[This is a multi-part story. Lexi Brown is trying to escape her past and create a new life for herself in Otter Village, 500 miles from where a traumatic event occurred 6 months ago. In our last episode, we read that Kevin and Lexi found Dan semi-conscious off the freeway where two criminals had tricked him, beaten him, and stolen his car.]
Here are the posts in order so far:
The Angry Brother
Something You Don’t Know
Who Needs Drama?
Dan Drives North
Lexi Needs A Ride
Kevin’s Tangled Saga
“So what happened after you told the cop you were the good guy?” Vicky asked Kevin as they munched on calamari and rolls while sipping Otter Village Inn’s finest sparkling wine.
“He was immediately arrested and thrown in the pokey!” Nick’s blue eyes sparkled with mischief. “Right, Kevin?”
“I admit to a moment or two of fear that my story sounded crazy even to my own ears. Driving two hundred miles to look for a guy who disappeared while he was stalking my girlfriend?” Kevin raised his eyebrows. “But Lexi backed me up, and who wouldn’t believe that sweet and innocent face?”
Vicky waggled her fingers. “Ahem. No one knows a sister like a sister.”
Lexi smiled sweetly. “That works both ways, Victoria Marie.”
“Nailed!” Nick raised his glass. “Nice job, Alexandra… er Lexi. Here’s to happy endings. I made a call this afternoon and found out that Angela flipped on her boyfriend, a real creep with a sheet of priors, so it’s not a problem that Dan wasn’t able to ID him.”
Lifting her glass to clink with the others, Lexi felt peaceful and content. What a satisfying outcome! And Kevin’s calling her “my girlfriend” set off butterflies in her tummy. The newness of their romance was still so delicious. They smiled at each other across the table.
Lexi munched on a piece of calamari as she thought about the past week’s craziness. Dan was out of the hospital and resting at a room at Carolyn’s. Lexi and Dan had finally talked about Jim in depth so that Dan had received the closure about his brother he so desperately needed. Dan planned to return to the city soon and possibly look for a new job. He’d been chatting with Kevin about how he’d been feeling restless and bored for some time; the two men had really hit it off. But despite the newfound camaraderie with Lexi and Kevin, Dan had no interest in relocating to a sleepy village–he was a city guy.
“Eventually the news about that whole mess with Jim and all won’t be interesting to anyone, Lexi,” Vicky said. “You might think about coming home. We miss you.”
Lexi considered her response as the waiter served their dinners. She thanked him as he placed her swordfish with mango chutney and zucchini medallions in front of her. She felt Kevin’s expectant gaze, and when she looked at him, she knew he was also waiting for her reply to her sister.
“Vicky,” she said. “You guys are wonderful, but this is my home. I love it here. I have a job… and I met Kevin. I know I chose Otter Village on a whim, basically because it was as far away as I could get on the free miles I had at the moment. But now…”
“But now you have the settlement!” Vicky interrupted. “You can do anything you want.”
“Settlement?” Kevin said, a forkful of fish halfway to his mouth.
Lexi rolled her eyes at Vicky, who merely shrugged. Feeling obligated to be truthful after all Kevin had been through for her, Lexi said, “Jim had life insurance from his old job, and it was still in effect because he had never bothered to cancel the auto-payments. I was still the beneficiary despite our nearly finalized divorce. It took a long time for them to process my claim, but they did after months of waiting. I was almost out of money when a huge check came sailing in.”
Kevin nodded. “I see. That makes sense. You did seem to be living on a shoestring at first, and then not so much.”
“We would have helped you, Lexi,” Nick said. “We’re family.”
Lexi squeezed his hand. “I know. Thank you so much. But I did get the job in the souvenir shop… and that helped some. Now, everything is fine.”
“More than fine!” Vicky exclaimed. “Half a mil, baby. Go see the world! You always wanted to visit London. Don’t put it off. You deserve to live life on your own terms after struggling in that marriage and dealing with the fallout of his descent into madness and… well, you know.”
Lexi nodded. “I hear you. But…”
Vicky stared at her. “What’s stopping you from pursuing your dreams, sweetie? You’ve cocooned enough since that awful day. Now, live!”
Nick said, “Geez, honey. Give her a chance to breathe. She hasn’t been able to center herself in one place for five minutes before the next wave comes along and knocks her off her feet.”
Glancing at Kevin, Lexi said, “Some of the waves are good ones.”
Kevin picked up her hand and kissed it.
“Awwww,” Vicky cooed. “So romantic!”
“Well, he knows she’s loaded now, thanks to your big mouth,” Nick said. “Ow, ow, my foot! Kidding!”
Lexi laughed, smiling into Kevin’s eyes. “He was romantic before.”
“Yeah, but I really plan to step it up,” he joked.
Lexi thought she wouldn’t mind that at all as she returned her attention to her plate.
After dinner, Vicky and Nick said they were too tired for a walk after driving all day and went up to their room, so Lexi and Kevin strolled down to the bay by themselves.
“Lexi, I’m sorry your sister blurted that out about the life insurance,” Kevin said. “I want you to know it makes no difference to me. You know that, right?”
She smiled and snuggled close as the wind blew off the water. “Of course. I’m pretty sure you found me irresistible since the day I fell off my bike.”
“Klutziness is such a turn-on.” He kissed her cheek. “Are you warm enough?”
“For now. It’s really cold though! But such a beautiful night.” She gazed at the velvety black sky sprinkled with stars, a dusting of clouds visible around the moon.
“It is. And so are you.” Kevin stopped and cupped her face in his hands, softly kissing her lips. “I tried to resist you though.”
She gazed into his eyes. “Why?”
“Because.” He kissed her again. “Every time we’re together I fall for you even more. That’s a bit scary.”
“Me too,” she said, smiling as her teeth began to chatter. “Ssscarry.”
“Here’s something even more terrifying,” he said. “I may have told my meddlesome sisters I met someone and they ah seem to be on a campaign to get me to bring her to Chicago for Christmas.”
Lexi stared at him. “What? When was this? We’ve hardly… it was only the day after we brought Dan home from the hospital when we sort of started…”
“Sort of started?” Kevin teased.
She was glad the darkness hid her blush. “I mean it’s such a short time is all. You said your sisters have been on a campaign, so surely that’s an exaggeration!”
He laughed. “You don’t know my sisters! I made one comment in our group chat to stop their matchmaking, and now they’re relentlessly hounding me to bring you. They’re like three cats who’ve seen a spider and won’t rest until they’ve caught it. Come on, let’s go back. You’re too cold.” He flung an arm around her as they turned around.
“I want to know exactly what you said.” Lexi gratefully snuggled into his warmth as they strode away from the water.
“Juliette was saying one of her old college friends has moved close by, hint hint, and they all were going on about how great she was, and wouldn’t it be neat if we met during my visit. Then I said I’m dating someone awesome right here in Otter Village.”
“Someone awesome, hehe,” Lexi giggled.
“I meant it. And more.” When they reached the warmth of the hotel lobby, he asked her if she wanted hot chocolate or a pot of hot tea.
“Tea sounds lovely,” she said. “And by the way, I don’t think that meeting your family sounds terrible at all. I want to get to know them.”
“Thank you,” he said. “I should have known you’d be sweet about it.”
They put in an order for a pot of tea and wandered over to sit on the sofa by the fireplace. Lexi cuddled close to Kevin because she was still cold and also… the PDA was growing on her. Soon everyone in town would know they were a couple and she was fine with that. Because she kept falling more for him too.
Image credits to Pexels and Google.
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