Authors: Jessica Gray
Copyright Notice and Disclaimer
I Love You Twice - Falling for Him Book 7
By Jessica Gray
Copyright © 2014 Jessica Gray
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This book is copyrighted and protected by copyright laws.
No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without the prior written permission from the author.
All characters, names, and places in this book exist only within the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons or locations is purely coincidental.
able of Contents
Mellie’s head was buzzing. With trembling hands she tied the apron around her waist and listened carefully to Denise, her co-worker and a veteran waitress at the Lake Perry diner.
“Greet the customer, hand them the menus, take their drink order, and only then ask if they’re ready to order. If they are not, give them a few more minutes before you return.”
Today was her first day working as a waitress at the diner. The summer season was just getting started, and she hoped to make enough money to pay for college classes in the fall. She’d turned 21 a few weeks ago and was ready to take on the world. In keeping with her new grown up persona, she’d decided to use from now on her given name – Melissa. It sounded much more mature than Mellie!
A young family entered the diner and Denise nodded her head towards them, showing it was time to put theory into practice. Melissa gave her a hesitant smile and nodded her head.
I can do this!
She grabbed two regular menus, and two kid menus, complete with two cups of crayons. Approaching their booth, she smiled broadly and introduced herself, “Hi, folks. My name is Melissa and I’m going to be your server this morning.”
“Good morning, Melissa. You’re new here, aren’t you?” asked the father in the group.
“I am,” she admitted, “but don’t worry. I’ll take good care of you all.” She handed around the menus and gave the kids the crayons, “Do you two like to color?”
The two little blonde heads nodded, eager to use the crayons. Melissa smiled and whispered to them, “Don’t tell anybody, but I like to color too.” She winked at the kids and then took out her pad and pen. “Now, what I can get everyone to drink?”
After returning with their drink orders, she wrote down their food order, handed it off at the kitchen window and turned to see Denise watching her. “How’d I do?”
“Melissa, you’re a natural.”
Melissa beamed at her and felt herself stand a little taller. It was amazing what a few words of praise could do for a person’s confidence!
“Order’s up!” came the call from the kitchen.
Melissa turned and then paused for a moment, unsure of the next step. She had four plates to deliver to a table halfway across the diner, and only two hands. Denise smiled as she accurately interpreted her hesitation.
“Hey, don’t panic. Before long you’ll be handling one of the large trays like a pro, but for now, let me help. You take two, and I’ll follow behind you with the other two.”
“Really?” Melissa asked in relief. “Thanks, Denise.” The two women grabbed the warm plates and within a few minutes they were both back behind the counter and Melissa enjoyed her first success.
The bell above the door jangled again. Our second guest this day! A handsome man entered the diner. He headed straight for the counter and sat down. Denise turned to Melissa, telling her, “Dean Armstrong. You can have him. He gives good tips. But, he’s weird. He’ll probably try to talk to you about some gross bugs.”
“Bugs?” Melissa asked, not sure if she should thank Denise or not. She turned to look at the customer in question, but he had his head buried in the menu and all she could see was the top of his head.
“Yeah. He’s a regular.”
“Okay, thanks. I can use a few good tips,” Melissa told her, grabbing her pad and pen and heading in the mystery man’s direction.
“Hello. I’m Melissa. Can I get you some coffee?” she asked, hoping to draw him away from the menu and get a good look at a man who liked to talk about insects. When he lowered the menu and looked up, Melissa forgot everything except for how gorgeous he was. He had broad shoulders, and muscular arms. Not bulging biceps, but lean and well-defined arms. Just the way she liked it. His dark, short hair showed a few unruly strands hanging into his forehead. Her fingers itched to bury themselves in his hair and feel the softness. But the most intense impression on her made his steel-blue eyes. Eyes that looked at her in a way she’d never experienced before.
Her knees trembled, her heart raced, and then the fear set in.
He’s perfect! But I don’t want or need a relationship! Men are way too much trouble!
Melissa mentally chided herself for being swayed by a man’s looks.
But you have to admit, he is absolutely gorgeous!
Remember Happy? Your daughter?
Melissa quickly reminded herself what had happened the last time she’d allowed a good looking guy to turn her head. She’d ended up alone and pregnant. Her daughter Happy would turn three soon, and since her biological father had taken off; Melissa hadn’t had a serious relationship or any relationship at all. It was better this way.
The few guys she’d been interested in had disappeared the minute they found out she had a toddler waiting for her at home. Faster than she could blink!
No, I don’t need a relationship. Happy and I are doing just fine by ourselves. Besides when would I have time for a boyfriend?
Melissa had just finished high school and wanted to go to college. A college degree was the only way she would ever be able to provide for Happy without living paycheck to paycheck. That’s why she’d taken this job. To earn enough money this summer to pay for college when it started up in the fall. And between school, work, and taking care of Happy, there was absolutely no time left for a boyfriend. None at all!
Dean Armstrong had been trying to decide what he wanted for breakfast when the voice of an angel asked him about coffee. Looking up, he almost dropped the menu so intense was the attraction he felt for the woman standing across the counter from him.
She was stunning. Her auburn hair pulled back into a bun at the nape of her neck, but even confined, it was shiny. He wondered how soft it would feel to the touch of his hands. Her hazel eyes were alive with laughter, and her smile lit up her entire face. A beautiful face.
He didn’t remember to be as taken with a woman ever. Never in his life.
She’s too young!
Dean looked at her a little closer, taking in her wonderful smile, the sweet blush on her cheeks and the slightly trembling hands. She was nervous!
The waitress was definitely too young for him.
Dean had a definite opinion about young girls, having lots of opportunity to examine their behaviors and immaturity. As a zoology professor at the university, specializing in insects, he knew lots of them. Young girls beginning their college careers, interested mainly in boys, clothes and nail polish. Not in their studies. Definitely not in their career. Or their future.
The waitress was young enough to be one of his students.
I don’t date students. With their giggles, irresponsible behavior and they way they constantly act out! No, I am not interested in dating someone this young!
He cleared his throat, intending to bring her out of the daze she’d fallen into when their eyes had first clashed. She was gorgeous, but not for him!
When she continued to stand there, frozen, unable to respond, he picked up his coffee cup and held it towards her, “Thanks, I love some coffee.” His voice startled her out of her trance and she gave him a small smile as she filled his cup and prepared to take his order.
After giving her his standard order of three eggs over-easy, two pieces of wheat toast, five strips of bacon, and a side of pancakes, he watched her return with his orange juice.
Why is she impacting me so much? It must be my good mood!
Like most of the days he’d been up and out at the lake before daybreak this morning. He loved the crack of dawn; it was the best time of day to observe insects. The world was quiet, most everyone still asleep, just he and his study objects preparing for another magnificent day in nature. The insects happily hummed along without humans disturbing them in their world.
This morning had been especially successful. His eyes lit up in excitement when he thought of the discovery he’d made. A huge and rare dragonfly. One that wasn’t known to live in this area. He’d come to diner, not only for sustenance, but also for someone to talk to.
The other waitress, Denise, usually let him tell her about his latest research, and while she was never truly interested, she played along and was a good listener. As he looked at the young waitress preparing to serve him, he wondered if she’d be as good of a listener. He needed to share his find with someone, and since she was there in front of him, she’d be the beneficiary of his enthusiasm for this morning’s find.
“Here you go. Can I get you anything else while you wait for your meal?”
“No, but you could stay and talk to me. You’re new here.” It wasn’t a question. Denise had been talking about her the day before, and as he watched a blush stain her cheeks, he wanted to know more about her. A lot more. Suddenly his main concern wasn’t to share his discovery of the morning, but to get to know her. Appreciate her. Feel her presence. Look at her beautiful and charming face.
“Today’s my first day,” she answered him shyly.
Dean melted inside. Her shy smile had caught him by surprise. Wow! She looks like an angel. She’s so sweet. He smiled at her and cocked his head, “So what brings you up to Lake Perry?”
“Well, I’ve been working as a waitress down in town in the evenings while I finished high school. I want to save up money to go to college in the fall, so I gratefully took the opportunity when Denise told me the owner here needed another waitress for the summer season.”
Dean mentally kicked himself.
She’s even younger than you thought. 20? More like 18! Not for you!
“That sounds reasonable,” Dean told her, keeping his dismay at how young she was to himself. He suddenly felt tired. Dean had a habit of getting up at 4 o’clock in the morning so that he could be on the lake before sunrise. Even though it was still morning to most people, to him, it was almost lunchtime!
“Order up!” came the call from the kitchen.
“Excuse me for a moment.”
Dean watched as she retrieved his meal from the kitchen and once she’d placed his meal in front of him, he stopped her from leaving, “Do you have other things to do right now?”
Melissa glanced around and realized that there weren’t any other guests. The young family had left a few moments before, and Denise was busy filling salt and pepper shakers. Denise heard Dean’s request and waited until Melissa looked at her before she nodded.
Dean watched as the young waitress looked around nervously, evidently unsure of whether his request was acceptable. He felt the urge to take her into his arms and ease the nervousness away. It was so damn sweet, when she blushed. Something about her made him want her so badly.
“I guess I could talk to you for a few minutes. So,” Melissa shyly asked, “Denise said you liked bugs?”
“Insects. Not bugs.”
“There’s a difference?” she asked, not meaning to offend him, but truly wondering what the difference was. Science had always been one of her favorite subjects, but with the birth of Happy, she’d been struggling to complete the mandatory classes. Time for extra science classes was a luxury she didn’t possess.
“I’m currently working on a new research paper.” Dean stopped eating and dug in his bag for the digital camera he always carried with him. He thumbed through today’s pictures and showed Melissa the dragonfly. Pride and excitement evident in his face. For some reason he was anxious to her her verdict and hoped she’d be at least a bit interested.
“It’s beautiful. And big. Isn’t it?” she asked, looking up at him for confirmation.
“Yes. It’s actually very large for this type of dragonfly. What’s more important is that it’s not known to exist in this area.”
“Really? What does that mean?”
Dean expounded upon the significance of his find, encouraged when Melissa nodded her head and continued to smile at him. She was so beautiful when she smiled. How would it feel to touch the dimple in her cheek? Suddenly he had trouble concentrating on the scientific facts, something that had never happened to him before.
Science was his life. He’d been interested in animals and especially insects since he was a little boy. His siblings had always teased him with his fervent interest to those species others feared. More than one of his girlfriends had run screaming when they’d found an exemplary of his study objects.
A few minutes later they were both perplexed by the jangle of the door bell. Melissa excused herself, but not before telling him “I’d love to hear more about your science, when time permits.”
Again. She gave him the most gorgeous smile. Her face lit up, and he had to fold his hands to prevent them from touching her. Dean watched her walk away, a look of shock on his face.
Did she actually just tell me she’d love to hear more about my insects? That’s a first!
Dean was completely taken aback. Nobody, not even his siblings or his parents, ever wanted to hear him being enthusiastic about his newest scientific discovery of some insect. They all pretended to listen, politely, but he knew they were yawning behind their hands. Things had been that way for years, so he’d learned to not to take their disinterest personally.
That didn’t mean it didn’t hurt! What would it be like to have someone actually find what I do exciting? That would be a novelty!
Glancing at his wristwatch, he realized it was time to leave. He finished his coffee, secretly keeping track of Melissa as she moved around the diner. Her gait was smooth, elegant, almost as if she were gliding on air. He watched her turn her latest order in and then pull the hair clip from the nape of her neck. She tossed her hair for a moment, swinging it over her shoulder and quickly braiding it to one side. He almost gasped.
I was right. Her hair is stunning!
When she had finished her impromptu braid, she washed her hands and prepared to return to work. She had a smile for everyone, and as he watched her interact with the other guests, he was impressed with the elegance she employed as she worked.
She has true beauty. Yes, she’s gorgeous on the outside, but the light in her eyes and smile comes from within.
When he prepared to leave, he gestured for her to come to him.
He paid his bill, distracted by her angelic smile, a smile, which warmed his heart. A smile, so much more intense than the already great smile she’d given everyone else. This smile was just for him, and his stomach took a leap. He left a generous tip for her hard work and stifled a gasp by the sincere thankfulness and joy in her eyes.
Unfortunately, she didn’t have time to talk with him anymore. The diner had become quite busy, as the morning rush had arrived.
As he left the diner, he promised himself that he would return and find out more about her. Tomorrow couldn’t come soon enough!