wrong for a while.” She ticks items off on her fingers. “You’ve been forgetful. You’ve been faking a smile now for about a month. You’re bored.”
“Geez. Is it that bad?”
Justine nods. “Yup.”
I push my coffee aside and slump over, defeated. Maybe I should just go home, like back home with my dad. I look around at the Seaside Inn, the rows of booths, the counter, the kitchen in the back, and our bedrooms upstairs. This has been my home. A part of me belongs here.
“Ya know. It’s okay to get out once in a while. Go for a walk. Meet people. Maybe a cute guy.”
I snort. “Right. I’ll just happen on Mr. Right by taking a casual stroll down the boardwalk.” We joke about our dream guy walking in for a cup of coffee, which leads to him noticing our perky waitress smiles and asking if he can take us out later. Hasn’t happened yet. Maybe the mustard stains and smell of tater tots are a turn off.
Justine’s teasing expression changes. Her voice softens. “Hey, I know that the everyday life of waitressing can get boring. I’m not going to stick around either. I plan on leaving at the end of the summer.”
I sit up. “What?” I reach across and grab her hand. “Explain! Everything! Does your uncle know?” I’m slightly jealous that she has it figured out. Maybe she can give me advice so I’ll figure out my life too.
She shrugs. “He has an idea. When I came to work for him after high school it was never meant to be forever. Somehow the weeks turned into years. I never planned on that.”
“What are you going to do?” I hope for a spark of something that will light my future path.
She sighs and folds her arms. “Not quite sure. I’m looking at the local college to start. Maybe some volunteer work to help me find my passion.” She laughs, her hand patting her heart. “Other than waitressing. Of course, that will always be my first love.”
“Oh, definitely, me too.” I pick up the generic ketchup bottle, gazing adoringly at it. “Why, you sexy demon you. Where have you been all my life?” I pucker up, fake smooching it, everything that represents our life here.
“Knock it off before someone hears you. We don’t want to be known as completely crazy.”
“Maybe it will attract customers. The nutty waitress at Seaside Inn, in love with the condiments.”
She stifles a giggle, glancing over at a new stream of customers entering. “I think we’ve been working too hard. I’ll finish up here. Why don’t you get on out of here. In another few weeks, tourist season will hit full steam, and unless my uncle finds another waitress, we’ll barely have any time to ourselves.”
I pause, doubting. A part of me wants to flop down on my bed upstairs, watch a movie until I fall asleep.
“Go on. Get out of here.” Justine plasters on her waitress grin and greets the new customers, settling them into a booth. Then she walks toward me, determination marking her face. She grabs my arms and leads me to the back door. “Go upstairs, change into something slightly sexy and go for a walk. Something. Buy a drink at The Salty Dog.”
“Fine. Fine.” I laugh and head up the stairs, but the laughter fades once I’m in my room. I sit in front of my dresser, my reflection staring back at me. I mess my hair, pucker up and bat my eyelashes. “What? Me? Why I’d love a drink.” I giggle. My voice sounds a little too much like confectioner’s sugar.
I turn away. This isn’t going to work in a ketchup-stained apron. I jump in the shower and rinse off the smells and sweat of the day. While my hair air dries I find a pair of skinny jeans and a white top. In a moment of crazy inspiration I use the black eyeliner instead of brown, and lipstick instead of gloss. Then I sit back in front of the mirror. A different girl stares back, a confident one, at least on the outside.
I smile, seductively. “Why, hey there, gorgeous, I’d love a drink. Thank you.”
In my head, this handsome devil flirts attentively, talking and listening. He’s focused and finds what I have to say interesting and a little bit funny. He sees deeper than the bubbly blonde stereotype.
He sees me.
I challenge myself. “Your life isn’t going to change by hiding out in your bedroom.”
I grab a sweater and head out to the boardwalk. The familiar sounds greet me, the ones I’ve gotten so used to I barely recognize: the sound of traffic, cry of the seagulls soaring in the air, and the crash of the waves.
A motorcycle roars as it zips by. I bet whoever’s riding the bike is confident and brave. I bet he doesn’t let anyone keep him down. I bet he grabs life by the throat and doesn’t let it go until he gets what he wants. Isn’t that the kind of guy who would ride a motorcycle?
Well, I’m not about to get a bike. Or ride one for that matter.
Lost in my thoughts, I reach the end of the boardwalk where the road continues past the state beach and into other towns. I retrace my steps. Exciting. I should do this more often because clearly this is where people go for a good time. The lights of The Salty Dog blink, calling to passing customers, pulling me in like a beacon summoning a ship home, but I keep walking, my gaze straight ahead. I know the kind of guys that hang out there, and the girls. I wouldn’t fit in there despite the fact that Justine says it’s not all that bad.
The On Demand movie channel calls to me louder. Looks like I’ll snuggle up with my dream guy on T.V. My exciting night is winding down.
Someone screams across the street. The words barely pierce into my depressing line of thought, but it’s the screech of tires that get my attention. It’s close, too close.
I whip around. A car careens across the road. The driver’s trying to hit or miss the motorcycle, which has swerved into the wrong lane. The bike barrels right toward me. More screams. They’re yelling at me.
I can’t seem to get air in and out. The bike heads right toward me.
The engine vibrates along the inside of my legs. When I’m on my bike, I’m king, the master of my universe. With a burst of speed, I whip my cycle between the cars along the strip. I can feel the dirty looks, the judgmental thoughts. I don’t care.
This is me. Fuck me or leave me.
The wind tears at my hair and face. Tears form in the corner of my eyes from the speed. The sleeves of my T-shirt ripple. One more time around and I’ll head to The Salty Dog for another around. Maybe by then the girl I pissed off will be gone. It wasn’t my fault. She wielded her body like a ninja. When I didn’t respond the way she wanted, she spent the next hour dissing me and sending icy glares that could melt the polar ice caps. At the same time, I curse to myself. How long has it been since I got laid?
I’ll have to move to another state to escape my damn reputation that I just hook up with girls for a couple nights, and then I’m gone. Girls are finally forgetting about my disaster relationship that was Carly. What no one knows is that after that doomed affair, I don’t allow myself to develop anything too deep for a girl.
That’s how my new rep formed.
Girls are dangerous. Relationships are dangerous. They bring out the devil in me. Someone I don’t like and don’t want to be. So I’ve embraced my new motto of love ’em and leave ’em.
One more time around and a cold one has my name on it. Jimmy should be off work by now, and we can crack a few jokes while eyeing the girls.
A car horn blaring cuts through the wind in my ears. I glance behind my shoulder. Shit.
I’ve drifted into another lane. With a quick move of the bike, I swerve to the left. The car screeches past. Shit. Cars head right toward me. Only one place to go so I steer straight at the curb, knowing this could majorly fuck up my bike if I can’t get over it.
The last I see is the pale white face of an angel, her eyes large in her face. She’s a vision. For one second, I fear death is calling me home. Just in case she’s a real person, instead of popping a wheelie and running her over, I let the front wheel hit the curb.
I’m weightless, flying. The gray of the cement rushes up. Instinct kicks in and I crash and roll. Pain radiates through my body. I don’t want to move. I don’t want to know if I’ve broken a bone.
The scent of vanilla and honey drifts by, settling over me. A gentle touch is on my skin. Soft words whisper in my ear. It’s my angel, but I can’t quite grasp what she’s saying. I move, trying to shift into a sitting position, but my body is sore. A groan slips out.
Seconds later, the heavenly scent is closer. Breath brushes my lips. More words are whispered. The feathery touch of her lips skim mine. The sensation is so fast it barely registers beyond the burning on my skin from the scratches.